21st Century XD U.S.
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.
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