Saturday, July 22, 2017

Wow! Rittenhouse Does Women Right With The Women Of Star Trek 50th Anniversary Trading Cards!

The Good: Impressive chase cards, Flashy common set, Some very cool autograph signers, Neat costume cards, Awesome sketch cards
The Bad: Somewhat irksome collectibility
The Basics: Rittenhouse Archives proves they still have a winning formula for Star Trek trading cards with their new "The Women Of Star Trek 50th Anniversary" set!

Rittenhouse Archives has had the license to produce Star Trek trading cards for over a decade and a half and watching how the company has developed its products over the years has been fascinating to watch for both collectors and Star Trek fans. A decade ago, Rittenhouse Archives made the 40th Anniversary of Star Trek into a three-year affair, with four trading card sets commemorating the entire franchise and each of the three seasons of the original Star Trek. For the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek, Rittenhouse Archives has produced three major trading card sets, plus one boxed set focusing on the 50th Anniversary traveling art exhibition. The fourth and (final planned, at least at the time of this review) 50th Anniversary tribute set from Rittenhouse Archives is the Women Of Star Trek 50th Anniversary trading card set.

The Women Of Star Trek 50th Anniversary trading card set is a premium trading card set that focuses on the women of the entire Star Trek franchise. The final 50th Anniversary of Star Trek set is an obvious sequel to the very popular Women Of Star Trek trading card set released back in 2010 with a quality level meant to mimic the premium nature of the Star Trek The Original Series 50th Anniversary trading card set (reviewed here!).

The Women Of Star Trek 50th Anniversary trading card set is a magnificent set and it is the first set since I started splitting my rating system for trading cards to achieve a perfect score. This is an impressive, beautiful, trading card set and the only (comparatively minor) issue with it is its collectibility. Even with collectibility factored in, this is a near-perfect trading card set. The collector in me (I've been a trading card collector for almost as long as I have been a Star Trek fan) finds it unshakably problematic that with absolutely ideal collation, it would take 30 cases to assemble a true master set - and with this set, there's no cheating through Archive Boxes as the Archive Boxes do not include sketch cards, metal cards, or gold metal cards!

Despite the collecting gripe - a minor one compared to the other two 50th Anniversary sets that had more sketch cards and cut signature cards! - the Women Of Star Trek 50th Anniversary trading card set is an objectively perfect set that represents the pinnacle of Star Trek collecting!

Basics/Set Composition

"The Women Of Star Trek 50th Anniversary" is a set of high-quality trading cards that feature a sheen to them that makes them look like foil cards for most of the surface of the card. The set focuses exclusively on the women of the Star Trek franchise and expands the autograph set from the 2010 Women Of Star Trek, while introducing a new style of costume card and presenting some incredible sketch cards of the various women of Star Trek! For a television franchise that championed women in positive roles well before the sexual revolution began, the Women Of Star Trek 50th Anniversary treats the women of the franchise right!

Properly assembled, the "The Women Of Star Trek 50th Anniversary" set consists of three hundred seventy-one cards. The set is made up of one hundred common cards and two hundred seventy-one bonus cards, only eleven of which are not available in the actual boxes of "The Women Of Star Trek 50th Anniversary" cards. Boxes of these cards consist of twenty-four packs with five cards per pack and highlighted three autograph cards and one costume card per box.

Common Cards

The common card set of the Women Of Star Trek 50th Anniversary trading cards consists of one hundred partially-foil cards. These cards were made on a premium card stock and each card features a front that has a high-quality image of the female character and a second image, in a picture window, non-sheen, that features the character paired with another character. The set is oriented entirely in landscape format and features cards for comparatively minor women in the Star Trek franchise - like Shahna, Madeline, and Erika Hernandez - and multiple cards of each of the most important women from the franchise - Uhura, Kira, Janeway, Dax, Crusher, etc. It is hard not to be thrilled with the Women Of Star Trek 50th Anniversary common card set - after studying it, the only change I probably would have made to its composition would have been to swap one of the minor characters (my vote is Madeline!) for a card featuring Ezri Dax and Captain Sisko (the only Ezri card in the set is Ezri Dax and Dr. Bashir).

The backs of the Women Of Star Trek 50th Anniversary trading cards are well-written and most-frequently focus upon the relationship between the card's primary character and the character they are paired with. So, for example, card 7 details well the relationship Nurse Chapel had with Mr. Spock. Not limited to a single episode or incident, the card follows the many chances Chapel took to express her feelings for Spock and it gives a very complete view of that entire relationship! The cards are very well-written and the stand-outs and cards like 7 where the writers are able to show their mastery of the long arcs for the character, as opposed to simply detailing a one-off character's arc in a single episode. Despite having some limited characters based on their airtime, Rittenhouse Archives did an excellent job at fleshing out minor characters from fan-favorite episodes. As a result, both major women from "The Inner Light" are well-represented with common cards of their own!

This is one of the best-conceived, best-executed common card sets and it is nice to see that for its Star Trek: Voyager component, Kes was not neglected!

