Hartland Plastics set up shop in Hartland, Wisconsin. They were known originally for novelty items, one such item being the “Kilroy was here” figure. Soon they branched out into religious items and eventually made the very popular Western Horse and numerous riders during the 1940-50s.

One day the supervisor of production, Frank Fulop, came up with the idea to create baseball figurines based on his passion for the game. Soon they ventured into football figurines as well. It has been widely speculated, since there is very little documentation on the true history of these items, that the football version was produced between 1959 and1963. This seemed to be logical as perhaps one of the greatest NFL games ever played happened in the 1958 Championship game. This was the sudden-death game between the New York Giants and the Baltimore Colts. However, this has since been found to be untrue based on the first brochure dated from 1962 which advertised these statues for the first time.

In 1962, Hartland made two specific figures to test the market. They were Baltimore Colts quarterback, Johnny Unitas and Los Angeles Rams running back, Jon Arnett. Unitas seemed to be a very good choice, particularly after being the hero in the 1958 Championship game. But, Arnett was a curious choice. One would think that Jim Brown may have been more appropriate. However, both were very successful in each of their marketplaces. Perhaps it was an East-West coast test. At the time, you could buy these statues for a mere $2.49 each.

Soon after in 1963, Hartland made all 14 franchises existing at the time in both a running back and lineman statue. These teams were: 49ers, Bears, Browns, Cardinals, Colts, Cowboys, Eagles, Giants, Lions, Packers, Rams, Redskins, Steelers, and Vikings. Thus, there are 28 NFL team figures (two for each team), plus the two player specific statues of Unitas and Arnett to complete the set. In each box came an 8” figurine mounted on a green base with an embossed gold team name on the profile of the base with the NFL shield logo. With it also came a sheet of decaled numbers to personalize the figurine (front & back) of your favorite player. These same boxes are highly sought after as well since they depict a picture of the NFL team player and position on the outside. Supposedly the production run was 5,000 of each player.

In 1962, Hartland tested the College ranks. After Billy Cannon of Louisiana State University won the Heisman trophy in 1961, they decided to make a figure of the running back in the purple and gold colors of LSU. Supposedly 10,000 of these statues were ordered and sold at their final home game of the year, which they lost. As the story goes, fans were upset and most of the statues were broken. There was also a LSU lineman version that was made. There was a prototype sent to the University of Wisconsin, but the school declined. There was also another prototype sent to Notre Dame, but Hartland never got a response regarding the figure. If you are ever fortunate to come across the LSA version, be prepared to spend $5,000 or more for the running back and $4,500 or more for the lineman. Can you imagine what the prototype of the Notre Dame statues would fetch?

For the NFL collector, the toughest statues to collect are the Redskins lineman, 49ers running back, Cardinals running back, Lions running back and the Colts lineman, in that order. Prices will be $1,750+ for the Redskins lineman and $900-1,250 for the tough running backs and $700+ for the Colts lineman. Generally speaking the running back for all teams will bring a 10-15% higher premium. You can find common teams in good shape for $250-$350. Empty boxes will bring $175-$450 each pending on the desirability of the team. Decal numbers will run $10-$20 per individual number.

Check out Touchdown Treasure's catalog for Hartland statues and more great items here: http://www.touchdowntreasuresauction.com/Catalog.aspx

By Michael Hattley