Saturday, 9 February 2019

My 80s Gretzky Collection

As a kid, I grew up a huge fan of Wayne Gretzky. I didn't start watching hockey really until after Gretzky had been traded to the Kings, but when I was maybe eight or nine years old I received Gretzky's autobiography as a birthday gift from my Grandmother.

I read it and became fascinated by the Edmonton Oilers dynasty of the eighties. I've never been to Edmonton and live in Toronto, but to this day the Oilers team that won all those Cups during that decade remains my favourite hockey team of all-time.

I have collected all of Gretzky's O-Pee-Chee cards from the 1980s, except for a single one. No, not the rookie from 1979, which I have already posted earlier on my blog. I still need the Oilers team checklist from the 1980 release, which is one of the harder cards to find in decent condition since the checklist is frequently marked with pen.

Above are the five cards from 1980 that I do own. I am missing the team checklist. The quality of OPC's photography is quite bad and the card stock is grainy and terrible, but the 1980 design with the puck in the lower right corner is a classic. The 1980 Topps design features a scratch off for the puck, not included with OPC.

These are the six cards from 1981. Another classic design. The main card and the Super Action card are more expensive than the other cards, which only go for a buck or two apiece.

I've never been a fan of the 1982 design. Topps didn't release an equivalent set that year. The league leaders cards are particularly ugly.

1983 is a set with a better design, although Topps also did not release a hockey set that year. The Gretzky card pictured with Messier is probably my favourite Gretzky card released that decade. It's a classic shot of the NHL's two all-time leading scorers.

The 1984 O-Pee-Chee cards have a famous design, although the leaders cards are also particularly hideous. This set is also not particularly valuable, despite including many Hall of Fame rookies. Apparently O-Pee-Chee printed the 84 set in greater abundance than previous releases, making the cards tremendously common. I remember being a kid collecting cards in the nineties and always seeing tons of 84 OPC kicking around in dealer's boxes.

1985 is a better set, most famous for Mario Lemieux's rookie. It also has a classic design. We are now past the era when OPC printed a hundred million Gretzky cards in each set. The main Gretzky card from this set is one of the more valuable cards of the decade, probably because of the set's popularity due to the Lemieux rookie and its classic design.

1986 is another classic, clean white design with a famous Hall of Fame rookie. This time it's Patrick Roy. I would love to someday own both the Lemieux and Roy rookie cards. The Gretzky card is also worth a bit more than his other cards from this period of time.

1987 was the first time OPC released only a single Gretzky card in their set since his rookie card in 1979. This was also his last OPC card pictured with the Oilers. A relatively inexpensive card for what it is, as OPC sets started to become far more affordable at this point.

The 1988 set featured Gretzky with the Kings for the firs time, although it's not an action shot. The Topps version actually has a totally different photo of Gretzky, featuring him holding a Kings jersey at a press conference. It's the only time a Topps card featured a photo variation for Gretzky compared to the OPC release during the 1980s. I don't own the Topps card, but it is on my want list.

The final OPC set of the eighties, the 1989 release is the least valuable OPC set of the decade and teh entire set can be purchased for only a few dollars. They included three Gretzky cards this time for the first time in a few years. These are also the first action shots in an OPC release featuring Gretzky in a Kings jersey, although these can hardly be called action shots considering how little action was going on. 1989 is one of the ugliest OPC releases of the decade, with the carved ice border.

Do you have any Gretzky cards from the 1980s? What were your favourite hockey sets from that decade?


  1. I'm sure I have one or two Gretzky's from the 80's. Not sure if any are OPC though. Off the top of my head, I know I have the 81/82 Topps and 88/89 Topps. I'd love to pick up that 88/89 OPC though.

    1. I definitely want the 88-89 Topps, simply because of the difference in photos.

  2. The stats on those Gretzky league leader cards from the mid-1980s are just amazing. Favorite Gretzky in my collection is a 1980-81 Topps version (with the puck unscratched).

    1. Yeah, the 80 Topps cards are another one from that decade that differ from OPC because of the scratch-off pucks.

  3. Wow, that is a legit collection. Very cool!!

  4. Awesome run there! I have all of his Topps cards from the '80s, but very few OPCs. Have been working on that though!

    1. Yeah, I saw your post about the 89 Gretzky. Being Canadian, I prefer OPC over Topps when it comes to hockey. But when it comes to baseball, I prefer Topps over OPC.