After a 21-year hiatus, Starting Lineup figures will return to the marketplace in late September.
The online sports retailer will partner with toy-maker Hasbro and trading-card company Panini to re-launch the popular and iconic brand.
“We’re thrilled to be bringing back one of the most beloved sports collectibles brands of all time, Starting Lineup, and to be teaming up with Fanatics for its highly anticipated return this fall,” Eric Nyman, President and COO of Hasbro, said in the release. “The fast-growing sports collectibles category presents great opportunities to connect with fans of all ages, and we’ve got many exciting announcements to come from the brand in the months ahead.”
The first wave of new Starting Lineup figures will hit the marketplace on September 22 and feature basketball players. The NBA stars or legends featured in the preorder sale are currently unknown. Promotional photos suggest the figures’ complexity has grown since the brand’s heyday and the collectibles are more in line with McFarlane figures.
The Starting Lineup concept was originally conceived by former Cincinatti Bengals player, Pat McInally, during his final season in the NFL (1986). McInally came up with the idea after visiting a toy store and noticing there were no figures available for athletes. McInally believed the top stars of each league were just as recognizable to kids as superheroes and other fictional characters. McInally pitched the idea to toy maker, Kenner, and Starting Lineup figures were first produced in 1988.
Major athletes from baseball, football, basketball, and hockey were immoratlized as well as stars from boxing, golf, racing, skating, soccer, and track & field. The figures were sold at major retailers like Toys-R-Us and KB Toys and were frequently purchased as gifts for kids. Eventually, Kenner was purchased by Hasbro in 1991.
Figures of Capitals players Peter Bondra, Olie Kolzig, Adam Oates, and Jim Carey were produced during the late 90s and early 00s. The figures were typically four inches tall, had a (sometimes) wobbly base, and featured a trading card of the player as well.
In 2001, Hasbro stopped making the toys as the figures’ popularity waned and many of the most marketable sports stars were featured earlier in lines.
The collectibles initially made a comeback in 2016 via stadium giveaways through teams in the NFL, MLB, and NHL. One local athlete who was given the honor was former Orioles’ third baseman Manny Machado. The popularity of those events combined with the value of the vintage toys on reseller sites like eBay likely led to the revival.
“Hasbro’s Starting Lineup is an iconic collectibles brand, and Fanatics is thrilled to be the exclusive partner to help re-launch this historic product line and introduce a new generation of sports stars to fans and collectors everywhere,” Jack Boyle, Fanatics Commerce Global Co-President of Direct-to-Consumer, said.
While Fanatics and Hasbro have been mum so far on if Starting Lineup figures will be made for other sports, that result seems likely. Fanatics is the official retailer of all the major sports leagues in North America and has exclusive contracts with superstar athletes like Alex Ovechkin. The initial press release announcing Starting Lineup figures being back was vague and did not mention any sports leagues. It wasn’t until a June 29 social media post where Hasbro announced the first wave would be for the NBA.
“The first wave of Starting Lineup will be NBA, dropping 9.22.22!” the post wrote. “The countdown is ON!”
The Starting Lineup figures will be available exclusively on Hasbro Pulse and across the Fanatics network of online sites, including Fanatics.com and official league stores.
Headline photo: Ian Oland/RMNB
RMNB is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
All original content on russianmachineneverbreaks.com is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)– unless otherwise stated or superseded by another license. You are free to share, copy, and remix this content so long as it is attributed, done for noncommercial purposes, and done so under a license similar to this one.