Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Making The Right Changes But Still Falling Short, Enterprise Season Two Trading Cards!

The Good: Excellent image quality, Good writing, Generally good chase
The Bad: Vastly inconsistent autograph quality, Context of prior sets, Quality control on foils, Lame parallel set
The Basics: Despite creating a better common set, Enterprise Season Two cards are still hampered by a lame parallel set and some collectibility issues.

There is a certain irony to the Enterprise Season Two trading cards. Rittenhouse Archives, which produces the Star Trek trading card line had a rough time with the Enterprise Season One cards. Virtually universally despised by fans for the number of images packed onto each common card, despite serializing the collections, Rittenhouse Archives abandoned the unpopular format for the second season trading card release. The element of irony in this is that Rittenhouse Archives had a greater responsiveness to the concerns of the fans than the executive producers of Enterprise who continued to plod along in the Star Trek universe with counter-canon stories that week after week bothered the fans.

Indeed, almost the death knell of Enterprise, as fans begged for stories that would more closely fit into the Star Trek pantheon, executive producer Brannon Braga thumbed his nose at fans with episodes featuring the Romulans, Archer escaping from Rura Penthe (something clearly established in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country - reviewed here! - that had never before happened in that time) and an episode with the Borg. Yeah, this was a pretty dumb season of television and it nearly killed Enterprise (it should have) and Rittenhouse Archives had its work cut out for it with trying to make a decent card series out of such lame source material.

Basics/Set Composition

Continuing in numbering and general chase composition as the Enterprise Season One set (reviewed here!), Enterprise Season Two was the third release of Enterprise trading cards from Rittenhouse Archives. Properly assembled, the set is a collection of 218 trading cards and the official Season Two binder from Rittenhouse. All but nine of the cards are available in boxes of Enterprise Season Two cards, making it one of the sets with enduring collectibility. The cards were originally released in boxes that contained forty packs of eight 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 Two" set was remarkably good. While Rittenhouse Archives only guaranteed one common set per box, often collectors could get two entire common sets out of a box! To complete a true master set of "Season Two" cards, collectors had to purchase at least two cases of the cards, as there was a multi-case incentive card.

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 second season of Enterprise and there are three cards per episode, detailing the plot of each episode.

The common cards look wonderful, dumping the five-images per card in favor of one large image on the front of each card. The landscape format is held through the entire common set and it is distinguished from the "Season Three" and "Season Four" sets by having a light blue border framing the top and bottom of the front image and framing the text on the back. This set is a wonderful mix of character and special effects shots. As far as the primary images (the large picture on the front of each common card) are concerned over half of them feature cast or recurring guest star shots, with the remainder - perhaps a third of the set - comprised of special effects shots. This makes the set a good one for fans to get autographed at conventions. There are three images per card, with the front being dominated by a single image and the backs sandwiching two windows of images in next to the text. It's nice to see that Rittenhouse Archives sought to uses as many images as possible while maintaining image integrity and collectibility. The images on the back tend to have more special effects shots.

The format is one that was pioneered back when SkyBox was producing "Episode Collection" series' of Star Trek: The Next Generation trading cards. The cards are numbered 82 - 162, continuing the numbering begun with "Season One." The backs are well written, adequately detailing the plot of each episode over the course of the three trading cards. Indeed, the "Season Two" trading card set makes it seem like the show was worth watching, so well written are the cards!

Collation on this set was excellent, so the common sets averaged two per box, plus a bunch of leftover common cards which was good for collectors, but generally devalued the common sets (common sets almost never hold their value these days).

Chase Cards

There are 137 chase cards in the "Season Two" set, with 128 found in the boxes of cards and the remaining nine available outside the boxes and packs. The bonus cards that can be found within the boxes were the Parallel cards, Alien Vessel, First Contact cards, Gallery Cards and two sets of autographs. One per pack was a "parallel embossed card." This is not an incredibly new concept. In the Cinema 2000 trading card set, there was a foil parallel set and that was an interesting concept. The Enterprise Season Two set has a parallel set that is nowhere near as cool. The embossed cards are the came as the common cards, save they are printed on a thicker cardstock and (I kid not) they have silver sparkles in the border. Otherwise, they are identical to the common cards and it's not enough to consider it a reasonably good chase set.

