Saturday, June 26, 2010

Valiant Files Card Set - Part I: An Overview

UPDATE: This post is part one of a two part series on the Valiant Files: Secrets of the Harbinger Foundation trading card set and provides a round up of all known details. Click here for part two which focuses on the unpublished art from the card set. 

I love the Valiant trading card sets! Especially the Valiant Era I set. I remember how exciting it was opening a pack of those cards and finding a First Appearance card or the strange Upper Deck hologram (WTF is up with that card anyway??). And I'm not alone in my love. There are still a large number of collectors out there chasing down the Valiant trading card rarities - Valiant Era II OS cards, Deathmate Thank You cards, and any information on the unreleased Valiant Files: Secrets of the Harbinger Foundation trading card set.

The what now?? I said, The Valiant Files: Secrets of the Harbinger Foundation trading card set (often mistakenly called The Harbinger Files trading card set). The little know set was announced, promoted and mysteriously canceled. New art was created, trading card boxes were designed, promo cards were even released! Very little information has been released about the set and its ultimate fate. As I'm obsessed with the set, I'm going to try and cover everything that is known about it here on this blog. The best source of information comes from an article in Triton Magazine Issue #5 (which incidentally was bagged with one incredibly rare and randomly inserted Valiant Era II Thank You promo card!). The article also provides one of the only looks at what a Valiant Files: Secrets of the Harbinger Foundation card would have looked like.

For those too lazy to read the article here are the highlights.

  • The set was named The Valiant Files: Secrets of the Harbinger Foundation
  • It was to be released through Upper Deck's Pyramid label and would have been the company's most ambitious set yet.
  • Schedule to be released in mid June of 1995
  • It would have been a "'Who's Who' of the Valiant Universe, as seen from the files of Valiant's central villian, power-monger, and generally bad egg, Toyo Harada" (How cool does that sounds?!)
  • 120 cards (including 2 checklists). Broken into 3 subsets - Harbinger Reconnaissance, Harada's Assessment, and News Clippings
  • The Harbinger Reconnaissance subset are "covert snapshots of Valiant characters in action, as seen through the lenses of Harbinger Foundation minions"
  • The Harada's Assessment subset "covers Toyo Harada's personal thoughts on Valiant characters and their place in his schemes of power"
  • The News Clippings subset "depict news events or stories that are newsworthy for a number of reasons; someone saw a UFO or something , the Harbinger Foundation clipped it out because they knew it wasn't a UFO, that it was X-O flying around in his armor somewhere"
  • 8 cards per pack; 36 packs per box; 20 boxes per case.
  • Each pack would contain a "fold" card. A double-sized card that folds down to regular size. The article pictures a Ninjak fold card.
  • Chase cards also come in 3 groupings - Eggbreakers, Harada's Archives, and Final Battle.
  • The Eggbreakers chase card set is comprised of 9 cards that fit together to form one giant picture of the entire eggbreaker group in action. They were to be packaged at a ratio of 1 in 12 packs and would feature Light F/X technology. 
  • The Harada's Archives chase card set is similar to News Clippings except all the cards feature media material about Toyo Harada. "These cards trace the career of Valiant's impresario of evil through fictional media pieces that mirror real life magazines and articles". These cards would have tied into the comic book Harbinger Files #1. They were to be packaged at a ratio of 1 in 12 packs and would have been foil stamped.
  • The Final Battle chase card set would have been comprised of 2 LE cards that interlock to form the final battle between Toyo Harada and Pete Stanchek. They were to be packed at a ratio of 1 in 108 packs and were the first Light F/X technology onto of holograms!
  • Despite all this, packaging was to be 'the major feature of this set"
  • The box the cards were to be packed in was a "plastic file cabinet, 8 inches long, with drawers that slide out". The drawers would contain 36 foil packs and have space for more and "file folders that fit in runners so that the cards can be stored like real files".
  • "In addition, there are stickers (with Valiant logos) that will be provided to customize your collection by heading and/or description" i.e. X-O Manowar files will have X-O Manowar logo stickers.
  • Set would contain 85% new art
  • One additional "Bonus" chase card set would feature real life athletes who "are under scrutiny by the Harbinger Foundation, just as the Valiant superheroes are" for being gifted with special abilities as possible harbingers.

