dustin feature

Outlander CZX Trading Cards – Interview with Dustin Porras of Cryptozoic

There’s a lot of Outlander “stuff” out there – official, fan-created… shirts, jewelry, home items, toys. One that I enjoy collecting are the official trading cards. We’ve had three seasons of official cards, published by Cryptozoic, and next month, they’ll be bringing out a brand new, exciting premium card set. This set isn’t tied to a specific season, but covers the four seasons broadcast so far. At San Diego ComicCon recently, I talked with Dustin Porras, the assistant product manager in charge of the Outlander line. Here’s some news about this exciting new set! (In addition to providing TV and movie reviews, threeifbyspace.net also sells trading cards and other items. While pre-orders have been going on for some time, we still have some product still available – see bottom of the article for details.) 

 

Dustin, you’re working with the Outlander CZX card product, and these are a brand new type of card following three successful seasons of Outlander trading cards. What makes the CZX line different?

First and foremost, the CZX brand is punctuated by a number of different things. First is the actual card quality, so what fans can expect from this product is a more durable, thicker card stock, they’ll still be able to fit in the penny sleeves, and heavy use of deco foil. So as you’ll see, even on the base cards that aren’t variants, they have this beautiful deco foil finish with very nice etching in them, and we feel that, just from an aesthetic perspective, it’s super premium.

In addition to that, this is the first time we’re introducing super hits into an Outlander product. The first hit that we’re introducing is an autographed wardrobe card (signed by Laura Donnelley, and only available at ComicCon), meaning that these are cards signed by the cast, and they’re embedded with wardrobe from the show. So we’re taking the concept of a wardrobe card and an autograph card and merging them, so that’s a super hit. We also have an unprecedented number of dual wardrobe and triple wardrobe cards, and double autograph and triple autograph cards. So we’re packing the highest quality hits that we haven’t seen before in an Outlander product, and we’re hoping to replicate these for future products.

And we’re actually working on a set for the DC universe, called CZX SuperHeroes and SuperVillains, that’s going to span DC movies from the past, present, and future. And that same concept we’re taking to CZX Outlander, where it’s not tied to any specific season, it’s seasons 1-4, all brought together, kind of like a “greatest hits” compilation.

Are you still planning to produce a season 4 regular set?

We have not officially announced that, but it’s in the works and would happen next year.

And why did you think Outlander was a good candidate for this? I know the whole concept is fairly new to Cryptozoic.

Outlander was a perfect candidate because the fanbase is so large and devoted, and we are involved with fan groups like yours (Outlandish Trading on Facebook), that’s an active community on Facebook, that we felt it was the perfect time to roll out the CZX brand. In addition to that, we already covered seasons 1 through 3, so going back and finding those actors who hadn’t signed before, like Tim McInnerney*, and then going forward in time, and getting actors like Ed Speleers to sign for us, it was a great opportunity to find people that even though we’ve covered their season, we think they missed out the first time. And also, we had so much of the beautiful wardrobe and fabric pieces left over, we thought we would be remiss to not put that out into the world, in an exciting way. (* note: after S1 cards were published, autograph cards signed by Tim, “Father Bain,” started appearing on ebay – Cryptozoic wouldn’t confirm, but it’s believed that these were lost in the mail, and purchased in an abandoned mail lot and sold to collectors.)

I noticed that one of the things with the CZX cards is that you have Diana Gabaldon’s autograph. We’re absolutely thrilled, because in Outlander, she’s revered, she’s fabulous. Why, as long as you were having a subset that says “film crew,” didn’t you have people like Ron Moore or Terry Dresbach, who we also love?

And Bear McCreary? We had cards designed for all those people. But as you and I have talked about before, some people don’t necessarily want to sign autograph cards for us, sometimes the deals don’t work out,  sometimes there are issues with availability. So all those people were on our list, but  we just couldn’t secure them for this product. We feel very lucky to have Diana Gabaldon.

One of the issues with the CZX, as excited as most of us are for them, is that they’re premium cards that come with a premium price. And I know that within the Outlandish Trading group, which is the largest trading FB group, you’ve seen some pushback on the price. How do you answer that? The boxes are almost three times from dealers what the season boxes are. How do you answer that?

We definitely anticipated that reaction from the get-go. This is a new product with a higher price, and there is going to be some pushback, especially since we had a price established up until this point. For all of those who are pushing back on the concept of CZX, what I can tell you is that whatever you’re going to get in the box is going to be worth the cost of admission. If you get a triple autograph card, that’s going to be something you can’t get in any other Outlander trading card set in the past, or the future. The things we’re putting in CZX we’re putting in for a reason, and they’re going to get the stamp of approval that these are super premium cards, so in essence, what you pay is what you get. And it’s not going to be for everybody, we can’t expect that, but if it’s not for you, we do have the other previous three sets to go to, and we have other things in the works.

We’re a little concerned about these being delayed, after Season 3 was so late. (Note: after this interview, Cryptozoic announced that the release date would be August 14.)

For s3, the issue was securing the last few signers. Catriona Balfe was a little tricky to secure for the last –

I was right there for the last few – I carried them in my hand in case George’s plane didn’t make it (to Wizard World in Chicago, last August).

