For decades, fans of baseball have collected, traded, sold, and bought baseball cards. The cards have been around since the 1950's and offer fans images of their favorite players along with stats and other information.
For all of those years, Topps baseball cards have not changed significantly. The cards are still made from cardboard and offer stats and other information on the player. However, Topps is set to take the baseball card world high-tech by offering a new Series I Topps 3D Live baseball card.
Steve Grimes, chief digital officer at Topps told The New York Times, "This is the ‘Beam 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."
The new cards use technology from a company called Total Immersion. The tech has reportedly already been used in the theme park and auto design markets for a while. With Topps, the technology allows fans to take the baseball cards, hold them in front of a webcam and on the computer screen they see a 3D avatar of the player on the card, which can be used to play basic games like batting, catching and pitching.
The card can be turned in any direction and the avatar will face that direction allowing the fan to see the avatar from all sides. The high-tech baseball cards are an attempt by Topps to regain some of the former market it once held and has now lost to the internet where facts about players are easier to find. The New York Times reports that baseball and other sports trading cards were once a $1 billion business, but the business has declined to $200 million yearly.
Topps was purchased in 2007 by Michael Eisner's Tornante company along with Madison Dearborn Partners for $385 million. According to Eisner, Topps expects to ship 10 million combined packs of the Series 1 baseball cards with each pack of 12 cards selling for $2 and Topps Attax cards selling at $1 per pack of five.
Eisner said, "We take technology as our friend. The playing card is the beginning, not the end."