Trading Mouse Ears for Cards that Attax…

“I’m like a crazed man about this,” says Mr. Eisner. “It’s not my job to analyze it, but to make it grow.”

It figures that it took someone like Michael Eisner, the former chief of the Walt Disney Company, to come up with a way to move baseball cards from the realm of collectors back into the hands of kids.  A recent story in The Wall Street Journal detailed how Eisner is championing a nationwide rollout of Attax baseball cards with a fantasy twist by Topps that will coincide with the 2010 major league baseball opening day (April 5).

10ax_starterIt all started three years ago when Eisner’s investment company, Tornante, along with some others, bought the Topps trading cards and candy company.  At the time, Topps had hit a low point in popularity.  Fortunes changed when a member of the Topps team based out of London came up with the Attax concept.

“Like traditional baseball cards, the Attax line features glossy player pictures. But rather than list dozens of statistics on the back, the new baseball cards have just three ratings for each player’s ability at pitching and batting. In games, one player puts out a pitcher, face up, and another a batter, face down. The first player then decides which of several pitches to throw. If the rating for that pitch bests the batter’s rating for those types of pitches a strikeout results; if not, it’s a home run for the player with the batter card.”

According to Eisner, “It’s a very simple game.”

topps3dLast year, Eisner’s name was tied to another move to make Topps relevant: 3D cards using augmented reality technology. With the help of a French company called Total Immersion, anyone who holds a special Topps 3D Live baseball card in front of a webcam will see a three-dimensional avatar of the player on the computer screen. Rotate the card, and the figure rotates in full perspective.

While an interesting an innovative concept, the Attax cards clearly are more engaging. When the Topps 3D story hit, Eisner stated said he sees Topps as “a cultural, iconic institution not that different from Disney; it conjures up an emotional response that has a feel good, Proustian kind of uplift.”

The fact that it gets kids and baseball fans away from the computer and television is probably the best part of all.


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  1. Isn’t it weird that Eisner is moving in the Pokemon direction with Attax, and Trip Hawkins, the founder of Electronic Arts and currently CEO of Digital Chocolate, is moving in the other? According to a story at, Hawkins is introducing a new Facebook gaming platform called NanoStar Social Games that he thinks will take social gaming into the next generation. The idea relies on an old school gaming form: trading cards. Hawkins believes that an update to role-playing card games mixed with social platforms can expand gaming to a wider audience and can create true social interactions.
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