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During production, cards are sometimes printed with flaws. In most cases, these printing errors add no value to the card. Cards, for example, that are printed when the press runs out of ink are not misprints. Printing presses cannot be easily stopped, so it's very common that cartridges run out of ink before they can be refilled. While quality control usually prevents this situation, it can happen with some regularity since a press needs time to refill properly. Cards that have chopped edges or non exact-cuts are not misprints either. After card sheets are printed, precisely aligned blades cut the sheet into individual cards. At some point, the cutting blades dull or misalign, and this results in imprecise cuts and irregular edges. Defective cards are not misprints.
A true misprint results from a malformed printing plate. Usually, the printing plate contains a design error made before the plates were manufactured. Plates are inspected and, if necessary, discarded before card production begins. Unfortunately, malformed printing plates pass inspection on occasion, and some cards print with this error. Once the mistake is identified, the defective plate is discarded and replaced by a new one, and misprinted cards are destroyed before they are packaged. True misprints must escape this last quality assurance also, and their rarity gives them their collectible value.
However, if the printing plate is not destroyed and substituted by a new one, the error cannot be considered as a misprint, since production took the conscious decision to continue printing with a malformed plate. Misprints are supposed to happen by a combination of accidental errors before the production starts, and by definition, are supposed to be extremely rare. If production continues while the problem is acknowledged and no intervention occurs, there is no accidental error and cannot be considered "misprinted".
To be considered as a true misprint, a card must be printed from an unacknowledged defective plate. Once the error is reported, the defective plate must be discarded and substituted by a new one which does not contain the same error. The defective plate must be destroyed, so the same problem does not persist in the same production run. In most cases, misprints are located and destroyed or are subject to substituted quality controls before they can reach the streets, so the amount of available misprints in the market is very limited.
Examples of true misprints:
- A "Dark Paladin" from the 1st Edition release of Magicians Force which featured an alternate art intended exclusively for the Duel Masters Guide.
- A "Goblin Attack Force" from Pharaoh's Servant (Unlimited Edition) has the EARTH Attribute meshed with a Level Star.
- The "Gold Series" edition of "Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon" had 3000 DEF, where in reality it should have had 3800 DEF.
- The first printing of Nomi monster "Ocean Dragon Lord - Neo-Daedalus" from Structure Deck: Fury from the Deep showed it as a monster that could be Normal Summoned. It has since been errata'd.
- A "Amazoness Fighter" from Magician's Force has 1300 ATK printed instead of the real 1500 ATK. In later booster pack prints, this was changed to represent the real ATK amount.
- A "Counter Counter" from Tactical Evolution (1st Edition) was accidentally printed in its initial run with no Counter Trap Card symbol on it. This was later added in later runs of the First Edition pack.
- A "Kinetic Soldier" from Champion Pack: Game Four has the monster's Attribute mistakenly listed as LIGHT.
- An "Elemental HERO Wildedge" listed one of its fusion material monsters as "Elemental Hero Edgeman" instead of "Elemental HERO Bladedge". "Edgeman" is the literal translation of Bladedge's name from Japanese.
- "Colossal Fighter" had in a starter deck a poker print over the original artwork.
- A "Dark Assailant" in SDK 1st edition had its name written as Dark Assassin.
- "Blackwing - Ghibli the Searing Wind" from DP11 is misprinted as a Level 4 monster. The correct Level should be 3.
- A "Book of Secret Arts" from LOB & SDY is misprinted without the feather above the book.
- A "Two-Mouth Darkruler" from LOB is misprinted as a Dragon instead of a Dinosaur.
- A "Sword of Dark Destruction" from SDY is misprinted without the electric aura around the sword and with a different background color.
- A Korean version of "Neos Wiseman" from PP06 is misprinted as a Fusion Monster, instead of a normal Effect Monster.
- Some early copies of the Super Rares from Champion Pack: Game Six were accidentally printed as Ultra Rares.
