Friday, March 2, 2012

Very Sisko, Very Average, "The Legends Of Captain Benjamin Sisko" Is Only Good For Fans.

The Good: Good photography/card quality, Limited edition nature
The Bad: A number of promotional images, Bias toward early years
The Basics: A good set, the Legends Of Benjamin Sisko card set is strangely mediocre for a tribute to such a wonderful character.

For those who do not know and love Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, you're missing out on something extraordinary. Arguably the best of the Star Trek franchise, it is the most gritty, violent and adult of the Star Trek television series' and as a result, it has a resonance with fans that keep them considering and revisiting the series even years afterward. Because it was more geared toward adults - especially in the way actions had consequences for major characters - it was also vastly undermerchandised. Fortunately, with Rittenhouse Archives “Legends Of Star Trek“ series of trading cards, even Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is getting its due and the "Legends Of Benjamin Sisko" is the entry from the neglected series into the card collection.

The first 2009 release in "The Legends Of Star Trek" focused on the captains of the Star Trek franchise and "The Legends Of Sisko" set was released alongside sets for Janeway and Archer. Just as Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was often neglected and ill-considered, Benjamin Sisko is actually the only lead character of a Star Trek series to not be a captain when the show began. Fortunately, this card series focused more on Sisko after he became a captain, but also wisely included a few shots from early in the series when he was only a Commander. Unfortunately, this set is very average in the way it presents its subject and becomes essential pretty much only for those who were already predisposed toward it.

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 Sisko" set is the sixteenth 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 Sisko" set is a nine-card “Legends Of Star Trek“ set that features eighteen images of Benjamin Sisko from his second season publicity shot to one of the final publicity photos of Benjamin Sisko from the seventh season of the series. But for a character who was so dynamic and had several different uniforms and hairstyles, there are remarkably few truly original images in this set.

Unlike many of the prior releases of “Legends Of Star Trek“ the "Legends Of Sisko" set is dramatically unimaginative. The early releases tried to use more screen captures and images that were uncommon, the "Legends Of Sisko" uses more publicity images and images that have been done on other trading cards many times before. Five of the images on the fronts of the cards are clearly recognizable to fans of the series as being simple publicity shots. The backs of these cards use similarly unimaginative shots as well. The result is a collection of Sisko shots, primarily of Sisko looking at the camera as opposed to candid images.

Undermining the concept of the “Legends Of Star Trek“ series with bland publicity shots of Sisko for the "Legends Of Sisko" set is the insult before the injury. All of the fronts of the cards have images of Sisko looking forward at virtually the same angle, all but two in his uniform. Only near the end of the set and on the backs are there images of Sisko as Benny - the 1950s author from "Far Beyond The Stars" - and images of Sisko in the classic Star Trek outfit from "Trials And Tribble-ations" (reviewed here!).

Noticeably absent from this set are images of Sisko in his space sailor's outfit from "Explorers" or his alternate universe persona from "Crossover." Similarly absent are any images from his wedding to Kassidy Yates or even a shot of him with his son! The lone shot of Sisko in a baseball uniform is from the pilot, as opposed to the seventh season "Take Me Out To The Holosuite." Come to think of it, the one in the baseball uniform in this set is Sisko in a StarFleet uniform . . . with a baseball cap on! Sisko, arguably the most militaristic captain of the bunch is pictured without firearms (the back of L3 features a picture from "The Way Of The Warrior" with the phaser cropped out!) and because earlier “Legends Of Star Trek“ sets from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine have featured characters in their "Our Man Bashir" personas, the lack of a Doctor Noah card is disappointing. Equally disappointing is the lack of a shot of Sisko as a Klingon from "Apocalypse Rising." Also absent is a final Sisko shot, a seventh season shot from Sisko's final moments and given how his character actually has a sense of closure to it (at least in the television series), this is truly disappointing.

That said, shots like Sisko in all of his various uniforms chronicle the Captain well. The inclusion of a "Trials And Tribble-ations" Sisko image is also wonderful. As well, the backs of the cards do have more of the candid sense to them. The quality is a little granier on some (like #1), but at least Sisko's face is emotive on many of those images.


But there's just enough to satisfy fans of Avery Brooks in his seminal role of Benjamin Sisko. There are wonderful shots of Sisko looking authoritative and commanding. Fans of the series will appreciate that and given the rarity of these cards, any collectors that give up on the “Legends Of Star Trek“ set with the "Legends Of Sisko" release will likely find that there were Avery Brooks fans all too ready to snatch up the remaining sets.

The nine-card sets tend to sell for $17 - $20 but the cardstock quality - which truly is a professional grade - and the limited edition nature of the set makes it worth it. One suspects in the future, the “Legends Of Star Trek“ sets will be sold in the secondary market almost exclusively as entire series collections, so fans who simply have a favorite character will want to snatch up the releases when they first come out, even if the set is uncharacteristically composed of publicity stills!

For fans of Avery Brooks, this is the "Legends" set for you! This is a great set for getting signed at Star Trek conventions!

This set culls images from:
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,
most recognizably "The Way Of The Warrior"

For other Legends Of Star Trek cards from, 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
Legends Of Riker
Legends Of Counselor Deanna Troi
Legends Of Lieutenant Worf
Legends Of Doctor Beverly Crusher
Legends Of Geordi, Yar and Wesley Crusher


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

© 2012, 2009 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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