Merlin Publishing

Merlin Logo as used on Battlecards Seal (UK Edition)
Name Merlin Publishing
Foundation 1989
Closure In 1995 the company was bought by Topps, and the name "Merlin" is now used as a brand only.
Industry Trading Cards; Collectible Stickers
Products BattleCards

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Merlin Publishing published BattleCards (also known as "Steve Jackson's BattleCards") in 1993, which although distinct from Fighting Fantasy have an almost indelible link to Fighting Fantasy in the world of those who collect anything to do with the genre.[1]


Merlin Publishing Ltd was founded in 1989, and grew very quickly to become a major player in the European market for collectable stickers and cards. It has become public by 1993 (as "Merlin Publishing International PLC"). By 1995, the company's progress was such that it won the prestigious Price Waterhouse/Independent on Sunday award for the fastest growing privately held British company.[2]

In this period, as well as producing BattleCards in 1993, the company produced other best selling collections including The Magic of Beano, Nintendo, World Wrestling Entertainment Superstars, Gladiators, Street Fighter II, Jurassic Park, Batman and Power Rangers. The company's official Premier League football collection launched in 1994 and has become, annually, the world's best selling sticker collection.[2]

In 1995 The Topps Company Inc acquired Merlin Publishing in order to give Topps a larger global presence, particularly in Europe. Merlin Publishing became Topps Europe Ltd, but the name "Merlin" was retained as a brand name because it was widely recognised by consumers. Merlin Online remains the name for the web site of Topps Europe Ltd.[2]


Main article: Battlecards

In the early 1990s Steve Jackson came up with a collectible card game rooted in fantasy fiction. It was called Battlecards and was published in the UK in late 1992/1993 by Merlin. It was later published in the US by Merlin Editions, Incorporated in a different order but with virtually the same pack and largely the same artwork (differing only in that Alan Craddock was replaced by Martin McKenna).

The cards "fought" each other by rubbing scratch-off spots on each card, looking for blood symbols underneath; and there were quests to be solved. If you solved a quest, you sent the solution in to the publishers and could claim one of the "rare" cards in the set. There were lots of other features, like spell battles etc. based on the scratch-off system. The success of Battlecards was eclipsed, however, by Richard Garfield's Magic the Gathering which came out a few months later.[3] Jackson later said that the game was "probably too complicated for the time", stating that he had no idea how many people got the final Emperor Card.[4]

See AlsoEdit


  1. Fighting Fantasy Collector
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 - About Us
  3. Commenting on the success of Magic the Gathering, Jackson simply said: "Wish I'd have come up with THAT one ...!"
  4. Next Generation - Edge interview with Steve Jackson "Writing Fiction", December 2007

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