Monday, November 28, 2011

Rittenhouse Archives Scales It Back For The "Quotable" Star Trek Deep Space Nine Cards.

The Good: Sensible common card set, Decent (consistent) chase cards, Some interesting autograph signers, Costume cards!
The Bad: Unimpressive autographs (No Numbers!), Incentive rarity changes, Unbalanced common set (see review)
The Basics: Some serious collectibility issues keep this set from being as good as it can be, but most of them are not related to the boxes of The "Quotable" Star Trek Deep Space Nine cards.

For those who might not follow my many reviews, I am a big fan of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. It was my favorite series in the Star Trek franchise and it remains one of my favorite television shows of all time. As a result, whenever Rittenhouse Archives - the current licensee for the Star Trek trading cards - produces a new series of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine cards, I am all over them. Their latest endeavor into Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, though, The "Quotable" Star Trek Deep Space Nine set, is unfortunately a real mixed bag. So while I would usually be prepared to reap high praised upon Rittenhouse Archives, I am finding myself a lot more divided on this set.

The "Quotable" Star Trek Deep Space Nine follows in the tradition and general style of Rittenhouse Archives' previous "Quotable" sets, "The 'Quotable' Star Trek" and "The 'Quotable' Star Trek: The Next Generation." Clearly reacting to the negative feedback received on the levels of difficulty in assembling a master set of "The 'Quotable' Star Trek: The Next Generation," Rittenhouse Archives created a much more accessible set with The "Quotable" Star Trek Deep Space Nine. And in that regard, they split the set between a collection of cards that is overly easy to obtain and incentive cards that were damn near impossible to find.

Basics/Set Composition

The "Quotable" Star Trek Deep Space Nine was only the second release of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine trading cards from Rittenhouse Archives. Properly assembled, the set is a collection of 193 (actually, 194...) trading cards and there is an official The "Quotable" Star Trek Deep Space Nine binder from Rittenhouse. All but twelve (thirteen) of the cards are available in boxes of The "Quotable" 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 five cards each. Boxes tended to run in the $60 - $75 range and guaranteed one common set, two costume cards and one autograph per box. More often than not, collectors came very close to two common card sets.

Collation in the The "Quotable" Star Trek Deep Space Nine set was remarkably good. To complete a true master set of The "Quotable" Star Trek Deep Space Nine cards, collectors had to purchase at least six cases of the cards, as there were two multi-case incentive cards. As well, there were promotional cards that were not available in boxes or cases and there was one card (the one I keep adding the parenthetical for) that was only available through Rittenhouse Archives' Rittenhouse Rewards program. In other words, there was quite a lot packed into these boxes of trading cards (the common set is only 108 of the 194 cards!) and a few cards that, rather annoyingly, could not even be found in cases.

Common Cards

The common card set consists of 108 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 108 cards, Rittenhouse Archives solved a problem exhibited in the first two "Quotable" Star Trek franchise sets: those sets had 110 cards, which made no real sense given that trading card pages for standard cards are laid out in nine-card pages.

The one hundred eight card set focuses on the memorable quotes from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The common card set has a definite bias toward the early seasons of the series and rather disappointingly, the final season is only granted six cards! Given how some of the early, less memorable, episodes are featured, it is disappointing that some of the later episodes are not given more attention.

The common cards look decent, following in the same format that made "The 'Quotable' Star Trek" trading cards popular years before. The portrait format is held through the entire common set and every card features an image of a character on the upper half of the card with a memorable quote from or pertaining to that character below. The "Quotable" Star Trek Deep Space Nine set utilizes many images that are not the typical ones seen over and over again, making for a visually interesting set that features both the main cast and significant guest stars from the series. With different quotes on the front than on the back, collectors and fans are treated to two different quotes per card, netting 216 quotes for the 108 card set!

Collation on this set was excellent, so the common sets averaged one and a half per box, which was good for collectors. As a result, this set is actually less common than the other "Quotable" Star Trek sets (also having to do with the number of boxes produced cut at the last minute from 10,000 to 8,000!). Still, the common sets do not hold that much value (common sets almost never hold their value these days).

For real sticklers about such things, the white borders around the images seem to vary greatly in color. As a result, some of the cards have white borders, others have more of a cream color. This only matters when one is looking at a set outside the binder; the color differences are not so extreme that it confuses the eye when looking at the cards when they are in a binder.

