Tuesday, January 17, 2017

My first pack of O-Pee-Chee brand cards, ever

There are some brands that stand the test of time. Topps, Fleer, Upper Deck, Press Pass, Panini, those are all major brands that I've opened hundreds of packs of....with no disrespect intended to the card companies that were around for a while but never reached the "Big Three" level, now big 4 with Panini on the scene.
The one that really counts but has been outside of my collecting parameters is O-Pee-Chee, the Canadian card company. Technically the oldest card company around today, O-Pee-Chee issued it's first cards in 1934, a full 15 years before Topps' first card release. Originally issuing cards on it's own but eventually partnering with Topps and now Upper Deck to produce the cards, the company is still it's own entity, at least if Wikipedia is to be believed, although at this point in time it's more about the name tradition than selling gum (which, as I show below, is a very good thing)

However, O-Pee-Chee has been mostly outside my collecting parameters. They DID issue Star Wars sets which are very much in my collection focus, and other non-sports sets that I would have been interested in if I had found them...but I've never seen them. I don't know if they are truly rare or I just don't have the right contacts. Keep in mind that I was totally out of non-sports cards from 1997-2009.

O-Pee-Chee never released an NBA set, to the best of my knowledge, despite the fact that the first ever NBA game was actually held in Canada. The Toronto Huskies, who hosted (and lost) the first game, folded after only one season, and the NBA did not return to Canada until 1995. (In fact, there's not a single Toronto Huskies card ever made, I believe, though their jersey does appear as a throwback on at least one card showing the Toronto Raptors)

But now...finally, in 2017, I've begun collecting hockey. O-Pee-Chee and Hockey have a very long history, dating back to the aforementioned set of 1933. Since I began the active collecting of hockey cards by hitting my local source for vintage packs, two sealed packs of 1990-91 O-Pee-Chee were procured by me and this is the breakdown for my very first pack of O-Pee-Chee cards, ever!

First out was the one per pack insert, which documents the Soviet Red Army team.
Unfortunately, the back of this card has had gum resting against it for the past 27 years, and was severely damaged by it. I really, really wish gum had never been put with cards in the first place.
I wasn't even successful in removing all the gum off it- you can see there is some of it still stuck over the word Army in the 1989 stat line, and elsewhere. I got as much off of it as I could, and then put the card in a penny sleeve, which I made the scans through. It's unfortunate that it took this damage because it is the first hockey insert I pulled in my new sport's endeavor. And all because of the gum.

Whenever I see a card of the Soviet national team (which from what I've gathered this essentially is) I can't help but think of the line from Simpsons, "In Soviet Union, Review watches you!" and changing it in my head to "In Soviet Union, Cards collect You!"

Dave Chyzowzki was the first standard player card to come out of the pack. Even though I'm planning to collect the entire league fate seems to be pushing me towards the Islanders as I've simply got more access to them, and then I've been pulling them in the packs I've been opening. It's all good in my book (well, except the gum damage)
New York Rangers team card came next. I love the concept of team cards and wish they still existed. I don't know who any of these guys here are yet, but someday I hope to.

Steve Larmer is the first of two Chicago Blackhawks to appear in the pack. 
Randy Carlyle came out of the pack next. You don't see many balding athletes, but the back of the card attests that 1990-91 was his 16th year in the NHL. Great team logo, also!
Dave Andreychuk makes all three teams from my home state represented in one pack. We actually stopped at a Tim Horton's in Buffalo once, just throwing that out there...
Yvon Corriveau puts the Hartford Whalers into this pack as well. Although the team is gone I tend to lean towards considering them my "home" team. I've been to Hartford more times than I've been to Buffalo or NYC combined and one of my local card shops is actually in Connecticut. And they wore green, long my favorite color.

A northeast hot pack? Perhaps, as the New Jersey Devils make an appearance as well!

Denis Savard is the last card out of the pack, and it shows him as a Blackhawks player, with the Blackhawks color coding and team banner, but texts on Now with Canadiens. I suppose that makes this a Canadiens card and not a Blackhawks card, thus negating my caption for Steve Larmer. Unfortunately this card is also damaged, I'm not sure if the gum did it or if the wax did it, but you can see the damage on the top right corner.

Here's the back of the standard NHL player card. All of them have some of the brown spotting but some are worse than others.
I love the color scheme they chose for this year, mint green and blue on white. It works really well. You can see the red spots by the card number, especially.

The design looks more 1980s than 1990s but to me that is not a bad thing in any way. shape or form.

Overall a fun pack to open despite the damage. It's not every day you can open your very first pack of one of the major brands in the hobby, after all!

Here's what the pack looks like.

Next post I will be back to the NBA with my December trade recap. I have had it written for several days but have been putting it off as I am exploring the world of hockey.


  1. Nice intro to the collecting of hockey cards!

  2. I rework that Simpsons line for all sorts of situations - it's one of my go to jokes. Canada, Russia... so much international flavor in this post!

    1. Me too. Nary a day goes by where I don't quote the Simpsons or modify a quote to fit my needs.

  3. Happy to see you land a Whaler in your very first pack! I look forward to more hockey posts here on Cardboard History!

    1. Me too! I'm going to be looking for some Whalers games on YouTube as soon as time allows. Hope I can find some!

  4. Steve Larmer is a hard to find card here in Peterborough.. He used to run a hockey school and the kids would go looking for his cards..

    I miss the old Winnipeg Jets logo..

    1. Cool! I like the current logo they have but this one showing a passenger jumbo jet is just great as well.

  5. O-Pee-Chee put team cards in their latest 2016-17 OPC Hockey set.

    1. Cool! I have not gotten to Target yet to raid the new stuff, hopefully by the end of this week that will change.