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How I First Got It™: A 1992 NHL Coloring Book

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When I was putting together the most recent installment of Uni Watch readers’ stories of how they first Got It™, I came across a submission from reader Ryan Townsend, who sent a photo of the 1992 NHL coloring book shown above, along with the following explanation:

This coloring book, which originally came packaged with a set of colored pencils, hung in the pro shop of our local rink for what seemed (to a nine-year-old) like eons before my Pop finally gave in and bought it for me.

I instantly fell in love with that back cover. There, in one graphic, in all their glory, were all the uniforms of the NHL! It prompted a flood of sensations to my young mind. This was pre-internet, so it was unfathomable that something like this could exist. I can still remember how excited I was to have it. It was a pivotal moment in my childhood.

I don’t know what happened to my original copy, but I do remember I had it for years and that it was a portfolio of my childhood artistic progression. I colored in the first few illustrations feverishly and still recall how disappointed I was they didn’t turn out like the ones shown on the cover. That’s when I became aware that there’s a difference between coloring books and artistic talent — a big realization for me at the time.

As I colored in more of the drawings and was left with fewer and fewer uncolored pages, it was a big deal when I decided to do one. I can remember agonizing for literal days about whether to color Doug Wilson in the home white or go advanced and try to do him in the teal roads. 

Although Ryan no longer had his original copy of the coloring book, he recently procured two vintage copies — one of which still had the original colored pencils:

Here’s a better look at that back cover that made such an impression on a nine-year-old Ryan Townsend, along with a list of instructions and hints from the book:

I asked Ryan if he’d be willing to photograph the line illustrations from the book, and he happily obliged. Have I mentioned lately that the site now has a fancy-shmancy gallery function? It was made for moments like this:

Ryan also provided the following notes:

The book was manufactured sometime in the spring/summer of 92, yet depicts Jagr in the new uniforms the Pens would debut for 92-93

The artist(s) provided lots of detail for a lot of the goalies’ masks (Roy, Fuhr, Moog, Sidorkiewicz), but poor Wendell Young was drawn with a generic bucket. 

Some players are double-depicted. It was like getting two for one, since you could color one in the home uniform and the other in the road. LaFontaine and Moog were my favorites because of this. 

With Hull and Federov, you could color them in twice, but the second depiction showed them in their All-Star uniform! That was so cool to me as a kid. (Technically Roy too, but they just show his All-Star sweater hanging on the wall.)

Conversely, some drawings forced you to color them as one specific uniform. Messier is a good example — that can’t be the Rangers’ blue uniform because of the striping.

The pencils came unsharpened, and the package did not include a sharpener. That annoyed me!

Although the book is labeled as “Vol. 1” and includes a promotional blurb to pre-order the supposedly upcoming Vol. 2, to the best of my knowledge there never was another edition.

Great stuff! Big thanks to Ryan for sharing all of this with us. Did anyone else have this coloring book back in the day?

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Comments (14)

    what an amazing instructional colouring book! just awesome!!! I would have loved this if it was 82 instead of 92.

    Oh man, I had three of those! The color wheel was by far my favourite part. I think these were drawn by a Detroit area dentist. They did come out with a couple of more common type of colouring books, but none had the detail of this one. I probably still have mine somewhere, but I know I took a couple out of the book. They were a HUGE part of a young teenage me becoming a designer.

    Awesome. I wish I’d had one of these.

    You can tell this was the early days of Lightning hockey. I’m a huge hockey fan and have no idea who Wendell Young is. Lol.

    Wendell was the Penguins’ third goalie in their 1991 and 1992 Cup runs before the Lightning took him in the expansion draft. No doubt there wasn’t a Lightning mask design available for him when this went to press.

    I love that they include both the then-modern All-Star sweaters, as worn in 1989, 1990, 1991, and 1993, and the “vintage” sweaters worn for the 1992 game at the Spectrum, though I do find it odd that the examples on the cover do not have the lines in the NHL logo colored orange on the “modern” unis. Also, I noticed the logo on the white throwback is colored in as red, when the actual uni used blue. (The 1992 throwbacks are still my favorite ASG unis.)

    1992-93 an eventful NHL year for uni watchers with plenty of new uniforms.

    New teams with the Senators and Lightning.

    Big uniform redesigns for the Maple Leafs, Devils, Whalers, Penguins.

    Canucks making a subtle change in shades of the yellow and orangey red (salmon).

    The Minnesota North Stars wearing for a short period of time the logo and uniform we mostly associate with the Dallas Stars.

    That instruction page is fantastic!
    I love the “franken-uni” model for all clubs home & away sets.
    The team color wheel is phenomenal. Although it reminds me of the Big 10 pinwheel @ center court for the basketball championship tournament. Of course this publication pre-dates the pinwheel logo (or is it a windmill?)

    OMG, this is right in my wheelhouse fan-wise. I had one of the ‘vintage’ All-Star sweaters and it was literally a sweater. It was my favorite shirt of all time and I can’t believe I have no idea what happened to it.

    Great trim down memory lane, thanks x1,000,000!

    Thanks, Ryan, for sharing this. I laughed (in a good way) about the agony of deciding which uniform to use for Doug Wilson.

    WOW I feel so awesome reading these comments! I feel a little bit closer to all my hockey brethren in the comm-uni-ty.

    Thanks Paul for sharing my cherished coloring book with everyone!

    I had an NHL coloring book when I was a kid back in the early 70s, but nothing like this. As a young artist, I was attracted to sports, so almost all of my work was sports. If my mom had brought this coloring book home, I would’ve went crazy and taken my time to make all of the unis correct.

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