Will Corny 3-D Animations Sell More Baseball Cards?


Baseball card maker Topps is the latest to use Webcams to turn a piece of paper — in this case, baseball cards — into 3-D computer animations. Will it help rescue the baseball card industry from its rapid decline?

New “special Topps 3D Live” cards, when held in front of a Webcam, will activate 3-D animations of the players on computer screens. You can check out a video (not embeddable) on the New York Times‘ Web site.

“This is the ‘Beam me up, Scotty’ version of a baseball card that will get kids to buy more,” Topps chief digital officer Steve Grimes told the Times. The sports trading card industry has dropped to around $200 million in annual revenue, down about 80% from its $1 billion peak, the Times notes.

So will the animations get people to buy more cards? Hard to see why. It’s not like the cards are scarce pieces to use in a video game — as far as we can tell, it’s just an animation that lasts for a few seconds and has little repeat value.

As one-time avid baseball card collectors, we still have some nostalgia for Topps (and Donruss, Upper Deck) packs, stale bubble gum, etc.

But it’s hard to see their relevance growing again — even with cheesy 3-D animations — in an era when kids can get all the baseball stuff they can handle — including real-time stats, video, photos, etc. — on the Web and the MLB app on their iPod touch.

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