Tuesday, October 30, 2012

VERY Heavy On The Publicity Photos, The Legends Of Captain Janeway Set Is Unremarkable!

The Good: Limited nature, Image and card quality
The Bad: By and large images that have been done on other cards.
The Basics: Rittenhouse Archives drops the ball on the Legends Of Captain Janeway card set by providing largely uninteresting publicity shots.

One of the wonderful things about collectibles is that sometimes merchandising can actually make a mediocre product or experience better. Sometimes, especially with trading cards, the merchandising can distill the problems with a movie or television show down and leave only the real good elements of it. Sadly, for fans of Star Trek: Voyager, the new "Legends Of Star Trek: Captain Kathryn Janeway" set does not do that. My hope when I opened up my limited edition pack was that this would have some fresh, cool shots of Janeway that I had never seen and it would impress me in a way that Star Trek: Voyager has seldom done. Rittenhouse Archives, who makes the Legends Of Star Trek cards, has been known to do it before. Unfortunately, on this set, Rittenhouse Archives pretty much phones it in.

I write this with some sense of dismay and a strong sense that the words are entirely justified. After all, as an avid trading card collector, I can easily recognize the difference between publicity photos and screen captures. But even more than that, Rittenhouse Archives's lapse of creativity unfortunately extends to ripping off their own material. Largely what isn't obvious publicity photos in the "Legends Of Janeway" set are shots they used in bonus sets of their immensely popular "Women Of Star Trek In Motion" trading cards (reviewed here)!

The first 2009 release in "The Legends Of Star Trek" focused on the captains of the Star Trek franchise and "The Legends Of Janeway" set was released alongside sets for Sisko and Archer. Made overwhelmingly of publicity photos used to promote Star Trek: Voyager, the "Legends Of Janeway" set is a big letdown. Of course, in beginning to review the card set, it occurs to me how seldom Janeway was seen out of her uniform. Sadly, there were several times and Rittenhouse Archives does not capture that with this set. Instead, they selected images that Paramount gave out and a few images they had already used in exclusive sets in prior releases.

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 Janeway" set is the seventeenth 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 usually 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! Unfortunately, several of the more recent sets seem to mortgage that concept as Rittenhouse Archives pushes out a product that is more mediocre than original.

Common Cards

The "Legends Of Janeway" set is a nine-card "Legends Of Star Trek" set that features eighteen images of Kathryn Janeway from her first season publicity shot to the final publicity photos of Kathryn Janeway from the seventh season of the series. Rittenhouse Archives presents Janeway for the most part in her uniform in shots that have Janeway looking directly at the camera (or card collector). Visually, this is a remarkably uninteresting set as this is more the "hairstyles of Janeway" set than truly anything that illustrates a well-rounded sense of who the character is. And the more I look at this set, the more disappointed I am because the set had the chance to do exactly what I hoped it might: distill the crap away and make a cool card set. So, for example, "Macrocosm" (reviewed here!) is never truly considered a great episode of Star Trek: Voyager, but in the episode Janeway looks different (she runs around most of the episode toting a big gun in a tanktop) and that would have made for a distinctive card. That incarnation of Janeway is not represented here.

The "Legends Of Janeway" set uses more publicity images and images that have been done on other trading cards many times before. Six 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, with only two being publicity shots, but five of them having been clearly done by Rittenhouse Archives on other sets! The result is a collection of Janeway shots, primarily headshots that have Janeway looking more like a celebrity than a starship captain.

On the plus side, Rittenhouse Archives did make a passing attempt at creativity. Included in this set is an image of Janeway in the nightclub from "The Killing Game" as well as one of her as a Klingon from the same episode. Rittenhouse Archives teases collectors with a headshot of Janeway in a classic Star Trek movie uniform from "Flashback" (the card would have been better as a full-body shot of Janeway in the outfit. As well, there is a shot of Janeway as Arachnia and to be fair it is different from the image culled for prior sets.

But there are some looks for Janeway that are noticeably absent, most immediately Janeway as a Borg. One wonders why the timid folks at Rittenhouse don't ask for what fans might want to see in these sets because instantly I'd have eliminated three publicity shots of Janeway in her uniform and gone with: Janeway in nightgown (she was seen in it several times, most notably with Q), Janeway in 19th Century outfit, and Janeway in Civil War attire. Those three ideas came without even looking at film stock or considering the series, just thinking about Janeway and looks for her that were not her in her uniform.

But even if Rittenhouse was going to stick to Janeway in her StarFleet uniform, this is a particularly unimaginative set. Janeway is not pictured on the bridge in the Captain's chair with any sort of image of authority. Heck, one of the least represented images of Janeway would have to be from "Year Of Hell" when she takes Voyager on a suicide run into the Timeship! That would have been a cool shot. The lack of ambition here is startling and Rittenhouse Archives missed out on some great opportunities, like shots where Janeway is talking to herself and encountering Admiral Janeway. The lack of an Admiral Janeway image from "Endgame" or Star Trek: Nemesis makes the idea that Janeway is a "legend" seem pretty forced or underwhelming.


Only the die-hard fans of Kate Mulgrew or Captain Kathryn Janeway are going to want this set and one suspects that they will buy them up given how limited the sets are. But for those not making a master set of "Legends Of Star Trek" cards, this is an easy set to pass by. Other than getting signed at conventions, this is a pretty unworthy set for a character who was maligned enough in the source material.

This set culls images from:
Star Trek: Voyager, most recognizably "The Killing Game."

For other Star Trek: Voyager trading card sets, be sure to visit my reviews of:
Season 1 Series 1
Season 1 Series 2
Season 2
Star Trek: Voyager Profiles
Women Of Star Trek: Voyager HoloFEX


For other trading card reviews, be sure to visit my Card Review Index Page for an organized listing!

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

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