After 21 years on the bench, Starting Lineups are coming back.
Late Monday, Hasbro, Inc.,in partnership with Fanatics, announced the re-launch of the Starting Lineup brand of player action figures would take place this fall.
Collectors and flippers used to flock to discount and toy stores when the program was popular back in the mid-1980s, looking for rare figures when new shipments would arrive.
Don’t expect a stampede in stores around the country this time, though. Starting September 22, products from the Starting Lineup brand will be available exclusively on Hasbro Pulse and across the Fanatics network of online sites, including Fanatics.com and official league stores.
“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,” said Eric Nyman, President and COO of Hasbro. “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.”
Originally launched in 1988, the Starting Lineup brand developed a strong following by offering figures of thousands of players from several sports. The program lasted 14 years and while the initial wave of popularity died off, Starting Lineups have maintained some collector interest. There’s no word yet on whether the cards will come with trading cards as they once did but the brand is getting a new logo.
According to Hasbro and Fanatics, the return of the brand will introduce an all-new era of notable athletes along with newly designed figures for former players.
As promised, Fanatics is wasting no time in expanding the distribution of Topps baseball cards. Collectors began spotting packs of Series 1 in Wawa stores over the weekend and the convenience store chain confirmed Monday that it was going to be carrying them.
— Wawa (@Wawa) April 18, 2022
Wasa may not be known much west of the Appalachians but the chain has 640 stores in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Delaware and Florida.
Apparently sports cards have made it to Wawa’s. Never thought I would see that. I’ll take a shortie and a pack of Topps. pic.twitter.com/txNzLVmuzv
— matt4486 Cards & Case Breaks (@matt4486) April 17, 2022
Wawa was among many outlets that carried packs of cards in the 1990s and earlier, but they haven’t been seen much in pack form outside of major discount stores like Walmart, Target and Meijer since then, although Walgreen’s and certain dollar store chains have carried some product in recent years, much of it consisting of lower cost packs with exclusive parallels.
Some collectors have reported spotting Topps packs at 7-11 stores recently, too.
The cost is a bit on the high side at $3.49 for 16 cards. Still, it’s an important move by Fanatics, which has pledged to significantly expand the public availability of at least a few major brands as it begins its sweeping takeover of the sports trading card market in the next few years.
Vladdy Jr. is causing some ripples in the hobby again.
One of five 2016 Bowman Chrome Red Refractor Vladimir Guerrero autograph cards sold for a record setting $552,000 over the weekend. The sale breaks the previous record for any Guerrero Jr. trading card – $186,960 in August 2021 – by nearly triple the price.
“There is a ton for collectors to love about Vlad Jr. and his game,” said Jesse Craig, Director of Business Development at PWCC Marketplace, which sold the card in its most recent auction. “He’s just 23 years old and he already has three solid seasons to his name. The 2021 campaign really set the stage for this jump in price. A .311 batting average, .401 OBP, and 1.002 OPS got him second in the MVP voting behind only Shohei Ohtani. The start to this season helps solidify the fact that 2021 was no fluke. The consensus among card collectors is that Vlad Jr. is the real deal.”
Other sales included
The entire auction had 324 lots across baseball, basketball, football, hockey, golf, soccer, Pokémon, and more and generated over $18.6 million.
2021-22 Donruss Mega Boxes with exclusive parallels have dropped via Fanatics. You can enter the queue here.