Starting Lineup action figures were a hit in the 1980s and ‘90s, delivering collectible toy versions of popular athletes from the basketball, football, and baseball worlds, among others. Now, more than 20 years after they were last mass produced, Hasbro is reviving the brand with pricey new versions—and they come with NFT trading cards.
Hasbro opened up pre-orders today for its first new lineup Starting Lineup toys focused on the NBA, with stars like LeBron James, Stephen Curry, and Giannis Antetokounmpo in the mix. Each six-inch figure is significantly more poseable than the old-school toys, but they’re also much more expensive: they sell for $50 a pop.
But that purchase price doesn’t just include the toy and a stand for holding it in the air—the package also comes with an NFT trading card from Panini. The trading card brand runs its own private blockchain network, and has previously released digital NFT cards based on the NBA, NFL, Ultimate Fighting Championship, and other sports leagues.
#StartingLineup is officially back and better than ever! Pre-order your favorite #NBA players now on #HasbroPulse! pic.twitter.com/GbnrGywny5
— Hasbro Pulse (@HasbroPulse) September 22, 2022
Each trading card NFT that comes with a Starting Lineup toy has various rarity levels—so a toy buyer might just get a common NFT card, but they also could end up with a rarer red, green, or blue edition of the card with slightly different artwork. And each player has a gold NFT that’s limited to just one card across the entire run.
An NFT is a blockchain token that represents ownership of an item and can apply to things like digital trading cards, other sports collectibles, profile pictures, and video game goods. The NFT market surged over the course of 2021, ultimately generating $25 billion in trading volume.
Whether those rarer NFTs end up commanding higher resale prices on Panini’s own secondary market remains to be seen—but given the demand for rare NBA Top Shot NFTs in the past, for example, the NFT chase could be a compelling aspect of the new Starting Lineup value proposition for some collectors.
The new Starting Lineup toys were announced earlier this year in partnership with Fanatics, the sports merchandising giant. Fanatics has its own NFT startup in Candy Digital, which has the Major League Baseball license, but these Panini NFT trading cards are not being issued through Candy’s platform.
Hasbro, the 99-year-old toy brand, has made previous plays in the NFT space, including bringing brands like Power Rangers and My Little Pony into the space. Additionally, Hasbro partnered with popular NFT project World of Women to release a custom-branded version of the board game, Monopoly.