Action Figures based on sports are nothing new. Back in the late 1980s Kenner Products introduced Starting Lineups. They were pretty cool for the time. They made heavy reuse of body molds, had limited articulation and were very pre-posed. All these factored into why I never got into collecting them. I've got one..and it's one of the few toys in my collection still in the package: a 1989 Detroit Tigers Alan Trammel.
I remember thinking, even back then, that sports figures should be more poseable (I didn't think in fancy terms like articulation back then). I mean, these were atheletes, right? They're running, diving, swinging, tackling...etc, etc. In other words, they're moving!
McFarlane Toys began producing sports figures several years back to compete with Starting Lineups. McFarlane only had a license through the Players Asscociations so there were no team logos allowed...just approximations of team colors. When Kenner/Hasbro's license expired, McFarlane got right in there and got the actual MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL licenses and their SportsPicks line soared to new heights of popularity.
But, as great as the sculpting was...and it was great...even SportsPicks left me wanting more. I still wanted to be able to pose my sports figures.
It wasn't until this year that my dream became reality thanks to a new company, Gracelyn Toys.
Earlier in 2006 Gracelyn released their first series of NFL Re-Plays. They're 5" scale, fully-poseable (16 points of articulation) action figures of players from the National Football League and I can't say enough good things about 'em!
The problem is they're not easy to come by.
Wal-Mart, so far, is the only brick and mortar store to carry them. There were some reports, when the first series was release, of regional single player cases showing up at Target stores in select markets. Clinton Portis was sighted in some Washington state Targets.
Wal-Mart seems to get in one or two cases per series and that's it. Several Wal-Marts in my area don't even hang them in the action figure aisle, but lost amongst the die-cast cars an aisle or two away. So, unless you know to look for them you may never see them, and that's a shame.
When Gracelyn announced these figures a few Toy Fairs back they also had plans to produce MLB and NBA figures. Last I heard they were trying to iron out some issues with those licenses, so time will tell if they see the light of day. I hope they do, as I was really looking forward to the baseball figures even more than the football ones. If and when I find out more, I'll be sure to pass that information along.
So, if sports action figures are your bag and you can't find Gracelyn Toys' Re-Plays at your local Wal-Mart try All-Star Figures. Figures are available individually, by the set or by the case. I'd encourage fans and colletors of sports figures to support the line. I want to see Re-Plays go on for years to come, and grow to encompass the other major sports.
These are the sports figures I've been waiting nearly 20 years for!