Tuesday, 26 July 2016

ME-O MY-O OYO WHY-O?

OYO is the name of a modern small plastic sport figure / toy that has been on the market for several years now. As is sometimes the case with these sorts of products the CFL eventually became involved a few years after inception and there are now more CFL OYO's than you can shake a stick at out there to collect.

The figures are reminiscent of LEGO toy figures (except they are athletes and not pirates or Luke Skywalker) and so is the name OYO but of course for trademark purposes no direct reference to the other company's product is made (although it is stated that the figures are "compatible with most name brand building toys").


As with most things memorabilia these days Saskatchewan was the first team to harness the marketing power of OYO with a set of white uniform figures issued in 2013 


The first CFL figures were designated G1LE for Generation 1 Limited Edition (actual production figures are unknown) and as Series 1 but only Roughriders were available. The usual suspects were produced (Durant, Dressler, Sheets, Chick and presumably a few others). The figures are not actual likenesses of the players but are customized with the player's jersey number and name on the back and on the packaging material. Black and White figures are used depending on the player. Each player comes with a few accessories as well.



This was followed up by a dark jersey Saskatchewan Series 2 with a copyright year of 2013 as well 


In 2014 the line was expanded across all of the CFL teams but somewhat confusingly the figures for each of the other 8 teams were also designated G1LE Series 1. So it is not clear if the Series designation is for a separate issue of a given number of figures (per team, per year) or the Series number is incremented if a player is given a second figure (with the same team) in the same year or possibly also in a subsequent year.


  
Note that the initial figures for the other teams issued in 2014 have the same box design as the 2013 figures. Here is a "Series 1" Ricky Ray of Toronto.


Later in 2014 the box design was slightly modified with the 6+ child safety designation being moved to the back and the rest of the graphics remaining pretty much the same but some of the wording is removed as well. G1LE Series 1 they remain.



2014 Hamilton Simoni Lawrence with modified box design


2014 also saw the release of the first of what will likely be a large number of vintage players as well as team mascots, with the same modified box design.



 Doug Flutie and Ralph the Dog are immortalized in mini plastic form. Flutie is also available in his Stampeder uniform, unknown if a B.C. version exists.

For the 2015 season a few players that changed teams are available with the late 2014 box design and with 2015 as the copyright date on the back of the box. Presumably the players that were issued in 2014 also continued to be produced because there were plenty of them around for purchase.



Part of Kevin Glenn's sojourn through the CFL teams is available for collectors. Also pictured is a different box design for the Tiger-Cats mascot, it is unclear which year this was issued in but 2015 would be a reasonable guess.


2014 Also saw the arrival of larger Endzone playsets in specific team configurations. Priced around $30.00 - $35.00 they are still commonly available at team stores and on Ebay. Not sure whether or not there has been any evolution or changes to the endzone sets between 2014 and 2016.



These sets came with two generic players and a referee. 


These OYO figures are obviously a very successful product and they have a lucrative target market for something that requires just a little product and packaging customization to produce "different" players for consumers to buy. They are marketed at kids but how many 6+ year old kids are going to differentiate between all of these athletes, so there is definitely an adult team sport collector aspect to all of this. While it is good to have the CFL included in these product offerings there is a lot of redundancy to the line as well.

So 2016 rolls around and what is a company to do in order to generate more sales for these little action figures? Redesign the box and include a different accessory for the figure to "use". There might possibly also be some slight changes to the figure (I don't have any new ones to verify against the older models).


This new Ricky Ray is described on Ebay as Generation 2 Series 2 but the designation is not visible in these scans.  Would seem to indicate again that the series number changes per player figure per team.


Now with all of the CFL based product activity one might expect to be able to get a comprehensive list of CFL players and available products from the OYO website which is prominently printed on each box. Unfortunately (but not surprisingly) there is ZERO information on the CFL line on the website. An email to them inquiring about a CFL list indicated that they did not have one and directed me to the CFL website, which naturally also has ZERO information on the product, same goes for the CFLPA website. There is information on a few of the products on some of the team store websites so at least that is not a dead-end.


  
Here we have Chris Getzlaf with his new team listed as G2S1 so if that designation is accurate it may be further indication that the series number is per team (as Getzlaf had previous Rider figures) or it may be reset by Generation, it really is anybodies guess. G2 Solomon Elimimian appears to have wandered into the wrong locker room.



Also new for 2016 are accessory playsets such as the items pictured below - now with with CFL Stickers!




It would appear that the OYO trend is going to continue for a while as sales are likely strong (obviously led by the NFL, MLB and NHL licencees) and since it takes so little production line effort to swap the little buggers into CFL format we get to go along for the ride. They don't cost too much (between $12 and $15 each at full retail) for one or two if you are giving them to your kid to play with, but collecting a full team set can be pretty costly in the long run.

I have not decided yet if these should be catalogued as an addition to Volume I as they are technically player specific, or whether or not they should go into Volume 3 since they could also be considered effectively generic Novelties & Souvenirs. Anyway I need to go and buy my missing Generation X Series Infinity Ralph the Dog 3rd Jersey Limited Edition Dog Pound Playset Variant.