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What was the first Baseball Action Figure ever made?

Did you know the very first Baseball Action Figure, and in fact the very first SPORTS figure ever produced, was called Johnny Hero?

Johnny was a very basic, generic figure produced by Rosko Industries of New York in 1965, only a year after Hasbro's G.I. Joe was released. He came packaged in a fairly plain cardboard box featuring a track and field runner dressed in silk track shorts and a short-sleeved shirt with trim (piping) and was first unveiled in the 1965 Sears Christmas catalog.

With is blue eyes, crew cut and stoic expression he stood a magnificent 13 inches tall (one inch taller than G.I. Joe!) at the bargain price of only $2.97!

Made of a foam latex body that was molded over a bendable wire frame, Johnny was quite impressive in his time but even more impressive were his accessories. You could also buy a selection of authentic and detailed MLB Baseball uniforms to dress him in.

However, Johnny's career was probably the shortest in MLB history as he only lasted for two seasons in the Sears catalogue before he was axed.

Johnny opened the door for and has had a profound influence on all the sports figures that followed in his footsteps but it seems since then that his place in the history of action figures has often been neglected and forgotten but now it's time to return him to his rightful place of honor as the first true sports figure to be produced, long before Kenner even thought up their Starting Line-up figures.

Many believe he was "born" before his time but whatever the reason for his demise he is still fondly remembered for the hours of fun he provided.



Starting Line-ups

Despite this it wasn't until Kenner released their Baseball Starting Lineup action figures that fans were able to purchase figures of their favorite players and stars...

Topps

The next series of Baseball figures were released in 1989 by Topps, who should really have kept to producing Trading Cards. These were very poorly made and weren't very well received but..

Playmates

It was almost a decade until anything new hit the market when in 1997 Playmates released their Pro-Zone baseball action figures.



McFarlane's

2002 was the real beginning of the adult collectors market for baseball figures with the release of McFarlane's Toys first MLB Basball Sports Picks figures, which still remain very popular to this day.

McFarlane releases several different lines of baseball figures including Legends, Cooperstown, Playmakers and College collections to name a few.

McFarlane raised the bar for mass produced figures with the release of these as the detail, sculpting and paintwork were superb for figures of these type aimed at the mainstream fan and collector.



Chase/Variants

Kenner first introduced the concept of "chase" figure with their Starting Line-up figures when they realised that the "short run" figures that were targeted to the local market were being sold on the secondary market.

As a result "chase" figures became an integral part of the hobby, but the true masters of the chase figure must be McFarlane's Toys!

McFarlane has made an art out of the practice and is also renowned for including several layers of chase or variant figures with each series, which draws a lot of complaints and derision from regular fans and collectors, yet they still seem to remain very popular.





Gracelyn

The only real challenge to McFarlane's ability to produce such good figures came in 2008 with the release of Gracelyns baseball figures.

Gracelyne are a little known company who had gained an excellent reputation through their highly successful NFL Replay Figures.

These figures were solidly made with excellent paintwork and sculpting and are some of the best baseball action figures I have ever seen.








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