Todd McFarlane Talks About the New NHL SportsPicks Hockey Figures

It is no secret that Todd McFarlane, the founder and CEO of McFarlane Toys, is a huge hockey fan. McFarlane was a part-owner of the Edmonton Oilers from 1998 to 2008, and designed the “gear” logo that adorned the Oilers’ third jersey from 2001 to 2007. His toy company made a line of hockey action figures called SportsPicks from 2000 to 2014. 

A new Connor McDavid figure from the 2023 NHL SportsPicks line.

SportsPicks were the “gold standard” when it came to hockey action figures, for their attention to detail and great player likenesses.

As popular as the figures were, McFarlane Toys stopped making them in 2014. But after a nine-year gap, SportsPicks are coming back with an all-new line of action figures featuring eight different NHL players. 

I recently had the opportunity to ask McFarlane about the new line of NHL SportsPicks figures – and why they stopped making hockey figures in the first place. 

Sal Barry: Why did McFarlane Toys stop making NHL SportsPicks figures in 2013? And hockey SportsPicks altogether in 2014? (NOTE: The 2014 figures were in Team Canada Olympic jerseys and were not licensed by the NHL.)

Todd McFarlane: The main reasons were quite simple: Continue reading “Todd McFarlane Talks About the New NHL SportsPicks Hockey Figures”

Phil and Tony Esposito’s Action Hockey Tabletop Game Print Ad

Sell_Sheet_FrontI found this picture of Phil Esposito and Tony Esposito in a pile of old sports memorabilia at a card show a few years back. It shows the famous brothers playing for Team Canada in the 1972 Summit Series, along with facsimiles of their autographs. On the flip side is an advertisement for a tabletop hockey game they endorsed. Continue reading “Phil and Tony Esposito’s Action Hockey Tabletop Game Print Ad”

Pack Break x 6: Eraseez Collectible Hockey Eraser Game

packagePaper football is about to get a run for its money. Eraseez is a new line of collectible erasers by Bulls i Toy that double as a tabletop hockey game. Each pack retails for around $3 and contains two puck erasers, two sheets of stickers for the pucks and one hockey stick eraser.

pack_1The puck erasers are 1.5″ in diameter, and the stick eraser is about 2.5″ long. The logo sticker and NHL shield sticker are circular and meant to be affixed to the pucks to make them slippery.

sticksStick blade erasers come in at least three different colors: orange, red and blue.

face-offThe top of the stick blades have a hole in them so you can put in a pencil to make a hockey stick. All you need is a number two pencil (always bring a number two pencil!) and a smooth surface and you are ready to play.

puck_in_piecesThe puck erasers — referred to as puzzle erasers on the packaging — can be broken into three pieces. I was told that this was “just for fun,” but I would argue that this allows you to either make the puck lighter for a game play variation (if you pull off one or both surfaces before affixing the stickers) or to use the smaller surface “parts” as erasers. Speaking of which…

erased…Eraseez actually work as erasers. Usually, “fun” erasers look cool but don’t work all that well, but Eraseez can be used to eliminate your mistakes. Well, mistakes made in pencil, anyway.

Bulls i Toys generously provided six packs of Eraseez. Let’s see what we got: Continue reading “Pack Break x 6: Eraseez Collectible Hockey Eraser Game”

Pack Break x 4: TeenyMates Collectible NHL Figures

packageTeenyMates — perhaps the smallest hockey toys ever — made their NHL debut for the 2013-14 season. They are made by a company called Party Animal Toys, who also has a line of 3-inch tall sports figures called Lil’ Teammates.

pic_02So just how small are TeenyMates? They measure about an inch tall, just a smidge taller than a U.S. quarter. The figures are fully licensed by the NHL, and seems to draw inspiration from both Japanese anime — with their big, cartoony eyes — and the “Lil’ Sports Brats” keychains from the 1990s. Each figure has the team name across their helmet and the logo on their jersey.

pic_01A pack of TeenyMates costs $3.99 and contains two random figures, two random puzzle pieces and a pamphlet. One of the figures is wrapped, presumably so that it does not rub against the other figure, which could remove some of the paint. The puzzle pieces are two sided, with one side making up a rink and the other side making a poster of all 30 TeenyMates.

checklist_01One side of the pamphlet shows what the completed puzzle looks like.

checklist_02The other side of the pamphlet shows all 30 figures plus a few — HEY, WHAT’S THAT IN THE CORNER?

checklist_03OH MY GOD — THEY MADE A NORDIQUES FIGURE! And a Whalers figure too. Of course, those are the “chase” figures that are harder to get, as are the Metallic Gold and Glow-In-the-Dark figures.

