The Good: Good text, Some wonderful autograph signers, Some neat sketches, Archive Cuts cards
The Bad: Insanely expensive to assemble, Ridiculous look for collated set, Some ridiculous sketch cards and autograph cards, Requires the prior set
The Basics: Star Trek The Next Generation Portfolio Prints Series 2 trading cards concludes Juan Ortiz's artwork odyssey and makes for an inherently awkward set.
I love Star Trek trading cards. There is a reason I started collecting trading cards with Star Trek cards and built my collection outward from there. But, as the years have gone by and trading cards have evolved from a pleasant diversion to a big business, even my Star Trek trading card collection has diminished some. My love for Star Trek cards fell into conflict with the trading cards sets becoming virtually impossible to collect. A great example of how the trading cards have become insanely difficult to collect is the Star Trek: The Next Generation Portfolio Prints trading cards. The Star Trek: The Next Generation Portfolio Prints trading cards should have been a massive, ambitious set. Instead, it was very inorganically broken into two sets. 2015 saw the release of Star Trek: The Next Generation Portfolio Prints Series 1 (reviewed here!). Now, Rittenhouse Archives has completed the set with the Star Trek: The Next Generation Portfolio Prints Series 2 trading card set.
The Star Trek: The Next Generation Portfolio Prints Series 2 trading cards are a necessary evil. They are designed to complete the massive set, but they do so without much in the way of flair and with a shocking lack of enthusiasm for the biggest premium of the set. While there are some neat autograph signers in the Star Trek: The Next Generation Portfolio Prints Series 2 trading cards, the sketch cards are what truly carries the collecting weight these days. And while there are thirty-seven artists who participated in the Series 2 set, that is down from 48 artists who produced for Series 1 and all but 2 are duplicates - artists who drew sketch cards in Series 1. Between that and some autograph signers who were for exceptionally background or minor characters, there was a feeling that much of the Star Trek: The Next Generation Portfolio Prints Series 2 trading cards was phoning it in.
Properly assembled, the Star Trek: The Next Generation Portfolio Prints Series 2 trading card set consists of four hundred fifty-eight trading cards: four hundred forty-eight available in the boxes and packs of cards and only eight found elsewhere. For a current series of cards, that there are only ten cards that cannot be found in the boxes is actually wonderful. Unfortunately, like many of the sets released for other properties, the most coveted cards in this set - the color sketch cards - are produced and distributed with such rarity that only a handful of collectors will be able to assemble a true master set and given how there are fewer sketch artists and autograph cards signers in this set, it is hard for collectors to not feel a bit cheated.
Unlike the Star Trek Portfolio Prints, which were based on previously-released artwork produced by Juan Ortiz for startrek.com, the artwork in the Star Trek: The Next Generation Portfolio Prints Series 2 trading cards is unique to this set! Juan Ortiz was commissioned to continue the concept of the retro posters into the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode line.
The hook for collectors with this set is that Series 2 is only all the even numbers. Unlike the "Complete" Star Trek: The Next Generation Series 1 and Series 2 trading card sets, which split the episodes at the mid-point of the series (the middle of the fourth season), Rittenhouse Archives released what amounts to an incomplete set with the Star Trek: The Next Generation Portfolio Prints Series 2 trading cards.
With only eighty-eight of the cards in the set being common cards, there are quite a few chase cards to hunt down. The eighty-eight cards in the common set of Star Trek: The Next Generation Portfolio Prints Series 2 set are half of the Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes - the even ones. The set is comprised of a single card per episode for the even numbered episodes from "Encounter At Farpoint, Part Two" (an oddity considering it aired originally as a single, double-long episode) through "Preemptive Strike." There are no checklist cards with this trading card set. Fans of Star Trek: The Next Generation are treated to a plot blurb on the back of each common card. The plot synopsis’s are well-written. All of the cards in this set were oriented the same way, a portrait orientation that made it very easy to look through the cards when in one's binder. . . at least until the bonus cards.