- A Secret Rare German "Book of Moon" from Legendary Collection 3 Mega-Pack printed with the text of "Creature Swap".
- A "Trial of Nightmare" in LOB 1st edition had its name written as Trial of Hell.
- A Super Rare "Evilswarm Ophion" from DT07 that doesn't have its Parallel Film over the card.
- A Super Rare "Constellar Praesepe" from DT07 that doesn't have its Parallel Film over the card.
- A Ultra Rare "Vylon Disigma" from DT06 that have its Parallel Film finished at the start of the name of the card.
There's a small group of cards that initially may be considered as misprints, since they contain a true error accidentally generated before the production began, but once the problem was informed, the company which produces the cards decided it was so insignificant that continued the production using the same plate. As a result, the entire run of this printings contains the same error so they don't count as misprints, which by definition, are supposed to be very rare. These cards usually only have one or two letters misplaced, which in most cases are not noticeable. Since there are thousands of these cards in circulation, hardly any can be considered to be valuable misprints. Note this same criteria is also used when printing books, newspapers, advertising, etc. If just one letter out of place were enough to be considered a real misprint, then the entire production of printed media should be considered universally misprinted.
- The Special Edition "Chaos Emperor Dragon - Envoy of the End" TLM-ENSE2 with the word "your" spelled "yoru" in its lore's effect.
- "Exodia the Forbidden One" secret version from the Master Collection Volume 1 has "you" instead of "your" in its Lore box.
- The "Twin-Headed Behemoth" in Structure Deck: Rise of the Dragon Lords English has an extra 0 in its card number (SDRL-EN0010).
- "Riryoku Field" from Structure Deck: Kaiba Evolution has 3 l's in the word "Spell" in the lore.
- "Koa'ki Meiru Gravirose" has "you" instead of "your" in its effect.
- The 1st Edition of "Baxia, Brightness of the Yang Zing", from Duelist Alliance, has "Syncro" instead of "Synchro" on its Type text.
Production defects that do not count as misprints:
Due to the nature of the printing process, the press needs to be constantly supervised and re-calibrated. The printing plates are supposed to be perfectly aligned to respect each others position. From time to time, due to the printing press vibrations, one of the plates loses its proper alignment, producing cards with their names, artwork or texts out of their original positions. These cards can be considered as a production failure, but not as misprints, since the printing plates are not defective. The plates just need to be re-aligned.
Also note a massive press cannot be easily stopped. Once it starts to run, it moves as fast as a train. Stopping a press in the middle of production is an unlikely situation. If the press runs out if ink, the production is not stopped. Usually, the press continues its work while being refilled. For this reason, several sheets can be partially printed with parts of their artwork or texts missing. These sheets are usually located and separated from the rest before being cut and packed, but from time to time few of these cards may reach the streets. Refilling the press can cause the exact opposite situation, cards printed with excess of ink. Both of these situations can be considered as bad quality printings, but not misprints.
Similar as the ink filling problem, the press is fed with several different paper rolls of different weight. The paper rolls are also mixed with an Aluminum foil roll to produce the Yu-Gi-Oh! foil cards. Sometimes, one of the rolls runs out, producing as a result cards thinner than usual, cards that have the foil on top or back of the card, or cards that do not have foil at all. When replacing the paper rolls few cards can be produced thicker instead.
All cards with irregular edges or cards that were cut out of center are not misprints, but defective.
Any card that has no ink on its name or lore, or an appropriate amount of color in some parts of the art (ink flaw):
- "The End of Anubis", "Dark Magician Girl", "Debris Dragon", "Uria, Lord of Searing Flames", "Ancient Lamp", the Ultra Rare versions of "Sylvan Snapdrassinagon" and "And the Band Played On" (via Primal Origin: Deluxe Edition) etc., have been frequently reported with no ink on its title name.
- A "Raigeki" from Legend of Blue Eyes printed black instead of white.
- A "Jinzo" from Pharaoh's Servant with no ink on its head.
