Tuesday, September 4, 2007
91-92 Topps Stadium Club
You know, for their first try at hockey cards without O-Pee-Chee's help since the '67-68 season, Topps' Stadium Club is a pretty good effort. It's half way in between a premium set (it has a glossy finish and gold foil trim) and the regular meat and potato sets that the Topps/O-Pee-Chee brands were known for (there were no inserts or sub-sets, just 400 pictures of hockey players).
The thing that I always liked about the few 91-92 Stadium Club cards I had as a kid was that each one had a picture of the player's rookie card on the back; it kind of felt like I was getting two cards in one. What I didn't realize until I bought the set a few weeks ago is that they only show each player's Topps rookie card. And since Topps always released smaller sets than O-Pee-Chee, it meant that a lot of players didn't have their Topps rookie card until several years after their O-Pee-Chee rookie. Mark Messier was an NHL All-Star and Conn Smythe trophy winner before he got his Topps rookie in 1986-- six years after his O-Pee-Chee rookie. Many of the other lesser players in this set either have their regular 91-92 Topps card shown on the back, or in some cases, their Stadium Club card-- meaning the same card on the front and back.
Overall, the photography in this set is pretty good. Topps made an effort to include a decent amount of action shots, which I appreciate even when it's hard to tell who is supposed to be the main focus. There are a few cards which are slightly dark or spotty, and there are some awkward dressing room photos, and my favorite, Tim Kerr looking like a casino owner, but compared to most early-90's cards, it's hard to complain.
Five of my favorites:
#306 - David Shaw - Other than action shots, my favorite thing to see on cards is fans going nuts. The guy with the glasses is cheering because that player knocked down that other player.
#318 - Garry Valk - I know I always talk about horizontal cards, but you can fit so much cool stuff onto a horizontal card if you do it right.
#381 - Ray Sheppard - Or you can leave it empty.
#391 - Stephane Matteau - Another card where it's not totally obvious who is supposed to be the main focus right away. But it's a pretty cool angle.
#249 - Bill Ranford - This one is perfect. There is lots going on, but you know exactly who is the center of attention.