Me Out To The Ball Game...
and Topps Announce Their First Joint Product...
inches tall, but
still on his way to a record.
the difference between a fanboy and a sports fan? Both possess
fantastic memories that track ridiculous amounts of statistics
and minutia about their respective subjects, yet often can't
remember their wedding anniversaries. Both prove very, very
dedicated to the objects of their fascination. And yet they
live in two separate worlds, only one really socially accepted.
the years various companies have tried to bring the two together.
Some thought that collectible card games would be a natural
crossover, because of the sports card connection, and yet
attempts have been met with general consumer disinterest.
Perhaps sports fans wouldn't sneer at fanboys if they had
action figures of their own…but then, as anyone who has ever
opened a McFarlane figure will attest, manly men aren't so
much buying action figures as they are statues with potential
articulation. Potential until you try to move one, which promptly
snaps. So, no, the two worlds don't really meet there.
recently the leader in sports collectible cards, Topps, may
have taken over the answer. Today, the veteran company announced
a product in conjunction with their subsidiary that may finally
get the jocks shoulder to shoulder with the geeks.
press conference introduced by MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, WizKids
and Topps presented the first game of their new dual regime:
more specific, Major League Baseball Sports Clix, which is
scheduled for release to coincide with 2004 Spring Training.
wild stretch of the imagination at all, considering the strengths
of the two companies. But it's one that could open new doors
in both collecting and game-playing. Like previous dial-based
games from WizKids, one starter set is all you need to face
down an opponent. Suggested to retail for $19.99, a set comes
complete with nine figures for a full team, a stadium playmat,
specially formulated dice, and of course, the rules. Consumers
will be able to choose from two different line-ups. Booster
sets come in two-packs at $4.99 and 3-packs at $6.99, and
will contain random assortments.
will assume the role of team manager, determining line-ups
and battng orders while hoping not to wear their team down.
As each figure is of an actual player from the previous baseball
season (they plan to update annually), you can choose a line-up
with various strengths and weaknesses. However, Firelord has
been banned from league play, a disappointment to Cubs fans
that were counting on him for the 2004 season.
to the company, the game should be accessible to a wide age-range.
Younger players should be able to compete at what they call
the "spring training" level, though the complexity of the
game increases in skill and strategy all the way up to the
"World Series." From HeroClix experience, I'm going to go
with that still seeing younger players triumph.
the more intriguing features is the adjustability of the playmat,
with a movable back wall to simulate your favorite stadium.
Want to play with The Big Green Monster? You can. (And we've
pretty much just exhausted the stadium nicknames I know.)
sculptors have made every effort to capture players'
and Topps promise that there will be tournament play, just
as with HeroClix, MageKnight and MechWarrior. However, they
haven't quite worked out how that's going to work at this
point. Give them time.
have also not yet settled on a final number of figures for
the initial release, but assured us this morning that better
players (such as those with psychic attack, hypersonic speed
and/or invulnerability*) will be harder to find. Alex Rodriguez,
in particular, was singled out at the press conference as
one that might be considered a "unique."
retailers are salivating. And the companies plan for more.
Bearing in mind that this all depends on the success of the
initial line, know that they hope to be able to delve into
baseball history and release Hall of Fame players. Someday
Babe Ruth could play alongside Willie Mays, but Pete Rose
won't be allowed to touch the dice.
executive also assured us that there will be no fan figures
to interfere with play. So maybe the Cubs won't need Firelord
Topps and WizKids also hope to capture the spirit of other
professional sports, contingent again on the success of this
initial line. The Shadowrun format might transform nicely
into boxing. No, no, WizKids, you don't owe me anything for
ready, guys. Come Spring, an odd phrase might be heard in
fanboy homes across the land: "Play ball!"
the way, I'm perfectly aware that baseball players don't have
psychic attack or invulnerability.