‘Idol’ enters
realm of
trading cards
and games

While the world awaits the appointment of the latest "American Idol" in just a matter of weeks, in the fanciful realm of collectible card games, Marisa Joy, of Cloverdale, Calif., has already been crowned this year's champion, with Maui's Camile Velasco coming in a close second.

"American Idol"

Airs at 7 p.m. today on KHON/Fox

Theme: It's Big Band Week; where's John Stevens when you need him?

At least that's the way events panned out in my living room last weekend, over a round of Fleer's new "American Idol" collectible card game.

Last month, the trading-card giant released its must-have 110-card game set based on season three of the national music competition. It's a relatively simple game for two to six players, ages 9 and up, which mirrors the popular TV series in many respects. Players match singers (all 32 semifinalists, including local entrants Velasco, Jasmine Trias and Jonah Moananu) to songs and earn appraisals from judges. If recent sales are any indication, it appears the game is almost as much the rage as the show itself.

Ted Mays, owner of Gecko Books & Comics, was one of the first to introduce them to Hawaii. "They sold out right away," says Mays, whose initial order of 10 sets, retailing at $9.99 each, were wiped out in short time at his Honolulu and Kailua outlets. "Within a day or two, they were all gone without any fanfare."

Mays' West Coast distributor hasn't been able to meet demand, but Mays is expecting to be restocked soon with up to 30 more sets from an East Coast supplier.

Two weeks ago he discovered that Fleer was also rushing out sets of "American Idol" trading cards. While advance notice in the trading-card business runs about three months ahead of distribution, retailers were given a week's notice of their arrival. Mays jumped at the opportunity to procure as many boxes as he could.

"We pretty much cornered the market in Hawaii because I was the first person to call my distributor, so I just about took everything that was available," Mays says with a chuckle. "Out of the 20 boxes to hit the island, we had 16 of them."

In addition to the trading cards, which go for $1.99 a pack, each full box (36 packs) contains two special pieces of either memorabilia cards, which include a 1-inch snippet of an article of clothing from "Idol" stars, or autographs from one of the top 12 singers, judge Randy Jackson, host Ryan Seacrest or William Hung, the wildly popular "AI" reject. Within a week's time, Mays had sold out his entire allotment of cards.

So who's scooping up these "America Idol" collectibles?

"Everybody," Mays says. "Anybody and everybody who sees them, pretty much. If I really put my mind to it, I could probably sell anybody who walked in the door a pack. All I have to do is be sitting here talking to one of my friends about the Jasmine Trias autograph and they'll be like, 'What? You know, my wife or my daughter would love one of those!'

"The first thing everyone says is, 'Hey, Jasmine has braces on in the picture,' and the next reaction is, 'Oh, my wife's gonna freak!' 'cause men won't admit they watch the show, apparently," he quips. "Hawaii's always had a long tradition of supporting the people that make it on the mainland, whether in sports or entertainment or whatever. The roots run deep here."

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