Thursday, April 7, 2016

Poorly Constructed, Limited Appeal: Leaf's The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones Trading Cards!

The Good: Good bonus cards
The Bad: Damage to common cards, Poor corellation, retail pack exclusives
The Basics: The Leaf The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones cards make an underperforming film into a mediocre trading card release!

When it comes to trading cards, every major manufacturer of trading cards is looking pretty desperately to create a set that mirrors the commercial and secondary market success of Inkworks's Twilight trading cards (reviewed here). The Twilight trading cards were an uncommon success for the young woman demographic, which is - classically - not a big demographic for trading card manufacturers. Everyone who invested early in the Inkworks Twilight cards made out well (even though it was one of Inkworks's final products before the company went bust) and since then, most trading card manufacturers have been trying to find an analogous success. Leaf's attempt was the The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones trading cards. Sadly for Leaf, the company bet on the wrong franchise (The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones was the first major box office failure for the films based on young adult fantasy novels). Add to that, Leaf clearly did not invest much in the process as many of the cards in the packs are damaged and the set was vastly overproduced, making for a poor overall release.

Basics/Set Composition

With the release of the 2013 film The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones, Leaf released a trading card set based upon the new film. Just as the film failed to perform at the box office, the card set failed to capture any real interest in the marketplace. The The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones 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.

The The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones card set is focused primarily on the characters and plot of the movie and the common cards were packed with character images, making it ideal for fans of the film who know how the movie ends. Unlike almost all of Leaf's products, the cards come without a UV protective coating to protect the trading cards from fading over time. The result are cards that are more fragile than some higher-quality releases and many of the cards come out of the pack damaged, with machine marks and pitting. On the plus side, these cards follow a universal format, so all of the cards are oriented in "portrait" format. If there were conventions the cast attended regularly, these cards would be great for getting signed, quality issues notwithstanding.

The The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones trading card set properly consists of 171 cards. Boxes contain only twenty-four packs of six cards each. Leaf guaranteed one costume card and two autographed cards (autograph and/or autographed costume cards) per box. There were also retail boxes that contained a single exclusive undersized card in lieu of the big hits, which further diluted the value of the common sets.

Common Cards

The The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones common set is a 100 card set focusing entirely on the The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones movie. The set is comprised of 71 plot cards, 13 behind the scenes cards and 16 character cards. There is no checklist within the set and the three different subsets of the common cards are each distinctly numbered (S, BHS, and CB), so it is verty easy to tell the difference between each subset of the common set.

The photography on the trading cards is good, though the borders are obtrusive on some of the cards, most notably the behind the scenes cards. The writing is very basic and plot-based, but of no surprise to those who are fans of the franchise who might actually want the cards. The writing on the behind the scenes cards is very basic and contains no spoilers or deeper explorations of set life from the filming of The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones. The character cards are similarly basic.

Chase Cards

The 171 card set features seventy-one chase cards, of which are higher end for the hobby box exclusives and the exclusives for the retail boxes are unfortunately cheap. The bonus cards that can be found in the retail boxes are Runes and Tarot Cards. The hobby boxes feature autograph, autographed costume cards and costume cards. Only the hobby boxes are actually worth picking up for their bonus cards.

Found one per pack in the retail packs are Rune or Tarot card bonus cards. These cards are simplistic representations of the tattoos and runes seen in The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones and there are 22 in all. These are not at all exciting and they look and feel cheap as they are smaller than regular trading cards. The thirteen Tarot cards are even more problematic. The fronts of each undersized card features a colored drawing of a Tarot card. The backs, however, are split between having the film's movie poster and text that tells consumers what the actual Tarot card is.

The hobby exclusive boxes and packs are where the set actually comes alive. There are thirteen autograph cards, ten autographed wardrobe cards and thirteen basic wardrobe cards. These thicker costume cards feature awesome fabric swatches from almost all of the major characters. The autograph cards include the essential performers, including Lily Collins, CCH Pounder, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, and some very cool additional signers like Cassandra Clare (author of the novel upon which the film is based) and director Harald Zwart. Lena Headey's autograph is one of the few that has maintained value given interest in the actress from her role on Game Of Thrones. The costume cards use decent fabric swatches and the autographed costume cards are good, especially the Lily Collins autographed costume card.

Non-Box/Pack Cards

Leaf included all of the cards in boxes and packs for the The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones trading card set. Between two cases of the hobby exclusive and two boxes of the retail exclusive packs, it is possible to assemble a master set of these cards.


Sadly, it is hard to see why one would want to assemble a master set of The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones trading cards. The movie did not have mass appeal and the trading cards were so overproduced relative to the collector's interest in them that they are more frequently given away free than sold by dealers these days. This is not a worthwhile set for investors or for fans.

This set culls images exclusively from the 2013 film The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones, reviewed here!

For other film-based trading cards, please check out my reviews of:
Batman Returns Movie Photo Cards
2015 James Bond Archives
Star Trek: Nemesis trading cards


For other trading card sets, please check out my Trading Card Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2016 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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