Good news, bad news on Howe sets Upper Deck series hits and misses


What's an unrepentant Gordie Howe fan to do?

The NHL's all-time leading scorer is Upper Deck's third hockey hero, meaning there are 10 insert cards chronicling Howe's career in the high series. But a random box of high series cards, which includes cards from the 440-card low series as well, yields just three Howes, and one of those is the silly "cover card."

The good news about the high series cards is that Upper Deck finally Notebook

has those tear strips right. The original ones were about as reliable and neat as faulty tear strips on plastic bandages.

Out of 540 cards in the box, 38 percent of them were from the high series and included the three Howes, five Gordie Howe selects and one hologram. There were also 39 duplicates and nine triples. Those did yield 70.5 percent of the 200 high-number cards and 36 inserts, so it is possible to make a dent in accumulating the high series cards.

On the minus side, there were 144 duplicates and triples in the box, 27 percent of the total cards. Inexcusably, there were three packs that contained duplicate cards. A sophisticated operation like Upper Deck's should be able to achieve better collation. Also, two cards were damaged in packaging. Upper Deck will replace factory-damaged cards when collectors send them to Quality Assurance, The Upper Deck Company, 5909 Sea Otter Place, Carlsbad, Calif. 92008-6621.

The cards themselves are a fitting complement to the nice-looking low series. After rushing to put in a phony Eric Lindros card in the low series, Upper Deck has done it right.

The card is a gem. It shows Lindros behind the goal, arms raised after scoring a goal, and he's mirrored by a fan behind the glass with his arms raised in triumph.

High series highlights are a 36-card subset on the World Junior Championships, 29 cards featuring top rookies, a 21-card subset with portrait photos and answers to personal questions on the back (most advise youngsters to stay in school and enjoy sports, for example) and a four-card subset of top lines. Holograms are of the top U.S.-born rookie at each position, and the Howe selects set has Howe's choices as the top 10 veterans and 10 rookies in the NHL today.

Reading material

Krause Publications' Baseball Cards magazine, published since

1981, has been renamed Sports Cards and remains a monthly. . . . The March issue of Sports Illustrated for Kids features trading cards. There are articles on the history of sports cards, how cards are made, what makes a card valuable and tips on collecting. It's good reading for collectors of all ages. . . . The winter issue of Topps magazine has articles on Roberto Clemente, Dennis Eckersley, a look at how expansion affected farm systems, a look at rookie cards of the past 10 expansion teams and 19th century collectibles. There's also an index to the magazine's first three years.

The fans speak

The people's choices, NBA Hoops' 1992-93 Supreme Court insert set, is randomly inserted in foil packs of Series 2. Nearly 10,000 fans voted, and Michael Jordan was named on 90 percent of the ballots. He is joined by Scottie Pippen (67), David Robinson (58), Patrick Ewing (57), Clyde Drexler (56), Karl Malone (54), Charles Barkley (53), John Stockton (35), Chris Mullen (32) and Magic Johnson (29). Larry Bird finished third with 60 percent but could not be in the set since he has retired. Fans can vote for the next edition of the Supreme Court by sending the names of 10 active NBA players by Aug. 31 to NBA Hoops Supreme Court, 1790 Broadway, Suite 410, New York, N.Y. 10019.

New name

Pro Set's new Winston Cup cards will carry the brand name Finish Line Racing. Prototypes are being distributed at Winston Cup events, and the 180-card set is scheduled to be released at the end of March. Cards will come 12 to a pack, and there will be 5,000 randomly inserted Davey Allison holograms.

Coming events

Through Oct. 31, exhibit on Rex Barney's 50-year sports career, with memorabilia from his Brooklyn Dodgers days, Babe Ruth Museum, (410) 727-1539.

Tuesday, card show, North Point Plaza Bingo Hall, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., (410) 563-9032.

Sunday, card show, Comfort Inn-Airport (I-695, Exits 5 and 6A), 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., (410) 922-8366.

April 4, card show, Security Holiday Inn (I-695, Exit 17), 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., (410) 922-8366.

Card of the Week

Fleer Ultra baseball returns with Series I in late March. The 300-card set includes 25 Ultra Rookie cards and comes in packs of 14. There's a 10-card Dennis Eckersley insert set, of which 2,000 randomly inserted cards have been autographed. There will also be insert cards featuring sluggers and award winners. Look for Series II in June.

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