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Non Sport Magazine

March 2007

Scans contributed by Ross

Let's Relate Dangerously

Rittenhouse Archives developed Dangerous Liaisons as a thematic title illustrating tension-filled relationships among characters within many ongoing story frames. The concept worked well last winter for Rittenhouse's James Bond franchise. Dangerous Liaisons returns as another entry on February 7 in the firm's Xena: Warrior Princess trading card line.

The 72-card base set centers on actor Lucy Lawless' role as the nomadic fighter in her most intriguing personal encounters. Also featured is Xena's cohort Gabrielle, portrayed by Renee O'Connor.

As expected, a generous assembly of costume cards (inserted two in every box) have been conceived and produced. The costume sections have been lifted not only from the wardrobes of Lawless and O'Connor, but also from Kevin Sorbo (Hercules) and several other guest stars.

Rittenhouse has produced two fabric swatch card categories, each comprised of 11 cards. Most of the single costume cards derive from Xena season six. Exceptions include a fabric worn by Lawless in a season one February 1996 episode titled "Mortal Beloved"; a Xena costume that appeared in the season four two-part premiere, "Adventures in the Sin Trade"; and also garb worn by Michael Holt in "Comedy of Eros from season two. Five costume cards come from season six, two originate from season five.

The 11 dual or two-fabric costume cards provide a more balanced representation of Xena's broadcast history. The collection begins with a Xena/Hercules double swatch card taken from "Prometheus," a season one telecast from November 1995. The dual costume card breakdown lists two cards from season one; one from season two; two from season three; two from season four; two from season five; and one from season six. Other bonuses include a nine-card set depicting Cal-listo (actress Hudson Leick) titled Rise and Fall of the Warrior Queen (seeded 1:40 packs); an 18-card Women and Weapons issue (1:20 packs); and a 36-card series examining Xena comic books (1:10 packs).

Rittenhouse president Steve Charendoff also announced three rare cards that will highlight the company's continuing distributor incentives program. Hobbyists buying one case receive a Musetta Vander autograph card in her role as Ilainus from the February 2000 episode "Amphipolis Under Siege." A two-case purchase secures a quadruple costume card from the characters Xena, Hercules, Gabrielle and Ioalus (Michael Hurst). The six-case purchase card is a dual signature card autographed by Lawless and Sorbo. Collectors will recall a similar double autograph pasteboard released for Xena & Hercules: The Animated Adventures in October 2005. The Dangerous Liaisons rare signature card depicts both actors in their live-action guises. The products collectors' album boasts a dual costume card featuring Gabrielle and Ioalus.

Charendoff offered a glimpse into the working thesis behind Xena: Dangerous Liaisons. "The show had so many characters and many conflicts and crises within. [Characters] don't always have to be adversaries inasmuch as have a relationship that contains elements of danger. With Xena, there's danger everywhere, so you can pretty much pair her up with just about ever)7 character (especially Xena herself). The card set goes into detail in ways that's not likely been done on cards or other products."

Today, Lucy Lawless experiences less on-screen peril than she met on Xena, although the performer enjoys a semi-regular role as journalist D'Anna Biers in Battlestar Galactica, another Rittenhouse title. Lawless exhibited her considerable singing talents on FOX's Celebrity Duets last summer, and vocalized with Kenny Loggins, Dionne Warwick and Richard Marx. She suffered a near miss in finishing runner-up to Alfonso Ribeiro, who had been awarded a $100,000 prize to be donated to charity. Reruns of Xena: Warrior Princess currently air on the Oxygen cable network.