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Well, I've followed Wizards of the Coast since its inception, and when I heard that Hasbro was buying Wizards, I immediately became bullish on Hasbro--and not just because of Pokemon. WotC has shown the ability to tap into the psychology of those who play games, and they've shown that they can repeat their performance.

As for why Hasbro has the edge over Topps, spend some time thinking about children's psychology. Kids are exactly like us, whether you want that or not, it's just that they haven't learned all the various obfuscating social defenses we adults tend to throw up. What does this mean? Kids want power. They not only want power, they want to show and prove they have power. Sure, I could wave a rare Topps Pokemon card in your face, shouting neener-neener-neener, I got it and you don't, but that gets old quickly. However, if I can play a game against you and win, I've proven that I've got more power than you. In kid logic, this is good.

Now here's where the collectible card game trick comes in. To play Pokemon, I must construct my own deck. To make my own deck, I need to buy cards. However, I never know which cards I end up buying. I can trade for some cards, but if I want lots of the best cards, I need to buy more cards. In fact, my chances of being able to build a strong deck increase when I buy more cards. Buy more cards, get more power. Gotta catch 'em all.

How strong is this force? I saw a CNN report this morning that said that in the past year, there has been around $500 million in Pokemon sales, of which $300 million is the cards, mostly Wizards of the Coast's card game. Note that Hasbro bought WotC for $325 million, and that WotC has profitable products other than Pokemon, and I see a really excellent, astute deal on Hasbro's part. Personally, I think the card game is the real reason that Pokemon is so popular in America. Without it, who really cares? As evidence supporting this view, look at the Topps cards.

If we look back, we find another similar phenomenon in the game Magic: the Gathering. This game, also by WotC, was the first collectible card game, and created a new industry. Everyone tried to make their own CCG, and most of them failed. However, Magic became a huge juggernaut that is still profitable today, although not as much as it used to be.

Look for Pokemon tournaments. Look for Pokemon expansions. These will be fuel to the fire of success of the cards, and WotC knows this. It gives children the chance to try to prove that they're the real Pokemon Master in all of America. Eventually, there will be worldwide tournaments.

However, remember that Pokemon won't last forever. I'm sure that it will be a fad that lasts for a few years, then moves on. It'll still be around, but not nearly as popular as before. WotC also knows this from their experiences with Magic. They can't try to keep old players; that's either guaranteed or impossible. They must try to get new players into the game. This is the force behind TSR's (owned by WotC) creation of Dungeons and Dragons, Third Edition. It's also why Barbie of Mattel has managed to have staying power for a long time. In the future, however, I feel that Hasbro is ready to feed new growth instead of trying to sustain old growth. New Monopoly tokens. Furby Babies. New twists on old products. I don't see that with Mattel as much. Sure, I see Hot Wheels products, but I still just see Hot Wheels. Generation Girls look to me like they're in the wrong half of the decade.

My recommendations for understanding the Pokemon phenomenon? Learn how to play the game. Just don't let your kids know. Visit http://www.wizards.com/ and look around. This is important, because not only are these some of the toys and games your children are playing now, they're also what they'll play in the future.

I got in at 18.75, amd I'm happy.
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