This common set for Star Trek: The Next Generation Portfolio Prints Series 2 is problematic in both concept and execution. The concept is an essentially flawed one: retro posters reminiscent of the Star Trek Portfolio Prints for a show that aired in the 1980s/1990s. The Star Trek Portfolio Prints worked because they mimicked the style of the art deco posters of the 1960s - when the episodes were produced and aired - exceptionally well. There was a sense of kitsch to them that played perfectly for a show that is very dated in a lot of ways. Star Trek: The Next Generation does not have that age to it, so the concept would have held if Juan Ortiz had made the episode posters look like movie posters from the 1980s. That would have, undoubtedly, required a lot more in the way of likeness rights clearances and would have been vastly more time consuming to pull off. It is a shame Rittenhouse Archives did not push Juan Ortiz (or other artists) to so try!
The concept might be flawed, but the execution has the potential to save it. Unfortunately, while the artwork is generally all right, the "every other one" concept guts the common set. For those who do read the cards, there is something surreal about encountering the cards for episodes that were part of two-parters - "The Best Of Both Worlds, Part I," for example, is in this set, but "The Best Of Both Worlds, Part II" is not. Similarly, "Redemption 1" and "Unification 2" are in this set without their completing episodes.
Most of the cards in the eighty-eight card set is a clear execution of the concept rendered in vivid colors. "Suddenly Human" might well be the least-evocative of the set and "Clues" is a tough one to pull off. Most of the rest at least make the Star Trek: The Next Generation Portfolio Prints Series 2 trading card set look good.
The bonus sets for the Star Trek: The Next Generation Portfolio Prints Series 2 trading cards are a mix of mundane and wonderful, with a continued thorn being that the bonus sets, like the common set, are all the even-numbered cards, making for incomplete bonus sets. While this is generally bearable, the Ships Of The Line set - which is intended to form two nine-card murals looks absolutely ridiculous without the cards that preceded them from the Series 1 set. With two parallel sets, card collectors who love the common set have a lot to be excited about. Fans of Star Trek: The Next Generation in general are likely to be much more excited by the other bonus sets which focus on the characters and the comic books, as opposed to replicating the common set in new and imaginative ways. The Star Trek: The Next Generation Portfolio Prints Series 2 set has three hundred seventy bonus (insert) cards in the set, of which all but ten are found in the boxes and packs of cards. The bonus cards found in packs are broken down into the following sets: gold signature parallel cards (88 cards), Juan Ortiz autographed parallel cards (88 cards), Ships Of The Line cards (9 cards), TNG Universe Gallery (9), Comic Book cards (40), Comic Book Archive Cuts (40), TNG Silhouette Gallery Metal (5), TNG Rendered Art Metal (5), SketchaFex (37), and Autographed cards (39).
The two parallel card sets replicate the common card set and were very much designed for trading card collectors. The first eighty-eight card set is printed on thicker cardstock and features embossed gold signatures by Juan Ortiz printed on each card. The glossy backs are foil-stamped with an individual collector’s number. Each card is given a number from one to one hundred twenty-five, so there are only one hundred twenty-five complete gold signature parallel sets. The faux-signature set cards were found one per box. This is a really cool parallel set because the gold signatures beautifully offset most of the artwork and the contrast is distinctive and cool.
As with the prior sets, there was a parallel set of Juan Ortiz autograph parallel cards (numbered JOA with the common card numbers). These cards were found one in every other box. Each of the poster cards were replicated and then signed by Juan Ortiz in blue ink. The Juan Ortiz autograph cards were re-numbered and the backs have Juan Ortiz’s statement on what watching Star Trek: The Next Generation was like him, back in the day. This parallel set is an interesting one and, like the gold faux-signatures, the blue autographs have good contrast with most of the cream-colored artwork on the poster cards. This bonus set might have been a little more interesting if Juan Ortiz had commented on each episode and/or his process with making the posters, but the autograph size is much bigger than on the Star Trek The Original Series Juan Ortiz autograph parallel cards, so there's no mistaking them for the common cards this time around, even just looking at their fronts. The blue ink pops noticeably on almost all of the cards and they look great for it!
