Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Decade Of Wrestling In TNA's TENacious Card Set

With a decade now under their belt, I think it is safe to say that one of the areas in which TNA Wrestling has excelled is in merchandising.  Although two action figure lines have fizzled (seemingly through the fault of the manufacturers and not TNA itself), other items have been going strong for the majority of the decade of the company's existence.  Aside from a very nice series in 2004 from Pacific Trading Cards Inc., Tristar has been the company that has continually produced a quality card product under the TNA banner.

The latest series celebrates that full decade of TNA and Impact Wrestling with a fitting title--TENacious.  The Tristar company claims that this set will have the lowest number of cards produced of any of their previous TNA products.  Although slated to have a release date of 8/15/12, some hobby retailers were selling them at least a week earlier.

Breaking a hobby box of Tristar's TNA product is always a good time.  This is because most of their recent boxes have guaranteed a certain amount of "hits."  In card collecting lingo, hits are special cards that are either numbered, include a relic or autograph, or any combo of the above.  What both myself and another collector found when opening a hobby box of TENacious cards is that in the 20 packs of 6 cards we both received a complete 99 card base set.  While this is not guaranteed on the box nor is it usually the case, it's a welcome bonus that we don't have to go searching for the couple of cards that usually prevents collectors from a complete basic set in a box break.

I was immediately drawn to the actual box itself.  It's longer and thinner than the normal card hobby boxes.  With the shrink wrap still on, it honestly reminded me more of a box of chocolates than trading cards.  Like a few of the other Tristar TNA sets, even the boxes are numbered.  For the record, this box is numbered 1242 out of 1800.  Upon opening the box, on top of the 20 packs is a color-coded checklist of the 99 base cards and 20 short print cards.  Kudos to Tristar not only for including the checklist but for NOT including it in the packs where it would take the place of a regular card.

If you subscribe to our Facebook Fanpage, you've already gotten a sneak preview of the hits pulled from this box, but how about the 99 card base set?  Beginning with a card of TNA Founder Jeff Jarrett, the set is 99% current stars.  The ten year anniversary is tackled with memories from stars who have been there for much of that time as well as screengrabs of various events throughout the years. 

Although I'm a huge fan of the concept of picturing past moments such as Ken Shamrock winning the NWA championship and Jeff Jarrett attacking Hulk Hogan in Japan, the screengrabs did not work out too well.  The pictures are much too grainy and/or flushed out to produce a quality card.  There must have been a reason that they went in this direction, but it's sort of baffling when it's obvious that so much effort goes into the production of these sets.  The cards actually look a lot better when photographed than they do in person.

Tristar seems to take pride in getting "rookie" cards out quickly and has included some in this set.  Brooke Hogan, Joseph Park, Alex Silva, and Jessie Godderz all get the rookie treatment in this set, with Godderz card even including an Ohio Valley Wrestling logo emblazoned on the front.  Look for the Brooke and Park cards to be a bit more sought after than most from the basic set due to the former having crossover appeal and the latter being the best developed comedic character to come out of professional wrestling in years.

The current roster is well represented and I think I would argue that it might be represented just a bit much.  A subset of even just some of the bigger names from the past decade in TNA would've sufficed.  And as always, I must lobby for even just a subset of non-glossy cards.  As accessible as many of the TNA stars are for autographs at their shows, non-glossy cards would come in very handy for quick autographs.  Tristar has not produced a non-gloss set since their Impact '08 release.  For the second week in a row, how about it?

The reason that most collectors will purchase a hobby box isn't for the base cards, but for the hits.  As stated above, Tristar has done a fantastic job over the years with these special cards.  The back of the hobby box for TENacious lays out exactly what you may receive.  Off the top collectors are guaranteed three autograph cards which will be numbered to 100, 10, or even 1.  This particular box yielded autograph cards of Austin Aries and Kaz each numbered 6 of 10, and a dual autograph "Wedded Bliss" card of ODB and Eric Young numbered 91 of 100.  The latter is exceptionally cool and the lovely "bride" even noted on our fanpage that she doesn't even have one.

The next hits are short printed cards which can include anything from Jeff Hardy art to cards celebrating Sting's TNA Hall of Fame induction to a TNA Arrivals subset.  The Hulkamaniac in me was very pleased to receive a Hulk Hogan TNA Arrivals card numbered 28 out of 100.  The next two hits are parallel cards from the basic set stamped with a foil TNA 10 logo and numbered, again, to 100, 10, or 1.  The cards in this box were both of Knockouts, albeit one no longer in the company: an Angelina Love card numbered 6 of 30 and a card of the Killer Queen herself, Madison Rayne, numbered 8 of 10.

We finally come to the 7th hit where you again have a chance of two different card styles.  This hit is either an Impact celebrity signature card (signatures cut from other autographed celebrity items eclectically ranging from Chris Rock to Tom Arnold) or a TNA 10 event-worn clothing card.  This box held the latter, in this case being a dual shirt card from the former Dudley Boyz/Team 3D, Devon and Bully Ray.  A nice card for sure, although the celebrity cards would be more beneficial for someone trying to recoup their investment. 

What we have here is a solid set.  It could've reflected a bit more of the past decade of TNA, although I understand that they're trying to look ahead and there's nothing wrong with that.  I will state that I feel, like the recent WWE card product, that the looks are starting to blend together from set to set.  Reflexxions was a nice change, but in taking a peek at what Tristar has done with other card lines makes me hope for a more retro card look in a future set.  I won't go into another non-gloss rant, but retro is always king in this blog as it is for many collectors.

I would definitely recommend picking up a hobby box as the number of guaranteed hits is worth the retail price.  The aforementioned fact that the two first hobby boxes which I've seen broken have yielded a complete set only adds to that value.  Take a drive down to your local hobby shop and make an "Impact" on your TNA card collection, because when those 1,800 boxes are gone, they're gone!


the observer said...

Hi Mate, love the article...I'm interested in buying one of these, but can's really justify the 60 pound price tag. Don't you think its a bit pricey?

J\/\/ said...

You have to break it down. If my conversion is correct, it seems like I paid about $10 USD less than you'd be paying in pounds, maybe you're factoring in shipping, but we'll go with what I paid. Let's say the guaranteed 7 "hits" would be $10 separately. Some would be less, some would be more. That's $70 worth right there. The 99 base card set would sell for about $15-$20 itself, that's not including the 10 or so doubles. Add to that the entertainment value of opening them, the box, the fact that it made a fun blog entry for me to do, and that I could've pulled a "cut" autograph which so far have been selling for over $100. It was worth it for me. I can get many of the base cards autograph, too, and not have to hunt them down individually when the time comes. Plus, by the time TNA announces their lineups for house shows, it's usually too late to hunt individual cards down, anyway.

the observer said...

Solid arguement there mate, I've gone ahead and ordered the set...fingers crossed its a decent batch...keep up the good writing!

J\/\/ said...

I really think you'll enjoy em! It's all about the fun of not knowing exactly what you'll get! Thanks for reading!!