Our friends at McFarlane are making big changes to their very popular sports variants. Our sources at McFarlane have told us they’re going to have more subtle variants in the future rather than the current different color uniform or a former team uniform for their figures.
Starting with MLB 22, which is hitting shelves and dealer inventories this month, McFarlane variants will be smaller, more subtle and less noticeable. For example, with MLB 22, while there is still a chase piece in Travis Haffner, the other six players have more subtle variations. The Derek Jeter has clean pants instead of the regular dirty pants. Ichiro Suzuki’s variant is missing a baseball. Curt Schilling’s variant has a World Series patch. Jose Reyes’ variant has a black wristband. Andruw Jones variant has no eye black. (Note: Lee and Jones are short prints and harder to find than the other figures).
Early reaction to the changes has been mixed. Some dealers we spoke to don’t like the subtle variants, as they are hardly noticeable. These subtle variants also don’t seem to be as special as when you have a whole different uniform or different uniform color. Collectors will also not know what the variants are now unless they educate themselves online or read about the differences in these very pages.
On the other hand, some of the most valuable variants in the price guide over the years have been subtle variants like the 2007 Ozzie Smith Cooperstown Gold Glove or the helmetless football variants. Time will tell how collectors will react. I personally like variants that I can see and those that display a noticeable difference.
Speaking of McFarlane, NHL 18 has also hit the shelves at the time of this writing. NHL 18 consists of Joe Sakic, Matt Sundin, Sheldon Souray, Ray Emery, Jordan Staal and Guy LaFleur. NHL 18 also has a new concept, mixing in a retired player (Guy LaFleur) with current players. The Jordan Staal has been the hot piece in this series, as it’s bolstered by the Penguins recent success, the fact that he is one of the best young players in the league and it is his rookie piece.
Upper Deck All-Star Vinyl
After a short break, the Upper Deck All-Star Vinyl figures are rolling again. Kevin Durant, Lebron James II and Sidney Crosby II have all been released. The SRP remains at $75. Durant comes in green (1,000), white (500) and the limited black platinum (250). James comes in red (1,000), blue (500) and the limited black platinum (250) version. Crosby comes in black (1,000), white (500) and the limited black platinum (250) version.
Hartland continues to crank out new pieces. This month, Hartland has announced it will be releasing its Heisman Trophy Series. The first six players are Bill Vessels, Earl Campbell, Eric Crouch, Johnny Rodgers, Les Horvath and Ricky Williams. Each is extremely limited and numbered to only 150. No one has ever done a whole line of Heisman figures. Kenner Starting Lineups did some back in the 1990s, but it would be really cool if Hartland could do a whole run. I like the tiny-edition size. It should help collector value and investment.
Speaking of small-edition sizes, Hartland has also done a very limited-edition bobbing head series of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team.
Each is individually numbered and retails for $40. All of the players are there, including Solo, Whitehill, Dalmy, Jobson, Kai, Wagner, Boxx, O’Reilly, Wagner, Markgraf, Wambach, Lilly, Lloyd, Rampone, Osborne and Scurry.
Finally, in keeping with Hartland’s show exclusives, Chicago White Sox Great Minnie Minoso will be produced exclusively for the National in Chicago this August. Don’t miss it and the opportunity to catch the hobby’s oldest sports figural company in person at this year’s National.