They're small, individually wrapped in foil and handed over in piles at Countdown checkouts. But to hundreds of New Zealanders, they're priceless.

Trade Me auctions and Facebook swap groups are drawing hundreds of hopefuls trying to complete their sets of the collectable DreamWorks Heroes Action cards.

One card is given out for every $20 spent at Countdown stores and online. There are 42 cards to collect. Customers can also collect bonus cards for buying specific products.

Cards are being listed on Trade Me for everything from $1.20 for one card through to $200 for a full set.


Countdown's general manager for marketing, Bridget Lamont, said more than half the collector albums designed to hold the cards had sold in the first 10 days and the DreamWorks Heroes app, which allows collectors to play with their collected heroes, had been downloaded 7,000 times.

In-store swap meets are planned for June.

Massey mother Pamela Shaw said her kids' book was nearly full. "We are having a coffee group on Tuesday to do trades with a bunch of my girlfriends."

She said she was driven to collect by the enjoyment her children — Alysha, 11, and Hannah and Jesse, 7 — get from them.

"My kids are obsessed with Madagascar and when they saw the cards on TV they were all, 'Mum, Mum, we have to go to Countdown'. They love opening them and seeing what they have." The quest to collect is costing the family, though. "The shopping bill has gone up about $50 or $60."

Tauranga woman Amy Murray said she deliberately tried to buy things that would get bonus cards, and was spending an extra $20 or $40 a week. "I'm looking on Trade Me now and thinking it would be cheaper to buy them that way."

Wellington dad Danni Mokomoko said he was collecting cards as much for himself as for his six children. He completed the set on Friday and now has his sights on a set from Australia, where they are sold with different branding.