Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Legends Of Star Trek Hits Rock Bottom With "Legends Of Chekov/Chapel/Rand!"

The Good: Limited quality, Cardstock, No publicity shots!
The Bad: Cost/Value, Lack of image diversity, Does not capture full history, Far from legendary characters!
The Basics: With only nine cards, the "Legends Of Chekov, Rand and Chapel" disappoints casual fans and collectors of all three characters and actors!

Rittenhouse Archives, the current manufacturer of the Star Trek trading cards deserves quite a bit of credit for being innovative and releasing quality trading cards. They have done an impressive job of holding onto the license and largely satisfying customers, collectors and sustaining what it can of the niche market of Star Trek trading card collectors. Unfortunately, even Rittenhouse Archives occasionally produces a Star Trek lemon and there's no amount of squeezing to make it lemonade!

The "Legends of Chekov, Rand and Chapel" is one of those utter failures that makes one surprised the product came from Rittenhouse! When the Legends Of Star Trek cards were originally released, the concept was so new and different and exciting that collectors had a lot to look forward to. This Legends Of Star Trek set is the lowest the series has yet managed as the characters depicted are hardly the definition of legendary.

Basics/Set Composition

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 Chekov, Rand and Chapel" set is the fifth 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 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 Chekov, Rand and Chapel" set is a nine-card Legends Of Star Trek set that features six images each of Chekov, Yeoman Rand and Nurse Chapel from throughout the three seasons of Star Trek! These are all screen captures and present heroic shots of the three characters from the five year mission of the Enterprise. It's fairly unimaginative and pedestrian uniforms and tight headshots. Actually, the "Legends Of Chekov, Rand and Chapel" is one of the most bland sets yet released and the only real joy in it is in trying to figure out just which episodes the images come from.

Sadly, that is not enough.

First, the titles defining the characters are simplified from the prior releases in a way that damages the continuity of the series. Instead of being labeled as the Legends of Ensign Pavel Chekov, the first three cards are noted simply as "Chekov." Similarly, there are "Yeoman Rand" and "Nurse Chapel" as opposed to Yeoman Janice Rand and Nurse Christine Chapel. This represents a significant shift from the way other characters were defined on the cards in the prior releases.

The images are hardly imaginative, but then the characters are not some of the most interesting or active ones in the series. All of the shots are head shots of Chekov, Rand or Chapel. The Chekov cards are fairly easy to identify: one is from "The Apple," another is from "Day Of The Dove." The others, which have Chekov on the bridge, at his helm or science consoles could be from one of several episodes and the fact that they are so stylistically similar makes for a disappointing release for fans of Chekov. Sadly, the "Legends of Rand" section looks like it might have been made entirely of images from "Charlie X!" Chapel is possibly treated the best, with images from "The Naked Time," "What Are Little Girls Made Of?" and at least one of the later series episodes.

At least there are no publicity shots. Instead, these are eighteen hard-to-find shots of Chekov, Rand and Chapel separately doing their thing. The problem here, too, is that none of these seem to be the same type of hard-to-find shot from other Legends Of Star Trek sets. It seems like each of these images has been captured on other cards in prior or subsequent releases, hardly keeping in the tradition of the Legends sets.

Furthermore, the problem is the image diversity is far from intriguing and it could have been better for the fans. The true crime here is that there are no shots of Chekov from his appearance in Star Trek: Generations, nor any of the other films! Rand is not shown as a Commander from Star Trek: Voyager (or Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country). If one wishes to argue any of these characters are truly legendary, their entire StarFleet career ought to be encapsulated. It would have been nice to have some shots of them from in their later life when their heroism continued to endure. But even more than that, it would have offered some different color contrasts and potential poses. This is a very red, blue and gold set!

Moreover, it is a very straightforward and bland set. It is all the characters in their uniforms. Okay, there is a shot of Rand from "Charlie X" in her nightgown, but that's actually a pretty often reprinted shot. Perhaps Chekov never appeared out of uniform in his two years on Star Trek, but he did appear wearing the Collar of Obedience in "The Gamesters Of Triskelion" and he was out of uniform when he was crazed in "The Tholian Web." Why Chekov strapped down to a medical bed is not considered legendary is questionable, though one suspects the big hair that had plagued Chekov in "Catspaw" was easily ruled to be more terrifying than legendary. Come to think of it, though, there was less to do with Chapel and/or Rand, so Rittenhouse seems like they did their best with this set.

Then again, this just reinforces the idea that these were hardly legendary characters.


The images of Walter Koenig as Chekov, Grace Lee Whitney as Rand and Majel Barrett as Nurse Chapel are great for their fans, but with only three cards, it's hard for those who are fans of only one of those actors/characters to justify shelling out the full price for this set. Overall, it's unlikely to sell a casual fan on picking up this set, and if anything likely to discourage one from starting a Legends Of Star Trek collection.

This is an all-around disappointing set and it's not surprising that many dealers still have this one in stock.

One suspects in the future, the Legends Of Star Trek sets will be sold in the secondary market almost exclusively as entire series collections, but fans who simply have a favorite character among these three will likely find this set readily available in the future!

It's disappointing and it feels less than the other Legends Of Star Trek sets that were released.

This set culls images from:
Star Trek
most recognizably "The Apple"
"Day Of The Dove"
"Charlie X"
"The Naked Time"
and "What Are Little Girls Made Of"

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


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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