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Ultimate Set Build: 90-91 OPC Base (Patrick Roy)

October 20, 2021, 12:46 PM ET [0 Comments]
Shawn Gates
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I have been asked of late exactly how I go about choosing a particular card to cover each week. As much as I would like to have some mind-blowing or profound response (or maybe not since it’s just a hockey card after all) for people, it really boils down to a simple “Whatever hits me at the time” choice. I don’t mean “simple” in the sense of a plain, boring, vanilla kind of “going through the motions” process though. What I mean is that as I flip through a stack of various cards, I tend to see one along the way that triggers something in the moment I see it. It may be a memory. Perhaps an emotion. Maybe even a curiosity. All I know is that on that day that card evokes something that makes me feel I’ve got something to say or share about it.

The experience I had with today’s entry was one of change or transition. Not in the sense that there was a newness to it, but rather that it was the last step in a stage that was being moved on from. The last example of what had been a constant in my childhood as the hobby was obviously, and rapidly, moving off into a whole new world. Mixed emotions come with that! A pang of sadness. A comfort of familiarity. An uncertainty about where things were headed. Interestingly enough, these were also experiences that eerily mapped over the experience of high school quite well! Just like the ’72 Summit Series was part hockey, part proxy East vs West Cold War, changes and evolving aspects of my life happened to be overlapping in my hobby too. So yeah, it’s just a card. At the same time, the memories associated with it speak to something that was far greater. That’s what spoke to me from today’s offering: 1990-91 OPC.

1990-91 OPC Base: Patrick Roy

I could drone on for hours about this set, fully recognizing that much of it comes from a place of nostalgia, not objective worth or aesthetic value. For me, this was my end to the OPC era of my life. This was the last of the tidy OPC series I had grown up with. Simplistic but great designs. Achievable set numbers. Last of the “wax pack” wrapping synonymous with cracking packs since I was a toddler. My send off to the horrible stale sticks of gum inserted in packs that not only tasted as bland as anything but also marked up whichever card it attached itself to. Awful gum, but still a bit of an empty experience for a bit to be opening packs and not seeing it there. It was an adjustment! Even though OPC continued a few things for the following years release, the experience of the OPC/Topps world of the 80s and prior had effectively sailed…

As much as things were moving along, and the torch had been passed from the traditional companies to the new upstarts, there remained a lot to like about this release, even if I’m admittedly waxing nostalgically as I said before! What I chose as the sample was a no brainer for me: Patrick Roy. Simply put: cards featuring a Canadiens goaltender, particularly Sir Patrick, have an aura for me that surpasses my Leafs fandom. They just ooze classy and scream “HOCKEY”. Slam dunk choice for me!

This design just encapsulates everything about 80’s card design for me: simplistic yet balanced and not underwhelming. Beautiful use of the primary and secondary team colours frame in the photo exceptionally well. A simple badging area in the bottom for player name and position mimics a standard nameplate, with a bold font allowing the text to pop while not taking over the surface. The most stand out design choice of the stick angling into the photo (again integrating team colours) spices up the presentation while achieving it in a subtle manner that flows into the other components. Some depth is created in the presentation with the over-under alternating layout of background and photo, with player head appearing over the stick while legs remain under the nameplate area. Not a full-on attempt to elicit 3D appearances, but enough to pull you subtly out of a two dimensional viewing and enjoy a more layered vibe. Team name and company badging with a simple white overlay finishes things off quite nicely in a manner that sits with the overall neatness and warmth of the layout overall. It’s a beauty!

As for the back, we’ve got an OPC specialty: hit the essential information in demographics and stats, sprinkling in a little text and “quirk” for good measure. When the standout design flairs are integrating a stick and puck in white on your mint green background and having the card set number in a circle slightly larger than the square area acting as it’s base, then you know subtlety is being valued over distracting dazzle. Want the puck in a net? Understated blue framing in of the stats section above and to the sides of it will have that puck shelved in the top corner! Perhaps too subtle in that that element often gets overlooked! Having information pop out is achieved primarily with use of, or lack of, background color (team/player name and position on white; Stats and demographics over the green). Brief English/French factoid (length depending on how much space was required for stats), while the quirky addition was odd stat above the text (89-90 Shots Against for goalies, game winning goals for forwards/defense) and 1990 playoff stats below it. Nice and tidy. Lots of info in there and yet it doesn’t feel chaotic. Not an easy thing to pull off.

