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Topps Hopes Cards & Computers a Good Marriage

The guy on the coardboard can now jump onto the monitor and take some swings in Topps' foray into 3-D.

Topps is hoping kids will latch onto its attempt to introduce interactive technology to its baseball card products with the introduction of “Topps 3D Live” baseball trading cards.

Phillies' slugger Ryan Howard and 32 other MLB stars are brought to life through a Topps partnership with French technology company Total Immersion.

For Topps, 'augmented reality' baseball cards is the first major step toward the digital age by new owner Michael Eisner, whose Tornante Company combined forces with Madison Dearborn Partners to buy the company in 2007. Topps calls the idea the' 'biggest innovation in its 140-year history'.

Augmented reality is an interactive experience where virtual components are dynamically merged into a live video stream in real time. A demonstration can be seen here.

Interactive code cards can be found in every pack of Topps 2009 Baseball Series 1 pack and also in packs of the new Topps Attax baseball card game. Fans log on to www.toppstown.com, enter the Topps 3D Live section and select the player on the code card. Once the the program is initialized, a collector holds the card under a standard webcam, an image of the player pops up from the card onscreen and springs to life. Players can then be rotated around, and fans can control the action with a keystroke or two as it unfolds on the desktop.

Topps 3D Live augmented reality baseball trading cards are one of the focal points of Topps Town, an online sports community developed just for kids. The site was unveiled in June 2008 as part of the iconic company’s plans to expand into the digital space.

“Our vision to transform Topps into a sports media company is well underway,” said Eisner. “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.“

“Here we have an American icon, the baseball card, which has been known, loved and essentially unchanged since 1869,” said Bruno Uzzan, CEO, 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.

“Not only can they see these athletes in 3D but they can bring them into their homes, have the players walk around their desks, and even play a game of catch,” Uzzan said. “Augmented reality gives virtually any product, the means to come alive and enthrall the consumer, driving sales and fostering brand loyalty. This kind of engagement -- getting the consumer into the action -- is what AR delivers consistently, across the board.”

“With 3D Live, Topps is continuing its commitment to innovation,” said Steve Grimes, Chief Digital Officer, Topps. “This exciting new technology is just one of several new things at Toppstown.com. In addition to seeing their favorite players come to life, kids can now battle each other with Topps Attax, the new multiplayer baseball card game, collect and trade digital cards, furnish their clubhouse and backyard, get live scores and play fantasy-style games.”


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