Hot Toys Vietnam Navy Seals


Our buddy Headrusch is back tonight with another terrific sixth scale review.  This time he checks out some of Hot Toys latest offerings - take it away, Brant!

“I remember the ‘Nam. Back in ’67….crawling through the bush..deep behind enemy lines, in Charlie’s back-yard. My Montangnard guide and I, squatting in the jungle, moving inches at a time. Peering through the jungle canopy above, eyes watching for signs of movement, ears always listening. Sometimes the sound of incoming slicks coming to extract, other times the sound of a division of VC regulars on the move, bringing the pain. It was dusk…Long Wang and I were busy consuming a meal of fresh monkey innards and Opium that he’d snatched from the trees when……………”

But enough about my flashbacks, time instead to talk about Hot Toys, a company that also remembers the ‘Nam. It was the 1/6 scale uniform sets from 21st Century Toys that helped re-launch the 1/6 scale hobby in the mid 1990’s, but since that time Viet Nam era figures have all but disappeared. Dragon, 21st Century, and even Hasbro had a go at them, but that was year’s back. Now Hot Toys appears ready to bring the war in South-East Asia back to the 1/6th spotlight.

They have chosen to gift us with two Navy SEALs from that era. This isn’t really surprising for a couple of reasons. One, SEALS are absolute badasses, and when you mention Special Forces in Viet Nam, most people think Green Berets (thanks John Wayne), SEALS, or the guys on the SOG teams…and Special Forces are really Hot Toys forte’. Also, unlike your rank-and-file soldier, Special Forces teams back in the day were given quite a bit of leeway in how they kitted and dressed for their operations, and this makes for some exciting equipment and uniform combinations.

Now, time to review…but…just one thing to note, I’m a 1/6th scale hobbyist, not a military historian. If the sights on the weapons are the wrong style for that “year” or if the colors of the fatigues are not 100% accurate, I can’t tell you. My reviews are all about the 3 Foot Rule. If it looks damn good from 3 feet away on a shelf, it’s a keeper. When it comes to Viet Nam, if I can picture these guys ghosting through the jungle, laying an ambush or snatching some VC officer, then it works for me. 

Sculpting - ****
When it comes to 1/6 scale figures, we’re really talking about the sculpt of the head and the accessories. Here, Hot Toys gets a solid 4 out of 5. Each of these figures is kitted out with highly accurate-looking gear and head sculpts. The M60 gunner sports a fully molded beard and moustache, and a short ponytail gathered up in the rear. A very unique head sculpt. As for the Stoner (it’s a weapon, kids, not a lifestyle choice) gunner….guess who’s hiding behind that Al Jolson “Mammy!” face paint? Yeah, its our good friend Hicks, aka: Kyle Reese, aka: Michael Biehn. Hot Toys sure is getting its monies worth out of this head sculpt, I guess they figure behind the camo makeup, who’s gonna notice? Suffice to say, the sculpting on the heads and items is up to par with other 1/6 figures in this general price range. 

Another surprise is that the M60 gunner, the guy with the beard, also sports Hot Toys new MUSCLE body. You can find this on the upcoming RAMBO figures from their Movie Masterpiece line. The entire torso is detailed in rippling muscle. This limits articulation somewhat, but sure makes for an impressive figure up on the shelf.

Paint - ****
There isn’t much paint to speak of. Faces are camouflaged and painted, gloves and other rubber items are dry brushed to bring out detail and give a bit of wear, but most accessories are not. Fabric items are not distressed except for the denim jeans on the M60 gunner, which do appear to have been given a treatment to make them look “worn”. Some items…such as the UDT Life Preserver (which is fabric) appear detailed on the box cover but don’t appear to be dry brushed on the actual part inside the box. This is a disappointment. For the money, they should have distressed or detailed the uniforms and other fabric equipment somehow. Even a little dry brushing the creases and edges goes a long way, but no-dice here.
Either way, the gloves, boots and weapons are done and usually that’s the first thing that people would do on their own anyhow. The face camo is particularly flat, and not glossy (a good thing), however on the M63 Stoner gunner his ears are void of any camo at all, which looks more than a bit odd. A quick touch up with a $1.00 camo-pack from your local military surplus store will fix him up right. Or, if you feel adventurous, try adding to the camo pattern with paint of your own.

