Monday, March 09, 2009

Michael Eisner Is Hoping Kids Will Let Ryan Howard Take A Few Strokes On Their Hands

The sports trading card industry has been dying a long, slow death. Anyone who thought they were going to retire with a closet full of Gregg Jefferies and Ken Griffey Jr rookie cards can tell you that. (Although right now, those cards might be worth more than their 401k.) Ever since Michael Eisner bought Topps in 2007, he's been looking for a way to make cards relevant again. Given his entertainment background, he's making the same move that desperate franchises like Friday the 13th and Amityville made. He's going 3-D. Hitting stores today will be Topps 3D Live, a set of baseball cards that seem like standard cards at first, but when held up to a webcam, will spring to virtual life:

Kind of cool, in a "Star Wars chess game" kind of way. But this series is marketed towards kids who won't have that sense of nostalgia; and it's hard to envision kids wanting to press "N" to throw a pitch at a target when they could they pick up their Wii Super Slam Bat and take a few hacks themselves.

So that just leaves adult men as potential buyers. But these packs are priced at two bucks a pop, and even in this economy, collectors believe that if they're going to get a 50 cent card, they want to pull it from a $100 pack. Still, I could see these filling a niche role for guys. For anyone with a webcam in their cubicle, these players could serve as a great little time-killer during conference calls. Also, these cards could be a big hit in the home of Yankees fans, who could get undressed, put their Derek Jeter card on the webcam, and finally fulfill all of those fantasies with the captain of their hearts. Just beware of virtual herpes.

Hmmm...maybe these virtual cards do have some potential. But rather than picking up a pack of Topps, I'm going to have to wait for Benchwarmer to license the technology.

Now that's worth two bucks a pop.

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