Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Another Small Set: The "Legends Of" Riker!

The Good: Some truly wonderful images, Limited quality, Cardstock
The Bad: Use of publicity shots! Cost/Value, Sloppy assembly!
The Basics: With only nine cards, the "Legends Of Riker" is a disappointment in terms of image choice and set assembly, making it a tough sell for fans of Jonathan Frakes's Riker!

It is hard to get excited about the Legends Of Riker trading card set. By the time it was released, the “Legends Of Star Trek” idea seemed pretty passé and many fans were upset that the original concept of the set had been bastardized by the manufacturer to be something entirely more commercial.

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 Riker" set is the eighth 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 Riker" set is a nine-card "Legends of Star Trek" set that features eighteen images of Commander William T. Riker from his first season publicity shot an action shot from Star Trek: Nemesis. Unfortunately for the fans of Riker who were looking for something more than they already had from prior releases, the "Legends Of Riker" is one of the weaker "Legends Of Star Trek" sets in terms of fresh material. At least as troubling, Rittenhouse Archives put some of the cards out of order (an image from Star Trek: Generations precedes two shots from "All Good Things . . ." the series finale of Star Trek: The Next Generation). And while it may seem a little nitpicky, technically, one of the images is not even of William Riker, it's his transporter duplicate, Thomas Riker who was always treated as a different character.

Like the "Legends Of Picard," which first snuck publicity stills into this series that had previously been comprised of brilliant screen captures and rare images, the "Legends Of Riker" relies with annoying frequency on publicity stills. Four pictures (three on fronts, one on an obverse) are easily recognizable to fans of the series as being simple publicity shots. Fortunately, the other fourteen of the eighteen images are screen captures that more realistically portray the sense of movement and emotion of the character. It's refreshing to have more than just shots of Riker looking at the camera!

Outside the bland publicity shots of William Riker, the "Legends Of Riker" set portrays some of the many looks the first officer had, though there are not a huge number. All but two of the fronts of the cards have images of Riker in his StarFleet uniform, and only one card has a back that has Riker out of uniform. Despite Riker's portrayal of a Mintakin, his out of uniform adventure in "Frame Of Mind," and his appearances in dress uniform (he was one of the few characters that pulled it off in both the series and the films!), the shots are remarkably banal and those images are omitted from this collection. There are two shots from Star Trek: Insurrection featuring the shaved Riker, but none from his manipulated experience from "Future Imperfect" or even one with Riker and his trombone! And while there are the so many publicity shots, we don't even have an image of Riker with his Captain's pips from "The Best Of Both Worlds, Part II!"

Wow, that's bad. This set barely even tried to cull interesting images! What's worse is that one of the cards (L3) the image is backwards! It's a stupid publicity shot, but the photograph (not the text) is reversed! That's just sloppy.


There's quite a bit here to satisfy those mooning over of Jonathan Frakes in his heroic role as first officer Riker. But only three images; when he went undercover as a Malcorian, when he was dressed by the budding female Q, and when he went undercover as a Bajoran in the penultimate episode of the series are truly different from what can be commonly found on trading cards and 8X10s! Truth be told, the L4 image of Riker as a Malcorian was used on a bonus card in one of the prior sets! As a result, card collectors are unlikely to be excited about this set as the images are largely ones that have been overdone on the trading cards. Only fans of the "Legends" series will appreciate these cards and most will find it a worse value than the sets that combined characters ("Legends Of Chekov, Chapel and Rand" was particularly insulting!).

But fans of Jonathan Frakes and Riker might even be hesitant to snatch these up in the secondary market as this set hardly portrays him in the best possible light. The result is a set that is remarkably unsatisfying, especially with the misprinted card, but unlikely to be rejected by the collectors of the "Legends Of Star Trek" series.

The nine-card sets tend to sell for $17 - $20 but the even cardstock quality - which truly is a professional grade - makes it hard to justify the banal images selected and get excited about purchasing the "Legends Of Riker" set. Sure, there is the limited edition nature of the set, but the collectors who are collecting the master sets will buy this blind. Those just looking for quality Riker cards are not going to be as satisfied with shelling out $20 for this set. Stick to the 9-card mural subset from the Star Trek: The Next Generation Episode Collection Series Two release!

This set culls images from Star Trek: The Next Generation, most recognizably "The Measure Of A Man" and "All Good Things"
Also represented in the set are images from:
Star Trek: Generations
Star Trek: Insurrection
Star Trek: Nemesis

For other Legends Of Star Trek cards, please be sure to read my reviews of:
Legends Of Captain Kirk
Legends Of Spock
Legends Of Dr. Leonard McCoy
Legends Of Sulu, Scotty And Uhura
Legends Of Chekov, Chapel and Rand
Legends Of Captain Jean-Luc Picard
Legends Of Data


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

© 2012, 2008 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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