Drivin’ the 9s: 1979-80 Topps Hockey

9 04 2009

1979-80 Topps Hockey

# of cards in set: 264
# of cards I own: 210
# of cards I need: 54


Every now and then there’s a set driven by one card. 1979/80 Topps hockey is a perfect example of such a set. Card #18  is worth $550 according to Beckett. The set itself? $600.

That’s not to say that there aren’t other greats in this set. Bobby Hull and Gordie Howe both make their final appearances in a regular release. Mike Bossy, Brian Trotier, and Ken Dryden are around as well. It also features key rookies such as Thomas Gradin, John Tonelli, and Ryan Walter. Oh yeah, and card #18. Wayne Gretzky.

The Gretzky cards is iconic as hockey cards get.  Think ’52 Mantle.  It’s a card that almost any hockey collector can instanly recall once it’s mentioned.  You’re probably imagining it right now, aren’t you?  Me too.  Because I don’t have one.  But because the card is so iconic, it drags the set into the iconic  realm as well.  Why else do you think Upper Deck picked it for the OPC parallel set this year?

Sets like this (where one card drives the price) are difficult to pursue.  You don’t want to spend a lot on commons because they aren’t that important to the overall value of the set.  So when I saw a guy who had a number of hockey lots available and got a great deal on one of them, I was able to overspend a little on the other two (including a lot of these) without blowing my budget.


Here’s one of the cards I received, the Scoring Leaders from the 78-79 season.  If Topps created a three player cards like this every year for the scoring leaders, this would be the last one that didn’t feature Gretzky until the 93-94 release.  A pretty impressive feat, no?


And here’s the previously mentioned Ken Dryden card.  I swear almost every card in the set appears airbrushed, even established players who’d been around for ever.  Even this one, with the odd blue streaks on the glass and the strange coloring on the jersey made me do a double take.


Two other things about the set stand out.  One is that the blue borders chip pretty easily, making it even harder to pursue the set in mint condition.  The other is the backs.  This is pretty close to perfection when it comes to hockey backs, I’d say, except for the lack of team listing on the stats from 78-79.  Otherwise, it’s perfect, right down to the little cartoon in the corner.  And they are all as informative as “Ron sports a variety of hats.”

So what’s left from this set? Funny you should ask.  I have a wantlist right here:

2, 5, 6, 7, 9, 18, 32, 40, 42, 50, 55, 56, 58, 75, 83, 85, 88, 90, 95, 96, 99, 109, 127, 130, 131, 132, 137, 146, 148, 153, 158, 161, 170, 175, 182,  190, 196, 201, 206, 214, 225, 227, 230, 233, 237, 242, 244, 245, 246, 247, 248, 253, 255, 261

It’s a smattering of commons, minor stars, team cards and checklists (including the New Entries one), Mr. Hockey, and of course Wayne.  So if you’ve got any of these, why not drop me a line?  I’ve got a number of these in varying condition as well if you’re interested, too.

This is probably the most doable of the hockey sets, and I really think I can get it done over the next eight months.  I just have to start saving for card #18.




One response

9 04 2009

1979/80 OPC hockey set
# of cards in set – 396
# of cards I have – 396 +

+ a lot of duplicates… including #18, but not one in Topps. Sorry bud.

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