March 09, 2009
I've never been a big fan of 3-D technology. As a kid, I never liked wearing those red-and-blue glasses over my regular specs and the awful joke that was Michael Jackson's Captain EO almost singlehandedly ruined our family vacation to Epcot Center. Only a chance meeting with Mr. Smee later that week saved me from a lifetime of night terrors.
Given my dislike for any pop culture that comes in more than two dimensions, it's probably not surprising to hear that I'm not very impressed by the new 3-D Live baseball cards that Topps is rolling out this season. Starting today, collectors who hold up the special 3-D cards up to their webcam will see a multi-dimensional rendering of the card's featured player on the computer screen. The collector can then look at the player from all angles by simply rotating the card.
Total Immersion, a French company, brought Topps the augmented reality technology. It has already been used in a theme park and for some auto design work. Using the technology, card collectors see a three-dimensional version of a player and can play elementary pitching, batting and catching games using the computer keyboard ...
Topps and Upper Deck already drive collectors to the Web by inserting special cards with unique codes in the packs. Entering the codes at Toppstown.com or UpperDeckU.com allows fans to create avatars, trade virtual cards and enter virtual worlds and interact with other visitors.
On deck: Virtual cards that "come alive and contain video," said Louise Curcio, vice president for marketing at Upper Deck.
As Topps officials admit, this is obviously a ploy to get boys back into the habit of collecting cards. But given the fact that the Xbox generation can look at and play with much-better rendered versions of their heroes in video games like MLB 2K9, doesn't this seem like a gimmick that will hold an 11-year-old's attention for 46 seconds — pardon the pun — Topps?
Granted, I don't have too many answers for the trading card industry as to how they can regain the influence and power they held in the 1980s. Still, I don't think that this is the long-term answer.
(Plus, as anyone who ever bought a box of Kellogg's cereal back in the day can tell you, this 3-D baseball card thing has been done before.)
If you'd like to see a demonstration of how the Topps 3D Live cards work, watch the video below. To read a recovering addict's review of the '09 Topps set, click here.