1990-91 Upper Deck Team Checklists

This one’s been sitting in my draft box for quite some time and after posting the LaFleur tribute card last week I figured it was time. This was originally supposed to be an in-depth look at a set that’s been written about endlessly, that I’d shed some new light some on a stale subject to mix metaphors. But I don’t really have the time (or ideas) for that now, so instead, I thought I’d run with some of the scans I have of the painted team checklists.

First thing you notice is that the artistry isn’t exactly top notch. Sure, at a quick glance, they look fine. The jerseys look nice but the faces. Dear god, the faces. Brett Hull and Ron Francis look like aliens, Joe Sakic doesn’t look like Joe Sakic. And what is going on with the backgrounds? They’re so completely 90s, from the retina-hurting neons to the strange, floating shapes and random thin lines. I don’t mean to shit on the artist–it’s Vernon Wells Sr., the father of the Los Angeles Angel–and much of his work for Upper Deck is just fine. I don’t know what happened here, if he had an unrealistic deadline or something, but clearly they do not look right. Hull looks like he’s doing his best Linda Blair:

I love the idea of these, especially in context of the entire set, but the quality leaves a lot to be desired. Upper Deck gradually improved their team checklists each year but they never quite got them right, nowhere close to the classy 1983 Hockey Hall of Fame set.


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