Mcfarlane Military
Marine Corps Recon

The very first modern action figure was a military man.  In face, G.I. Joe was the figure that the term 'action figure' was created for, in an attempt to differentiate the boy toy from the dolls that girls played with.

Since those humble beginnings in the early 60's, action figures have been through many hills and valleys.  And there's no doubt that one of the greatest influences on today's action figure market is Mcfarlane Toys, and the revolutionary changes in sculpt and paint quality they pioneered in the 90's.

It should be no real surprise to anyone then that Todd finally got around to doing his own take on the type of action figure that started it all - the military man.  With the release of the first series of "Mcfarlane's Military", he brings his unique style to an old genre.

The first series includes an Army Ranger, Air Force Special Ops Command, Army Desert Infantry, Marine Corps Recon Sniper, Navy SEAL, and Marine Corps Recon (reviewed tonight).  There's also a deluxe boxed set Army Desert Infantry with a diorama.

As is usual with McToys, there are also variants of most figures.  Mcfarlane's web site has an excellent feature on the line with photos of both versions of each figure.

The figure I'm reviewing tonight - the Marien Corps Recon - comes in the standard 'floppy hat' version I picked up, and a second African American version with a helmet and goggles.  Both were available at Toys R Us, but the floppy hat version stands out nicely with the rest of the line.

These retail for around $11, depending on what retailer you buy them from.  I have the usual suggestions at the end of the review.

Packaging - ***1/2
Buyers of other Mcfarlane products aren't going to get any big surprise here - it's clamshells.  The insert has photos of the actual toys, but some additional background info would have added some value to the casual military fan.

The clamshells are nice and sturdy, but the inserts themselves tend toward the drab.  This is due in part to the attempt to match up with a 'military' color scheme, which tends not to be too wild.

Sculpting - ****
There's no doubt that the sculpting on this series of figures is outstanding.  And while there have been some very good - even excellent - military figures in the past, including the great stuff from Plan-B, I have to admit that these are the finest, most realistic sculpts in any military line to date.

Okay, let me make a slight caveat there - in any military line under 12".  If you compare the weapons and packs here with something from a high end sixth scale line from Dragon, Hot Toys or bbi, clearly it will fall short.  But in the all plastic, under 12" category, these have no equal.

The first thing that sets it apart is the head sculpt.  It really is a tremendously realistic human sculpt, even if it is generic.  It helps that most of the hair is covered by the hat - sculpted hair always hurts reality a tad - but Mcfarlane's sculptors have a way with this type of generic human that no one else can quite match.

Then there is the tremendous amount of detail in the body sculpt.  The backpack has a worn, slightly crushed appearance, and the clothing has all the right wrinkles in all the right places.  Actually, the Plan-B military figures have a very similar level of detail in the body and uniform sculpts, but because they have greater articulation, their sculpts can't quite match these in terms of realism.

Almost all of the details are affixed to his body, however.  The knife, pack, pouches, etc. are not coming off, at least not intentionally.  He's sculpted in a slightly hunched pose, clearly in a combat situation.

He stands 6" tall in this pose, making him closer to a 7" scale.  Even then, he's a fairly chunky 7" scale, and I've included some comparison shots with several other 6 - 7" scale figures.

Paint - ***1/2
If you're going to make plastic statues, the sculpting better be amazing, and the paint ops better be flawless. It's tough to do both well though, and keep the price point reasonable. Even Todd has trouble sometimes, but this line doesn't appear to be one of the problems.

The paint ops are excellent across the board, building on the base of realism created initially by the sculpt. All the places where things can go wrong - too much wash or dry brushing, gloppy paint on the face or hands, funky lip color, weird eyes, lack of color variety, inconsistency in tone, bleed between colors, etc. - none of these are present anywhere on this figure.

Some of the smaller details are a slightly sloppy, and clearly hand painted. But you're really going to have to inspect closely to find the problems, at least with this particular figure. I'm not sure that the black wet suit of the Navy SEAL was quite as consistent in finish and color as it needed to be, but that was just from a cursory peg glance.

One of the things that surprised me was how many different ops there are. The standard colors of the usual desert camo aren't particularly exciting - that's not their purpose. But McToys has managed to add enough variety and color here, and stay true to the real uniform, to make this an eye catching figure on the shelf.

Articulation - *1/2
These are not army men designed for posing. If that's your gig, you'll want to either go with sixth scale figures from folks like bbi or Dragon, 1/18th scale stuff from bbi, or 1/12th scale stuff from Plan-B. You have plenty of choices in that area.

