The history of Star Wars trading cards spans thirty-five years. That just so happens to be exactly how long the original Star Wars film has existed. In all that time, only one company has consistently been producing cards under the Star Wars brand from the beginning and that company is Topps, Inc. What started out as a five series set in 1977 has turned into over fifty sets throughout the history of the Star Wars franchise. Topps has created some of the most memorable and highly sought after Star Wars trading cards in the world and that is sure to continue as we usher in the latest offering from Topps with the Star Wars: Galactic Files series.
Whether you've been a fan since the beginning or perhaps you discovered Star Wars with the Prequels starting in 1999 or even The Clone Wars in 2008, trading cards have almost certainly crossed your path at one point or another. Even collectors that don't necessarily collect cards typically have a few sitting around somewhere. Over the years, we've seen cards show up in places like magazines, cereal boxes and even packed in with exclusive action figures. This has been both fun and frustrating. Fun for those who collect everything and frustrating to those that may only be making the purchase for the card itself, but it's the perfect marketing tactic for sure. It helps move product and allows collectors to trade or sell what they don't need for their own collection.
I feel like the term "trading card" has been somewhat misused for many years when collectors are able to complete their base sets with the purchase of a single box of cards. With this new set, perhaps we'll see a resurgence of the "trading" aspect back in card collecting. Remember the StarWarsShop.com exclusive Star Wars Holiday Special cards from 2008? That was an extremely difficult set to put together given how random the distribution was. Especially if you were like me and placed an embarrassingly large amount of orders trying to get as many different cards as possible only to receive the same card about twenty times! Heavy trading came into play when trying to put that set together. Granted, it was only an eleven card series, but the difficulty that collectors had tracking them all down was the reason they became so collectible.
Star Wars: Galactic Files Promo cards were given out at Star Wars Celebration VI in Orlando, FL to ramp up the excitement of the forthcoming set.
After Topps created the incredible Star Wars: 30th Anniversary 120 base card set in 2007 (on which I spent thousands of dollars buying up cases to try and pull rare autographs), I wondered how it might be outdone and what it would take to do so. The answer lies within 2012's Star Wars: Galactic Files. This is the largest and most comprehensive Star Wars set ever produced weighing in at an astonishing 350 base cards. What would have to be included to make up such a big collection of cards and what would drive Topps to do it? I knew that I would have to go straight to the top to find out, so I sat down with Art Director and Editor for the Topps Company, Mr. David Waldeck, to pick his brain about the new Galactic Files set, his career, his thoughts on the Star Wars franchise and the future of Star Wars trading cards.
Chris Wyman: How long have you been with Topps?
David Waldeck: I have been with Topps for 8 years.
CW: What is your favorite Star Wars film?
DW: The Empire Strikes Back is not only my favorite Star Wars film, but my favorite film of all time. I have been on a huge Return of the Jedi kick lately though.
CW: What other sets have you worked on previously?
DW: I have worked on every Topps Star Wars set since 30th Anniversary. It's quite a few at this point. Star Wars 30th Anniversary, The Clone Wars 2008, The Clone Wars Widevision, The Clone Wars: Rise of the Bounty Hunters, The Clone Wars: Trading Card Stickers, The Empire Strikes Back 3D, Star Wars Galaxy 4, 5, 6 and 7, Star Wars Classic Dog Tags, The Clone Wars Dog Tags, Star Wars Power Plates, Clone Wars Adventures and of course Galactic Files.
CW: How long did the Galactic Files set take to create from concept to printing?
DW: I would say it was 10 or 11 very intensive months from start to finish. We went through a few different concepts and angles before Galactic Files as it is now really entered development.
CW: What is one thing that collectors might be surprised to learn about the Galactic Files set that isn't part of the official announcement?
DW: There are some neat little easter eggs in the set, but we're going to leave those alone. They're not too crazy, but it'll be fun for fans and collectors to unearth themselves.
CW: Do you have a favorite card or cards from the set that you'd like to share?
DW: I really love the way the character cards turned out, both design and content. I think the thematic inserts also came out really great.
CW: When you think about thirty-five years of Star Wars, what's the first thing that comes to your mind?
DW: The films. Despite Star Wars' effect on culture, despite the licensing, toys, shirts, mugs, trading cards, slippers, fruit snacks, spatulas, ice trays and underpants. For me it always comes back to the films.
CW: Ultimately, what was the reason for a 350 card base set?
DW: There were a few. We wanted to forge some new ground. A large Star Wars set had never been done and it seemed like it was a good time to give it a shot, build something comprehensive. Another thing was we are in the business of making trading cards, but it feels like nobody actually trades them anymore, so we felt it would be fun to create a situation that gives our fans and collectors an opportunity to interact and well…trade. Finally, there is so much emphasis nowadays on the hits, we're hoping with this larger set, that the base cards themselves have a little bit more value, not just monetarily, but as entertainment. When we'd open packs of baseball cards as kids it seems like there was always something new inside.
CW: Other than the sheer size, what are some things that set the Galactic Files collection apart from previous releases over the last thirty-five years?
DW: We've begun outlining relative themes as they relate to the Star Wars saga, linking them to characters. We've outlined skills and powers on card backs as well as providing a list of links on each character card that points the collector to other cards that relate. It is much more thought out than anything we've ever done. Everything fits together.
CW: If you include all the promos, inserts, autographs and any other exclusives, what is the total number of cards that a collector wanting to put together a complete set would be looking to obtain?
