Thursday, March 15, 2012

My Best Completed Set Yet - 1979-80 Topps Hockey!!!

I've really tightened up my focus so far this year when it comes to collecting. When I've ended up with some card money burning a hole in my pocket I've been staying away from packs and random stuff, and instead have been trying to knock items off my want list. In fact, I haven't purchased a single pack yet in 2012 if you can believe that. Anyway this new approach, while maybe slightly less exciting, has already started paying off. A couple of weeks ago I finally finished off what might be my favorite hockey set of all-time, 1979-80 Topps!

I think everyone who collects hockey cards is familiar with this set, so I'll spare you the usual breakdown. I'll just say that it's one of the best designs, and one of the most significant sets, in the history of hockey cards. Even the backs of the cards are amazing, but I'm saving that for a separate post down the road. I figured the best way to celebrate knocking this one off was to scan in all the pages from my binder and show the entire set page by page in this post. If you want to get a better look at any card, just click the image of the page for an enlarged version. For each page I'll pick a favorite card as well. So, without further ado, here's my 1979-80 Topps hockey set:

Cards 1-9

Favorite Card: 1978-79 Goal Leaders

Card #1 in the set, three Hall-of-Famers, and three 500+ career goal scorers (700+ for Dionne!). Easy decision there...

Cards 10-18

Favorite Card: The one card missing from the sheet, Wayne Gretzky's RC

The most iconic card in the set by far, and one of the most instantly recognizable hockey cards ever made. Given what even poor-condition Gretzky rookies go for, I highly doubt I'll ever end up with a second copy to go in the album. Besides, if I had another that was in the same condition as most of my '79-80 cards I'd be way too afraid to store it in a simple Ultra Pro sheet!

Cards 19-27

Favorite Card: Brad Park

Overall I'm very happy with the condition of my set. There are only a small handful of cards that need upgrading. Brad Park here is one of them, thanks to the mystery substance on the front of the card.

Cards 28-36

Favorite Card: Mike Murphy

I have to say, this is one of the duller pages from the set. I almost went with the original NHL Iron Man, Garry Unger, but instead settled on Mike Murphy here, who was captain of the LA Kings for 7 seasons.

Cards 37-45

Favorite Card: Wayne Stephenson

I was tempted to go with Borje Salming here, especially since his was one of the final half dozen or so cards I needed towards the very end. Ultimately though, I couldn't go against Stephenson's mask.

Cards 46-54

Favorite Card: Larry Robinson

As much as it pains me to select a Canadien over Marty Howe and that fantastic New England Whalers sweater, I just love the way this Robinson card looks. The red that's so prominent in the card's border just looks right at home with all that Habs gear.

Cards 55-63

Favorite Card: Jim Bedard

This is one of my favorite photos from the set. It's an interesting perspective, and the background really shows just how poorly lit many arenas were during this time period.

Cards 64-72

Favorite Card: Denis Potvin

Denis was about to embark on a pretty nice run of Stanley Cup Championships not long after this card came out...

Cards 73-81

Favorite Card: Tony Esposito

Wayne Cashman's card has one of my favorite photos, but I like Tony's card slightly more. I certainly was not going to choose card #81, which depicts the Canadiens getting past the Bruins in the Stanley Cup playoffs...

Cards 82-90

Favorite Card: 1978-79 Stanley Cup Finals

I hate to admit it, but I really like this card. I don't think we'll ever see a team win 4 straight titles again. It still amazes me that the Canadiens and Islanders accomplished this feat back to back.

Cards 91-99

Favorite Card: Dave Williams

This one was a toss-up between Williams and Reggie Leach, but I went with this great portrait of Tiger.

Cards 100-108

Favorite Card: Gary Smith

Easy choice here, very few cards in this set could top Smith. I've mentioned this before but I love how different he looks compared to the beginning of the decade:

Cards 109-117

Favorite Card: Mike Milbury

I went with the hometown team here, but in retrospect I maybe should have chosen John Davidson for his awesome Rangers mask. That's alright, there's another great Rangers mask in the set...

Cards 118-126

Favorite Card: Wayne Thomas

Yes, I chose Wayne Thomas over Randy Carlyle, Bobby Clarke and Darryl Sittler...

Cards 127-135

Favorite Card: Ivan Boldirev

Boldirev had a streak of 11 straight 50-point seasons from 1973-74 through 1983-84. In 1984-85 he came one point short of continuing the streak, tallying 49. That was the final season of his NHL career. Maybe not that impressive when you consider the era he played in, but consistent nonetheless. My favorite thing about this card though is the Flames gear.

Cards 136-144

Favorite Card: Randy Pierce

My gut instinct was to go with Bill Barber for this page, especially since he was one of the last half dozen cards I needed at the very end for my set. I'm going with a bit of a sleeper pick though, card #137 Randy Pierce. This card is both great and terrible because of the photo. Great because the photo itself is one of my favorites in the set. Nice look at the Colorado Rockies sweater, and lots of depth due to the in-focus player and the blurred out referee perfectly positioned in the distance. Terrible because this isn't actually Randy Pierce, it's his teammate Ron Delorme.

Cards 145-153

Favorite Card: Lanny McDonald

The Dryden card is nice, but I've always been a Lanny fan, and it seems like cards depicting his days with Toronto are just much more infrequent than his Calgary Flames cards are.

