1988-89 Topps Hockey Cards Set Checklist, Details & Review

Neon and pushpins make this set stick around

The 1988-89 Topps Hockey Card set has a fun-looking design, some notable rookie cards, and a historically significant card, too. This was the third year in a row that Topps released a hockey set with 198 cards. In addition to the 198 cards, there are 33 insert stickers and 16 “box bottom” cards that were found in four-card panels on the bottom of display boxes. 

This set features bright colors and a quirky design elements. Notable rookie cards include Brett Hull, Brendan Shanahan, Joe Nieuwendyk, and Bob Probert. The Wayne Gretzky card is significant because it is the first hockey card to use a press conference photo, as Gretzky was traded from the Oilers to the Kings that summer, and a photo of Gretzky suited up with the Kings was not yet available. 

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Every 1993-94 Hockey Card Set Ranked

The 1993-94 season was my favorite year to collect hockey cards. Everything about that season was just so right for me. I was living with my Grandmother and going to a local junior college, so my cost of living was low. I was working full-time at a card and comic book shop, so I could buy new cards at a deep discount. I had just gotten my drivers licence, so I could drive around Chicago to other card shops or local shows to find the last few inserts I needed for a given set. Plus, I was still promoting a monthly neighborhood show, so a lot of times people would bring me cards that I needed. My situation in life made collecting easy for me that year.

As for the cards themselves, the 1993-94 season was the last year before hockey card collecting got out of hand. Packs were still affordable, with most between $1 and $3. (The 1994 NHL Lockout would change that, but that’s a story for another time.) There were really no short prints, other than the odd insert, so sets were fairly easy to complete. There were some great insert sets, but not so many different insert sets like it is today, where you can buy a box of cards and get 40 different inserts across 10 different insert sets. There were five different card companies competing with each other, so they had to try hard to do better than one another.

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For example, Topps finally got with the program and printed its flagship set on quality card stock, with gloss coating and full-color backs. The company also issued the set in two series, so it could include rookies and traded players in their new uniforms later on that season.

Unfortunately, there were some casualties. Pro Set had gone bankrupt in 1992-93, and while it tried to issue a set for the 1993-94 season, its license was revoked by the NHL. The NHL also mandated that companies could only issue two sets per season, so Topps had to jettison its unpopular Bowman Hockey set, while O-Pee-Chee stopped making its own smaller, premium “Premier” set, as the “Premier” name would be used by both Topps and O-Pee-Chee that year for their large, two-series card sets.

One addition to this year’s ranking is how each company included Alexander Daigle in their sets. Daigle was selected first-overall by the Ottawa Senators in the 1993 NHL Entry Draft. Pinnacle Brands — which made the Score and Pinnacle hockey card sets — had worked out a deal with Daigle, so that only they could picture him in a Senators uniform until he played in an NHL game. The other companies could not use a “Draft Day” photo, nor could they use photo manipulation to put his head on a different Senators player’s body. Thus, they had to get a little creative in how to picture that season’s hottest rookie in their hockey card sets that year.

As I have done with the 1990-91, 1991-92 and 1992-93 sets, here is my retrospective and ranking of every hockey card set issued in 1993-94.

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Every 1992-93 Hockey Card Set Ranked

Trading card companies continued to raise the stakes during the 1992-93 season, as the hockey card market continued to boom. Fleer entered the marketplace with its premium “Ultra” set, while Score doubled down, making truly unique sets for the U.S. and Canadian markets. Coincidentally, for the first time in their 25-year partnership, Topps and O-Pee-Chee released hockey sets that were different in design from one another. Meanwhile, Upper Deck continued to thrive, while Pro Set barely limped to the finish line. A lot happened with hockey cards 25 years ago.

However, the biggest news in hockey collectibles at the time was that 19-year old rookie Eric Lindros was going to make his NHL debut. Up until that point, only Score could legally include Lindros in its sets, due to an endorsement deal he signed with Score in 1990. That deal expired once Lindros became an active NHL player. With his debut imminent, but no photo of Lindros in a Flyers uniform readily available, the card companies had to figure out how they were going to include “The Next One” in its hockey card sets.

