Hildebrant Brothers Marvel Masterpieces

Marvel Masterpieces, a trade name established in 1992 by Skybox, established in the consumer’s mind that a fully painted trading card set could be considered “Collectable Fine Art Cards.”  To top all previous Marvel Masterpieces releases, the team at Fleer  announced and created a masterpiece set drawn and painted entirely by world famous fantasy artists Greg and Tim Hildebrandt.

Hildebrandt Brothers Marvel Masterpieces 1994
Fleer Marvel Masterpieces Product Package

The Hildebrandts were a major announcement, immediately adding to the collecting frenzy already underway.  Best known for their popular “The Lord of the Rings” illustrations, and painting the first “Star Wars” movie posters, naming the Hildebrandt brothers the official artists of the 1994 Marvel Masterpieces Collection established the Marvel Masterpieces name as synonymous with fine art.  Never before had such famous fine artists, with such large and loyal fan followings signed on for a project of this profile and caliber.  The bar were raised on trading card artwork forever.

The Design Process

The Marvel characters were highly established by Stan Lee in the 60’s.  It was not unusual for highly talented commercial artists to be unfamiliar with the personalities and depictions of  certain characters within Marvel’s Library.  To educate the artists we created extensive Style Guides on thousands of Marvel’s most popular characters.  These images were shared with our art teams.  The art teams then provided, “Concept Sketches” for approval prior to painting.  The process ensured that fans received the characters that they love depicted in a manner that a lifetime fan would relate with.

Cyclops_Hildebrandt brothers_Sketch
Concept Sketch of X-Men Leader Cyclops
Cyclops_Hildebrandt brothers_Art
Finished Painted Artwork Based Upon Approved Design

Increase Perceived Value by Treating  Trading Cards as Fine Art

A constant theme in the marketing and promotion of this product was “Valuable Fine Art.”  The press, marketing and promotional materials were all designed to stress this concept.

One of the challenges was to get the retailer and consumer to associate “Fine Art” with trading cards.  Promotional materials, targeted press releases and concept focused interviews helped the market understand the high value of the product.  This promo piece, distributed in the tens of thousands utilized fine art design concepts, product examples, and the Hildebrandts teaching potential buyers concepts on art.

  • World Renowned Fantasy Artists fresh from their highly acclaimed Fleer Ultra X-Men chase cards describe their experience painting marvel masterpieces.
    •  Marvel’s Costume Designs are Terrific.  They’re Fun to Paint, Especially the Robotic Elements.
    • “We Use a Low Perspective to Enhance the Character’s Size, and Give Them a Sense of Majesty.”
    • “The More Light Sources You Have the More Dramatic the Piece.”
MArvel Masterpieces_tradaing-card-marvel-1994-front-horz
A constant theme in the marketing and promotion of this product was “Valuable Fine Art.” The press, marketing and promotional materials were all designed to stress this concept. Notice the use of paint tubes in the design scheme.

Specialty Cards, Sales Promotions and Chase Series

Marvel Masterpieces contained three subsets:

10 “Holo Foil”  cards featuring holographic foil stamping and depicting Marvel’s most popular heroes and villains were available in three metallic colors, exclusively in respective sales outlets – i.e. Silver specifically for hobby stores, Bronze for Mass Merchant outlets etc.  The “Market Exclusive” cards were a factor in gaining access to markets which had previously been unavailable to trading card manufacturers.

9 Power Blast cards.

Gold Signature Set

Hildebrandt Brothers Marvel Masterpieces was the first trading card set to introduce a”Parallel Set” to the entire series. All 140 base cards came with a parallel Gold-foil stamped “Signature” card, featuring a gold foil stamped autograph of the Hildebrandt Brothers.  The gold signature cards were shipped one per pack.  This concept proved so popular, high sales incentive that the technique  was used in numerous other other Fleer trading card sets.

Holo Foil Cards
1: Captain America
2: Carnage
3: Daredevil
4: Hulk
5: Iron Man
6: Punisher
7: Scarlet Witch
8: Spider-Man
9: Venom
10: War Machine

Power Blast Cards
PB1: Apocalypse
PB2: Archangel
PB3: Cable
PB4: Cyclops
PB5: Gambit
PB6: Magneto
PB7: Rogue
PB8: Sabretooth
PB9: Wolverine