Wednesday, November 30, 2011

2011 Top 20 Under $25 - #17 - 1986-87 Topps Mario Lemieux

I better get rolling with this under $25 countdown if I'm going to finish by the end of the year. Here's a quick one at #17:

What is it? A 1986-87 Topps Mario Lemieux.
When and where did I get it? eBay, a few weeks ago.
How much did it cost me? $6.99 (free shipping!).

For the longest time 1986-87 Topps was one of those sets that just seemed foreign to me. I started collecting as a kid in 1989, so most of what I had was junk wax era and later. I did have a few cards from earlier in the decade, which I thought were practically priceless because they were so "old". I definitely recall a 1981-82 Topps Bill Barber that I kept in a top-loader and swore would help me with retirement someday. The 86-87 set was without representation in this small, cherished stack of cards though. Sure I saw a picture or two in a Tuff Stuff (remember those?), and a couple of my friends had a few, but that was about it.

After getting back into collecting in 2007, I ended up trading for a huge chunk of the 1986-87 Topps set. Since then, I've picked up a card or two here and there but haven't pursued the set too vigorously. One thing I did manage to accomplish this year was to organize all of my 1980-81 through 1989-90 Topps cards and get updated want lists. In the end, I found that I was less than 10 cards away from finishing this one off.

Mario here was one of the few cards I had left to go. I knew it would be one of the more expensive remaining pickups since it's the second most valuable card in the set ($30 BV) behind the Roy rookie. I was happy to grab this one for just $7 shipped. The card has good centering, good clean corners and looks right at home with the rest of the 86-87s in the binder.

I think Lemieux's is one of the better looking cards from this set. The design has grown on me and I love the fact that in most cases the colors used for the border match those of the player's uniform almost to a T. I like the closely cropped photo of Super Mario and the giant #66 in the foreground.

You'll be seeing some more 86-87 Topps here in the near future. If I can show some restraint from blowing my card budget on packs I should have this set finished off soon...

Best of Luck to Ya Bobby V!

This should be interesting to say the least...

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Ultimate Hockey Card Set - Card #245

It's time to select another card for The Ultimate Hockey Card Set, a franken-set of my all-time favorite hockey cards. Today we'll induct card #245. The card I selected is one of two that I purchased using the money I ended up with from parting with a few David Krejci cards a week or two ago. Before we get to the winner though, let's look at the two runners-up...

Coming in third place is this Johnny Bucyk Lady Byng Trophy card, which is #245 in the 1974-75 Topps set. Bucyk would certainly be a worthy player to include in the set, and I have a feeling one of his cards will make it in someday, but I'm not wild on the design of the 74-75 trophy winner subset. A small, blurry photo and way too much orange means I'm passing on this one.

The runner up is another Bruins card, this time from the 1979-80 Topps set. As I've said again and again I'm a huge fan of vintage team cards. The Bruins were nothing special in 79-80 though (in all fairness I wasn't even alive yet in 1980), losing in the second round of the playoffs to the eventual Stanley Cup Champion New York Islanders. Not only that, but I've already chosen the Gretzky and Gordie Howe cards from this set as selections for this franken-set and I'd like to keep it diverse where possible.

Alright, I've kept you hanging long enough. Here's the winner, one of the most exciting recent additions to my hockey card collection:

2008-09 Upper Deck - #245 - Steven Stamkos (RC)

After a solid first season in 2008-09 (23 goals, 23 assists), Stamkos became an absolute star in 2009-10. He lit the lamp 51 times, tying Sidney Crosby for most goals in the league. His 95 points were good for fifth in the scoring race. Last year was no different, as Steven recorded 45 goals (second in the NHL behind Corey Perry's 50) and 91 points (again good for fifth in the scoring race).

So far this year things have basically been the same for Stamkos. He's currently sixth in league scoring and is just a single goal behind Phil Kessel (who should be cooling off at any moment now) for the league lead. He's got as good a shot as anyone at capturing another Maurice Richard Trophy this season. Without question Stamkos is one of the new faces of the NHL.

Aside from being one of the game's most prolific scorers, the Lightning's sniper is also one tough hockey player. The fact that he returned to game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals against Boston after catching a vicious puck to the face earned him more respect in my book than any of his many highlight-reel goals.

Steven Stamkos is truly a superstar and a class act. He's got top-end talent, is a dedicated hard worker, and plays the game the right way. I think we all have those players who we root for any time they're not playing our favorite teams, and for me Stamkos falls into this category. I would love to see this kid (remember he's still just 21) win a Cup someday. In the meantime, I'm psyched to have his rookie card in my collection.

The Ultimate Hockey Card Set, which is now up to 10 cards and counting, can be viewed here.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

17 Wax Packs of 1983-84 O-Pee-Chee Hockey

First of all, it was high time I retired the Whalers header that's graced the top of this blog for the past couple of months. Instead, you'll be looking at a random assortment of goalie cards for the foreseeable future. Now, onto the post...

Just over a year ago I scored a whole slew of 1982-83 and 1983-84 O-Pee-Chee wax packs from the local hobby shop. I really enjoyed ripping the packs slowly, and managed to stretch them out for quite some time. I finished opening and sorting all of them a few months back, but am only just getting to scanning them in and updating my collection on Zistle now.

