Saturday, December 10, 2011

Rittenhouse Archives 2011 Star Trek Movies Heroes & Villains Premium Pack Review

I was very excited about Rittenhouse Archives latest Star Trek release, Movies Heroes & Villains, and evidentially so were a lot of you because by the time I was ready to get a premium pack, all 5625 of them had been sold out.  I did manage to get some singles to cobble together this review.  But most of this is based on images I’ve seen.  Not the way I like to do reviews, but on the off chance you find a pack or box for sale, I hope you find this useful.

Rittenhouse Archives 2011 Star Trek Movies Heroes & Villains falls under our premium cards category.  Each Premium Pack contains 5 Heroes and Villains Cards, 1 Tribute Card, 1 Star Trek Die-Cut Gold Plaque and 2 Autograph cards.   Each pack is individually numbered to 5625.  These were released in individual packs and 15 pack boxes. 

Here are some of the cards.

Heroes and Villains cards
 KAHN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Khan Noonien Singh, front and back

 Commander Decker, Ilia Probe

 Commander Kruge, Captain Terrell

 Lt. Saavik and the two actresses that played her, Kirstie Alley and Robin Curtis

Die-Cut Gold Plaques
 The true Spock, with apologies to Zachary Quinto, played by Leonard Nimoy

Overall Look
The “base” part of this set is the Heroes and Villains cards.  The front and back of the cards are very similar, short of the sequential numbering..  The real standouts are the Die-Cut Gold plaques.  That is definitely a set you’ll want to seeks singles out to complete.

Quality and Variety of the checklist
From the published checklist, there is almost everyone you would want to see in this set.

Do the Hits satisfy?
Ummm... yeah!  Why do you think this is sold out?  2 On-card autos per pack with the standard Rittenhouse Archives embossed text for authenticity. A guarantee of a Shatner of Nimoy autograph in every box of 15?  Come on. There are also Bridge Crew Patch Cards that are box toppers and a 4 box incentive autograph card of Nichelle Nichols.

Will you keep coming back for more?
If you can find them.

4/12 out of 5

It is not surprising that Rittenhouse Archives 2011 Star Trek Movies Heroes & Villains Premium Pack featuring William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy On-Card Autos did not last long.  If you find these available, don’t hesitate to pick them up.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Rittenhouse Archives Marvel Universe 2011 Trading Cards Review

Marvel Comics has a long tradition of crossing the worlds of their various heroes to create exciting storylines.  Mixing the Hulk, X-Men, Captain America, Spider-man, and others provides stories that are more complex than can be written with just one set of characters in their individual world.  Out of combining these worlds, a universe of Marvel characters is born, and it is captured perfectly by Rittenhouse Archives in their release Marvel Universe 2011 Trading Cards.

This set falls under our classification of trading cards.  Hobby Boxes contain 24 – 5 card packs and feature 1 hand-drawn colored sketch card per box.  There are only 8000 numbered boxes available.  Currently they are sold out on the Rittenhouse Archives site but boxes can be found online and at some local card and comics shops.  What is still available at the Ritenhouse Archives online store is the 90 card base set only.  No packaging on this one, so you will literally just be sent the 90 cards, but it is a great alternative if you can’t find the boxes. 

Here is a look at some of the cards.

Base Cards
 Base card #1, front and back

The first 9 base cards from The Kovac Saga, published in 1978, fit together to form this larger picture.

They work really well in a 9 card, 3 ring binder.
Base cards 46 - 54, Civil War, published in 2006 - front

Same cards from the back, each with a comic cover and story synopsis.

Insert Cards

Base Card Parallels
 Clear Acetate cards parallel the base cards like this one based on card #56

 This is card #56 from the base set, World War Hulk, published in 2007, for comparison purposes.

 Here is the complete 9 parallel card set put together.

 Add a sheet of white paper behind it and all the details appear.

Here is the same 9 card set using the base cards.  The details are much richer on the parallel cards.

Ultimate Heroes
 Cyclops, card #4, front and back

 Storm, card #3 and Angel, card #7

Marvel Originals
 Marvel Universe, Card #1, front and back

 Spider Man vs Venom, card #3 and Iron Man, card #5

Artist Draft
 Civil War, card #2, front and back

 Secret Invasion, card #8 and Fear Itself, card #5

Overall Look
Well... it is Marvel Comics to begin with so the artwork speaks for itself, but Rittenhouse Archives could have been lazy and just pushed these out the door.  This is not the case but we’ve come to expect that from Riitenhouse.  The ten storylines in this set are smartly spread over 9 cards to make for a perfect binder page for display.  The layout and design of the backs of the cards are as impressive as the fronts, Pictures of the comics’ covers just big enough to be seen clearly with plenty of room left for a smartly written story synopsis.  And that’s just the base set.  Add acetate parallels, explosive foil character inserts, a variety of great artwork inserts and you’ve got an impressive set of cards that adds design elements that compliment and enhance the Marvel images.

