A visit to the Wizards of the Coast section of the Hasbro Building at this year's New York Toy Fair leaves no doubt that WotC will be very busy in 2002. New initiatives include adding Transformers as well as the previously announced Star Wars to its CCG lineup and creating action figures based on its popular Magic The Gathering CCG. Of course WOTC also has plenty of new releases lined up for its current CCGs like Pokemon, Magic, and the Showdown sports games for the NFL, NBA, and MLB. Here's a look at the individual CCG product lines and the major new releases planned for 2002.
The Transformers have undergone a major revival ('Retro Cartoons Drive Sales' was our top Movie/TV merchandise story of 2001, see 'Top Movie/TV Merchandise Stories of 2001') that includes a new comic book series and strong sales on the videos, as well as a new toy line from Hasbro (which, of course also owns WotC). Now Wizards of the Coast is planning to release a Transformers CCG in September. The Transformers CCG will be pitched at WotC's youngest audience yet, 6 & up. Contrast this with the age recommendations for the Harry Potter CCG (8 & up), Pokemon (9 & up), and Star Wars (10 & up). The Transformers Armada CCG is designed to be simple and action-packed, to serve as a positive introduction to playing collectible card games.
On the day after New Years, WotC announced the acquisition of the license to create a Star Wars CCG (see 'Wizards of the Coast Gets Star Wars CCG') based on the Star Wars: Episode 2 film. Richard Garfield, the legendary designer of Magic: The Gathering, designed the new WOTC Star Wars CCG, which is designed to appeal to players of all experience levels, and which, unlike most CCGs, uses dice for ultimate conflict resolution. The first products in WOTC's Star Wars line, Attack of the Clones Starter Sets ($6.99 srp) and Boosters ($1.49 srp) are set to ship in April, a month in advance of the actual opening of Star Wars: Episode II. The Starter Set includes two pre-constructed 30-card decks, eight six-sided dice, rulebook, playmat, damage counters, and force counters. Each booster pack contains 5 cards.
In July, WotC will release the five-card Sith Rising Booster Packs, which will expand the Attack of the Clones CCG. WOTC is also planning to release another Star Wars CCG product (as yet untitled) that includes both themed starter decks and boosters in November 2002.
WOTC has major plans for its Harry Potter CCG in 2002 with three major expansions of the game. The first release, which ships in March, is Diagon Alley, which features 70 new cards and includes starters ($9.99) and boosters ($3.29). Diagon Alley allows players to take on the roles of apprentice wizards and witches, while adding Location cards, new magical Item and Character cards as well as new strategies for the Harry Potter CCG. In June WOTC will release the Adventures at Hogwarts Booster Packs ($3.29), which will further expand the HP CCG, while in October The Chamber of Secrets Theme Deck ($9.99) and Boosters ($3.29) will add elements from the second Harry Potter film, which opens worldwide in November. Once again WOTC will release Harry Potter movie trading cards (7 per pack, $1.99 srp).
Magic: The Gathering
Magic, the category-defining collectible card game, remains a constant on ICv2's Top Ten Cool List that tracks sell-through at retail (see 'Top Ten Cool Games-December'), and WOTC has plenty of Magic releases set for 2002 including two groups of Magic: The Gathering Action Figures (see 'Magic, The Action Figures'). Series I ships in July and Series 2 in October. Each figure will be available in Basic ($9.99) and Deluxe ($24.99) formats and each will contain a randomly inserted Seventh Edition card. Aside from the action figures, the major Magic releases of 2002 are Torment, which recently shipped, and Judgment, which should hit retail in June. World Championship Decks and Onslaught Booster packs are slated for an October release.
PokemonAlthough it has fallen from the lofty heights attained two years ago, the Pokemon CCG continues to regularly place in ICv2's Top Ten Cool Game lists (see 'Top Ten Cool Games-December'). WotC, which is introducing an online version of Magic in 2002, also has an interesting electronic wrinkle for the Pokemon CCG. Pokemon Card e Booster Packs ($2.99 srp) are slated for May and August releases. These cards contain normal CCG game-playing features, but in addition, they have a coded strip. A reader that attaches to Game Boy Advance will be able to swipe the magnetic strip on the Pokemon Card e to create sound effects, graphics, and data which will give their games an extra dimension. The two other major Pokemon CCG initiatives are the Neo Destiny Theme Decks ($9.99) and Boosters ($3.29), shipping in February, and the Expedition Theme Decks ($9.99) and Boosters ($3.29) shipping in November.