Chase Cards

The Women Of Star Trek 50th Anniversary trading cards have a good balance of bonus cards and for the first time in a few Star Trek sets, there are bonus sets that can be assembled in a single case of cards. The premium quality cards include 271 bonus cards, 260 of which are found in the packs and boxes of the cards. The Women Of Star Trek 50th Anniversary bonus cards include: Metal Parallel Cards, Women In Command, Quotable Women Of Star Trek, Women Of Star Trek Gold Metal, Costume Cards, Autograph Cards, and Sketch cards.

The common card set of Women Of Star Trek 50th Anniversary trading cards was replicated as metal cards. This process has become more popular in recent years and the Women Of Star Trek 50th Anniversary common set lends itself beautifully to metal card treatment. The metal cards are found only one per box, so with truly ideal collation, it would take nine cases to complete this subset! The truth, however, is that it is worth it. The metal cards are stylish and carry the images and border from the common set beautifully.

The first unique chase set for the Women Of Star Trek 50th Anniversary trading cards is the Women In Command chase set. The Women In Command chase set is a set of nine, landscape-oriented cards featuring a minor foil accent in the border that focuses on the influential women of Star Trek when they took command. Rittenhouse Archives aimed for precise with the set and, as a result, Uhura is not featured in the set - she never actually took command of the Enterprise (at best, she had command of a transporter station in Star Trek III: The Search For Spock). Number One from "The Cage" is featured and while it is odd that Saavik is card 9 in the set (chronologically, she should have been card 2), the cards are well-written and nice-looking and the set is comparatively obtainable at one Women In Command card per box.

Also found one per box are one of eighteen Quotable Women Of Star Trek cards. These cards feature a beautiful shot of the character featured on the card (different image on the front than on the back!) and a quote from the woman. The set is a good idea, but here Rittenhouse Archives is somewhat hoisted on its own petard. Rittenhouse Archives has released five different "Quotable" Star Trek sets, with additional "Quotable" cards being used as chase cards in other sets. As a result, Rittenhouse Archives has pretty well mined the franchise for great quotes. So, cards like QW9, which features Deanna Troi, has a quote from Troi that is hardly emblematic of the character. Conversely, it is somewhat shocking that the quotes for Major Kira (which provide some of her fundamental characterization) had not been used before! The Quotable Women set implicitly makes the argument that there is no point in a "Quotable" Star Trek: Enterprise set quite well, though the photography for this chase set is universally high and these cards look nicer than the common "Quotable" cards that made up the five "Quotable" Star Trek sets.

The style and quality of the Quotable Women Of Star Trek chase set is blended with the inherent value and quality of the metal parallel set for the Women Of Star Trek Gold Metal set. The landscape-oriented metal cards feature a big image of each major female character on the left, with a gold secondary image as the background on the right. These are magnificent cards and one of the tragedies of this subset is that fans can never collect this set and get them all signed (the subjects of three of the nineteen cards are now dead). Nineteen is a weird number of cards for a bonus card set, but Rittenhouse Archives makes it feel worthwhile with the quality of the Gold Metal set and the fact that they included Kes instead of culling the set at 18 major female characters.

One per box is a costume card in a new style. The Women Of Star Trek 50th Anniversary cards feature a portrait-oriented costume card style and they succeed in a way that is the opposite of the Quotable Women chase set; Rittenhouse Archives has done an amazing job in the past of representing main castmembers' traditional uniforms in their costume cards. The fifteen primary Women Of Star Trek 50th Anniversary costume cards feature recognizable and impressive female characters in their non-duty uniform costumes! As a result, Dr. Crusher gets two costume cards from her outfit from Star Trek: Insurrection and Torres has two casual costumes as part of her representation in the Women Of Star Trek 50th Anniversary set. Even fan-coveted T'Pol is given a dual costume card from one of her alternate personas! The costume cards feel fresh and have some very cool variants, like Guinan's hat having noticeable variants and Vash's jacket featuring a number of different colors to her fabric swatch. Even Jennifer Sisko's costume has some cool variants! The costume card set is fleshed out by an exceptionally limited Yeoman Rand costume card that fills in a gap from the prior Women Of Star Trek set!

Each box of Women Of Star Trek 50th Anniversary had three autograph cards and the complete set featured 68 autograph cards. The autograph cards continued the style begun in the Women Of Star Trek set and featured some incredible signers. Vanessa Williams signed for the first time in the Women Of Star Trek 50th Anniversary trading card set and Whoopi Goldberg provided an autograph card as well! The Women Of Star Trek set was exceptionally comprehensive for the main cast of women of the franchise - almost every major female cast member from the various Star Trek series's signed an autograph card in the (at that time) new style of autograph card back then. The Women Of Star Trek 50th Anniversary fills in the gap of Roxanne Dawson, but leaves Nicole de Boer, Linda Park and Jolene Blalock absent from the Women Of Star Trek autograph card format. Despite that, it is hard to denigrate the Women Of Star Trek 50th Anniversary autograph cards as they do include autograph cards from Yvonne Craig, Julie Warner, Susanna Thompson, Sharon Lawrence, Madchen Amick, and Meg Foster! First-time signers like Galyn Gorg and Laura Banks flesh out the set incredibly well, making this a must-collect autograph card set for fans of the larger Star Trek franchise!

