Released in 2007 by UK-based Strictly Ink, this 72-card (base) set features screenshots and behind-the-scenes photos from a wide selection of Hammer’ catalogue of films, as well as factoids on the stars of those films. As would be expected, Hammer icons Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing get the spotlight, with each actor receiving a 9 card run devoted solely to their respective careers. Each of these 9 cards have backing images with can be pieced together to form mini-posters of these legendary horror actors.
While this series was available for purchase as a complete set, as with most modern trading cards, the rarer “chase cards” are only available through the individual 5-card retail packs. In this case, those “chase” cards include 20 various sketch cards, 10 autographed cards, and a 9-card series of gold-foil cards featuring the original poster art for some of Hammer’s films. These posters cards made it to print late and were included in separate packs.
If you are like me, the “selling point” here is the chance to pull a card signed by either David Prowse or one of 8 different Hammer femme fatales. They actresses include:
Martine Beswick (One Million Years B.C., Dr. Jekyll & Sister Hyde)
Veronica Carlson (Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed, Dracula Has Risen From the Grave)
Caroline Munro (Dracula A.D. 1972, Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter)
Hazel Court (The Curse of Frankenstein, The Man Who Could Cheat Death)
Valerie Leon (Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb)
Madeline Smith (The Vampire Lovers, Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell)
& Ingrid Pitt (The Vampire Lovers, Countess Dracula)
There was also an case-exclusive autograph from Jenny Hanley (Scars of Dracula), as well as an additional Ingrid Pitt autographed card that was exclusive to a binder that Strictly Ink made for the series.
As noted earlier, among the “chase” cards are 20 different sketch cards. The cards feature artist’s sketches of characters and scenes from Hammer’s entire horror library. The sketch cards also feature autographs from the artist on the back. While there are some nice pieces here, just as many are hideously amateurish.
The set is broken up into the following sections:
Cards #1-#9: Early Science Fiction Thrills – featuring the Quatermass series, The Abominable Snowman, and a few more.
#10-#18: Peter Cushing – with poster pieces on back
#19-#27: Christopher Lee – with poster pieces on back
#28-#36: The Curse of Frankenstein
#37-#45: Horror of Dracula
#46-#54: Bloodsuckers & Other Monsters – Featuring Captain Kronos, The Mummy’s Shroud, Plague of the Zombies, The Reptile, The Devil Rides Out, & more
#55-#63: Hammer Glamour – Featuring more lovely ladies of Hammer, including Raquel Welch, Jacqueline Pierce, Caroline Munro, Ursula Andress, and the Collinson sisters.
#64-#70: Behind The Screams – Behind the scenes looks at some Hammer’s films, including Twins of Evil, Plague of the Zombies, and more.
Complete sets can be found online for around $20, but as mentioned earlier, “chase” cards were only available through retail packs. Retail pack can be found online in the $2-$3 range. For the purpose of this review, as well as just wanting the damn things, I purchased a much more expensive sealed box of 30 packs. With 5 cards per pack, this would be a total of 150 cards. Sealed pack boxes were extremely difficult to find, with only 2 for sale being available to me. These were available from UK dealers at prices ranging from $50 – $70.
Per the display box, the odds of finding an autograph card are 1 in 30 packs. That means that each sealed box of packs should contain at least 1 autograph. In this area, I was not disappointed as I did find an autographed card from the lovely Madeline Smith. While I personally would have preferred Caroline Munro or the late Ingrid Pitt, I am far from disappointed with this find.
Odds of pulling a Sketch Card are 1 in 120 packs, making them significantly more rare, but nowhere near as exciting. I did manage to pull 1 sketch card out of this box, and honestly, I don’t hate it. Personally, I think it looks more like a vampiric Bill Hinzman than Christopher Lee, but hey, art is subjective or something.
Of particular note is the following sentence found on the side of the pack box: Strictly Ink Guarantees (they capitalized it, not me) that each sealed numbered box of 30 packs contains at least one complete basic set of Collector Cards #1-72.
To this, I say: You lying’ bastards!!!! I opened every single pack in the box and I’m totally missing card #21!!!
While it was somewhat of a disappointment to be 1 card short of a full set, these are nice looking cards featuring sharp, glossy pics, as well as trivia on these classic Hammer films. While somewhat over-priced, these cards quality and scarcity make the set a nice addition to any horror fan’s collection. With my purchase, I was also able to obtain a pack of the poster cards as well as a promo card. These made the purchase price a little more palatable.
A second series was released in 2010. These can be obtained at marginally cheaper prices, however, I personally found the autographs available for that set to be less desirable.