Rare McFarlane Babe Ruth figure sells for over $13,000

A rare action figure of New York Yankees legend Babe Ruth has sold in an eBay auction for a staggering $13,600, an unprecedented amount for a collectible that was manufactured only a few months ago.

McFarlane Toys has received high praise from sports fans and toy collectors for their line of six inch Sports Picks figures of the greatest players from baseball, basketball, football, and hockey. When McFarlane announced a line of figures of baseball legends to be released this winter, they surprised many collectors when they also announced that a rare alternate version of a Babe Ruth figure would be randomly inserted in cases of figures sent to stores.

The regular version of the Ruth figure, which would be widely available at retail, features a pitching Ruth in the Yankee pinstripes and a white pinstripe hat. The alternate "super chase" figure features Ruth in a dark blue cap. McFarlane Toys announced that only five of the "blue cap" figures would be made, and only three would be inserted in cases (the other two would go into the company's archives). To ensure the figure's authenticity, each one was sealed with special tape featuring the McFarlane logo. When the figures were released in February, it set collectors off on a quest not unlike the fictional one for Willy Wonka's Golden Tickets.

Only one of the three Ruth figures has been found, in a comic shop in Colorado. The figure was given to Beckett Select Media to auction off on eBay in late March. Estimates for the week-long auction were in the $10,000 range, but a bidding war ensued and the final bid of $13,600 shocked nearly everyone. The winning bidder remained anonymous.

McFarlane has a tradition of making alternate "chase" figures of their sports figures, usually with alternate jerseys or small changes in paint jobs. None, however, were as rare as the Ruth figures. The previous rarest chase figure produced by McFarlane was in 2003 of hockey superstar Teemu Selanne. It featured Selanne in a Winnipeg Jets uniform wearing his old jersey number of 13. Only 13 of the figures were made and one sold for over $8,000 on eBay.

The chase continues for the last two figures, which could be sitting on a shelf at a Wal-Mart somewhere. There is also a chance that someone could buy the figure not knowing what they have. The person who found the Ruth figure in Colorado was not aware of the rarity, and had to research the figure online after noticing the difference in caps and the McFarlane tape. The possibility that some kid could make a find that pays for their college tuition.

Victor Medina is a freelance writer based in Dallas. He is the editor of several websites, and his writing credits include The Dallas Morning News, Yahoo News, Cinelinx.com and SportsIllustrated.com. He has served as a Dallas County election judge and on the Board of Directors of The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza in Dallas. You can follow him on his blog, VictorMedina.com or on Twitter at @mrvictormedina. He can be reached by email at vic@victormedina.com.

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