If you havent had the pleasure of talking with Topps Digital Editor in Chief, Chris “TOPPSCHRIS” Vaccaro, you are missing out. Not only is he responsible for apps covering 3 sports, but he is quite knowledgeable about each of them down to minute details. Pretty impressive. Being that this is Huddle’s biggest time of year, not only did he take the time to answer some questions, but also preview some EXCLUSIVE cards!
The playoffs were the first time last year where I literally spent every game playing along on the app, and I think it got me hooked for good on the competitive aspects of the game. I had so much fun during the playoffs, it is a big reason why I have spent as much time and effort this year trying to get to the top of the pile.
This is a special time of year for me, and I know it is special for Huddle too. That is why I wanted to give TOPPSCHRIS the opportunity to sound off on some of the things that I know are going to make this year better than the last.
Digital Card Central: From past experience, anytime there is a big event, game or time in a sports season, we see a huge focus from the digital apps, how has this mentality shaped your approach for the NFL Playoffs?
Chris R. Vaccaro: This is the approach we must have to stay competitive in the digital marketplace. As things are happening in the sports world, our team has to be quick and nimble to produce content. I come from a traditional journalism background where we produce content as events happen, and the strategy is the same with our apps, only the content is not news articles in a sense, it’s digital trading cards that are accompanied by news. Sports fans expect digital media to react as big games, moments or events are unfolding and it’s a priority for our team to meet those demands.
DCC: What are some of the amazing things you guys have on tap for us?
CV: We’ll have a bunch of exciting releases during the football playoffs. Everything from new playoff base and boost cards to specific inserts for the Conference Championship Series and Super Bowl. We’ll also retain some of the daily insert ideas like Fan’s Choice, Signature Series and others and everything we release, for the most part, will be playoff-themed. Be sure to log into the app daily to see what we’re releasing.
DCC: The annual Huddle Bowl is a big deal for the players who have been Sunday warriors all season, can you talk about what it means to the Topps team as well?
CV: We started this tournament and elimination style of play last year with 32 teams and we wanted to expand to 64 to include more die hards. I really think the best part for the overall winner is the actual card they get of themselves on the HUDDLE cardsheet. The 1 million coins are nice and the HUDDLE Bowl ring is cool, but the actual card with your own image in the app is pretty sweet. We really get akick out of the competition and love the competitive nature everyone brings to the app on a game-by-game basis.
DCC: For people not in the Huddle Bowl, recent articles said that there will still be a slate of events for everyone to participate in. What can we expect?
CV: We’ll continue to do HUDDLE Throwdowns each round of the playoffs, plus continue Best of HUDDLE with card giveaways, and we’re hoping to do some other things with the leaderboards, which we’ll talk about in the app as the playoffs get into full swing.
DCC: Sounds like a lot of fun. I know I still have a few battle scars of Throwdowns past! With the recent release of the playoff cards, the aesthetics aspect has definitely evolved this year. What were some of the things that influenced your design?
CV: Our design team, led by the incomparable Neil Kleid, is top notch and they get better every day. Our directive to the designers is always to be different, have fun and give the fans something to crave and desire. We gather inspiration from previous card designs in the Topps lexicon, and new and modern trends in the design world.
DCC: Neil is awesome, and just from talking to him on Twitter, I know he is dedicated to making the apps look incredible. They outdid themselves with the design this year. Its been tremendous. Seeing that this is new year’s eve and all about new beginnings – What is the one thing you are most excited about for the next four weeks?
CV: The arrival of my first child! My wife is nine months pregnant and due any day, so life is about to change. In terms of football, I’m excited to see the execution by TOPPSMARC to give the HUDDLE fans something to chase everyday. I also think the quality of football this time of year is unbeatable. From the big college football bowl games to the pro football playoffs, there are so many good games on in January that it’s hard not to enjoy every second.
DCC: Congrats! Fatherhood is only slightly more challenging than running the apps, so it shouldn’t be too much of a big deal, right? Considering you might be called into action any minute, I know playoff time may be about more than setting your line up this time. Either way, we know that you and the team plays along for fun – who is the stud player of your lineup for the wild card round?
CV: My stud player in general is always Marshawn Lynch. Week in and week out he has proven to be one of the best backs in the league and is on his way to a legendary career. We’re excited he’s having such an amazing season, while also being on the HUDDLE app icon. But specifically for the Wild Card round, it’s a toss up between Andrew Luck and Antonio Brown. Both have been absolute studs this season and should be the difference makers in their respective games this weekend.
DCC: Okay, now the most important part – give us your Super Bowl picks and 2014 champion!
CV: Tough. Always tough. I’ll say New England over Seattle. And if I’m wrong, so be it. I’m fine with that too. I know one thing is for sure, that we’ll see great football and make memories out of it.
Just for some extra fun, here are two of the Platinum Game Only Boosts that will be available for next week’s divisional Games. They look awesome, and I cant wait to see what Topps have in store. Definitely going to be a blast.
HUGE thanks to Chris for taking the time to stop by and give us the scoop!