Lorcana Is Fair Game for Trading Cards


As Ravensburger enters trading cards for the first time with the Disney-licensed Lorcana brand, the looming question is will it be fair game for players or collectors?

For the most part, the top trading card brands – Pokémon, Konami’s Yu-Gi-Oh, Wizard of the Coasts’ Magic the Gathering, Dungeons & Dragons and others – are a combination of both. But with Disney’s rabid fan base and the surge of collectors viewing trading cards as an investment, the first series of 204 Lorcana cards quickly sold out an hour after launch in August. A second batch will hit hobby stores on Nov. 17, with broader distribution due Dec. 2.

“A lot of Lorcana hype seems to be wrapped up in the speculation market with reselling rather than play and it is very much adult focused which is red flag to me,” said Lizzy Newsome, CEO of two-store Kappa Toys, which is grand opening a third location at Mall of America in December and carries Pokémon cards. “I am not saying it won’t become a long-lasting game. But unless a lot people like playing it, it will be harder to succeed as a trading card game. A lot of the interest now seems to be in the resale market because there aren’t enough of the Lorcana cards out yet.”

Yet for Ravensburger, which is new to trading cards, Lorcana caps a four-year effort with Disney. Ravensburger developed the game internally in working with Disney designers. The company was given some leeway in designing the cards such as replacing Captain Hook’s hook with a sword, putting Tinker Bell inside a lantern and creating The Lion King’s Scar character in the form of lava. The company’s entrance in trading cards hasn’t gone unnoticed. Upper Deck sued the company earlier this year, alleging Lorcana’s co-designer Ryan Miller stole intellectual property.

For Disney, which has had a Star Wars trading card agreement with Topps since 1977, Lorcana is a broader foray than the Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom interactive game that was launched in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, FL in 2012, but discontinued in 2021.

“We aren’t trying to compete with anyone, but that is how it is always positioned,” said Steve Warner, a former Wizards of the Coast executive and co-designer of Lorcana along with founder Ryan Miller. “We know we have a whole other base of players that we can get into for trading cards with the Disney fans and different generations of them. We know we can get that audience and that is a very large group of people that come to have a good time playing trading cards. We are not trying to fight with any other games out there.”

Lorcana will likely have to compete for shelf space at retail both in the toy department and at check out, the latter being a prime merchandising spot for trading cards. No doubt Lorcana will benefit from Disney’s marketing and retail muscle. Wizards of the Coast launched Harry Potter trading cards in 2001 that were timed to coincide with the Warner Bros.’ first film (Philosopher’s Stone) based on J.K. Rowling’s novels, but discontinued them two years later.

The Harry Potter cards were also designed to compete with Pokémon, Magic the Gathering and Yu-Gi-Oh. The trick is to quickly to introduce new decks – up to seven times a year along with booster packs – while also hosting tournaments designed to play to fan bases. Yu-Gi-Oh, for example, annually hosts a Yu-Gi-Oh Championship Series (YCS), which included a team series in Las Vegas, NV last February. It also had a 250th YCS in April simultaneously in Los Angeles, CA, London, UK, and Bogota, Colombia.

Co-branding is also a key element in trading cards and Ravensburger plans to dig deeply into Disney IP portfolio. It’s also is something championed by Lorcana’s competitors.

Wizards of the Coasts, for example, is readying a licensed co-branded deck with Doctor Who for launch on Oct. 13 to mark the latter’s 60th anniversary. And it previously had a co-branding deal for Lord of the Rings. Pokémon, meanwhile, has a 180-card Scarlet & Violet: Paradox Rift expansion pack due Nov. 3 and TV Tokyo will launch a Pokemon-inspired live action series, “Pack Your Pocket with Adventure” later this month.

“Trading card games come and go and have gone up and down over the years, said Matt Stern, Director of Sales at distributor Excell Marketing, which distributes Loracana as well as Magic the Gathering, Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh. “It’s not like they are blockbuster every time,” said Matt Stern, Director of Sales at distributor Excell Marketing, which carries Magic the Gathering, Pokémon, Yu-Gi-Oh and Lorcana cards. “As of today, Loracana is going to be successful because the artwork is incredible and when you have somebody like Disney behind you there is an advantage. ”