Thursday, September 8, 2011

A Fair, If Limited, Concept Opens The "Legends Of Captain Kirk."

The Good: Some truly wonderful images! Limited quality, Cardstock
The Bad: Cost/Value, Lack of image diversity, Does not capture full history, Crappy binder, Order
The Basics: With only nine cards, the "Legends Of Kirk" is bound to satisfy casual fans of Captain Kirk and William Shatner, but discourage collectors from beginning this set.

Here we are at the beginning of the "Legends Of Star Trek" series with "The Legends Of Captain James T. Kirk." There is something disheartening about writing reviews of products that bring little attention and no money, but such is my lot.

When the "Legends Of Kirk" was originally released, the concept was so new and different and exciting that collectors had a lot to look forward to. Here came a card set that was intended to be the greatest hits of the characters of the Star Trek franchise and card collectors and fans began to fantasize about the sixteen character super crew that would be created by this series based on the number of pages in the card binder that came with this first set. But from the moment the set was first released through the next three releases where the original principle was undermined, collectors became more and more wary, even as they thrilled to the generally cool concept.

Basics/Set Composition

"The Legends Of Star Trek" set is a series of cards produced by Rittenhouse Archives and released on average twice a year over the last five years. The "Legends Of Kirk" set is the first in the ever-expanding series that is released in nine card, limited edition increments. There are no bonus cards in this set, they come as complete sets of nine cards sealed in a cellophane package. There are three things that make these sets truly special: cardstock, an individual limited edition number, and the images on the cards. The cardstock is a 20pt. (thicker than usual) cardstock with the standard UV resistant coating that all quality trading cards come with these days. To illustrate the truly limited nature of the "Legends Of Star Trek" cards, every set is strictly limited to 1701 sets and the L9 card (visible at the back of the cellophane pack) is foil stamped with an individual number for the specific "Legends Of" set. So, for example, my personal set is number 0440/1701! This is where it helps to have a dealer that you are loyal to; dealers were able to order all of the same limited edition collector's numbers each time, so every time I get an order in, they are the same limited edition numbers and I - and my customers - are assembling sets with matching numbers, which will presumably hold the value of the overall series better in the long run.

Finally, the "Legends Of Star Trek" series is characterized by wonderful, uncommon images that are (usually) not the typical shots that have been on 8x10s, t-shirts and collector's plates before. Instead, these cards capitalize on big rare images, vivid color contrast and cards that are uncluttered by pesky text! These cards are for the fans who know the accomplishments of their heroes! No need to write about them, the images speak for themselves!

Common Cards

The "Legends Of Kirk" set is a nine-card "Legends Of Star Trek" set that features eighteen images of Captain James T. Kirk from the first season through the third season of Star Trek. These are all screen captures and present heroic shots of Captain Kirk from the five year mission of the Enterprise. It's gold and green and feathered comb-over. The shots are heroic shots of Kirk and they challenge the fans to pick the episodes they were from.

Actually, it's not "from the first season through the third season" and attentive fans will likely realize right off the bat that the set has no sense of order. The first shot actually appears to be Kirk sitting smugly in the command chair and if I'm not mistaken, it is Kirk from "Turnabout Intruder," when Kirk wasn't even in his own body! One would suspect that Rittenhouse Archives would set the bar high with the first release and they do that by not including any publicity shots. These are all screen captures.

The problem is, the image diversity is terrible up to and including apparently reusing one of the same shots twice! The front of card L2 appears to be a recropped version of the front of card L9! And while the set does not use any publicity shots, it is exceptionally limited in that it includes only images from Star Trek; none of the films! To truly capture the full legendary quality of Captain Kirk, it would have been nice to have some shots of him in his later life when his heroism continued to endure. But even more than that, it would have offered some different color contrasts and potential poses. This is a very yellow set!

Moreover, it is a very straightforward and bland set. It is all Kirk in his uniform. Where is Kirk as a Romulan from "The Enterprise Incident" or Kirk as Kirok from "The Paradise Syndrome?" Kirk disguised himself as a gangster in "A Piece Of The Action" and as a Nazi in "Patterns Of Force," but those images are not included here. He is not seen holding a communicator, tricorder or phaser in any of the shots, nor is he truly in motion; almost all of the cards in this set have him on the bridge! Where is an iconic shot of him about to use his cannon in "Arena?" Or how about an image of him in his original uniform from "Where No Man Has Gone Before?"

In other words, visually, this is a rather dull set.

I began this review figuring this was an average set, a pretty mediocre nine-card set, to be sure, but one I generally liked but looking at it objectively, I am disappointed. Fortunately, because one has the choice to either collect this from the beginning or not, it becomes rather easy - especially now that I notice that the two cards are virtually identical - to say that it's easy to pass on this set because the concept was good, but the execution was pretty substandard.

Also substandard is the binder that this set came with. Hailed before the release as the one and only chance to get the limited edition binder to hold the entire "Legends Of Star Trek" set, the binder is little more than a black vinyl folder with polypropylene pages sealed in. There are sixteen card pages, insinuating the depth of this ultimate release and the gold stamped "Legends Of Star Trek" line on the cover does little to nothing to make it more exciting for fans or collectors.


Those who love William Shatner as Captain Kirk will likely enjoy this set more than the die hard fans and the card collectors. There are nice heroic shots of Kirk in his command chair (3 of them), two shots clearly from "The Squire Of Gothos" as he faced off with Trelane, the obvious dress uniform shot from "Court Martial," being tortured in "Dagger Of The Mind," and a decent shot that includes Uhura and Sulu from early in "The Naked Time." While there are two more of Kirk at a console on the bridge, the remaining eight are simply headshots. It's uninspired, at best.

Overall, though, it's not enough to sell a casual fan on starting this set. Those who have other characters they love and decide not to collect the entire "Legends Of Star Trek" series will find that there are fans of William Shatner and/or Captain Kirk who are willing to buy up these sets, if for no other reason than they represent something fairly different to get autographed by Shatner!

The nine-card set with the binder tends to sell for $30 - $50 but the cardstock quality - which truly is a professional grade - and the limited edition nature of the set makes it worth it. The crappy binder, on the other hand, does not. One suspects in the future, the "Legends Of Star Trek" sets will be sold in the secondary market almost exclusively as entire series collections, so fans who simply have a favorite character will want to snatch up the releases when they first come out!

For fans of William Shatner and Captain Kirk, this is the "Legends" set for you! For the discriminating card collector, it's worth passing.

Casual card collectors (i.e. those not assembling a master series of "Legends Of Star Trek" cards) can safely avoid this set.

This set culls images from Star Trek, reviewed here!, most recognizably "The Squire Of Gothos" (review here!) and "Court Martial" (review 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
Star Trek In Motion
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 card reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

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

| | |

No comments:

Post a Comment