Monday, August 18, 2008

Hammer Horror Official Trading Card Collection

Back in the 1990s I missed the boat with Cornerstone's set of four volumes of Hammer Horror trading cards which soon became collector’s items and are now mainly available through Ebay.

As such I was quite excited to hear that Hammer has teamed up with Strictly Ink to commission a new set of officially sanctioned Hammer Horror trading cards.

Strictly Ink are around since 1999 and have created a nice little niche for themselves by publishing a range of trading cards covering diverse areas such as the CSI Franchise, Dr Who, The New Avengers and 2000 AD.

The only thing that put a damper on my initial expectations was when I saw some of the reproductions on their official website. Let’s just say that the artist’s sketches left me seriously unimpressed, however, some comments on Yahoo’s Hammer discussion board convinced me that their actual base set was indeed superior to the cards they had advertised.

These trading cards are released in single packs of five that I seem to recall being sold individually in the likes of London’s Cinema Store. Most people, however, will probably avail of the offer to purchase at least one sealed box directly from the company’s website.

Each box contains 30 packs of 5 cards that will leave you with a guaranteed complete base set of collector cards 1-72. (Cards 71 and 72 actually constitute a check list of all the cards available.)

Doing the maths you will notice that with 150 cards sold in the box and a basic set only containing an initial 72 cards that this will leave you with a good number of duplicates. Of course, on top of the basic set a properly full collection of these cards would also constitute a handful of rarer special cards: 10 autographed cards by a predominantly female group of Hammer stars (Caroline Munro, Valerie Leon, Ingrid Pitt x 2, Jenny Hanley, David Prowse, Hazel Court, Madeline Smith, Veronica Carlson and Martine Beswicke), 9 foil cards of often rare publicity material as well as a number of even rarer hand drawn artist sketch cards.

It was these sketch cards that initially had me highly sceptical about this set as for the most part these look God awful and very amateurish, definitely not like a high class collector’s item you’d be dying to have in your possession.

I needn’t have worried, though, as these cards indeed only make up a fleetingly unimportant part of the set. In actual fact I find that Strictly Ink should have probably put more of an emphasis on their base cards in their advertising as opposed to these very special but dodgy looking sketch cards. The odds of finding one of these are one in every 2 or 3 boxes. (The odds of finding an autograph card were one per box and for the foil cards 1:12 packs.) For my own box I received an autographed card by Martine Beswicke as well as foil cards with promotional material for Hands of the Ripper, The Devil Rides Out, She and Scars of Dracula.

What is in the main set is a wonderful collection of often very rare photos covering the whole history of Hammer movies and stars. The pictures were compiled with the assistance of none other than Hammer historians extraordinaires Stephen Jones and Wayne Kinsey and cover the following areas: Early Science Fiction Thrills, Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, The Curse of Frankenstein, Dracula, Bloodsuckers & Other Monsters, Hammer Glamour and Behind the Screams (featuring production photos).

The reproduction of those cards is much superior than my inferior scans are suggesting. Overall this set of Hammer Trading Cards comes highly recommended and is anticipated to become a collector’s item over time. Some of Strictly Ink’s offers appear to already be sold out or down to the last few items, so I would recommend that anyone even remotely interested in this set get around to ordering soon before the only options left will be inflated prices on Ebay.

I notice that the Strictly Ink advertises this to be the “first in [a] series of incredible trading card collections exploring the horrific history of Hammer Films featuring many rare colour and black and white images”. I guess that means that the company will have some goodies in store for us Hammer fans. Definitely something to look forward to!

Now, where will I find the remaining autograph and foil cards for my set...?

No comments: