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REVIEW: OYO SPORTS TOYS NFL DETROIT LIONS MATTHEW STAFFORD & NDAMUKONG SUH MINIFIGURES
By Thomas Wheeler

A while back, I was made aware of a company called OYO Sports Toys. This company was producing Lego-like mini-figures for various players from teams throughout Major League Baseball. The impetus for this company was that its owner's son was interesting in adding sports figures to this collection of Lego mini-figures, but there weren't really any to be had. The company was founded, licensing agreements were made, and a wide range of baseball mini-figures, nicely compatible with Lego and other similar building-block toys, was made available.

When I became aware of the toys, although such figures aren't really my main priority, I felt they were well worth a good review, and as such, acquired a number of the baseball figures. Since I am originally from the Detroit area, I acquired a number of the Detroit Tigers, and reviewed the entire group some time back. I'm sure you can find this separate review on this Web Site.

Recently, I learned that OYO Sports Toys had branched out, from Major League Baseball, into the NFL, the National Football League. In fairness, I am much more of a football fan these days than a baseball fan (although I have no problem with either sport), and so I decided to see if it might be possible to add a few Lions to my Tigers.

Okay, I know -- the Detroit Lions aren't exactly the top of the heap when it comes to professional football. I still root for them.

And so, before long, I had come into possession of the OYO mini-figures for Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh -- and yes, my spell-check really doesn't like that name, and I'm keeping his package right here in front of me while I write this review.

Let's have a brief look at the history of the Detroit Lions, and of these two men, and then check out their new mini-figures.

The DETROIT LIONS are a professional American football team based in Detroit, Michigan. They are members of the North Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League, and play their home games at Ford Field in Downtown Detroit.

Originally based in Portsmouth, Ohio and called the Portsmouth Spartans, the team began play in 1929 as an independent professional team, one of many such teams in the Ohio and Scioto River valleys. For the 1930 season, the Spartans formally joined the NFL as the other area independents folded because of the Great Depression. Despite success within the NFL, they could not survive in Portsmouth, then the NFL's smallest city. The team was purchased and moved to Detroit for the 1934 season.

The Lions have won four NFL Championships, the last in 1957, giving the club the second-longest NFL championship drought behind the Arizona Cardinals. The Lions have not had much success during the Super Bowl era: the Lions are one of four current NFL teams that have yet to qualify for the Super Bowl, and the team is 1-10 in post-season play during that period.

JOHN MATTHEW STAFFORD (born February 7, 1988) is quarterback for the Detroit Lions. He was drafted by the Lions first overall in the 2009 NFL Draft. He played college football at the University of Georgia. He is the 4th quarterback in NFL history to throw over 5,000 yards in a single season, including one of three in the 2011 season (Drew Brees, and Tom Brady).

On September 7, 2009, Lions head coach Jim Schwartz announced that Stafford would be the Lions' permanent starting quarterback heading into the 2009 season. Regarding his decision, Schwartz stated, "This isn't an internship or an experiment." Stafford beat out veteran Daunte Culpepper for the starting job.

Stafford made his first start in the NFL on September 13, 2009. He was one of four rookie starters for the Lions (Brandon Pettigrew, Louis Delmas and Sammie Hill) in the season opener against the New Orleans Saints, and was the first Lions rookie quarterback to start the season since Greg Landry in 1968. He completed 16 of 37 passes for 205 yards and 3 interceptions; he was intercepted twice by Darren Sharper, the other time by Scott Shanle. He also ran in a 1-yard touchdown.

In Week 2, he threw his first career touchdown pass when he connected with Calvin Johnson on a 6-yard touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings. In week 3, Stafford led the Lions to their first victory since the 2007 season. He completed 21 of 36 for 241 yards and one touchdown in Detroit's 19–14 win over the Washington Redskins.

In Week 4, Stafford completed 24 of 36 for 296 yards with one touchdown as well as an interception before suffering a knee injury while being sacked in the fourth quarter of Detroit's 48–24 loss to the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. He underwent further evaluation back in Detroit. Culpepper started in his place in week 5, and again in week 6.

On November 22, 2009, Stafford threw 5 touchdowns in a 38–37 win over the Cleveland Browns, becoming the youngest quarterback ever to do so, being more than a year younger than the former record holder, Dan Marino. In a thrilling ending, Stafford received high acclaim when he stepped back onto the field despite team doctors' urge to stay on the sideline after suffering a separated shoulder on the previous play and threw the final touchdown pass as time expired.

In addition to the five touchdown passes, Stafford accumulated 422 yards passing, a record for a rookie at that time. For his performance, Stafford won NFC Offensive Player of the Week and Pepsi Rookie of the Week. The show's creator Steve Sabol said it was the most dramatic performance he's seen in the show's 30 year history.

Stafford was placed on injured reserve on December 24 for the minor knee injury. Stafford concluded his rookie season having passed for 2,267 yards,13 touchdowns, and 20 interceptions. In all 10 of the games he started for the Lions he either threw or ran for a touchdown.

In 2011, The Lions opened the season on September 11 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with high expectations. Stafford played well, throwing for 305 yards, 3 TDs, and an interception in a 27-20 win, the first season opener the Lions had won since 2007. Another strong performance followed, with Stafford throwing for 4 TDs, 294 yards, and an interception against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 2, leading the Lions to a 48-3 blowout victory, the largest win margin in team history. Stafford won the FedEx Air NFL Player of the Week for his performance.

In Weeks 3 and 4, Stafford led the team to consecutive comeback victories, a 26–23 overtime comeback victory over the Minnesota Vikings after trailing 20–0 at halftime in Week 3, and a 34-30 win over the Dallas Cowboys after trailing 27-3 with 12:27 left in the 3rd quarter.

Week 5 saw Stafford orchestrate a 24-13 win over the Chicago Bears, going 19 of 26 for 219 yards and 2 touchdowns. This was the first time the Lions had gone 5-0 since 1956, the year before they won their last NFL Championship.

On Week 10 against the Bears, Stafford threw four interceptions, including two that were returned for touchdowns on consecutive drives. On November 20, Stafford threw for 335 yards and 5 TDs as the Lions defeated the Carolina Panthers 49-35.

Stafford became the first QB since at least 1950 to win back to back games after trailing by at least 20 points, the first to win three games in a season after trailing by at least 17 points, and the first to win four games in a season after trailing by at least 13 points.

On January 1, 2012, Stafford became the fourth quarterback in NFL history and third in the 2011 season, along with Tom Brady and Drew Brees, to throw for 5000 passing yards in a season after collecting 520 passing yards against the Green Bay Packers in a 45-41 loss in Week 17 and finished the season with a 10-6 record, leading the Lions to their first playoff appearance since 1999.

The accomplishment makes Stafford the second youngest quarterback in NFL history to do so behind only Dan Marino. Over the last four games of the 2011 regular season, Stafford became the only quarterback in NFL history to pass for over 1,500 yards (1,511) and 14 touchdowns over a four-game span.

Stafford was named a Pro Bowl alternate for the NFC after the 2011 NFL season. He was later named the 2011 Pro Football Weekly Comeback Player of the Year, AP Comeback Player of the Year and NFL Alumni Quarterback of the Year.

NDAMUKONG SUH (born January 6, 1987) is a defensive tackle for the Detroit Lions. He played college football for the University of Nebraska, and earned All-American honors. He was chosen by the Lions with the second overall pick of the 2010 NFL Draft.

Suh was selected second overall in the 2010 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions. On August 3, Suh agreed to a five-year contract. On September 12, Suh had his first sack against Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler. On October 10, during a game against the St. Louis Rams, he recorded his first career interception off of Sam Bradford, the No. 1 overall pick of the 2010 NFL Draft.

Suh scored his first touchdown of his NFL career against the Washington Redskins on October 31, 2010, on a recovery of a Rex Grossman fumble.

After an injury to Lions kicker Jason Hanson, the Lions had Suh attempt an extra point on November 7, 2010, against the New York Jets. However, Suh missed the extra point when the ball hit the right upright. As big as this guy is, I'm surprised he didn't boot it clear into the upper deck of the stadium.

For the 2010 season, Suh led the Lions, all rookies, and all defensive tackles in sacks with 10. He was picked as a starter for the Pro Bowl, becoming the first Lions rookie since Barry Sanders to be picked as a Pro Bowl starter. He missed the game, however, due to shoulder surgery.

On January 25, 2011, Suh was named to the All-Pro Team. He was also named the Sporting News Rookie of the Year, the Pro Football Weekly and Pro Football Writers of America Rookie of the Year, the Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year, and the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year.

