Thursday, April 24, 2014

I don't want to play

If you were collecting four years ago, you probably remember the Topps Million Card Giveaway promotion.

In terms of a marketing ploy, I think it accomplished what it set out to do. It got people to talk about the promotion and Topps. For all of the glitches, hiccups and 1987 Bryan Clutterbuck cards, it was successful with collectors because of the allure of free cardboard.

I visited the Million Card Giveaway site quite often that year and even though I moaned quite a bit about unlocking junk wax cards and free cards that weren't really free, I still have some cards that I won and ordered from that site. And some other cards that I won were sent to fellow collectors in exchange for cards that I wanted.

In short, the Million Card Giveaway promo worked because it got me to pay attention to it.

Since then, there have been similar online promotions each year. And I have paid a decreasing amount of attention to them as each year passed. I can't even tell you what a couple of the recent ones were without looking them up. Most of this has come about because Topps stopped giving away cards from its past and also stopped guaranteeing that you would win a card each time you entered a code.

This year, Topps' online promo is something called "Power Players." Now completely disinterested in such games, I didn't have the faintest idea what it was all about. I knew that there were parallel cards that you could pull from packs and then play "Power Players" with them. But that's where my ability to process information stopped.

But, lo and behold, Max of Starting Nine sent me this Power Players Hanley Ramirez card. I could feel my curiosity level rising even while I wasn't curious at all (does that make sense?).

A couple of weeks later, I received some cards for Easter from my sister-in-law (she's the best), and I pulled another Power Players card.

I know it's not much to look at -- these kind of parallels are the worst kind of parallels. But I figured this was a sign. I have two of these things now, might as well figure out what it's all about.

So I turned one of the cards over and looked for the website address.

Yes, that's the code there. Don't get excited. It's been used already. And I don't know why they're congratulating me here. It's not like I'm guaranteed of winning a card, right? But I better log on to find out.

OK, here I am. And I'm getting anxious already because I not only have to create an account but I have to create a locker.

I don't like lockers. They're smelly and cramped and I always see kids being stuffed in them on TV even though I've never seen that in real life.

But, I'll do it. For you. Time to give Topps some personal information that they don't deserve to have.

OK, I'm in. And I've apparently won something for merely sacrificing my identification for the greater cause of playing some stupid online game. But let's check out my "locker" shall we?

Well, it's very red and very empty. And sharing my locker sounds gross. Taking the locker tour sounds gross, too. But I'm diving in anyway.

OK, that's where I enter my codes. Looks easy enough. I have codes to enter. I'm ready to play. But, wait, I'm not done with the tour.

This is where I filter cards. I'm not really sure what that means and it's starting to sound complicated. In fact, I'm about to quit this whole thing. I have a life here. I want to enter a code and get a card. I don't want to filter, activate, shuffle or spindle. This sounds like fantasy baseball. I stopped that in the mid-1990s because it took too much of my time.

But, what the hell, let's press on!

Lots of stuff to keep track of here. Did I mention I have a mortgage? But, no, I need to pay attention to active and inactive virtual cards and my virtual badges. Also, I tried to get a publicity badge for following Topps on Twitter, because I already do follow Topps on Twitter, but I couldn't figure it out. I probably did something wrong. Weeee! This is fun.

Meanwhile, the tour's still going.

(Panics. Quickly logs back onto site to see if profile information is hidden. Sees that it is. Wonders why anyone would want it shown).

I don't know why I would want to change my profile. It's the greatest profile of all-time.

Ah, finally we're on to some information about prizes. As you can see, I haven't won anything. It also appears that I couldn't claim any prizes yet anyway. So why am I playing now? Hopefully it will all be revealed sometime.

The tour continues.

Wow, this is a lot of work.

I'm sorry, I'm a grown man, and virtual badges aren't going to billow my skirt. If they don't win me prizes, no, I am not going to see if I can collect them all. I'm sure I'm missing something here, but again, there are bills to be paid. Are we done yet?

I love things that light up. Maybe I'll work on getting a prize after all.