One per case, there is a hand-drawn sketch card for the Women Of Star Trek 50th Anniversary. Thirty different artists contributed sketch cards for the Women Of Star Trek 50th Anniversary set and there were some truly magnificent works from artists like Emily Tester and Kris Penix. I was impressed by how familiar sketch card artists Chris Meeks and Warren Martineck - best known for starship and technical sketch cards - adapted to the Women of Star Trek subject matters. Meeks, especially, creates some immaculate works that show he has the ability to render characters with beautiful depth and shading, not just ships! The sketch cards for the Women Of Star Trek 50th Anniversary set are some of the best Rittenhouse Archives has ever presented! The sketch cards may create an issue with the set's collectibility, but tracking down 30 cases to assemble a sketch card set (if one lucks out on the collation!) creates a truly beautiful set!

Non-Box/Pack Cards

Very few of the bonus cards in the Women Of Star Trek 50th Anniversary set cannot be found in the packs and boxes, but some of the ones that are not found in the boxes this time are bound to be the most coveted! There are eleven cards (fourteen, actually) that are not found in the packs and boxes, but because Rittenhouse Archives includes the printing plates as a complete set (which is very much a decent thing to do!), I count them as one card to chase. There are two promotional cards - the general-release P1 card and a P2 card that is exclusive to the manufacturer-released Women Of Star Trek 50th Anniversary binder. The promo cards follow a format that accurately foreshadows the common cards in the set.

Similarly, there are 2 different casetoppers. The casetoppers are metal replications of the P1 and P2 cards and are found only one per case. Like the standard metal parallel cards, the casetopper metal cards are quite pretty.

In recent years, incentive cards have become incredibly important to collectors and the Women Of Star Trek 50th Anniversary set is no different in that regard. There is a six-case incentive autograph card that continues the Legends Of Star Trek autograph format. For the Women Of Star Trek 50th Anniversary set, the Legends Of Star Trek autograph is a Nichelle Nichols autograph, which is a great tribute to the pioneering actress.

The real drool-worthy component of the Women Of Star Trek 50th Anniversary trading card set is the 9-case incentive sketch card. Esteemed sketch card artist Charles Hall took the image captured in the picture window portion of each common card and replicated it as a painted art sketch card for the Women Of Star Trek 50th Anniversary. Charles Hall made artwork for these cards that is jaw-dropping good in its quality. Hall picked up subtle background details and included immaculate depth and shading for these sketch cards. They are the true gem of this set and the quality of them is astonishing!

There is an exclusive Women In Command Rittenhouse Rewards cards available for die-hard collectors who exchange wrapper points for the card. The WC10 card features Erika Hernandez from Star Trek: Enterprise. Hernandez is a comparatively minor character and makes for an underwhelming rewards card. There were plenty of other women in command - many of them villains, come to think of it, like Donatra from Star Trek: Nemesis or planetary leaders who might have made an intriguing rewards cards if one had to go with obscure - but the addition of a tenth card to a nine-card set seems pretty superfluous as it is. Despite that, Rittenhouse maintained the quality of the chase set with the reward's card. It is completely Monday Morning Quarterbacking, but as I wrote this, it occurred to me that the Rewards card should have been Captain Tryla Scott. Obscure? Absolutely! But die-hard Trek fans will know that with one-line, she became an essential Woman Of The Star Trek franchise - she is the captain who beat Jim Kirk's record to become the youngest Captain in StarFleet! Furthermore, using her as an incentive card would have been particularly clever as she was a character not utilized anywhere else in the set.

The other four bonus cards are exclusive to the archive box. Found only in the archive box was a Teri Garr autograph card in the Women Of Star Trek format. Also exclusive to the archive box was a WCC27 Seven Of Nine costume card that continued the Women Of Star Trek costume card set, much the way the WCC16 card in the boxes did. Rittenhouse Archives surprised fans with an Archive Box exclusive throwback costume card that they did not announce prior to the set's release! The archive box included a variant WCC11 from the Women Of Star Trek set with a variant fabric swatch from the previously-released version! Also one per box was a set of four printing plates used to make the common cards for the Women Of Star Trek 50th Anniversary set!


Ultimately, the Women Of Star Trek 50th Anniversary trading card set is a fitting tribute to its subjects that rewards trading card collectors with a truly impressive set worth tracking down for their collections. If Rittenhouse Archives never does another set focusing on the women of the Star Trek franchise, this is a fitting way to immortalize the heroic women; if Rittenhouse Archives ever revisits women of Star Trek as the subject for a trading card set, it sets the bar impossibly high!

This set culls images from:
Star Trek
Star Trek: The Next Generation
The Star Trek Movies
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Star Trek: Voyager
and Star Trek: Enterprise

This is a trading card set I proudly stock in my online store. To collect it, please check out my Women Of Star Trek 50th Anniversary Trading Card Inventory!

10/10 (objective), 8.5/10 (with collectibility factored in)

For other card reviews, be sure to visit my trading card review page for an organized listing!

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