Thursday, February 25, 2010

TO THE BIKE SPOKES!!! - Scott Niedermayer

In keeping with the Olympic theme this month, I thought I'd post a gem from the captain of the Canadian hockey team.

1994/95 Flair
#96 Scott Niedermayer

It's obvious to see why the Canadians are doing so well....there's TWO Scott Niedermayers playing for the team. The regular one - and his 'mini-me' version.

So the concept of this set is to have 2 pictures composited on the front of the card. On most of the cards in the set, one photo would be a tight shot (mostly of just the player's head) and a wider shot (full body mostly).

Most of the cards in the set are just a train wreck. Maybe one in every 15 cards would have a decent layout to the photos. Others would have bad dissolving between photos or terrible composition.

In Scott's case, they just fell asleep at the wheel. It seriously looks like there are two of him on the ice. And they're almost identical poses. Way to mix it up guys. Oh wait a minute, there is a difference, the bigger Scott has his tongue sticking out to the left while the smaller Scott has his tongue out to the right. Awesome! I will call this my ambidextrous Niedermayer card (don't make me type that out again).

The kicker to all of this is that on the back of the card is a nice close-up shot of Scott that would have been perfect for the front of the card.

Flair does NOT have a flair for card making.

Pfftttttttt!!!! To the bike spokes!

Oh, and GO CANADA!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

ONE SHEET, ONE SET - 1996/97 Upper Deck Series II

This set comes from a time period where there was a lot of transition in the NHL. Tradition was leaving way for innovation, the old vets were being pushed harder than ever by a young crop of talent, ideas were flying to promote the game in the US (not every idea was a good one though) and hockey cards were about to explode into an entirely new realm.

In the late 90's, the creation of the jersey card changed the way we look at cards. Options, prices, quality, rarity all were affected considerably. I feel that it was this innovation more than anything that really diversified the hobby. Gone were the majority of set collectors and in came the player collectors, jersey collectors, patch collectors, etc.

This set was a great reminder that there was good quality in base card collecting (and still is in my opinion).

1996/97 Upper Deck Series II

The first thing I notice when I look at these cards is the fantastic photography. Action shots, close ups, unique angles and original concepts made for a great foundation for a card set.

The series I set that year was 210 cards while this series II set is 180. Not all of the big names are in it (as they are all in series I), but there is still some strong player representation.

The other thing I notice from this set right away is the awesomely hideous third jerseys. The LA Kings 'McDonalds' jerseys and my favorite Canucks jerseys are highlights for me. A great stamp on the time period.

The front of the card is pretty simple. A borderless design with just a silver bar on the left and a gradient section at the bottom for a nice touch that I will talk about in a second.

The Upper Deck logo is in the top right and is in an embossed silver foil. Looks much nicer than the logo being just part of the photo. The same embossing is on the left side bar. The ice surface texture is subtle and looks nice. The team logo is in the half oval at the bottom. I would have liked a little punch of color here, but it's still ok.

Now, the addition of the 'game dated' moment is a really nice touch. It leads me to believe that the moment listed and the photo in the card are to match. If this is the case - very cool. Some of the moments are a little on the lame side, but still a really cool concept.

The back of the card is one of the better ones I've seen from the sets in the 90's.

The basic information is at the top. The card number could have been a little more separated, but that's very minor. The team name in the right corner looks a little bland (I think the logo would have been better here). A tinge of team color that was lacking on the front of the card. And yes...a different photo on the back.

What I am really impressed with though is the stats. Complete stats that go over the photo. The stat section is opac so if there are a number of years to list, you can still see the whole photo. For a guy with just a year or two, you get more of the photo. It works really well.

Some tidbits about the player is on the right side and can sometimes look busy (especially with the photo as the know, the one from the front of the card. Tsk, tsk, a little too much, but thanks for trying). Again, logos fill the bottom - Ugh.

All said though, these cards look sharp, really sharp. Definitely more pros than cons.With this set nearing 15 years in age, it's a good bet that you would be able to get most of the set for a very low price. Only a handful of cards book for more than $1 and the majority are rookies. The big name in the set is the Joe Thornton RC (but on ebay, book prices for cards this old that have no serial numbering go for a song).

A quality set all around.

4 out of 5

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

LINDEN CARD OF THE WEEK - 1997/98 Esso Olympic Hockey Heroes French Autograph

Just a quick note. The last 'Linden card of the Week' I posted on the Valu-Net Olympic phone card yielded an e-mail from someone who had some clarifications for me.

First, there were only 2 types of phone cards released, the $5 version and the 15 'units' version. For each version there are 3 variations. The difference is noticed on the back.

For the $5 version, there is one that says 'promotional', there is one with a silver scratch bar and the third is in a cello pack.

