Saturday, July 11, 2020

Box Break - 1991-92 Upper Deck Hockey

A while back (like, over a year ago now) I broke a wax box of 1991-92 Upper Deck hockey.  My brothers and I initially got into hockey cards during the 1989-90 season, and then saw the scene really explode with the 1990-91 releases.  Nevertheless, in my recollection I ripped as much of this '91-92 Upper Deck release as a kid as I did any product during those preceding two seasons.

Even these foil wrappers bring me right back to sitting around on the living room floor in the early '90s, ripping packs and trading cards with my brothers.  Great memories, I really miss those days.

What I remember most about this set is of course the white glossy card stock, high quality photos, and holograms on the back that Upper Deck was known for at the time.  In addition though, I remember that (like many sets from this era) this release was absolutely littered with subsets.

The other thing I find interesting about this release is that it doesn't really contain any one or two single cards that I'd consider iconic.  Maybe that's just me.  When you think '79-80 Topps though, you think Gretzky RC immediately.  1989-90 O-Pee-Chee?  All about Sakic and Leetch RCs.  Even the inaugural Upper Deck hockey set, released the year prior to this one, has the Fedorov and Bure RCs.  This release though?  Not so sure.  There are some great ones that come to mind as you'll see, but something feels different to me about them.

Rather than do a painstaking pack-by-pack break of cards you've all seen hundreds of times over the decades, I figured I'd save myself weeks of time and just post some random highlight cards that I enjoyed through the course of the break.

With that being said, let's take a look at some notable pulls from my box...

As a kid I thought these Canada Cup subset cards were the coolest.  Seeing the stars I was accustomed to seeing in their NHL sweaters in international gear instead was just such a kick.  Even now almost 30 years later, I still think this Teemu Selanne is a fantastic card.

How about this early gem, featuring the greatest defenseman of his era, and one of the greatest ever to play the position?  Love it!

Picked this Mike Foligno to feature because I think the photograph is kinda cool, and because I love the old school helmet style Mike is rocking here.

Just like in the other sports that Upper Deck produced at the time, there were "Heroes" inserts to be found in this product.  Brett Hull was the subject, though this is obviously the header/title card.

The inserts that appealed to me more as a kid collector though were these beautiful holograms.  Whereas the holograms in the inaugural release the year prior were very fuzzy and difficult to make out, these are stunning.  Upper Deck improved by leaps and bounds here in just a year's time.  They even scan well, which in my experience is rare for hologram cards.  Just look at that Brett Hull!

Easily one of my favorite players throughout the '90s, easily one of the better rookie cards to be found in this release.  This one is as close to iconic as I guess you'll get in this set, per my point in the opening, but I still don't feel like it's as generally recognizable and regarded as the Fedorov Young Guns RC from the year prior.

Controversial '89-90 "rookie" Sergei Makarov gets a killer card in the set thanks to this great horizontal photograph.

Ditto for his teammate, Mike Vernon!

Just kinda hopping around in random order here based on how these were pulled from packs and scanned over time.  Back to a couple of the Canada Cup inserts with the ageless wonders Chris Chelios...

...and Jaromir Jagr.  It's still amazing to me that this pair played well into their 40s at the NHL level.  Makes me feel like I've still got some gas left in the tank myself!

One of the more memorable photographs from this release has in my mind always been this Theo Fleury, hopping over the boards in a dark rink.  Not exactly sure why, but this is a card I remember fondly from the winter of '91.

Here's a look at one of the standard Hull Hockey Heroes inserts.  Same general design as the Heroes inserts from other sports, though you'll notice the cutout/frame that Brett is emerging from here is in the shape of the NHL crest.

Another cool Hull, showcasing his lesser-remembered stints with Minnesota (collegiate) and Calgary prior to his arrival in St. Louis.

One of the other really notable rookies in the set is Dominik Hasek.  This guy was really, really good.  Amazingly good.  Good enough that I'd watch an entire game back in the '90s just to watch him play.  An under-rated rookie card of an under-rated (as HOFers go) player.  Really happy to have pulled one of these.

Here's another of those stunning holograms, this one featuring Eddie the Eagle.  Just look at the detail in his helmet and Hawks sweater.  Though they may not be "worth" much, these really are incredible inserts for their time.  Hell, I'd be happier to pull something like this today than 95% of the inserts I've seen in Topps baseball products in recent years.

Another Hull Heroes, this one with a picture from his days with the Flames' AHL affiliate.

Always liked the Nordiques back in the day.  I think it was at least partially because they were a similar small market team to my beloved Whalers, also from the WHA, and with similar problems as a franchise.  Highlights from this box on the Nordiques front included this Joe Sakic...

...and this great, if a little strange not seeing him in a Canadiens uniform, Guy Lafleur tribute card.  What an awesome, awesome photograph here.  A fitting send-off in cardboard format for a true hockey legend.

We'll wrap it up with one of my favorite overall cards from the box, this Gretzky hologram.  I can almost guarantee you that when I get around to my "Top 99 Cards of Number 99" countdown at some future date, this card will make the list.

That's all for today, there were many great cards in the box beyond what you saw here, but I'm sure you've seen most of them and I want to keep this post from getting too long.  Long story short, it's a great product.  If you're a "fringe" hockey card collector and looking for something fun and cheap to rip during sheltering in place here, I cannot recommend this product enough.

Thanks for stopping by, and for joining me on this trip down memory lane to the early days of my hockey card collecting experience!

6 comments:

Chris said...

So many great rookie cards in this set. I collected it a lot as a kid, but it's sandwiched between two of my all-time UD sets so I probably don't appreciate it as much as I should. That Hull Heroes Header is a tough pull, it's the only card I'm missing from that set. The holograms are great, too.

Elliptical Man said...

A lot of nice cards. Hasek and Belfour are rare co-winners.

Of course, Jagr was able to play so long because he was a pretty boy who avoided contact.

Adam said...

Very cool break! I might have to track down the Hasek and Lafluer cards for my hockey collection.

Billy Kingsley said...

Can you check the holograms? As you may know there are different holograms used and I'm doing some research on them. I have a theory I want to determine. What I want to know is if all cards in the box had the same hologram or if there were examples of both. I refer to the holograms on the back of the card, not the inserts. Thanks!

gregory said...

Totally agree with you on the Canada Cup cards and the holograms.

I opened a bunch of these packs as a kid back then, too. A friend and I would sometimes go to a nearby card show on Friday nights, buy these packs, and then go back to one of our houses where we'd open the packs while playing NHL Hockey on Sega Genesis.

Fuji said...

Although I enjoy the 90/91 UD set design a tad bit more... I still enjoy this set too. I have a signed copy of that Lafleur tribute card. My buddy was helping with a signing he was doing back in the 90's and offered to get me an autograph. At the time, that was the only Lafleur I owned.

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