Monday, September 22, 2014

Toy Review – WWE Elite Collection Series 29 – Luke Harper from Mattel

I wanted to go ahead and knock these out before Dragon Con because I was still excited about them and because I don’t know how much tolerance the average Needless Things reader has for wrestling toys.

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I didn’t get to Luke and Erick because things just got too busy. But now I’ve got some time before 31 Days of Halloween starts, so I might as well wrap up the Wyatt clan.

I let myself buy Bray Wyatt. Obviously that meant I was going to have to get Harper and Rowan as well. Not just because they’re three peas in a dirty, backwoods pod, but because they come with the rest of Bray’s accessories.

It’s funny – for the most part I have gotten away from wrestling toys. But Mattel has just happened to unleash a bunch of figures right around the same time that hit my sweet spot. The Wyatt family, Andre the Giant, and the Amazon Exclusive Mankind are all figures that I probably shouldn’t have bought, but that were characters that I like enough to have gone outside of my current collecting norms. It doesn’t hurt that Mattel’s WWE action figure line is one of the best on the market.

Luke Harper doesn’t have a sheep mask, so he might initially seem like the less interesting of Bray’s henchmen. But he has two things that put him on equal footing with his tag team partner, Erick – sweat stains and crazyface. This guy makes some of the creepiest, weirdest faces in the business. And apparently his sweat stains were so integral to his character that Mattel thought it worth the expense to make them a paint app on the figure.

That’s some crucial sweat, right there.

FIRST GLANCE

I’m not quite sure what I would make of this figure if I didn’t have the context of his story from watching WWE. I suppose it’s a given that I would know he’s a wrestler, but I don’t know that I would identify him as a sort of sociopathic gang member. He looks more Bushwhacker-y, if I’m being honest. Especially with that face. While I know that it’s part of his weirdo character, it would look kind of silly without the proper knowledge.

Of course, none of that matters because the WWE line is one the few lines in stores today that still features comprehensive biographies on the

PACKAGING

The WWE Elite series packaging is nice. It isn’t too overdone and fits the figures nicely without a ton of wasted space. The shape and graphics are eye catching and I like that the graphic depicting the wrestlers is nice and big, it’s on the front of the box in a prominent position, and it doesn’t block any portion of the figure. As I mentioned with Bray Wyatt, the picture looks kind of computer-y. Like the character select images in the video games. 
 
Like Bray’s figure, I find the description of Luke’s shirt to be slightly off. Wouldn’t “plaid” have been a better word to use than “flannel”? Because that thing is quite clearly one but not the other.

This is another great bio. I certainly couldn’t have written one hundred words (yes – exactly one hundred, which leads me to believe there is a minimum 100-word count for these bios) about Luke Harper. Granted, only 19 of them are specifically about Luke Harper, but it’s still an impressive bio.

Side Note: Okay, so it’s 99 words and an ampersand. Whatever.

LOOKS

Once again Mattel has knocked it out of the park with this likeness. Not only that, they chose a great facial expression. You guys know that I normally prefer my figures to be neutral, but I was serious before when I said that Harper’s crazyface was a big part of his gimmick. The raised eyebrows and the protruding tongue are great. Even more importantly, the facial proportions are perfect – nose, eyes, beard – everything looks great.

The base figures consists of what I assume is a fairly standard torso and arms with jeans and boots. Unlike the feet of the Masters of the Universe Classics line – which all pretty much look like dinner rolls – Harper’s boots are detailed with seams and laces. The jeans are the baggy kind that Harper wears and are probably generic enough to be used as other sorts of pants on other sorts of figures. 

The real point of interest is the handkerchief dangling from the back pocket. The sculpt is fantastic, but the deco is what is really surprising. Not just because of the excellent detail, but because it is there at all. This is just another example of the commitment that Mattel is showing to this line.

The other non-removable elements on this figure are his white tank top – more of a sleeveless t-shirt, really – and the fabric wrapped around his wrists.

The tank top is a separate piece made from a plastic soft enough to allow some movement of the figure’s abdominal joint. It’s thin enough to look good as a shirt and looks so much better than it would if it were part of the body sculpt. This simple piece gives the figure so much more character and dimension. And the sweat stain deco is just awesome.

I assume the wrist wrappings are bandanas or something. They look good and – like the shirt – just add a little more depth to the figure. Obviously they would look like crap if they were just painted on, but even if they were sculpted as part of the figure they wouldn’t have the same look. It’s amazing how two little bits of rubber can do so much for a figure’s profile.

ACCESSORIES

Harper comes with a “flannel” (plaid) shirt and a glow-in-the-dark lantern.

I won’t shy away from telling you that the glow-in-the-dark lantern was a factor in my decision to buy the entire Wyatt clan. The fact that it wasn’t just a lantern, but that it was a phosphorescent thing of beauty certainly played into things. It’s a nice looking lantern with plenty of detail and a handle that pivots.

The shirt is easy enough to remove from the figure. It has a sculpted collar and looks just fine. The plaid is just a bunch of black lines, but that’s all you need, really. It’s a soft plastic like the t-shirt underneath. Again – it just adds to the profile of the figure. It’s a nice bit of gear to have.

FUN

These Elite figures are packed with articulation and all of it is particularly useful on Luke Harper. The figure can be posed in ways that the actual wrestler probably can’t. 
 
The ankles have a much greater range of motion than they appear to. You have to carefully loosen them up a bit, but there’s a great degree of pivoting in both directions. The rest of Harper’s joints are all quite functional and have very satisfying ranges. As with the paint decos, Mattel seems to have put an awful lot into making this portion of the figure high quality. Everything looks great and functions well. 
 
If you’re curious, the differences between this and a basic release are the abdominal pivot, ball joint hips, double pivot knees, and rocker feet. I’m pretty sure the basics use ball joint heads since most of the head sculpts end up being shared. I don’t think the basics have as many different body sculpts as the Elite, either, so while Elite CM Punk and Evan Bourne may have different torsos, basics of the same guys might be the same.

OVERALL

It’s a guy in jeans and a couple of cut up shirts, but I am extremely happy with Luke Harper. Mattel put a lot of effort into making this a strong figure and it paid off. It looks great, it’s fun to play with, and it’s under twenty bucks. I also dig that Mattel figured out a way to get all of Bray Wyatt’s appropriate accessories out into the market.

5 out of 5

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