eXtreme 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 two. 

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 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

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