I'll post the best of the 1982-83 packs in another post, but for now here are some of the highlights from the 17 packs of 1983-84 O-Pee-Chee hockey:

#2 - Denis Potvin - Highlight

The cards are for the most part sorted by team. First there is the statistical leaders card for the team, then a Highlight card depicting one player, like the Potvin above, followed by the base cards for that team. This Potvin card may be my single favorite card from the 17 packs, a great Stanley Cup photo indeed. This one will get some serious consideration for induction into The Ultimate Hockey Card Set.

#3 - Mike Bossy

Bossy came out of the first couple of packs.

#13 - Ken Morrow

#16 - Denis Potvin

#24 - Glenn Anderson

I'll spoil the suspense right now, I didn't pull base cards of the four Oilers I'd want most (Gretzky, Messier, Kurri or Coffey).

#27 - Grant Fuhr

I did get Fuhr's second-year card...

#37 - Kevin Lowe

#43 - Boston Bruins Leaders - Rick Middleton

Here's what the leader cards look like. Definitely not my favorite of the team leader designs from the 80s...

#60 - Buffalo Sabres Leaders - Tony McKegney

#61 - Bob Sauve - Highlight

Awesome pads, Jofa helmet, and Titan stick.

#65 - Phil Housley (RC)

The rookie card of one of the greatest US-born players of all-time. Housley's 1,232 career points have him in the United States Hockey Hall of Fame and the Buffalo Sabres Hall of Fame. Unfortunately for Phil, despite playing in 1,495 career games he never captured a Stanley Cup.

#67 - Gilbert Perreault

Sal from Puck Junk recently pulled a very cool Perreault card...

#75 - Lanny McDonald - Highlight

#86 - Rejean Lemelin

I think I've mentioned this before, but I love the Molson practice jerseys sported by many of the Flames in this set.

#96 - Denis Savard - Highlight

#105 - Steve Larmer

I pulled both sides of the infamous Larmer/Ludzik error, Steve Larmer's card that actually depicts Steve Ludzik...

#106 - Steve Ludzik

...and Steve Ludzik's card that actually depicts Steve Larmer...

#114 - Doug Wilson

#116 - Corrado Micalef - Highlight

I'm not that familiar with Micalef but that mask is awesome.

#135 - Hartford Whalers Leaders - Blaine Stoughton

Did you know that Stoughton had four consecutive 40+ goal seasons with Hartford? It's true, in fact two of those four were 50+ goal seasons.

#138 - Ron Francis

Second year card of Francis, sporting some fantastic early-80s Whalers garb. Glad those Cooperalls didn't stick around. I picked this one up already from the quarter box at the local hobby shop, but I needed another one for my Whalers collection so it was a welcome double.

#139 - Marty Howe

#147 - Blaine Stoughton

#152 - Marcel Dionne

Great detailed look at the crown from the old Kings sweater on this card.

#163 - Dave Taylor

#181 - Bobby Smith

#215 - Wayne Gretzky - Goal Leader

I didn't end up with Gretzky's base card, but I was lucky enough to pull this NHL Goal Leaders card featuring the Great One. What a different game it was back then, seven different 50 goal scorers in 1982-83!

#219 - Paul Gardner/Al Secord - Power Play Goal Leaders

#220 - Randy Holt - PIM Leader

#221 - Pete Peeters - GAA Leader

#226 - Mel Bridgman

An airbrushed nightmare. That helmet looks like something out of Star Wars. I immediately recognized this one from a Puck Junk post a while back.

#251 - Rob McClanahan

My first card of one of the key members of the 1980 Miracle on Ice US Olympic hockey team. Rob scored 5 goals in that tournament, including the game-winner in the Gold Medal game.

#260 - Bill Barber

#268 - Pelle Lindbergh (RC)

Probably my best pull from these packs. I actually pulled two of these Lindbergh rookies, although I traded one away a while back.

#272 - Darryl Sittler

#287 - Quebec Nordiques Leaders - Michel Goulet

#288 - Michel Goulet - Highlight

#290 - Dan Bouchard

#293 - Dale Hunter

#302 - Anton Stastny

Didn't get Peter, guess Anton is good enough.

#308 - St. Louis Blues Leaders - Brian Sutter

#309 - Mike Liut - Highlight

This one would make my top 5 from these packs, another awesome mask.

#310 - Wayne Babych

There are two things that make this card great. The helmet, and the uni-brow.

#324 - Rick Vaive - Highlight

#325 - John Anderson

#343 - Rick Vaive

#366 - Bob Carpenter

#369 - Mike Gartner

#372 - Doug Jarvis

#373 - Al Jensen

#380 - Dave Babych

That's a wrap. While I did strike out on the two big cards from the set (Gretzky's base card and the Gretzky/Messier Highlight card), and also experienced some centering issues, these were a ton of fun to rip. For less than the cost of a blaster I ended up with over 170 different cards to start hand collating a set with. I got a lot of the mid-level cards including the Lindbergh and Housley rookies, second year cards of Francis and Fuhr, and a bunch of other Hall of Famers.

In the next few days I'll try to post the results of the 20 packs of 82-83 O-Pee-Chee. I like that set much better and had more success with those packs than I did these.
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