The modern designer vinyl toy originated in Asia where they are immensely popular and has only gained real popularity in the U.S. over the past few years. What makes a toy designer is that the toys and figures are limited edition and produced in very small runs, anywhere from 50 to 2,500. Once a toy is sold out, that version is gone forever and will not be produced again. The toys are typically either designed or created by actual artists/designers from other fields or have created quite a following in the designer toy market.
The reason I bring this up is that Upper Deck, most famously known for their baseball cards and autographed memorabilia lines, has recently started to produce their own line of designer vinyl toys. The sports line All Star Vinyl started last year and has released figures in the four major sports, baseball, football, basketball and hockey. For the most part the design has been awesome. The figures aren’t as lifelike as McFarlane’s sports toy lines are but still look like the athletes while being more artistic and almost cartoony. Upper Deck started the All Star Vinyl line with a set of Lebron James figures and then moved on to recreate some of the most popular athletes in each sport, including the likes of Brett Favre, Tom Brady, Sidney Crosby, Kobe Bryant, Babe Ruth and many more already announced.
Originally the figures were priced at $50.00 each and they would release 2-4 styles of each figure and each style has a limited edition run of anywhere from 250 to 1,500. For instance Kobe Bryant has 5 different styles with varying edition sizes. He was released in a Gold Jersey (limited to 1,500), Purple Jersey (limited to 500), White Jersey (limited to 250), All Black Edition (limited to 250) and a Retro MPLS. Jersey (limited to 500). While the Kobe All Star Vinyl figure really interested me I decided to hold off for what I hoped would be the centerpiece to my small designer toy collection, a Shaquille O’Neal figure.
The Shaquille O’Neal figure was announced a few months ago and had was released on November 26th to the public. I was pretty excited since as most of you long time readers of The Blot Says… know, Shaq is above and beyond my favorite athlete of all time. Plus the illustrator of the figure, MAD*L, is my favorite designer toy artist. Needless to say I was planning on making the purchase ASAP until I learned two discouraging things about the figure. The most important one was that Upper Deck, due to the toy line’s increased popularity, had decided to raise the price of their All Star Vinyl figures from $50 to $75. Besides the fact that they add another $5, that’s $80 for a toy. The Blot may be a lot of things and like a lot of bizarre stuff but one thing I’m not is someone who’d buy an $80 toy. That’s absurd! $50 was pushing it but I know you can find Kobe’s on eBay for under $40 which makes the figures a lot more reasonable compared to competing designer toys on the market.
The second and much more serious problem is that the figure looks absolutely nothing like Shaq besides it being a huge guy wearing an O’Neal Miami Heat jersey. Please take some time to look at these pictures of the figure and tell me if that face looks anything like the Diesel. I mean I see the resemblance in the picture on the packaging, but they did a horrible job with translating the drawing to the actual figure. That combined with the price makes it pretty unlikely, even to a huge Shaq fan like me, to purchase this figure.
And this leads us to The Blot’s Rant of the Week, what in the hell is Upper Deck thinking selling the figure for this high of a price and who in the hell is buying these at such an exorbitant price? I’ve bought some ridiculous things in my time and this seems like a huge stretch even for me. If any of our readers have purchased any of Upper Deck All Star Vinyl figures in the past please leave me a comment in our comment section and let me know what your reasoning was behind it. If you’re interested in seeing what other sports heroes Upper Deck has made or will be making go to the All Star Vinyl site and if you’d like to see which figures are still available for purchase you can go directly to the Upper Deck store.
I’ve included some pictures of previously released figures below: