Sunday, November 1, 2015
A Celebration For Ten Marvel Trading Card Fans: The Marvel 75th Anniversary Trading Cards Still Impress!
The Good: Good artwork, Neat writing, Archive Cuts are very cool, Some cool sketches
The Bad: Preponderance of parallel sets, Odd chase set numbers, Some mediocre sketches
The Basics: The 2014 Marvel 75th Anniversary trading card set continues to innovate with comic book trading cards, surprisingly well . . . despite some eccentricities!
Over the last year, I've become a pretty big fan of trading cards outside the Star Trek trading cards that initially got me into trading card collecting. Most of the ones I have encountered over the last year have had sketch cards as the neatest premium. But the set that first got me intrigued by just what comic book based trading cards could do was the Rittenhouse Archives Marvel 75th Anniversary trading card set.
The 2014 Marvel 75th Anniversary trading cards are cool, despite being plagued by the usual complaint I have with comic book-based trading cards (parallel sets . . . so many parallel sets! In this case five versions of the common card set!) and several of the chase sets not being generated in 9-card increments (the standard for card sets because trading card pages generally hold nine cards each). The creation of the new Archive Cuts trading cards is a neat one and between them and some incredible sketch cards, the Marvel 75th Anniversary cards are bound to keep drawing interest from comic book trading card enthusiasts for years to come!
The 2014 Marvel 75th Anniversary trading card set is a character-centered trading card set. The common cards provide vital statistics on the ninety characters Rittenhouse Archives chose as their essential characters for the anniversary and the bonus cards do not waste text on repeating information on those characters. Properly assembled, the set is a collection of 720 trading cards and the official binder from Rittenhouse Archives. All but one hundred three of the cards are available in boxes or cases of 2014 Marvel 75th Anniversary cards and ninety-three of those cards are available in an archive box from the set. The cards were originally released in boxes that contained twenty-four packs of five cards each. Boxes tended to run in the $75 - $90 range and guaranteed one common set and one sketch card per box.
Collation in the 2014 Marvel 75th Anniversary set was remarkably good, but the set is oppressive to attempt to collect. In order to get the multicase incentives, one has to buy eighteen cases to get an Archive Box, but to assemble a true master set, it would take 90 CASES of the trading cards with absolutely ideal collation to complete the Diamond Parallel set and thus make a true master set. The Diamond Parallel set weeds out the casual and die-hard collectors of the Marvel 2014 Marvel 75th Anniversary trading cards.
The common card set consists of 90 trading cards, which are printed with great color contrast and a hefty cardstock which has a glossy UV resistant coating. The 2014 Marvel 75th Anniversary set features ninety cards featuring the biggest characters from the Marvel Comic Book Universe, both heroes and villains. The sweeping nature of the set allows it to include members of the disparate franchises - Avengers, X-Men, street level heroes like Daredevil, and their various enemies.
The common cards look good with a background image featuring the character in a classic appearance and a foreground image in the corner with a recent or more refined drawing of the character. The cards are universally in portrait format and have an extensive border, the character's name and background lines that change for the parallel sets. Rittenhouse Archives chose characters generally make sense for collectors and fans to love, though a couple of them are odd selections - like Magik, Ka-zar and Speedball.
The backs of the 2014 Marvel 75th Anniversary cards are well written, though the backs are more like blurbs like sports cards, with various vital statistics included. These cards give the character, their mundane name, their first appearance, notable powers and the like. These make the cards a cool reference tool for those who don't want to have to pick up a Marvel Encyclopedia or trudge through the Marvel Wiki.
Collation on this set was excellent, so the common sets averaged one and almost a half per box, which was good for collectors (I consistently managed to assemble four sets from every three boxes I opened).
There are 630 chase cards in the 2014 Marvel 75th Anniversary set, with 527 found in the boxes of cards and the remaining one hundred three available outside the boxes and packs. The bonus cards that can be found within the boxes were the sapphire, emerald, and diamond parallel cards, X-Men Evolution, X-Men Evolution Gold Parallel, Die-Cut Panel bursts, Sticker cards, Archive Cuts (from three different eras), Marvel 75th Anniversary and sketch cards. Most of the chase cards are limited to only one of the style per box and some of the parallels were found only one or two per case, which enhances the value of the boxes and cases.
The most basic bonus card in the set are the 90 sapphire parallel cards. The parallel cards are a strange standard in recent releases from Rittenhouse Archives and other card companies. The sapphire parallel cards are rather unimaginative. The parallel cards are essentially the common cards reprinted as foil cards with blue bars on the sides of the front. The sapphire parallel cards pop well for most of the cards for the color contrast relative to the common cards. The basic parallel cards are found about four per box, so collectors would take almost two complete cases to assemble a single set of these cards!
As has become the trend, there are more parallel cards than that in the 2014 Marvel 75th Anniversary set. One per box there is an emerald parallel card (individually numbered to 100) and one per case there is a diamond parallel card (individually numbered to 10). The emerald parallel cards feature the side bars in green and the "diamond" is essentially a foil version of the common card with gold borders on the front of the card in foil. While the one-per-box emerald parallel cards are not oppressive to collect (especially given that more boxes are required to complete the sketch card set), the one-per-case Diamond parallel cards are virtually impossible to collect and are predictably pricey.
One per box are cards from the thirteen-card X-Men Evolution card set. These simple cards feature several images on the front of each landscape-oriented card of each of the X-Men (heroes and villains) as they have appeared through different comic book ages. The cards show how drastically different characters like Beast, Magneto, and Wolverine have appeared through the years. This set is odd in that Rittenhouse Archives made 13 cards (which is more than a single case to complete!) instead of either nine or eighteen cards, which would better fit the standard trading card pages.
