Thursday, January 29, 2015

Absolute Mess: Star Wars Jedi Legacy Cards Sink!

The Good: Good concept/common set
The Bad: Insane numbers of parallel cards, Ridiculous rarities on incentive cards, Lackluster chase cards, Autograph card style.
The Basics: Topps, Inc. goes absolutely absurd on collectors with the Star Wars Jedi Legacy, a set that tries to convince one collector that parallels are the thing!

One of the consequences to being both a reviewer and a small business owner is one sometimes finds themselves in an awkward position of working at cross-purposes. I have a little small business selling collectibles – mostly trading and gaming cards – and for that side of my life, I rely entirely on my ability to sell the cards I get in. In that half of my life, I have relationships with some of the card manufacturers and, frankly, I’m not eager to mortgage those relationships by writing anything akin to “you have made a product that absolutely sucks.” But then there is this half (or more) of my life and I try very hard to maintain an impartiality and a set of high standards with my reviewing. Reviews, like this one, are only useful if there is some integrity to them and I can build a trust with readers as to my objectivity. Today, it is definitely the reviewer that is going to win out over any sense of salesmanship as I tackle the Star Wars Jedi Legacy trading cards.

Star Wars Jedi Legacy cards were produced by Topps, Inc. in 2012 and Star Wars is the company’s flagship entertainment product. Frankly, Topps is going to do whatever the hell they want and they don’t give a damn about this blog or the opinions of collectors. The latter assertion is easy enough to make: Topps has winnowed its collector base from thousands to hundreds to ten and now down to one (or two competing) collectors. Through the “magic” of parallel sets, there are only ten possible true, complete, master sets of Star Wars Jedi Legacy cards available. With the inclusion of Printing Plate cards for each of the common and main chase cards . . . there is only one possible complete, true, master set possible of these cards. There are over one hundred 1/1 unique cards (and, unlike sketch cards, they are not unique works of art where collectors might just collect one of each artist).

So, the first rail against the Star Wars Jedi Legacy cards is that they have no practical collectability. Topps has made the process of collecting cards an absolutely miserable one with the Star Wars Jedi Legacy cards because there can be no “die-hard” collectors of the set. No one can actually assemble a complete set, so one has to ask “Where is the fun in collecting these cards?!” [The businessperson in me says the exact same thing, by the way: “What possible pitch can I use to sell these cards when there is no way to complete a set – not even come close?!”]

The second huge strike against this set is the sheer volume of parallel cards. The common card set (which has silver foil lettering) is replicated by a blue set (almost one parallel card per pack), a magenta set (one card per six packs), a green set (one parallel card per box) and a gold set (one parallel card per case – only ten of each in existence) on top of the printers plate version of the card (only one of each card in existence). Why the hell does Topps think they’ve created such an incredible set of common cards that fans will truly want essentially the same thing four or five times over in increasingly expensive renditions?! Topps obsessively makes parallel sets and that is a distinctly unimaginative way to make a buck. The hyperbolic lengths of rarity in the Star Wars Jedi Legacy set for the parallel cards is ridiculous, not fun, and not truly collectible.

Basics/Set Composition

The concept behind the Jedi Legacy cards is interesting and a good one: the story of Anakin Skywalker is mirrored by the story of Luke Skywalker. Topps found forty-five plot points or aspects of the character arcs that were identical in the Prequel and Original Star Wars Trilogies and designed the set around pointing out those similarities. The set is fleshed out beyond the theme of the common card set with, apparently, whatever was laying around that Topps could get its hands on. While the three minor chase sets have ties to the concepts of the common set, the autographs, relic, and fur cards have no sense of thematic unity, so there is a scattershot sensibility to the set that makes it seem like a mess outside of its least-expensive elements.

Like almost all of Topps, Inc.' products, the cards come with a UV protective coating to protect the trading cards from fading over time and to give them a nice satin sheen. This does appear to work as I've not had any cards from Topps, Inc. fade. While all of the common cards (and most of the chase) are formatted in one orientation (landscape), the text on the back of the cards is (unfortunately) oriented the same way as the text on the front. As a result, when one flips a page in the binder, they must rotate the binder around in order to read the backs. This is not very friendly to those who want to sit and read the cards.

