TOS Seasons I-III Card Set
We now enter the section of Trek Card History I call the “Charendoff Era”. Steve Charendoff, as the Entertainment Director, takes the reins and changed the look and direction of Star Trek cards and Entertainment cards. Though he was involved peripherally in earlier sets like First Contact, the sets produced from TOS I through TOS III are “pure Charendoff”. Charendoff reports that statistics show that 2/3 of the collectors of Entertainment trading cards are men between the ages of 25-54. The one time kids who collected nickel packs of cards were now grown and with bigger disposable incomes than ever before. Charendoff feels that cards became more in the way of high end merchandising rather than just “trading cards”. The benchmarks that earmarked a good card set had changed, it became necessary to put out the best possible product, with all sorts of bells and whistles. “You had to make it so that a collector HAD to have it in his collection because it was SO good.” Collectors have been offered all sorts of quality Trek products and “our product had to stand out.” By the time he took over, sales for Trek cards had dropped drastically and all that was left was the core collectors. To entice collectors and fans into collecting, Charendoff created The Original Series Seasons One, Two and Three card sets. There had been no card set since 1976 that featured the TOS series (setting aside the gaming cards). He created sets with a limited release and each box was individually numbered.
Charendoff admits to being a great fan of the Original Series and for several months ate, slept and dreamt TOS in an effort to produce the most comprehensive, exciting and visually stunning Trek set to date. Well over 7000 images were examined in an effort to find THE shots to use. In total, over 1500 images were used in this three series card set, and though some were standard images, many had never been used before and truly enhanced the overall quality of this set. FS had all the original reels duplicated which enabled Charendoff to select these high quality images.
The biggest change that Charendoff implemented was the insertion of one autograph card per box which caused a collecting frenzy. For TOS I alone, collectors were looking at spending in excess of $2000 per set. Overall, there were 85 different auto cards across all three series. Charendoff reports that all actors who signed for the product were thrilled to be a part of it, were cooperative and did what had to be done to get the cards signed. Charendoff was terribly impressed by William Campbell, who he said is the nicest person you could meet. Campbell helped track down several actors and encouraged them to work with SkyBox. Among the other actors who were especially cooperative and enjoyable to work with on a personal basis were George Takei, Walter Koenig, Majel Barrett, Grace Lee Whitney, Clint Howard, Sherry Jackson, Barbara Luna, Arlene Martel, Tyge Andrews, Lee Delano, John Winston and Yvonne Craig, as well as series producer Bob Justman and writer Dorothy Fontana.
Steve Charendoff left SkyBox in January of 1999. In looking back at his tenure at SkyBox he summed it up this way “Working on Star Trek has been a great labor of love for me. I always loved the original, watched it as a kid in the ’70s after school, and vividly remember collecting the 1976 Topps set and 1979 movie set. Among all the entertainment properties we had at Fleer/SkyBox during my time there, I always thought I could make more out of the Trek cards than anyone else had up to that point. I really love the subject matter (and sci-fi in general), and as a collector, there were a number of ideas which I wanted to try out specifically with Star Trek. The autographs were of course at the top of the list, and I was ever so glad that the idea was so well received. My M.O. in making cards, especially Trek cards, is that I want to be able to go to a show a year from now, 5 years, 10 years, whenever, and see my products in dealers’ display cases and be able to say proudly that that was mine. I love seeing people collecting my products, and I love seeing high values for the cards in the price guides. I’ve never thought of this as just a business like selling insurance. I look at this from the standpoint that I have been a collector since I was a little kid and will continue to be a collector until the very end. As a result, I push myself a little harder than some of my colleagues, and I give the details of each project a lot of thought. Anyone can come up with a basic concept for any set of cards, but to really make it work well is very difficult. Photo selection, editorial content, unique features, autographs, etc., are all key elements that most marketers pay little attention to. Look at the detail in the TOS card sets. Those sets established a very high standard of excellence, even without the autographs. I just figured if I had the luck as a collector and fan of this show, whatever I did had to be spectacular. I just didn’t want to have any regrets later that there was something I could have or should have done better.”
TOS Season One
|Base Set-90||C Logs-58||2:1|
|Winning Letter card (I)||1:11520|
The full TOS set created by SkyBox is actually made up of three card sets released in 1997, 1998 and 1999. This detailed overall coverage of the Original Series comprised of a common set, a Character Log set, a Behind the Scenes set, a gold plaque set and a Profiles set. Each set includes a series of autographs of cast and guest stars from that season. Each of the three series had a few unique cards, which will be discussed in their individual chapters.
The common sets focused on the episodes, the Character logs on the characters. Both these sets and much of the chase cards use both a normal numbering scheme and an alternate episode numbering scheme. A 9-card pocket arrangement allows for all the common, Character log, BTS, Profiles and Gold Plaque cards to be displayed on one page. Over 1500 images were used in this three series card set, and though some were standard images, many had never been seen before by collectors.
