Thursday, August 18, 2016

An Olympic project that didn't go as planned; Triumph of will power

As you know by now, I love the Olympics. I love them so much I even skipped last night's Truck race...from watch Olympics. THAT is how much I love them.

I knew that I would not be buying a box of the current year's Olympic card set, until it got cheaper. I paid full price for the 2014 Sochi set, and now the hobby box is on sale for $20. Had I waited, I could have gotten three boxes!

But I like to open Olympic cards during the Olympics.

So what to do?

Well...back when I ordered the Sochi box, in 2014, I also ordered a box of 1991 Impel US Olympic Hall of Fame.
I apologize for the crappy picture. You'd think I would have been able to get a good one, I really should have turned the flash on on my camera.

I got it in February 2014. And I didn't open it. For TWO AND A HALF YEARS! That is an amazing display of will power on my behalf. I've gotten better, but I used to have my cards open before leaving the parking lot of the card shop on a regular basis. I once did a box of 2010 Legends in 3 minutes or so, however long it took my mom to pick up a prescription, and nothing more.

So to keep this factory sealed for so long...I'm amazed I did it.

I cracked the seal during the first day of competition,  August 6th. I opened a pack a day. I figured, this is a huge box, so hopefully it will be a huge set right? Nope. It's only 90 cards. The goal was to get me through the entire Olympics and finish opening the packs left during Closing Ceremonies.
It didn't work out that way, as I completed the set on August 15th, and I'm almost at two complete sets, with 15 cards a pack there's a lot of duplicates.

I still have half the box, perhaps a few packs more than half, unopened. There are no inserts to chase- not a single one- so I don't plan to open them. It is now only the second set where I ran out of cards to look for before I ran out of packs.

In the end, I'm a little disappointed with the set. Sure, it's 90 cards, but cards #52 to 72 focus on only two teams, multiple cards of the same players. (They are the 1964 basketball team and the 1980 Hockey team- the Miracle on Ice team). While they are the only cards printed to commemorate those teams, (I think, definitely with basketball) with a long history of Olympics I feel they could have given cards to more athletes...or made the set bigger. 90 cards is never enough for any sport, let alone a set that covers almost 100 years of a sporting event.

The cards themselves are fine. I have only scanned 3, as the entire set is already on the Database, I put aside cards already done there, but I scanned three to have something to post here, no particular reason I chose these three, they just happened to be on top of the stack when I chose to scan.

Card backs- for the people, if not the team cards- are very good. They give a detailed bio and even "where are they now" info on most (not this one, though), plus a listing of their Olympic wins. This is card backs done right.
So the plan didn't work exactly as I thought it would. Reading the cards though has been very educational, as I really started watching the Olympics in earnest with the 1992 Barcelona games, most of the cards in this set cover athletes and events from before I was born. As there aren't a lot of Olympic cards through the years, finding out the histories isn't as easy as the stick and ball sports that get the cardboard love. Honestly, most of the history I know of the NBA came from reading card backs.

But it's not my only Olympic cards to open. I bought a "complete" set of 1983 Topps Greatest Olympians, which I am taking a few cards out of the plastic case each day...if I remember. I forgot to do any on the 17th, so I took out 3 extra today. I did sleep through most of the 17th as I have not been feeling too good so I could use that as an excuse, but in reality I didn't pay attention to the time and just plain missed it. (I have been taking out three a day, the Olympics are going to end before I run out, so I may save the rest for the next Winter Olympics in 2018). I really don't like to buy hand collated sets because I have been burned so often on them, but the price was right ($4 for 99 cards) and I didn't have any from the set, so I felt it was worth the risk. Time will tell but I have already found the big names- Muhammad Ali and Jesse Owens- so I have hopes that it will turn out to be complete. I also have one more pack of this year's set I procured at Target, which I will open during Closing Ceremonies, and I still have one pack left of the 2012 London set that I have not decided when to open.

One other bit of trivia- the photo of Bob Beamon in the 1991 set is the exact same one Topps used in the 2016 set. I don't think he should have been in this year's set- it should have been for current athletes- but that's a different topic, which I've talked about before. The thing is, the Topps card is in color, and the Impel card is in black and white...which makes me wonder what other photos may have been in color in the set and they chose not to print that way.

There is one variation  in the set that I don't have. Card #40 has the image on the back mirrored, I have only the version where the top of his head points left. I don't think I'll open the rest of the cards to see if I find the other version. I don't really chase variations too often but I'm sure it would be cheap enough if I wanted to add this one.

I still enjoyed it, even if it didn't work out like I planned, but I'm glad I was able to complete the set. And I'm truly amazed I was able to keep a box of a set that I didn't have a single card of sealed for more than 2 years! Water Polo just came on, one of my favorite Olympic events, so I guess it's time to stop typing :)


  1. There is no way that I could have waited so long to open the set! I am glad there are cards to see for the Olympics at all.

  2. I remember these being available by the pack at our local grocery store. I bought a few and still have an Ali and Carl Lewis card around someplace I think.

    1. Cool, I don't think I ever saw this set for sale, even at card shows back when it was new.

  3. If there were any Olympics themed cards up here they would come out for the Winter games and feature mainly hockey and curling with some ski jumping.

    1. I would collect them too, if they existed!

  4. I have a ton of dupes from this set, but only one complete set. I had gotten it back in the day from opening a box (I don't think I have that box anymore) and a ton of individual packs mostly from my LCS. I forget how many packs I went through or how much I ended up spending. Long story short I do have a full set and duplicates of most of the cards. The one card that took me ages to get and the cause of going through a ton of packs was #16 Peggy Flemming.

    Not sure if I have the 2 variants that I know about. I haven't checked. You mentioned the #40 mirror image variant. There is also a Mary Lou Retton #27 variant with the back head shot photo I have heard about. I saw someone post about it a few months back forget if it was a blog or on a forum. They showed the two backs. One variant has the competition picture (the one that the Trading Card DB shows and the one I'm fairly certain I have) and the other has a more "recent" head shot(from when they made the cards).

    1. I didn't know about that variant. I pulled three of her cards, now I will have to check them and see which I have. Peggy Flemming came out of the second pack I opened. Go figure, lol