Chase Cards

There are eighty-six chase cards in The "Quotable" Star Trek Deep Space Nine set, with seventy-three found in the boxes of cards and the remaining thirteen available outside the boxes and packs. The bonus cards that can be found within the boxes were the Space The Final Frontier, "Quotable" Star Trek: Deep Space Nine comics, TV Guide Cover, Costume cards, StarFleet's Finest and two sets of autographs. For some baffling reason, there was no checklists for this set. This is rather annoying and it is compounded by some of the cards - most notably the autographs - not having numbers on them. Instead of a checklist card, though, there was a card advertising a new series of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine action figures being released.

The most common bonus cards in this set were the Space the Final Frontier cards. These cards made a lot of sense in the prior two sets, as they formed murals and the backs had the opening monologues to each series written on them. Given that Star Trek: Deep Space Nine did not have an opening mission statement voiced by the captain of the station, this is essentially present for continuity only. That said, the murals (there is one on the front and one on the back) are pretty impressive. Featuring the opening and closing casts of the show as well as several key recurring characters, the mural cards present a very intriguing collection of images that nails home what the series was truly about. These cards were found one in every eight packs, so two boxes were needed just to complete one set!

At two per box were the TV Guide Cover cards. Continuing the tradition of the other "Quotable" sets, The "Quotable" Star Trek Deep Space Nine featured a card of each of the TV Guide covers that had a Star Trek: Deep Space Nine theme. As well, these cards were foil cards, enhancing the natural images of these cool covers. These remain some of the most sought-after cards by collectors, despite Rittenhouse making them far more common at the last minute.

In order to make the TV Guide Cover cards two per box, Rittenhouse swapped them with the planned "Quotable" Deep Space Nine Comic Book cards. These cards feature frames from the first nine Marvel comics Deep Space Nine comic books. They are formatted like the comic book cards from "The 'Quotable' Star Trek: The Next Generation" set, which means they are an oversized card that opens up to reveal more text inside. This is a cool idea and a real innovation, but it never took off with the collectors and, unfortunately for dealers, they remain largely unwilling to pay more for them based on their rarity (at one per box, it takes at least nine boxes to complete a set of these cards!).

Also two per box - like the TV Guide Cover cards - were the Costume cards. These were arguably the grail of The "Quotable" Star Trek Deep Space Nine, despite there being some much harder to find cards. For those unfamiliar with costume cards, please check my review of one by clicking here! In this set, there are twenty-two costume cards, twenty-one of which may be found in boxes of The "Quotable" Star Trek Deep Space Nine. The last one (Grand Nagus Zek) was the binder exclusive card and could only be found there. As for the twenty-one which may be found in the packs . . . there is pretty incredible diversity in the fabric swatches used. All of the main characters from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (save poor Jake Sisko) have a costume card, most with more than one variant in terms of color. So, for example C8 is a card featuring a fabric swatch from Ezri Dax's uniform. The C8 cards have fabric that is either black, teal (from the outfit's collar) or gray (from the costume's shoulders). In addition to the standard uniforms, collectors are treated to swatches from Sisko's casual outfit from "Emissary," Dr. Noah (Sisko in "Our Man Bashir"), Sisko's casual outfit from "Explorers" (a very cool textured costume that has some very intriguing variations!), two of Dax's Klingon outfits and Worf and Odo's costumes from "Trials And Tribble-ations!" As well, two waitresses from that episode and Dulmer lost their outfits to collectors! The "Quotable" Star Trek Deep Space Nine also included swatches from two of the banners that hung on the promenade for years, which have some of the most interesting fabrics and designs on their swatches! This might be one of the neatest costume card sets for a Star Trek set (it gives the 40th Anniversary set a run for its money!).

This brings us to the autograph cards. The "Quotable" Star Trek Deep Space Nine set has only fifteen autograph cards available in the packs, divided into two sets. This is an especially small number for a Star Trek trading card release and given the number of truly wonderful stars to grace the series, this line-up is one of the most lackluster Rittenhouse has ever presented. The primary autograph set is the Quotable autographs and continues the style started in "The 'Quotable' Star Trek" set. Of course, these feature members of the Deep Space Nine crew and signers in this set were Avery Brooks, Nana Visitor, Terry Farrell, Rene Auberjonois, and Armin Shimerman. Each of these autographs was limited to 500 or less, save Brooks and Farrell, who each signed less than 300. With only 8000 boxes of these cards, the Limited status did not seem as limited, which was nice.

