Friday, April 6, 2012

Cards To Capture The Film More Than Overexpose Star Trek: Nemesis!

The Good: Decent photography, Interesting quotes, Sensible and uniform formatting.
The Bad: Could use more effects shots, A few order issues
The Basics: A fine, if average, set focuses on the film Star Trek: Nemesis and makes for an interesting card release that failed to reach its full-value potential.

One of the hardest products in the trading card market to invest in are movie trading cards. It is a serious rarity that a film’s trading cards hit and retain their value like the Inkworks Twlight trading cards (reviewed here!). No matter how strong a franchise, no matter how good (or bad) the film, the trading card release that accompanies a film seldom retains its full value. In the case of Star Trek: Nemesis, it is almost a surprise. I write “almost” a surprise because with Star Trek: Nemesis, Rittenhouse Archives got its first shot at producing a trading card release for a current Star Trek film. Unfortunately, they changed the format made popular by SkyBox (the widevision cards) and made a set that peaked fast and died pretty hard in the secondary market years later.

Even so, the lack of consumer enthusiasm for much of the Star Trek: Nemesis trading card set does not mean Rittenhouse Archives produced a bad set. In fact, the set, in its entirety, has a lot going for it even if it is light in some areas and heavy on the chase card fluff.

Basics/Set Composition

Back in 2002, when Star Trek: Nemesis (reviewed here!) was released in the theaters, Rittenhouse Archives had the Star Trek trading card license. Unlike previous releases for Star Trek: Generations, Star Trek: First Contact, and Star Trek: Insurrection (as well as the retroactive sets for the first six Star Trek films) produced by Fleer/SkyBox under the direction of Steve Cherendoff (who split with SkyBox and formed Rittenhouse Archives shortly after Star Trek: Insurrection), the Star Trek: Nemesis card set was produced in standard trading card size as opposed to the elongated "widescreen" movie card size used in the industry for many major film licenses. This immediately sets the Star Trek: Nemesis set apart from the other nine film sets, if one were to put them side by side.

This set, however, is very much like the Star Trek: Insurrection set in that it has 72 cards and was produced to be released with the theatrical release of the film, so it is necessarily weaker in effects shots and full plot details. As a result, Rittenhouse Archives was forced to break the common set up into segments that actually give the set more diversity than one might initially expect.

Properly assembled, the Star Trek: Nemesis set has 170 cards, thirty-one of which are not available in the boxes of cards.

Like almost all of Rittenhouse Archives' products, the cards come with a UV protective coating to protect the trading cards from fading over time and to give them a nice sheen. This does appear to work as I've not had any cards from Rittenhouse Archives fade. As well, this set is designed for those who put the cards in binders with the "sensible format." Formatting for the common and most of the chase cards is all in one orientation (landscape) and the text on the back of the cards is opposite that of the text on the front, designed such that when one flips a page in the binder, they can read a card without having to rotate the binder around. This is very friendly to those who want to sit and read the cards and it a definite plus in my book.

Common Cards

The Star Trek: Nemesis set is a 72 card set focusing entirely on the tenth Star Trek motion picture, Star Trek: Nemesis. The set is comprised of a title card, forty-four plot cards, two checklist cards, seventeen quote cards from the film, and eight behind-the-scenes shots. The title card presents an overall synopsis of the film and completely oversells the plot of Star Trek: Nemesis.

The plot cards tell the story of Star Trek: Nemesis and this is the meat of the set. Generally the cards have different images on the front than on the back, which is nice, though the back images are about the size of a quarter. The images on the front are mostly of the characters, with thirty eight of the shots being of personnel and the remaining six being of special effects/space battles. This makes the set more appealing to collectors who are looking to use the common set to get autographs at conventions, but makes for a far less-rounded set for the overall look and feel of the film. It is somewhat distressing, for example, that there is not a single shot of the Scimitar (Shinzon's massive weapon ship) in the common set! There would be a special effects expansion set that would rectify this problem, but it remains a problem in the common set.

The plot cards are also plagued in some ways by the writing on them. The set starts out well-written and intriguing. However, some of the cards are out of order for the way events occurred in the film, most notably that card 6 describes Picard's toast at Troi and Riker's wedding, which opened that scene in the film, but is the third and final wedding card in the set. (Because of the checklist mural card, there is a "proper" way to assemble this set when putting it in binder pages and so this is not a reading out of order type problem, it is a production problem.)

More problematic with the writing is that to fill space, the Rittenhouse Archives personnel responsible for writing the cards end up repeating information. So, for example, card 6 mentions how Picard's toast ends with Picard telling Riker and Troi to "Make it so." This is the same quote presented on card 48, so it seems disappointing that in such a small set there was repetition in the writing. Moreover, cards like #22, "The Violation" end up more or less spelling out what happens on future cards/later in the film.

Outside things like that, the writing and images in the plot section are decent.

The checklist cards are very cool in that the two cards form a cast shot mural of the Enterprise-E crew. This establishes a firm setting for the common set that directs collectors on how to put the set properly into the standard 9-card binder pages (i.e. when the two cards are set besides one another such that they form a single image, this is the proper orientation of the cards and those that precede and follow it are so guided). The cards in the common set are all on the back of card #46 and card #47 has all of the cards that would not be included in the common set (bonus cards).