One per box are Star Trek: The Next Generation Comic Book cards. These cards replicate 40 of the covers from first major DC Comics Star Trek: The Next Generation comic book series (there was a six-issue mini-series that was the subject of bonus cards in earlier sets). This set is cool because the backs feature plot descriptions of each comic book and the fronts have some of the best, most memorable Star Trek: The Next Generation comic book covers. The plot descriptions are strange for some of the arcs that encompassed several books, but these cards are some of the best in the Star Trek: The Next Generation Portfolio Prints Series 2 trading cards!
The Star Trek: The Next Generation Portfolio Prints Series 2 cards mimicked their Original Series counterparts with the TNG Universe Gallery cards. The nine TNG Universe Gallery cards were featured one per box and are art deco versions of some of the most popular main cast (Picard, Riker, Data, Crusher) and significant recurring guest character - Dr. Pulaski, Ensign Ro, etc. - as if they were Animated characters. This is a neat idea and certainly a good one for people looking for something different for their beloved characters. Sadly, Rittenhouse Archives stepped into a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation by breaking up some related characters if one were to put the even and odd numbers together to actually create the TNG Universe Set in full.
Every other box of Star Trek: The Next Generation Portfolio Prints Series 2 trading cards features one of nine Ships Of The Line trading cards. The front of these landscape-oriented trading cards feature brand new digital imagery of ships from the Star Trek: The Next Generation era. Some of these ships are concept ships that were never seen in any of the episodes and are somewhat incongruent with what one remembers from the show, like a Borg ship taking on an Ambassador-Class vessel. Similarly, one card has the Enterprise, Defiant, and Voyager - three ships that were never together. Unfortunately, the backs are an absolute mess. The backs reveal that the cards are intended to go to two different nine-card murals from the Series 1 set. This set, sadly, looks sloppy when placed in pages as a result of the backs not coming together to form a single picture.
In most modern trading card sets, the autograph cards are a big deal, but for me the impressive aspect of the Star Trek: The Next Generation Portfolio Prints Series 2 trading cards were the TNG Comics Archive Cuts cards. The Archive Cuts are a simple concept: they are like costume cards - double-thick trading cards with material embedded and sealed within them with a "picture window" for fans to look at and feel the fabric - but the fabric is replaced with panels from Star Trek: The Next Generation comic books! These panels make each card in the set unique and the 40 cards in the Series 2 Archive Cuts set have rarities that vary, but all seem to be in the 100 - 160 range. The back of each Archive Cuts card bears an individual collector's number, further emphasizing how no two cards are the same! The panels from the Star Trek: The Next Generation have wonderful color contrast and I've not come across a single one that didn't "pop." (On some of the comic book-based trading sets Rittenhouse Archives has produced, sometimes their materials come from VERY old comic books and the panels are faded. Such is not the case with the Star Trek: The Next Generation Portfolio Prints Series 2 Archive Cuts cards).
With the Star Trek: The Next Generation Portfolio Prints Series 2, Rittenhouse Archives assembled a wildly inconsistent autograph card set. While this set provided Star Trek: The Next Generation fans four new Silver Series style autographs of Patrick Stewart, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden and Denise Crosby, it also has autograph cards of Peter Parros, (another!) Lycia Naff, and Tracee Cocco. Autograph cards of characters who recurred but did not even have lines are hard to get excited about. The set has thirty-nine autograph cards and outside the four silver series cards, they are portrait-oriented autographs in the style that was begun with the Complete Star Trek: The Next Generation Series 1 set. The smaller picture on the front of the card allows for a decent amount of space for the signer to sign and this set includes some truly awesome signers, most notably Mick Fleetwood, Madchen Amick, and Diedrich Bader. But having one of the rarest autographs of the set being from Robert Schenkkan (Remmick) is troubling; he had a memorable role on Star Trek: The Next Generation, but he is hardly on par with performers like David Ogden Stiers or Whoopi Goldberg who were in the same signing class of rarity in prior sets!
Like most recent releases, the real grail for collectors are the hand drawn color sketch cards. The Star Trek: The Next Generation Portfolio Prints Series Two set feature thirty-seven artists' works. These cards are found one in every case, so that means to assemble a true master set, one would have to buy 37 CASES of these cards, which is pretty cost-prohibitive for most fans! Still, it is hard to argue with results! Warren Martinek did some amazing color sketches of starships, while most of the other artists focused on characters. The Star Trek: The Next Generation Portfolio Prints Series 2 cards have artwork that varies for the sketch cards (as one might expect from so many different sketch artists producing unique works of art on each cards), but most of them are astonishingly good renditions of characters and spacescapes.
