March 9, 2009

Topps Brings Baseball Cards Into The Third Dimension

On Monday, sports card veteran Topps will unveil a revolutionary new type of baseball card that will bring players' images to life.

Topps is releasing its 3D Live baseball card, which allows consumers to view a three-dimensional depiction of players on a computer screen by holding the card in front of a webcam.

Card collectors will also be able to rotate the card to see the player's avatar from every angle.

Topps is working alongside Total Immersion to bring 33 MLB players to life using new 3D imagery. The technology responsible for bringing players to life is known as augmented reality, which brings real images to life by combining them with a virtual image.

"This is the "ËœBeam me up, Scotty' version of a baseball card that will get kids to buy more. We see this baseball season as a redefining moment for us," Steve Grimes, chief digital officer at Topps, told the New York Times.

"Fans can control the action as players magically emerge from the card (not the dugout) to pitch, bat and catch their way around the desktop "“ digitally," Topps and Total Immersion said in a written statement.

The cards will come in every pack of Topps 2009 Baseball Series 1 as well as new packs of Topps Attax baseball card game. To activate the virtual images, consumers must log on to the Topps 3D Live section of the Web site and select the player on the code card. The card is activated by holding it under a standard webcam.

"Our vision to transform Topps into a sports media company is well underway," said Michael Eisner, former chief of Walt Disney, and founder of The Torante Company, which owns The Topps Company.

"With the exciting launch of Topps 3D Live, children and adult collectors alike will get to experience something they've only dreamed about, watching their favorite players come to digital life right before their eyes. With the help of our innovative partner Total Immersion and its use of augmented reality, the physical baseball trading card is now just the beginning of the experience."

The baseball card market was once a thriving $1 billion business, but has since fallen to $200 million annually, according to New York Times cited information from Major League Baseball Properties in a recent lawsuit against a former card licensee.

Eisner said Topps expected to ship 10 million packs of Series 1 (12 cards for $2) and Topps Attax cards this year (5 for $1), according to the Times.

"Here we have an American icon, the baseball card, which has been known, loved and essentially unchanged since 1869," said Bruno Uzzan, chief of Total Immersion. "Marrying augmented reality to the mainstay consumer product of the national pastime just feels right. Fans and collectors have always felt an emotional connection to their cards, wanting to get up-close-and-personal with their favorite players. Now, with 'Topps 3D Live,' that relationship enters an entirely different dimension.


Image Caption: Phillies slugger Howard in augmented reality.


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