This set takes me back to a time when hockey card collecting was a much simpler thing. One set of cards, one set of stickers. That's all I would strive for in a year.
This set was the fifth year that I was really into building sets (yup, I missed the Gretzky rookie year by one year - ARRRGH!) and was finally getting serious about completing sets at this time.
This set really started to push the 'action shot' photography. Yes, the shots look completely inferior to card photos today - but take a look at the era. Not every game was being televised at the time. There were contests where not a single camera was present. The opportunity to get quality shots were fewer and further between than today.
This set is the standard 396 cards (where they came up with that number I'll never figure out - why not just go to 400?) and didn't feature any inserts of any kind.
The key rookie cards in the set were Steve Yzerman, Doug Gilmour and Cam Neely.
The front of the card offered a little more than previous OPC releases. As I mentioned, it attempted to give you a better action photo. Sometimes it worked - most of the time it didn't. A lot of the examples have a very 'busy' look to them. 2...3...4...5 guys in the photo just doesn't cut it. In some instances, you get an out of focus guy partially blocking the player being focused on the card. The card design as a whole though is one that I'm kind of partial to.
The border is simple yet effective, featuring the team colors. The spots for the name, team and head photo are nicely worked in to the design. Nothing fancy, but it was a step up from previous years. You could see the start of real creativity in card design at this point.
Speaking of the head photo, it was a neat feature at the time as I had never owned cards where I could really get a good look at what these guys' mugs looked like. Not always a good thing I guess.
The clean design is something that I think is a bit lacking today. Notice, no brand logo on the front of the card to mess up the photo. No extra words or fancy graphics. Just a simple card.
The back of the card is one of my favorites from the 80's (say for the pink color). Very nice, simple layout. Complete stats. A little tidbit on the player. Just a simple and effective card back. Looking at it today, I would have preferred smaller logos at the bottom - but that's a minor detail. After all, it was the 80's and everything was big back then.
I like the background design of the card. Again, nice and simple. It doesn't distract from what you're supposed to read. Cardboard green or beige would have been a little nicer.
Overall, it's a very nice looking set. I prefer it to most of the other sets from the 80's. It's not as susceptible to damage (like those 1981/82 'blue back' cards) and is a fun set to build. It has All-Star cards, Team Leaders, Record Breakers and League Leaders.
It's too bad that it was a weaker set in terms of player selection. No Lemieux, no Roy, no Hull or Sakic. It was Yzerman and the Oilers that inflated the price a bit.
While you don't see these cards out and about too often, a little digging and I bet you could find a substantial amount of the set for less than a lot of sets out there these days.
A fun set that'll take you back in time to where goalies looked human and players had hair.
3 out of 5