Hobby Musings: Cryptozoic Brings Stellar Content to Middle-earth ProductHobby Musings: Cryptozoic Brings Stellar Content to Middle-earth Product – Cryptozoic has made a big name for itself in the hobby with its entertainment-based trading cards. With their upcoming Middle-earth product, fans of J.R.R. Tolkien’s most famous works will have another chance to add trading cards celebrating the iconic works. To find out more about what went into this product, I had the chance to catch up with Shahriar Fouladi, Director of Product Development & Marketing, as well as Carl Braun, Product Manager, Trading Cards.

KS: Why did you make the decision to do the Middle-earth product?
SF: To put it simply, who doesn’t love The Lord of the Rings movies? We tend to do products we’re fans of ourselves and we’re big fans of Peter Jackson’s six movies set in Middle-earth. It was definitely a dream project for us. Given the love of the franchise by people everywhere and the number of movies, it made absolute sense to do it as a high-end CZX set.

Hobby Musings: Cryptozoic Brings Stellar Content to Middle-earth ProductKS: A product like this requires a number of licensing deals. What all do you have you to go through in order to create all of the cards?
SF: We work closely with Warner Bros. on many of our products, and they are great partners. We proposed the set and they thought it was a great idea, but it did take some time to get approvals on their end for us to do it and then to get assets. For the Sketch Cards and other elements, there is a pretty painstaking process for approvals that took months and even years. COVID definitely extended that process. Ultimately, the amazing team at WB and our team wanted the same thing: the best product possible. We couldn’t be more thrilled.

KS: This is a brand that has a number of famous books and iconic characters. How do you decide who and what to include in the checklist?
SF: It’s not easy! There are so many amazing characters, fan-favorite actors, and iconic scenes. It was about balancing it as much as we could. We also are aware, in all honesty, that more people are passionate about The Lord of the Rings movies than The Hobbit movies, but we still wanted to balance the product between them.

KS: What are some of the highlights collectors can expect out of their boxes?
CB: On-card autographs from a stellar list of incredible Hollywood talent. An international group of amazing artists illustrating original, one-of-one Sketch Cards of characters and scenes from the six films. Even the base and chase cards are beautiful, the images are memorable, the design work from our team is incredible, and the card quality is second to none.

Hobby Musings: Cryptozoic Brings Stellar Content to Middle-earth ProductKS: You’ve put together a fairly impressive autograph checklist. Which autograph were you most excited to get for inclusion? 
SF: Ian McKellan! Gandalf is just an amazing character and Sir Ian McKellen is one of the coolest people on the planet. That was a dream come true.

KS: If you had to pick, what do you think is the coolest card in the product overall?
SF: You can’t ask us that! That’s like asking a parent who their favorite kid is. We will say that some of the Sketch Cards had our team on the floor with amazement. They are just shockingly gorgeous in person. And CZX STR PWR cards look like works of art.

KS: You also have a number of unique sketch cards inserted. How did you go about getting them commissioned?
SF: We have been creating trading card sets for over a decade, so we have a group of trusted Sketch Card artists. We invited the best of the best to be part of this project, plus fresh talented artists we were excited to work with. Many of the artists were huge fans of these properties, so they were inspired to create something amazing, and they succeeded!

Hobby Musings: Cryptozoic Brings Stellar Content to Middle-earth ProductKS: The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, etc. are decades old. With that being said, what is the market like currently for cards for these properties?
SF: The passion for these properties has never waned. The market is incredibly strong for them. There is nostalgia for the books and movies, plus new fans every day.

KS: There is the current Rings of Power show. How does having a show that is currently airing affect your efforts with making the product?
SF: Not at all. This product isn’t related to that show and was completed before that show even aired. If anything, interest in the new show only helps drive interest in Tolkien’s world and creates even more hunger for this product. But the product didn’t need the boost… the fanbase never went anywhere.

KS: I’ll get you out of here on this. When can collectors expect to see this hit the market?
CB: October 19! This project has been in the works for well over three years, so we are thrilled to get it into the hands of fans.


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Kelsey’s ability to bring hobby coverage to the mainstream sports fan has been a true asset. GTS is happy to feature his thoughts on collecting in Hobby Musings. The opinions expressed are his and do not necessarily reflect those of GTS Distribution.
Kelsey Schroyer

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