Articulation - **** for the Stoner Gunner, **1/2 for the M60 Gunner
It’s a Hot Toys 1/6th scale figure underneath the Stoner gunner’s UDT duds, so that means articulation up the wazoo. All the joints you expect to be there are there. The M60 gunner has that Muscle Body. His upper arms are still pose able, but more in the manner of an old Hall Of Fame style GI Joe than like a typical 1/6 scale figure (think notchy joints). He’ll hold his weapon, and his arms have some range of motion at the shoulder, elbow and bicep (for swivel). THANKFULLY they aren’t the “wire arms” done by Dragon once upon a time (a horrible implementation). It’s the price you pay for a more realistic looking body. 

Accessories - **** for detailing and quantity, but ** in the quality-control department
I’m not going to list the ton of crap each of these figures comes with, suffice to say its all nicely done and there is a butt-load of it. Weapons are detailed with lots of moving parts, and all sorts of grenades and gadgets are included to deck these guys out, and it all looks great with miniature writing and so on (The claymore bag that the Stoner gunner comes with has a full instruction sheet inside in 1/6 scale! AMAZING! Now I know how to operate claymores!). 

The uniforms are also well done and highly unique. The jacket on the Stoner gunner is highly customized with added pouches here and there, as are his tiger-stripe BDU pants. The cuffs are rolled up, but aren’t secured that way. You can roll them down, no problem, for normal tiger stripe fatigue pants. The 60 gunner has a great grenade-pouch laden tiger stripe sleeveless vest and denim jeans. No t-shirts come with either figure however.

So why the 2 stars? Simple, the M60 gunner came with all the stuff he should have, but the Stoner gunner was not only missing pieces, but also some other pieces broke just by me breathing hard on them. 

Examples: There is, as far as I can tell, no way to attach the pistol holster to the web belt on the Stoner gunner.. The loop on the back of it is clearly designed to be used with a utility bracket that loops through the holes in the web-belt, but none was included with my figure. Luckily I have spares, so I just took one from the parts bin, but for everyone else…they’re SOL if their figure comes this way too. Then, there’s the missing tape. See, on the box cover, in order to attach the radio and other items to the figures webbing it shows them attached with flat black tape, just like the stuff they used in real-life to put something where it otherwise wouldn’t go. Only my figure didn’t come with any! Oh, my M60 gunner came with a nice piece, but my Stoner gunner did not. Meaning, you were SOL in this area too if your figure didn’t ship with that little sheet of tape. 

Luckily the other figure came with plenty to go around. But this brings us to…The Webbing on the Stoner figure: Its almost useless. Its much too loose, and the adjustable buckles don’t help…the parts that are “too long” require you to take the webbing apart, CUT out the excess, then re-glue the now-shortened webbing back together for a snug, more supportive fit. Yeah, I’ve done this before with other manufacturers webbing too, but for a figure that costs A HUNDRED BUCKS this is **un-acceptable**! Another gripe, when I went to put the boonie hat on good old Kyle Reese’s head sculpt, the chinstrap came off. It’s held onto the cap by one single stitch. :P Again….we’re talking about a hundred dollar figure here, I shouldn’t HAVE to be working with my X-Acto knife and Fabri-Tac and Krazy-Glue just to set him up properly.

Fun Factor - **1/2
Ok…these aren’t toys, it even says so right on the box cover. “Collectible Figure, NOT A TOY”. These go up on a shelf where they remain until you die and your spouse throws them out, or puts them up on Ebay. I mean, they’re fun to look at, but taking your $100 dollar figure out into the yard to stalk communists in the Azalea bushes isn’t advisable.

