The latest attempt by Topps to garner a larger share of the kids audience won’t be through a baseball card set, but rather a baseball card game. Topps Attax, scheduled to ship in late February, will offer an affordable ($7.99 for starter decks, 99 cents for booster packs) and simple game that the company believes will be popular with kids ages 7-10.
“We’ve always felt like, for us to be successful with kids, we need products crafted just for kids,” said Mark Sapir, vice president of marketing for Topps. “Trying to build a game into a traditional card product, it always gets lost. If you want kids to notice something that will appeal to them, it has to be a stand-alone product.”
The inspiration for this particular game comes, in part, from the success Topps has had in Europe with a soccer-themed product called Match Attax. Now in its second year, Sapir described the game as “extremely successful,” in part because of its simplicity. “We had a blueprint for success,” he said.
The format of the game is more like Home Run Derby than a traditional baseball strategy game. Each player builds a team of nine position players and four pitchers. Each pitcher has three pitches and a rating associated with each. One player places down a pitcher card and calls his choice of pitch. If the batter for the other team has a higher score against that pitch, it’s a home run. A lower score is an out. Play continues for three innings.
“Most games that have been out there in recent years have tried too hard to play exactly like baseball,” Sapir said. “That gets complicated for young kids. They like the basics.”
The product will feature a base set, of which 65 players will have silver-foil parallels that offer higher performance. Thirty of the game’s best players will be featured on gold cards that are harder to find. In addition, six all-time greats are included as part of Topps’ exclusive licensing deal with CMG Worldwide.
Each pack will also include a card featuring an online code that allows players access to cards they can use to participate in an online version of the game. It will be played in the same way as the card game, but offer more visual elements.
Topps will roll out a three-month TV advertising campaign in April. Print and online ads will also be utilized. Hobby shops who are part of the company’s HTA network can contact Topps for game kits that allow them to host games in their stores.