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Doctor Who Trading Cards Set 1

Review by Jon Preddle

This is the initial set of a proposed three set series, presumably over 330 cards in total. Each card features a photo specially selected from the BBC's own photo library, with text about the picture on the reverse of the card. The first 3 cards form a checklist of the 110 cards in Series One; cards 4 to 58 inclusive are 'Adventures', featuring the TV stories. With 159 stories to cover, the selection of stories seems rather haphazard, with 4 Hartnell, 2 Troughton, 10 Pertwee, 17 Tom Baker (including Shada and K9 and Company), 8 Davison, 7 Colin Baker and 7 McCoy adventures being represented. Presumably the remaining stories will be covered in the subsequent series. However, I doubt that all of the Hartnell and Troughton era will be featured, as colour photographs only exist for a handful of these stories.

Each of the seven Doctors features on the next 15 cards, with short biographies of each regeneration. 11 companions appear next, followed by 15 assorted villain cards, 6 of which are Dalek related, and 3 of Cybermen. The final group of 11 cards are labeled 'The Legend', and feature things like the TARDIS, Bessie, Shada, the IMC (?!), and the missing episodes. To round off the set, there are seven 'randomly' inserted prism cards.

Given that the American producers of the cards, Cornerstone Communications Incorporated, had the entire BBC photo library at their disposal, some of the photos used are a bit dubious. For instance, Frontier in Space does not feature Draconians, instead we get a photo of the Doctor in his space-suit. Some story cards simply have a photo of the Doctor and/or companion rather than a representative still. The photo of the (rather battered) TARDIS on card #110 was taken at the BBC's prop warehouse.

While the selection of photos is passable, some of the back card text is unforgivable. The serial codes are wrong on several cards; for example Mindwarp is given as '5Q', and Castrovalva as '7N'. K9 and Company was not written by David Agnew, and nor was it set on Gallifrey! (This is clearly a printing error, coming from The Invasion of Time card!). According to card #39 The Visitation was written by Adric, Nyssa and Tegan, and is serial 6L! There are a few other factual errors, for instance card #102 lists Vengeance on Varos as being 'planned but never filmed'.

A good attempt, but it just proves what happens when you let Americans get control of the show! Many of the photos I have never seen before, so that is a plus. Despite my grumblings I will probably get the other sets - just to be a completist!

This item appeared in TSV 39 (May 1994).