Did we forsake O-Pee-Chee Premier?

Admit it. In 1992 you were still in love with Stadium Club, investing in hot rookies from Bowman, and picking up as many packs of the new brand, Pinnacle, to pay much attention to O-Pee-Chee Premier.

I won’t lie, part of the reason I ignored every release from OPC Premier was due to their lackluster, bland 1991 debut. From that moment on the only place I ever found Premier was in the discounted section of every card shop in Florida. If Premier was ever a success, it sure as hell didn’t appear that way to collectors in South Florida.

While organizing my Jose Canseco collection yesterday I ran into the 1992 OPC Premier you see scanned. After a few moments I realized that maybe I really didn’t give this brand a fair opportunity.

Today, I can appreciate the classic design with a great photograph on the front and the bright, detailed card back with a head shot. I have O-Pee-Chee Premier releases from 1993 & 1994 but none of them really come close to the greatness of their 1992 effort.

You can find boxes of ’92 OPC Premier from as low as $5.00 dollars on eBay. Sure, you won’t find any parallels, game-used relics, or certified autographs in your box but I challenge you to find many 2009 products released so far that have done the “baseball card” as well as OPC Premier did it 17 years ago.

I can count all of them on one hand, even if I was missing a few fingers.

9 thoughts on “Did we forsake O-Pee-Chee Premier?

  1. At $5 a box, 1992 OPC Premier is solid, however back in the day they were a few dollars a pack. While I agree the set is pretty nice, it’s not all that different from its debut set. Plus the checklist is too small to be comprehensive and there’s nothing else to carry it.

  2. Jeff W

    I collected hockey too back then, which made me an OPC fan, but wasn’t it expensive back then? There was a reason I didn’t buy that much of it, hard to remember.

  3. I always thought that set looked more like playing cards than baseball cards. Throw a 3 of spades on the front and you’d be all set.

  4. Like Ryan and Jeff said, it sure wasn’t forsook back in the day. Several dollars a pack for 6 or 7 cards. It looks really good and is a pretty small set though so it’s easy to collect. And you can’t beat a five dollar box for a fun rip.

  5. Hoiles

    The OPC premier hockey stuff was all the rage back then, it made UD seem like the poor man’s set. Personally, I wasn’t a fan, they had a tiny checklist of only the obvious stars and rookies and hardly any stats on the back. Plus, it was so expensive. I think most of the hype was about the print run being extremely limited rather than anything special about the cards themselves.

  6. I always thought that ’92 OPC Premier looked too much like ’91 OPC Premier. By the way, there were no OPC Premier baseball cards in ’93 or ’94. There was only regular O-Pee-Chee …

  7. todduncommon

    I think the issue back then was a lingering effect from the Upper Deck French Hockey fiasco. At that time, hockey was the rage with Gretzky in LA, and older O-Pee-Chee hockey were at a real premium over Topps. I lived in Washington State through most of the 80s and early 90s, and cross-border trips to Canada often meant for me picking up boxes of Hockey cards for as low as $5 (Canadian!). I even still have some straggler unopened material from 84-85 OPC, which include RCs for Yzerman, LaFontaine, and Cam Neely (unintentional OPC exclusive, I think).

    With the then-recent buying panic of “short supply” UD French Hockey and older OPC Hockey, it added to the allure that anything destined for Canadian distribution was remote and hard to acquire. As in, “How on Earth is this unopened box even here in Missouri, when it should be in Kamloops?”

    Add to the fact that initial issues of seemingly higher end, glossy, “short supply” white-stock cards following the lead of Upper Deck added successive craziness for the Hobby (Leaf, Stadium Club, etc.).

    So OPC “Premier” had two great tastes that tasted great together: Canadian-ness and higher-end aspirations, at least for a while.

    Hence, another case of hype soaking short term dollars from Hobby wallets that all these years later of “gots ta goes up in valuez” now work really well as door stops alongside 1991 Fleer baseball (at least if you like yellow).

  8. todduncommon

    I do agree on the design quality, generally. Even if it is a little too similar to its predecessor, it’s clean, lively, and very of-its-era, with its NKOTB neon day-glo colors in full effect. I even like the subtle helmet penetration of the border, but no where else.

    One thing that’s also nice is the fact that the photo on the reverse is a different photo than on the front. Way too many card sets these days use a cropped or Photoshop filtered version of the main photo on the front. Every once in a while, photo re-use is handled as decently as possible (some 2009 Topps Heritage, and the 2008 UD Documentary Seasonal Signatures come to mind).

    However, I think I smell the odor of freakish schedules forcing the cutting of corners on design, coupled with a whiff of laziness that results in weak, uninspired photo re-use on the same card, not to mention from set to set.

    That is one way a cap on the number of sets companies can produce would help: stretch out the development schedules a little so that more care can be put into design, resulting in better-quality cards, from base to chase.

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