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A consumer’s guide to the best and worst of sports media and merchandise. Ground rules: If it can be read, played, heard, observed, worn, viewed, dialed or downloaded, it’s in play here.

What: ’96 NFL Digital Replays

by Motion Vision

Price: $8 and up

Brett Favre does the bossa nova. Wiggles his hips, takes two steps and throws his hands up.

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The all-pro quarterback probably doesn’t realize that he is doing the dance of love. But all the world can see it on a new kind of trading card called ’96 NFL Digital Replays.

Roughly the size and shape of conventional cards, Digital Replays are made of clear plastic embedded with rows of tiny prisms. When you rotate the Favre disk (they are called disks not cards), the bright color photograph springs to life for three seconds. Favre drops back, turns and fires a sideline pass.

This three-second replay is taken directly from NFL footage of a Green Bay Packer-Seattle Seahawk game last October. Other disks show Jerry Rice burning the New Orleans Saints for a long touchdown and Emmitt Smith spinning away from a tackle against the Indianapolis Colts.

The action is a tad herky-jerky, a little blurry at times, but mesmerizing nevertheless. Like holding a miniature television in the palm of your hand, it is the kind of thing you may find yourself toying with again and again.

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And if you jiggle the disks just so, you can make the players dance back and forth. Rice does a nifty two-step.

“We wanted these to be fun,” said David Mandell, who developed the disks using new technology from Kodak. “We wanted to bridge the gap between trading cards and video games.”

The technology--film emulsion and lenticular lenses, scientific stuff--does not come cheap. Card shops sell the 20 or so disks for about $8 each. That doesn’t include bubble gum or, in most cases, statistics on the back.

Like conventional cards, however, Digital Replays are packaged so buyers don’t know which player they are getting, say, Kordell Stewart or Mark Brunell. Some merchants break the packs open for previewing, which drives the price up. Popular players such as Favre and Dan Marino go for $10 to $20.

At those prices, they had better deliver.


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