While IPL loses sheen, ‘Cricket Attax’ gains popularity

While IPL loses sheen, ‘Cricket Attax’ gains popularity

New Delhi/Mumbai: Mumbai sub-teen Krish Manral’s birthday party is on 21 October and he is very clear on what he wants the invitees to take away as return gifts: a few packs of Cricket Attax cards.

The last edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) may be a distant memory for most people and the next one is several months away, but a simple card collection, trading and playing game has caught the fancy of Indian sub-teens of all ages (while the product is targeted at sub-teens, its appeal transcends age groups in cricket-crazy India).

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Produced and marketed by Topps India Sports and Entertainment Co. Pvt. Ltd, Cricket Attax plays out just like a typical Twenty20 game. Players play with the cards they have with them. There are around 200 they can collect, including Power Play cards, star cards and gold cards (for special achievements). The most sought after card is a Sachin Tendulkar gold card with a batting score of 101 and a bowling score also of 101 (this is the player-of-the-tournament Tendulkar card; there are also other Tendulkar cards). Players use their cards to face off against each other.

That doesn’t sound like much, but maybe because it is as simple as that, the game has become immensely popular, as evident from its presence on both YouTube and Facebook.

The fad has meant big business for people like Rakesh Gupta, a shop-owner in south Delhi, who has sold 40,000 packets of Cricket Attax from his shop in Khan Market since May.

Some kids, he said, buy a few packs—each costs 15—and others buy the box with 80 packs. And it’s convenient and affordable for parents shopping for gifts.

Or return gifts.

Krish Manral’s mother Kiran Manral, an entrepreneur and blogger, has given in to her boy’s demand and “included a pack of these cards in every return gift" bag. “The cards work as a collectible item for this generation. Previous generations (of kids) would collect cards or coins. Kids of today are different—they frequently exchange and trade these cards and it adds to the craze."

And it’s that kind of craze that has encouraged Topps to launch similar card collections, according to Sanjeev Katyal, country manager of Topps India. Katyal says there are also plans to launch Slam Attax and Match Attax, which represent the official trading card games of World Wrestling Entertainment and English Premier League, respectively. Match Attax has been a rage in the UK since its launch in 2007.

The firm, which has the global rights for collectible cards from the Board of Control for Cricket in India, the owner of IPL, didn’t disclose details of the arrangement, Nor did IPL.

IPL chief executive Sundar Raman is all praise for the product. “I think that they (Topps) entered the market with a definitive plan and they got the pricing just right. Through cricket they permeated the daily lives of people. They increased team loyalty and game awareness amongst kids. We hope to stir up new excitement (with Topps) in 2012 as well."

Not since the Beyblade, a spinning toy based on a Japanese cartoon series of the same name, has the kids market seen a product like this, say retailers. Beyblades, sold by Funskool Toys India Pvt. Ltd in India, still remain in demand and some one million are bought by kids (or their parents) every year, they add. It’s a lot more expensive than buying cards, though. Beyblades start at 349.

Beyblades, though, have been around for at least seven years. If Cricket Attax is to thrive as long, it will require kids to remain engaged with cricket, which is very likely—and IPL, which has lost some sheen over the years. Sales of the Cricket Attax cards are also dependant on the season, said an executive at the Mumbai store of Hamleys, who didn’t want to be named. “The cricket fever has run out and we may not be storing them for a while," he said. “But while we stocked them, they sold like hot cakes."