Since the 2006-07 season, Upper Deck has made O-Pee-Chee brand hockey cards. But you won’t find holograms, gold foil, UV gloss coating, or any other modern features that you usually see on Upper Deck cards. Instead, modern-day O-Pee-Chee cards try hard to look like old Topps and O-Pee-Chee cards from 40 years ago. The cards are free of foil or gloss and printed on plain brown cardstock, giving these new cards a very retro feel to them.
2021-22 O-Pee-Chee Hockey cards cost around $60 for an 18-pack hobby box. Each pack has 10 cards. I recently opened a box of OPC. Let’s take a look at what was inside.
133 Base Cards
As usual, O-Pee-Chee has a 500-card base set. I got 133 base cards, and none were duplicates of each other. Card fronts feature a simple, classy design. These really do look like they could be from the 1980s.
The card backs are printed on brown
paper bags cardstock, which makes the text a bit hard to read, but feels “retro,” I guess. Last year, Upper Deck printed its OPC set on white cardstock, which also felt retro but also made the cards easier to read — and frankly, made for a nicer product. Up to 10 years of stats are shown on the back. There is also a small, black-and-white photo in the upper-right corner; it is the same photo used on the front of the card, but in grayscale.
11 Short Prints
There are 100 short prints (cards 501-600) in the 2021-22 O-Pee-Chee Hockey set. My box had four Marquee Rookies cards, four Team Checklists cards, two Season Review cards, and one League Leader card.
6 Blue Border Parallels
More colors than a bowl of Lucky Charms! Where would OPC be without a half-dozen different parallels. At first, I got tired of all the different variations of the same card, but you know what? If you are a player collector, then having lots of parallels to chase is a good thing. My box of OPC had six blue parallels.
2 Green Border Parallels
I also got two green parallels. These are numbered out of just 50 copies each. Kind of strange that I got two cards that were relatively-low numbered in the same box. The two Green Border Parallels I pulled were the Ottawa Senators Team Checklist (47/50) and Canadiens defenseman Alexander Romanov (20/50).
1 Red Border Parallels
Finally, I got a red parallel of Coyotes defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson.
4 Playing Cards
These look and feel like actual playing cards. I would consider building a set of these if some of them weren’t harder to get than others. (I mean, it’s hard enough to build a set of these if you only get three or four per box, right?)
4 Tall Boys
I like to call these cards “Small Boys” because they aren’t any taller than regular O-Pee-Chee cards; instead, they are just skinnier. Whereas normal cards measure 2.5″ by 3.5″, these measure 2″ by 3.5″. Basically, they are the same size as business cards.
What makes the Tall Boys cards a little more interesting is that they have full-color backs. Granted, it’s printed on brown cardstock, so they aren’t as colorful as a card back from another set, such as MVP. Also worth noting is that one of my Tall Boys cards was actually a “Rookie Update” of Alexander Romanov, which is meant to be a part of the 2020-21 O-Pee-Chee Tall Boys insert set; that is, the set from last year.
18 Retro Parallels
Since the 2008-09 season, Retro Parallels have been a part of O-Pee-Chee hockey cards. They are usually intended to look like cards from the 1950s or 1960s. I got one Retro Parallel per pack for a total of 18.
1 Retro Parallels Blank Back
And finally, I got a Retro Parallel “Blank Back” card. And yes, the back of this Andrei Vasilevskiy card is blank.
See? No stats or anything! Personally, I think “Blank Back” Parallels are silly. I mean, what’s the point? It’s only half of a hockey card — the front half — if you think about it.
2021-22 O-Pee-Chee Hockey Cards get a score of 4.5 out of 5. I like everything about these cards — except for the plain, brown backs. For about $3 per pack, the cards could really be a little nicer. They don’t have to be as nice as MVP, but using slightly-better cardstock would help. Otherwise, this set is tops in my book. Upper Deck stuck to the script and didn’t mess with the formula that makes this set so successful: 500 base cards of veteran players and 100 short-printed rookies, checklists, highlights, and other such cards. I’m not necessarily a fan of every insert or parallel, but that’s OK, because they surely will appeal to someone — be it an insert set builder, player collector, or, uh, black jack player, I guess. This year’s O-Pee-Chee set has a nice variety to it that will make opening a few boxes a fun break.
Are you building the 2021-22 O-Pee-Chee Hockey set this year? Leave a comment and let me know if you are building this set and what you think of it.
Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk. ■