For the 15 'units' version, there is one that says 'promotional', there is one with a silver scratch bar and there is and autographed version with a silver scratch bar on the back.

Apparently the auto versions are extremely scarce - woo hoo! Currently I have 4 of the 6 cards and am hoping to keep in contact with the person who gave me this information as he has one of the 2 I need (actually he has both, but the other one is part of his personal collection).

Thanks Danny for the information. It was very much appreciated.

Now onto this week's card.

1997/98 Esso Olympic Hockey Heroes
#A-8 Autograph French Version (500 sets)

Staying with the Olympic theme. This was a great find for me. I have only seen 2 of these autographed card variations. The first I passed on because it was a high price, the second was mine since it had been almost 10 years since I saw the first. These cards never seem to surface. I'm betting that most of these auto versions are still in the cello packs just waiting to be busted open. Note: if you see someone selling bulk cello packs of these cheap - grab 'em!

There is both an English version in addition to the French. Getting the unsigned versions are extremely easy. I just don't get why these auto versions are so scarce.

It's an over-sized card that came in a mini binder. There were cards for each Olympic country and included some cards from the womens team as well.

The back has some good stats and a comment by Ron Maclean. It's a great addition to my Linden collection and I'm really happy to have landed this card.

Anyone with the english auto version - just let me know.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Custom Creations: FA Authentic debuts

Well, I've been sitting on these creations for a number of months now and I'm ready to show them off.

I've been thinking of ways to expand on my collection recently. I've been drawn to the non-sport aspect of this hobby and have really seen some amazing releases over the past few months. What really caught my eye though was the autograph cards in these products.

It inspired me to develop a few of my own. The goal is to send them off through the mail (TTM) in hopes of getting them signed. It has the potential of being an inexpensive way of adding some real nice pieces to my collection.

I call the set "FA Authentic". FA stands for Flashback Autograph. I'm looking at getting signatures from celebrity and sport stars that were "big" back in the late 70's and the 80's (when I was a kid). People that were at the forefront of pop culture at the time as well as those who really bring back great memories.

The first card I decided to create was the result of a magazine article I did last year. I had the extreme pleasure of interviewing Fred "Curly" Neal of the Harlem Globetrotters. At the time, he asked me if I had any of his more recent cards (the ones with autographs on them). Searching ebay and the likes, I realized that his cards demand a pretty hefty price tag.

So, I decided that I would send him the next best thing - a custom card that he can autograph and keep in his collection.

I decided to add the back of the card :)

The day I finalized this design was the day that I knew this venture would be an exciting and successful one - even if I don't get a single autograph.

I'm really happy with the way the card turned out.

I plan on sending a couple cards out to him along with a copy of the magazine article for him to keep. I'm excited that this card is the first in my new set.

What can I say - he was the second guy I thought of when I thought about the 80's.

That - and with a new A-Team movie coming out, I thought it'd be cool to get an original.

I pity the fool who makes fun of my card!

Last one for this go-around is another original.

Marc Singer was the star of one of my favorite shows in the 80's.....V.

The remake that came out late last year was not even close to matching the intensity and drama of its predecessor.

I'm currently putting packages together for all 3 and am hoping to send them off in the next couple weeks. Rule #1 is - have proper return postage on your SASE. I'm having some US stamps mailed to me at this moment.

I'll be making more cards for this set and will be keeping track of my successes.

Should be fun!

Raise The Cup - Progress.....UGH!

I was going through some of my old base cards that have just been taking up space in my closet. Organizing and eventually getting rid of most of them. I plan on keeping some for my 'One Sheet, One Set' project, my goalie mask collection as well as plucking the odd 'Bike Spoke' card.

One of the other sets that I've been kind of keeping an eye out for is my 'Raise The Cup' project. Cards where players are hoisting the cup over their heads. Capturing that pinnacle moment in a player's career.

I came one card that I knew I needed a reason to exclude from the set.

MESSIER!!!! How I hate this guy. Messier and coach Mike Keenan both were the reasons why my favorite player was traded from the Canucks in a terrible move by the club (granted, they got Bertuzzi and McCabe in the process....but still).

Before that though, they were the main players in the New York Rangers ending their long curse for the cup. One game away from Trevor Linden leading the Canucks to the promise land. It still stings to think about it.

Now looking at the card, Messier isn't raising the cup over his head. It doesn't have the same feel as the other cards in my collection. So with that, after serious deliberation, I have decided that it will not be included in my 'Raise The Cup' collection. (he, he, he).

Sadly, Messier gets the last laugh - again.

Did I mention that I hate Messier.

I hate his teammates too.

All of them.