Value - **1/2
These guys I picked up off a dealer I routinely shop with over on EBAY, I paid about $100 a pop for them. Are they worth $100 each? Answer, No. When you compare them to a $50 dollar Dragon Models figure or BBI modern figure, you’re getting extra gear, and extra detailed uniforms, but are you getting $100 Worth? No. At $70 these guys are acceptable, but $100 seems steep. I guess the price we are paying here is that they’re the only game in town right now when it comes to Viet Nam, and that $100 price point is where Hot Toys likes to hover. I doubt you’ll ever see these guys turn up on SIDESHOW’s website because they’re military, and not entertainment, themed….so I don’t think you’ll see the prices drop much lower than they are right now. I just can’t help feeling that BBI could have done these figures in a similar fashion for $60 or $70 each, tops. 

Things to Watch Out For - 
See the quality-control issues I detail above in Accessories. Once they are kitted up, they look pretty swell. But getting them to that point can take some time. I don’t mind assembling a 1/6th scale figure, but when small parts are missing, and items shown in pictures (the tape, the hook for the pistol holster) aren’t included, it just means more work and frustration. And while I’m no stranger to Fabri-Tac, on a $100 figure I want more than tiny swatches of Velcro holding pockets and canteen covers down, that’s just cheap. That’s Hasbro GI Joe $19.99 figure cheap. And webbing that needs to be completely re-made by the end user for it to fit properly is also not cool. I’m hoping that they correct these issues in mid-production. Granted Velcro is a preferred alternative to those giant metal snaps, but its 2006….you’d think by now they’d have some other smaller, flatter fasteners available for pouches and pockets. <Shrug>..maybe I ask too much.

Overall - Stone Gunner ***1/2; M60 Gunner ***
Ok, they cost too much…but they are pretty trick, and they’re the only game in town these days if you want some Viet Nam era Special Ops guys. The M60 gunner is the standout figure between the two, his sculpt, accessories and muscle-body make him highly unique. The Stoner gunner is also a good choice, but when you take a step back you’re looking at a uniform that’s been done already by Dragon and 21st Century, and of course my quality-control issues don’t help matters, but he does come with a ton of cool crap…like the well-done boonie hat, a LAW launcher and rocker, and his Stoner MG.

I’m glad I bought both of them. They ARE too expensive at $100 a pop, but if you can find ‘em cheaper than that, they’ll make a nice addition to your shelf.

Score Recap- 
Sculpt - ****
Paint - ****
Articulation - **** for the Stoner Gunner, **1/2 for the M60 Gunner
Accessories - **** for detailing and quantity, but ** in the quality-control department
Fun Factor - **1/2
Value - **12
Overall - Stone Gunner ***1/2; M60 Gunner ***

Now, just one more thing. I understand the need to save money on figure designs and such, but when I got my Hot Toys Seals in the mail...I couldn't help but notice of these guys looked awfully....familiar.

RIGHT! Because he had been made already by 21st Century Toys! He's the guy to the left in this photo below. Released several years ago, he's got a tiger stripe beret...he's got a SEAL flotation collar....he's got Tiger Stripe BDU's and a Stoner with a silenced pistol...and he's got a bearded face if you look hard past the camo. 

Whatever, Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery right?

But wait, because now it just gets SILLY! Due out soon is the Toy Soldiers version of a Viet-Nam era Navy Seal. Hmmm....haven't I see this guy..TWICE before!?!?!

Tiger stripe beret.....Bearded face....flotation jeans. OH WAIT, this time he has Viet Cong style chest bandolier and an AK-47.

So...we've got 3 releases over several years from 3 different companies, and apparently they all used the exact same reference photo of Seals in Viet Nam to base their figures on :)

What are the odds..... :D

Figure from the collection of Brant Rusch.

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