Indians and Cowboys, Democrats and Republicans, San Francisco Giants and Detroit Tigers, Federation and Klingons...America loves to root, root, root for the home team. Although in real life it's not always easy to tell the good guys from the bad, in Star Trek making such distinctions is relatively easy.
Card manufacturer Rittenhouse Archives has already separated brave hearts from blackhearts in their 2011 sold out Star Trek: Classic Movies Heroes & Villains Premium Pack Series Trading Cards. Now, the company will boldly go to where it all began in Star Trek: The Original Series Heroes & Villains Trading Cards. Scheduled for launch on February 27, Rittenhouse is eager to surprise collectors by returning Star Trek to a more traditional pack and box product. Says company President, Steve Charendoff, "The last Star Trek Premium Pack product was really a test issue for us. We also simply did not have enough autographs accumulated at that time to produce a full series of cards, so the Premium Pack format was more practical. In hindsight, given the strength of that series of cards, I would have waited, accumulated more autographs and costumes, and issued it as a full series."
Calling the new product a full set of cards may prove to be an understatement as Charendoff plans on packing it fuller than a starship loaded with Tribbles. Starting with 103 commons, each base card will contain one colorful photo on the front and two more on the back with accompanying descriptive text. Base cards are distinguished by episode and by the hero or villain status of each character pictured. "The Heroes cards will have a bluish tone to them, while the Villains cards will be reddish," added Charendoff.
Although RA is still grinding through the details, several levels of chase are planned to provide collectors with a bounteous TOS experience. First, look for a 100-card Parallel subset available at 1:2 packs. Using a pickup of past design, 18 Tribute Season 3 cards will be available at 1:6. Next, nine Kirk's Epic Battles cards come at a ratio of 1:12 while eight Mirror Mirror cards, similar to the ones made for DS9, come at one per 24-pack box. Single Autograph cards A202 through A269 can be found at the rate of one per box and feature the likes of Arlene Martel (T'Pring), William Shatner and Nichelle Nichols. Also at one per box are dual autograph cards DA5 through DA31 with special pairings like Leslie and Lisabeth Shatner for Miri, Susan Howard and Michael Ansara for Day of the Dove, and William Shatner and Joan Collins from the series' most painfully romantic episode, City on the Edge of Forever. Also hunt for six Star Trek Bridge Crew Shadowbox cards at one per two boxes, two different case toppers, three-, six-, and 18-case Incentives and a very special Shadowbox Rewards card. At least four general promo cards are possible and a binder with an exclusive promo is planned. An $84 box will hold 24 packs and each $3.50 pack will contain five cards.
While this ambitious set will not feature any artist sketches, Charendoff hinted to look to the future for something extra special in that regard, "We are working on an incredible set of cards for late 2013/early 2014 that will include a sketch card in every box. This will be very different from any set we have ever made for TOS. I'm really pumped up for this!"
Obviously, compiling a card set of this magnitude represents a lot of work for the Rittenhouse gang, but for Charendoff, a big part of the work is offset by the joy he experiences in making it, "This set is simply a lot of fun. The studio really doesn't get involved in our product development for Star Trek, except that they must approve all of our concepts. The creative process is largely a function of my sitting around, daydreaming about Star Trek, watching reruns of the episodes and coming up with different ideas. I also listen to what collectors have to say about what they would like to see. But overall, it's a very unscientific process. As I have said many times, I make card sets I would want to have in my own collection, since I have been a collector all of my life. If it seems interesting to me, then it's usually interesting to other collectors, too. TOS is perhaps my favorite TV show of all time, so this is a true labor of love for me."
Although Charendoff feels this set is loosely connected to the last Heroes & Villains release, he does admit it will have several differences, including the addition of collector-desirable Shadowbox cards. "It's a great theme," the company prez remarked, "because it allows us to cover more characters and details than some of the other themes. It's quite possible we will do more with this theme and with the other Star Trek TV shows."
As for who is Charendoff's personal favorite Star Trek hero, it could only be one, "Captain Kirk, in my humble opinion, is the greatest TV hero of all time and possibly the greatest fictional hero across any medium, including movies, books, TV, etc." Likewise, the card manufacturer sees only one real choice for the perfect villain, "Khan. Is there really an explanation needed?! LOL."