01 February 2015

Pack of the Day 83: A Box of Cryptozoic Downton Abbey Seasons 1 & 2

I picked up a couple of boxes of Cryptozoic's Downton Abbey Seasons 1 & 2 cards when Dave and Adam's had them on sale recently. I haven't watched much of the show, to be honest, but my wife is really into it and I've watched enough over her shoulder to know that if I had any time it might be a guilty pleasure of mine to watch it as well. My problem with all of these shows is that if anyone would just talk to anyone else for a few minutes 95% of the problems would be solved without a lot of intrigue, death, and skulking about, but I guess that would ruin the fun of the show.

The base set contains 126 cards and follows the events of the first two seasons of the show, basically from the sinking of the Titanic through the end of World War One. I haven't watched enough of it to know everything that goes on in the show, but here's what I remember of it.

Here Mr. Carson, the stern butler, reads an editorial in the newspaper about the offensive songs the lower classes have been listening to in the music halls. This worries him greatly as he has heard some of his downstairs staff talking about spending time in these establishments. William the footman is looking on quite nervously in the background, as he has been visiting the music halls with his love interest, Daisy, who also works on the staff. He knows that Mr. Carson is pretty much the B.A. Baracus of Downton Abbey and doesn't take no guff from anybody, least of all footmen. Mr. Carson announces that the best way to fight an enemy is to know the enemy, and marches off to the family's new gramophone to hear this devil music for himself.

Leaning in close, he has Lady Mary Crawley put on a recording that he has confiscated from an alcove in the kitchen, an event that was so upsetting to Daisy that dinner was several minutes late and overly salty. This was a true disaster and made Mr. Carson even more sure that this music hall business needed to stop.

After he gives a nod to indicate that he is ready, Lady Mary sets the needle down on the record and immediately the most awful and coarse music began to pour out of the contraption; with lurid lyrics full of bloomers, booze, and bosoms. Mr. Carson heroically shoves Lady Mary out of the room to protect her ears...

...and promptly collapses under the burden of the moral decay his staff has brought into the estate. Lady Mary hurries to her quarters, has her servants change her into something a bit more exciting, and then sends them off to fetch help.

The staff attempts to rescue Mr. Carson, but after his initial collapse the music has driven him into a frenzy and no one present is a match for a man of his strength, size, and moral fibre. Daisy manages to dart in and knock the recording away from the turntable (and also grab a stack of the confiscated recordings for safekeeping) just before Robert Crawley, the Earl of Grantham, arrives, sizes up the situation, and deftly chokes Mr. Carson out using a spare cummerbund he keeps in a desk drawer. Mr. Carson is hauled off to his quarters to rest, and meal services are all out of sorts for the next two days as he recovers from the ordeal.

The set does have one parallel, tobacco-sized minis made of similar cardstock to Upper Deck's Goodwin Champions cards. They feature smaller versions of their base card images and a truncated description of the scene on the back. You get a few of these per box, and I imagine it's pretty difficult to put a whole set together.

At War is a 9-card set featuring the characters in the show who go off to fight in World War One. They are supposedly seeded 1:12 packs, but this box was full of collation issues and I only got one card. There were quite a few doubles among the base cards and the minis, too. The other box was much better collation-wise.

Other inserts include one called Upstairs, highlighting the fancy-pants who live upstairs and their friends who visit. They're all Counts and Ladies and Dowagers. Their cards are on a shiny silvery foil card stock with some ornamentation on the border. There are twelve cards in the checklist.

The Downstairs insert features the servants who live downstairs and spend their time trying to ruin each others' lives and/or get busy with each other. Their hats are squishier than the hats of the nobility. Their cards are printed on shiny black foil card stock and feature plain frames. There are also twelve cards in this set.

Autographs and wardrobe cards are seeded one per box, but I didn't get a wardrobe card in this box. I sent a message to Cryptozoic about it, and they had me send in the box top and my invoice in to them. I got an e-mail a couple of days ago that they were shipping out a replacement for the missing card, so we will see what they sent me when it gets here. For now we can talk about the autograph I did get, which is Michelle Dockery, who plays Lady Mary Crawley. This is one of the more desirable autographs in the set, so I have that going for me. Several copies of this card have sold in the $80-90 range recently, which after eBay fees would just about pay for my two boxes of cards if I were to sell it. I am playing with the idea of putting together the master set, though, so I don't think I will sell it just yet.

And that's all for this box. It's kind of a fun break, although it is certainly not for everyone. I was a little disappointed in the collation, as Cryptozoic is usually on point with their products. I have purchased quite a few of their comic book releases and some of their cards for The Guild, and never been disappointed in the collation. I probably just got that one box that was in a weird spot in the print run where one batch ran into another batch and caused a bunch of duplicates and misses.


  1. Sounds like me, I watch sometimes just to be a good husband, my wife watches this every Sunday That Michelle Dockery looks like the twin of my wife's best friend.

    Some of those designs are very nice btw. The inserts are nice, and the Upstairs/Downstairs bit reminds me of the old Brit show by that name. Very similar to DA.

    1. I like the card designs. I think the autograph cards are done very well, and the Upstairs / Downstairs cards are also nicely done.

  2. I wouldn't have thought that there'd be any crossover between "people who collect things like cards" and "People who watch Downton Abbey"... But the show has gotten tremendously popular. Popular enough that most people know that it isn't called "Downtown Abbey". :-)

    At any rate, it looks like a very well-done set and if I were into the show at all I'd be looking into getting some.

    1. The set made Non-Sport Update Magazine's Reader's Choice Top 10 list for 2014, so someone out there liked it. You get quite a few auction results by searching eBay for 'Downtown Abbey.'

  3. Woohoo, Downton Arby's cards! :D