I am wondering if anyone at Topps read this out loud to find out how unappealing "share your locker with the world" sounds.

View the tour again? That was 12 steps! I don't have time for this and I still don't know how to play!

I may have to call work and tell them I'm coming in late.

Hoo-boy, that's a lot of words. A brief scan shows that I probably should have started this at the beginning of the month if I was really serious about the game, since it appears to be connected to the season.

But I'm mostly interested in how I can win, Here are some more ways:

As usual there are giant prizes for the maniacs. I don't know who you have to be to be willing to find all 220 Power Players cards just for a chance to be randomly chosen, but winning a 1987 Bryan Clutterbuck card instantly is sounding awfully good right now.

Four years ago, the last sentence mentioned above was a possibility every time you entered a code. Now it's only "you may." I know a lot -- if not all -- the prizes are cards exclusive to the online game, but I'm not interested in even more and different cards to find. Topps has already got me chasing every last parallel from packs on the store shelves.

But I don't have time to whine about that, because there are RULES:

That's only some of them. There are 12 steps, several with sub-categories. Happy reading.

And here are the people who have a lot more time on their hands than I do. Or they have found the secret to juggling 4,000 tasks while playing online games. Kudos to you all.

Finally, I think I am the point where I can enter my code.

There is the secret Hanley Ramirez code.

And there is Hanley, just as I suspected. Not nearly as thrilling as typing in a code with no idea what you're going to get.

But I'm being told to go to my locker now.

There he is, in my locker. Sounds very creepy.

I guess I need to activate him. Also sounds kind of creepy.

Hanley is now active, in case he's the Power Player Of the Day, or whatever we're calling it. I don't know how I get notified who the Power Player Of the Day is. I guess I should read the rules again. But the chances of that happening are never.

All I know is that Hanley needs a locker buddy.

That's better. You guys play nice in there.

(This is so weird).

I love it when Topps gets all teacher on me.

I guess I understand if giving away old cards to collectors online didn't work for Topps. Maybe this works better. Maybe it's a way to keep collectors actively engaged on its online promotions better than the Million Card Giveaway.

But I just don't have the time or interest for something like this and I really wonder who does. The fact that I haven't seen one word about Power Players on the blogs this year tells me something. Are people talking about it like they talked about the Million Card Giveaway? It doesn't appear so. Word of mouth is important.

But I still had to find out for myself.

Now I know.


  1. This is why I read your blog. You just saved me 1.) a headache, 2.) an unproductive hour I’ll never get back, 3.) the disappointment of finding out I won a “virtual” card, 4.) a keyboard and possibly a computer screen and 5.) having to hand write a disgruntled letter to Topps.

  2. I really liked the Million Card Giveaway because you entered a code and got a card (a physical card that Topps would ship to you for a price). It had it's kinks but it was way better than the "digital games" that Topps wants us to play to get cards.

  3. I got a couple of Power Players. I had no desire to figure what they were, so I sent them to Nick.

  4. The diamond card give away was fun too. Unlocking cards and then digging for rings. Good times

  5. What is it with Trading Card companies and their endless attempts at pushing digital games and virtual trading cards on collectors? Someone, somewhere came up with the half-baked idea years ago that since kids like video games that they will want to collect virtual trading cards. Unfortunately for them, collectors and kids have proved them wrong time and again.

  6. I liked the Million Card Giveaway too. I actually got a nice number of vintage cards, including my first ever 1952 Topps card. The Diamond Giveaway was great too since I actually won a Diamond Ring. This Power Player thing is more of a power down for me.

  7. Great post, I was a bit curious about what the latest online Topps promotion was and now I know that it's nothing special.

    That said I do miss the Golden Giveaway and Toppstown. Those were pretty fun.

  8. I have a couple of Power Players too, and I had no interest in finding out what I was supposed to do with them. Thank you for letting me know I made the right decision.

  9. Glad to hear I'm not missing anything. That 87 Clutterbuck is one of my absolute favorites of all time.

  10. Thanks for sharing. If I ever acquire any of these, I will now know where to go for help. My problem is that I usually acquire these types of cards one, two, or three years too late.