Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Best Of The Best: "The Complete Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" Trading Cards Impress!

The Good: Great signers, Unified format, Generally good odds on completing a set, Good chase
The Bad: Umm, one autograph card was pulled (another was added)
The Basics: THE Best Star Trek trading card set is The Complete Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Read on to find out why!

It might seem when I review the various trading card releases, that I am being rather harsh as almost none fare better than average in my reviewing scheme. However, rather than being harsh or mercurial, I suspect this is more from having high standards and actually being objective about the process when I review the cards. I mention this because in looking over my collection, I have finally made my way to my absolute favorite set of Star Trek trading cards. They are The Complete Star Trek: Deep Space Nine trading cards and anyone who follows my reviews will likely not be surprised that my absolute favorite set of cards is from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

“The Complete Star Trek: Deep Space Nine“ defies the style of card created with the poorly -received Rittenhouse Archives product "The Complete Star Trek: Voyager" set, which lost a lot of points with collectors by packing a ton of images onto cards, so they had tiny pictures that made them hard to see and far less worthwhile to try to get autographed. Clearly reacting to the negative feedback received from that set, Rittenhouse Archives created a much more uniform and visually spectacular set with "The Complete Star Trek: Deep Space Nine." This set was one of the last ones that was fun to collect in that it precedes the highest end chase cards that were given as incentives to multiple case buyers. As a result, this is a fairly easy set to complete, it looks good, has great signers (the entire main cast of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is represented, save Cirroc Lofton as Jake Sisko!).

Basics/Set Composition

“The Complete Star Trek: Deep Space Nine“ was the first release of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine trading cards from Rittenhouse Archives. Properly assembled, the set is a massive collection of 277 trading cards and there is an official “The Complete Star Trek: Deep Space Nine“ binder from Rittenhouse. All but six of the cards are available in boxes of “The Complete Star Trek: Deep Space Nine“ cards, making it one of the sets with enduring collectibility. The cards were originally released in boxes that contained forty packs of nine cards each. Boxes tended to run in the $60 - $75 range and guaranteed one common set and two autograph cards per box.

Collation in the “The Complete Star Trek: Deep Space Nine“ set was remarkably good. To complete a true master set of “The Complete Star Trek: Deep Space Nine“ cards, collectors had to purchase at least a case, but the luckiest could conceivably assemble a master set (from the boxes) with a case of twelve boxes plus one additional box (there were twenty-five autographs in the boxes and one would need to strike it real lucky with the Alternate Realities cards to pull the last one in an extra box as well). As well, there were promotional cards that were not available in boxes. In other words, there was quite a lot packed into these boxes of trading cards (the common set is a whopping 189 cards, though!).

Common Cards

The common card set consists of 189 trading cards, which are printed on standard cardstock and have a glossy UV resistant coating. This causes cards to stick together occasionally, but this is a moot issue as the vast majority of trading card collectors keep their cards in binders these days to protect and display their cards. With 189 cards, Rittenhouse Archives created a set that afforded every single episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine a trading card. That, of course, it the point of the COMPLETE Deep Space Nine!

The one hundred eighty-nine card set focuses on the episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The common card set has a mural card featuring the opening cast of the series, a card featuring the cast shot for each season and then one card per episode (with "Emissary," "The Way Of The Warrior," and "What You Leave Behind" getting two each, as they were originally presented as double-length episodes). There is also a closing mural which has the three checklist cards.

The common cards look decent, with the portrait format is held through the entire common set. Each card features a large, single image on the front - usually obscure and interesting images from the episode that have not been overdone on any medium - and a small image on the back. The backs feature memorable guest cast members and a full plot description of each episode.

Collation on this set was excellent, so the common sets averaged one and about a quarter sets per box, which was good for collectors. As a result, this set is actually less common than many of the other Star Trek sets. Still, the common sets do not hold that much value (common sets almost never hold their value these days). But, it's hard to devalue a set that has 189 cards!

Chase Cards

There are eighty-eight chase cards in “The Complete Star Trek: Deep Space Nine“ set, with eighty-two found in the boxes of cards and the remaining six available outside the boxes and packs. The bonus cards that can be found within the boxes were the Enemies and Allies, Ships Of The Dominion War, Gallery, Alternate Reality, Costume cards and autographs. Also in a box there was a slip of paper letting collectors know that there was no A18 or A25, but that A26 - Barry Jenner - had been added to the set.

The most common bonus cards in this set were the Enemies And Allies cards. These cards give the 27 most popular or relevant recurring characters a card each. Given that Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was highly-character driven and how hard it is to find decent images of people like Admiral Bill Ross, General Martok, Gul Dukat, and Kassidy Yates, this twenty-seven card chase set has a lot of value to fans and collectors. These cards were found one in every four packs, so three boxes were needed just to complete one set! It's a worthwhile set to complete, though!