Four promotional cards were released to advertise the set. These include "Tragedy at Ditsyworld" with an Advance Comics logo, "Tragedy at Ditsyworld" with an Wizard Comics logo, and two SLE 2 Light F/X cards. The ""Tragedy at Ditsyworld"cards look like they belong in the News Clipping subset. Now what's interesting is that the two SLE cards fit the description of the 2 Final Battle chase cards but do not feature holograms. Check out all four cards below.

In addition to the promos and the Ninjak "fold" card from the Triton Magazine article, a couple of work in progress mock ups have turned up. The first set of mock ups are full color. One seems to be part of the Harada's Archives chase card set but features text from a basketball card on a fake TIME Magazine clipping. The other seems to be part of the Harbinger Reconnaissance subset and features what looks to be final text for the card. Take a look below.

These cards are mounted on card stock possibly for presentation. Were these internal presentation materials shown to Valiant by Upper Deck? It's very possible but not known for sure. The Harada card is labeled "Hidden Harada 2" and the Turok card is labeled "A. Reconnaissance Card". It is possible there are more presentation pieces out there waiting to be discovered. Check out these views of the cards on the card stock.

The second set of mock ups are black and white. Again, the text on the cards has nothing to do with Valiant and instead refers to basketball. They look to be design guides. The six mock ups all feature a Harada's Archive logo. We can therefore assume that they are from that chase card set. The cards all feature tweaks on real life magazine cover designs, though I can't tell which ones they are meant to be except for the Orb Today newspaper which has the USA Today look. Pretty cool to see the Orb Industries logo on a newspaper from this card set. Check them out below.

The last set of mock ups show off what would have been the box design. Man this box would have been so cool!

Over the years a lot of the new art that was created specifically for this set has made its way to the public. I will be chronicling the art that I've run across in future posts about The Valiant Files: Secrets of the Harbinger Foundation trading card set. However, below is a partial checklist of the what the set would have been. It is based on numbering from the pieces of original art that were intended for the set.

#1 Neville Alcott
#2 Neville Alcott
#5 Charles Sinclair 
#12 Armstrong
#15 Eternal Warrior
#16 Eternal Warrior
#19 Ax
#20 Bloodshot vs Ax
#33 Gunslinger (H.A.R.D. Corps)
#35 Hammerhead (H.A.R.D. Corps)
#37 Shakespeare (H.A.R.D. Corps)
#38 Shakespeare (H.A.R.D. Corps)
#39 Flatline (H.A.R.D. Corps)
#40 Flatline (H.A.R.D. Corps)
#42 Hotshot (H.A.R.D. Corps)
#43 Perp (H.A.R.D. Corps)
#44 Perp (H.A.R.D. Corps)
#45 Wipeout (H.A.R.D. Corps)
#46 Wipeout (H.A.R.D. Corps)
#47 Maniac (H.A.R.D. Corps)
#48 Maniac (H.A.R.D. Corps)
#49 Superstar (H.A.R.D. Corps)
#53 Geoff McHenry 
#60 Ninjak
#63 Shadowman
#67 Dr. Silk
#70 Solar 
#74 Spider Alien
#75 Spider Alien 
#81 Sting (Pete Stanchek)
#84 Torque 
#86 Turok 
#90 X-O Manowar 
#91 X-O Manowar vs Spider-Alien 
#97 Armorines (Gunny)
#98 Armorines 
#99 Armorines and X-O Manowar 
#100 Armorines 
#109 Football player
#112 Reggie Jackson

For a more complete list and scans of the art visit part two.

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