Star Wars Journey to the Force Awakens from Topps UK - A Collectors Guide
The UK set consists of 207 base cards, the first 144 cards show imagery and facts from the Original Trilogy and all share a common Red Border, Cards 1-47 are from “A New Hope” and distinguished with a Grey and Yellow Inner border, pretty much all the images are stock reprints from earlier series but are all first rate image quality and the reverse relate the story progression, relating to the front image. Cards 48-96 relate to “The Empire Strikes Back” and as before, a Red common blank border but with a Blue/Grey inner border, the reverse colouring is Blue background. Cards 97-145 are of course, related to “The Return of the Jedi” and have a Red Border but with a Green/Grey inner border and Green background on the reverse.
Cards 146 to 160 are billed as “The Force Awakens” and these are the apparent “sneak peak” cards. These, as before have Red Borders with Grey/Dark Red inner borders. Disappointingly, none if the images are from the film itself, unlike all prior cards in the set, but are just portraits of the major characters – Rey, Finn, Poe Dameron, Kylo Ren, Etc and while quite nice, don’t really provide any surprises, at least 6 of these cards’ images could have been pulled from any of the previous films.
The remainder of the cards are the “foil” cards, with cards 161 through to 191 are “Mirror” foiled cards with a shiny red border and metallic backgrounds to the images. 192 through to 207 are “Rainbow” Foil Cards with a Blue/Green metallic border. All the foil cards are character and ship images , with around 12 images relating to the upcoming film.
The last addition to the set and for some reason, details are not included on the set checklist, is that there are also Limited Edition Cards, which are essentially the same as the “Rainbow” foil cards, but the image on the left hand has “Limited Edition”. I believe there are 10 Limited edition cards, each a character card – Luke Skywalker(SA), Princess Leia (MB), Han Solo (MA), Chewbacca, Yoda, R2D2, Lando, Stormtrooper, Emperor & Boba Fett. These cards have a code rather than a number, although I am unsure what these codes designate!
In the UK, The Cards retail in packs of 8 with 1 Foil card per pack and an advised ratio of a 1x Rainbow in every third packet and one Limited Edition per 36 packets. The Packets retail at £1 each. Multipacks of 5 packets are produced but seem to be a rarity as of early October and I have yet to see these for sale, these retail at £5 per packet. Mini Tins retail at £5.99 and contain 24 basic cards and 1x Limited Edition card, the tins come in two different from designs.
A Starter Pack is available which consists of a Collectors Binder with 22 pages that accommodate 9 cards in each, the pack also includes a Limited Edition Luke Skywalker (SA), checklist cover and a poster showing all the cards in the collection. With a RRP of £4.99, is reasonably good value for money.
One big glaring point that needs to be made clear, and can cause a little confusion, is that Topps UK and Topps US have both issued sets with the title “Star Wars Journey to the Force Awakens” around the same time, but the only similarity appears to be the title and the inclusion of a dozen or so shared images.. The US version, does appear to be far superior to the UK version, very much styled on the original 1970’s cards, with autograph, sketch and patch cards and a very large variety of chase sets and what appears to be, a much wider array of images from “The Force Awakens”. Whilst this is somewhat disappointing, it is surely down to pure economics and the fact that there is a much greater collectors market for trading cards in the US, compared to here in UK/Europe. I would imagine the licensing of images from Lucasfilm/Disney may also be a factor. Still we here in the UK should be grateful for any new Star Wars Trading Card sets as other than the juvenile targeted Force Attax series, we have not had any UK releases for some time, whilst the US has had a huge range of different sets in recent years, which can be obtained in the UK, but only at a cost that makes it barely viable.
In summary, whilst it is always nice to see a new Star Wars Trading Card series on the shelves here in the UK, to the more cynical, it could appear that Topps UK are just cashing in on the huge Star Wars retail boom in the lead up to the hugely anticipated film release in December and who can really blame them? This set, although well produced, doesn’t really provide anything new and the marketing, whilst heavily promoting “The Force Awakens” imagery, delivers very little content related to this, while the vast majority is reimaging from the OTC films. The set reminds me more of the 1997 Merlin OTC Special Edition set, rather than the Topps Originals, which again is perhaps unsurprising, as Topps UK has it’s roots in the Merlin brand. The UK market has generally been poorly served by the Trading Card manufacturers but it’s not difficult to understand why. I am hoping that we may see a more interesting sets based purely on the “Force Awakens”, although we may only see a “Force Attax” version, which I would certainly bypass. Only time will tell!