The 1980-81 O-Pee-Chee set was the first set I went after seriously when I first began to collect again in university. I had a stack of these cards that I purchased as a kid - or were purchased for me (I was 6!), however these were in "childhood" condition (a term that is being used by more and more sellers on Ebay). So I initially used these as fillers and went from there.
I was helped greated by a show at the PNE in Vancouver in the late 90s where I spotted a guy cracking a fresh wax box of 1980-81 OPC - he was grabbing the RCs (see below) and Gretzky's and allowed me to pillage the rest!!
This set was appealing because it was relatively affordable and has some huge RCs - Ray Bourque #140, Mike Gartner #195 and Mark Messier #289 plus a huge number of RCs of other great players - Mike Liut, Brian Propp, Rick Vaive, etc. Added to this is Gretzky's 2nd year card #250 plus a ton of other Gretzky's: Record Breaker #3, 2nd team all-star #87, assists leaders #162, scoring leaders #163 (with two other chumps named Lafleur and Dionne!) and a Oiler's team leader card #182.
The design is classic - white background with the main pic framed by different color borders, team name along the bottom with the player name and position in a puck in the bottom right. The backs of the cards are appealing as well - great yellow background with green and white.
Quality control appears to have been improved for this issue - cuts are typically smooth and centering is decent with a few notable exceptions - the Bourque Record Breaker #2 and a couple of the main checklists are really tough. And although I wouldn't say these cards are scarce - they do appear to be less available than the 1979-80 issue (Gretzky's RC year) which were known to be double printed. Till next time.