Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Star Trek: First Contact Trading Cards, The Impossible Set Is Wildly Erratic!

The Good: Interesting bonus cards
The Bad: Bland common card set, Some uninspired chase, The Brent Spiner autograph
The Basics: The joy of Star Trek: First Contact and card collecting is sucked out of this trading card set by average chase cards and an impossible to find autograph card!

When I was in college, trading cards began to change. Non-sports trading cards became obsessed with keeping collectors buying with more flashy and intriguing cards. This quickly took the form of autograph cards, but during the transition, it was clear that companies like SkyBox had no idea how the market on that would work and they leaned toward the conservative, with sets like the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Profiles (reviewed here!) which only had three autograph cards to chase after and the Star Trek: First Contact set, which had only one.

The problem here is that with such infrequency of the autographs (the Brent Spiner autograph is one in every hundred boxes according to the odds!) makes for a near impossible set to collect. From where I sit, I stand by my original assertion. When this set was released, a local comic book store had one of the Brent Spiner autographs in and they were asking $250.00 for it. I told the person I was dating at the time, "Don't buy it; I'm sure it'll come down." I was kicking myself for a long time for that; the last time I even saw one of those gems on eBay (I've never actually seen one in reality) it was selling for over $1,000. My original thought was, "it's just not worth that much." Brent Spiner has become much easier to find at Star Trek conventions lately (hell, he held the door to the bathrooms open for me in Las Vegas on my last trip there!) and he signs autographs in person for far, far less than that. But, it's the card that people are hunting now, not the actual autograph (Mr. Spiner has graciously signed in every Star Trek: The Next Generation set since that has had autograph cards)!

Basics/Set Composition

The Star Trek: First Contact Trading Cards was a series of Star Trek trading cards that presented the second Star Trek: The Next Generation cinematic adventure in trading card form. With cards that were widevision format, much like they did for the set of Star Trek: Generations cards, the set quickly became a sought-after set for its first images of the U.S.S. Enterprise-E as well as the nearly impossible to find Brent Spiner autograph card. Properly assembled, the set has 103 cards, all of which may be found in the standard hobby release boxes. Boxes were comprised of 36 pack boxes with nine cards per pack.

The full set of Star Trek: First Contact trading cards included: 60 common cards and 43 chase cards. All of the cards could be found in boxes. There was also a binder produced by SkyBox, and it is fairly easy to find in the secondary market now.

This was one of Fleer/SkyBox's last Star Trek products and as such, it represents the pinnacle of card technology as possessed at the time. All of the cards have a UV resistant coating, bonus cards are fairly sophisticated, there is the autograph card and the widevision format, which was the standard for cinematic trading card releases, was well-executed with this set.

Common Cards

The common card set is a little less robust than other Cinema Collection products. Instead of the standard 72 cards, there are only 60 common cards. The common set includes 58 plot cards, one card featuring the entire bridge crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise-E and a checklist. Unlike other Cinema Collection sets, there are no quotes, no individual character cards, no other goodies. This is a straightforward movie plot set.

All of the cards in the common set are organized in landscape orientation. This makes the best use of the wider cards and allows for the full image from the film to be utilized. Exclusively shots of characters (save one image of the Phoenix and one of the Borg Sphere), the set visually tells the story of Star Trek: First Contact with the Borg and time travel elements well represented.

Collation in the Star Trek: First Contact set was absolutely incredible. In a box of thirty-six packs, it was entirely probable to end up with three complete common card sets, and a few extra single cards.

Chase Cards

As for the bonus cards, there are forty-three, all of which were present in the boxes of these cards. There was a Star Trek fan club card which was technically the first bonus card in this set. It is also the only card to have nothing to do with Star Trek: First Contact.

The first level of chase card (chase card, insert card and bonus card are all the same thing - cards that are far less frequent than common cards and have a different numbering system and usually something distinctive about them that makes them more valuable than normal cards) was a set of ten Behind-the-Scenes cards. These feature candid shots from the set as well as stories about director Jonathan Frakes, the make-up department and the on location shooting of Star Trek: First Contact. The image quality is incredible and the stories are enjoyable to any fan of Star Trek: The Next Generation! The Behind-the-Scenes cards were found one in every six packs, so it still took two boxes to complete even the lowest level of chase cards.

At one in every eight packs were the Borg Techno-cell cards. These are very cool plastic cards with images of Borg from the television series and movie silk-screened onto them. The set of twelve features such Borg as Locutus and the Borg Queen as well as the various aliens who were Borgified for Star Trek: First Contact. These are truly extraordinary images of the Cardassian and Klingon Borg which are sure to delight fans of the Borg and the film!

Perhaps the practical grail for collectors comes one in every nine packs; the ten Crew Spectra foil cards. In addition to the entire bridge crew, the set features Lt. Hawk, Zephram Cochrane, and Lily Sloane. It's a very cool set featuring foil images of each crewmember next to a wide open space that just begs to be autographed! Having seen these autographed at conventions, these cards make the boxes worth buying on their own! (It makes one wish they had done one for the Borg Queen as well!).

At only three per box are the new Enterprise-E cards. These cards feature different locations throughout the U.S.S. Enterprise-E, like the lounge, ready room and evacuation corridor. At the time, these cards were treated as a major boon to collectors as they had no other way to see the new Enterprise's interiors before these cards. Now, they seem simple as they only have minimal foil (the lettering for the movie's name) and generally less impressive than the mural of the exterior of the Enterprise-E that is formed on the back when the set is put in a binder!

At one-per-box, there are one of three blueprint cards. "Blueprint" is a kind way to phrase "ship sketch" posters. These cards open up to reveal drawings of the U.S.S. Enterprise-E, the Phoenix, and the Borg Cube. These are novel, but not terribly exciting, especially considering that one has to find a different style trading card page to display them openly within one's binder or else they look like a strange, little folded up card.

The grail for this set, for the die-hard collectors is the Brent Spiner autograph. Featuring Data with his face partially made of human flesh, the Brent Spiner autograph is so difficult to find that most dealers do not have them in stock and most cannot even get one. The odds, one per hundred boxes, make it virtually impossible to pull one of the signature cards, but that doesn't stop people from trying!

Non-Box/Pack Cards

There are no cards for this set that were not available in the boxes of Star Trek: First Contact trading cards. The nice thing here is that there are no promotional cards to hunt down; purchase enough boxes and one should get one of everything!


Star Trek: First Contact makes for a fairly decent trading card set, despite the common set being smaller than most movie sets. As well, the Behind-the-scenes and Enterprise-E cards are barely chase cards (looking at the fronts of these cards, it is hard to tell them from the common cards), though the Borg Techno-cels and Character foils go a long way to making up for the banality of the others! But the difficulty of finding that last card sure sucks the fun out of this set, even for loyal collectors and it's enough for me to recommend giving this one a pass in the final analysis.

This set culls from source material found in Star Trek: First Contact, reviewed here!

For other trading card collections based upon the Star Trek films, please check out my reviews of:
Star Trek: The Motion Picture Topps card Set
Star Trek Master Series
Star Trek 1994 Edition Master Series
Star Trek Cinema Collection
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier Cinema Collection
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country Cinema Collection
Star Trek Cinema 2000
Star Trek Movies In Motion
Star Trek (2009 movie) cards

This is a set of trading cards I proudly sell in my online store. Be sure to check out my current inventory by clicking here!


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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