The Outer Limits of Card Collecting!

by Kurt Kuersteiner ©2002 Monsterwax Monster Trading Cards for The Wrapper Magazine

Outer Limits Rittenhouse

There is nothing wrong with your Wrapper magazine. Do not attempt to adjust your glasses. We control the presses. We can make the letters LARGE, or we can shrink them down to legal disclaimer size. We can print something interesting, or we can write about sports cards. For the next five minutes, sit quietly and we will control all that you read and think. You are about to embark on a great adventure. You are about to experience the awe and mystery that reaches from the inner mind to the Outer Limits of trading cards!

Okay, maybe it's not as dramatic as all that, but the new series of Outer Limits cards by Rittenhouse Archives is definitely worthy of attention. Rittenhouse is currently the best company to produce high quality stills from video grabs. While everyone else resorts to grainy images, Rittenhouse manages to make them look like actual photographs. When dealing with old TV shows, such technology determines the difference between a lack luster set and something really nice. Rittenhouse also does an excellent job on writing about the series. These guys seem to enjoy their work and it shows.

And little wonder. Outer Limits was one of the most entertaining science fiction shows of the 1960s. It still holds up well today. The series earned good ratings until programmers at ABC moved its time slot from Monday to Saturday and placed it against the unbeatable Jackie Gleason Show. There were 49 episodes made. About a third of them were average, a third of them not so good, and a third of them amazing to behold. Two of them were written by Harlan Ellison (Demon with a Glass Hand and Soldier), and both won Hugo Awards. Outer Limits is remembered for devoting a full hour to each episode, using dark creepy lighting, clever writing and creating the most frightening monsters seen on TV up until that time. Some say it was the scariest show on TV. Try watching The Invisables late at night and you'll see what they mean!

The creatures were called "bears" by the producer. His name was Joseph Stefano and he knew a thing or two about how to scare people. His credits include writing the screenplay to Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho. Stefano insisted each episode include a bear and budgeted ample money to create good ones. He resigned from the series after the show was moved in the second season and Ben Brady took over. Brady's season featured less monsters and more science fiction. Some great episodes were from the second season and didn't have monsters at all. Soldier, Demon with a Glass Hand, and Cold Hands Warm Heart are prime examples.

When Topps did an Outer Limits set in the 1960s, it was one of Non-sport's best series. They colored images from the TV show and made up fake stories to go along with images. They were corny tales to be sure, but fun. When they attempted a more serious follow up series in the late 1990s, it was a disappoint-ment. All the good photos had been used up in the earlier series, and the left overs were not that interesting to look at. They also mixed in lots of behind the scenes cards and photos of props, as well as 23 cards about the recent Outer Limits TV show. It seemed cluttered with filler cards.

Rittenhouse has a few filler cards of their own. In my humble opinion, they could have done without two of the chase card sets. Neither of the nine Stars of the Outer Limits (1:4 packs) or Strange But True cards (1: 8 packs) have any text to speak of, and are similar to images of the cast and creatures we saw in the base set. The 9 Beyond the Outer Limits cards (1:20 packs) are more justified. They feature interesting details about special effects used on the show. (All the photos in this set are black and white, as was the show.)

Rittenhouse certainly don't skimp on the autograph cards. This series features not one, not two, but THREE autographs per box. There are a total of 20 to collect. Since 6,000 boxes were produced, that's a grand total of 18,000 autographs--an average of 900 sig-natures per cast member. Some probably signed more and less than others. Either way, it's a lot signing!

Here's the autograph checklist:

#A01 Adam West in "The Invisible Enemy" as Major Charles "Lucky" Merritt.

#A02 Robert Culp in "Demon with a Glass Hand" as Mr. Trent.

#A03 Leonard Nimoy in "I Robot" as Judson Ellis.

#A04 William Shatner in "Cold Hands, Warm Heart" as Brigadier General Jefferson Barton.

#A05 James B. Sikking in "Cold Hands, Warm Heart" as The Botanist.

#A06 Lawrence Montaigne in "Cold Hands, Warm Heart" as the Engineer.

#A07 Michael Constantine in "Counterweight" as Joe Dix.

#A08 Ed Asner in "It Crawled Out of the Woodwork" as Detective Sgt. Thomas Siroleo.

#A09 Michael Forest in "It Crawled Out of the Woodwork" as Professor Stuart Peters.

#A10 Don Gordon in "Second Chance" as Captain Dave Crowell.

#A11 Cliff Robertson in "The Galaxy Being" as Allan Maxwell.

#A12 Jacqueline Scott in "The Galaxy Being" as Carol Maxwell.

#A13 Philip Pine in "The Hundred Days of the Dragon" as Theodore Pearson.

#A14 David McCallum in "The Sixth Finger" as Gwyllm Griffiths.

# A15 Jill Haworth in "The Sixth Finger" as Cathy Evans.

#A16 Peter Mark Richman in "The Borderland" as Ian Frazier.

#A17 Joe Stefano, Series Producer of The Outer Limits.

#A18 Harlan Ellison (Writer of "Demon with the Glass Hand" and other science fiction classics.)

#A19 BarBara Luna in "It Crawled Out of the Woodwork" as Gaby Christian. (Exclusive Case Topper.)

#A20 Arlene Martel in "Demon with a Glass Hand" as Consuela Biros. (An exclusive Binder Autograph.)

Three autographs per box is certainly generous. Not so generous is the $45 binder. If you're a completest, you pretty much have to buy it because it's the only source for the #A20 autograph, the BP1 promo card, and the N1 Narration card. ("We control your wallet, and WE control your card collecting...")

The autograph list also reveals the eight episodes profiled in this set, except for The Hundred Days of the Dragon, which wasn't in this set. Why that card or the Stars of card for Counterweight and Strange But True card for The Duplicate Man were included is rather strange. Strange AND weird. But hey, maybe that's the mystery they promised us in the opening narration? Another odd detail: The checklist card is inserted only 1 per 10 packs. Since it has its own number (C1), it's not usually included if purchased from the dealers as a set.

Overall, however, one has to appreciate the high quality images and superior craftsmanship that went into this series. If you're an Outer Limits fan, you'd have to be outer-yer-mind not to at least get the base set. If Rittenhouse profiles 8 to 9 episodes in each series, we can expect about six more releases. One cannot predict if the average collector's interest will hold out that long, but I expect mine will. Outer Limits was an exceptional show and this card set does it justice.

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