Marvel Masterpieces 1994 Edition Trading Cards by The Hildebrandt Brothers, cards #101-120

Marvel Masterpieces 1994 Edition was a trading card collection by fantasy artists The Hildebrandt Brothers that featured paintings of characters from the Marvel Comics universe. This batch concentrates on cards #101-120.

Released by Fleer in 1994 the set comprised of 140 trading cards that measured 2½ x 3½ inches, shipped in blind gold foil packs of ten cards per pack. Each card featured a painting by the Hildebrandt Brothers (Greg and Tim) on one side with a biography of that character and a short caption by the brothers on the reverse. As was the norm with trading cards released at that time chase cards were inserted randomly into packs, including gold, silver, bronze and red holofoils, as well as ‘Signature’ cards.

Star Wars poster painted by the Brothers, based on Thomas Jung’s original illustration.

Greg and Tim Hildebrandt were twin brothers who in the mid-1970’s shot to international fame when their paintings based on J.R.R Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings featured in three bestselling calendars (published in 1976, 1977 and 1978). Their fame spread further when their work appeared on the cover to Terry Brooks’ bestselling fantasy novel The Sword of Shannara in 1977. And their painting for the original one-sheet poster for Star Wars that same year only cemented their popularity among both fantasy and film fans.

Both Greg and Tim Hildebrandt collaborated closely on the paintings they worked on and they quickly gained a reputation for professionalism and diligence that impressed commissioning editors. Their habit of creating richly detailed pencilled roughs for each painting also won them fans, with many preferring them to the finished artwork. The Brothers also relied heavily on photo reference material (a common practise for many artists) and based many of their paintings on the likeness of real people — for instance their business manager posed for the Scarlet Witch (card #105) while Tim himself modelled for Skin (#112).

Different preliminary sketches for Siege (card #109)

Out of all the cards in the collection this batch of cards contains many of my favourites. The ever popular Spider-Man (card #115) makes an appearance, as does the X-Men’s Storm (#118). There’s a cheeky cheese-cake rendition of She-Hulk (#108) while Wolverine’s arch-enemy Sabretooth (#102) also makes a dramatic appearance (against a lushly forested background). Although The Silver Surfer (#111) painting is gorgeous (I love the lava planet in the background) my favourite of this batch — and of the entire collection — is Jubilee (#101). There’s a wonderful sense of exuberance and exhilaration in the painting that contrasts greatly with some of the more mean-and-moody superhero renditions in the collection; Jubilee simply loves being a superhero and this painting does a terrific job of depicting her joy and freedom.

Here are cards #101-120 of the Marvel Masterpieces 1994 Edition by the Hildebrandt Brothers, both front and back. The final batch of cards are here.

Card #101: Rogue

Card #102: Sabretooth

Card #103: Sauron

Card #104: Scarecrow

Card #105: Scarlet Witch

Card #106: Shadowcat

Card #107: Shatterstar

Card #108: She-Hulk

Card #109: Siege

Card #110: Silver Sable

Card #111: Silver Surfer

Card #112: Skin

Card #113: Skullfire

Card #114: Solo

Card #115: Spider-Man

Card #116: Spider-Man 2099

Card #117: Spider-Woman

Card #118: Storm

Card #119: Strange

Card #120: Synch