Quality and Variety of checklist.
The 10 chosen storylines are well selected.  There are enough of the stars of the Marvel Universe here to satisfy everyone.

Do the hits hold up?
The real hits are the sketch cards referred to as SketchaFEX. With over 130 artists involved, there is a wide variety of these tiny works of art that you can wind up pulling out of packs.  And they are truly works of art as each artist was free to use whatever media they wanted, oils, watercolors acrylics, etc., without standard guidelines or limitations so each color sketch card pulled is an individual expression of the person that created it. Even the backs of the cards, which could have been left blank, come printed with the full compliment of Marvel characters.  These hits not only hold up, they exceed your normal type of relic or autograph hit.

Will you want to collect them all? 
You’ll want a complete base set and a complete parallel/insert set too. Add to this the available hot boxes with multi-card sketch puzzles and case incentive dual character sketch cards and three stage progression sketch cards and it is fair to say Marvel fans will only be limited by their budgets when it comes to deciding how many boxes to buy.

5 out of 5

Rittenhouse Archives Marvel Universe 2011 Trading Cards are a must buy for fans of all things Marvel.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Rittenhouse Archives True Blood Legends Series 1 Trading Cards Break Recap and Review

HBO’s True Blood, based on the Sookie Stackhouse novels, shot to popularity soon after its debut. Rittenhouse Archives has secured the license and will be producing a variety of trading cards based on the show.  The first set of cards to be released is called True Blood Legends.  The first cards in the Legends series feature the characters Sookie Stackhouse, the half fairy lead of the show, Sam Merlotte, the shape-shifting bar owner and Hoyt Fortenberry, a local road worker with a thing for a certain female vampire.

True Blood Legends Series 1 is classified in our trading cards category.  Series 1 comes in a celo pack and contains 9 cards for each of the 3 characters for a total of 27 cards.  Card number 9 in each character’s individual set is numbered.  Only 500 limited edition sets were made for series 1.  All sets are identical except for the sequential numbering.

Here are some of the cards.
 Sookie Stackhouse #3, front and back

  Sookie Stackhouse #1, front and back
As you can see, the basic design is a photo, front and back with 
Anna Paquin as Sookie Stackhouse on the back of all of her cards.

 Sookie Stackhouse # 7 and #8

Sam Trammel as Sam Merlotte # 9, front and back
Card #9 for each character is numbered on the back to 500

Sam Merlotte #7 and #8

 Jim Parrack as Hoyt Fortenberry #1, front and back

 Hoyt Fortenberry #3 and #8

Overall Look
Legends is a portrait only card set.  The photography is really nice.  Clear, sharp images with your favorite characters in different looks throughout the entire run of the show.  It is fun to see how the actors have physically changed from the early episodes to present day.  But other than the photos, there isn’t much else in the way of design.  One minor design point is a different look for the numbering on each card 9.  In the past, the foil stamping used for numbering the cards to 500 was placed directly over the glossy stock of the card.  In a move to provide better quality numbering, a small rectangle of gloss has been omitted so the foil stamping can make full contact with the surface of the cardboard.  In the right light the rectangle is quite visible and detracts a small bit from the overall look of the card.  Definitely a minor point, but a noticeable one.

Quality and Variety of the checklist
Series 1, as will be the case with all future series releases, is limited to 3 characters, but they are good picks to get Legends started.  Of course you are not going to have Sookie Stackhouse, Bill Compton and Eric Northman in the same pack.  They will be spread out over several series releases.  But having Sookie the lead, Sam, the B Story lead, and Hoyt in the same pack is not too shabby.  Plus, having 9 cards of each character will make for a nice complete page in a display binder.

Do the hits hold up?
No hits here and none planed for future Legends series releases.

Will you want to collect them all?
Considering the entirety of Series 1 is contained in one pack, this question is more about collecting the entire Legends set.  Rittenhouse plans to create new series for Legends on an ongoing basis, introducing 3 different characters each time essentially until they run out of main characters.  There has not been announcement yet as to who will be in series 2, but certainly if you purchase series 1, you will want to add future series to your collection as they become available.

4 out of 5

If you are a big fan of the wacky events in Bon Temps, you will drink up all that Rittenhouse Archives True Blood Legends Series 1 has to offer like a nice, body temperature bottle of Tru Blood, the synthetic nourishment beverage of choice.