Durant, Mason Turned Into Toys
|Desmond Mason's action figure was a surprise figure because the toy company originally made the Mason doll in a Milwaukee Bucks uniform.|
No, they’re not bobble heads.
They’re action figures; painted sculptures from the designers at McFarlane Toys. The company’s owner, Todd McFarlane, created the comic book character Spawn.
And Durant and Mason are in some elite company.
The only other NBA players McFarlane made toys of for this year's series are LeBron James, Ray Allen, Andre Iguodala, Jermaine O’Neal, Tracy McGrady and Zach Randolph.
In regards to choosing Durant, Amy Fabey, the Director of Licensing for McFarlane Toys, said, “We saw him as an up and coming star and we chose him. And it just turned out that the team moved and we’re very excited to do the first Oklahoma City player.”
Mason's Thunder figurine, however, was a last-minute addition.
"We were painting him as a Milwaukee Buck when he got traded," Fabey said. "Most of the production had already taken place but we painted some with him in Oklahoma City. This is called a surprise figure and is usually a lot more valuable on the secondary market."
|The Kevin Durant action figure by McFarlane Toys is one of eight players featured in the 2009 series.|
The figures, which measure 6 ½ inches in height, includes articulate features, from Durant’s KD1 sneakers to Mason’s five-o’clock shadow of a mustache and goatee, and a custom base with each player’s name and team logo etched on it.
On the back of the toy box is each player’s statistics from the 2007-08 season in English, Spanish and French.
McFarlane has a licensing contract with all four major sports leagues – NBA, NHL, NFL and MLB – and has been making NBA toys since 2002, when its first line included the likes of Utah’s John Stockton, who was nearing the end of a 19-year career, and center Kwame Brown, who was struggling to live up to the billing as a No. 1 draft pick.
The toy-making process takes anywhere from 12-18 months.
As soon as McFarlane receives approval from the NBA over what players they want to use, the sculpting process begins in the company’s New Jersey-based design offices.
There, a team of two designers are assigned to each player. The designers gather as much information and reference material as possible. Some might contact a sneaker company for a certain model a player might wear. Others use dozens of close-up photos and video to help with accuracy. Some designers are better at sculpting faces, while others are better at torsos or specialize in sneakers.
Fabey estimated that two or three designers worked on the Durant and Mason toys. Once the toys are sculpted, photos are taken, sent to the NBA for final approval, packaged and shipped to stores.
Some players require they see the figure before the final production stage, but that wasn’t the case with the Thunder players.
Fabey said that player reaction varies.
“Sometimes we get contacted from the player’s agents or websites,” Fabey said. “Usually we have a very positive reaction. We haven’t heard anything yet, so we’re always open to hearing about it.”
Fabey said there’s no telling exactly how many Durant and Mason figures were made, but there were between 50,000-75,000 pieces produced for this year’s series. There’s also no telling whose hands the toys will end up in.
For instance, one year McFarlane created a series of Babe Ruth toys. Of the thousands that were produced, only three were made with Ruth wearing a blue Yankees cap. Months later, Fabey learned that one had gone for $13,600 on eBay.
Ten, maybe 20 years down the road, you have to wonder how much a Durant or Mason figure would go for from the Thunder’s inaugural season in Oklahoma City.
Contact Chris Silva