Usually, this is the point in the review where I try to define the number of cards in the set. Unfortunately, the Star Wars Jedi Legacy trading card set is such a craptastic mess that it is virtually impossible to nail down the exact number of cards in the set. According the checklist provided by Topps, there are 215 cards in the set. That checklist, though, is utterly useless to collectors or dealers as it includes none of the parallel cards, nor the promotional cards, and it fails to mention that several of the autograph cards are duplicated (i.e. there are at least two different autograph cards for Tim Rose in this set!). As near as I can determine, there are ten possible sets of 587 cards and one, true, master set that consists of 722 cards. Boxes contain only twenty-four packs of eight cards each. Topps, Inc. only guaranteed two “hits” per box. In my experience, that meant that each box had some form of film cel card and then an autograph, fur, Jabba’s sail barge or gold parallel card.

Common Cards

The Star Wars Jedi Legacy common set is the peak of the product. The 90 card set focuses on the character journeys of Anakin and Luke Skywalker. Inventively numbered from 1 to 45 with an A or L (Anakin or Luke) suffix on each card, the common card set almost demands one track down a different style of card page in order to truly appreciate how the cards (and stories) mirror one another. The common card set is well-written, surprisingly well-researched and well-executed. The photography encompasses the entire Sextet as well as a few comic book panels (to fill in implied parts of Luke’s storyline).

Topps did not use promotional images for the shots, but managed to make each card clear and there is some decent color variation in the set (the cards are not homogenously dark). The set is biased in favor of characters over space battles or equipment, but that makes sense given the concept of the set.

This is a neat concept for a set and Topps gets it right!

Chase Cards

Outside the insane number of parallel cards which simply replicate the common cards with minor variations in foil color (if you, for example, have a blue-green colorblindness, you’re pretty much screwed on figuring out the two parallel sets! – and the “Gold” parallel I pulled in my case was almost indistinguishable in normal light from the common version of the same card!), the Jedi Legacy cards are chock full of bonus cards. The bonus sets include: Connections, Influencers, The Circle Is Now Complete, Ewok Fur, Jabba’s Sail Barge, Chewbacca Fur, Autographs and three styles of film cell relic cards.

The first level of chase cards, found one in every other pack are the Connections and Influencers cards (if a pack has Connections, it tends not to have an Influencers card). The 15 card Connections and 18 card Influencers subsets point out more parallels between Anakin and Luke Skywalker by pointing out common places and characters that appeared in both stories or influenced each character. Like the common cards, these cards have minor foil accents for the lettering. There is nothing that makes them truly special, though they look good and are easy-enough to assemble as far as bonus sets go. That Topps made a 15 card bonus set seems odd; the standard card sheets hold nine cards, so usually they aim for multiples of 9 for the chase sets.

The next bonus set up is an utterly ludicrous The Circle Is Now Complete chase set. These cards, found one in every twelve packs, are designed to create a circle that plays Luke and Anakin/Darth Vader off one another. Neat concept, poor execution. The twelve cards in this set are pie-piece shaped and there is no practical way to assemble the set in one’s binder.

