It's that many of the new brands of hockey cards released in the early 1990s were surpassing Topps in the photography department. Specifically, while Topps was still featuring a few too many images of hockey players standing around during warmups, new brands such as Upper Deck and Score were taking better advantage of hockey's speed and grace and dynamic nature, using more action shots on their cards.
Have a look at Brett Hull's 1990-91 Topps card, for instance.
|1990-91 Topps Brett Hull, #77|
By itself, there's nothing wrong with this card. You get a clear shot of Brett Hull smiling confidently right at you. (And why not, when you score a million goals a year?) And I completely understand that it's nice to feature some of the league's star-studded players up close and without helmets obscuring their faces and glorious hockey hair.
But when you have too many of these images in your set, it gets a little stale. Especially compared with another Brett Hull card from the 1990-91 season.
|1990-91 Score Brett Hull, #300|
Now that's an image.
When I look at this card from Score, I think If only Topps used an image like that.
Well, I finally put thoughts to [digital] paper and created a custom card mash-up.
The Score image wouldn't work very well on the vertical Topps layout, but there's good news: A horizontal layout did exist for the 1990-91 Topps set. It was reserved for the team cards.
|1990-91 Topps St. Louis Blues Team, #220|
So with a little bit of editing and cleaning—and mixing and matching—I came up with the following "what if" card.
Topps matched the colors of their card borders to each team's uniform very nicely for this set, and you can see that here. Also, the stars running across the top of the card happen to follow the action and direction of Hull's follow-through, and that really helps nail this card down as a success in my book.
I think the adolescent version of me would have been pretty happy finding this card inside a wax pack during the 1990-91 season.
And you know what else? This is my ninth custom card, which means I've got enough to fill up a binder page. Here's how they look:
Thanks as always for reading.