Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Joy Of A Completed (Virtual) Set: Toppstown Attax Baseball 2010

Well, never let it be said that I won't completely forget I have a life for a week and a half in the name of compulsive behavior! After getting a reminder (thanks, JayBee!) that the Toppstown baseball codes for 2010 were expiring on the 31st of January, I logged into the set for the first time in a good while and entered my codes. I had 8 baseball code cards in all (and 1 Brett Favre from the f00'ball side of things that didn't come into play here), bringing me to 64 total cards for this year, a few of them doubles. Through the magic of trading, quick reflexes and a willingness to maintain supernatural focus on a social gaming web site targeted at 8 year olds ("Eight year olds, Dude."), at around 5 PM today, in a completely insane move, I traded doubles of Babe Ruth, Nolan Ryan, Mickey Mantle, Reggie Jackson and Bob Gibson (yes, all 5) for the Martin Prado card you see in the wanted poster above and voila, my 230 card 2010 Toppstown virtual card set was complete! My reasoning for going that nuts for Prado was simple: in the entire time I'd been playing around with this thing, I hadn't seen a single Martin Prado card available for trade at any price. (In my experience, Zack Greinke, B.J. Upton, Alexei Ramirez and Ryan Howard were pretty tough "pulls", too). Anyway, it's done now, and if I can find a way to shoehorn my screenshots onto my site in a way that flatters them, I'll show you the whole set. For best results, click the images in question and look at the ginormous screenshots of each 2 page spread. 

(Since this is actually an entire set's worth of data on a recent product, the following disclaimer is in order: these screenshots are presented for informational purposes only, by a fan who had a lot of fun playing around with Toppstown recently and is proud of nailing a silly achievement like this with only 8 code cards, so I wanted to show off a little! Do not reproduce these for commercial purposes (which isn't my intention, either), don't spoil the look of the cards for your kids, and don't make me regret not using a watermark on the screenshots in question! If anyone at Topps would like me to take these down or at least use fewer of them, email me and we'll work it out, no need to send nastygrams anywhere or such. Thanks for your cooperation, and enjoy!)

Pages 1-2: Bobby Abreu to Jonathan Broxton. As you can see, this year's Toppstown cards are basically the same as 2010 Attax, unless I'm mistaken. Jonathan Broxton, for those playing, has the best non-legend fastball in Attax this year, go figure.

Pages 3-4: Jay Bruce to Shin-Soo Choo. If you're wondering what the little boxes on the bottom right of the cards are, those indicate the quantity of each card that you have.

Pages 5-6: Ty Cobb to Yunel Escobar.

Pages 7-8: Andre Ethier to Vladimir Guerrero.

Pages 9-10: Cristian Guzman to Orlando Hudson.

Pages 11-12: Torii Hunter to Ian Kinsler.

Pages 13-14: Paul Konerko to Nick Markakis. Note the ever-present Mick right next to Markakis on page 14.

Pages 15-16: Jason Marquis to Roy Oswalt.

Pages 17-18: Jonathan Papelbon to Alexei Ramirez. Note the infernal Prado card, dead center of page 18.

Pages 19-20: Aramis Ramirez to Jimmy Rollins. I love the Jackie Robinson card on page 20. Also: for a guy no one talks about anymore, Jose Reyes was really tough to get!

Page 21-22: Cody Ross to Huston Street. Cody's got the top left corner of 21, like they knew he was going to be a playoff hero. Ruth, Ryan and Schmidt on the same page too (along with Panda and some others), really nice one. Huston Street was another rough one to get.

Pages 23-24: Ichiro Suzuki to Adam Wainwright. Even if they don't "play" well in Attax, it's nice to see steady regulars like Ryan Theriot in the set.

Pages 25-26 (partial): Jered Weaver to Ben Zobrist. Cy Young never really looked young, ironically, did he?

As for how the Toppstown site is? It's definitely got its bugs and kinks to work out, but they've put way more work into it than companies usually put into advertising sites, and it obviously kept me busy for a while, didn't it?

 Playing Attax on the site now that the cards are geared toward it is actually a lot of fun, though sometimes people bail in the first inning or if you don't pick your roster quickly enough and that's a drag.

Trading is a bit inexact, just like it is on the Million Card Giveaway site. You can't browse a user's or even a friend's cards and make them private trade offers, which I think they could easily do even without compromising user privacy. For now, you just put your cards out there and, if you're making a deal with a friend, you pray that the friend in question gets to it before someone else does.

Browsing the recent offers can be murder once you've got a good chunk of the set completed, too, because the navigation to skip to the end or skip 10 or so pages of offers ahead just isn't there. There's just a back and a forward button for what eventually becomes 125 or so pages in baseball, and like I said, the back button doesn't wrap around back to page 125 when you get back to one. Even that would've been a huge help. 

Another navigation issue: if you're going through trade offers and reload or switch items on the wrong tab and you were deep into the page count on the trade offers, tough luck. You're back to page 1. This happened to me about twice a day. Ow. Be very careful too if you're doing a baseball/football trade rather than just one sport, because it'll put you at the start of whatever sport you looked at last.
Speaking of trading again, it would also be nice if you could trade cards from past years for current ones and such. I'm hoping they enable this in '11 for the '10 stuff, at least (I can understand how an earlier system might make '08-'09 tougher).

Once in a blue moon, the site hangs up on me, which, given the amount of traffic they seem to do and how complex the site is, is pretty marvellous. I had it happen during one Attax game and once when I left the trading screen open for a long time. I've seen much, much worse out of Flash-based sites like this.

Volume control and a mute button are nice things to have on Flash sites, by the way. Just sayin', is all.

Finally, while I understand why Topps doesn't do it (they're in the business of making money), I wouldn't have minded if the Toppspoints you can get on the site (which promote you in rank, and let you get avatar parts and stuff for your clubhouse) were redeemable for more codes. Even if they made them hugely difficult to obtain (I saw some items in the Pro Shop that went for 20,000 points), it'd still be nice to have that chance to earn more cards without trading, if you can't make it out to the store.

I know this sounds like a ton of complaints and criticisms, but honestly, for a site of this nature, this is pretty good. I had a blast collecting up the cards (I still have doubles of a lot of good stuff, if anyone's interested), I'll probably stick around and try and complete football and the '11 set when it comes out, and if I'm really jonesing, I might even try and complete wrestling (it does have a bunch of legends in it, after all). It's actually worth redeeming those codes this week if you've got some laying around, and '11 should be a bunch of fun, too.

OK, I swear, back to "real" cards now. (w00, I finished the set!)


  1. I have a bunch of extra codes if anyone needs them...

  2. I'm good, Adam, but if I hear of anyone who's caught short (I know JayBee's working on the set this weekend with the kids, but he's supposedly got a ton of codes, too), I'll let you know. If you decide to redeem them yourself, guard your Martin Prados with your life!


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