The one edge that trading card games have over the vidgames that loom as an ever-present share-stealing threat is that they offer a physically tangible and social play experience. And with its new PocketModel line, Topps subsidiary WizKids is looking to emphasize that key point of difference even more dramatically.
The R&D breakthrough fuelling the concept brings a 3-D dimension to the trading card category. Instead of lying flat on a table, the PocketModel’s punched-out and popped-up card pieces are actually more like cardboard character pieces from old-school kids board games like Candyland.
WizKids rolled the new product concept out in mass and specialty stores this past June, banking on the strength of a Star Wars license from Lucasfilm to help it connect with consumers. And connect it did. James Szubski, the company’s director of marketing and business development, says the line is performing way beyond expectations at mass, coming in as the number-two best-selling TCG behind category stalwart Pokémon, and generating US$10 million in revenue.
The evergreen Star Wars franchise was a natural first license because its seemingly endless cache of far-out vehicles and aliens made for an equally robust collection of buildable models. For each license it acquires, WizKids plans to roll out three or four different waves of new product each year to keep the assortment fresh.
Hoping to repeat the success of the Star Wars line with more hot boys properties, WizKids has a Pirates of the Caribbean PocketModel line due out this month, and Szubski is in the final throes of locking up a deal with Vancouver, Canada’s Nerd Corps Entertainment for Storm Hawks. With its strong visuals and depth of vehicles and environments, the action-adventure property meets all of the category’s needs, and product is slated for a retail release in late 2008 or early 2009.