Any card with text (title or lore) or art out of place (bad color registration):
- A "The Legendary Fisherman" has the name over top the stars.
- The IOC-SE1 "Gemini Elf" has the name not in the normal spot, instead it is where the stars are.
- A "Destroyersaurus" has the name over the level stars.
Any card with a foil sheet (rare, ultra rare or secret) all over the top or back of the card (paper flaw):
- A "Don Zaloog" from Dark Beginning Series with foil all over the card's front.
- A "Chthonian Emperor Dragon" from Tactical Evolution unlimited version with foil all over the card's front.
Any card cut off center, or with bad edges (cut flaw):
- A "Mirror Force" from Gold Series (TCG-EN) cut off center.
- An "Imperial Order" from Pharoh's Servant cut in half.
- A "Mystical Space Typhoon" from Structure Deck: Marik, just a corner.
Several different printing plates are used to produce one sheet of cards. A plate set for a specific run of cards is usually composed of four plates - one for each color, plus one or two extra plates for the special finish of some cards (gold or silver lettering, shining cover for parallel rares, etc). Sometimes, one of the printing plates does not belong to the same set. By mistake, one of the plates is mounted on the press from a different sheet set. As a result, several sheets are printed with their names switched with other cards, sometimes of different rarity. In these cases, once the error is discovered, the wrong plate is switched back with the correct one and the production continues. In fact, in most cases, this type of error is easily detected during the initial test run of a sheet and immediately fixed, but few cards can be missed and accidentally packed, hence the reason why mismatches can be easily found on the streets. These cards do not count as real misprints for two reasons: the plates aren't defective and there's no need to create a new one and the correct plate simply is placed back on its correspondent position, and in most cases the mismatch was produced as part of an initial test printing, not the real printing run. Cards printed during the initial test are supposed to be discarded before the main production begins (see below Production running tests).
Examples (there's no need to list all of them, since the flaw is the same in most cases):
Any card whose name does not correspond with the card's artwork or code (plate mismatch):
- A "Mad Sword Beast" with the name "Blast with Chain" instead of its own.
- An "Elemental HERO Chaos Neos" with the name "Rainbow Dragon" instead of its own.
- A "Man-Eater Bug" with the name "Morphing Jar" instead of its own.
Any card whose lore does not correspond to the card's artwork, name or code (plate mismatch):
- A "Winged Sage Falcos" (from Spanish language Tournament pack) The name on the card is in Portuguese, but the rest of the card is in Spanish.
Any card whose title name has a different rarity of the one originally intended to be (plate mismatch):
- A "Snake Rain" with the title name printed in Secret Rare foil.
- An "Elemental HERO Marine Neos" with its title name printed in Secret Rare foil.
Any card with a foil finish (common, super rare, ultra rare, ultimate, ghost or secret) different from the one originally intended to be (paper sheet mismatch):
- A "Mispolymerization" that was printed as a Normal Spell Card with no foil finish.
- A german "Diamond Dire Wolf" that uses "Mystical Fairy Elfuria"'s Secret Rare foil sheet instead of its own.
Some cards are printed in 1st Edition, but do not have the golden square at the bottom of the card, it is just silver, like an Unlimited Edition card. Also, they usually have the square printed slightly off.
Production running tests
Since preparing the press to print a specific set of cards is a labor that takes several hours, prior to the main run, several test sheets are printed to determine if the printing press has been properly calibrated. This production test includes all possible variations a card may have. The most common is a series of CMYK stripes initially printed to corroborate if the press has the appropriate amount of ink all over the printing roll. Once it has been tested, these production tests are discarded and trashed. However, since cut and packing is part of the entire production line, sometimes few of these test cards can be packed by accident, and are included in few boosters. These tests do not have value at all, except for being a curiosity.
- Any card with plain CMYK color stripes, (no matter rarity).
- Any blank card with no face, (no matter rarity).
- Any blank card with no back, (no matter rarity).
- Any card partially blank, may contain just the artwork or text, but in most cases not both, (no matter rarity).