21st Century Fireman

I've been kind of hard on 21st Century these past few months.  I've felt the quality of the sculpts has decreased, the quantity and quality of the accessories dropped, and therefore the value just hasn't been there.

I'm happy to say that's changed - at least for this figure.  The new Fireman figure is one of the newer 'non-military' figures, and is a definite improvement over the Police Helicopter or Fire Helicopter Pilots.  These are showing up at Toys R Us right now for $29.99.

Packaging - ***
Nice packaging, as is usually the case with 21st Century.  It's not quite as nice as Dragon yet, because you still have to destroy the packaging.  But the graphics are great, and it gives an excellent view of the figure and accessories for the MIB collector.

Accessories - ****
Wow!  They've given us a great set of accessories with this figure - not too few, not too many.  The air tank and mask fit the figure fairly well (although it can be a little tricky keeping the mask on just right), and the crowbar, excellent chain saw, pike and axe all look perfect.  Also included are a radio and helmet.

The detailing on the accessories is extremely good, and everything fits together well.  The mask hose fits to the regulator, the radio fits in the pocket, and the belts work smoothly. There was a little glue slopped on the face mask, but that's a minor and fixable quibble.

Sculpting - ***1/2
This is one of the few African American sculpts from any company other than Hasbro, and they've done a very nice job.  It's an understated sculpt, not trying to be too 'ethnic' but yet looking much more realistic than many of their more recent work.

Paint - ***
The paint work on the plastic pieces is bright and realistic.  This guy really will add some pizzazz to the brown/gray/black displays currently on your shelf.  I did have to check through several figures to get a helmet that had a really consistent paint work with no damage, so be a little careful.

Articulation - ***1/2
This is the latest version of 21st Century's body.  It has plenty of points - neck, ball shoulders, double jointed elbows, cut joint biceps, wrists, waist, chest, ball hips, double jointed knees, and ankles.  With that many points of articulation, there aren't too many poses you won't be able to put this guy in.

I'm not thrilled by the new ball shoulders and hips though.  The figure looks good dressed, but the shoulders in particular remind me of the old Exclusive Premiere style.  It seems to limit the motion quite a bit, and I'd prefer the original ball joints.

Value - ***
Most of the more recent figures from 21st Century have been weak, and really not worth the $29.99 they charge at good old Toys R Us.  But this is definitely an exception - sure, it would be a perfect value at $20-$25, but even at $30 it's great deal.

Uniform - ****
This is one of the finest quality uniforms I've ever seen produced in this kind of price range.  Even in the higher ranges that Dragon or Medicom charges, you'll rarely see this kind of quality.

The heavy material is perfect for this type of uniform, and the stitching and pocket work is excellent.  The reflective strips are well done, and the metal snaps and loops used for the jacket closures are absolutely fantastic.  It's rare to see that quality of metal clips, especially in the correct scale.

The rubber boots are also perfect, and the softer rubber material matches the reality of real boots perfectly in this situation.  The only possible improvement I could see would have been including a t-shirt under the jacket.

If this uniform ever comes out carded, it will be well worth picking up a few more to round out your fire house.

Overall - ***1/2
It's been several months since a one of the figures from 21st Century moved me.  Sure, I've picked up a couple, but for the most part these have been impulse purchases I've regretted.  Not this time - this figure is one of the finest they've ever put out, and I can't recommend it enough.  I have a few minor problems - I'm not thrilled with the shoulder articulation - but between the great head sculpt, excellent accessories, and truly amazing uniform, this is one you really need to add to your 1/6th collection.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford

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