Gentle Giant Harry Potter
Merperson/Grindylow mini-busts

In the lake outside Hogwart's, there lives a race of Merpeople. They figure prominently in the film Goblet of Fire, as part of one of the Triwizard Tournament tasks. The Merpeople also have 'pets', sort of, called Grindylow's. A grindylow is actually a very old folk tale in England, a mythological creature that would snatch children who got too close to the edge of a pond or marsh. The grindylow's of the Potter world live with the Merpeople, and appear squid-like.

One of the latest (and I say one, because there are three or four mini-busts hitting right now) in the Harry Potter line from Gentle Giant is the Merperson and Grindylow. This set was exclusive to Action Figure Express, and was a limited run of just 500. It took quite awhile for this bust to sell out, but I suspect that years from now it will be one of the more difficult to find. There are actually two 'busts' in this set - the Merperson is the normal size, while the Grindylow is smaller, and more of a full statue.

Packaging - ***
I really like the graphics on this box, showing the watery Merperson, but the lack of a window is a big minus. Still, everything is well packed inside, and it comes with the usual baseball card type COA.

Sculpting - ***
The sculpt on both busts is up to the usual Gentle Giant standards. There's not quite as much detail in some areas as I'd like, such as the teeth on the Merperson or the tentacles on the Grindylow, but it's certainly better than the average work in the industry.

The big negative for me is that they had to use a lightweight plastic material for many of the areas. These two characters are tricky, because they have so many thin, flowing parts, like the Merperson's long hair or Grindy's tentacles. They couldn't do these thin, exposed areas in regular polystone or polyresin, because they'd break off much too easily. Going with this lightweight material makes them a bit more sturdy, but the lack of weight and the actual tactile feel of the material isn't the same. Rub your hand over it and it actually feels cheaper, like a plastic statue.

While I understand the need, I'm not completely thrilled with the execution. Still, the detail work helps make up for some of it, and if someone goes to pick them up, you can just slap their hand.

Paint - Grindylow ***1/2; Merperson **1/2;
The paint work on the little Grindy is quite good, with clean cuts and really no slop. Not only is the quality solid, but the choice of colors and finishes work well. He's shiny of course, and that's completely appropriate for a character that's theoretically underwater.

I am disappointed in the paint work on the Merchick though. They tried to go with a pearlescent sort of appearance, to give her not just a wet shine, but sort of a otherworldly glow. That sounds great...but it didn't turn out quite that great. The paint ends up looking cheap as well, although I can't quite lay my finger on why. Perhaps there's something else painted in this style that was always cheap that I'm correlating it to in my head - perhaps it's just the finish. Either way, it doesn't do a whole lot for me.

Add to that a bit more slop here than we normally see, and you can understand the lower score. Her pupils aren't quite centered and are a tad sloppy in shape. There's a little clumpiness in some areas, and the color isn't quite as consistent between the arms and torso. They gave it the old college try, but this isn't one of their home runs.

Desing - ***1/2
While the basic sculpt and paint didn't wow me, I did like the overall design of both creatures. There's a menacing danger about them, not just in their expressions but the pose and style. The inclusion of the trident with the Mergirl works really well visually, and the Grindylow seems to be rising from the ocean floor. The only slight weirdness is that the castle stone they are above doesn't quite make is supposed to be the lake bottom. But the castle stones do maintain some level of consistency with other busts in the line up, and the inclusion of the wispy water plants, rising up from the stones, lends enough under water feel to overcome any issue I might have.

Value - ***
This guy, er, girl cost above average, at $60. That's about $10 - $15 more than the usual Harry Potter bust, but because you're getting a whole second mini mini-bust, I wasn't too surprised. Throw in the fact that these are both all new sculpts, and limited to only 500, and I'm surprised it was only $60. That's actually a solid value, considering the prices on other exclusives right now.

Things to Watch Out For - 
The top half of the Merperson's trident is a tight fit in the bottom half, and you can easily damage the pin. Take some care putting it together, and avoid taking it apart and putting it back on too much.

Overall - ***
I'm glad I picked these up, because I think the Harry Potter display needs a few more monsters and oddities. While I love the Potter world, the mini-busts have been largely free of creatures of any kind, and that's a big part of the mythos.

I also like the basic design and pose selected for both figures. They look threatening and dangerous, and the detail work is quite good. My big gripe is really the paint, and the lightweight plastic-like material for the thinner parts. These two things together make the bust feel cheaper and less substantial in hand, and that hurts the overall.

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***
Sculpt -   ***
Paint - Grindylow ***1/2; Merperson **1/2;
Design - ***1/2
Value -  ***
Overall - ***

Where to Buy -
This was originally a AFX exclusive, but they are long sold out now. Unfortunately, the secondary market is your only bet, and they are already running around $100.

Related Links -
Oh, I have reviewed more than a fair share of HP collectibles:

- my last was on the small versions of the NECA OOTP figures, exclusive to Borders in a three pack.

- there was the guest review of the Tonner dolls.

- I also reviewed the first series of figures from NECA, along with the first series of OOTP, and the series 2 Snape released early at Borders.

- there's the other mini-busts, including Voldemort, Hagrid and Mad Eye Moody, Ron and Hermione, Snape and Dumbledore, Dobby and Dementor, and a guest review of Harry and Sirius.

- Gentle Giant also did a statue of the Hungarian Horntail, and the Riddle Grave.

- the Noble Collection has done some nifty wands.

- just case you forgot how bad some of Mattel's figures were, here's Extreme Quidditch Harry and Dueling Club Harry.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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