Star Wars: Galactic Files – Bringing the Trading Back to Trading Cards, Part 1

David Waldeck | October 16, 2012

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Concept and Tradability

Sketch cards, Autographs, Relic Cards, and Parallels are all very fun, collectible and exciting, but what about the base cards? You know, the cards that comprise the vast majority of any given series? They are the meat of the pack in all card products. They are the cards that occupy most of the time, energy, and creativity that it takes to build these products. In the past, base cards were nearly always enough. Unfortunately though, modern competition has diminished their greatness and their novelty. Cable TV, DVD, Blu-ray, downloads, and the mighty Internet have challenged trading cards as king of movie freeze-frame, take-it-with-you splendor. So we needed to take this beyond what you’re getting from those digital wonders. This base set needs to be something special and should feel important. Not only should it be informative, but it should possess some interactivity between cards and it needs tradability.

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One of the most enjoyable aspects of collecting cards has always been trading. The bargaining, the bartering, and the compromise needed to acquire that card you just needed to have. It’s the question of: Was Don Mattingly worth a Lenny Dykstra and an Alvaro Espioza? But, more importantly it can now become will Darth Vader be worth a Greedo and a Plo Koon? Only through modern Star Wars cards trades can we ever really know. The status quo size for a normal entertainment-based card set from Topps finds the base set landing at a range of 55-120 cards. It’s this size that make our standard fare nice, neat, and easy to collect. With Galactic Files, though, we not only wished to reach beyond that range, but to destroy it. We wanted to give fans and collectors a reason to trade their cards again.

Late in 2011, with that in mind we set out to construct a series of Star Wars cards unlike any we had done before. We knew it had to be huge, it had to be comprehensive, it definitely had to be tradable and it had to be awesome. But where do we go from there. Ideas were thrown about, some fleshed out, some canned. We sent a couple to Lucasfilm early on and they sent them right back to us. So we were stuck…for a day or two.

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The idea of this massive “who’s who” set of the Star Wars galaxy had been ruminating for quite a long time. You see my personal all-time favorite Trading Card series (non-Topps product, of course) is the first set of Marvel Universe.  I always wanted to have a Star Wars set that accomplished what that series did. It was an encyclopedic powerhouse that dug deep and housed a trove of useful knowledge, well-organized and exploding with incredible imagery. It was, of course still way too small for us.  We wanted big. Really big. Really, really big! We needed a number fitting of the vast reaches of the Galactic Empire. Coruscant, Corellia and even Taanab are all nice planets, but we wanted to go all the way to Tatooine with this one. Maybe even Ryloth! So we adapted the reference set concept and pushed the number up to 350. It’s big all right, but not impossible to collect. Plus on the 35th anniversary of A New Hope it seemed extremely serendipitous.

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With that, we set out to design and develop 350 cards, but our goal for an extra-large set had been met. As the release looms we’re hoping that fans embrace the enormity of Galactic Files and get to swapping. Starwarscards.net is a great resource for trading, we encourage collectors to explore that option before eBay. Local shops and card shows can also be good trade havens. Next, I’ll go into the design and development of Galactic Files. I’ll explore some process and other stuff to illustrate how the cards got to look the way they do and break down the information on the backs.

David Waldeck is a lifelong Star Wars fanatic channeling his obsession into Product Development for The Topps Company, Inc.

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