Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Ultimate Trading Cards of Ultimate Destiny

When it comes to baseball card sets, some of my favorite products have been those that shine the light on oft-forgotten subjects from the sport's vast history.  I'm not talking about getting 10 more cards of Babe Ruth or Cal Ripken every year, I mean sets like Conlon Collection, Hometown Heroes, any of TCMA's Greatest Team sets, etc.  The players featured therein rarely appear on cardboard anymore, if ever.

Therefore, I guess that it shouldn't be surprising that since I've started collecting hockey/Blackhawks cards, one of my favorite discoveries thus far has been The Ultimate Trading Card Company's Original Six checklist.

Originally released in 1992, the concept behind this set is pretty straightforward - the checklist is made up entirely of significant players from the Original Six era of NHL hockey.  For a lot of these men, good but not necessarily great, most of the cards they might have on the market are vintage and vintage hockey cards are not falling off of trees around these parts.  Thus, this set has been invaluable when it comes to filling out my Blackhawks All-Time Roster Collection.

Thus, I was thrilled when I won a small lot of these cards on Ebay a few days ago:

The front is nice and simple, letting the player photo dominate the design and lacking the foil and other decorative features that would come to dominate the decade.  However, in my opinion, it's the backs that are really the star.

Maybe it's just the fact that I studied journalism in college, but I absolutely adore the newspaper-style write-up; for a while there, I didn't even realize that instead of "Chicago Tribune," the title reads "Chicago Tribute."  Also found on the rear is are color, publicity photographs taken of the player in the present, sporting the 75th anniversary throwback jerseys for their respective franchises.

That is, unless of course you're Bill Mosienko; in which case, you get the modern day photographs on both sides because Ultimate must not have had a license for a vintage still of the "Pony Line' member.  Looks like that man could still handle the puck in his old age though!

Makes sense, because he sure as hell could handle it in his prime. I mean, he did record the fastest hat trick in NHL history when, in a 1952 game against the New York Rangers, Mosienko scored three goals in 21 seconds.  As if that wasn't enough, he also managed ANOTHER shot on goal just seconds after that.

Good gravy!

Looks like Moose is going to have himself a nasty headache in the morning.  Interestingly, despite this apparent head shot, "Moose" was one of the rare birds to have never lost any of his teeth during his NHL career, despite the obvious lack of mouthguards or helmets in his playing days.

Also of note, Vasko was one of the few players of Slovak descent in the NHL's younger years, something which is so very commonplace today.

The last card included in the lot was this single of John Wilson, a Stanley Cup Champion with the Detroit Red Wings who had a two year cameo with the Hawks in the mid-50's.  Turns out that I had already purchased this card at my LCS several months ago; but I'm not going to fret about it.

Each card shown above only cost me 11 cents; not technically dime box fodder, but close enough.  I don't think I'm going to lose any sleep over the accidental John Wilson double up.

Speaking of which, along with the Wilson, I also purchased a couple more of these Ultimates along with him that first time through.  However, I never did get around to showing them off; how about we take care of that right now, since we're on the subject?:

Excellent spray!  This is just an expertly timed photo of a man who was actually donated to the Blackhawks... that's right - not traded, not sold... donated.   At the time the Chicagoans were struggling to survive as a franchise and the league governors decided to help the team remain viable; thus, they had the Montreal Canadiens donate the first-year player in 1954.

After that, all Ed did was win the Calder Trophy. play in the All-Star Game, post three consecutive 30-goal seasons and get named Captain of the team in 1957. He capped off his Blackhawks tenure with a Stanley Cup title in 1961. I don't think there was a lot of struggling there.

Another well-timed photograph on the front of this one too, as it appears Gilles is in the midst of being checked by a Maple Leaf on open ice.  

Unfortunately for Chicago, Marotte is probably best remembered for being a part of one of the worst trades in franchise history - he was acquired as one of three players from Boston in exchange for Phil Esposito.  Oops.

With that, I've run out of Ultimate's Original Six trading cards - however, I'm sure I'll be adding more of these beauties to my binders in the future.

The Ultimate Trading Card Company was one of several start ups in the waning days of the junk wax era.  As far as I can tell, the only other license they held was for the original incarnation of the World League of American Football, which would eventually be known as NFL Europe (much less of a mouthful).  

Looks like they went belly up shortly thereafter; however, details are scant.  What a shame - they truly did a great job with their Original Six product.

In closing, every time I read the name of this particular card manufacturer, I can't help but be reminded of one of the earliest viral videos I can remember - way back in the dinosaur year of 2008.  All sarcasm aside, with as fast as content on internet shuffles and moves, 2008 might as well be 1492.

At any rate, I guess the Ultimate Trading Card Company did not survive the Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny.


  1. Great cards! I'm not sure I have any in my current day adult collection but I certainly remember having plenty in my first go-round as a kid.

  2. Those are sharp looking cards. I cringe when I see old time hockey players without any protection.

  3. That is a great set. I lost mine when the box they were in got wet. I really need to replace it.

  4. It took less than a year for me to get burnt out on Ultimate products. As a Sharks fan, Pat Falloon had a few cards in one of their products and I was all over them. However there was just too many other products out there and eventually I moved on.

    This is the first time I've seen this Original Six set. I really like the design they used on the backs. And the fronts are idea for getting signed. Good stuff.

  5. Nice cards. That Vasko is an awesome shot.

  6. Here's link to the story of what happened to the company

  7. I posted the whole set in March and April 2012. Here's a link to the Bobby Hull subset:

  8. Picked up the complete set recently