My LCS had a lone pack of In the Game's Decade: 1980s release from last year remaining, so I figured I'd take it off their hands. I've come across a few of these cards as singles and wanted to see what could be waiting for me in an unopened pack.
This set is a tribute to hockey players from the 1980s and each unopened pack features 9 hits: 3 inserts, 3 relics, and 3 autographs. While ITG doesn't have the license to produce cards featuring team names or logos, this doesn't seem to be a problem. They simply work around this by featuring a lot of head shots and close-ups. Unlike baseball and football, there is little to no team designation on the helmets apart from their colors and with problematic goaltender masks, all you need is to find a close shot of him without it.
The big hit for me out of the pack was a Tom Barasso 2-color jersey. This particular card is from the Trophy Winners jersey set, and is a gold variation, which is limited to just 10 copies. Despite the fact that I will always see him as a Penguin, I don't have a problem with his Sabres blue and yellow being featured. Since it recognizes his Vezina Award (top goaltender) from the 83-84 season, the photo and the relic SHOULD feature the colors he wore during that year. It's a beautiful looking card and the rarity of it makes it even better.
The next hit is a great looking Bernie Nicholls card featuring a three-colored swatch from his jersey number. While ITG usually does a good job matching the picture to the swatch, there's quite a discrepancy between the two colors, even if it is the same team. He spent the entire decade of the '80s with the Kings, but journeyed to four other teams in the '90s, so at least they were able to keep it with L.A.
My final jersey card was a single-color blue swatch of Kings/Rangers center Marcel Dionne. Most of his years were spent in L.A. but he played the twilight of his career in New York. He was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1992. In 1998, The Hockey News ranked him number 38 on the 100 Greatest Hockey Players, and since then, Ray Bourque won a Stanley Cup in 2001, leaving Dionne as the highest-ranking player to never have raised hockey's Holy Grail.
My three autographs, Steve Penney, Harold Snepsts, and Anton Stastny don't really jump out to me, and that could be the problem that many younger collectors will find with this product. It's designed to be a nostalgia set, in that it reminds you of players that you may not have thought about since the 1980s. I'm sure that none of these players have any other autographed cards to chase, so this gives team collectors a unique chance to get some on-card signatures of some key players that have gone largely unrecognized over the years. It's cool for that, but it falls dangerously close to becoming a niche product in the same regard.
The inserts are all ok. I pulled a Pelle Lindbergh "Rookie," which featured the player from his rookie season. There was also a Luc Robitaile card from the 100 Years of Collecting set, which is a 100-card insert set spread all throughout various ITG products. Finally, there was a Great Moments insert card recognizing Mike Bossy's 50-goals-in-50-games milestone. They're decent cards, but really, I could take them or leave them.
Decade: 1980s is a fun pack to open, but with it being such a limited-run product, a lot of what has been produced has already been ripped. There are, however, plenty of singles out there, giving you the chance to get some autographs and relics of players for the very first time. A great idea and a good product, but as someone who started following hockey in the early 90s, this would be MUCH more enjoyable for someone who is a bit more familiar with 1980s hockey.