X-files & the Mummy Return!
By Kurt Kuersteiner (© 2001 Monsterwax Monster Trading Cards) for The Wrapper Magazine


Two sets that collectors have been eagerly awaiting have just been released by Inkworks. They are The Mummy Returns and X-files Seasons 4 & 5. So let's pull back the shroud (and peel off the bandages) to sneak a peak at this gruesome twosome.

First on the alien autopsy table is X-files Seasons 4 & 5. How Inkworks managed to wrestle the X-files license away from Topps is anyone's guess (the best guess being more money) but the result is a definite improvement. Topps padded out their previous sets with all sorts of psychedelic paintings (a mixture of photoshop images and art by Thom Ang, Cliff Nielsen, and sometimes Miran Kim). Another trick Topps used to fill out the set was using "behind the scenes" shots. Props, diagrams, stick figures, you name it. I'm sure I'm not the only one who prefers actual photo images to help jog my memory for episode guide sets, not some artsy-fartsy impressionistic collage of symbolic images. But the Inkworks set delivers where the Topps series fell short. Not only are the images from the actual episodes, but there is a second mini-photo on the front of half the cards, plus a third different photo on the back.

The only negative to these cards is that they are a little dark and a few are slightly grainy. However, regular viewers know that the TV show is rather dark, so it's fitting. The few that are grainy are not bad. The write ups on the back are good as well, and don't give away too much. Mixing two seasons together seems smart also. The padding so common in previous sets is noticeably missing (thank God). The first 45 cards outline the episodes. Cards 46 - 63 profile relevant characters and provide vivid portraits. Cards 64 - 81 profile the most popular monsters. Cards 82 - 89 are the obligatory "behind the scenes" cards. And of course, the checklist (#90).

Overall, this series is the best X-files card set yet, hands down. At least as far as the base set is concerned. Some of the chase cards go a bit overboard, but let's face it, if you feel you HAVE to buy all the chase cards in order to complete your set, that's really between you and your shrink (and perhaps, Bank Loan Officer). For those so inclined, here's the official chase list...

I Want To Believe- Three foil puzzle cards (1:11 packs).

Black Oil Cards- Six cards with a raised black border made to resemble oil. I kept waiting for my body heat to make the image disappear or something spectacular, but it didn't. The only special oil on these cards came from my hands, the remnants of left over pizza from lunch. (1:17 packs)

Pieceworks Cards- This is the current rage in the hobby. An actual piece of wardrobe from the show imbedded on a card. This series features a swath of Agent Mulder's moldy sweat shirt. I didn't find one, so I can't say whether or not they washed it first. Odds not provided.

Autograph Cards- Five different folks from the show signed. Chris Carter (Series Creator), Brendan Beiser (Agent Pendrell), Laurie Holden (Marita Covarrubias), Jerry Hardin (Deep Throat), and Bruce Harwood (Byers of Lone Gunman). Again, no odds given.

Special Promotional Cards- One in every display box and shipping case.

Death Cards- A three card series of army playing cards (used by the character Nathaniel Teager in the "Unrequited" episode, the one where he leaves similar cards to announce his future victims). No odds given.

This series retails at $3 per pack of nine cards (that's over .33 cents per card). There are only 24 packs per box. It features a holo-foil image on the top that looks rather neat, but many dealers are grumbling that the wholesale price is the same as a 36 pack box. Inkworks still guarantees one full set of base cards in each box.

Inkworks also plans to release X-files Seasons 6 & 7 this October, and Season 8 sometime in 2002. This could be the last season for X-files (Season 8). They're starting to run out of monsters. Actor David Duchovny (Mulder) is only appearing in a handful of episodes and it's pretty evident he wants to move on to greener pastures. Gillian Anderson (Scully) was once the resident skeptic, but now she seems to be the first one who suspects supernatural causes in every episode. The new second banana is Agent Doggett, played by Robert Patrick (the melting robot villain from Terminator 2). He now assumes the skeptic role. Meanwhile, The Lone Gunmen have gone out on their own in a spin off series that will probably go the way of Millennium (and get canceled within a couple of seasons). I enjoy the Lone Gunman gang as comic relief, but as a comedy series with no real horror or suspense (or laugh tract, for that matter), it drags after a while. The result could mean that millions of nerds leave their televisions on Friday night. My advice is to play it safe: Drive defensively that night and avoid any sci-fi theme restaurants or bars.

If you missed the 1999 remake of The Mummy movie, you should be buried alive with your vital organs removed. It was a wonderful blending of story line, special effects and suspense. I won't insult your intelligence by outlining the plot. They probably teach it in high school as a Cultural Diversity requirement. But the creepy twist in the remake was that the mummy gradually returned from the dead as he literally reconstructs himself organ by organ. (And you thought the chest exploding scene in Alien was gross.) The sequel appears to use even more elaborate special effects. It also features the WWF superstar, "The Rock." (And yes, he does his standard Mr. Spock imitation by raising one eye brow for the camera.)

The sequel hasn't been released at the time of writing, but this much about the plot is no longer "under wraps": It occurs in 1933, ten years after the first film took place. Rick O'Connell and Evelyn (the hero and heroine from last time) are now married and live in London with their 8 year old son. The mummy returns (hence, the catchy title) to threaten them and all mankind (again). Only this time, another ancient Egyptian force (The Rock, aka The Scorpion King) has also been unleashed, and the two clash for world supremacy... Sounds kinda stupid, I know, but so did the plot to the first movie and they pulled that one off. (So keep you arms crossed.)

The Mummy Returns set is also a return to Inkworks standard 36 pack product with a $2 per pack retail price. There are 81 cards in the set with several chase levels:

The Scorpion King- A nine card foil puzzle set featuring The Rock. (1:11 packs.)

Sands of Time- A six card set with sand textured borders. These cards highlight scenes from the first remake. (It's a piety no one did a set for that movie. Promos were made but most were destroyed.) (1:17 packs.)

Pieceworks Cards- Three different cards with pieces of wardrobe worn by the characters Evelyn and Ardeth Bey. (No odds provided.)

Autograph Cards- Seven cards with signatures from Brendan Fraser (Rick O'Connell), The Rock (Scorpion King), Arnold Vosloo (Imhotep), Oded Fehr (Ardeth Bey), John Hannah (Jonathan), Patricia Velasquez (Ancksunamun) and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Lock-nah).

Promos- A promo of The Scorpion King (The Rock) is packed in every box.

The set is overall clear and bright. There is a good smattering of special effects images, something that is usually missing in movie sets. In the cheesecake department, there are two gorgeous warrior princesses, far less butch and much more sexy than Xena can ever dream of being. In short, this set is also a winner. I doubt it will wind up in any museums, but I'm glad to add it to my crypt. It does a good job of getting one fired up to see the flick.

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