One of the harder-to-find insert sets of the 1990s
Remember when a print run of 10,000 copies felt small? That number is laughable now, as numerous insert sets today are limited to 99, 50 or even just 10 copies of each card.Of course, there are 1 of 1 cards to collect too, so tracking down a set limited to “just” 10,000 copies doesn’t seem too daunting. But back during the 1993-94 season, it was a good idea at the time, given the millions of cards printed during the hockey card boom.
The 1993-94 Donruss Elite Series insert set was a sign of things to come, a harbinger of serial numbers and shiny holo-foil. Given that insert sets became more and more numerous, stepping back and making something that was limited in print run and looked extremely different than the base set design made this insert set unique.
So, how does this set hold up today? Is it worth buying?
Player Selection 4 out of 5
Fifteen cards comprise this set. The first 10, numbered 1 to 10, were inserted into packs of 1993-94 Donruss Hockey. Other than Alexander Daigle, who was the first overall pick in the 1993 draft, the players here are all established superstars: Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Brett Hull, Jeremy Roenick, Alexander Mogilny, Teemu Selanne, Eric Lindros, Doug Gilmour and Patrick Roy.
The last 5 cards were inserted in packs of 1993-94 Donruss Update, and numbered U1 to U5.Since these cards came out after the close of the ’93-94 regular season, the 5 players are ones who made a difference that year: Sergei Fedorov, Felix Potvin, Cam Neely, Mikael Renberg and Alexei Yashin.
Like many insert sets issued around that time, the Elite Series insert set suffers from the inclusion of prospects. Yes, Alexander Daigle was the first overall pick, but was still largely unproven. Mikael Renberg and Alexei Yashin did have impressive rookie seasons, but the set would be far better if it included a few more established players. Where is Steve Yzerman, Joe Sakic and Adam Oates? Eliminating the prospects–who were not truly “Elite” players just yet (if ever)–and replacing them with established superstars would have made the player selection flawless.
Also, putting 2 goalies in a set that is otherwise forwards seems silly. The set should have just focused on forwards,
Card Design 5 out of 5
The front of each card features an action photo, framed in a diamond shape and surrounded by shiny, prismatic foil. Back in the day, it would have been a cool card to find in a pack–remember when prismatic foil was still novel? Today, a similar set might show the player superimposed on a foil background (like SP Authentic’s Holo-FX inserts), but here we still see some of the background behind the player.
I really like the look of this set. The prismatic foil changes color when you move the card–sometimes it looks blue, green and yellow, while at a different angle the card looks more red, orange and purple. The diamond shape and “starburst” design makes an interesting frame around the player.
Stats & Info 3 out of 5
The back of each card does not feature any statistics, but it does give a short biography about the athlete and why they are considered an elite player.
Despite the marble texture used on the back of each card, the text is actually very easy to read because it is outlined. The card back still looks chaotic, but my compliments to the designer for at least making sure the text is readable.
No, this is not the insert set to end all insert sets. But given the player selection, card design and relatively limited nature (considering the era it was released in) make the Donruss Elite Series a great find for anyone who loved hockey in the 1990s.
Here are images of each card, front and back. Enjoy!
15 card insert set
Card Size: 2 1/2″ wide x 3 1/2″ tall
Click here for a printable checklist