TDmonthly's Top 10 Most Wanted Sports Action Figures
Every sports fan has fantasized about running towards the end zone to score the winning touchdown, delivering a bone-crushing blow in a WWE title bout, or hitting a grand slam in the bottom of the ninth to win the World Series. Alas, purchasing a triumphant action figure likeness of their favorite athlete may be the closest these imaginary athletes get to the heart of the action.
Luckily, it’s a great time for sports figures, with leading toymakers and designers committing time and resources to life-like sculptures of the world’s most popular playmakers. The Cooperstown Series by McFarlane Toys is a certified hit and the company’s plans for 12” and 6” NHL Legends have garnered a great deal of press. The trend has translated into the world of wrestling as well. Longtime wrestling licensee Jakks Pacific introduced a highly profitable line of WWE Classic Superstars, which have also been aftermarket hits with collectors. “To the fans of wrestling, these are like the Mickey Mantles,” says Jeremy Padawer, Director of Marketing for boys’ entertainment at Jakks Pacific.
McFarlane has created a substantial sub-culture around locating rare items within all of their product lines. “Everyone is looking for the next 49ers Jerry Rice from NFL series 5 or a Ray Lewis [also from series 5]. They are tough to find,” says Travis Pyan of clarktoys.com. Football figures are the best selling sports subcategory for Pyan, whose phone rings off the hook with customers asking for short-packed variants when shipments arrive. On the receiving end of the collector furor, Pyan believes, “a lot of it’s the hype--Nolan Ryan is not going to pitch a no hitter tomorrow.”
Attention to detail, authenticity and articulation are key factors for many shoppers. McFarlane Toys is known for their realism and accuracy, but the company’s intricately-posed figures are somewhat limited in their playability. Sport enthusiasts are flocking to the MLB Sportclix game because highly detailed figures are included in the set – and go hand-in-hand with a beloved game simulation system. For certain sports, posability is the priority; the WWE Classic Superstars line gives its plastic grapplers the ability to perform pretzel-like contortions. “We do a good job of making a more articulated figure,” says Jakks’ Padawer.
With the holiday shopping season nearing, companies are looking for ways to improve products while incorporating an increasing range of sports. Basketball – a perennial action figure favorite -- is next on the list; McFarlane is preparing an NBA Legends Series and Pro Specialties Group has a line hitting shelves near the all-star game. In alternative sports, look for Road Champs, Inc. to re-invent themselves in the months to come with an array of innovative products tying into the company’s focus on the BMX circuit.
Fans will want to grab two tickets, toss on a team jersey and get ready to cheer for their favorite players after a look at the top ten sports action figures.
1.) NFL 9: Jonathan Ogden figures (Approx $11.99, 5+) by McFarlane Toys
-He is the first offensive lineman that McFarlane has ever produced.
2.) WWE Classic Superstars Ultimate Warrior ($9.99, 13+) by Jakks Pacific
-Other popular items include Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka and Jake “The Snake” Roberts.
3.) Cooperstown Collection: Nolan Ryan Chase Figure (Approx $11.99, 5+) by McFarlane Toys
-Number 78 Early Adopter Product in Action Figures on Amazon based on purchases.
4.) NHL Legends: Wayne Gretzky 2 (Approx $11.99, 5+) by McFarlane Toys
5.) WWE Ruthless Aggression Eugene (Approx $6.99, 4-7) by Jakks Pacific
-The line is targeted at kids; popular champions also include HHH and The Rock.
6.) GridIron Gladiator Eli Manning ($14.99, 5+) by Pro Specialties Group
-They produce a limited edition (approximately 5,000) and one out of four has an away uniform.
7.) Payton and Eli Manning two-pack (Approx $11.99, 5+) by McFarlane Toys
-Eli manning was the first pick in the NFL draft with a $20 million signing bonus, Payton got $34.5 million from Indianapolis.
8.) MLB SportsClix: Extra Bases ($19.99, 8+) by WizKid
-It won the 2004 Creative Toy Award by Creative Child Magazine.
9.) Snowboarding Huck Doll ($10.00) by Huck Doll
-They offer all the alternative sports, including snowboarding, skateboarding and -wakeboarding.
10.) One to Watch…NBA Legends Line by McFarlane Toys
-Coming out in the spring of 2005, it should have wide appeal.
Retailers served as a key research tool for this piece. TDmonthly staff contacted a number of stores and 10 online retailers that specialize in sports action figures in addition to seven manufacturers, who discussed their latest and top selling products in the area. Staff obtained background information from previously published articles by TDmonthly and other consumer publications as well.
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