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Here are my rankings of all 13 major hockey card sets released during the 1992-93 season. I count Score Pinnacle “U.S.” and “Canadian” (or “English” and “Bilingual,” if you prefer) as separate sets for reasons I’ll explain later. Also, this list does not include Panini stickers, because most collectors don’t consider those as “cards.” Nor does this list include small sets like McDonald’s, or oddball stuff like Season’s Action Patches.

So, will Upper Deck be number one for three years in a row?

Continue reading “Every 1992-93 Hockey Card Set Ranked”

Every 1991-92 Hockey Card Set Ranked

While a lot of hockey cards were made during the 1990-91 season, the 1991-92 season was like a movie sequel: bigger and bolder, with more of everything.

More cards? Check.

Larger sets? That too.

Extra inserts? You bet! 

The amount of sets made, and cards to collect, nearly doubled, with companies releasing two or three sets each in an attempt to cash in on the boom. Hockey card revenue from the 1991-92 season, generated from the brisk sales, spiked to $15 million and was even a major cause of the 1992 NHL Players’ Strike.


Learn Why Best Bobby Orr Hockey Cards are a good investment


That’s funny if you think about it, because hockey cards in the 1991-92 season were worth $15 million to the players and owners – money worth fighting over — and yet hockey cards from that year are practically worthless today. 

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But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t open up your collection a little bit to some of these “neo-vintage” (don’t call ’em “junk wax”) sets. Maybe you have room in your collection for one, or a few, of these — assuming you don’t have them already. So here is my ranking of every 1991-92 hockey card set. 

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Review: 1991-92 Pro Set Platinum Hockey

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#26 – Ed Belfour (view back)

It was a frosty Chicago afternoon in late December of 1991. I was on break from school. The “Christmas money” was burning a hole in my wallet. It burned hot enough to make me brave the cold and venture out to the local mall. For those who grew up in Chicago, the mall I speak of was the Brickyard. Back in its heyday, the Brickyard Mall was Chicago’s premier indoor shopping center. It was torn down in 2002 and rebuilt as an outdoor monstrosity, but I digress. 

#52 - Wayne Gretzky
#52 – Wayne Gretzky (view back)

The Osco Drug store at the Brickyard had one side of an entire aisle dedicated to just sports cards. But behind the camera counter is where they kept the good stuff; cards like Upper Deck or Stadium Club, and not the usual 50-cents-per-pack swill like Topps or Score. Behind the counter was a full, unopened box of hockey cards that I had never seen before: Pro Set Platinum Series One. 

At a glance:
– 1991-92 Pro Set Platinum Hockey
– 300 cards
– 20 “Platinum Collectible” inserts
– Size: 2 1/2″ x 3 1/2″
Download checklist

Man, was I excited! Even though I religiously read Beckett Hockey Magazine, this was the first I had heard of Pro Set issuing a high-end set of hockey trading cards. I don’t recall what they cost, but I think they were around $1 per pack. I eagerly purchased the entire box. I hurried home and opened every pack while sipping hot cocoa, and made two complete, 150-card sets; the good old days indeed.

Pro Set Platinum Hockey logo.
Pro Set Platinum Hockey logo.

Now, 25 years later, I think it would be fun to take a look back at the first, last and only set of Pro Set Platinum hockey cards.  Continue reading “Review: 1991-92 Pro Set Platinum Hockey”

Review: 1984-85 Topps Hockey

96_Pat_Lafontaine

After producing no hockey card sets during the 1982-83 and 1983-84 seasons, Topps hockey cards made a comeback in 1984-85. That year, the company released a small, 165-card set. Considering that Topps’ annual baseball set had 792 cards, while their football set had 396 cards, putting out a hockey set with only 165 cards was a very conservative approach. Between the small set size, the set’s relative overproduction and the maddening amount of single-printed cards, the 1984-85 Topps set is perhaps the most disappointing hockey set of the 1980s.

