Fire Sqaud

I took the photos for this review weeks ago, during a period that seemed fairly slow when it came to toy releases.  Then badda bing, badda bam, a bunch of new action figures appeared and this review was relegated to a later date.

Finally, this last Monday I sat down and wrote the review itself.  I had planned on posting it on Tuesday night, but that morning we were hit by a tragedy that has shook our country.  Toys, reviews, and everything outside my family and friends were forgotten in the face of the horror being televised into every home.

But after the initial shock had worn off, I realized that this review was more appropriate than I could have imagined.  So often our heroes are those of our imagination - Superman, Batman, Spiderman, and other fantasy based characters - but occasionally, we idolize our true heroes in plastic as well.

These types of figures give children the chance to play out the actions of the men and women that risk - and give - their lives to protect us and save us.  This week has been one of great tragedy, but it has also been an affirmation of the indomitable human spirit, and of the amazing courage and bravery of the heroes among us.

Many of these real life heroes gave their lives on Tuesday.  Take a moment to remember them, praise them, and thank them in your heart for all that they gave.  And next time you consider what hero you should buy for your son or daughter, remember that you could do a lot worse than handing them one of these figures.  

If you're looking for some good ways to help the rescue folks involved in this, I have a couple suggestions.  First, the International Association of Fire Fighters has set up a special fund to help the widows and children of the fire fighters lost - go to

Yahoo is also running a donation site for the families of the fire fighters - you can donate at:

There is a rather unique drive going on called Operation Superman.  A gentlemen named Carl Nordstrom has contacted several state governments and is mounting an effort to get a Superman figure sent to every New York fire fighter.  If you'd be interested in helping with something like this you can contact Carl directly at

And now on to the review...

Are you a 'toy' collector?  Do you like the kind of action figures that kids love to play with?  Then there is a series of 3 3/4" figures out there for you - and for the 8 year old inside.

There are three lines that make up this overall universe of figures - Fire Squad (firemen), Police Squad (policemen) and Military Squad (army men, duh).  Along with a bevy of figures, there are vehicles, playsets, and accessory sets galore.

The beauty of it all - the price.  The single figures like the one I'm reviewing here, only cost a buck.  Multi-packs of five figures are less than 4 bucks, and play sets made up of several figures, a vehicle and a ton of accessories are only five bucks!  Even sets with more than one vehicle and several figures are less than ten bucks - I've never seen a set from these lines cost more than that.

Packaging - ***
The packaging is what you would expect from a toy line.  It's attractive, but not high quality, and certainly not intended for collectors.  These are toys, pure and simple. 

The package does show off the figures well, and the graphics are bright and eye catching. Let's face it, with obvious names like 'Fire Squad', you don't expect a lot of imagination, but the packaging does the job it's supposed to.

Accessories - ****
The accessories with these figures are as good as any you'll see in this scale.  The detail is great, the style dead on, and they are even in scale.  No huge mega-guns here that the figure can't even hold!

Each figure comes with plenty of accessories as well, and this fire fighter is a great example.  He has a crowbar, flashlight, and great hood for his fireproof outfit.

Sculpting - ***
The head sculpts are pretty basic, but all that I've seen are good looking in the generic sense.  The best sculpting is on the accessories and the uniforms.  This is far better quality than you expect for this price point, and rivals (and even surpasses!) much of the recent G.I. Joe work.

Paint - ***1/2
All the paint work I've seen looks great.  A big key here is that these figures aren't painted in odd colors, or weird designs.  The uniforms on the figures in all three squads are realistic and the paint ops highlight this realism.

Articulation - **1/2
Okay, so nothing in life is perfect.  These figures have neck, shoulders and hips, the usual five points.  Some other figures in this scale also have knee and elbow articulation, and lacking that hurts these figures slightly.

Value - ****
There isn't a better value on the shelves today.  Do yourself a big favor and pick up one of the large playsets for a kid you know - they'll have a ton of fun with the figures, accessories and vehicles, and for ten bucks or less you'll get a great value.

Overall - ***1/2
If you haven't checked out these super cool toys yet, and you like this 3 3/4" format, you should grab one of these sets.  Hey, you'll only be out a few bucks, and you may find a whole new set of toys to add to your collection. 

And while you're at it, pick up a few for Toys for Tots this year - I can guarantee you that you'll make some very deserving kids extremely happy.

Where to Buy -
Big Lots is the best place in my neck of the woods to find these, but I also know that they are showing up at some Toys R Us (particularly in Canada), and Wal-marts.  I'm betting other dollar stores and retailers like Value City will end up picking them up as well.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford

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