Monday, July 6, 2009

Airbrushed cards and other faves.

I have been collecting sports cards, (mainly hockey) fairly seriously since about 1979. Over the years I have had alot of cards pass through my hands, and I have kept many of them. My Gretzky rookie and Bill Barilko Parkhurst are two of my favourites, but others stand out for reasons other than their grandeur. There are some hockey cards worth no more than a few pennies that stand out in my mind moreso than some of the expensive ones. As a kid, I marvelled at the airbrush techniques used on traded players and how easily these poor pieces of work were spotted.
Perhaps one of the more poorly treated players in this regard is Rogie Vachon. His first two issues were fairly straight forward and handled with the respect that most Montreal Canadiens receive in the hockey world. Once traded to the Kings however he was abused in hockey card form. For his first Kings release of 1972/72 he was actually decapitated. The good people in the O-Pee-Chee graphics department attempted unsucessfully to put a photo of his head on another players torso.
Not only is his head slightly off-centred, but it's skin colour doesn't match that of the neck. The neck as well is far more hair covered than it would be in the following year's card. At least Rogie is in possession of his own body, why on earth there was no Kings logo on his jersey, I've never figured out. It is obviously a photo of a pre-mustachioed Vachon happliy wearing his Kings jersey...that has had the logo airbrushed out. If anyone has an answer for this, do tell.

Next is one of the more sadness inducing cards of my childhood. Not only was my hero Darryl Sittler unceremoniously traded to the hated Flyers halfway through the 81/82 season, but his subsequent hockey card was airbrushed. Such indignity. Sure, it's not that obvious but I could tell.
The following card is an example of a strange practice by OPC in the late 70's. They would add airbrushing to a photo only for enhancement of an already accurate image. Mike Milbury's rookie card has obviously been needlessly "touched up" even though he is already wearing a Bruins jersey.
And then there are the cases of the much needed airbrush. Most often this is due to a player being aquired by a new team and a proper photo not being gathered in time for printing. The 1980/81 OPC set had a different reason, the Atlanta Flames had just moved to Calgary and the new team had not designed a logo yet. OPC decided to simply brush over the Flaming "A" on the photos from the previous season. The fact that they didn't go overboard actually makes it look not as atrocious as most airbrushings.
Here's a real confusing one. Bob Baun with a poorly whited out Red Wings logo and apparently a member of the Buffalo Sabres. On Nov. 3, 1970, Baun was indeed claimed via waivers by the Sabres but...the very next day he was traded to St.Louis. Nine days later he was traded to his original squad the Maple Leafs where he finished his career. How OPC decided to call him a Sabre that year is one of the mysteries of nature.
This one really troubled me as a kid. Not only was the beloved Maple Leaf logo absolutely butchered, but they didn't even attempt to get rid of Luce's Sabres gloves. At least the helmet was almost the same shade of blue. Thirty odd years later I am more troubled by the aquisition of Don Luce. Aside from the fact that he provided a lacklustre half season of work, but the 6th round pick we gave up to get him turned out to be Kevin Stevens. Nice.
Lee Fogolin played 924 games in the NHL, more than half of them with the Oilers. He played zero games in the WHA, with the Oilers or anyone else. Yet he is airbrushed wearing a WHA version of the Oilers uniform which he would have never actually worn. I suppose when the crack OPC design team were putting together the set, the Oilers hadn't yet released their NHL uniform style. Anyway, it's an awful job either way.
This one is more comical than anything. I'm not sure if they were trying to paint "Duguay" on the back of the jersey as if it was following folds in the fabric, or if one of the artists was just pleasantly drunk. As long as Ron's mega-perm was unaffected by the airbrush, I guess they though they had succeeded. They didn't.
Poor Howard Walker. Not only was he not deemed worthy of a card after his rookie season with the Capitals in 1980/81, but when he was immortalized in cardboard for his only card, he got the airbrush treatment. He was also an unfortunate member of the "Tron" helmet fanclub. I think OPC felt bad about snubbing him because he got a card in 1982/83 after only playing 16 games with Caps. After this card was issued, Walker would play a mere three games for the Flames and be retired from hockey at age 24.
This combination of god-awful helmet paint job and brutal logo and jersey painting makes this one of my all-time favourite brushing attempts.
This is one of the uglier cards ever made. I have no idea why The Great One needed an air-brushing on this one, plus I do not recall him ever wearing anything but his "broomball" Jofa helmet in his career. I do not remember seeing him wear this Great Gazoo special seen here. Troubling indeed.
This one's too easy....from the terrifically awful helmet style and paint to the terrible Devils green to Mel's mug itself. This is just all round tragic.
This has to be the worst photo ever used on a sports card of any kind, even worse than decapitated Rogie. Dave Farrish is barely seen behind the glass stanchion looking skyward as if to say "Why me?" Perhaps the photographer staged this shot to use negative space to give anticipation for the furious action that is about to transpire. Most likely it was the only photo of Farrish they could find.

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