Detail WWII Paratroopers
21st Century Toys just released the latest in
their XD line, a 1:18 scale military line which began last year with the
release of some World War II vehicles and figures and was extended with some
Vietnam war items last spring. Now, a whole new wave of vehicles,
playsets, and figures are on the shelves, and since this line tends to be a
secret treasure, I thought I'd bring it to people's attention by focusing on
the six new figures, all of which are superbly done. Six more figures
are purportedly on the way, and should hopefully hit shelves in a month or
The three Americans are: Corporal
Esquivel (the guy with the really shiny teeth and no face paint), Corporal
Mansfield (the guy with the face paint), and Private Wilson (the guy with
the pouches strung across his shoulder).
The three Germans are: Major Von
Schintzel (the packaged photo), Corporal Wenzel (the guy getting shot),
and Private Keitel (the guy with the huge bazooka).
Packaging - ***
The packaging on these figures is not outstanding, but then, it is still
an improvement over their initial efforts. Last year, the figures
were all generic, and the packaging was just brown and yellow. Now,
the card itself is predominantly blue, as it pictures a sky filled with
puffy clouds and parachutes descending, to illustrate the theme of this
release: paratroops. The line is identified in bold letters, and
then a further clarification is made. The German paratroops are
identified as "Fallschirmjager," the German word for paratrooper
(it literally translates as "parachute hunter"). The US
are divided between 82nd Airborne and 101st Airborne, and the squad is labeled
in bold gold letters on the card. Another improvement, besides the
brighter colors, is the decision to make the figures individuals rather
than types. Instead of a "US Infantryman," the card
proclaims this is "Corporal Esquivel," and that nod in the
direction of a certain American Hero is actually a welcome change, in that
it gives the figures more personality. The blister takes up most of the
card, and shows the figure in a basic standing pose surrounded by the
various accessories. The packaging does not include, though it
should, some indication of what these figures represent.
In my opinion, 21CT should take a page from Sideshow, and include
biographical/historical information in their packaging, to explain what it
is you are looking at (especially since they take pains to be historically
accurate). In general, though the packaging is unremarkable, it
serves its purpose.
Sculpting - ****
Here is where 21CT shines. These figures are outrageously
detailed. They are adorned with various pouches, straps, belts,
laces, gloves, and so on, and each is sculpted to the tiniest little
detail. The helmets have chin straps, themselves detailed, as well
as netting stretched across them, all sculpted in. The pockets
have buttons, there are knives strapped to legs,
the figures even have notably different expressions.
Paint - ****
Fantastic. The Germans have camo painted on so well it almost fools
the eye. The helmets are painted, then given camo, and the chin straps
are painted in two colors, to distinguish the little chin support from the
straps themselves. One US figure, Mansfield, has a mohawk and
warpaint on (something the soldiers did on D-Day, I believe, as well as a
feature in Dragon's figures and the upcoming Plan-B figures) -- it looks
amazing. And if you don't like the mohawk, just stick his helmet on!
I haven't seen any figures yet with bad paint jobs, though it is probably a good idea to
check around the eyes and straps to make sure the bright white hasn't
washed over to the rest of the figure.
Articulation - ****
I suppose I could take a star away for the lack of ball joints, but to
tell the truth, they aren't really missed. The figures have 16-18
points of articulation: neck, waist, shoulders, hips, elbows,
knees, wrists, ankles, cut-biceps, and in the case of the Americans, cut
thighs. The way the figures are sculpted and the articulation is
distributed allows for a really elaborate number of poses, all of which
look great. They can shoot various sorts of guns, at waist or eye
level, they can kneel, they can crouch, they can run, they can be shot.
You name it, they can do it, and they always look like they were MEANT
to do it. While in the past, the XD line has had pretty poor
articulation, they've really raised the stakes now.
Accessories - ****
The articulation is also exploited to the highest degree by the choice
of accessories. Sure, there are the things you'd expect, like
backpacks, guns, and various pouches, all of which have pegs to be
inserted into the figures. They also have removable helmets, and in once
case (a German officer) a removable cap. But two extra things are
included which make the figures even more poseable. First, they
have an extra set of arms, which are pre-posed in a "shooting" position, but with no joints.
That way, if you want a figure to shoot but don't like the look of the
visible joints, you can simply pop out the arms and replace them.
People who like their figures to be seamless and dynamically posed can
get that with these figures, and if you'd rather re-pose them yourself,
you can simply swap the arms again. Plus, since the arms can be removed,
it is easy to customize your own squad by mixing and matching arms.
Since the US figures come with their squad insignia patch (82nd or 101st
Airborne) you can make a consistent squad where perhaps 21CT did not.
Wenzel also is wearing his set of pouches around his shoulders in the
package, but they are easily removable.
The other great addition is a stand. Each figure has
two peg holes in the soles of its feet: one traditional hole in
one heel, and another set at an angle in the toe of the other foot.
Because of this, the figures can stand normally on their stands, or can
be posed with their foot at an angle, for running or being-shot poses
[the "running" and "shooting" pics, or the
"stands" pic, demonstrates this]. The stand and the
extra arms are really useful, inventive accessories, taking the figures
that extra mile.
Overall - ****
All that, and only $5.99 at your local Toys R Us (and these are a
TRU exclusive, so they won't be showing anywhere else, other than
Amazon.com). These figures have all the poseability and dynamic
sculpting you'd want in a military line, but they look more detailed and
realistic than the GI Joe figures. Their accessories are detailed,
their uniforms are detailed, and the poses and displays you can get them
in are really eye-catching. If this line catches on, and 21CT
releases more figures like this (like the planned "America's
Finest" line of firefighters and police officers), it will be a
great time to be a 1:18 collector.
Figure from the collection of Lawrence Horsburgh