The ratios of many of the cards were decreased prior to the release of the set, lessening collector’s worries a bit about completing these larger than usual (for the time) insert sets.
TOS was sold out within days of it’s release and was considered a smashing success. This series can be looked at as the turning point for both dealers and collectors. Dealers more often bought in bulk, looking for the *good* cards. Collectors could no longer buy a box and hope to easily complete a set. A set now required several boxes and sometimes a case to complete. The end result, however, was a binder filled with amazing pieces of cardboard. As of 2003, boxes are rare and can fetch quite a price.
- There were several large low-end chase cards in this set. The Behind the scene cards were written by DC Fontana and Robert Justman and allowed them to express their memories and thoughts on various episodes.
- The Profiles set emphasized main crew and guest stars featured in the particular episodes.
- There was one gold plaque card for each episode. The front had the episode’s title and the back had a cast list. Cards G6 and G11 are hard to find, though it is unknown for sure why.
Each gold card in the set appears once on the uncut sheet (G16 appears twice) and Charendoff wasn’t aware of any reason for the cards to be inserted less often.
- One new card created by Charendoff was the Spell-to Win subset. A series of letter cards, collectors were encouraged to spell the phrase ‘Star Trek autograph series’ and win a full set of autographs.There were only 50 copies of the I card, each with a unique code on it and multiple copies of all the other letters. When redeemed, the collector received not only the full set, but a voided version of the I card in return. Initially it was assumed this voided card was also limited to 50 and only given out to the redeemers of the I card, but by the time Season Three came out, SkyBox issued this press release:
Fleer/SkyBox Warns of High-Priced “Voided” Star Trek Cards Mt. Laurel, NJ . Fleer/SkyBox Product Director Steve Dubin released the following statement today regarding “voided” versions of limited edition trading cards: “In recently released SkyBox Star Trek sets, collectors and fans were given an opportunity to win a complete set of autographed cards from the set by completing the Autograph Game Challenge. To win the Autograph Game Challenge, fans had to spell a specific phrase using special letter cards in the set. In an effort to help all collectors complete their Autograph Game Challenge, SkyBox produced “voided” versions of the short-printed, limited edition cards. It has been brought to Management’s attention that these “voided” cards are being offered for sale by some retailers at high prices. These cards were distributed free of charge by SkyBox to collectors and dealers who inquired about completing their sets and were not produced as limited edition or short-printed cards. Collectors should be aware of this before purchasing any “voided” versions of short-printed Autograph Game Challenge cards.”
- First Contact had one autograph card, DS9 Profiles had three. TOS Season One had 26 main cast members and guest stars from the first season. Names such as Ricardo Montalbahn, William Shatner and Joan Collins are just a few of the names that can be found in this set. Certain autograph cards were called short runs, and were limited to about 400 (in packs). The rest of the autos were limited to about 800 (in packs) Shatner, Barrett and Collins are the short prints for this set. Prices for Shatner, Barret and Collins got remarkably high for awhile. Though prices have come down some, especially for the more common autos, it is still a pricey set to complete.
Sherry Jackson was a late addition to the signers list. SkyBox had been unable to locate her, but an actor who had been approached to sign an autograph ran into her in the streets and encouraged her to call SkyBox and she did!
Variations in the color of pens pop up now and again through this card series. Though the actors were provided with pens, they occasionally used other colors.
- For TOS I, James Doohan used blue, black and green pens, the green smeared badly, and it is unlikely many, if any, made it into packs.
- Ricardo Montalbahn signed in blue and black ink.
- Barbara Anderson signed her married name, Burnett, to at least one A7 autograph card.
- Two promo cards are available, one with a 10/97 release date and one with a 12/97 release date. There are several other differences in the text on back.
- Sell Sheet-2 variations
- BTS insert set error cards. The cards had the right fronts, but the backs were from a Rookie Baseball set. It isn’t clear how many were produced this way. Its possible one back sheet was left in the machine and therefore only one sheet is in error, but that is unverified.
- Extra thick cards, about 50-60% thicker than the regular card size.
TOS Season Two
|Base Set-81||C Logs-52||2:1|
|Winning Letter card (V)||1:14400||Mirror Cards-7||1:720|
This second set of the series came out in June of 1998. It covered Season II with the same basic format of common and Character Log set and uses 500 remastered photos. The backs are written by noted Star Trek authority Allan Asherman. It continues the two numbering system for collectors who wish to sort their cards by episode. The production run was increased for this set, up to 22,000 boxes from 16,000. Sealed boxes were easier to come by years later, when compared to TOS Season One.
- This set included BTS, Profiles and Gold Plaque cards similar in style to TOS I.
- The contest slogan for TOS II was Live Long and Prosper and V was the rare card. 50 V cards were inserted (with a hand written code and a SkyBox embossed seal into packs.)
- A voided version of the card was sent to the winners along with the complete autograph set.
- This set also has a series of cards called Mirror cards. Limited to 200 each, this set of 7 cards was printed on a highly reflective surface. One sided shows the main bridge crew, the other side shows their alter ego from the episode “Mirror, Mirror”. Each card is numbered as 1 of 200.