Especially this guy. I can't believe Nick Kypreos has a Stanley Cup ring. This card needs to be put through the bike spokes for sure. I mean look at his mug. That's just wrong.

1994/95 Topps Stadium Club....I hate you as a set. The New York Rangers 'love in' is just wrong. To make matters worse, there were a half-dozen other Rangers cards that had players holding the cup, drinking from the cup, posing with the cup.

The New York Rangers circa 1994 - I don't like you. But I've added 4 cards to my collection.


'Raise The Cup' collection - 7 cards

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Article: History of the Mask

Well, I completely forgot about posting this article back a few months ago. I guess better late than never.

Back at the start of November, we celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the night the goalie mask was introduced into the NHL. Jacques Plante was the innovator who took a chance on being ostracized and ridiculed by his teammates, players in general as well fans of the game.

Confident in his decision, Plante donned the mask and forever changed the way the game was played and is a direct credit to lengthening careers and probably saving lives.

I wrote an article on the goalie mask for The Insider's Edge magazine and it was printed in the December 2009 issue.

Here is that article. Enjoy.

The Insider's Edge is a monthly sportscard magazine for collectors, written by collectors. For anyone wanting more information on the magazine, please leave a comment below and I will give you the lowdown. Thanks.

TO THE BIKE SPOKES!!! - Doug Gilmour

Last weekend, I spent some time going through some of my old sets that I'm packing up to get rid of. Oh, did it bring back memories.

I came across a few gems that will pop up on this blog over the next while.

This next card though was a lock for "first up". When I think hockey cards, this image did not (and will never) come to mind.

1992/93 Pinnacle Sidelines
#233 Doug Gilmour

Oh baby..."Killer" is on top of his game in this photo.

This subset was designed to showcase players that "did stuff" outside of playing hockey. This pic was hands down the worst.

The back of the card states "Doug has already become a leading man in Toronto. It shouldn't be long, though, before he receives top billing on the silver screen."

This hockey card throws the word "type-cast" all over his face. Yikes.

What makes it all even better....I'm pretty sure my grandma has the same pink scarf.

This card should have remained on the cutting room floor.

Pffttttttttt! To the bike spokes you go!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

1 vs. 100 - update

Well, it has been a couple months since I have updated this collection. I'm very excited though as I have just completed a huge trade to add 13 cards to this set.

I am eagerly anticipating the arrival of these cards and am hoping to get them in the next week or two.

I will be sure to post the additions as soon as I get them.

The last card show I went to yielded no cards and so I am going to start perusing ebay a little more as well as online trades.

Should be a great next month or so for this collection.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


This entry into the 'Cardboard Photography' list is one that I can really appreciate.

2002/03 Upper Deck Victory
#96 Felix Potvin

First off, let me say that I love goalie masks. I think they are eye-catching, unique pieces of equipment (in all of sports). The artwork on some of these goalies' masks are unreal. And the vintage fibreglass stuff is off the charts.

I'll say it again - I LOVE GOALIE MASKS!

Obviously, this card is one that caught my eye immediately. The advances in photography by 2002 made it possible to get in real close to capture something like this. Can you imagine cards from the 60's looking like this - talk about 'must have' cards...that's what they would be.

The "I'm going to splash some water on my face" is a classic move by the goalies and it was only a matter of time before it was forever captured on a hockey card. Now I'm not saying that this is the first example of it, I just like the look of this one.

There are "drinking" shots out there that don't work at all. I think you need to be able to see the face of the goalie (and not be blocked by the Gatorade bottle completely....yes, I've seen it happen). I think there needs to be a good balance of splash (the crisp water droplets is what really sets these shots apart).

Ultimately, I love the dynamics of the shot. An extreme closeup - giving you a unique and inside look into the nuances of the game (or at least what happens in between whistles).


What I am really liking about my team this year is that when one player struggles, another picks up the slack.

Case in point - Martin Brodeur and Ryan Miller. These guys have been lights out all season. Lately though, they've been struggling (let's get to the Olympic break already) and have only produced a combined 2 points this month.

Matthew Lombardi in one night more than doubled that amount. Pominville, Alfredsson and Stamkos (who is on fire - your loss Team Canada) have really stepped their game up and have extended my lead in the pool.

My injury situation is the best it has been all season. Only my third goalie Varlamov is still out (but he should be back sooner than later (too bad he's not in there right now as the Caps are ridiculously hot).

Soon the frustration of the season will be over....for the rest of the guys in the pool.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Alright! I've been promising some older sets for my "One Sheet, One Set" posts and here I go.

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.

1984/85 OPC

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

Monday, February 8, 2010


I didn't know what word would best describe what I wanted to post about today. Individualism seemed to be the best choice, but I'm still not quite happy with it.