In the 2011 season on week 14 against the Oakland Raiders, Suh jumped up to block the game winning field goal, to make the Lions 9–5–0. Suh was named a Pro Bowl alternate for the NFC after the 2011 NFL season.

So, how are the figures? Really very nice. They're clearly intended to be compatible with Lego's mini-figures, as well as some of the figures that Mega Bloks has produced in the past, but there are a number of aspects in which these OYO figures are superior.

The figures stand about 1-5/8" in height. Obviously the degree to which either of them actually looks like the player they represent is somewhat limited. They have short, cylindrical heads with a peg on the top to accommodate the helmet, and little circles on the sides of the head that represent ears. The facial details such as eyes, nose, and mouth, are imprinted on the front of the head.

The degree of accuracy generally amounts to skin tone, as well as certain additional features like facial hair. For instance, the Suh figure has a beard imprinted on it.

Obviously, the greatest degree of accuracy is going to come from uniform patterns and individual numbers and names. Both figures are wearing appropriately-colored blue jerseys, with silver-gray trousers, and black shoes. The jerseys have silver and white stripes on the sleeves, a little black V-neck collar, and an NFL logo so tiny that one of my best rulers doesn't quite measure that small. Maybe it's about 1/32 of an inch across.

On the front of the jerseys, the word "Lions" appears, as well as the individual number of the player, which in Stafford's case is 9, and in Suh's case is 90. The NFL has gotten more liberal with the "font style" of numbers that can appear on football jerseys in recent years, and the Lions numbers have a fairly distinctive style. It's curved, with a little internal jag at the top. Nicely stylized, and certainly more impressive than the old-style block lettering.

The back of the jerseys, of course, also have the player number, and their last names above the numbers, either "Stafford" or "Suh".

Accessories for these NFL mini-figures include a helmet, a football, a water bottle, and a small green display platform. The helmets are very nicely made, and have a snap-on face mask, that actually connects to the front top of the helmet. The helmets are in the appropriate color style, in this case silver gray, with black, white, and blue stripes over the top, and the Lions emblem on the sides. Very nicely done for a Lion that's barely 1/4" long.

What tends to set these OYO figures apart from their counterparts from other lines in other companies is their articulation. Whole certainly poseable at the heads, arms, and legs, they also have a swivel-arm feature at the elbow, and their elbows are slightly bent forward. Additionally, the wrists turn, all of which is actually to their advantage in a sports setting such as this. It's entirely possible to pose the Stafford figure to look like he's about to pass the football, for example.

Additionally, the figures are poseable at the knees -- something not a lot of similar figures are capable of, and again, definitely an advantage since you can pose these figures to look very much as though they're running down the field. So that's eleven points of articulation in a figure that doesn't even stand two inches tall. That's pretty impressive.

Detail applications on the figures are superbly done, and that much more impressive given how small the figures are. Logos, numbers, names, stripes -- all have been done with great care and precision.

I don't usually discuss packaging in my action figure reviews, but the packaging design is very nicely done, and quite clever. It's been carried over from the baseball figures, but what the heck, "If it's not broken, don't fix it". These OYO NFL figures come in a small box that measures 3" x 3-3/4" x 3/4". The nice thing about this is it's easy to stack a lot of these in a small space.

Within the package is a small green segmented tray, that has individual trays for the player, his base, the football and water bottle, and the helmet. A holographic foil sticker with the NFL logo is at the top right of the tray.

The outer cardboard package is mostly black, along with the team colors, and features the NFL logo, the team logo, an "action shot" of the character, and his name, number, and team position, also referenced on the side of the package. There's a window on the front which showcases the actual figure.

So, what's my final word? I like these. And I would expect that any NFL fan who has kids that are into Lego-type building toys will also like these, especially if the kids enjoy the NFL as well.

Now, I really don't know how extensive the line is. I would think that there are likely representatives from every NFL team available. I wanted a couple of Lions. But I'm sure there are well-known players from every NFL team to be found, and there's a Web Site for this company, at www.oyosportstoys.com, that I am certain can provide you with further information about figures from your favorite NFL team.

Meanwhile, if you're a Detroit Lions fan, well, you can certainly enjoy these great minifigures of Stafford and Suh, and as I said, I'm certain that whichever NFL team is your favorite, there's some OYO minifigures for you.

The OYO SPORTSTOYS NFL MINIFIGURES of MATTHEW STAFFORD and NDAMUKONG SUH from the DETROIT LIONS, along with the rest of the collection, definitely have my highest recommendation!