Cards 154-162

Favorite Card: Stan Mikita

One of the great things about this set is that it signifies a changing of the guard. You've got Wayne Gretzky's rookie, but you've also got the final cards of guys like Gordie Howe and Stan Mikita here. Every time I see Mikita's helmet I think of Rick Moranis as Dark Helmet in Spaceballs...

Cards 163-171

Favorite Card: Bryan Trottier Record Breaker

I wish Upper Deck included Record Breaker cards in their modern-day flagship set. This card pays tribute to Trottier's 6 points in a single period against the New York Rangers the season prior.

Cards 172-180

Favorite Card: Gordie Howe

I've shown this one a few times before, in fact it's one of my favorite hockey cards of all time. It's amazing just how productive Gordie was at age 51! He played in all 80 games for Hartford in '79-80, scoring 15 goals, tallying 41 points and helping the Whalers make the playoffs. Unbelievable. For the longest time, this (and its O-Pee-Chee counterpart) was the only big card of Howe featured with the Hartford Whalers. Unlike the Gretzky rookie, these can be had for cheap enough that I'll definitely find an ungraded version to throw in the binder someday. I think this is my single favorite card in the entire set.

Cards 181-189

Favorite Card: Bobby Hull

Along with Mikita and Howe, Bobby Hull also had his final card in the '79-80 set. That there is a face only a hockey mom could love.

Cards 190-198

Favorite Card: Charlie Simmer

Simmer was a back-to-back 50-goal scorer, and missed the 50 goals in 50 games mark by a single game. This was undoubtedly due in large part to his playing on a line with Dave Taylor and Marcel Dionne.

Cards 199-207

Favorite Card: Guy LaFleur

I've always liked this card, it's in my top ten from this set without a doubt.

Cards 208-216

Favorite Card: Mark Howe

Recent Hall-of-Fame inductee on a Hartford Whalers card in a New England Whalers sweater...

Cards 217-225

Favorite Card: Jean Ratelle

The Hall-of-Famer Ratelle beats out Maruk and Bobby Nystrom. As for Esposito in a Rangers jersey, that is just plain criminal. Jean Ratelle had an impressive 73 points in 67 games for the B's in 1979-80, his second to last season in the NHL. Random fact, it was the 9th season in his career that he played 67 games or more and averaged better than a point per game.

Cards 226-234

Favorite Card: Mike Bossy

Dave Taylor's is a nice card, but I'm going with Mr. 50-goal guy.

Cards 235-243

Favorite Card: Rogatien Vachon

The obvious choice here would be longtime Bruins enforcer Terry O'Reilly, but I really like this Vachon card. I always forget that he played two seasons for the Wings, and check out that sweet VIC goalie stick.

Cards 244-252

Favorite Card: Colorado Rockies

What can I say, I'm a sucker for franchises that no longer exist. I guess maybe it stems from being a Hartford Whalers fan.

Cards 253-261

Favorite Card: NHL Entries

It's pretty fitting that I show this card today I guess. In my very last post I focused on a card that signified the WHA's beginning, and this one signifies its end. It's nice to have a card that represents the birth of my favorite hockey team of all-time.

Cards 262-264

Favorite Card: Stan Jonathan

Stan benefits from a lack of competition, and was selected solely because he's a member of the Boston Bruins.

So, there you have it. This is the oldest hockey card set I've hand collated to date, and probably the single set I wanted to finish off more than any other since I began collecting again back in 2007. It felt great to get these situated in a binder. I'm sure I'll enjoy looking at them for many years to come.

What's your favorite card from the '79-80 Topps set?


Captain Canuck said...

funny how my 79/80 OPC set has a gap on page two as well. Gotta protect those RC's...

I like the cards that are different than the OPC version. Cards #81,82,163, 261 do not exist in OPC form. they were replaced by team cards for the four new expansion teams. Card #141 in OPC is Terry Ruskowski of the Blackhawks, not Mike Walton. And of course OPC has cards #265 to 396.

One card I really like is Dave Dryden. That's the first time I ever saw the new hybrid mask that he invented. Of course, it's all you see nowadays. The death of the full face fibreglass mask.

Great post.

1967ers said...

Congrats on getting it done! It's always neat to put that last card in its slot.

I don't have any holes in most of my sets, but anything important tends to get moved to the centre of the sheet.

Have you learned the magic trick for getting rid of wax residue on the front of cards? Take the scrunchy bit from a tube sock, work it gently over the goop and it'll come right off (thick goop takes a bit longer). Work from the centre to the edges.

If the wax is on the back, you're hosed.

Pro Set Cards said...

What an accomplishment!

Congrats on a job well done, and the Gretzky is a beautiful piece of art!

Michael said...

Definitely one of the greatest sets to complete. Some really nice cards in that set. Congrats!

julian caicedo said...

It's great to see these again, after all these years. One thing that stands out is that this was one of the last years that head-shot portraits were common in these cards.
I had that Bobby Hull card, but I could have sworn it was with the Jets. I don't remember him being with the Hawks at any time at that point of his career.

nnyspaz said...

Hi also like the Vachon card from this year , tried to find out who the goalie was behind him on this card. Any idea?

Unknown said...

All I remember about this set was three of us tried to complete the set back in 1980...only one of us was able to do it as Stan Jonathan was the last card we all of us got it, the other two still need one to complete it. We probably should have Ebay'd one years ago, but it's a better story having one missing.

Great stuff; great set and brings back uber amounts of memories looking at all these remembering how much we all waited to get that Jonathan!!

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