At four or five per box were the Ships Of The Dominion War cards. This nine card set is one of the few that is landscape oriented and it features a beautiful foil front with a starship featured prominently on each one. The ships are nicely pictured, the backs mention the tactical abilities of each one and it's a good set that breaks up the otherwise character-heavy set of cards. If the intent of the set is truly to be the Complete Deep Space Nine, it's nice that Rittenhouse Archives included some starships as the show had some seriously cool space battles!

At one per box were the ten gallery cards. These followed the same format as the Gallery cards in the Complete Star Trek: Voyager and the Enterprise Season Two cards. Each card is a double-thick and has a film cell embedded in it. All ten members of the main cast are represented with Nicole de Boer as Ezri Dax being given card G10 (which makes sense given she was only around for the final season). These cards are interesting, look good and have retained their value well over the years.

Like the Gallery cards, the Alternate Realities cards are double-thick. Instead of a film clip, these seven cards which are found one in every other box have a mirrorboard embedded in each one. the mirrorboard features the Mirror Universe incarnation of the relevant character and Sisko, Kira, O'Brien, Bashir, Jennifer Sisko, Worf and Garak are each given this treatment! Given the popularity of the Mirror Universe subplot, this makes for a great set.

Arguably the grail of "The Complete Star Trek: Deep Space Nine," were the five costume cards (one was a binder exclusive) despite there being some much harder to find cards. For those unfamiliar with costume cards, please check my review of one here!. There were only four costume cards available in the packs and all were in landscape format with a little window cut out. Quark, Worf, Garak and Intendant Kira were each granted costume cards and these look phenomenal!

This brings us to the autograph cards. “The Complete Star Trek: Deep Space Nine“ set has twenty-five autograph cards available in the packs, divided into two sets. With decent distribution of autographs, this set becomes a real grail for collectors and fans. This is the first set that included autographs from the entire main cast of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, save Cirroc Lofton (whose autograph in this style was included in the subsequent Rittenhouse Archives Star Trek: Deep Space Nine set "The 'Quotable' Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”). This is the ONLY set that has Colm Meany as Chief O'Brien as a signer and it is one of the few that has Michael Dorn as Lieutenant Worf!

As well, the full bleed autograph cards feature notable guest stars like William Sadler as Sloan, Wallace Shawn as Grand Nagus Zek and Brian Thompson as Inglatu! Fans who do not attend conventions will find enduring value in A19, which featured Cecily Adams as Ishka (Quark's mother). Adams died shortly after signing for this set, so it remains the only "official" autographed item she signed. There is no A18 in this set. It was supposed to be James Darren, but his cards were not returned in time. Oddly enough, Darren is included in the subsequent "Quotable" set, but there is no number on it and A18 is given to Cirroc Lofton.

Perhaps the real grail, though is the limited dual autograph. Only five hundred of the dual autograph were signed and it was always a thrill to pull one. The DA1 card features Worf and Dax in their wedding attire and is signed by Michael Dorn and Terry Farrell! It's a real bonus for those who loved the show and those characters.

Non-Box/Pack Cards

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 only six cards that cannot be found in the boxes. There is the usual promo card which foreshadowed the series release which is common enough to find (P1). There are two cards exclusive to the “The Complete Star Trek: Deep Space Nine“ trading card binder, the binder promotional card (P3) and a costume card of Security Chief Odo's costume! The P2 card is a promotional card available only through Non-Sports Update Magazine and it might take a little work to track down (though the magazine offers back issues pretty readily).

There was one other promotional card, which took quite a bit to track down. It was a UK exclusive promotional card featuring Sisko and Dax on the front. The back of each of these cards was individually hand numbered out of five hundred (mine, for example is 200/500!). These were sent right over the pond to dealers in Great Britain and they have been very slow to filter back, so this might actually be one of the hardest cards to track down in this set.

The final card was a casetopper dual autograph. That dual autograph featured Gwynyth Walsh and Barbara March as the Duras Sisters, B'Etor and Lursa. This, mostly, has value for collectors, but it makes for a decent casetopper as well.


Hands down, this is the best set of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine trading cards ever assembled and it makes for arguably the best Star Trek trading card set. There is a great mix of autograph signers, a consistent common set rich in visual and written information and interesting chase sets all the way down. It is not impossible or excruciatingly expensive to assemble a master set and as a result, it is my pick for best set of Star Trek cards to date!

This set culls images from all seven seasons of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, reviewed here!

This is a set of trading cards I proudly sell in my online store. Please be sure to check out my full inventory of them by clicking here!

For other Star Trek: Deep Space Nine trading cards, please be sure to visit my reviews of:
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Memories From The Future
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Profiles
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Inaugural Edition
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Series Premiere trading cards


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

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