Trek Artifacts : Skybox TOS Product Inserts
Welcome Back to Trek Artifacts!
For some reason Americans fell in love with the trading card all over again in the 1990s. Foil packs of cards based on every sport, comic book character, popular TV series, and blockbuster movie sold like gangbusters, particularly in the early part of the decade. To capitalize on the popularity of trading cards and on the resurgent popularity of Star Trek in all its forms, Skybox and Paramount initiated a number of cross-promotional campaigns no doubt geared to increase the sales of different products to a wider base of consumers. People who buy trading cards often also buy things like comics and magazines, but not necessarily toys or videos; likewise, the purchasers of VHS Star Trek episodes may not be buying the cards, toys, and comics. In order to encourage higher sales of a wider range of merchandise, special, “limited edition” Skybox cards began being inserted in different Star Trek products, both as a “bonus” to the consumer and as a way to promote the trading card product. Trading card collectors are often quite serious about completing sets and obtaining as many special, “limited edition” cards as they can–the more limited the print run and availability, the more valuable and sought after a card becomes–which no doubt was a factor in Paramount’s cross-promotion strategy.
In 1993 Paramount re-issued all the
Original Star Trek Episodes on VHS cassette with new packaging designs.
The first issue of the TOS episodes (issued in the 1980s) came in
black-bordered boxes with an image from the episode inside a transporter
graphic design on the front of the box. The new series used a
blue-border scheme with the image set in a view-screen graphic with pink
trim (see scans below).
The initial manufacturing run of these videotapes also came with a pink sticker on the plastic shrink-wrap announcing the inclusion of an “Exclusive Skybox Star Trek Trading Card” inside. Now for those that just wanted the VHS tape of their favorite episode they got a cool trading card of the episode as a bonus. But for the serious card collector they got a special, “exclusive”, limited-edition trading card and a VHS cassette as a bonus! The only way to get these cards was to buy the video tapes, and only those that had the sticker on the wrapping. At $9.95 to $14.95 per video, the initial cost of completing a set of 80 cards (79 original episodes plus 1 for “The Cage”) was in the range of $796 to $1196, making it second only to the 1967 Leaf card set as the most expensive Star Trek card set around! Obviously, most people couldn’t afford to complete a set or perhaps even come close. In the mid-1990s the set had a guide* value (*the Non-Sport Update Magazine ‘Pop-Out’ Price Guide) of about $300. By decade’s end, this had increased to $800 with individual cards selling at around $8 each.
Eight of these cards are posted here
for your enjoyment. These were the only ones I could afford to buy at
the time and before the promotion ended, as subsequent VHS copies did
not contain the insert cards. The advent of DVD has made VHS
videocassettes obsolete, but you can still find some of these tapes with
the insert cards on E-Bay, and probably at video closeout sales. Just
make sure the box has the pink sticker on the exterior wrapping if you
do go looking for these.
1990s Playmates Action Figure