Too late to be in the mix of 'great sets from the 70's' and too early to hit the 'boom of the 80's releases', this product still has some great value (in the eye of the beholder).
What I initially like about this set is the simplicity - and not just in the design. 396! That was THE NUMBER when collecting cards in the late 70's and early 80's. A nice round number to hit to complete your season's worth of hockey card collecting. And you didn't have any leftover spaces in your 9-page sheets when putting your cards to a binder.
It's so nice to see sets that have a simple concept - get one of every card and then you're done. No short prints, no inserts, nothing fancy - just good ol' set building.
Not much else to talk about other that packs were .15 cents back then. Fifteen little pennies!!! Oh how I wish I had just an ounce of knowledge when it came to card economics back then. Oh well, let's take a look at the design.
Again, I will use the word simple. Not much in terms of a design concept. So what's the positive? Well, you can focus on the photo in the OPC card (which started to improve in it's photo selection).
A simple thin black border surrounds the photo and is not obstructed by any sort of logos or text. Like I said, the photo selection was improving from years past. What I really like about these older sets are the great vintage uniforms and the old equipment (gotta love tube skates).
Also, there were still a majority of players going helmetless (yes, it's crazy to think about that these days, but back then most guys did not don a helmet). You can see a little bit more individuality and character as a result.
The player name and position sit just below the photo and is sandwiched between it and the team nickname underneath (in large 70's style text and color). Simple, consistent and it works for me.
The team logo finishes off the front of the card by sitting in the bottom left corner.
The back of the card has that classic 'card back' design. The cartoon wood hockey stick frames the card on the left and the dark brown and blue give a vintage background for the text to be placed on.
The sets from the 70's did have some consistency issues and the card backs here really show that. Different font thicknesses are used for player names and some of the stats. Sometimes it's in all capital letters and other times it's in capital and lower case.
The player bio stats are hard to read (I lightened the scan) but give good info like '1st pro season' and 'how they were acquired'. The position and card number are just to the left.
The player stats are nice with all the seasons represented, including WHA for those who are affected by that. If there are not a lot of stats filling up the card back, they go with the fast fact (both in English and French.....after all - it's OPC).
The bottom of the card has a cartoon quick note for the player (which were pretty much standard back in the day). Some were pretty cheesy, but added to the aura of the card somehow.
This set gets lost in the shuffle not because it's a poorly designed set, it's because it doesn't have any huge rookie cards in the mix (the biggest RC's being Mike Milbury, Paul Holmgren and Mike Palmateer.....I kid you not).
The most expensive card in the mix would be Bobby Orr's last card during his playing days (and he's depicted in a Chicago Black Hawks uniform - so wrong).
Some of the cooler cards in the release would be the team checklists (remember the team photos?) and a great team logos subset. These are great to chase on their own and are tough to find in mint condition (especially the logos since they are on just a white background).
The last tidbit from this set would be card #312 - Rick Bourbonnais. Who? Well, he must have been an NHL nobody because his card has Bernie Federko pictured on the front (and this card pre-dates his rookie card). So all you Federko collectors, add this to your list (if you haven't already).
A great inexpensive vintage 70's set (you could probably build a nice looking set for less than $100) which is worth going after if you want to dabble in older set building. If you do tackle the older sets, be sure to take some time and observe the cut of the card, the corners (which are 35-years-old) and the centering (which was brutal back then). Taking your time to build this set will land you an impressive vintage release.
The card design though (while nice) is not overly memorable. An average attempt at best. Simple doesn't often score a lot of points.
2.5 out of 5