But if you're looking for statues, and understand that these are designed to be statues going in, you won't be surprised by the extreme lack of articulation.

Oh, there's some. He has cut joints at the neck, wrists, biceps and thighs, but these joints are really there just to allow for easier manufacturing, and for you to find the perfect sweet spot to match the legs up with the base.

The bicep and wrist joints do allow you to remove the rifle though, and replace it with the sidearm. He can carry both guns at once, one in either hand, and there will be a weapon pack available through the Spawn Collector's Club to add additional instruments of death.

Accessories - **
There are three accessories - a desert sand base, M4A1 rifle, and a removable sidearm.

The sculpt on the base is fairly obvious - it's the ground.  There's a plastic peg for his right foot, and there's a steel peg in the bottom of his left foot.  While I like the steel peg (no way it's going to break or go limp), it would be better in the base than the figure.  With it in the foot, you'll always have to use the base to display the figure.

The two weapons are decent sculpts, but nothing to get too excited about.  Neither has tremendous detail, and we've seen plenty of work as good or better with other lines.  The 9mm sidearm is a good example, and it is definitely too small for this soldier's scale.

Fun Factor - *1/2
These figures aren't for kids. Not for the usual reason that McToys figures aren't for kids (i.e. intestines spilling out over a half nekked, fully pierced chick who just happens to be an amputee serial killer in real life), but because they simply aren't any 'fun'. They are intended to be statues to sit on the shelf, and while some kids might enjoy that aspect of the Sports line, there will be fewer who feel that way about the military.

But if you're a fan of a particular branch of the service, you're going to enjoy these quite a bit, and I'd really like to see Todd take a crack at something more historical.

Value - **
At around $11, they aren't quite as good of a value as some of the stuff Mcfarlane does. Perhaps some retailers - like Meijers - will have these at $10, which is where they belong. Still, even at $11 they aren't a bad buy, and it's surprising that McToys can keep their stuff $2 - $4 lower than most other specialty market lines.

Things to Watch Out For - 
You'll want to look for which variant you like better. I prefered the floppy hat regular version with this particular figure, but since most come in more than one skin color, you'll want to pay extra attention when looking through the peg.

Overall -  ***1/2
I'm going to be honest - I'm not sure how well these will sell. Hardcore Mcfarlane fans will be predominately uninterested, as it's not a market they are generally into. These need to tap into the already existing military fans, who are predominately collectors of much more articulated stuff. Will Todd be able to convince them that these statues are just as cool as their toys?

It's a tough call, but I'll admit that the overall quality is up to the task. Had the sculpts, paint and accuracy not been there, these would have been a sure failure. But with this level of detail and realism, I suspect that military buffs that actually see them - and pay attention - will end up picking up at least one or two, and then perhaps find themselves sucked in for the ride.

The trick is getting to them, because they won't be coming to McToys on their own. If Mcfarlane can get the word out so that enough military collectors see these, then they'll have a chance.

There is going to be a series 1 'redeployed' line released in the fall. These will be the same basic set of figures, but with new head sculpts, paint jobs, etc. These are 'redecos', rather than just basic repaints.

I'm hoping these succeed, although I won't be picking up many of them. Actually, the only reason I picked up this one was to review it, and I figured I'd give it away to someone after. But it's good enough that it's earned a spot on my military shelf, and it's also got me geeked on the idea of McToys doing a line of realistic historical figures.

Packaging - ***1/2
Sculpt - ****
Paint - ***1/2
Articulation - *1/2
Accessories - **
Fun Factor - *1/2
Value - **
Overall - ***1/2

Where to Buy -
I picked this guy up at a local Toys R Us. You can also get them online:

- Amazing Toys has the set of 6 for $60, but are almost sold out. They have the individual figures for $11 each, and have the preorders up for the Redeployed series.

- Killer Toys has the set of 6 for $60, or the individual figures for $11 each.

- CornerStoreComics has the set for $60 as well, and the individual figures for $11 each.

- Yikes Comics has the set for $65, or the individual figures for $12.

- Clark Toys has the individuals for $15, or the set of 6 for $75. They also have preorders up for the redeployed and series 2 figures.

Related Links -
Since this is the first McToys Military release, I don't have any other direct reviews, but here's some useful links:

- McToys has a nice feature up on the figures at their site.

- and if you're looking for something military in a similar scale, but with more articulation, you should check out the Plan-B stuff.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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