- 32 autographs rounded out this set. No specific print runs exist for the autographs for this set, but it was reported that short runs include DeForest Kelly and William Shatner. Majel Barrett was not as limited as the last time, but still more rare then the ’common’ autos. Doohan is the rarest of the remaining bridge crew. Teri Garr is considered a *common* autograph, but is reported to be more rare then the rest.
- James Doohan’s A32 comes in black (thick and thin) and blue ink. It also was signed in green, but it smeared and SkyBox doesn’t know if any actually went into packs.
- William Marshall signed some of his cards “Dr. Daystrom”, but Charendoff doesn’t think too many, if any, made it into packs. William Marshall has versions where he signs on one line and two lines.
- Tasha Martel signed half her cards “Tasha” and half “Arlene”, at the suggestion of Steve Charendoff.
- Anthony Caruso, A52, has a one line and two line variation.
- Teri Garr, A58, has a thick and thin pen versions.
- One unnumbered promo card for this set sent to dealers for general distribution.
- 2-page Sell Sheet
- Autograph Sell Sheet
TOS Season Three
|Base Set-75||C Logs-48||2:1|
|Winning Letter card (C)||1:18000||Captain Card-1||1:720|
TOS Season III was released in February, 1999. It featured all episodes from the third season. This set was a sell out well before the release date. Collector anticipation was high because of the inclusion of an autograph card of Leonard Nimoy. The basic breakdown of this set is similar to TOS I and II and as before, the images selected come from the master reels, allowing SkyBox to offer many new scenes. Management requested another production run increase, up to 23,000, which kept prices down on most inserts and common autographs. There were a couple short printed cards; 179, 193, 208, 224, 237. One collector notes he found these cards in packs that did NOT have a chase card in the pack. Charendoff said, “Here is the answer to the mystery of the short-printed” 5 cards from TOS 3. These cards were actually double printed. The basic card set is 75 cards and the sheet size is 80 cards, so 5 were double printed. The problem is that the company which packages Fleer’s cards screwed up and did not feed the various stacks of cards properly. Collectors are entitled to a complete set of the basic cards, so there is no reason why Fleer’s collector support dept. shouldn’t make good on these cards to anyone who calls. After all, they are only basic cards, not chase cards, so it would be much more trouble than its worth for anyone to complain about this problem if they weren’t actually having a problem. The cost of a phone call would exceed the cost of the 5 cards. Several people have asked me about this problem, and since it was my project, I felt compelled to get some answers. I can assure everyone, though, that this glitch was purely accidental. Nobody plans for this sort of thing. ”
- Behind the Scenes cards written by Robert Justman and Charles Washburn
- Character biographical Profile insert cards
- Gold Plaque cast and credit cards.
- The Captain’s Card first appears in this set and is one of a series of four cards spread throughout 4 different card sets. This card features Captain Kirk and cards are, according to SkyBox “printed and foil stamped on plastic, giving them a striking multi-layered effect”. They are hand numbered x/1200. At the time of Voyager Profiles release, some unnumbered cards showed up on the secondary market. SkyBox reports that all 4 Captain’s cards were printed at the same time and the printer put all 4 cards into the master sets used by SkyBox for internal and external use (such as gifts or promotionals). Some of the uncut sheets were also discovered. Later, SkyBox went back and reprinted the three cards since they felt the color was too dark. So, as the reprints are brighter and more colorful, it is possible to tell the difference between the first run Kirk, Picard or Sisko and the reprinted ones in terms of the print quality.
- The autograph challenge contest slogan was the phrase “Space the Final Frontier” C was the card limited to 50 and won the bearer a complete set of autographs and a voided C card.
- There were 27 autographs in this set. Two of the cards, Yvonne Craig and Frank Gorshin attracted the attention of the Batman fans. Leonard Nimoy signed about 800-1000 cards. He signed as many cards as Shatner and Kelley, but since his cards all showed up in one series, it appears more common.
- A72 Michael Ansara – Black Ink, both Blue and Black in one or two lines.
- A74 Barbara Babcock – Black Ink, Green Ink, Blue ink
- A81 Charles Napier – Black Ink and Black Ball Point
- Yvonne Craig signed using her married name, Yvonne Craig-Aldrich, on an unknown number of cards. Steve Charendoff confirmed this and the card is seen on the TOS III box.
- One general release promo card.
- Sell Sheet
Thus ends SkyBox’s TOS Season mega collection! Though the series turned the collecting world on it’s ear and changed forever how much we spend on sets or how many holes we find we are willing to accept, the sets are a beautiful tribute the TOS series. The images are wonderful and many capture the spirit of the series and the characters. Each pack causes a brief catching of the breath, what jewels lay within? Those lucky enough to complete this set will have something to be proud of (and a whimpering bank account!) Many years later, RIttenhouse Archives would revive this successful card set in many of their sets, utilizing the autograph style and some of the insert cards in their TOS sets.