DW: Without autographs, patches there are 417 cards. If you add those in, there are 463.
CW: Can you explain why you went with the 24 pt. card stock thickness and the benefits it offers to collectors?
DW: We wanted to really drive home the deluxe nature of this set. Let people know how much love and devotion went into it, and really help them feel like they're getting their money's worth.
CW: Because this set represents thirty-five years of the original Star Wars film, is A New Hope more prominently featured than the other films or are they all featured equally?
DW: All pretty equal. There is an insert set that's entirely Original Trilogy, other than that, the balance is dictated by the themes we chose.
CW: What's next for Topps and Star Wars?
DW: We're working on a second Galactic Files already. We've got some more Galaxy in the works, but it's totally different than how we've done those Galaxy sets in the past. There's a new set for 2013 built off of Return of the Jedi. A bunch more fun stuff too.
I opened up a sealed hobby box of these cards and with the help of my fiancé and a friend, we got through them in about twenty minutes. The challenge was to see which one of us would pull the Harrison Ford autograph. A game which, believe it or not, we all lost.
Inside the box and on top of the individual packs is a folded poster with the Galactic Files logo art on one side and a complete checklist printed on the reverse side.
I was immediately impressed by the thickness of each card which is a result of the 24 pt. card stock mentioned above. Simply put, these are some really high quality cards. The design for the base set is pleasing to the eye and the colors match up wonderfully with each character, beast or ship.
It was nice to see such a wide range of characters and ships all mixed in together. In a single pack, I was seeing everything from a Clone Trooper & Grand Admiral Thrawn to Luke Skywalker & Asajj Ventress with vehicles and beasts mixed in and the occasional insert.
The back of each character card features a wealth of information that includes which film or films the subject is featured in and a chart that specifies Force Power, Intelligence, Diplomacy, Strength, Speed & Fighting Ability. There is also a paragraph with background information and a list of other character cards that are linked to that specific character.
The box included a pretty darn good sketch card likeness of Jek Porkins. It's really the luck of the draw, literally, when it comes to getting a nice sketch card. Some are quick one minute sketches while others have obviously had some serious time and effort put into their creation and this one leans way towards a higher end sketch card.
I also pulled a Michonne Bourriague (Aurra Sing) autograph card which is one of the more common autographs for this particular set.
One of the things that makes this set a must have is the images that Topps chose to use for each character. While some have the classic images we've come to know and love, many feature rare images that aren't used very often. Some of the angles and the lighting create real treasures and will vastly increase the amount of time spent flipping through a binder full of these cards.
350 Base cards featuring Characters, Vehicles, Creatures and Factions
Duels of Fate: 10 cards explore the most intense Lightsaber duels from the movies. 1:6 packs.
“I Have a Bad Feeling About This”: 8 cards document each time this famous phrase is uttered throughout the theatrical saga. 1:4 packs.
Classic Lines: 10 cards capture the most memorable quotes from the films. 1:4 packs.
Heroes on Both Sides: 10 cards feature key battles with the winner on the front side and the loser on the back.
Battle of Naboo
Standoff on Kamino
Battle of Geonosis
Battle of Coruscant
Battle of Kashyyyk
Invasion of Utapau
Capturing the Tantive IV
Battle of Yavin
Battle of Hoth
Battle of Endor
Galactic Moments Foil Cards: 20 cards unveil rarely seen beautiful black and white photos from the Star Wars set.
Han vs. Greedo
Princess and the Plans
Defense of the Death Star
Destruction of Alderaan
Luke's Lack of Vision
Duel to the Truth
Entertaining the Emperor
Assembling the Bounty Hunters
A Pensive Prisoner
The Luring of Skywalker
Tracking the Invasion
You must learn the ways of The Force!
The Rancor Outrage
A Well Earned Victory
Luke sells his Landspeeder
You were in the Rebellion!?
Autograph Cards (1 autograph OR patch per box):
This set features a fantastic autograph line up with stars like Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and James Earl Jones, but let's not forget the late great Irvin Kershner whom we lost at the end of 2010. It was an incredibly welcome surprise to see his name on the series and of course, no Star Wars trading card set would be complete without the likes of Peter Mayhew, Jeremy Bulloch & Ray Park.
Full autograph list:
James Earl Jones
Embroidered Patch Cards (1 patch OR autograph per box)
Grand Moff Tarkin
John D. Branon
Hobby Exclusive Sketch Cards (1 per box)
3 levels of Rare Sequentially-Numbered Base Card Parallels:
Blue (350 per subject)
Red (35 per subject)
One of the easter eggs that David may have been referring to is variant cards randomly inserted into packs. Examples that I've seen include core characters in both movie and studio shots. Another fun addition to add a bit more challenge in putting a truly complete set together.
If this giant set isn't enough for you, Topps is offering a very cool Deluxe Print Plate Box-Set limited to just 350 boxes which includes 24 character cards not available in the regular run, a set of 4 printing plates from one of the Galactic Files cards and a super deluxe foil-stamped faux leather case for $499 only available through www.ShopTopps.com.
Topps is also releasing an official Galactic Files binder perfect for storing your cards in.
For card collectors, it's a refreshing thought to know that the biggest Star Wars set ever has just been released and Topps is already hard at work on the next one. How do you follow up the biggest set in the history of the franchise? I guess we'll have to wait for the next round of Galactic Files to find out.