Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Common Set Kills An Otherwise Average Enterprise Season One Set!

The Good: Decent enough writing on the backs of cards, One or two signers are good
The Bad: Vastly inconsistent autograph quality, Quality control on foils, Filler autographs, Not-special chase.
The Basics: A disappointing set, Enterprise Season One Trading Cards do their best with poor source material, but are still not worth the investment.

How do you kill a franchise like Star Trek? It's easier than you might think. In fact, all you have to do it turn the franchise over to people who don't care about continuity in the universe that has already been created for over thirty years and let them do what they want. After all, if Star Trek fans - as a culture - are anything, they are fastidious. They watch, they mentally catalog and they can recite thing back. It's actually a pretty incredible combination of intellect and obsession that defines Star Trek fans and the truth is, it's easy to see why they are like that; they like the positive vision of the future.

But what cost the franchise a boatload of those same fans was the existence and execution of Enterprise. Yeah, people like to forget that it didn't start as Star Trek: Enterprise, executive producer Brannon Braga was all too happy to mortgage the loyal fanbase in an attempt to get a new base and he started the series out as Enterprise. What people like Braga and the heads at Paramount didn't consider was that isolating the fan base with a crappy show had a trickle down effect into the secondary markets, like the collectibles Star Trek fans were happy to buy. It seems, though, that Rittenhouse Archives picked up on the waves of dread fans were feeling over the direction of the franchise when they released Enterprise Season One trading cards; the set is jumbled and confused, just like the show.

Basics/Set Composition

Establishing the Enterprise episode collection, the first full set of Enterprise cards is unlike any that followed (fortunately). Properly assembled, the set is a collection of 145 trading cards and the official Season One binder from Rittenhouse. All but three of the cards are available in boxes of Enterprise Season One cards, making it one of the sets that is very easy to collect. The cards were originally released in boxes that contained forty packs of five cards each. Boxes tended to run in the $60 - $75 range and guaranteed one common set and two autographs per box.

Collation in the "Season One" set was remarkably good. Generally, collectors could get two entire common sets out of a box! To complete a true master set of "Season One" cards, collectors had to purchase at least a case of the cards, as there was a casetopper and a card that was found one per case.

Common Cards

The common card set consists of 81 trading cards, which are printed on standard cardstock and have a glossy UV resistant coating. This causes cards to stick together occasionally, but this is a moot issue as the vast majority of trading card collectors keep their cards in binders these days to protect and display their cards. The eighty-one card set focuses exclusively on the episodes in the first season of Enterprise and there are three cards per episode, detailing the plot of each episode. As well, there is a three part checklist mural which opens the set which is pretty sharp.

The common cards looks terrible, though. Rittenhouse Archives was in a phase where they were packing their cards with images, pretty much necessitating the use of a magnifying glass to get the most out of the card set. The front of each card has four images and the back has another two each. This is accomplished by having one larger picture with three smaller "border" pictures on the front and the back has two small photos next to the text. As a result, none of the images are terribly clear and while many of them are the less common images (i.e. not publicity shots) they are so jumbled as to be dissatisfying to the discerning collector.

As a result of the crunched images, this makes the set a poor set for fans to get autographed at conventions, further devaluing the set. There are three cards per episode, plotting out each episode with sufficient detail to be marginally good reading at least. As well, there is a fairly good balance between character and special effects shots, making the images interesting, if only they could be seen better. Collation on this set was excellent, so the common sets averaged two per box, which was good for collectors, but generally devalued the common sets (common sets almost never hold their value these days).

Chase Cards

There are sixty-four chase cards in the "Season One" set, with sixty-one found in the boxes of cards and the remaining three available outside the boxes and packs. The bonus cards that can be found within the boxes were the 22nd Century Technology, First Contact cards, Suliban Genetic Engineering, Star Trek: Nemesis Preview, the To Boldly Go... and three sets of autographs. The cards seem to alternate between the pointless (the 22nd Century Technology cards are barely a chase card!) to the overdone (The "First Contacts" are simple foil cards, which have largely been milked to death) to the disappointing - the "To Boldly Go. . ." card is only special because of its rarity.

The most common bonus cards in this set were the 22nd Century Technology cards. These cards were fairly banal foil cards illustrating the technological elements presented in the first season that set up the technology for the franchise. Cards focus on things like phase pistols and warp drive and are hampered by the same problem as the common set; too many images per card. All that makes these chase cards is their rarity (one in every four packs) and the addition of a foil embossing on the front. There is nothing special about these cards.

Many of the First Contacts cards came out of the packs chipped and somewhat ruined, I discovered (I've opened more than ten cases - 120 boxes - of these cards). The First Contacts detailed new alien races the NX Enterprise encountered for the first time. This set focuses on the aliens, like the Andorians, Klingons and Suliban which were rediscovered in Enterprise. The irksome thing about the First Contacts cards in this set are that there are twelve cards in the set, which is an awkward number for trading cards, which fit on nine-card pages. The cards themselves are interesting with two images of each alien on the foil surface of the cards. This set establishes a set that was continued in Seasons Two and Three but this set had the most common frequency of them, with four per box.

Only one per box were the Suliban Genetic Engineering cards. These are ugly little yellow cards that were textured to be like a Suliban's reptilian skin and that might seem clever, but it hardly is exciting. There were six cards in this chase set and seeing images of things like the Suliban shape changing and enhanced lungs does little as there is nothing special about these save the embossing and the foil lettering on the front. Truth be told, most fans are likely to get tired of these quick and they failed to hold their value in the secondary market.

Also one per box were the Star Trek: Nemesis preview cards. These were boxtoppers and featured one of five images of characters or creatures from Star Trek: Nemesis (reviewed here!). Rittenhouse kindly keeps these well-protected by a little pack of their own, but they obscure the primary image with protective cardboard. These are also of middling quality as people who pulled N1-4 generally were happy as they were giant, full-bleed images of main cast or Ron Perlman as the Viceroy, but N5 was a terribly lame Desert Nomad. It's tough to shell out $10.00 for a Desert Nomad card to complete the set for a lot of people!

This brings us to the autograph cards. The Season One set has twenty-nine autograph cards, twenty eight of which are available in the packs, divided into three sets. The primary autograph set is only three autographs: Dominic Keating, John Billingsley (both from the main cast) and Erick Avari. These were portrait-oriented autographs (unlike all of the others) with tiny images of the main character and a big space for autographing. At least they had main crew in this set!

The second and third autograph sets focus on characters from the pilot episode "Broken Bow" and the aliens encountered in the first season. There are no big names in either set, with Gary Graham perhaps being the most recognizable. With two autograph cards per box, the most disappointing aspect of these landscape-oriented cards has to be how small the images are for each character. There is a lot of space for signing, but with such small windows for the pictures and such a homogenous format for the signers, these cards are easily mixed up. And when people like the fan-popular Vaughn Armstrong sign twice in a set (as Admiral Forrest and the Klingon Captain) it's not a good sign.

Finally, the supposed grail of Enterprise Season One is the "To Boldly Go" card. One per case, in the packs is one of 999 individually numbered cards featuring the Enterprise NX-01. It is a double thick card which is not glossy, not especially foiled and includes Zephram Cochrane's speech from the pilot episode of Enterprise on the back. Still, it is hardly worth hunting down as there is not much that is actually exciting about it.

Non-Box/Pack Cards

As with most "modern" trading card releases - certainly the ones from Rittenhouse Archives - not all of the cards needed to make a true master set are available in the boxes of these trading cards. Fortunately, there are not many outside the boxes and case to chase down. In this set, there are only three cards that cannot be found in the boxes. There is the usual promo card which foreshadowed the series release which is common enough to find (P1). There is one card exclusive to the "Season One" trading card binder, an autograph card of Clint Howard as Muk, the Ferengi!

The remaining final card is a casetopper. Sealed in its own toploader is a SketchaFex hand drawn sketch card of the NX-01 Enterprise. This is a far cooler card than the Zephram Cochrane "To Boldly Go" card! Indeed, Chris Bolson drew an insane amount of detailing into each of these casetoppers and they look amazing!


Overall, the set is fair and not nearly as good as most trading card sets. The common card set alone sucks it down and the very blase autograph cards keep it in the sub-average territory. Fortunately, Rittenhouse Archives changed the format with the subsequent release, but it's still a tough sell given how poor this one is!

This set culls images from Enterprise Season One, reviewed here!

For other Season 1 sets, please visit my reviews of:
Star Trek Season One Episode Collection Trading Cards
Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 1 Episode Collection Trading Cards
Star Trek: Voyager Season 1 Series 2

This is a set of cards I sell in my online store! Please check out my current inventory!


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

© 2013, 2008 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
| | |

No comments:

Post a Comment