Look after the above picture, and tell me how you interpret it. Do you see an original idea, created purely to enrich the lives of X-Factor fans and trading card collectors? Do you, like me, see Simon Cowell dressed in a Dick Turpin costume? Do you, also like me, see a product as necessary and vital as bottled spring water contaminated with Vibrio cholerae?
However you see it one cannot deny it is simply an effort to try to turn the X-Factor into a penny pinching franchise that would make John Elwes seem frivolous with money in comparison. An unholy alliance was formed when the cards were made available exclusively from Tesco; creating an ominous feeling as though Bushyasta has taken a job as a personal fitness trainer. The set totals at no less than 198 trading cards, and contains imagery from the auditions, boot camp, and features all the finalists, winners and stars from previous series; because as we know all children want a badly produced card that features a picture of a generic TV set or a delusional wannabe from last week’s show whose name no one remembers. The cards are split into three sets, 100 cards make up the standard set and the other two sets are made up of foil chase cards to encourage trading.
Pictured: The art of not trading.
Now 198 cards seems several dozen too many especially when you consider the set is based on a show that has featured presumably no more than ten almost notable people during its entire course. Quite why you would want to own them all and spend £0.99 per six card pack and/or £6.99 for the collector’s starter box, is a mystery worthy of the Mary Celeste official league. Anyone who feels the desire to own Leona Lewis or JLS (should seek a priest) could just purchase their respective albums as those will have more ownership value than 99p cards. Although how much more value is debatable.
In truth it isn’t so much as the basis for the trading cards that has got my metaphorical underpants doing a Hank Ballard metaphorical twist as there are already several trading card games based on a myriad of pointless subjects including Gone with the Wind and hot air balloons. I could probably launch a trading card series with portraits of me expressing different varieties of scowls. No what makes them awful is the fact that they serve little other purpose than for the sake of collecting them, when usually these sort of collections are also intended for gaming; whether it be as simple as top trumps style stats V.S stats or as rule laden and socially unappealing as Magic: The Gathering. With no stats or information of any use featured about the selected personality, drawing stick figure interpretations of the symmetrically perfect contestants underneath their names has just as much effect.
Factory Entertainment have also revealed they are producing 12 special promotional cards to give to the 12 finalists who can do whatever they like with them, i.e. use them as toilet paper when they run out mid-way and only have the card to hand. They are essentially pointless as pretty much everyone that bothers to collect the cards will never so much be in the same room as one of these exclusives; and those that have invested the time, money and effort into obtaining these will be so unappealing to the human race they might as well own a coat made entirely from infant Black Lemur pelts.
All in all, the cards are of shoddy quality and almost definitely aimed at an audience that still thinks Myspace is cutting edge. Not only does the X Factor totalitarian regime, sorry franchise, gain a powerful ally in Tesco and (to a lesser extent) Factory Entertainment but it also gets your money – after all why should you have spare money if you aren’t going to waste it voting for the constants in their silly soap opera masquerading as a talent show. The manufacturers Factory Entertainment are obviously hoping that the exclusivity of the 12 promotional cards will garnish enough interest in the collection to turn us into Wombles who will recycle this rubbish in useful and ingenious ways, i.e. a makeshift dartboard.