Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Collecting the Sox: Action Figures

In the 80’s, a company called Starting Lineup made collectors everywhere question themselves. They introduced a line of action figures based on Major Leaguers. What were these anyway? Were they toys? Were they collectables? Were they statues? Were adults allowed to collect them?

These items were sold in the toy stores or toy departments. That certainly implied that they were supposed to be a kid’s plaything. But, they had the Major League logos on them. They stood very nicely as a little plastic statuette. Did that mean that adults could buy them as part of a collection? Was it dorky if you left them in the package? I saw a friend of mine had his collection still in their packages hanging on his walls. He said they looked pretty nice displayed that way. I agreed that it was a unique look, but wasn’t sure if that was supposed to be the way it went. Weren’t they toys?

In the end, it doesn’t really matter. They were items depicting Red Sox players, and that made them available to collect. (It’s certainly no weirder than saving ice cream cartons.) Starting Lineup produced the action figures for many years. That market niche was filled later by the McFarlane figures that are still sold today. They make for nice items. They’re relatively cheap. They’re small enough to allow you to display quite a collection without getting crazy. They come depicting different players and poses. They use different colors and styles. They look really nice on a shelf.

Yes. They’re toys. In the beginning, Starting Lineup would send them to toy stores depending on the local team. So, the Boston area stores would get more Red Sox in their shipments. I don’t know if that the way McFarlane does it. But, with the rise of the internet, it doesn’t really matter. You can get just about any player you want without too much effort. McFarlane has even gone the extra step and created rare versions of their pieces. Players in certain uniforms might be harder to find than others. This creates a little bit more demand for those versions. Sounds like a collectable to me.

Whether you focus on the current Red Sox, or earlier years, there is bound to be an action figure out there for you. They’re easy to locate at your local Toys R Us. They’re even easier to find online. It’s a great way to add a third dimension to any Red Sox collection.

I still don’t know if I should open them up or not.


  1. Set them free!

    My son has claimed an early-90s Starting Lineup figure of Dave Hollins for his personal toy collection. It's kind of amusing to see Dave Hollins get into imagined battles with Darth Vader. More times than not, Dave emerges victorious.

  2. They're all nearly worthless, so open them up if you want. I have seen nice displays of them hanging on a wall in package, though.

    Either way, remember to dust. :)

  3. I certainly don't keep them in the package for the value. It's really which I think looks nicer as a display. There are some new ones that are more in pieces. I have a hard time keeping those in their package. I need to have the whole player displayed.

    Dusting is always an issue.


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