Recently, I opened four packs of TeenyMates and photographed the figures. Not pictured below but also included were two puzzle pieces per pack. Here are the figures I got.

pack_01Pack #1: Los Angeles Kings figure & Carolina Hurricanes figure. The figures use the official “team font” on their helmets.

pack_02Pack #2: Philadelphia Flyers figure & Ottawa Senators figure. You’ll notice that all of the figures are left-handed shots.

pack_03Pack #3: Detroit Red Wings figure & Vancouver Canucks figure. All figures have the text “¬© NHL” on their backs.

pack_04Pack #4: Ottawa Senators figure & Philadelphia Flyers figure. Basically, this was exactly the same as Pack #2. Even the two puzzle pieces were the same.

In a set of 30 figures (not counting the four chase figures), doubles are to be expected. But getting the exact same two figures is a bit worrisome. Perhaps the figures aren’t packaged very randomly. That is, maybe every pack that contains a Flyers figure contains a Senators figure, every pack that contains a Red Wings figure contains a Canucks figure, and so forth.

What I like about TeenyMates figures: Incredible detail for one-inch tall figures.The smug looks on their faces makes me smile. The idea of getting a Nordiques or Whalers figure is pretty cool, though the odds on those are a bit long. The rink puzzle is a good idea, since it will give kids a “scene” to play with their TeenyMates figures.

What I dislike about TeenyMates figures: All the figures are exactly the same –how about a right-handed shot or a goalie for some variety? The collation seems questionable, at least based on the sample packages.

3.5_out_of_5If you are a kid — or have kids of your own — then you might rate this product higher than the 3 1/2 pucks I gave it. Two figures for $4 isn’t so bad when you compare that cost to other blind-packaged mini figures, such as G.I. Joe Micro Force. However, I wish there was a little more variety in the poses used for TeenyMates. Party Animal Toys did release goalies in their line of Lil’ Teammates 3-inch figures; perhaps we might see a goalie or a righty skater in next year’s set of Teenymates, too.

Special thanks to Party Animal Toys for providing the packs for this break.

You can check out the TeenyMates website here.

Quick next exclusive SportsPick figure

Jonathan Quick action figureJonathan Quick is finally getting some love from McFarlane Toys–and all he had to do was lead the league in shutouts, win the Stanley Cup AND be named the Final’s Most Valuable Player. In December, Quick will have an exclusive 6-inch SportsPick figure released in his likeness by McFarlane Toys. The figure will feature Quick in the “glove save” pose and will be in the Los Angeles Kings’ home uniform. It will come packaged with a mini Stanley Cup.

An exclusive figure of Quick is a great idea–but one that does not go far enough. Why not include a mini Conn Smythe Trophy as well? Or how about a net? Longtime collectors of NHL SportsPicks figures will remember back when the goalies actually included nets and a water bottle. Unfortunately, the nets (and bottle) no longer come with goalie figures.

Sure, including a Conn Smythe Trophy and net would undoubtedly raise the production costs of the figure, and thus the price. But most collectors would not mind paying a few dollars more for an exclusive figure that feels more like an exclusive and less like a repaint of a Marty Turco.

Jonathan Quick vs. Marty Turco
The goalie pads might be different, but the body of the upcoming Jonathan Quick figure (left) appears to be a repaint of an earlier figure like Marty Turco. That’s OK, but why not include a Conn Smythe Trophy and a net?

Collectors in the United States can purchase the Jonathan¬† Quick figure through the Spawn Online Store. In Canada, the figure is exclusive to Grosnor Distribution. Additionally, fans in L.A. can get this figure in the Kings’ team store–assuming the season resumes by December. In the meantime, I will have to evict a less-worthy hockey figure off my bookshelf to make room for this one.

Photos courtesy of McFarlane Toys.