Last week, I did a piece on gumball football helmets that we all enjoyed collecting as children that have now become collector's items and sell for thousands of times their original value. This week, I thought it would only be fitting to cover another collector's item that falls under the same category. Whether or not you collected starting lineup figures, I am pretty sure you received one as a gift or somehow found one in your closet.
As a child I had about 10 of these figures which I purchased myself just because I was collecting my favorite players. After they sat on my desk, I eventually found ways to put them to use besides an aesthtically pleasing feel to my room. I would line them up on my dresser and then stand on the other side of my room with the Nerf bow and arrow and...you guesses it...shoot them off like I was at a firing range. This is probably one of my most fun memories as a child, but it was short lived after mom realized that starting lineup figurines violently flying against the wall at close range leave permanent marks on the wall in an array of colors. The creative side of me felt that the many random color marks on the wall added character to the room, but mom didn't share the same vision as me.
Once I got older, collecting starting lineup figures became a big hobby of mine, and I have quite a collection today. While they all sit in huge plastic boxes in my parents' closet, they used to cover my walls like wallpaper at a memorabilia store. I spent my free time and my own money scouring Toys R Us stores, KB Toys and Starting Lineup conventions trying to find great deals. I started collecting only baseball figures, but that quickly turned into football, basketball and hockey. While I don't have many of the very expensive pieces, I have most of my favorite pieces which I haven't been able to part with and don't know if I ever will be able to. Let's take a look at some of the most interesting, popular and expensive figures on the market.
1988-98 Figures: The Starting Lineup figures from 1988 and 1989 are the rarest as there just weren't that many made when the pieces were first in production. Also, nobody really new starting lineup figures were going to be collector's items as many parents simply bought them for their children to play with. It is hard to find unopened figures and once the plastic player is removed from his case, it loses almost all value. While some of the opened figures from these two years can still sell for about $15 dollars depending on the buyer, it is the unopened and pristine figures that bring in the big bucks. Almost all the football and baseball figures from these two years go for about $40 while the superstar players can sell from $250 to $500, once again depending on the needs of the buyer.
First Pieces: Just like baseball cards, the most expensive and the most wanted items are a player's first piece. Unless a piece is highly undermade, a player's first piece will always be his most expensive, which may also have a lot to do with the pieces from 1988 and 1989 being the most expensive. On the left you can see Peyton Manning's first piece, which only goes for about $15 dollars since there were so many figures being produced by 1998. On the right, you can see Daryl Strawberry's first piece, which is actually sitting next to me at this very moment, but it is opened and is one of the little guys that took quite a beating from the Nerf arrow. Thanks to Daryl's legal troubles, his peice only goes for about $8 dollars, but I bet you it means much more than that to any fan that grew up watching Strawberry in his prime.
Goalies: While goalies bring no extra value to a piece, it's hard to deny that they are the coolest figures out of all the sports. They are bigger pieces, their uniforms are more creative and the come with helmets. Yes, football players come with helmets to, but they are now way near as cool as the the detail that comes with the hockey Goalie Helmets. When I was a collector, I actually traded away some of my goalies to get some baseball pieces that I was attempting to get complete a set for and I really wish I would have never done that. As you can see, while many of these pieces bring different monetary values, ther are so many other aspects that are important to an enthusiast. I am not even a fan of hockey and I wish these were the pieces I focused on more as a young collector.
So if you remember playing with starting lineup figures as a child or even a young adult and know that you have multiple pieces that fit the description of the peices above, it may be time to start cleaning out your closet in an attempt to find some ebay gems. Good luck searching!