The Soccer Player manages to tick several boxes of things which may not interest the typical toy collector. Sports? European sports? These are not necessarily what the typical toy junkie wants - which makes it sort of infuriating that LEGO made this figure so damn good. The smug, shaggy, stubbly player comes with a silver trophy and some of the best deco in this line - and we're many many more series in since his release.
It's impossible to ignore his uniform, which feels like a critique and a celebration of product placement in sports. Even in a fantasy realm, fake oil company Octan is required to pay up to LEGO FIFA or whatever to get their name on the uniforms of the world's most popular sport. With the subtle dtubble and the tiny, incredibly well-painted patches this would be an impressive figure. Not content to be merely impressive, LEGO also slapped yellow paint on the legs to turn the pants into shorts - this sort of thing was a luxury back in the 1980s and 1990s. The level of detail probably means that the Danish toy barons are making money out their ears by repainting the same mold with new and interesting hats, but I bought a bunch of 'em so it's clearly working.
I'm a little surprised no soccer ball was included, because LEGO had a soccer theme a few years ago. (It was clearance heaven. 75% off at Walmart. Didn't sell worth a damn. I bought a bunch for spare parts.) This figure is far better than anything from that early 2000s run, with such exquisitely placed dots and evenly-applied blue and black paint that it's no real wonder why these lines continue to perform series after series. It's cheap, blind-bagged, and well-constructed. A whole team would be nice, but thankfully the customizable figures will let you swap heads with other duplicate figures to make your very own vaguely diverse team to play out your World Cup fantasies in plastic bricks on your desk. As much as I'd love to knock this figure, I can't. If you're the kind of person who assumes you might enjoy a Soccer Player figure, get this one. Superb!
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