Outlander trading cards, created by Cryptozoic, are hot! A trade magazine featuring the cards on the cover and containing a promo card sold out. Resale prices are high. Season 2 product is selling like crazy. And – they’re gorgeous! I had a chance to chat with George Nadeau, the company’s Manager of Product Development, about trading cards in general, and Outlander cards and the fandom specifically.
TIBS: Tell me about the process in creating a card line for a new franchise. How long does it generally take? How do you come up with the themes for the chase sets?
George: First, I recognize that there are fans with more knowledge about and passion for the property than I have. Then, I resolve to learn as much as I can and to acquire contributions from the best possible resources. This means collecting assets from authorities like show writers, prop masters, costumers, unit photographers, and marketing teams. I collect as much as they make available.
The quality and quantity of those assets, combined with the production timeline, play a major role in determining the design of the product. Basically, if we don’t have images to illustrate a theme, we find another theme. Production times fall in the 6-12 month range. It can be like herding cats.
What is your role at Cryptozoic? What’s your background?
My formal title is Manager of Product Development, Trading Cards, but we all wear a lot of hats here.
I didn’t realize until about six years ago that I had spent my life training to make trading cards. When I was younger, I was a spelling bee champion and a yearbook editor. In college I studied art history and took lots of studio classes in photography, drawing, and printmaking. (“Collage/Assemblage” and “Book Structures” were among my favorites.) Upon graduation, I started working as an animator, designer and retoucher before becoming a production manager.
Seven years ago I discovered Cryptozoic Entertainment had opened its doors just six miles from my house. One year later, I was hired to be its “Art Acquisition Manager,” the very “job” I had been performing as a trading card hobbyist. My role has evolved a bit since then, but I use nearly all of the skills I’ve acquired over my lifetime on a daily basis. It’s unbelievably satisfying.
Were you familiar with Outlander before beginning to develop the trading cards? What made it look like a good possibility for cards?
I became aware of the Outlander series through its licensing agency. (We had previously worked together to create Downton Abbey Trading Cards.) There were four factors that intrigued me: based on a best-selling series of books, created by Ronald D. Moore, STARZ’s early commitment to the show for two seasons, and sci-fi story elements. What’s as important as the nature of the property is the amount of time it is given to find an audience and for us to bring our trading cards to market. We all recognized the potential for the property after seeing the series premiere that was streaming on YouTube at that time.
How does the wardrobe card process work? How many different wardrobe cards do you shoot for?
I review as much of the show as is available and take notes about appealing pieces. I submit my wish list to either the studio or licensing agency who then communicates my list to the costume department. Sometimes there are availability issues. Sometimes there are human resource issues. However, we’re all trying to make the best product possible, so we’re usually provided with adequate assets.
Our trading card cases consist of 12 boxes and each of them contains at least 1 wardrobe card. My goal is for each case to contain a unique set of wardrobe cards, and pulling from a pool of 25 virtually ensures that result.
What’s the process for autograph cards? What’s a good number of signers to include? How do the actors generally react to being approached? Have stars of series every approached you and ask to be included?
Autograph rosters are the most important components of our trading card products and can be the most challenging to develop because they require the involvement of so many more parties, among them the talent and potentially his agent, manager and/or lawyer. Sometimes the studio has restrictions that complicate negotiations, too.
Like the wardrobe roster, I strive for an autograph roster that is long enough to ensure a variety of combinations will be pulled from cases. This variety can be achieved with as few as 14 or 15 autograph signers, but we try to acquire as many as we can fit into our budget while avoiding autograph deals with less notable characters like Prisoner 4.
I have been contacted through Twitter direct messages by seven or eight actors interested in participating as autograph signers. We have made deals with several of them.
I know there was some nervousness on your part about Outlander, based on dealer reaction to the cards at the beginning of Season 1. What turned this around? How has the Outlander fandom surprised you, if they have? How is this different from other fandoms?
Outlander fans do epic stuff.
For more than a year I had tracked several online fan polls that revealed how passionate—and committed—Outlander fans are. While it was obvious that we hadn’t connected with Outlander fans prior to the release of our season one product, I remained hopeful that they would embrace the trading cards once they were released and they could see them.
I was initially surprised by the Outlander fandom because I was ignorant. I hadn’t even heard of the Diana Gabaldon books back then. However, now I know there have been fans of Outlander for decades. For some people it’s a lifestyle that includes charitable fundraising, vacations, fitness goals and beyond. I understand that the TV series has only expanded and deepened the following. Nowadays, I expect epic stuff from Outlander fans and they deliver, again and again.
Do you collect cards, and for what franchise if you do? Or anything else? What’s your favorite card? Or favorite item in a collection?
The primary reason I enjoy collecting trading cards is their size. I can store my massive collection securely in a very small space.
I have a lot of favorites in my collection, but the set of Twilight Zone sketch cards I commissioned directly from artist Otis Frampton is always fun to look at. (See the collection on a post on Reddit from 2010.)
Season 2 Card Set
Love the trading cards? Threeifbyspace is an authorized Cryptozoic dealer! You can buy them directly from us in our Collector’s Shop. (We are currently sold out of the Season 2 binder.) Season 2 cards will come out in July, and the set will consist of:
- 72-Card Base Set – Featuring episodic images from Season 2
- FIVE Chase Sets (special themed 9-card sets)
- Gardens of Versailles
- Character Bios
- Vive Les Frasers
- Star Power
- Foil Variants of Base & Chase Cards
Images from the Character Bio chase card set:
Plus, each box (24 packs per box, 5 cards per pack) will contain 1 random autograph card and one random wardrobe card. Boxes may also contain other rare cards, including printing plates from the card set. See Cryptozoic’s official page for the Season 2 cards (additional information and images will be added to the page as they become available).
The chase sets, as you can see, are different than the Season 1 sets. Season 1 had the bios and quotes, but I’m very excited to see the Gardens of Versailles set (the image below is from Non-Sport Update magazine), which will have 9 stunning cards.
The Star Power chase set is not unique to Outlander. In George’s recent blog entry on the Cryptozoic website, he talked about this new chase set. “We have used state-of-the-art ‘cast and cure technology’ to add eye-catching prism/holographic effects to our character bio chase sets. As you can see in the images below, our STR PWR cards feature a spectacular pattern of colorful stars. Moreover, the STR PWR cards are inserted in multiple colored frames.” The Outlander set will have Red (one in 144 packs), Silver (1 in 288 packs), Gold (numbered through 25), and Black (only 1 in the entire printing!).
Also new – instead of Gold Crest and Silver Crest cards, Season 2 will have Rainbow Foil Board cards (1 in 3 packs) and Red Jacobite seals (numbered through 50 for every base and chase card). There will be at least 24 different wardrobe cards available as well.
Whether you collect the cards or not, everybody loves Outlander stuff. Enter the contest below to win promotional cards from Season 1 and Season 2! Two winners will receive two random promotional cards (may be from Season 1 or Season 2), and one winner will receive a Season 1 card autographed by James Fleet, who portrayed Rev. Wakefield! All winners will also get a copy of the June/July issue of Non-Sports Update magazine, featuring Outlander on the cover and a 4-page article about Season 2 cards.
Join the Outlandish Trading Group on Facebook – trading cards and more!
Follow me on Twitter: @OutlanderTIBS, @ErinConrad2 and @threeifbyspace
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