Do you remember wearing flannel shirts? Can you still sing all the words to Ice Ice Baby? Do you dream about the days when hockey cards were 50 cents a pack? Then Decades The 1990s — released today by In The Game — just might be the card set you crave.
If you are around my age, then you probably have fond memories of the hockey card explosion, playing NHL ’94 on your Super Nintendo or Sega Genesis and watching the “glow puck” on FOX (unless you are in Canada, where the pucks don’t glow). Ah yes, the nineties were a great decade for hockey, and worthy of their own set.
Like In The Game’s previous “era” releases — 1972 The Year in Hockey and Decades 1980s — Decades The 90s focuses on a specific time in the sport: 1990 to 1999. There are 14 cards in the box. Considering that a “box” is really a “pack,” 14 cards feels like the right amount, as many packs of the early 1990s contained 12 to 15 cards each.
OK, enough reminiscing. Onto the break (after the break):
Six (6) Base Cards
The first three base cards were Dave Andreychuk, Sean Burke and Marty McSorley — three guys who played the entire decade (though Burke played for the Canadian National and Olympic teams during 1991-92).
Other base cards include superstars like Steve Yzerman and Mario Lemieux, as well as some lesser-known players from that decade. Oh, and Gordie Howe is part of the set, for some reason. (Well, he did play in that one game for the minor-league Detroit Vipers in 1997, so I guess that counts.)
The next two cards were from the “International” subset — still part of the base set, but showing the player in a country jersey from a tournament like the Canada Cup or the Olympics. Here I got Jarri Kurri and Pat LaFontaine.There were three significant international tournaments that featured NHL players during that decade: the 1991 Canada Cup, the 1996 World Cup of Hockey and the 1998 Olympics.
The sixth base card depicts Kelly Chase and Craig Berube, and is part of the 10-card “Enforcers” base subset. The back recounts a famous fight between the two. Honestly, this particular card seems a little redundant of the Enforcers set from last year (as well as the Enforcers 2 set due out this Fall). Then again, fighting was still a big part of hockey in the 1990s, so highlighting it here does not seem out of place.
Each base card is printed on shiny foil board stock, as were the base cards in Motwon Madness and 2013 Draft Prospects earlier this year. The shininess feels at home here on cards that are themed to the 1990s.
However, the design of the base cards feels phoned in. Whereas the design of the 1972 The Year In Hockey cards felt very 1970s, and the Decades 1980s cards used design motifs from 1980s sets, the cards in Decades The 90s feel a bit generic.
And that is a shame. This set would have been a great chance to use loud nineties colors like pink and teal, ridiculous fonts and every other card trick in the book — be it holographic backgrounds, embossed type and die-cut borders. The shiny foil stock is nice here, but ITG should have cranked the dial to “11.”
Two (2) Non-Memorabilia Inserts
There are also 23 different “Rookie” cards of some of the most exciting guys who debuted during the 1990s. The date of the player’s first game is listed under their name, while the back recaps their first game and/or first season. This is a particularly cool idea for an insert set.
Three (3) Hard-Signed Autograph Cards
The three signed cards I pulled were of Tony Granato, Geoff Courtnall and Kevin Stevens. Each one is signed on-card in black marker. Behind each signature is a ghosted photo of the decade-appropriate arena for that player’s team — including the Great Western Forum (Granato/Kings) and the Pacific Coliseum (Courtnall/Canucks). It’s the nice little touches like this that shows the attention to detail that ITG usually puts into their cards. (I’m positive most other card companies would have slapped a photo of the Staples Center on Granato’s card and called it a day.)
Two (2) Game-Used Jersey Cards
One (1) Multi-Swatch Jersey Card
Decades The 90s has various themes for their multi-swatch jersey cards, such as Franchises, Cup Clashes and Rivalries. This card is part of a theme called “For Your Country Jersey,” which brings me to my next rant.
The four players pictured are Mike Richter, Jeremy Roenick, Brett Hull and Mike Modano — a pretty awesome lineup, especially for an American like me. The problem is that the players are shown in their Team USA jerseys, but the swatches used are from their respective NHL uniforms. The swatch-photo mismatch is something I’ve grown to expect from Upper Deck, so I am surprised that In The Game would do this.
But it gets worse. Flip over this card, and it reads:
In 1996, the United States was victorious at the inagural World Cup of Hockey event and they defeated Canada in a thrilling three-game final round.
OK, everything seems in order — HEY WAIT A MINUTE! Jeremy Roenick was NOT in the 1996 World Cup of Hockey tournament. Now, the back of the card didn’t specifically SAY he was in the 1996 WCH, but it is pretty much implied.
Honestly, this card would have been just fine if it pictured the four players in their NHL jerseys (from the chest up, anyway). Showing the players in international sweaters, but using swatches from NHL jerseys makes the card confusing and less appealing. But you can’t please all of the people all of the time, and it is still pretty badass to have a quad-swatch card of these four players.
A box of Decades the 90s sells for around $95 online and contains 14 cards. If this is the decade you get the most nostalgic for, you might want to give this product a try. You are guaranteed three autographs and three jersey cards per box, and might rekindle some memories, too.
Special thanks to In The Game Trading Cards for providing the box for this break.