That was the issue there, and obviously, the unforeseeable happened, with George (Nadeau) passing away. So those held up the product. I don’t foresee that happening with this product.

One of the things that we were all excited about was these coming out in between 3 and 4. So that’s great. Like I mentioned, with Caitriona having to change her Wizard World schedule, George wasn’t sure he was going to make it, with his flight in question, so he sent me a duplicate set of the cards and receipts. I actually had them in my bag, waiting for him to text me that he had landed. So I know how important those were. It’s lucky that you got them back (chuckle), that’s all I can say.

You’ve been active in the trading group, and posted that because of what you were seeing in the pack out, you’ve increased the hits that will be in each case. How did that change?

With CZX, one of the concepts we wanted to introduce was the concept of getting a sixth pack with a random hit card. There are six packs in a box, and the concept was that it could be any number of random hits – it could be a wardrobe card, an autograph card, a lenticular, a Star Power. So the exciting thing for us was to be able to deliver a third hit in a box. From the get-go, with all the wardrobe cards that we had, we made sure it was possible to create more wardrobe cards than we needed, so we could make those “hot boxes.” The case test that we got from the printer the other day let us observe that one in every three boxes had an additional wardrobe card in the box. That’s another thing that sets CZX apart from other seasons. You won’t know exactly what you’re getting, but you’ll get another hit.

All of these cards were in one 6-box case opened as a test.

I know you don’t release numbers, and I’m not going to ask you for that. But can you give us some idea of how many were produced? Since they are at a higher price point, I don’t believe you would have expected them to sell the way the season boxes did, but can you give us any idea of how many compared to the other sets – we produced a third of season 3, or… I know as dealers, we’re not seeing the same volume of sales and purchasing that we usually see.

I can’t give you numbers, but think fewer than what you’d expect. Something we’re conscious of is over production, it wouldn’t be a superpremium set if there were an overabundance of boxes. So scaling certain things back was definitely important to us. No exact numbers, but think fewer quantities.

You’ve already published a checklist, so we have an idea of how many cards each signer did. Any stories you can tell us about putting this together?

I would be remiss not to mention my trip to Scotland. Cryptozoic sent me to Glasgow, when they were shooting season 5. They were shooting in a nearby city, so it worked out with Sam Heughan and his schedule, to do an in-person signing. He is the most down to earth celebrity I’ve ever met. He was the most ideal person to do a signing with. He was super patient, we had tons of cards for him to sign, he was breezing through those, doing inscriptions on a bunch of them, asking questions.

He seemed surprised that we hadn’t done different combinations before. Like he would get to a doodle by Steven Cree, and he would be like, ” Whoa, Steven signed this one?” And we’d say, “yeah, he signed that five months ago! We were waiting to set this up.” So he was really excited about them, he shared it on social media, which was really cool. That was the trip of a lifetime, and it made it all the more better that he was so engaged with us, and he was genuinely into what this set entailed. That was such a cool experience.

 

Unfortunately, I haven’t met any of the other signers, but everyone that we’ve worked with has been so cooperative and helpful. As you can imagine, with double and triple autographs, we’re sending them all over the world. David Berry, I think, was in Australia for most of his signing. We were sending him multiple packages,  rerouting them to Scotland so Richard Rankin could sign, etc. There was a lot of cross pollinating, but everyone was super easy to work with.

They’re a great cast! I’ve met most of them, and they’re terrific. I know Sam enjoys doing things for his fans, and he’s been happy to do this since Season 1. I’m glad you had a chance to do this and see for yourself. Anything else you want to tell us about CZX or plans for other CZX products we should be looking for?

Like I mentioned, we have the CZX SuperHeroes and SuperVillains product coming up. It’s a collection of different DC movies, from Batman Begins to Shazam, which just came out this year. It’s the same thing, we’re not tied to any of those movies specifically. Actors have signed for this product, the base cards are from all these different movies, so it’s a blending together of all these different licenses. I can’t say anything yet, but we’re going to do all these exciting rollouts with the signers that we have locked in. Of course, we have Jason Momoa, who signed his Aquaman cards, and we have a lot more really, really cool signers. I’ve just been biting my tongue for the last few months because we have some really cool people. So stay tuned for that.

Will you come back and talk to threeifbyspace about that?

I’d be happy to do a follow-up on that!

Thank you, Dustin! It’s been great to get to know you and talk to you here at San Diego ComicCon!

You’re welcome! We can always rely on you and your radio show, you’ve been a great influence on the community and promote our programs.

We just want to bring the news to the people. And since I collect the cards, and I love the cards – I bought a case of these for myself – so, we’re happy to do it!


CZX Outlander cards and matching binders (with an exclusive wardrobe card) are available through authorized Cryptozoic dealers. Threeifbyspace.net has limited supply still available – click here for more information about the set and to order! Delivery is expected shortly after the release date of August 14. Feel free to contact me on Facebook, Twitter, or by email – erin.conrad@threeifbyspace.net – with any questions!

Follow us on Twitter: @ErinConrad2 and @threeifbyspace
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