Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Perhaps The Lamest Of The Star Trek: The Next Generation Sets, "Profiles" Is A Mess.

The Good: Some decent autographs
The Bad: No guarantees per box, Terribly organized common set, Dull chase, Redemption cards
The Basics: One of the worst sets of Star Trek: The Next Generation trading cards to ever hit the shelves, "Profiles" is a messy, product and a waste of money.

Sometimes it takes me a lot to muster up the effort to review something, especially for a review where I am panning a terrible product. In this case, that's the Star Trek: The Next Generation Profiles trading cards.

As Fleer/Skybox moved toward ultimately losing the Star Trek trading card license, they seemed to give up on making a quality product and while some of their later products are objectively better than they initially seem, Star Trek: The Next Generation Profiles is bad upon first inspection and even worse the closer one looks at it. This shoddy set was assembled via boxes of cards that did not guarantee an autograph or a costume card in each box and as a result, buying boxes of the cards can be a real crapshoot that nets the buyer nothing of value to justify the price of the box.

Basics/Set Composition

Following on the heels of the very successful Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Profiles (reviewed here!) and Star Trek: Voyager Profiles trading cards, Star Trek: The Next Generation Profiles was one of the final sets of trading cards produced for Star Trek fans from Fleer/SkyBox and it came with an enthusiastic audience eager for the product based upon the strength of the two earlier Profiles sets. That eagerness died a quick death when SkyBox released the boxes of 36 packs (10 cards per pack) without any form of guarantee as to the contents of the box. As a result, fans could end up with an autograph card, an autograph redemption card, a costume card or none of those high-end extras.

The Star Trek: The Next Generation Profiles set is a series of trading cards focusing on the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-D. Properly assembled, the set had 144 cards, all but six of which were available in the boxes of cards. Unfortunately this set remains one of the hardest Star Trek trading card sets to complete because so many of the autographs were severely short printed and five of the autographs were only available through redemption offers. Of the 144 cards, there are eighty-two common cards and sixty-two bonus cards.

As well, there was a binder produced by SkyBox, which was sold separately through a direct mailing promotion. It is now available in the secondary market.

Common Cards

The common card set is comprised of eighty-two cards focusing on the characters from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Unlike the prior two "Profiles" sets, Star Trek: The Next Generation Profiles is organized thematically, as opposed to by character. Thus, instead of opening the binder to nine cards featuring Captain Picard, then nine of Riker, etc., each page is a hodgepodge of the nine principle characters as defined by SkyBox. Each page features all nine characters - Picard, Riker, Data, Worf, Dr. Crusher, Geordi La Forge, Troi, O'Brien and Wesley Crusher - with each page having a theme. The themes each character is challenged to explore are: a personal log (written as if it were a log entry by that character about one of their most significant missions/episodes), experiences at StarFleet Academy, Family, Romances, Adversaries, Off Duty Moments, Ceremonies & Rituals (a particularly lame installment, but they manage to come up with something for each character!), Secrets Of The Past, and a Captain's Review (cards written as if from Picard's perspective discussing key aspects of the character).

How bad the set is starts with the common card set. First, many of the cards are dark, like card 40 which features Worf and the Duras Sisters and all three are so dark they can barely be seen. Even more damning is the orientation of the cards. Cards are a random assortment of profile and landscape orientation, so no page has a unified look as far as the images goes. As bad, the backs of the cards that are in portrait orientation are upside down on the backs compared to the landscape - oriented cards. This is just sloppy and the set looks terrible even when put in a binder for display.

As bad is the writing on the cards. First, there was a serious need for a copyeditor on this set as cards like #53 misidentify the Chief O'Brien card as Captain Picard. Second, the whole idea of themes works terribly in this set with the characters chosen. "StarFleet Academy" is a page that is particularly dismal. Instead of mentioning Captain Picard's particularly obvious academy experience from the episode "Tapestry," the card focuses on "The Battle," an episode featuring Picard when he was captain of the Enterprise, reminiscing about a battle from when he was the captain of the U.S.S. Stargazer. Dr. Crusher's academy experience tells the story of "Genesis," an episode that has nothing to do with StarFleet Academy (Dr. Crusher is taken out in that episode rather early, in fact). Actually, the only character whose card on that page references an event at StarFleet Academy is Wesley Crusher.

As far as the pictures go, the image diversity is a mix of some intriguing shots not found everywhere else (like card 80, whose image appears on no other card I have ever seen) and obvious publicity shots, like card 34. Images are included from all seven seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation, as well as the three Next Generation films that had premiered by that time.

In addition to a terribly assembled common set, card #82 is a checklist. Unlike the common cards which have their UV protectant coating and are printed on regular cardstock, the checklist is printed on a thinner white cardboard that is closer to heavy paper than cardstock. This common set is a complete dud on its own, an insult in comparison to the other "Profiles" sets.

Chase Cards

The Star Trek: The Next Generation Profiles set follows up the awful eighty-two card set with sixty four bonus cards, all but six are available in the packs. The fifty-eight bonus cards found in the packs are: nine each of the First Contacts, Alter-Egos, Crossover Characters, Q's Quips, five Redemption cards, fourteen autograph cards and one Star Threads (costume) card. The common chase cards are common, the rares are ridiculously rare and the overall feel is sloppy.