Among the high-level “hits” cards are Ewok Fur, Chewbacca Fur and Jabba’s Sail Barge fur/fabric cards. Apparently, Star Wars Jedi Legacy was the first time Topps had access to set-used materials and they really blew them out. There were eight Ewok Fur cards, which are essentially costume cards that are very thick and feature Ewok fur bursting out of them. The Ewok Fur cards range from the few recognizable Ewoks from Return Of The Jedi (Wicket, Logray, etc.) to the generic – four of the cards are simply “Ewok.” The Jabba’s Sail Barge cards are pretty standard costume cards, save that they all seem to have pieces of set-used sail material from Jabba’s Sail Barge. This is a somewhat baffling five-card subset in that the sail pieces seem to be virtually identical to one another and not at all indicative of any sort of interaction the characters upon the cards had with the actual Sail Barge. So, the Leia Organa and R2-D2 cards have the same type of material. Topps seemed to recognize that fans would not shell out big bucks for a card that pictured the Sail Barge and were far more common than five cards with the same material that had recognizable characters on them. That seems especially, well, duplicitous, to me. In other words, while Leia is pictured on a card, the fabric is not from any set-work material Carrie Fisher wore on the Sail Barge, it’s still a fabric swatch of the sail barge . . . just like the fabric swatch on the Nysad and Boba Fett cards from the same subset. The Chewbacca’s Fur cards are a shadowbox style extra-thick card that features more hair than fur in my personal experience. The sealed card has individual hairs and a picture of Chewbacca and that is cool, but the sheer expense of the hair is impressive (to be fair the four cards in this subset seem to have retained their value and the only high-end card I pulled in the case I opened was one and it was the only significant “hit” card I was able to sell!).

Then there are the autographs. The autographs are the incredibly unpopular format of autograph “card” where the signer signed a holographic sticker and Topps slapped that sticker on a trading card. While the checklist claims there are seventeen autograph cards, the hologram stickers that were signed were slapped on multiple cards. I easily found two different Tim Rose cards for the same set. My assumption in my numbering was that there were others that were duplicated and I just could not find them easily now (two years later). The Jedi Legacy set was sold on its inclusion of the Original Trilogy’s Big Three – Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill, in addition to significant supporting actors like James Earl Jones, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker and Billy Dee Williams. Now, the Kenneth Colley autograph has grown in value since his death, but the signers like Amy Allen (from the Prequel Trilogy), Garrick Hagon (from A New Hope’s deleted scenes and restored scenes in the Special Edition), Bonnie Piesse (young Beru from the Prequels), and Anthony Forrest (yea, a Sandtrooper!) make a “hit” seem like a real miss . . . especially when a case has an average of three autographs and they are only the filler ones!

The last level of chase cards are the three Film Cell cards – 30 single cell, 6 Double Cell, and 10 Triple cell (that being the number of film frames embedded in each card) – sets. While virtually every box had a single cell card, some had a second hit that was a double or triple cell card. These are much like the Star Trek: Animated Series trading cards (reviewed here!), which featured embedded clips of the film of each episode. These cards have film cells from the projector-used print of the three original Trilogy movies. That is, to be honest, pretty cool and these are neat cards that seem to be fairly attainable to collect.

Non-Box/Pack Cards

Outside the boxes, there were seven different promotional cards.


That leads us to a final analysis. The sycophants at Non-Sport Update (reviewed here!) will never write an editorial on how un-collector friendly The Industry has become (they absolutely depend upon the trading card manufacturers for promotional cards, advertising dollars and access to materials) and I’m sure their review of this set in issue #4 of Volume 24 was glowing and enthusiastic. Dealers are going to be desperate to try to recoup their losses on this set (I bought a single case four months ago and have sold, to date: 1 common card set, 1 Chewbacca fur card, 1 film cell card and 2 parallel – one green, one magenta – cards) because unless they are blowing out the cards well below book or pulled one of the two or three virtually impossible to find autographs, they have not made their investment back. Between the terrible autograph/sticker style, the sheer volume of parallel cards, the checklist that doesn’t actually tell collectors what all is in the set, and the bonus cards that cannot actually be put into card pages in any reasonable way, this set is a lemon.

This set culls images exclusively from the Star Wars Saga, reviewed here!

This is a set of trading cards I sell in my online store (new inventory being added daily!). Please visit and purchase from the current inventory of them at: Star Wars Jedi Legacy Trading Card Inventory!

For other trading card collections based upon the films, please check out my reviews of:
Batman Returns Stadium Club Premium Cards
The Hunger Games Collector’s Cards
Star Trek (2009 Movie) cards


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

© 2015 W.L .Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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