Collectible of the Week: 1960s Philadelphia Eagles Hartland Figurines
In 1958 Hartland Plastics of Hartland, Wisconsin became the first manufacturer of licensed sports figures with their legendary "900 Series" baseball line. That line, featuring the plastic likeness of stars such as Hank Aaron, Mickey Mantle and Babe Ruth is the great-grandaddy for all modern figurines we collect today. The 900 Series continued to be produced - adding new players through 1963.
Building on the success of their initial pro sports toy offering, and hoping to capitalize on the growing popularity of the NFL, Hartland expanded their product line in 1959 to include two professional footballers: Johnny Unitas and Jon Arnett. Shortly after, they expanded the NFL line to include two generic players for each team (14 teams at the time). From my research, it is unclear when exactly when these were released, but according to the "Definitive Guide to Hartland Figurines" on Cardboard Connections website, 5,000 of each figurine was produced in the years spanning 1959-1963.
The football figurines featured players in two separate poses: "Lineman" and "Running Back". Each figurine rests on a green base, with gold lettering spelling out the team name and the NFL logo. The figurines had plastic face masks, and "blank" jerseys. Though, it would have been hard to resist matching them to an Eagles player of the day with number decals that were included in the packaging. In general, having the players in "original condition", i.e., without numbers is more desirable.
Running back figurine photo via Inside the Park Collectibles
Lineman figurine photo via Eagles Cards. Net