Friday, November 4, 2011

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Inaugural Edition, A Star Trek Trading Card Set Mimicking Another!

The Good: Decent images, Easy to collect, Good writing on backs
The Bad: Very simple set! Some of the best cards are not available in the box.
The Basics: The first Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the "Inaugural Edition," trading card set remains a fan favorite and an inexpensive, quality set worthy of any collector's collection!

I have been looking to review the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Inaugural Edition trading cards for months now. There was only one set of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine trading cards produced in 1993 and sold by the pack and that was the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Inaugural Edition.

SkyBox once held the license to the Star Trek trading cards and in those days, sets were simpler. This was before autograph cards and costume cards. They must have done something right, though, because this is one of the sets I cling to in my collection!

Basics/Set Composition

The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Inaugural Edition card set was the second Star Trek: Deep Space Nine release from Fleer/SkyBox and was the first to feature packs of cards to be opened as opposed to a factory-produced set. Produced after the first season, the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Inaugural Edition set is mirrored after SkyBox's phenomenally successful Star Trek: The Next Generation Inaugural Edition cards (reviewed here!). Capitalizing on the success of the television series, this was a mass produced set that ultimately was a 119 card set when properly assembled and despite its simplicity, it remains one of the most popular Star Trek: Deep Space Nine trading card sets, in large part due to its image quality.

All of the cards - save the ten foil stamped cards that were redeemed by SkyBox - are oriented in a landscape orientation, making this set one of the nicest and most consistent when in a binder. The 119 card set is made up of 100 common cards and 19 bonus cards, 6 from the boxes and thirteen that were not available in the primary release. Boxes of the "Inaugural Edition" featured 36 packs of eight cards each.

Common Cards

The "Inaugural Edition" set remains one of the best sellers in Star Trek trading cards because of the common card set. With 100 cards, the common set might look primitive by today's standard. Printed on a thin cardstock without a UV protectant coating, the "Inaugural Edition" is a true tribute to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

Starting with the first season cast shot (the back has a mission statement for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), the 100 card set offers fans and card collectors a wonderful array of images in a very consistent format. In addition to all of the cards being oriented the same way, the images are framed with a bright blue background/border that is very easy on the eyes. The style of the cards is very influenced by the use of graphic design. So, for example, the main cast members each have a card of their own. The front of each of these cards utilizes an image from a publicity still, but the background of the publicity shot has been removed and replaced with an orange and blue starfield. This gives all of the cards a very similar look and feel and unites the set, making it look great.

The back of each card is a well-written description of the subject of the card and some of the information is very technical and well-researched. In fact, some trading card releases phone in the writing, figuring that most collectors are just collecting the cards for the images, but this set was released when people seemed to genuinely care about the quality of the images and the writing on the backs. The "Inaugural Edition" actually encourages fans to read each card by including trivia cards in the common set.

The common set of 100 cards consists of: 1 commemorative card, 8 primary crew cards, 19 support crew (recurring or significant guest characters), 1 First Season tribute card, 19 Episode cards (featuring one card per episode from the first season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), 19 Space Station Deep Space Nine cards (featuring locations on the station as well as significant backstory elements), 8 starship cards, 8 Alien races cards, 5 trivia cards, 5 Technical data cards (featuring blueprints of station locations or other ships), 5 Foreign Language cards (card #1 reprinted in German, French, Spanish, Japanese and Klingon) and 1 checklist.

The consistency of the image quality - the ship cards look just as good as the personnel cards! - set a new standard for the Star Trek trading cards. The personnel cards remain highly coveted because they have such good images of each cast member and there is a big, open space next to the image, which inspires many fans to use the "Inaugural Edition" as a set of cards to get autographed by the celebrities who visit Star Trek conventions and sign!

The only real drawback within the common set comes in the foreign language cards. Modeled after the chase set from the Next Generation equivalent set, this lacks the impact as the writing on the card was created for this set! There was no opening monologue to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, so these cards just feel like filler.

Chase Cards

There are nineteen bonus cards in the "Inaugural Edition" set, only six of which are available right in the boxes of cards! The first level of chase card is the least sophisticated: the Spectra cards. Approximately two per box, the Spectra were an etched foil reprint card featuring four images best suited to a foil appearance, including Bajor, the cast shot and the Energy Creature. As well, one in every three to five boxes was a special Gold Spectra of the Wormhole. It's an interesting gimmick and it keeps people buying the boxes!

The only other bonus card in the boxes was a redemption card. One in every ten boxes featured a simple card that could be redeemed for the ten card foil embossed set. These cards were exceptionally rare and at the time commanded prices around $100. Long since expired, only the most devoted collectors still keep the redemption cards, but they manage to hold a value of approximately $50 still in the secondary market!

Non-Box/Pack Cards

Universally accepted as part of the set are the thirteen cards that cannot be found in packs, no matter how many one purchases! The first of these is the foil embossed redemption set. This set features embossed cards of each of the main crew of Deep Space Nine, plus a crew shot and Nog. The ten-card set is oriented in portrait format unlike every other card in the set. Still, they are beautiful! While they are the first season publicity photos that are utilized to make these cards, the backgrounds have been changed and they have a very vibrant feel to them. This set is still the hardest part of this series of cards to chase down, but it is worth the chase!

Finally, there were three different promotional cards released for this set and they have identical fronts to three of the common cards. These are strangely easy to find in the secondary market to finish off a true master set, though.


The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Inaugural Edition cards are relatively inexpensive and very easy to collect (three boxes gets a collector a virtual master set, less the redemption card unless one is particularly lucky!). Despite the popularity of this product, it was not over produced and the common set prices have held to $10 - $15 each, and the box prices have flattened out around $25.00 a box.

Despite the changes in card technology (better image capture, UV coatings), the "Inaugural Edition" cards still look great today and fans of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine continue to find it to be a set worthy of their attention and collecting. This set is a great one to get younger people interested in card collecting due to the ease of assembly. And while it may not be the strongest investment set of all time, it does seem like people are always looking for these cards.

This set culls images from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Season 1, reviewed here!

For reviews of other Star Trek trading cards, please check out my reviews at:
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Series Premiere Set
The Complete Star Trek: The Animated Series trading cards
Star Trek In Motion


For other card reviews, please 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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