Thursday, January 12, 2017

Harlem Heat's Comin' For You...

Mattel is really starting to beef up their World Championship Wrestling figure presence. Not only have we seen the release of a classic WCW style ring, but we have also received figures of Sting, Lord Steven Regal, "Macho Man" Randy Savage, and others representing their time in the Atlanta-based wrestling company. Now we get the release of a tag team that is best known for their work in WCW. Everyone would agree that two of the best tag team wrestlers of the 1990's were the brothers known as Booker T and Stevie Ray. Thanks to the latter recently signing a WWE Legends contract, Harlem Heat has finally joined the Mattel line.

"The Heat" joins us in Mattel WWE Elite Series 46. Beginning with this series, the company introduces a new gimmick that is actually somewhat reflective of the early days of the line. Yes, plastic figure stands are back. These stands are actually three pieces and include a cardboard piece of "diorama" that slides into the back. When all of the figures in the series are collected, the cardboard forms one picture. The stands can be used without the cardboard photo and this is honestly the route that I see most collectors going down. For one thing, the photo background is of an arena and part of the ring. It's very bland and boring. Secondly, after just a few hours of the cardboard being placed into the holder, mine started to bend backward.

Onto the figures themselves, the first thing that popped into my mind is just how far Mattel has gone with the production. The facial likenesses for Booker and Stevie are extraordinary. The hair, the eyes, and even the nasal strips are all perfect. Mattel still has its off moments, but the days of the early few series where it was lucky to find one good likeness in the bunch are long gone. For his first figure in over fifteen years, I'm happy that Stevie Ray received a great treatment. This is the first "Harlem Heat" styled figure for Booker T in equally as long of a time.

The team had many different gear colors over the years, but the red used here really pops. I could easily see a "basic" tag set coming in the future since these great facial likenesses are already done. That set should be done in black, which I will explain in a minute. The flame detail is great, and although I've had recently issues with paint detail in other newer series, I didn't encounter that here. The chest pieces are separate and not painted on which is another great touch. I do think that both figures may be just a tad too tall, although they are tall men to begin with.

Mattel didn't scrimp on accessories either. While they easily could have called it a day with the red doo rags and sunglasses, the company also included the black flame caps that Harlem Heat alternatively wore. If a basic tag team set is produced in the future, this is why I'd like to see those figures in the black gear as we'll already have the accessories ready to go. None of the headgear included here looks 100% perfect, but it's good enough for the purpose. The sunglasses stay on both figures good enough for display, but could still be easily lost.

For my first Mattel WWE purchase of 2017, I'm extremely pleased. I've been a fan of both gentleman for years both in and out of the ring, and I'm happy to see the Harlem Heat legacy live on. Combined with the recent Mattel Nasty Boys releases, we are just one figure away from recreating the WCW Uncensored "Concession Stand Brawl." Do I even have to tell you just who the figure would be? Sista Sherri. Mattel has yet to explore the possibilities of adding Sherri Martel to the line. Her stint as Harlem Heat's manager would be a great place to start.

How about that for a kick-off to my 2017 Mattel wishlist?

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