Charendoff of Rittenhouse Archives
a new set of Farscape trading cards due out this October,
Mr. Steve Charendoff of Rittenhouse
Archives, the publisher of the Farscape cards,
graciously agreed to an interview with Karlsweb. Read on
to learn what great new things are coming in the Season
Three set as well as some background information on what
goes into producing it.
Before Farscape, Rittenhouse worked mostly with classic
Science Fiction like The Twilight Zone. What made you
decide to go with Farscape?
Charendoff: Gut instinct at the time. I had
recently started my company, and Farscape looked to me at
the time (mid-1999) as a real sleeper show. Seemed as if
there was lots of upside to it, and it certainly had all
the makings of great science fiction that would translate
well to trading cards -- great story telling combined with
outstanding makeup, aliens, prosthetics, ships, planets,
Compared to other manufacturers that I've seen,
Rittenhouse puts a huge variety of insert cards in each
set. What process do you go through in deciding what
insert cards will be included in a set? Are you planning
anything new for the season three set like double
autographs, HoloFEX, or sketch cards, or anything I
haven't thought of?
Charendoff: The biggest initiative will be to
have 1 sketch card in every box, which replaces our
previous efforts to have at least 1 costume card in every
box. There will be 1 autograph card per box as well. We
are also working on some special animation cel cards to
take advantage of "Revenging Angel," which had
some great animation art in it.
Whose Autographs will the set contain?
Charendoff: The autographs are Paul Goddard
(Stark), Tammy Macintosh (Jool), Jonathan Hardy (Voice of
Rygel), Magda Szubanski (Furlow), Matt Newton (Jothee),
Evan Sheaves (young Scorpius), Linda Cropper (Aeryn's
mother) and Francesca Buller (who is Ben Browder's wife in
Who will be doing the sketches?
Charendoff: Various artists, including John
Czop, Pablo Raimondi, Dan Schaefer, Chris Bolson.
These are mostly comic-industry artists who have a real
talent for this kind of work.
Who will be sketched?
Charendoff: We are hoping to have virtually the
entire starring cast, plus ships and key aliens (recurring
I had never seen costume cards used in a non-sports card
set before. Was Farscape the first? Tell me a little bit
about the process of making costume cards.
Charendoff: Farscape was the first
entertainment card set to advertise costume cards.
Technically speaking, I think Topps' X-Men costume cards
beat us to market by about a week. The process is
reasonably simple. We were very fortunate to obtain
costume materials from the studio in Australia. Once we
had the materials, we send them out to a company in
Wisconsin that then sizes the material to determine how
many cards worth we can get out of each one. The material
is then cut into hundreds or even thousands of tiny
swatches, which are then mounted in the trading cards.
Will there be any Costume Cards in the season three set
and if so, whose costumes?
Charendoff: None. We've done enough with
those for now. Time for something new, and that's
part of the excitement of having the hand-drawn sketch
How much control does Henson have in the cards that are
made? Were there any ideas you wanted to produce that got
Charendoff: Henson has been great at giving us
guidance, but most of the impetus comes from us. I
honestly can't think of anything that has ever been
"shot down". We've certainly had more
discussions about the sketch cards, since those involve
artistic interpretations of characters, ships, aliens,
etc., but that kind of input is always welcome. Henson's
comments about the artwork result in better art. Overall,
Henson's input helps make the products better.
Who chooses what pictures will be on the cards (you or
Henson), where do you get them and how do you decide what
Charendoff: I choose all the photos for our
sets, and basically it comes down to two things --
matching the editorial aspect of each card with a
photograph, and finding images that have strong
compositions. Naturally, I want to see each character
looking good -- no eyes closed, etc..
provides the photos to us.
I'd like to know something about the blurbs on the backs
of the cards. Does someone at Rittenhouse write them or do
you get them from the folks at Farscape or Henson?
Charendoff: Craig Shemin of Henson has been our
writer for the sets to date, although Rockne O'Bannon and
David Kemper have personally written their
behind-the-scenes cards. They really did!
You've published several different Farscape sets, large
and small. Are you planning to publish any more
non-episode based sets?
is set yet, but I think you can expect that either next
year or in 2004. The great thing about Farscape right now
is that it has been picked up for 2 more years, which
gives us a lot of time to plan out product.
There were a couple of small errors in the Season Two set.
Do you do this on purpose to increase the value of the
cards in the future?
Charendoff: No. In order for these errors to
take on value, they would have to be corrected, which has
not been done (yet).
Many of the chase sets for Season Two had foil portions on
the fronts of the cards. Do you often use a theme in this
Charendoff: Yes. It helps to differentiate
these cards from the plot (common) cards.
Any chance of a Farscape Cereal turning up similar to the
ones you did for Xena? I can see myself munching on some
"Cream of Hyneria" or maybe "Crunchy Pilot
Claws" with little yellow DRD marshmallows.
Charendoff: Very clever idea. No, I don't see
it happening. The Xena cereal was a lark for us -- a test.
It was fun to do, and my kids loved the cereal. But I
don't see doing it again.
can expect to see Farscape Bobble Heads later this year.
We are very excited about this, and I think we will have
the first pair (Crichton and Chiana) out this summer. Very
cool indeed! Thank you once again for taking time from
your busy schedule to answer all these questions.
out SciFi Hobby,
Rittenhouse's website, for more updates about Farscape,
Stargate SG-1, Star Trek, Babylon 5 and many other sets of