Your Trading Card Maker

Reviewed by: Lianne Reitter & Howard Carson, updated Jan 2007
Published by: Enteractive, Inc.
Requires: Pentium 90 or better, Win 98 through Vista, 16MB RAM, 16MB hard drive space, color monitor, color printer. Power Macintosh PPC processor, Mac OS8 or higher, 16MB RAM, 16MB hard drive space, color monitor, color printer
MSRP: $29.95

Sons, daughters, nephews and nieces — that's what we're talking about here — and how to make delightful little gifts for them, how to make them even more excited than usual about sports and activities, and how to put a smile on their parents' faces. A custom, sports trading card will do it every time. The problem with most trading card makers — essentially a simple theme template-based layout and printing program — is that many of them they try to do way too much. Early versions of MGI (then Roxio, then Sonic) PhotoSuite are classic examples of what's wrong with this sort of software. It usually contains too many features, too many fonts, too many creative choices, too many decisions and is not intuitively useful. The point of the exercise is lost in a confusion of required decisions, and making a simple trading card using a picture of your kid becomes too much like hard labor. Enteractive seems to have learned the hard lessons taught by MGI, Roxio, The Learning Company, Broderbund, Corel and others, and come up with a real winner.

First and foremost, Your Trading Card Maker is dead easy to use. Installation is brief and mostly uneventful. Launch the software. Read the simple user interface - it's presented in the order required to make a card. Choose one of the excellent card layouts. Type player stats and descriptions in the text entry fields provided. Add a picture - we were able to use JPG, TIF, BMP and GIF without any problems, and you can use different pictures for the front and back of the card. Use the simple crop controls to choose the best part of the picture. That's it. The printed results are suitable as gifts, real sports team presentations, novelties and memorabilia.


For the record, we needed only five and a half minutes to load the software, decide on card, import and crop pictures, edit some of the stats and print the card on a sheet of custom card paper supplied with the program. That's fast. The results were excellent - the cards look like they were store-bought and professionally produced.

The keys to this type of software are ease of use and the availability of appropriate specialty paper. Enteractive has made the software absurdly simple to use and trading card paper is available in quantity from their web site (10 sheet pack for $19.95 - 20 cards total) and a few national software retailers. Online orders are quick and simple these days. The other keys to success have to do more with your own 'design' decisions than anything the software does on its own. First and foremost, the crop feature is there for a reason. The fact is, some of our own staff had to be reminded that the best photo for a trading card is one that's mostly head and chest. That means you're supposed to use the crop tool to grab just the part of the picture you'd normally see in a trading card — usually a head and chest shot (known as a medium shot), and occasionally a full length shot — both of which are always tightly cropped. No panoramic views, as little background as possible, and so on. When in doubt, grab a trading card pack off the nearest conveience store shelf and have a look for yourself.

Cons: Some minor installation problems under Windows XP. A second try worked perfectly and we traced the problem to our antivirus software. It's probably good advice to temporarily turn off your antivirus monitor in order to install any new software that you know is safe. No installation issues of any kind on any operating system once we turned antivirus monitoring off. Don't forget to turn your antivirus monitoring back on after installation is complete. Can we have a few more card paper samples in the package please?

Pros: Professional card layouts — very well designed. Simple, accurate print instructions and controls. Superb results from almost any decent inkjet printer (read: almost anything on the market these days). A good example of what can be done with Macromedia Director, Flash and Shockwave UI application design. Speedy, stable operation. As of our January 2007 product revisit both Your Trading Card Maker and its sister product, Your Bumper Sticker Maker seem to work well under Windows Vista. Lots more new trading card content seems to have been added since our original review and the quality is just as high (if not higher). Enteractive is doing a great job of maintaining and upgrading what is clearly a fun and useful product. The cost of trading card printer paper has come down since we last looked, so you can't even complain about the high cost of printing. In any event, the results are worth it. Your kids will love you for this one. Highly recommended.




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