New Sets From DART

by Kurt Kuersteiner © 1998 Monsterwax Monster Trading Cards for The Wrapper Magazine

This has been a busy year for Dart Flipcards. Four new titles have been released so far. Two of them are "retro" sets (Gilligan's Island and The Munsters Series Two). The other two are based on recent TV imports from overseas (Mr. Bean and Sailor Moon Prismatic). All four products have relatively low production runs (only 300 cases of Gilligan's Island and The Munsters). They also sport multiple layers of chase cards. All four seem to have good breakdown of two sets per box (Dart guarantees at least one per box). There are other similarities as well. Let's check 'em out.

Sailor Moon is a series I know very little about, and I bet I'm not the only one. It's a show made in Japan and features an all Caucasian cartoon cast with really round eyes. Why do the Japanese avoid using Japanese characters in their cartoons? I dunno. Why do their characters have really BIG round eyes? One can only theorize: Do you remember those velvet posters from the seventies with cutesy puppies painted on them? They all had big sad eyes, usually with a tear coming out the corner? Perhaps that artist moved to Japan and taught animation in the 80s. (It's only a theory.)

But most young girls seem to know a lot about this show. Little wonder: All the heroes are young girls! They wear a special locket given to them by a talking cat that bestows certain powers. (I'd be content if my cat had the power to clean his own litter box.) Now the "Sailor Scouts" can control storms, throw power bubbles and fight the evil "Negaverse".

Many dealers are happy to see a set devoted to young girls and think it will help bring them into our hobby. Sailor Moon would seem to have what it takes to accomplish that. It's very colorful, the right subject matter, and all prismatic. The first series, which was not prismatic, sold completely out. It will be interesting to see what happens with this one.

The basic set is made up of 72 prismatic cards. There is also a six card lenticular chase set profiling each Sailor Scout plus Tuxedo Max (they change back and forth into their alter egos). The odds of finding the lenticular cards are 1:18 packs. The six card send-in set is twice the size of regular cards and feature various bad gals. These cards fit well in four pocket sleeves. It costs $9.95 and helps round out the set. (Not many of the other cards feature villains.) There is also a prismatic binder available from Dart for $19.95.

Another far out cosmic trading card character is Mr. Bean. He has no super powers except the ability to make you die laughing. I was unimpressed with all the Mr. Bean movie publicity until I finally saw a few of his TV shows. The man is definitely funny. There's no dialog and he appears ultra-nerdy. You could say he's a cross between Charlie Chaplin and Pee Wee Herman. We know little about him except that he's apparently "dropped off" by aliens.

The set follows a similar formula to the Sailor Moon series, but only the six card send-in set is prismatic. It's the same cost ($9.95) but regular card size. There's also a prismatic the binder for $19.95. The six card lenticular set has some of the best sight gags from the series. The odds of finding them are 1:18 packs. The basic set is funny too, but there's one problem that has to mentioned and it's present in various degrees in all these sets except Sailor Moon. That issue is the photograph quality. Many of these images appear somewhat fuzzy or grainy. This is because they are not really photographs but "video grabs". At least 18 cards in the basic set have this problem. Dart is not the only company to resort to video grabs. It's common for sets based on TV shows where there are not enough good publicity stills to choose from. Sometimes they're added to expand the set numerically and fuel pack sales. They often include the best scenes, but it's hard not to notice the lower quality image. The only series I know that successfully conquered this problem is Star Trek TOS. They re- mastered each video grab at great expense and the results look quite good. For the rest of the companies, however, perhaps it would be better to reduce the number of cards in the set if they can't clean up the images.

This same problem is even more common in the Gilligan's Island set. Over half the 72 card basic set looks grainy or fuzzy. On the plus side, collectors will appreciate the fact that none of the same images from the 1965 Topps card set are repeated. Fourteen of the cards in this otherwise full color set are black and white, and they are some of the best pictures in the series. The backs are full of fun trivia. For instance, did you know that Raquel Welch auditioned for the role of Mary Ann? Or that Carol O'Conner auditioned for Skipper's part? How history might have been changed if only...

The lenticular six card set is interesting and the odds of finding them are 1:18 packs. But it's the six card send-in set that's really striking in this series. Each features a funny prismatic photo from the "Lovey's Secret Admirer" episode where Mrs. Howell dreams she is Cinderella. (Again, the send-in set is $9.95 and the prismatic binder is $19.95.)

Fortunately, the grainy video grabs are very few and far between in The Munsters 2nd Series. (I only spotted ten, and most of those were subtle.) Twenty Two of this otherwise color set are black and white cards. But again, none of the pictures are duplicates from either the 1964 Leaf set or the original Dart set. The lenticular cards are fun and the odds of finding them are 1:18 packs. There's also a six card send-in set of prismatic cards ($9.95) which feature cartoon graphics from various TV promotions of the show. The binder is also prismatic ($19.95). This series has an added bonus of three different autograph cards. The cast members who signed are Al Lewis (Grandpa), Pat Priest (Marilyn) and Butch Patrick (Eddie). Odds of finding the autographs are 1:300 packs. They feature the same images as the lenticular cards, but without the 3-D flicker action. I'm not normally a big fan of "sequel sets", but The Munsters Series 2 is square head and bolted shoulders above most others!

So if you're into Sailor Moon, Mr. Bean, Gilligan's Island, or The Munsters, you'll have plenty of cosmic, comic and comedy cards to choose from this year with Dart!


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