The next most common bonus cards in this set were the 22nd Century Alien Vessel cards. These cards were fairly decent foil cards illustrating the new starships the NX-01 encountered in the second season. So, we have ships like the Romulan ship, Alien Probe (which would come to be known as the Xindi probe in the next season), and a Borg-modified transport. These cards are simple special effects shots of the ships and make no pretense toward educating newbies as to what the ships are outside the title. As a result, each card has two big images of the ship (one front, one back) and no text outside the title. These are cool enough and it's nice to see the special effects shots in such detailed foil cards.

At four per box were the First Contact cards. Following the tradition of the "Season One" set, there are first contact cards, but they had a problem. 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 continue the series of chase cards begun in "Season One" detailing new alien races the NX Enterprise encountered for the first time. This set focuses on things like the Borg, Telarites and Enolians. The irksome thing about the nine First Contacts cards in this set (numbered F13 - F21) is that the odds of pulling them was altered making them more rare than the prior release. At one First Contacts card in every ten packs, this netted only four per box, making them a bit more rare as the same type card in the "Season One" release.

The rarity continued with the Gallery Crew Cards. These are beautiful double-thick cards with images of each crew member on a film cel embedded into them. They have a wonderful primary image of the character on both the card and the film cel. These are essentially the second season publicity stills made into cards, but they still look wonderful and are very popular with card collectors and fans of the series alike. The back of each card has the name of the actor and the character, making these cards consistent with the Gallery cards from the Complete Voyager and Complete Deep Space Nine sets. These cards were only one per box, meaning that with ideal collation it took seven boxes to complete this set! These cards went in the landscape orientation!

This brings us to the autograph cards. The Season Two set has nineteen autograph cards available in the packs, divided into two sets. The primary autograph set continues the numbering started in "Season One" and includes A4 through A22, with no A7. A7 was held off until Season Three. The portait-oriented autographs start off with the main crew, including Anthony Montgomery, Linda Park and the big autograph for the set, Scott Bakula as Captain Archer! Bakula signed only 250 -300 of the autograph cards, it is THE card to pull in the boxes. Other autographs in this set that are bound to please Star Trek fans (though not likely the collectors given that they are all common autographs) include J.G. Hertzler, Robert O'Reilly, Suzie Plakson and Kellie Waymire, who died shortly after signing for this set!

The other autograph card is the AA14, a Very Limited autograph of Jeffrey Combs as Shran that caps off the "Season One" Alien Autograph set. This is the only landscape oriented autograph in the set and it is a tough sell for collectors.

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. In this set, there are nine 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 are two cards exclusive to the "Season Two" trading card binder, the binder promotional card (P3) and a costume card of T'Pol's costume! This is the only costume card in the set and it's a nice - if bland - addition to it. The P2 card is a promotional card available only through Non-Sports Update Magazine and it might take a little work to track down (though the magazine offers back issues pretty readily).

There were two convention-exclusive promotional cards, from Fall 2003 conventions and the Mid-West Nonsports Card Expo. These tend to be harder to track down and tend to run in the $10.00/ea. range. They are hardly exciting, but completists will want them.

The remaining three cards are the two casetoppers and the multicase incentive card. The casetoppers are two motion cards, one of the NX-01 and one of T'Pol. They come together in a special pack at the top of each case so at least one gets both cards in every case, which is nice.

The weird multi-case incentive card is the T'Pol Season Three Preview card. Featuring a new image of T'Pol in her orange and blue outfits from season three, this card seeks to capitalize on breasts, er, T'Pol by presenting an embossed card with the busy first officer in her new catsuit. Each card is individually numbered out of 999 and it's hardly the most exciting incentive of all time.


Overall, the set looks nice, but it continues a trend from Rittenhouse Archives into the territory of filler autograph cards (only three in the boxes are actually actively hunted by fans and collectors, the rest can usually be found depressingly cheap on eBay) with more limited chase cards. The result is that Rittenhouse Archives does the best they can with the material and makes a decent set, but one that might take quite a long time to appreciate for investors.

The collectibility of the set is lessened by the prevalence of the common card sets, the damage to many of the lower level chase cards and the lackluster signatories filling out the autograph set. Does it look good? Absolutely. Rittenhouse did a great job with that. But it's not one of the strongest trading card releases and unfortunately, it hasn't illustrated that collectors are willing to buy what they need to finish their sets at a price that justifies the box price.

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

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