I haven't had a lot of free time to post with work, being in a Wedding for a buddy, and dealing with a bulging disc in my neck, but I really wanted to finish this series up so here's the final installment. As the new century started, SLU's were still very much an active hobby for me. Yes, the discontinuation of the Basketball line really put a dent in my collecting (since Mattel basically flopped after two years) but Hasbro was still churning out baseball, football, and hockey, and my interest hadn't waned that much or so I thought. I started out the 2000's doing the usual hunting with Baseball, but suddenly I found myself just not as enthused about the product anymore. Little did I know, my last "hurrah" would be in the summer of 2000. The last "got to have figure" I chased would be the Ken Griffey Jr. in his Reds Uniform in the 2000 Baseball extended set. We ended up making a trip to Dallas to see Cowboys Stadium and other sights, and in between sightseeing stopped at all the Wal Marts, Targets, Toys R Us to find the Griffey. Lo and Behold I found it at a Toys R Us. The other set I was chasing was the All Century Set. I thought it was a very impressive set and collection of the greatest baseball players to ever play the game. I remember picking up the Ruth, Aaron, Gehrig, Cy Young, and others in that trip as well. They would be the last Starting Lineup Figures I ever bought at retail level.
The Griffey Extended Reds and Cy Young All Century Team would be two of the final pieces I ever bought for my SLU collection.
As i was making my wish list for 2000 football, a funny thing happened. I finally decided that I had way too many pieces (especially duplicates of the same player) and that it was time to settle down and cut my spending on SLU's. Originally the plan was going to keep all my legends, and only focus on buying rookie pieces. I was going to sell off the majority of my collection and use that money to buy the important rookie pieces that I needed and from that point on, at stores I would only buy rookie pieces. No more 5 different Dan Marinos etc. Exceptions to the rule would include my Cowboys, Penny Hardaways, and Griffeys. That never really panned out and I eventually just decided to get out of the SLU game altogether. At the time, I was using the SLU message board on AOL to sell my stuff. I returned all my All Century Team pieces (wish I hadn't in retrospect cause I love that set) back for full refunds, and started selling off the rest of my collection online. Lucky for me SLU's hadn't died off yet and were still in demand, so I didn't have to sell my figures pennies on the dollar. I did pretty well, and ended up using that money to enhance my card collection. The Starting Lineup Era was officially over. In my opinion I got out at the right time, because after 2001 Hasbro discontinued the production of SLU's. They tried to make the 2001 line more collectible by making "chase pieces" but it really didn't work out and with the introduction of Todd McFarlane's super detailed Sportspicks, SLU's were pushed away for the next new thing in Sports Figures. SLU's were heavily discounted as the market basically crashed. The only good thing is, years later, I was able to pickup pieces that were once unattainable for very cheap prices (Kobe rookie, Jordan 93, Sanders/Payton Classic Double etc). Crappy ending aside, Starting Lineups were a big part of my childhood and I will always be fond of them. As corny as it sounds, they will always hold a special place in my heart and as lifelike and super detailed McFarlane Sportspicks are, they will never match up to the joy that Starting Lineups brought to me. It was a thrilling ride that I will never forget.