This is no premium set. In fact, most conversation of 1990-91 OPC falls to the OPC Premium release of that year, with this being a real afterthought. Given the timing of the release this is not surprising! People were looking for bank and original. I get it. And yet it was the exact same factor, the timing, that constantly pulls me back to this set, the afterthought. It remains a quality “goodbye” to a piece of my childhood that held, and still holds, a lot of fond memories for me. Can’t buy that!

Previous “Ultimate Set Build” Articles

1959-60 Parkhurst
59-60 Base

1980-81 O-Pee-Chee
80-81 Base

1991-92 Upper Deck
High Series Young Guns

1994-95 Fleer
94-95 Base

2005-06 ITG Heroes & Prospects
Prospects Base

2008 UD Champs
Champ’s Mini Signatures

2016-17 Upper Deck Parkhurst
Rookie Red Parallel

2017 Upper Deck Toronto Maple Leafs Centennial
Maple Leafs Marks

2018-19 Upper Deck Tim Horton’s
Clear Cut Phenoms

Positive vibes to you all. Please put some care into you and yours this beautiful day and look out for one another where possible! Our impact on others with even the smallest of actions, is far greater than we tend to realize. My best your way…


Do you have a piece of treasured memorabilia that has a great story behind it? Let me know and you can be featured in an article. Doesn't matter how big or small the piece is, how valuable it may be, or whether it's a common item or more oddball. If you think it has a story, contact me via the information below and we'll chat. In the meantime, check out some previous "Display Case" articles via the links below to see what others have submitted in the past...

Shawn Gates

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Facebook: ShawnMcShawn

Previous ”The Display Case” Posts
#1: The “Frankenstick!”
#2: Your desk has the right to remain collectable!
#3: Have Pads, Will Travel
#4: Pick a Pekka (Rinne) Autographed Mask
#5: Ted Lindsay Gets Kronwalled?
#6: The Only Thing We Have To Fehr Is Fehr Himself
#7: “Hungary” For Team Canada Swag
#8: The Soldiers Kid and “The Kid”
#9: Fan Appreciation & Player Humility Via The '72 Series
#10: Bobby Orr and....Birth Control?!?!?!
#11: Johnny Bower The “Portrait” Of Health At 88!!!
#12: Scotty Bowman – Stick Detective!!!
#13: Touch 'Em All Joe!!!
#14: Joey and Sergei's European (Lockout) Adventure!!!
#15: I’d Give The Jersey Off My Back For You…
#16: The Case Of The 1940’s Era Leafs
#17: Scrapping The History Of The Isles...
#18: Gretzky “Re-Signs” in Edmonton
#19: Gilmour Is Such A Caricature!!!
#20: Toys In The Attic
#21: The Right King Place At The Right King Time
#22: Momma Bear Takes On A “Killer”!!!
#23: Leafs Lunch Stool
#24: The 50 Goal Stub
#25: Scoring From The Rafters
#26: Junior Jersey Mail Order Mayhem!
#27: Stick with the Stick!

Previous “Who Am I?” Articles
#1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8, #9, #10, #11, #12, #13, #14, #15, #16, #17, #18, #19, #20, #21 , #22 , #23, #24, #25, #26, #27, #28, #29, #30, #31, #32, #33, #34, #35, #36, #37, #38, #39, #40, #41, #42, #43, #44, #45, #46, #47, #48, #49, #50, #51, #52, #53, #54, #55, #56, #57>, #58, #59

Previous “Devil In The Details?” Articles

Previous Random Hockey Musings
Oh? Canada? A Hockey History…
Industry Blow To Topps Possible Foreshadowing For The NHL, NHLPA & UD
As The Fanatics Plan Unfolds What To Make of the NHL, NHLPA & Upper Deck

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