Steve Charendoff of Rittenhouse Archives

With 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.

 

Karlsweb: Before Farscape, Rittenhouse worked mostly with classic Science Fiction like The Twilight Zone. What made you decide to go with Farscape?

Steve 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, weapons, etc.

Karlsweb: 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?

Steve 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.

Karlsweb: Whose Autographs will the set contain?

Steve 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 real life).

Karlsweb: Who will be doing the sketches?

Steve 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.

Karlsweb: Who will be sketched?

Steve Charendoff: We are hoping to have virtually the entire starring cast, plus ships and key aliens (recurring characters).

Karlsweb: 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.

Steve 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.

Karlsweb: Will there be any Costume Cards in the season three set and if so, whose costumes?

Steve 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 cards.

Karlsweb: How much control does Henson have in the cards that are made? Were there any ideas you wanted to produce that got shot down?

Steve 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.

Karlsweb: Who chooses what pictures will be on the cards (you or Henson), where do you get them and how do you decide what to use?

Steve 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..

Henson provides the photos to us.

Karlsweb: 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?

Steve 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!

Karlsweb: You've published several different Farscape sets, large and small. Are you planning to publish any more non-episode based sets?

Steve Charendoff: Nothing 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.

Karlsweb: 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?

Steve Charendoff: No. In order for these errors to take on value, they would have to be corrected, which has not been done (yet).

Karlsweb: 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 way?

Steve Charendoff: Yes. It helps to differentiate these cards from the plot (common) cards.

Karlsweb: 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.

Steve 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.

You 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!!! 

Karlsweb: Very cool indeed! Thank you once again for taking time from your busy schedule to answer all these questions.

Check out SciFi Hobby, Rittenhouse's website, for more updates about Farscape, Stargate SG-1, Star Trek, Babylon 5 and many other sets of trading cards.

 

 

Farscape is owned by The Jim Henson Company, Hallmark Entertainment, Nine Network (Australia) and the Sci-Fi Channel. No copyright infringement is intended and no financial gain has been made by any of the staff of this web site.