The "Quotable" Star Trek cards that make up the next portion of the set are interesting, though hardly surprising considering how the plot cards are written. Fans of the series will not be surprised by the naked wedding references (cards 49 and 50) and it is interesting which quotes Rittenhouse Archives chose to use. In a very cool move, they used Picard describing Federation principles (card 57) and a strong character moment with Data (card 60), two uncommon moments that flesh the film (and set) out into something more than just a special effects action-adventure film. Honestly, though, the most enjoyable quote might be on card 53, a joke from Admiral Janeway to Captain Picard.

The set is finished off by eight behind-the-scenes shots from what appears to be two days of filming on Star Trek: Nemesis. Ironically, two of the cards feature Patrick Stewart's X-Men director Bryan Singer, who Stewart wrangled a cameo for on the film. These shots are more enduring than the three frames Singer ended up with in the actual film! Honestly, though, these shots do not present the best foot forward for the film as far as appearances go. On two cards, Stewart looks like he is clenching his jaw and making an effort to look calm, two of the cards feature director Stuart Baird looking bossy (and yes, one of the cards shares both of those elements . . .). It seems strange to end with these cards, which have the identical images on the front and back, as opposed to the checklist cards, but that might fit the generally problematic ordering of cards problem listed above.

Chase Cards

The Star Trek: Nemesis trading card set features 98 bonus cards, though thirty-one cannot be found in boxes, no matter how many boxes one opens! For the Star Trek: Nemesis set, Rittenhouse Archives produced four different chase sets that could be found in the boxes: the Romulan History, 24th Century Technology, Casting Call and Autograph cards.

The Romulan History cards highlight every episode and movie in the Star Trek franchise that prominently features Romulans. Each of the twenty-seven trading cards has a bright red border, foil lettering indicating it is a Romulan History card and a bright image on the front that features a Romulan image. The back of each of these cards has a plot description of the episode or movie and they are a well-written primer for those who want to see Star Trek: Nemesis without watching every Romulan-related episode and movie beforehand!

Almost as common are the eight 24th Century Technology cards. These cards are reminiscent of the 22nd Century Technology cards from the Enterprise Season 1 trading card set. Unfortunately, the images on some of these – most notably the Argo vessel – are disappointingly blurry and the textured foil does little to enhance these cards.

One of the coolest bonus sets are the seven Casting Call cards. Each portrait-oriented image features the promotional photograph shot of each main cast member from Star Trek: Nemesis silkscreened onto an acetate trading card! This is a neat idea and these cards look awesome when autographed by the celebrity pictured.

The highlight of the bonus cards are the autograph cards and Rittenhouse Archives assembled an interesting collection of signers. The autographs are broken down into two sets: Nemesis and Romulan History autographs. The Nemesis autographs feature Romulans, Remans and StarFleet officers. Unlike most of the Star Trek card releases that try to highlight the main cast, the Star Trek: Nemesis set features a surprisingly anemic collection of popular signers. From the main cast, only Patrick Stewart, Brent Spiner (who signed cards of Data and B-4), Michael Dorn and Marina Sirtis signed. At the time, the big selling point for the set was that this was the first licensed item Dorn autographed for. Since then, he has signed for several releases and this is unremarkable now. The other four significant signers for the series were Kate Mulgrew (Admiral Janeway), Andreas Katsulas (Tomalak, who died shortly after), Thomas Hardy (Shinzon) and Ron Perleman (The Viceroy). The rest of the signers were pretty much filler, like Jack Donner who signed yet again as the Romulan Subcommander Tal from the original Star Trek episode “The Enterprise Incident.” Even so, the Romulan History collection is a pretty neat group of new and old signers, even if many of them are not coveted autographs.

Non-Box/Pack Cards

The Star Trek: Nemesis set is actually pretty rich in cards that do not appear in any of the packs. In addition to a casetopper of the first Romulan costumes from “Balance Of Terror,” there are nine promotional cards, an autograph card exclusive to the trading card binder and an entire expansion set with another autograph and costume card. The binder exclusive promo and autograph card are unremarkable, but do finish the Romulan History autograph card set.

The eight other promotional cards look a lot like the common cards. They include the general release promo and a card that was exclusive to Non-Sport Update. The other promo cards were part of an exclusive set released only through Wallace Theaters. The Wallace Theaters promotional cards are the most valuable from the set and they are also the only ones oriented in a portrait orientation.

The non-box grails, though are all related to the Star Trek: Nemesis Expansion Set. The eighteen card set features different images on the front and back and they are exclusively special effects shots. No longer missing from the set are the big space battles from the film! Instead, collectors get richly colored cards that were limited to 999 sets. These sets sold out quickly because of the two promotional incentive cards.

The first incentive was a Jonathan Frakes costume card and his Star Trek: Nemesis costume card is surprisingly bland. I have only seen them with black fabric swatches and that is unfortunately common and indistinct.

The final card is one that has actually retained some value and that is the Nemesis Bryan Singer autograph. Not returned in time to be part of the primary release, the Bryan Singer autograph card was exceptionally limited and was a driving force behind the expansion set selling so quickly.


Generally, this is a fairly nice set, even if the image diversity is not great, it pretty much fits the mold of what can be expected from a movie card set that is released to coincide with the theatrical release. As a result, the company - Rittenhouse Archives, in this case - is often given very limited footage to work with and Rittenhouse seems to have made the best of it with this trading card set.

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: Generations
Star Trek: First Contact
Star Trek: Insurrection
Star Trek Cinema 2000
The Complete Star Trek Movies
Star Trek Movies In Motion
Star Trek (2009 movie) cards

This is a trading card set I sell in my online store! Check out my current inventory and make purchases by clicking here!


For other card reviews, please visit my Trading Card Review Index Page for an organized listing of all the sets and cards I have reviewed!

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