21st Century XD U.S. Officer

21st Century is battling a ton of competition these days.  Figures like those produced by Dragon Models are providing higher quality and detail at practically the same price point, while Hasbro, Action Man and Max Steel are working the lower end kid's market.  They are starting to feel the pinch, and are looking for new ways to expand.

One of those ways is back into the old 3 3/4" market.  This was a huge success for Hasbro in the early 80's, but it was for kids then.  Now, 21st Century is trying to tap the collector market into this size with their XD (extreme detail) line of figures and vehicles.  So far they have a Sherman and Panther Tank, Mustang plane, Kubelwagon and Jeep on the shelves, with additional vehicles promised soon.  Each vehicle comes with a figure, and range in price from $15 for something like the Jeep or Kubelwagon, to $40 for the Sherman tank.

They have also produced single carded figures as well, in both US and German troops.  This is one of those single packed figures, the U.S. Officer, and these cost $6.  Toys R Us seems to be the place to pick these up right now.

Sculpts - ***
Pretty good for this scale.  It's tough to do something with this level of detail at this size, but they've done a very nice job on the sculpting itself.  The attached accessories are also extremely well done, and the detail on the Thompson is good.  Unfortunately, this awful wash they've used over pretty much the entire figure hurts the look of the sculpts.  And is it just me or does this guy look like JFK?  One of the major flaws here is that the helmet is part of the sculpt, not a separate piece, and the way they sculpted it tilted to the side doesn't do much for me.

Packaging - *1/2
Nothing in the least bit exciting.  The card is serviceable, but lacks detail itself.  Not particularly eye catching, you'll have to be paying close attention to see this one on the shelf.  Also, the large bubble area highlights the sparse number of items you're actually getting for six bucks.

Accessories - **
They get hurt here on several counts.  While the sculpting of the accessories is great, there's really only one pack and the gun.  The extra set of arms being necessary should have told them something was wrong with the articulation, but I'll get to that in a minute.  The helmet should have also been separate, and the other attached accessories, like the pouch and canteen, limit the characters range of motion.  For example, this soldier can't actually sit down, because of the placement of the front pouch on his belt.

Articulation - **1/2
For a company that does so well with it's 12" figures, I'm shocked at the poor articulation on these figures.  You wouldn't think it was bad by the numbers - there's 14 points!  Except that the points are pretty much utterly worthless.  He has neck, shoulders, elbows (on one set of arms), wrists, hips, waist, knees, and cut joints at the shins.

I suspect someone at 21st Century was pretty excited about using these angled cut joints at the elbows and knees.  Hey, they're cheap, and they hide the joint well.  Unfortunately, they are almost completely useless.  They can hold two positions - straight down, or 90 degrees.  Any other position looks awful, since the lower and upper appendages don't line up.  If you have to pack in a second set of arms to get the figure to hold his gun, I think that should tell you something about the joints on your figure.

Paint - *1/2
I've already complained about the wash on these figures.  It ruins an otherwise terrific sculpting job.  But that's not the worst - why didn't the feel the need to paint his lower body all the way to the waist?  Instead, we get a nice butt shot any time the figures legs are bent forward.  I'd prefer if my figures didn't have a case of "plumber's pants".  Even in a standing position, he looks terrible since the center 'post' is brown, but the area of each leg above the belt is flesh tone.

Value - Bupkis
And this is really why I expect so much from these figures.  They aren't cheap.  At six bucks, I expect something pretty good.  Hell, even Hasbro had given us a bone in the form of Commtech Chips to try to justify a higher price point.  But considering what you're getting, these single pack figures are a serious rip.

Overall - *1/2
I'm not sure what's up with 21st Century right now.  I've bought a lot of their 12" figures, but recently the overall quality and value has nose dived.  The newer figures, like the Fire Rescue Pilot, Air Calvary Pilot and Police Pilot, are terrible values, having close to zero accessories at a $30 price point.  The ones that still have decent accessories, like the North Vietnamese soldier or the German Machine Gunner, have terrible head sculpts and awful paint jobs.

Now I'm really disappointed in this line.  I had high hopes for it from the early pictures, but from this single packed figure I've lost most of my enthusiasm.  The vehicles I've seen certainly do look much better than this, especially the terrific Mustang.  But the price point is still very high, and I expect the quality to be there for $30.  I'll pick up a Jeep or Kubelwagon in the next week, and give them a second chance, but I certainly can't recommend buying these single figures.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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