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Monday, April 11, 2022

76 The History of NIKE NPC .......per KC........Part 1


A ton on new info has arrived per KC a former Nike employee of 38+ years, who actually worked in the Nike retail poster department. He has been collecting these NPCs since their inception and appears to know exactly how everything happened. Get ready for a great story that will answer nearly all our remaining questions about this set. Follow along closely because it does get a bit confusing. 

Lets start with the 4 card types ( we will explain why there are 4 types as the story progresses) 

1982 - 1987 Type 1 - heavy cardboard/ laminated /hole on top/ description printed on back

1988 thin card stock - Type 4  - no description on front or back

early 1989 Type 2 - thin card stock/non laminated/description on back

1989 - mid 1992 Type 3 - thin stock / description on front

KC has always called type 4 type 2 since they were chronologically made after the type 1's and that makes our type 2 his type 3 and our type 3 his type 4's. 

I will not change our type 1 - 4 definitions since that would make changing blogs 1- 75 way too complicated for me. 

but...the point is that we agree that there are 4 types and we agree on their physical characteristics. 

So here we go with the first hand history of Nike NPC........PART 1

In the early NIKE days (1972 - 1977) posters were being created by the NIKE advertising department  for promotional and point of purchase display purposes. They were mainly posters featuring a product or an action shot of an athlete. In 1978 Nikes graphics design consultants came up with the idea to create personality posters of their top athletes. The first was ICEMAN followed by Supreme court I.  After some of the posters became so popular that consumers wanted them, Nike formed the Retail poster department in late 1981.

 When the NIKE retail poster department started in 1982 they reserved a block of ~ 50 product code numbers starting with 290200 through 290251. According to KC, 290200 was the retail poster floor display, 290203 was for individual poster cards,  290250 was a plexiglass counter display and 290251 were the counter display cards them selves. Several of the posters were thus produced before the 1982 retail poster program began such as 290201 - 290218

These two groups (advertising and retail) worked independently but every now and then one team liked a poster that the other had produced so they added it to their inventory.   For instance, "Battle of Atlanta" was initially used for charity program in 1979 but wasn't added to the retail poster program till 1985 

Some of the non retail posters like:

Portland Tower (Sam Bowie 290411)

Smokin Hogan II (Marty Hogan - 290582

Some Sides Never Retire (290699)

Alley Cat (Marshall Holman 290768) 

were created by the advertising team and were NOT picked up by the retail department. Thus NO NPC's (see blog # 51) 

For a further discussion of posters but no poster cards see blog #66

The missing type 1 numbers 

KC reports that there are no records  for 205, 207, 209, 210, 215, 216 and 236. 203 as we have already stated is now accounted for. Some or all of these numbers may have been assigned to retail posters at one time. Some or all of these missing numbers may have actually been assigned to other Retail Posters at one time – KC recalls reports that 290210 may have been assigned to "Doubles" with McEnroe and Peter Fleming; Bombs Away was 290215 and 290216 was Doomsday all had retail program issues (the latter 2 due to legal issues with the NFL) but they were dropped from the program before the product file records were created in the early 1980’s.  There may be some other sort of documentation out there – like an early order form – but he hasn't found any yet.  So, I’m afraid the search continues for a final answer about these seven product codes.  

In 1983  they needed the next batch of code numbers but  the 290252 - 290799 product codes had already been used by the advertising group for non poster products so the posters were allocated the 290800 - 290899 group of code numbers to use next.

The first 2908XX codes used were 290800 - 290810 for a special running poster project in 1984  (see blog # 65) . There were no NPC for this group. It was then decided that it would be less confusing to the salesmen if the last two digits of the 290800 poster codes resumed where the last batch left off so they jumped from  290249 to 290850. These were used from December 1985 through Feb 1987.

              (NOTE: less confusing to the salesmen but very confusing to us ! )

In late 1987 a new director was hired for the retail poster program. He chose to use a less costly paper stock and left off the poster descriptions entirely (cheaper if you don't have to print on the back ). The posters already lined up were given product numbers 290870 - 290874. ( Mike Schmidt Superman, Lethal Weapon, Supreme Court II, Mr Barkley & Earth/Mars). And thus type 4 was born... 

At this same time (1988) Strange Thoughts (291543) and Hit and Run (291621), created by the advertising team in late 1987 were also added to the retail poster list without changing the product codes assigned by the advertising team. 

They then decided to "back fill" the poster code gap and went back to 290811 for Mark Jacksons "Home Town" in 1988 and finishing with 290819 "Cycling the Golden Gate Bridge" 

Again they added advertising poster "Big Guys" 291776 keeping the advertising number (error? sloppy ?)

A new director was hired in the summer of 1988 and she decided it was better to resumed the retail product codes with 290874 and 875 for the Clark and McGwire posters instead of 290820. Was this and error ? or done intentionally ?... unknown 

... The type 4 blank backs continued through 290887 "Serious Hangtime" whose poser was issued in  Dec of 1988.  This product code numbering continued until 290899 "Caselton Rock in the summer of 1989. But starting with 290888 in Feb of 1989 info was again printed on the backs of the poster cards to identify them.  it was decided that the poster cards and catalogs needed to contain product code information so all NPC after the 1988 batch of blank backs contained description and product code information on them. Thus type 2 was born !

They ran out of product codes again in Aug of 1989 The next batch of available codes would have been 2918XX and it was thought that that would be confusing since they had just released 2908XX posters so they again backfilled by going back to 290820 for Agassi II in August of 1989.  This continued till they reached 290849 in Feb of 1990. In March of 1990 they resumed with 290900 "Nice Shoes" (note no NPC was ever made for the 900 poster )  

Starting with 290829 Cycling Storm in late 1989  they also moved to the new format of heavier paper stock with product information on the front. 

As the earlier Type 1, 4 and 2 NPC's ran out, they were reprinted as type 3's as the posters were reprinted in 1990 and beyond. We will be discussing that in detail later. 

So with  what we now know, taking a look at blog 49 where I attempt to understand the chronology of the numbering sequence , we can state that there was no way to ever understand the sequence of issued numbers vs year issued without the kind of first hand info that we are now presenting. 

Thank you KC.....More coming soon....


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