Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Star Trek: Insurrection Trading Cards: The Bonuses Make It Matter!

The Good: Incredible bonus cards, Generally inexpensive enough
The Bad: Bland common card set, Some real lemon autographs, Generally overproduced, Numbers of chase.
The Basics: The exceptionally rare gold cards go a long way to redeeming the problems in this movie-themed Star Trek trading card set.

Despite how it sometimes might seem that I have something against Star Trek: The Next Generation, I truly do love that series. I grew up on it, I have an extensive Star Trek: The Next Generation trading card collection and I still go see the movies at the earliest possible showing when they open. It has never been that I do not like Star Trek: The Next Generation, it's just that I like Star Trek: Deep Space Nine more . . .

That said, I do seem to be one of the few people who still admits openly to enjoying the film Star Trek: Insurrection. Dubbed the "chick flick Star Trek" by many of the fans, Star Trek: Insurrection actually shows some care in trying to tell a story before it abandons the philosophy and degenerates into yet another "kill the villain" Star Trek movie. But it does make for a pretty decent set of trading cards. The Star Trek: Insurrection set is actually a surprisingly cool set of cards in retrospect and one that is still fairly available today.

Basics/Set Composition

The Star Trek: Insurrection Trading Cards was a series of Star Trek trading cards that presented the third 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 inclusion of most of the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise-E. Properly assembled, the set has 137 cards, all but two 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: Insurrection trading cards included: 72 common cards, 64 chase cards, and one promotional card. All of the cards could be found in boxes, save three. There was also a binder produced by SkyBox, though that is fairly hard 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 are autograph cards 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 follows in the tradition of the film sets, with 72 cards which include: 1 Checklist (which is on the back of a card featuring the movie poster, one of the only "portrait" oriented cards in the set), 23 Mission Log cards which tell the story of Star Trek: Insurrection, 27 Sound Byte cards (essentially "Quotable" Insurrection cards), 13 Personnel cards focusing on main characters from the new movie, and 8 Alien Races cards focusing on aliens that appear in Star Trek: Insurrection, including the Son'a and Ellorans.

Outside the title card, most 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. Fundamentally, the two problems with the common set are that the images are often boring or they aren't from Star Trek: Insurrection! Yes, the astute viewer will note that several images, like the effects shots on cards 14 and 15 are actually from Star Trek: First Contact as is the image on card 30.

Actually, after the portions that discuss the plot of the film the set becomes far more erratic. For some reason, Riker is often put on cards in a portrait orientation, breaking up the sensible and homogenous look of the set (though other characters soon join this annoying trend). This makes the set look quite a bit sloppier than it needs to.

On the flip side, collation in the Star Trek: Insurrection 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 sixty-three, all but three of which were present in the boxes of these cards. 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) is a set of nine wardrobe cards. The wardrobe cards are printed on a rougher cardboard, like one would use for making a sketch and feature the original concept sketches for costumes in Star Trek: Insurrection. As well, the backs of the cards were written by artist Sonia Hayes, who did the sketches and she explains why she designed the outfits the way she did! Despite being in portrait orientation, these are very cool and easy to find as they popped up one in every four packs.

At the same frequency were the Ship Schematic cards. Those were essentially the same as the Wardrobe cards in terms of texture and style (though they were printed on blue sketch stock), these cards featured sketches of the starships used in Star Trek: Insurrection. Like the Wardrobe cards, the backs were written by the artist himself, in this case ship designer John Evans. Evans' explanation of each of the designs is insightful and fun.

At one in every six packs, there is an Okudagram card. These glossy, foil enhanced cards featured the displays in the various ships panels as designed by Michael Okuda. They were similar in style to the harder-to-find Relationship cards, which were approximately four per box. The Relationship cards featured pairs of characters on the front, like Riker and Troi and Ru'Afo and Picard and the backs detailed the relationship between those two characters.

The problem with these first four levels of chase cards (carried through from the common card set) is that Fleer/SkyBox created a Widevision set with normal trading card ratios. To be clear: the pages that house the trading cards are nine-card pages for standard releases, but only six-cards per page for Widevision movie-sized trading cards. This is an industry standard set well before the release of Star Trek: Insurrection and one Fleer/Skybox seemed to know quite well for its other sets. And yet . . . with nine cards in each of these chase sets, they seem to forget that.

I'm much more forgiving with the autographs, mostly because it's hard to flesh-out a set of autographs for a major motion picture; you never know how many stars will sign and they can change their mind, leading to additions at the last minute. Unfortunately, Fleer/SkyBox, in their zeal to get the product released on time, ended up using two redemption cards. This means that the cards for Patrick Stewart and LeVar Burton are not actually available in the packs! Instead, one might pull a redemption card (long expired) for either of those, which is very disappointing, considering they were two of the rarest autographs (and most sought-after) in this set to begin with!

At one-per-box, there are autograph cards, though. The Star Trek: Insurrection set featured autographs from all of the principle cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation, save Michael Dorn. As well, actors who appear only in Star Trek: Insurrection signed, like Jennifer Tung and Gregg Henry. Michael Welch and Donna Murphy signed, but notably absent is the film's primary villain, played by F. Murray Abraham. The bulk of the signers are individuals who had background roles or roles with minimal lines. The most common autograph appears to be the Lee Arnone-Briggs autograph. Who is she? She played the Librarian in a scene eventually cut from the theatrical release!

The autograph cards are fair, with half the card being a headshot of the celebrity and ample space beside it for the signers to sign. As well, SkyBox embossed each card after it was signed as a seal of authenticity, making it extraordinarily easy to see if one has an authentic autograph card or a possible forgery when buying autograph cards individually instead of out of the boxes of cards.

The grail for this set, though, were the gold cards. Found one in every case of twenty boxes was a limited edition, hand numbered gold trading card. There were seven different cards, one of each of the members of the bridge crew of the U.S.S. Enteprise-D and these cards remain some of the most valuable even today. Prices fluctuate on them, but they never seem to go below $50 and they look good enough that it is easy to see why; gold and embossed around the character's image, these cards are like finding one of Willy Wonka's Golden Tickets!

Non-Box/Pack Cards

There was a promotional card as well for this set and it is a pretty simple card of Picard and Anij kissing. It is simple, obvious and easy to find in the secondary market. There is nothing special about it, save that it is needed to complete a true master set.

As well, there were the A-1 and A-5 autograph cards, Patrick Stewart and Levar Burton. These cards are now only available in the secondary market as Fleer/SkyBox no longer holds the license to sell or distribute Star Trek cards. Many fans still collect the Redemption cards to make a truly complete set, but nothing takes the place of the actual autographs.


Despite the issues with the common set and the irregular number (for a set like this) of bonus cards, Star Trek: Insurrection makes for a fairly decent trading card set and one that is likely to continue to increase in value, especially of the higher end chase cards. It's too bad the lower end stuff was so common, because this is still a set that looks phenomenal.

This set culls from source material found in Star Trek: Insurrection,- reviewed here!

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

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: First Contact
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


For other card reviews, please visit my Card Review Index Page for an organized listing of all my card reviews!

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