Issue 68: Silly Basketball Action Figures

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My parents were kind enough to keep a steady supply of toys rolling throughout my childhood. However, I wasn’t the type of kid to get a new toy every week, and I’m glad for that. It made me better appreciate what I had and get solid usage out of those toys.

One part of the collection? Action figures. I did have some baseball and football ones, but much as in real life, basketball is my first joy. In fact, there are a handful of basketball collectibles on the mantle in my living room right now.

Those action figures are a mix of NBA Headliners, which feature players with big ol’ heads on little stands, and McFarlane ones, probably the most realistic action figures on the market.

But there’s a lot more out there. Let’s dive into some of the silliest NBA action figures.


Larry Bird Funko POP

If you’ve ever walked into…well, just about any store that sells toys, you’ve probably seen a Funko POP action figure of some kind. I’m pretty sure airport convenience stores sell these. Nothing like munching into a Toblerone while sending your action figure soaring through the sky.

Naturally, the Funko folks saw an opportunity in licensing sports leagues, and they have gone for it with gusto. There are all kinds of big-headed figures for modern-day NBA players, but the league has a “Legends” series to give a shout out to our top players from yesteryear.

Allen Iverson is being released (headband and earrings and all) in June of 2021. In the meantime, you can score yourself a copy of Larry Legend himself, Larry Bird.

The small mustache and floppy hair are on point, but you’ll have to provide the trash talk on your own.

Lil’ Teammates Playmakers

Lil' Teammates Playmakers Action Figures

Some action figures pride themselves on their realism. But what’s the fun in that? I’ll take goofy lookin’ figurines any day of the week.

We already know anything with “lil’” in the name is great. These mischievous lil’ fellas keep that trend going.

Look at that mug! This indiscriminate Phoenix Sun looks like he’s about to set off a bottle rocket in Old Man Withers’s house next door, not hit a game-winning three.

I also like that these figures have rotating heads, arms, AND legs. You can really get some exorcism-esque—or Dem Franchize Boyz, if you prefer fewer demons—rotation on these things.

OYO Shootout Series

OYO Shootout Action Figure with Orlando Magic

When I was growing up, my action figure collection was pretty small. And I mean that in the literal sense — these were little figurines. I could fit most of them into the palm of my hand.

But nowadays, kids are all about building, what with their Minecraft and Sims and all the other games I’m not invited to play.

That’s the mindset behind the Shootout Series from OYO. Not only do you get two players from your favorite team, but you also get a full half court and hoop. That means ALL DAY ALLEY-OOPS, which is never a bad thing.

It appears you may only be able to buy these via a site like eBay. When you do, you can also pick up a copy of NBA Shootout, the video game from the early 2000s. What a terrific combo!

There were options for every team in the NBA, but dang, the Orlando Magic had some slim pickings. Perhaps it’s fitting, since they just traded their entire team during the NBA’s trade deadline.

At least Terrence Ross is still there and tweeting many funny things.

Slam Dunk Anime Coach Anzai

Slam Dunk Anime Coach

There is no shortage of basketball player action figures, but what about a nod to the dudes on the sideline?

Okay, I get it—with a player, you can simulate things like dunking or crossing over a defender before dropping a nifty dime. With a coach, you can…draw up a play on your clipboard or whistle really loudly?

Coaching may not translate over to action figures, but I’m glad to see it represented here. Sure, it’s a coach from the anime show Slam Dunk, but as coach of Shohoku High School, Mitsuyoshi Anzai is one of the most revered basketball minds in the world.

Here you get him in a giant oversized three-button sport coat, perhaps made entirely from leather. That’s a bold style and I am fully on board with it.

LeBron James Dunking

If you’ve gotten to certain places in the internet zeitgeist lately, you may have heard the term NFT, or non-fungible token, being thrown around.

The Hustle breaks it down more eloquently, but they summarize it like this: an NFT is a “documentation of ownership of a one-of-a-kind digital asset.”

So, it could be something like a song, a piece of artwork, or a sports highlight.

Similar to Bitcoin, NFTs have become tremendously popular lately in part because of the idea of scarcity. Just like there’s only a small amount of Bitcoin, there are only a set number of NFTs available for purchase.

One of those NFTs is from a company called NBA Top Shot. They sell “NBA moments” that you can typically see on YouTube, which has the notable advantage of being free.

But that hasn’t deterred people from investing in these highlights, including one man named Jesse Schwarz, who recently spent $208,000 on a clip of LeBron James dunking a basketball.

Now, to be clear, this man does not own the broadcast rights of the highlight, or a physical copy of the dunk. He doesn’t have a stake in LeBron James or the NBA. He simply owns a few lines of code that prove he’s the owner of a digital asset.

Schwarz called the purchase his “Mona Lisa,” though there are plenty of critics of this latest fad, too. An NFT has literally zero intrinsic value, so you’re banking on someone else finding extrinsic value to sell it to.

I cannot imagine anyone would buy an NFT with the idea of simply keeping it and never selling it. But if this whole world goes poof and there are only a handful of valuable NFTs, there’s going to be a lot of people left holding the bag.

I’d rather have a physical thing I can look at and appreciate, but maybe I’m old school. Suddenly I feel like Andy Rooney.

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Other Reads and Watches

Chris Herring: Board to Death? Welcome to an NBA Where Rebounders Have Little Value

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Some NBA players feel COVID effects long-term

That’s all ’til next time. Thanks for reading!


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