WCW was a frustrating promotion to follow in the mid-90s. Hulkamania was running wild and watching The Hulkster obliterate all of the WCW fixtures got old real quick. Fortunately, there was still sanctuary in the tag team ranks. Booker T and Stevie Ray aka Harlem Heat were the standard bearers of the division.
For me it was cool watching a black tag team dominate again in the wake of Doom’s reign. Mattel has been a little slack in filling out the WCW roster so I’m glad to see Harlem Heat finally join the ranks. Let’s see if the figures leave me heated or simply feeling the burn.
Packaging: Elite 46 marks the start of a slight deviation from last year’s Elite packaging. The portrait of the wrestler now takes up most of the back with the bio information underneath. It looks better with the minimal write-up but that remains a gripe.
Likeness: The head sculpts for both Booker T and Stevie Ray are exceptional and some of Mattel’s best work this year. Harlem Heat were in a perpetual bad mood and the expressions really convey that think twice before you cross us. Even the Breathe-Rite strips are sculpted on.
To help distinguish the two, Booker T has a more ripped body. In a quick scan of my collection, I couldn’t find another one using it so maybe this is a new torso mold. Stevie Ray gets the wider torso used on the Great American Bash Sting. That body works better for Stevie Ray even if it won’t allow for the arms to rest flat along the sides.
Harlem Heat wrestled in a unique one-piece outfit. Mattel couldn’t really capture that right without making dedicated sculpts for both Booker and Stevie. Instead, Mattel went with a two-piece design where the torso portion connects along the sides. The only compromise is it gives a belt like appearance. To preserve the articulation that probably couldn’t be avoided though.
As a bonus, if you cut the top piece you’ve got a pretty easy TV champion era Booker T.
Scale: Stevie Ray is 6’5” giving him a slight advantage over the 6’3” Booker T. That’s a fairly minor difference, but it’s something fans would notice right away. I also appreciate Mattel didn’t just use the same bodies for the brothers. That makes both of them tower over the Nasty Boys and puts Stevie Ray slightly taller than the 6’4″ Lex Luger.
Paint: Harlem Heat’s two signature colors were red and black. This was one of those instances I would have loved Mattel to have made one of their total random calls and went with blue or purple. Just to mix the colors up somewhat. But I can’t fault Mattel for using the traditional colors.
For Harlem Heat, it’s all about the flames and these were done really well. Of the two, only Stevie Ray’s inner thigh portion had any smearing.
That’s pretty impressive given that yellow is notoriously hard to apply properly. While the gauntlets are just painted on, the line work is really well done with just a light amount of overspray.
Articulation: I give Hasbro’s Marvel Legends the nod for best mass market articulation, but the Elite line isn’t far behind. On average, I find them easy to maneuver for all of the basic moves.
Stevie Ray’s wide arms doesn’t affect any moves he’d do. He was more of the brawler of the duo who would occasionally bust out some impressive kick strikes. The chest piece is smartly made of a softer plastic and doesn’t hinder the articulation at all. Getting an effective Spin-A-Roonie from Booker T might be challenging, but it’s possible.
Harlem Heat has:
- ball-jointed shoulders
- wrist hinge
- knee (double-jointed)
Accessories: Mattel went a pretty cool route with the accessories. Booker and Stevie Ray both come with their doo-rags as well as skull caps for alternate entrance wear.
I dig the different display options. I don’t think WCW tag title are covered under Mattel’s license otherwise Harlem Heat should definitely have them.
As part of Series 46, each figure comes with a stand with picture that combines to form a larger backdrop. I like Mattel thinking outside the box with extras even with the figures getting a generous amount of accessories. Naturally, Booker T and Stevie Ray don’t have adjoining pieces. That’d be too easy.
Worth it? Mattel isn’t budging from the $20 price point, but little additions like the mini Build-a-Backdrop help offset the costs. And if you catch Amazon at the right time you can find a lower price.
Rating: 9.5 out of 10
I can’t figure out a more cost-effective way around their outfit’s chest piece, but it’s the only thing holding these guys back. Harlem Heat are latecomers, but definitely warrant consideration as some of Mattel’s best entries this year.
Where to get it? Toys R Us has just finally gotten Elite 45 meaning it’s going to be awhile before Elite 46 makes it way to stores. For now, Amazon is the only game in town.