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Every 1990-91 Hockey Card Set Ranked

1990-91_ranking_header

Twenty-five years ago, the hockey card market grew exponentially when three new companies — Upper Deck, Pro Set and Score — joined Topps and O-Pee-Chee, bringing the number of hockey card manufacturers to five. Not only that, but Topps issued a second set of cards, branded as Bowman, while O-Pee-Chee released a set called O-Pee-Chee Premier, giving collectors a total of seven hockey sets that season.

The year 1990 was clearly the start of the “hockey card boom.” No longer were hockey cards just the stuff of specialty shops; now every grocery, drug and convenience store carried hockey cards. Likewise, practically everyone saw hockey cards for their investment potential, hoarding cards of hot rookies as well as established players. The increased revenue even led to the NHL Player Strike of 1992. But overproduction, along with the decline of the market in 1992, led to 1990-91 sets plummeting in value.

Looking back a quarter-century later, it is easy to dismiss the entire 1990-91 season as “junk wax.” Yes, the companies printed tons of cards and flooded the market. Even 25 years later, you can find unopened boxes of 1990-91 cards for around $5 and complete sets for $10 or less. It is kind of sad that newer collectors can buy the cards from my childhood for less than what they actually cost during my childhood. 

Just because those sets are “worthless” doesn’t mean they aren’t worthwhile to have in your collection…assuming, of course, that you don’t already have them. And maybe you don’t. Perhaps you are a newer collector, or maybe you didn’t bother with hockey cards in 1990-91. Today, you can pick up a hearty dose of nostalgia, history and rookie cards for less than what a blaster box costs.

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That said, here is my ranking of every 1990-91 hockey set. Those of you over 30 can feel free to disagree.

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Review: 1989-90 Topps Hockey

1989-90 Topps #156 - Wayne Gretzky

It was the end of an era as we knew it. Actually, it was the end of several eras. The 1989-90 Topps Hockey set marked the last time that Topps was the only game in town when it came to hockey cards in the U.S. It was the fourth, and final, year in a row that Topps issued a 198-card hockey set. And it was the last time Topps would crudely alter photographs of players who were traded over the summer.

At a glance:
– 1989-90 Topps Hockey
– 198 cards
– Size: 2 1/2″ x 3 1/2″
Download checklist

If any set could represent the end of an era, it was this one.

Next year, the marketplace would expand, Topps would be overshadowed by newer companies making slicker products, and hockey card sets would balloon to upwards of 500 cards each.

So, let’s take a look back at 1989-90 Topps Hockey, and long for the days when a collector could build an entire set from only one box of cards.

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Review: 2005-06 Parkhurst Hockey

Great for fans of 1960s, 1990s hockey cards

400_f_zoomSeveral different companies have leased the Parkhurst name over the past 20-plus years, starting with Pro Set way back in 1991, as an effort to sell a brand of hockey cards with some nostalgia attached to it. The 2005-06 Parkhurst Hockey set was produced by Upper Deck, coming out just as the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals were underway. This late-season set was a great “jumping on” point for collectors who had fallen off the hockey card-collecting wagon, but wished to return and try to get some rookie cards from the 2005-06 “double rookie class” — without spending over $100 on a box of cards. This relatively low-price, late season release was met with mixed feelings from collectors. Continue reading “Review: 2005-06 Parkhurst Hockey”

Review: 1980-81 Topps Hockey

One of the ugliest hockey card sets ever made

bourqueYou would think that it would be impossible for me — a die hard hockey card collector — to hate a set of hockey cards. But there is one set that still makes me mad every time I think about it: the 1980-81 Topps Hockey set.

Topps used a stupid gimmick on their hockey cards that year. Player names were obscured by a black “scratch-off” puck that you had to remove with a coin in order to identify the player. This is even touted on the card wrappers. Continue reading “Review: 1980-81 Topps Hockey”