Interview with a President 2003 Edition

In May 2003, Steve Charendoff, the President of Rittenhouse Archives was kind enough to sit down and update Star Trek card collectors on the company and Trek line.
Q. Rittenhouse started in 1999 and now, in your 4th year of business, how is it going?
A. It is going very well, thanks in large part to our Star Trek license, which has been the backbone of our product lineup for the past 4 years. We’ve grown each year we’ve been in business, and added many new and exciting licenses.
Q. Are you where you expected to be?
A. Hmmm….that’s difficult to say, only because I really did not have any specific expectations for where we would be at this time. In general, though, I guess I would have to say that I am pleased that we have come this far and that the universe of Star Trek collectors, in particular, have enthusiastically embraced our products. We are a company that really tries to cater to the hard-core collector and fan, and from that stand-point, I am most pleased by our accomplishments.
Q. When I last interviewed you, you were just past Women of Trek and moving into more standard sized trading cards. You quoted *bold plans*, *the like of which has rarely been seen*, did you manage to make most of those bold plans come true these last few years?
A. I think so. We’ve put out some really exciting products — much of which would never have been made if the license were still with Fleer/SkyBox. We’ve done some very cool things with the Original Series, Voyager, the Animated Series, the Nemesis movie, etc. And with the Complete DS9 coming out this summer, we will have really covered a lot of ground in a relatively short time. It’s been a lot of fun, but most importantly, Star Trek collectors have responded so favorably. That’s what makes this so worthwhile.
Q. What was your favorite insert set?
Hmmm….I’m quite partial to the Best of Bones from the TOS 35th anniversary set. I love the old “dammit, Jim….” quotes from Bones. I also like the Captain Proton autograph cards from our Voyager set, and the micro-cel cards from the Animated Series (mainly because there are so many variations).
Q. What was your least favorite or what one insert set didn’t *work* like you wanted it to?
A. That’s tough. I honestly can’t think of anything, which I realize sounds like a cop-out, but considering how much time we put into set composition, we generally feel pretty good about the end results. To be clear on this point, there have been times when we realized that we didn’t like something once we started to create the cards, but in those instances, we just scrap it and start again. We never let anything get made that we’re not proud of, and we don’t mind spending the extra money to ensure that we get the results we want. No other company goes farther than we do, or spends more than we do in building the kinds of products we make.
Q. Have you had any surprise hits? Something you weren’t sure people would take to or would just be a so-so card, that people just latched onto and LOVED?
A. Hmmmm…I think the 5×7 cards went over extremely well, much better than I originally anticipated. In hindsight, they really are beautiful cards. We should do more of them. I think I just talked myself into that.
Do you collect or is it like people who work at the pizza parlor and get tired of pizza?
A. In my past, I was a major collector, spent thousands per year on cards and memorabilia. I still collect certain things, particularly anything I make personally. I especially like oddball stuff. For example, I have some unusual uncut sheets of various products, not all of which are my own.
Q. If you do collect, what is your most prized Trek collectible?
A. I have a William Shatner tunic from the show’s first season. Very cool!
Q. What was been your most memorable moment working with the actors and/or Paramount?
A. Wow, great question. It’s always fun to come in direct contact with the actors, especially by email. What’s really great about all of them is how cool they all are. With few exceptions, they’re all down-to-earth people (which is really saying something, since they have spent so much time pretending to be in space!) who are really appreciative of the unique nature of the Star Trek phenomenon and the loyalty of the fans. Armin Shimerman, Bob Picardo, Garrett Wang, George Takei, Majel Barrett, et al — just a fabulous group.
Q. Can you comment on some of the sets put out since we last talked?
A. TOS 35th- In case it doesn’t show, I LOVE TOS, and anything we have done around it makes me happy. I was very pleased to be able to add so many people who had never before signed cards for me when I was at Fleer/SkyBox. I think it must have brought the total number of TOS card signers, including the Fleer/SkyBox sets and this set, to over 100 different actors. Very cool stuff.
Complete Voyager- I really loved working on this set. We used so many different photos, and the set was so different than anything that had ever been done before. I think there were close to 2,000 different photos in the set. I was disappointed that more collectors didn’t appreciate that effort. Seems they wanted fewer and bigger photos, which I can understand. Nevertheless, I thought of that set as one of the most challenging and satisfying efforts of my career. I’m sort of a completionist at heart (which is how I was as a collector), so this set enabled me to satisfy that urge.
Enterprise- What a treat it was to issue the first cards for a new Star Trek show. That was a first for me, despite all of the other sets I’ve made.
Nemesis- This was a very strong product for us, and the collectors and fans really liked it. I was surprised and disappointed that the movie itself did not garner better reviews and box office numbers. I really thought it was among the better Trek movies.
TAS- I loved this set. So much fun to put together. My favorite card is the one of Kirk and Spock with their arms together, as they are under an alien influence that makes all of the crew kind of “amorous” towards each other. Ever since seeing that episode, I’ve wondered what really would have happened between Kirk and Spock, if they had remained on that planet any longer…..!
Q. What is your opinion on the state of the are things like Ebay, Internet dealers affecting the future of trading cards?
A. Ebay is great — nothing like it. Although it can wreak some havoc on business at times, overall it’s had a very positive impact, and opened the entire world (literally) to fans and collectors for our cards.
Q. Have you had any oops and, if so, what did you take from the mistakes?
A. There are always mistakes we make, but generally they are not visible in terms of the finished product.
Q. What does Rittenhouse want from collectors?
A. Simply to keep supporting our efforts, assuming that they enjoy our cards.
Q. Are we (collectors) doing or not doing something you’d like to see go differently?
A. Sure, buy lots more cards!!! (Just kiddin’).
Q. What does the future hold for Trek cards in the next few years?
A. Too early to reveal these details, but we have some BOLD plans.