Thursday, January 5, 2017

Dump The Franchise: The Star Trek Classic Movies Heroes & Villains Trading Cards Fizzle!

The Good: Generally cool common and basic chase sets, Collectibility
The Bad: Exceptionally fractured execution of concept, Some of the most obscure autograph signers, Rarities and numbering is problematic (especially for the cost).
The Basics: Rittenhouse Archives closes out their pre-J.J. Abrams movie card sets with the premium Star Trek Classic Movies Heroes & Villains set that ends the concept on an unfortunately low note.

When it comes to Star Trek trading cards, there have been some interesting trends in the various trading card sets and on the long arc of its holding the license, Rittenhouse Archives has done a pretty amazing job of producing trading cards for the fans. That said, not every concept Rittenhouse Archives has tried has worked out ideally. Retrospect is one thing and given the trends that followed, I would probably rate Rittenhouse Archives's Complete Star Trek: The Movies (reviewed here!) trading card set higher if I were to review it today. Sets that followed the Complete Star Trek: The Movies have become prohibitive to collect and Rittenhouse Archives has straddled the fence of creating and following the annoying trends of making impossible-to-collect sets.

But, well before Rittenhouse Archives effectively wittled down the possible number of Star Trek trading card collectors from twenty-five to five, Rittenhouse Archives was busy making ambitious plans to please collectors. Star Trek fans had a lot to be thrilled with, but it was hard to believe the company had anywhere left to go with the Star Trek films when they began with the Complete Star Trek Movies set. Despite starting their explorations of the cinematic Star Trek films with an ambitious and comprehensive set, Rittenhouse Archives churned out three more Star Trek film sets before committing their attention to the new J.J. Abrams Star Trek films. The final of the Classic Star Trek movies sets was the Star Trek Classic Movies Heroes & Villains set and it was released originally in "premium packs." It also had the unfortunate distinction of being a set that feels like a dump of the accumulated autograph cards withheld from prior Star Trek Movies sets.

That is not to say that the Star Trek Classic Movies Heroes & Villains is terrible, but the original release format - with packs that cost as much as boxes of trading cards used to! - the lack of a solid set concept and the emphasis on autographed trading cards that vary incredibly between impressive and utterly obscure performers make for a trading card set that is not particularly good.

Basics/Set Composition

The Star Trek Classic Movies Heroes & Villains was the eighth set of cards that focused on the cinematic Star Trek produced by Rittenhouse Archives. Properly assembled, the set is a collection of 109 trading cards and there is an official Star Trek Classic Movies Heroes & Villains binder from Rittenhouse. All but six of the cards are available in the box of the Star Trek Classic Movies Heroes & Villains cards, making it one of the sets that is a bit easier to collect, though the way the "premium packs" were produced and released make it somewhat irksome to do so. The cards were originally released in boxes that contained fifteen premium packs of nine cards each, two of which were autograph cards. Packs tended to run in the $50 range, the boxes cost as much as a case used to cost and the boxes were guaranteed to have an autograph card from either Leonard Nimoy or William Shatner in it.

Collation in the The Star Trek Classic Movies Heroes & Villains set was quite good. To complete a true master set of The Star Trek Classic Movies Heroes & Villains cards, collectors had to purchase at least four boxes of the cards, as there was a four-box incentive autograph card. As well, there were promotional cards that were not available in boxes or cases and there was one card that was only available through Rittenhouse Archives' Rittenhouse Rewards program (though it was inexpensive in its wrapper cost). But, more than most of the other Rittenhouse Archives trading card sets, the amount of repetition to get the four-box incentive card seemed excessive.

Common Cards

The common card set consists of 54 trading cards, which are printed on standard cardstock and have a glossy UV resistant coating. The fifty-four card common set alternates the heroes and villains of the Star Trek movies, with green for the heroes, red for the adversaries. With fifty-four cards, Rittenhouse Archives caters to putting the cards in binders as the binders have standard nine-card pages.

The concept of the Star Trek Classic Movies Heroes & Villains is a fairly mediocre one. While all of the cards are oriented in the landscape format and universally feature character shots, the choices for characters to focus on and images are somewhat problematic. While all of the main crew members are represented in the "heroes" half (even numbers), the heroes also include obscure supporting heroes like Commander Decker, Commander Rand, and Lily Sloane. There are both versions of Lt. Saavik (Kirstie Alley and Robin Curtis's versions) and there is a noticeable lack of Artim in the supporting hero characters. For the images, it is strange that Rittenhouse Archives utilized an image of Geordi La Forge with the character in his VISOR given that he had artificial eyes for three of the four Star Trek: The Next Generation films.

The villains section of the Star Trek Classic Movies Heroes & Villains has to stretch even more to achieve its concept. Captain Terrell is characterized as a "villain" in the set (he was villainous only after being taken over by a mind-controlling parasite from Khan) and given that Kruge's obscure support staff of Torg and Maltz are included as "villains," it seems odd that Joachim is left out of the set. Similarly, that the Space Probe from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home is included in the set as a villain makes it somewhat incomprehensible that V'Ger is not included.

All of the common cards in the Star Trek Classic Movies Heroes & Villains set have an individual collector's number stamped on the back. With only 550 common card sets, the Star Trek Classic Movies Heroes & Villains set is one of the few common sets that has high inherent value to it. Rittenhouse Archives does not waste time or space in the Star Trek Classic Movies Heroes & Villains set on text; the cards merely include the character's name, which makes sense for characters like Commander Riker, but less for Gallatin (though, one supposes, if there were a character description for the character, it would be hard to write more than had already been written about him for prior card set releases!).

