Sunday, August 14, 2011

Rittenhouse Archives Establishes Itself As The New Card Company In Town With Star Trek In Motion!

The Good: Interesting concept and gimmicks
The Bad: Card size, Gimmick nature of cards, Boxes lose element of surprise
The Basics: Star Trek In Motion is a decent concept for a collectible is a tough sell for trading card enthusiasts given the size and lack of surprise and value to a box.

Back in the day, Fleer/SkyBox owned the license rights to Star Trek to make trading cards and the company began to move away from the non-sports card market and as a result, they began to show less interest in creating a quality product than they had in their heyday. The head of the Star Trek card division, Steven Cherendoff, decided that if SkyBox wasn't going to do a decent job, he would. So, he left the company, formed his own company - Rittenhouse Archives - and began producing his own cards while waiting for the license to expire and for the Star Trek trading cards to become a Rittenhouse property. Paramount exacted a few restrictions on Cherendoff's first sets while the trading card license was still at SkyBox, but soon Rittenhouse Archives had its first set with Star Trek In Motion.

The Star Trek In Motion set was a tough sell to card collectors at the time as the cards were not the standard size and most fans were not sure that Rittenhouse would not be a fly-by-night company. Now, with almost ten years passed and hundreds of card sets from some of the most popular franchises on the market - including Star Trek - Rittenhouse Archives has assuaged any doubt that they are here to stay. So, looking back at Star Trek In Motion that no longer comes up as a concern. Unfortunately, there are other problems that take the place of concerns about the company when looking at this card set.

Basics/Set Composition

Star Trek In Motion is a set of lenticular trading cards, cards where the images move! Every card in the common set and most of the chase sets has images that move using state-of-the-art card technology. Each card is actually made of thick plastic with ripples on the front. The back has a paper stuck to the plastic and the paper is actually made up of tiny lines. Thus, as one tilts the card, the light passes through the ripples on the front of the card and makes the image move. This is not an unsophisticated process and the images includes some rather full range-of-motion movements, like characters saluting with a chest-thumping salute on card 13 from "Mirror, Mirror!"

The thing is, the cards are all five by seven inches. The standard trading card is 2 1/2" by 3 1/2". We understand that this awkward large size was the result of the licensing agreement that allowed Rittenhouse to begin while SkyBox still had the trading card license, but these cards are still cumbersome and frankly a little ugly.

Properly assembled, the Star Trek In Motion set consists of fifty-nine cards. The set is made up of twenty-four common cards and thirty-five bonus cards, only nine of which are available in the actual boxes of Star Trek In Motion cards. Boxes of these cards consist of twenty-four packs with three cards per pack.

Common Cards

The common card set consists of twenty-four lenticular cards. These oversized cards were made with a weird assortment of twelve episodes of the original Star Trek. Each episode that was focused on was granted two cards per episode. Each motion card has two images on the front: one in the top half of the card, another on the bottom half of the card. The back of each card features a plot synopsis (on the first of the two cards per episode) and a behind-the-scenes story on the the second card per episode. The writing is interesting, but nothing extraordinary.

Rittenhouse rather nicely utilized different images on the back of each card to accompany the writing. The edges of these cards are remarkably easy to fray as part of the process by which they were cut and as a result, it is not uncommon to open packs of Star Trek In Motion cards and find that they have little scratches on either side. What qualifies these cards as mint is also the subject of debate among many fans and collectors.

Rittenhouse Archives chose some obvious episodes to feature on these cards, like the ever-popular "Mirror, Mirror," "Amok Time" and "The Trouble With Tribbles." They also included the first episodes, "The Cage" and "Where No Man Has Gone Before." But there is no real rhyme or reason to some of the selections, like the inclusion of "The Gamesters Of Triskelion" in this set. In other words, the common set is mediocre at best in terms of content.

The concept - motion cards - is an interesting one, but this set is rather expensive for a twenty-four card set and by-the-box it is tough to recoup the cost of the cards.

Chase Cards

Breaking even on boxes has often come down to the bonus cards that are in each box. In Star Trek In Motion there was a single bonus card per box at the bottom of each box. The bonus cards in this set was one of six different Sound In Motion cards. These cards were the same size as the others, but also were a quarter-inch thick (which is why they were placed at the bottom of each box, as opposed to in packs). Actually, these were six of the common cards stuck to the box-like back. The card included a sound chip which played about thirty-seconds worth of sound from the episode depicted on the front of the card. So, for example, S2 includes the famous music from "Amok Time" when Kirk and Spock are fighting to the death. Similarly, S4 has dialogue between Kirk and Marlena on the nature of being a Captain's Woman from "Mirror, Mirror."

Ironically, the sound chips are pressure activated and they were placed at the bottom of each box of Star Trek In Motion cards, packed in styrofoam for protection. However, pressing the bottom of the box activates the card and as a result, it is easy to figure out which bonus sound card is in each box and thus take the guesswork out of opening the boxes of these cards!

Randomly inserted in the packs of Star Trek In Motion cards were one of three DeForest Kelley Memoriam cards. These cards were 5 x 7" cards featuring giant images of DeForest Kelley as Dr. Leonard McCoy. As this set was released shortly after the death of Mr. Kelley, this was a beautiful and thoughtful tribute to the actor. The cards were individually hand-numbered on a seal on the front out of 500, which has helped to keep their value rather high even after all of these years. Moreover, with only one of these cards per case (on average) it became a difficult set to collect.

Non-Box/Pack Cards

Ironically, the bulk of the bonus cards cannot be found in the packs or boxes! First, the promotional cards for this set were extraordinarily limited. There were twenty-four, one for each common card. The promotional card set is easily differentiated from common cards by their backs. The back of the promotional cards are white without any pictures. They say Star Trek In Motion Promotional Card. There are 500 of each promo card, but it remains a difficult set of promotional cards to complete.

As well, there is a casetopper sound card featuring a clip from "Amok Time" following the resolution to the battle between Kirk and Spock. This was only available in the full cases. The final bonus card was the sound card that was included in the factory-created binder, which was sold separately. The binder is nice and includes enough sheets to hold the common set of Star Trek In Motion cards.


Still, this is a set that is a weird combination of disproportionately easy (the common set) and disproportionately hard (McCoy tribute and promotional cards) to assemble this set and with the weird size, it is tough to stay excited about the concept. It's a nice idea, but the execution was ultimately very expensive and the set was overproduced which makes the common sets devalued.

Rittenhouse did better once it got the full license and now that there is not a company to support by buying these, it's hard to advise people to invest in this set, especially by-the-box.

This set features images from Star Trek, reviewed here!

For other original Star Trek trading card sets reviewed by me, please check out:
Star Trek - Season 1 Episode Collection trading cards
Star Trek - Season 2 Episode Collection trading cards
Star Trek - Season 3 Episode Collection trading cards
35th Anniversary HoloFEX Holofoil cards
The Art And Images Of Star Trek
"Quotable" Star Trek
Star Trek 40th Anniversary Season 1
Star Trek 40th Anniversary Season 2
Star Trek (2009 movie) cards


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

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

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