The X-Men Evolution cards are replicated as "Gold" Parallel cards found two per case. The "Gold" Parallel cards have the same artwork, but the blue bars on the front of the standard chase cards are replaced with a sickly brownish color. The backs of these cards have an individual collector's number with each copy being numbered to 100. This is a mediocre parallel card.
Like the X-Men Evolution cards, one per box of Marvel 75th Anniversary trading cards are one of nine Die-Cut Panel Burst cards and one of 18 sticker cards! The Die-Cut Panel Burst cards are a neat concept with an execution that is a little harder to enjoy. The die-cut cards do not have the standard trading card shape and one each one has a single large image of the character on it. The nine die-cut panel burst cards are nine of the most popular Marvel characters (all men, though. . .) and given how they are atypically cut, the corners are hard to keep mint. They look pretty cool, though.
The 18 card sticker set is a retro-looking sticker set and it continues the sticker card set from the 70th Anniversary set Rittenhouse Archives produced, with far greater rarity than the cards in that release. These are neat-enough and the character choices are more diverse than the Die-Cut Panel Burst set.
The 2014 Marvel 75th Anniversary set is the second of three Marvel Comics trading card sets from Rittenhouse Archives released in 2014 to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of Marvel Comics. In the 2014 Marvel 75th Anniversary trading cards, there are twenty-five Marvel 75th Anniversary cards. These cards are reminiscent of the Marvel Comics trading cards from the 1990s with big, full-bleed artwork featuring character "paintings" of major Marvel Comics characters. Each of these cards is limited to 75 (and individually numbered on the back) and they were found two per case in the 2014 Marvel 75th Anniversary set. They look amazing!
The Marvel 75th Anniversary trading cards include three different sets of Archive Cuts trading cards. The Archive Cuts trading cards are a cool new concept that are like costume cards for comic book enthusiasts! The Archive Cuts cards are trading cards with embedded panels from comic books in them. Rittenhouse Archives cut up several prime issues of Marvel Comics comic books from the Bronze, Silver, and Gold Age of comic books. Comic book collectors might never be able to get a pristine copy of Captain America #34 or Iron Man #13, but now collectors can get single panels (one of 51 or one of 37, respectively) from books like that! Each Archive Cuts card is unique and Rittenhouse Archives did an amazing job of finding intriguing issues and images for all of the Archive Cuts cards I've yet seen. There are 16 Bronze Age, 17 Silver Age, and 8 Golden Age cards found in the boxes - one per era per case.
The grail of comic book based trading cards these days are the sketch cards and the 2014 Marvel 75th Anniversary cards are no exception. 138 artists contributed unique, hand-drawn sketch cards for the 2014 Marvel 75th Anniversary trading card set and they are, as one might expect, a truly mixed bag, based on the artist and their choice of subject. Fan favorite artists like Rhiannon Owens, Peejay Catacultan, Jomar Bulda, Erik Maell, Francois Chartier, and MJ San Juan contributed and these have quickly become some of the most popular, best-selling sketches Rittenhouse Archives has released featuring Marvel Comics characters! There are always duds, but the Marvel 75th Anniversary set seems to have fewer than usual!
As with most "modern" trading card releases - certainly the ones from Rittenhouse Archives - not all of the cards needed to make a true master set are available in the boxes of these trading cards. In this set, there are ninety-three cards exclusive to the archive box and an additional ten cards that cannot be found in the boxes. The archive boxes possess a ninety-card Ruby parallel set that yet again recreates the common set, this time with a red foil borders (and seem to be more susceptible to foil card curling than the other three parallel card styles in this set). Each card in this set is numbered to 50, though archive boxes do not contain matching number sets. Also in the archive box are three Archive Cuts cards - one per era unique to the archive boxes.
There is the usual promo card which foreshadowed the series release which is common enough to find (P1). There is also a card exclusive to the 2014 Marvel 75th Anniversary trading card binder. Both promotional cards remain fairly well-available in the secondary market.
The remaining eight cards are the casetoppers, the multicase incentive cards and the Rittenhouse Rewards card. The casetoppers are very basic art deco cards of five popular Marvel Comics characters. These cards are not even foil cards. This is a particularly boring casetopper and they have not held any sort of value in the secondary market since the card's release.
The multicase incentive sketch cards, however, are highly coveted and very cool, having generally high value even now. Artist Warren Martinek contributed a sketch card that was given to dealers with every 6-case purchase. These sketch cards expertly recreated the covers of significant Marvel Comics issues and given the smaller scale, that is a pretty incredible feat in most cases. The nine-case incentive card was a painted art card from Mick or Matt Glebe and these painted cards live up to the reputation that the Glebe brothers have built in the trading card community. The characters and artwork are incredible!
The final card for the 2014 Marvel 75th Anniversary set is a Rittenhouse Rewards card. Available only by redeeming wrappers with Rittenhouse Archives, there is a Spiderwoman Die-Cut Panel Burst card. It adds a tenth card to the nine-card set (which is irksome from a collector's perspective as trading card pages are nine-card pages) and follows the format to the Die-Cut Panel Burst set. It is not a terribly exciting card, but the wrapper "cost" is not very high, so it tends to leave collectors generally pleased with it.
The 2014 Marvel 75th Anniversary trading card set is a true celebration of the characters who made Marvel Comics an enduring institution. The set is enough to excite collectors and despite the irksome nature of the parallel cards, the Archive Cuts cards are enough to reinvigorate interest in the Marvel-based cards.
For reviews of other Marvel trading cards, please check out my reviews of:
Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 1 trading cards
2014 Marvel Universe trading cards
Spider-Man Archives SD09 Promotional Card
For other trading card reviews, be sure to check out my Trading Card Review Index Page for an organized listing!
© 2015 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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