Friday, August 26, 2011

Impel Revisits Its First Star Trek Failure With Star Trek 25th Anniversary Series 2 Cards!

The Good: Some interesting images, Decent writing on the backs, Good chase
The Bad: Terrible collectibility, Vastly overproduced, Chase is nothing special, Lack of consistent orientation.
The Basics: The second in a series of dismal Star Trek trading card releases that reignited interest in the product, but now disappoints fans, collectors and investors universally.

When I was in middle school I discovered the joys of Star Trek in syndication. It was actually in the summer before Star Trek: The Next Generation began its first season (reviewed here!) that I found out about Star Trek and was hooked. By the time the 25th Anniversary of Star Trek hit in 1991, I was psyched and I was collecting the videos, plates and trading cards. At the time, my friends and I were excited about Impel's Star Trek 25th Anniversary" trading cards (reviewed here!). So when they followed up their short-printed Series 1 cards with the Series 2 set, they had an eager market, including me. In retrospect, this was the first of many bad collectible investments I made (for the record, eBay has almost entirely gutted the value of every Star Trek collectible).

The Star Trek 25th Anniversary Series 2 trading cards were originally released in boxes with thirty-six packs, packs containing twelve cards each. The series consists of 150 cards with two chase cards. Chase cards, for those not up on card collecting lingo, are bonus cards that appear in packs with an infrequency that makes them hard to find and therefore must be chased after. They are considered bonus cards and are numbered outside the numbering of the regular (common) cards in the set.

The Series 2 Set is broken down evenly between Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation. Star Trek is represented by seventy-five cards (the odd numbers, starting at 161 and ending at 309) and Star Trek: The Next Generation is represented by seventy-five cards (the even numbers, 162 - 310). This is rather irksome from the outset because it compels the collector to choose between organizing either by strict number order - which ends up looking ridiculous in a binder as the Star Trek cards are delineated visually with a thick blue border while the Next Generation cards have an ugly maroon border - or by series, which is a bit awkward when it comes to reading through the set sequentially. Most collectors will likely have dealt with this when they organized the Series 1 cards based on their preference.

The order problem is made more problematic by the sloppy way this set is assembled. Images are oriented both landscape and portrait style with no rhyme or reason to the direction of the image other than what fits. When assembled, this means one has to constantly turn the binder to read cards or see the image from the proper orientation. This is particularly annoying when reading the backs in order as it means turning the binder every four or five cards to read them.

This haphazard quality to the cards is continued with the general order of the set. The set is neat in terms of its content and the sweeping quality to it. So, for example, Series Two continues the trend of including episode summaries from episodes of Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation, technology and alien races, production details, actor biographies for the Star Trek actors and character relationship cards for the Next Generation characters, and even a few behind-the-scenes publicity shots on set! The cards are organized slightly better than the first set, though the later number cards are still very much a jumble.

A good example of this is in the Star Trek half of the set. Cards 235 - 255 depict parts of the U.S.S. Enterprise or technological aspects of the show or Star Trek universe. Then, after the actor biographies and production credit cards, there are cards for an Environmental Suit and the warp nacelles among the alien race and character cards. The set looks like it was assembled as the cards were done being written as opposed to any reasonable sense of order or style. The Star Trek: The Next Generation half of the set neatly sidesteps this problem by having the majority of the set comprised of episode synopsis.

The only really decent thing about this set of cards is the images and the writing on the backs of each card. The "25th Anniversary Series 2" cards have decent images. Some of them are not the typical images that are seen constantly in publicity stills or on-line from screen captures or in other card sets. As a result, there are some wonderful cards in this set for those who are looking to get cards signed by celebrities associated with the shows.

The writing on the backs of the cards is pretty decent as well. This set of cards manages to summarize episodes of Star Trek and Next Generation fairly well on a card each and some of the insights on the alien race and character cards illustrate a reasonably good sense of what the shows are all about.

The chase cards are holograms and the Series 2 set has a hologram of Captain James T. Kirk and one of Captain Jean-Luc Picard, so there are only two bonus cards to hunt down. The holograms look quite good and the 3-D effect is appealing.

Like the Series 1 cards, the Series 2 release was massively overproduced causing the market to be flooded with the product. From the beginning, holograms in the Series 2 set were one in every four or five boxes, causing the holograms to command a value of approximately $25.00 when the set was released. Now some dealers dump the holograms at $5.00, illustrating that this set has not retained its value. The common sets are easily available in the market and if you pay more than $10 for the 170 card Series 2 set, you're paying too much (though, admittedly, it's a big set and costs a bit to ship!).

The lowered value makes this a poor investment for collectors. Indeed, a box of these trading cards, unopened, is often easily obtainable for $5 - $10! As well, there was a way to obtain the complete set (including chase cards and two unique bonus cards) in an individually numbered collector's tin that was released, further devaluing the product. The packs are a mix of Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation cards, usually six of each. The cardstock is medium grade and there is no UV coating, so the cards get damaged and discolored fairly easily when not properly cared for.

Purists and absolute completists will want this set, but it has little appeal for general fans. The episodes were more effectively rendered in vastly superior sets that came out later on. Indeed, the biggest value in this set was in the official collector's binder; the binders (when one can find it) command prices of $150 or more (originally, they were sold through the manufacturer for $19.99 including shipping!). The two cards exclusive to the collector's tin and the promotional cards - none of which are available in the unopened boxes - also exceed anything in the box for retaining value in the secondary market.

The Series 2 set is something of a necessary evil for collectors who bought the series 1 set, but it has little enduring value and is unlikely to attract fans to card collecting now.

This set culls images from:
Star Trek - Season 2
Star Trek - Season 3
Star Trek: The Next Generation - Season 2
Star Trek: The Next Generation - Season 3
Star Trek: The Next Generation - Season 4

This is a set of trading cards I sell in my online store! Click here to see what inventory I might currently have available!

For other Star Trek franchise trading cards, please be sure to check out my reviews of:
Star Trek: The Next Generation Inaugural Edition
Star Trek: The Next Generation Episode Collection Season 1
Star Trek In Motion


For other card reviews, please visit my index page on the subject by clicking here!

© 2011, 2008, 2007 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

| | |

No comments:

Post a Comment