Wednesday, February 1, 2012

ONE SHEET, ONE SET - 2007/08 BTP, The Rival League

I got around to working on my collection over the weekend and sorted through some cards that ended up in my 'One Sheet, One Set' project.

And while there's still a lot of organizing to do, I feel a little better knowing that I've got an actual post to celebrate the progress.

This set is for all you retro card lovers. I definitely fall into that category. A good old school design (with solid photos) really speaks to me.

Let's see what these cards have to say.

2007/08 In The Game
Between The Pipes

The Rival League

This subset has become a standard inclusion in the popular goalie product. Every year these cards are released, I check out the WHA inspired cards first. Sometimes ITG hit the nail on the head...other years they miss the mark.

In 07/08, In The Game included 11 'Rival League' cards into their 100 card set. A decent representation, but it leaves me looking for more.

It's important to note that in the mid-70's, the WHA was more than just a feeder league or a place for the older guys to head off to and prolong their career. This league put the NHL on notice that there was another option for players (and fans).

Sure, they had some recognizable veterans wearing their sweaters, but they also managed to pluck some top prospects away from the NHL as well.

What many consider to be chaotic league ended up being a very important era in professional hockey.

There's lots to be learned from the history of the WHA.

And that's what these cards try to offer...some insight into 'The Rival League'.

The first thing that hits me when I see these cards are the photos. Much like cards from the 70's, there's lots of room laid out for the pictures. No overlapping textures or color gradients. Just a simple framing for a photo that will let the shot speak for itself.

These cards employ a very consistent photo style. The 3/4 shot. Top of the head to about the knees. What I like about this is that you get a good look at the great looking jerseys, all-brown pads, waffle blocker and tiny catching mitt.

Some of these guys don't even look like they're wearing equipment when you match them up to their current counterparts.

What I do wish though, was that more of the goalie would have been wearing their masks. The majority of the photos are either staged shots (against the 70's style off-white wall) or warmup pics. A pretty big miss in my books.

Still, I've seen the photo selections from other years' Rival League subsets and the 07/08 selection is one of the best.

One thing I would like to see (and I'm not sure what limitations ITG has on WHA material) would be a mention of team names on the card front. The Cleveland Crusaders, The Cincinnati Stingers, The Toronto Toros, The Philadelphia Blazers.

That just reeks of retro.

As for the card design, ITG really hit the retro feel bang on. Rounded corners are aplenty and the double line border gives me that feeling of vintage familiarity.

The bottom of the card gives us some differing colors for the background to the players names. A decent selection that has an air of pastel. The grey used behind 'The Rival League' is nice....the blue behind the ITG logo is ok (maybe a little too bold).

You really can't get much simpler that this for a design. Well.....actually you can. I appreciate that ITG didn't do that though.

The back of the card looks like it comes straight from a WHA set back in the day.

A simple layout, blocks instead of curves (interesting) and with a palette based in browns.

Much like the front of the card, the back employs a nice font style. Simple, all capitals, tall and comfortable to look at.

If you notice, the team name appears on the back. Again, the omission of this information on the front can't be overlooked.

The one line of career WHA statistics are acceptable on these cards since they celebrate the entire career. What this leaves room for is more information below.

Sadly, this is where I think these cards fail slightly.

Rather than give us some great stories or unique quips about the players, the information basically lists how and when they came into the league, where and when they played during their WHA career and when it ended.

It lack personality big time.

While it must be difficult being a writer for card backs, I think there's more than enough space to come up with something that would make a person reflect, remember or dream.

By going the route they did, I would have preferred a year-by-year breakdown of their stats.

It's very minimal when it comes to the logos and copyright information on the back. It just makes the illusion of a retro card that much more believable.

Because this is a subset featured in a product that celebrates goalies from today and yesterday, the card stock has a much more modern feel.

Definitely more glossy, smooth, precisely cut and centered, it would be cool to really emulate that cards from the 70's (if you know what I mean).

Still, if you're a fan of the WHA, this subset (and the Rival League cards from other years) are a must.

With just a little searching, they can be had for the same price as the regular base cards. Waiting a year or two after the release might even get you some cards thrown your way for nothing.

A solid concept that could be pushed just a little further in my opinion.

3.5 out of 5

1 comment:

  1. Neat set! It's basically 1975-76 OPC WHA, modified just enough not to be liable in any kind of lawsuit. :)

    I love the Cheevers. Bernie Parent just makes me sad.