The First Contacts cards are foil cards featuring aliens that were met for the first time in Star Trek: The Next Generation. I want to say "the most popular aliens that were first met . . ." but the Iyaarans were never a favorite. There are traditional and obvious aliens, like Q, the Ferengi and the Borg. How the Vulcans ended up in this set (from Star Trek: First Contact) but the Cardassians didn't is another example of how sloppy this set is. At least all of the cards are in landscape orientation. The backs of each card in this set describes the first encounter with the alien race on the front. There was a complete set of these (by the odds) in each box of Star Trek: The Next Generation Profiles cards.

The next chase set was the portrait-oriented Alter Egos set of cards. These foil cards have disguises or alterations made to significant characters, like Picard as Locutus, Kamen or Galen. These nine cards are nice foil cards which feature images of each character featured in disguise as well as a little window with their normal appearance. The Major Rakal (Deanna Troi) card in this set is a real standout. This set took more than one box to complete.

One in every eight packs was a Crossover Character card. These cards are landscape-oriented feature appearances of characters from Star Trek: The Next Generation on other Star Trek franchise shows, as well as the appearances of Scotty, Spock and McCoy on episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation. So, for example, there are cards for LaForge and Barclay from their appearances on Star Trek: Voyager as well as O'Brien, Worf, Keiko and Lwaxana Troi's appearances on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. These are mildly intriguing cards, but all that truly makes them bonus cards is the foil strip on the front and their rarity. I remain miffed that SkyBox chose not to do a Dr. Bashir or Quark card from their appearances on Star Trek: The Next Generation.

At one per box is probably the most unique and interesting card set in this series. The Q's Quips cards are portrait-oriented die-cut cards shaped like a capital Q. In the circular part of the card is an image of Q and each of the eight episodes that Q is featured in is made into a card ("All Good Things . . ." has two). These are interesting cards which are clever and a decent tribute to one of the most popular villains in the Star Trek franchise. Strangely, card Q5 does not actually have Q on it - which stinks because images of Q as the Lord High Sheriff of Nottingham are hard to come by - instead it features Picard and Vash as Robin Hood and Maid Marion, respectively. Otherwise, this is the best part of the set and the only reason to bother collecting these cards. In fact, forget the rest of the set, just collect the Q's Quips!

Sporadically inserted at approximately one in every forty packs is an autograph or autograph redemption card. There are redemption cards (long expired) for the autographs for Denise Crosby (A3) and Dwight Schultz (A16) who had previously signed for Star Trek trading card releases. But irritatingly, the new signers - Michelle Forbes, Rosalind Chao, and Brian Bonsall - were all redemption cards. This is sloppy planning on the part of SkyBox and it undermines the quality of some of the other signers. All of the main cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation signed for the "Profiles" set, save Michael Dorn. All of the autographs were big head images featuring a shaded smaller image in the background. Other notable signers included Corbin Bernsetein as Q2, Wil Wheaton as Wesley Crusher, William Shatner, James Doohan and Walter Koenig from their appearance in Star Trek: Generations, and Majel Barrett as Lwaxana Troi. The problems come up with the rarities. All of the main cast (save Jonathan Frakes) and many of the significant guest stars were so terribly shortpacked that - when they can be found - their prices start at $100! This is a ridiculous price to have to pay for a Marina Sirtis, Gates McFadden or John de Lancie autograph. Even worse, though, is that Walter Koenig - who is a great convention guest and a man who has been signing things for decades - is one of the short printed autographs, rivaling the Brent Spiner in this set for the most valuable card. At least there is a James Doohan autograph so people who buy boxes have the outside chance of getting of the final trading cards signed by him. The autograph cards do not have SkyBox's trademark embossed seal of authenticity on them and that led to a lot of controversy at the time. As it stands, because I despise the set now and recommend avoiding it, duking it out on that count hardly seems worth it.

In addition to the autograph or redemption selection, there were 2500 Star Threads cards, featuring a first for the Star Trek trading cards: a fabric swatch from one of Captain Picard's uniforms! There were variants to this card, based upon the fabric swatch (black, maroon or a mix of the two), but each card was numbered on the back with a foil-stamped number out of 2500 (mine, for example, is a black fabric swatch and individual card number 2048).

Non-Box/Pack Cards

There were six cards not included in the boxes or packs of Star Trek: The Next Generation Profiles trading cards. Those were the five autographs for which there were redemption cards - which are now available fairly easily on the secondary market - because the redemption cards have long since expired for this set. There was also a promo card, featuring Picard, Data and Riker and it is also fairly common and easy to find in the secondary market.


The Star Trek: The Next Generation Profiles is a very sloppy set which ought to never have been made, but because it was, it remains one of the big disappointments for trading card collectors. It is a sloppy set, which is nearly impossible to collect and hard to get excited about bothering to.

This set culls images from:
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Star Trek: Generations
Star Trek: First Contact
Star Trek: Insurrection

This is a set of trading cards I sell in my online store! Be sure to visit my current inventory of them by clicking here!

For other Star Trek The Next Generation trading cards, please be sure to visit my reviews of:
Star Trek 25th Anniversary Series 1
Star Trek 25th Anniversary Series 2
Star Trek The Next Generation Inaugural Edition
Season 1
Season 2
Season 3
Season 4
Season 5
Season 6
Season 7


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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