What was problematic was the second autograph set. In that set, there are ten autographs, two of which are Very Limited (300 or less cards signed), four are Limited (500 signed) and the remaining four are common. I salute Rittenhouse Archives for getting Adrienne Barbeau to sign more than five hundred autographs. And it is cool to have an Andrew Koenig autograph. But the others in this set have either been done before in other sets (Aron Eisenberg, Max Grodenchik) or are from characters that were largely unmemorable (I'm a HUGE Deep Space Nine fan and I had to look up Lark Voorhies when she was announced as a signer for this set!). Moreover, making Jennifer Hetrick and John de Lancie Very Limited is just death for dealers; no one is willing to pay what these cards are worth by their rarity! This second set of autograph cards follows the style of autograph cards from "The Complete Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" and it fills in some serious gaps in the collection, like Cirroc Lofton as Jake Sisko and James Darren as Vic Fontaine. But, rather annoyingly, these cards - save Lofton's A18 - do not have numbers on them! Why continue the style if they weren't going to continue the numbering?! Rittenhouse really fell down on that one. That said, the cards look good, even if it is not the most exciting line-up of signers Rittenhouse ever assembled.

The final level of chase cards found in the boxes were the StarFleet's Finest. Because of the change in number of boxes produced, these cards pop up approximately one in every three boxes, as opposed to every four, which seems to have effectively diluted their value, which is odd considering there are still only 399 of each card. The StarFleet's Finest cards were one of the real pleasant surprises of "The 'Quotable' Star Trek" set. They are thicker foil cards, each with an individual collector's number stamped on the back (my The "Quotable" Star Trek Deep Space Nine has all 075/399 for the SF cards!) and that generally enhanced the value. The StarFleet's Finest has one large image along with a secondary, background image of each main character (save Jake Sisko, who is bumped from the nine card set in favor of Ezri!). With a clever attention to detail, Kira, Odo and Quark are actually "Star Trek's Finest" cards, which makes sense because those three characters were not members of StarFleet!

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 thirteen 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 "Quotable" Star Trek Deep Space Nine trading card binder, the binder promotional card (P3) and a costume card of Grand Nagus Zek'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 were two other promotional cards, both exclusive to conventions. The first was a general convention release promo (CP1) and it seems to be fairly available in the secondary market (it features Odo and Quark). The last promotional card is a little harder to find, as it was given out only at the San Diego Comicon in 2007. These tend to be a little pricier . . . when they can be found.

The remaining cards are the four casetoppers and the two multicase incentive cards, plus a near-impossible card to find. The casetoppers are FOUR different sketch cards (only one per case!) that were drawn by artists Dan or Dave Day. They feature Space Station Deep Space Nine, Space Station Deep Space Nine with a Runabout, a Runabout and the U.S.S. Defiant. Having to open four CASES of cards just to try to get these is the definition of "irksome."

The grails of the set are the multicase incentive cards. Trying to make up for Fleer/SkyBox's nearly impossible to find Rick Berman autograph card, Rittenhouse gave buyers a new Complete Star Trek: Deep Space Nine style autograph of Rick Berman. Problematically, the ratio on these were changed from every two cases to every three, severely hampering dealers who count on this type of incentive card to recoup the investment in the cases. It, like the casetopper sketch cards, comes sealed in a toploader with the gold Rittenhouse Archives seal. This card was given to dealers every time they purchased three cases (36 boxes) of the product and they are only available in the secondary market.

The six-case incentive card was an autographed Terry Farrell costume card. This is a very neat concept and it is well executed here, but it also means that Farrell's autograph is one of the most common on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine trading cards . . .

The final card, which I have been alluding to for most of the review is actually a decent card for righting the wrongs against poor Jake Sisko. For several thousand points (points are found on wrappers of the cards), one may get a F10 Star Trek's Finest Jake Sisko foil card! This may seem campy, but die-hard fans will want to establish an account to get one of these (if they are even still available!).


Overall, the set looks nice and because most of my best legitimate gripes come in regards to cards that cannot be found in the boxes, I'm willing to knock this up to above average territory. But this set is bound to leave many collectors and investors dissatisfied and/or frustrated with how much isn't available in the boxes and the somewhat wonky odds on what is (the autograph cards are the real problem here).

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

This set of trading cards is available in my online store! Click here for my current inventory.

For other Star Trek: Deep Space Nine trading cards, please be sure to visit my reviews of:
The Complete Star Trek Deep Space Nine
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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