When Star Trek: The Motion Picture premiered on December 7, 1979, it was accompanied by one of the most-expansive marketing and merchandising campaigns of all time. From the very first movie-tie-in McDonald’s Happy Meal to the MEGO Corporation toy line, from Marvel Comics adaptations and comic book adventures to Topps trading cards, there were collectibles and memorabilia aplenty from a variety of companies and licensees.Companies were a bit more cautious by the time Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan warped into theaters and fewer memorabilia items were produced. For example, TWOK fans would have to wait more than a decade for any traditional action figures to be made. Playmates Toys in 1995 released 4” action figures of Khan and Saavik. Then, in 2007, Diamond Select Toys released an entire line of TWOK action figures. However, there was one collectible category was available for fans at the time of the film’s release: trading cards featuring TWOK’s greatest moments.Fantasy Trading Card Company’s owner Mark Macaluso was a respected, pioneering figure in modern trading card collecting. FTCC had built a reputation for making quality cards for sometimes niche lines, and the company sought and got the license to make Star Trek cards after The Motion Picture. FTCC held the license from 1982 until the late 1980s, and produced trading card sets for TWOK, The Search for Spock and The Voyage Home. Usually limited to about 350 boxes per movie set, these cards were available on or around the release dates of each film (1982, 1984 and 1987, respectively). A hallmark of the FTCC lines was their consistent use of an unusually spare design that really highlighted the image from the film. While most trading card companies obscured the image with colorful borders and logo designs, FTCC’s Star Trek cards all featured a simple white border that made each card feel like a mini-lobby card or production photograph. Interestingly, the TWOK set of 30 cards were produced oversized at 5×7. The set featured a mixture of publicity stills, some rare, like the wonderful image of DeForest Kelley on card #15 and cards with actual scenes from the movie. More like postcards, the size also helped the set give collectors a closer look at uniform designs, ship panels and technology than traditional trading cards. The Search for Spock set included 60 traditionally sized cards and a 20-card bonus set of ships for a total of 80 cards (plus two oversized 10×10 promotional cards). Some of the cards feature angles of scenes not used in the movie. Especially fascinating are the ship cards which sometimes feature images from the film, and other times feature detailed looks at the production models from various angles. The USS Enterprise, the Grissom, the Excelsior, the spacedock, the merchant ship destroyed by Kruge and the Klingon Bird of Prey are all featured.The last set produced by FTCC was released in 1987 for The Voyage Home. The cards featured a close-up look at the some of the incredible aliens glanced only briefly in the film, and even a card from a deleted scene of the film, where Christine Chapel escorts Sarek into the Federation Council chamber despite him not having an entry medallion. In the finished film, the audience only sees Sarek entering the chamber with Chapel from a distance.Although the merchandising of the Star Trek II-IV trilogy was not as expansive as the original 1979 film, there were many items available and the trading cards of FTCC are some of the most interesting because of their unique design, focus on highlighting the images of the film and the inclusion of some rare moments and production stills.
Maria Jose and John Tenuto are both sociology professors at the College of Lake County in Grayslake, Illinois, specializing in popular culture and subculture studies. The Tenutos have conducted extensive research on the history of Star Trek, and have presented at venues such as Creation Conventions and the St. Louis Science Center. They have written for the official Star Trek Magazine and their extensive collection of Star Trek items has been featured in SFX Magazine. Their theory about the “20-Year Nostalgia Cycle” and research on Star Trek fans has been featured on WGN News, BBC Radio, and in the documentary The Force Among Us. They recently researched all known paperwork from the making of the classic episode “Space Seed” and are excited to be sharing some previously unreported information about Khan’s first adventure with fellow fans. Contact the Tenutos at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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