Chase Cards

There are fifty-five chase cards in The Star Trek Classic Movies Heroes & Villains set, with forty-nine found in the boxes of cards and the remaining six available outside the boxes and packs. The bonus cards that can be found within the boxes were the Tribute cards, Die-Cut Gold Plaque cards, autograph cards and patch cards. Given how the common card set fits perfectly into usual nine-card pages, the fact that the bonus cards are not in nine-card increments and are not universally-oriented (most are portrait-oriented, but the patch cards are landscape-oriented) is problematic.

The most common bonus cards in this set were the Tribute cards, which were found one per pack. The twelve Tribute cards were limited to 475 each and, like the common cards, feature an individually-stamped number on the back. The Tribute cards feature a large picture on the front of each card of a major actor from the Star Trek films who has since died. Major actors like DeForest Kelley, Mark Lenard and Ricardo Montalban are accompanied by the likes of Persis Khambatta, Dame Judith Anderson and Robert Ellenstein. The backs are formatted like an autograph card with the actor and character name. The tribute cards are hearbreaking in that they make fans want the cards to get them signed by the people on them, they are such nice cards!

Also one per pack in the Star Trek Classic Movies Heroes & Villains premium packs were one of fourteen die-cut gold plaque cards. The portrait-oriented, limited to 425 cards, look like gold ribbons bordering a bust shot of each of the main cast members from the Enterprise crews. This is a good-looking set of cards that combines the foil borders with decent images of each of the characters from the Star Trek films . . . except Worf. Inexplicably, the front image on the H12 card features seventh season promotional shot for Worf, as opposed to any image of him from the Star Trek films! Seeing as the back features a shot of Worf from the films, it seems odd that Rittenhouse Archives failed to get an appropriate image for the front of the card.

The Star Trek Classic Movies Heroes & Villains continue the autograph style that Rittenhouse Archives began in their Complete Star Trek: The Movies. The missing prior autograph cards - A107 and A111 - were included in the premium packs. Each box of Star Trek Classic Movies Heroes & Villains was guaranteed to include an autograph from either William Shatner or Leonard Nimoy and they were two of the highlights of the set. The Star Trek Classic Movies Heroes & Villains included yet another Brent Spiner autograph and the rarest autograph in the set was from Joseph Ruskin, which was significant only in that he died two years later. Ruskin was far better known for his role in the original Star Trek than in his supporting role in Star Trek: Insurrection. The high point of the Star Trek Classic Movies Heroes & Villains autograph set is that it includes a Christian Slater autograph card, which is cool. But, Slater's autograph comes up with far less frequency than less well-known performers who had even less substantive roles in the Star Trek films than Slater did, like Gary Faga and Conroy Gideon.

The Star Trek Classic Movies Heroes & Villains continues the patch card set begun in the “Quotable” Star Trek: The Movies cards, which were based upon the patches on the uniforms in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Individually numbered to 250, the two badge cards feature insignia patches made for Rittenhouse Archives for Commander Decker and Lieutenant Ilia. The patch cards were found one per box, as boxtoppers, and were unable to hold their value against the "Quotable" Star Trek Movies patch cards of much more major characters.

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 only six 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 also a promo card exclusive to the The Star Trek Classic Movies Heroes & Villains trading card binder (P3). 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 was one other promotional card, which was given away exclusively at the 2011 Philly Non-Sport Show. It remains tough to track down now and, outside its rarity, is nothing particularly special. All four of the promotional cards are landscape oriented and feature two headshots - one hero, one villain.

The remaining cards are the multibox incentive card and the Rittenhouse Rewards cards. For every four boxes of Star Trek Classic Movies Heroes & Villains cards a dealer bought, Rittenhouse Archives provided an A122 Nichelle Nichols as Uhura autograph card. Like most of Rittenhouse’s incentive cards, this autograph card is found sealed in a hard plastic toploader with a gold Rittenhouse Archives seal keeping it inside. This is one of the nicest autograph cards of the set and it is easy to see why Rittenhouse Archives held it back for an incentive card!

The final card in the Star Trek Classic Movies Heroes & Villains set is the Rittenhouse Rewards card. Rittenhouse Rewards cards are exclusive cards that fans can get by sending wrappers from any sets in to Rittenhouse to redeem for cards not otherwise available. For this set, Rittenhouse produced a tenth Star Trek: The Motion Picture hero card of Admiral James T. Kirk. The Rittenhouse Rewards card is essentially an additional common card, which builds the common set up to an odd 55 cards. The Rittenhouse Rewards card is not individually numbered, like the common cards and it is utterly unremarkable and strangely uninteresting for a hard-to-find incentive card.


Ultimately, the Star Trek Classic Movies Heroes & Villains fills in the gaps and expands the existing Star Trek movie sets . . . but it was hardly necessary. Sadly, the mundane and ill-executed nature of the Star Trek Classic Movies Heroes & Villains makes it feel like the set is a dump of material that was planned for earlier releases that just was not returned in time.

This set culls images from all ten of the classic Star Trek Movies, reviewed here!

For other Star Trek movie trading cards, please be sure to visit my reviews of:
The “Quotable” Star Trek: The Movies
Star Trek Movies In Motion
Star Trek: Nemesis


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

© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
| | |

No comments:

Post a Comment