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Star Wars trading card app puts Episode VII's new characters in your pocket

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Yet again, Han Solo has been imprisoned inside a flattened rectangle. At least this time it's not carbonite — the smuggler is joined by a raft of Star Wars characters old and new as trading cards in Topps' new iOS app, Star Wars Card Trader. The app allows users to collect, trade, and display official Star Wars trading cards, replicating every card released since Episode IV's release in 1977, and adding eight new cards for characters who will appear in the upcoming Episode VII for the first time.

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Those new cards were first seen last December, and gave names to the characters set to be introduced in The Force Awakens. Thanks to the digital collectibles, we know the ball droid is called BB-8, Daisy Ridley's speeder-riding character is called Rey, and the guy with the contentious triple-pronged lightsaber is Kylo Ren. The rest of the app's card roster will be rounded out with classic characters, with some special edition cards given flashy effects — pull a shiny Yoda out of your pack and you'll be treated to a visual flourish and the sound of a blaster bolt. Topps says new content related to Episode VII will be added the future, but already, as the cards feature short biographies of the character they depict, the app might become one of the first places fans will find out official information about the movie's new faces.

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Note that you might need to spend to get your hands on information about the new characters. Card packs cost credits, the app's internal currency, which can either be earned by signing up, successively logging in, and by completing collections, or bought with real money. 20,000 credits cost $5, but pack prices vary — some are given away for free, others sell for a few pennies, while some of the rarest premium collector packs can go for around $50.

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You can also trade for the cards you want, using an system built into the app that allows users to trade up to nine cards with a partner, and gives traders a user-generated trustworthiness rating. For now though, those traders will need an iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch — Star Wars Card Trader is currently only available on iOS.