Read on and let me know if you can come up with a better word.

When I was a kid growing up, hockey cards were a simple thing. One season, one set, 396 cards. Once I got all of them - I was done. For most of my friends, that was what you collected.

I had no problem with that.

As the industry changed in the 1990's, I eventually found myself becoming more disinterested in card collecting. Part of the reason was that I was unhappy with what I was collecting. It wasn't fun and it seemed more of a burden than anything.

Returning to the hobby in the late 90's, I tried my hand at many different collecting "styles". Sets (new and old), inserts, and eventually landing on player collecting.

The choices throughout these years were mine and mine alone. I was in charge of what I collected.

I'll admit, I made some choices that I wish I could take back now (like hoarding unopened boxes of Pro Set Series II - ouch!), but I think I needed to go through those nasty trails in order to get to where I am today with my collection.

What I'm most happy with is that I came across my collection because it is what I decided to collect. Not because I knew some other people who collected Trevor Linden and I decided to follow suit. I came up with the reason and it is MY collection.

Lately I have seen people asking "Who should I collect?" I don't understand the reason to ask that question. If you can't make the decision yourself, then why are you really collecting?

If it's a toss-up between a couple players and you throw the choices out there for others decide, then I would wonder why you couldn't make the decision yourself.

Are you collecting for investment (hoping you can flip your cards down the road for a profit)? Are you collecting out of boredom (and just don't really care what you get)? Are you collecting because you are following other people's leads (and end up with a 'flavor-of-the-week' pick)?

I think that a true collector can find the essence of his or her collection. That may sound deep, but I think that is the way to determine one's true enjoyment in the hobby.

I know collectors that have come up with some standard collections (sets, players, teams, etc.) but they are truly passionate about what they collect. They understand the essence of their collection and what they enjoy about the hobby.

I know collectors that have some neat 'ouside the box' ideas for collections (enforcers, goalies, players holding the Stanley Cup, guys who wear jersey number 72...for whatever reason, but you get my drift). A little creative thinking has given them a quest - and it was their decision, their collection.

For me, I love my player collection, but I realize now that Trevor Linden has retired, there won't be too many new cards of him coming out. Sure there will be the search for the Linden's I have yet to acquire, but I wanted to expand my collection. That's why I'm also collecting my goalie mask cards, my "One Sheet, One Sets", my "1vs100" and "players raising the Stanley Cup". I may add to it or I may not.

But in the end, the choice will be mine and mine alone. If it isn't - then it isn't my collection.

note: for the record, 11 players have worn jersey #72...we can all say we learned something today.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Custom Creations: Gilles Gilbert

Well, I'm just getting ready to watch the Super Bowl, but I thought I'd share my latest creation.

Another cut-auto to go with the others I have put together.

This one was tough. I must have tried a dozen or so looks and templates, but nothing looked right. I was also struggling because the autograph was so close to a couple others that I didn't have a lot of extra cutting space.

In the end, I decided to cheat and put a little bit of spare paper in to cover a gap. It's hardly noticeable and the result is a better looking card.

I'm getting a little better with the die-cutter, but cutting out the spot where the autograph sits is still really tough. Fourth time was a charm this go around.

I'm mailing off the four cards I have done and I know the recipient is eagerly awaiting. I'm excited to get his feedback.

Anyways, enjoy the big game. I predict Indy 27-21 (they'll comeback in the second half).

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Custom Creations: I was sweating this one!

I've been working on a number of custom cards for someone who has trusted me with some pretty cool items.

A while back I showed you a Maurice Richard cut auto and a Jean-Guy Talbot cut auto. Although I was pretty nervous putting the cards together, I was confident in my technique since I was able to practice with photocopies.

The card I tackled today really tested my nerves.

This was a one-shot only deal. I had spent days trying to figure out the best way to assemble this card without completely butchering it.

Needless to say I was extremely relieved when I finally punched it through my die-cutter. The back is just slightly off center, but I'm thrilled with the way it turned out.

It's a really cool piece I think. I did some research on the concert that this ticket was for. It was one of the last ever concerts put on by the 'Fab Four'. It was less than 2 weeks later that The Beatles played their final concert in front of a paying audience.

Pretty neat.

Thursday, February 4, 2010


This installment of cardboard photography takes a look at a newer photo angle introduced to cards just a few years ago.

This example of it though is one of my favorites.

The "net cam".

Normally, the net cam shot would show the hind end of the goalie either making a save or letting in a goal. What I like about this photo is that it is taken during the play as it develops in the corner (probably just after he made a save).

Still focusing on the play, he is framed nicely and the background work great with the whole vibe of being "in the moment of the play".

I think shots like these give you a glimse into the game (and the goalie) that television can't.

A great looking card.