Also one per case are metal insert cards from one of two five-card, character centered sets. Metal cards are becoming a real coveted chase card and the ones in the TNG Portfolio Prints Series 2 set are notable in that they are not simply parallels of other chase cards in the set! One of the two five-card sets focuses on the main cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation and they are similar to the Crew cards from TOS Portfolio Prints, save that they are metal and artwork, as opposed to photo images. The other five-card metal set replicates and expands the artwork from the Star Trek The Next Generation Blu-Ray seasons boxes and they look absolutely amazing, especially in metal! All ten of the metal cards from the cases of Star Trek: The Next Generation Portfolio Prints are each individually stamped with a collector's number out of 100.
As is customary from Rittenhouse Archives, there are a few cards not available in the boxes, no matter how many one buys. These range from the ultra-common P1 promotional card (easily available in the secondary market) to the two nine-case incentive cards that dealers were given for buying in volume. There are two other promotional cards in the Star Trek: The Next Generation Portfolio Prints Series 2 set: the P3 album exclusive promotional card and the P2 Non-Sport Update promo. The P2 Non-Sport Update promotional card is harder to track down than the other two and it is the least impressive of the bunch, featuring comic book style artwork of Captain Picard. The P3 is a landscape-oriented and features the U.S.S. Enterprise, while the P1 is an art card featuring Troi and Riker embracing with Picard's head in the background. None of these promotional cards are yet impossible to find in the secondary market.
This set also had one of two casetoppers. The two casetoppers were very basic Juan Ortiz art cards Q and Locutus Of Borg. There is nothing remarkable about either of these casetoppers, save that they are rare, though they are not even individually numbered.
For every six cases of Star Trek: The Next Generation Portfolio Prints trading cards a dealer ordered, they were granted a Dual autograph, in the familiar style from Rittenhouse Archives's old "Quotable" Star Trek: The Next Generation set. The 6-case incentive autograph features Brent Spiner and Denise Crosby from their iconic precoital embrace in "The Naked Now." Given how Picard and Crusher never worked out, this is a sensible pairing, though a Partick Stewart dual-autograph with Whoopi Goldberg or Jonathan Frakes would have been a far bigger coup than a Spiner/Crosby dual-autograph.
The real grail of the bonus cards was the incentive card for buying nine cases of the Star Trek: The Next Generation Portfolio Prints Series 1 trading cards. For that, every dealer was given a hand drawn, painted sketch card by either Charles Hall or the Glebe Brothers. Charles Hall painted characters with extensive and detailed backgrounds, while the brothers Mick and Matt Glebe seemed to focus on character portraits. Either way, the artists did immaculate work that was absolutely incredible for their incentive cards.
Exclusive to the Archive Boxes was a portrait-oriented metal card of Q. Individually numbered on the back up to 100, the metal card gives fans a reason to chase down the archive boxes which were given as an incentive to dealers who purchased 18 cases.
As well, for the fans who collected enough wrapper points, there was a Rittenhouse Rewards exclusive autograph card. The exceptionally rare autograph card is of Pamela Adlon and its rarity has not been confirmed, though given its wrapper cost, it is rarer than most Rittenhouse Rewards cards.
The Star Trek: The Next Generation Portfolio Prints Series 2 is the logical end to an awkward idea that was executed in a problematic way. Only the most determined, die-hard collectors will care about completing the set. It is too tough a sell for anyone but the most wealthy, eager collectors who demand completion without a care for genuine quality.
This set culled images from Star Trek The Next Generation, which is reviewed here!
This is a set of cards which I sell in my online store. Be sure to visit and shop from our extensive inventory of them at the Star Trek The Next Generation Portfolio Prints Series 2 Trading Card Inventory!
For other Star Trek The Next Generation trading cards, please be sure to visit my reviews of:
Star Trek 25th Anniversary Series 1
Star Trek 25th Anniversary Series 2
Star Trek The Next Generation Inaugural Edition
"Quotable" Star Trek: The Next Generation
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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