Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Trading Card Spotlight-
Star Trek The Motion Picture
(Topps)

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Item Name: Star Trek The Motion Picture Trading Cards
Manufacturer: Topps

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The Rundown: If you were a big name action-adventure/ sci-fi film in the late 70's or early 80's, odds are that Topps made a trading card set based on ya. The company tackled everything from "Harry and the Hendersons" to "Rocky II"... so of course they once had their hand in producing trading cards based on Star Trek. Topps released 2 sets based on the Star Trek brand: a 1976 set focusing on the original series, and a set in 1979 tied into the motion picture. In Tarrantino fashion, I'm going to review them out of order and start with the latter set today...

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With TMP expected to bring in audiences comparable to Star Wars, it's not surprising that Topps produced a set based on the film. What is surprising though is the quality of this product! The set consists of 88 cards and 22 stickers. The cards feature an incredible selection of imagery on their fronts. From the standard publicity shots seen above...

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...to awesome set pictures like this one. Since TMP is probably the biggest visual feast of all the classic Trek films, Topps had a lot to play with here. What makes the set great is that instead of just plastering images directly from the film on the cards, Topps mined a bunch of imagery from the actual production as well, leading to some fantastic unintentional "making of" shots. For example:

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Here's a shot from the film showing the alien probe invading the bridge. Now let's take a look at the trading card from the same scene-

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Same deal here, only now we can see the actual light used on set to simulate the brightness of the probe! Seeing this production stuff has always been a real treat for me, so finding these gems on the cards was the cat's pajamas. My fav of the bunch though has got to be this one:

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In this shot from the making of the doomed transporter sequence, you can actually see the actors filming their parts (which were later obscured by the effects). How awesome is that? If you said "pretty darned awesome", give yourself one gold star.

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The set also includes some cards of things either missing from or barely glimpsed in the film. A sizable number of the cards are devoted to the aliens designed for the film, while others...

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...provide detailed views of the ship models used for filming. The whole set is like a miniaturized production gallery! Had I owned these as a kid, the imagery on the fronts alone would have kept them miles away from my bike spokes.

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On the back of each card in the set, you get one of two things. Most of the cards in the set feature puzzle pieces to complete large pictures from the film, with completed versions shown on some to give you an idea of what you're supposed to be making.

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A lesser portion of the backs actually feature a writeup of some sort. Some have bios on the folks involved in making the film, some tell a bit of the story, and a couple just relay quotes from the actors. I wish there were a bit more of these in the set instead of so many puzzle parts, but I understand that the puzzles were standard fare back then.

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Before I move on to the stickers, I should probably mention the promotional version of the card set. As you can see by the different numbers printed on the cards above, there are actually 2 versions of this set out there. Well, I take that back- there are actually a total of 5 versions that I know of. There's the standard 88 card set, plus 4 sets shortened to 33 cards used as a tie-n with a bunch of bread companies.

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With each specially marked loaf of Colonial, Kilpatrick, Manor, or Rainbo bread, one would receive a Topps TMP trading card. The bread sets consist of 33 cards culled from the original 88, with numbering changed to reflect their shortened tally. The backs were also altered, eliminating the puzzle pieces and adding each company's respective logo. Got all that? I hope so, because it confused me just typing it out.

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Back to the regular set... Each pack of cards included 1 sticker, with 22 individual stickers compromising the full set. The imagery used here is mostly the same used on the cards... only now it's stickier.

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Just like the cards, the stickers include some really cool production imagery. One of my favs of the set is the Saurian sticker pictured above. Creepy!

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As a huge fan of the visuals seen in TMP, I absolutely love this set. There's just SO much cool imagery here that I can't say enough good things about it. Some sellers try and get top dollar for a complete set with stickers, but if you are patient, you can sometimes get it in the $20 range. At that price, I'd definitely recommend a pickup. Just watch out for those bread sets! You'll be missing out on 55 cards worth of awesomeness if you blindly acquire one of those...

2 comments:

  1. I ate a lot of cheek-shredding gum to get these cards back when they were on the shelves! You are right about the vast amount of production shots used in it, not seen anywhere else since. I suppose it was because there were so few actual effects shots available when they were making the cards, since the FX were barely dry when the film was shown. Lucky for us now!

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