Toys City JSOC T1 Special Mission Unit ( TCT-9019 ) review
I imagine that at some point after the news broke about a certain SEAL Team 6 mission last year, many of us in the sixthscale action figure world wondered if and when a sixthscale companies would respond with a tie in figure. In fact, about a week after the raid, a company contacted me and Brian to design a tie in figure. I still have all of the designs, and looking back on them I am still pleased with the results ( even if they were never followed through on ).
So here we are, almost a year later, with not one, but two figures coming down the pipe… We could even argue that there are four figure tie ins if we chose to count the BBI and Crazy Dummy figures ( the BBI being more to the point of the theme ). Despite my frustrations at seeing that my own personal hard work was an unmitigated waste of time, I am still tickled to see a new modern era figure that takes on the theme of SEAL Team 6 ( raid specifics or no ).
This is a pretty cool inclusion, and he comes with an interesting assortment of accessories that are being produced here for the first time in sixthscale… Here is the breakdown:
K-9 Military Shepherd
Intruder Special Ops Vest & Stretchable Leash
Intruder Special Ops Foldable Camera
Intruder Special Ops Foldable Antenna
Intruder Special Ops Battery Pack
Normally I would categorically separate and catalogue the parts that make up the K9 and his kit elements of this set. Approaching them in the same fashion that I typically use when reviewing a figure. Instead, I am including the dog, and all of his accessory paraphernalia, in one category. In addition, I am taking a different turn this time out by not beginning the review in typical fashion – with the head-sculpt and base body being the first categorical elements to be covered.
It just seems fitting to start off with the dog and his assemblage of gear since he is such a key part of this set.
The subject of dogs in the military tends to have a bit of an emotional effect on me. I suppose that this is because I have a longtime love of dogs, and that I hate to see a dog in harm’s way. Whether harm’s way means riding around in a pickup truck bed without a tie down, or prowling and growling in the field of battle. I also hate to see human being in similar circumstances.
Of course these dogs ( speaking of dogs in the military, and specifically of dogs deployed with Special Operations Units ) do ( at times ) have protection in the form of body armor – and their fellow ( 2-legged ) warriors. And no doubt these Spec Ops dogs know a thing or two about facing one down a no-good-nick… What was the junkyard owner tagline from The Body/Stand By Me – Chopper, Sick Balls?
In the sixthscale action figure world we have seen a fairly decent selection of hounds. From Hasbro to Hot Toys, and beyond. Even the new(er) kids on the block, like Scale Store, have produced some pretty slick K9’s. But still, the best sixthscale ( or thereabouts ) dogs that I have seen and owned are made by a company called – what were they called – seems like it was Best in Show Figurines, or Country Artists, or something like that… And if you google those names, and visit those sites, be prepared to have your fix and then some of unabashed cuteness, and adorability… That before you even make it past the home page.
So how does Toys City stack up when it comes to making a sixthscale doggie? Remember, this one is not exactly meant to be cute or adorable – more fierce and lethal. So we will have to judge him on a different scale than we might use when judging Country Artists dogs. The first thing I looked at with the Toys City’s dog was the sculpting. Examining both the quality, and the anatomical realism of the sculpt. The second thing I looked at was the quality and realism of the finishing. Was the paint decent – did it look realistic in terms of color and amount of sheen ( dogs being basically made of hair – and hair being silky smooth according to Mr. Zohan ).
I suppose that these may be the same list of attributes the dudes and ladies that judge real-life, life-sized dogs at dog shows are looking toward. The good thing is that when judging a sixthscale figurine ( dog ), I didn’t have to follow the lead set forth by the people who do the real deal judging of actual living breathing dog… You know, have the dog trot around a bit, and then pick it up to feel it balls and pull on it’s tail to judge whether or not it was a winner.
I am happy to say that Toys City did a very respectable job on both counts… The sculpting is detailed, crisp, and realistic; the paint is well applied, cleanly finished and appropriately sheened. The point of the word “ sheened “ meaning that the paint looks good – with the correct balance of gloss to matte. Sort of a satin finish. With that said, and with all due respect to the folks who did the paint on these hounds, I do want to lay hands on multiple of this one to do repaints on. Not to correct what I perceive as flaws, but to add my own personal touch. Maybe come up with some variations in color and pattern.
As for the K9 Storm Intruder elements of the set, I was eager to see and handle an actual sample to see how the parts stacked up to the pre-release manufacturer pics. I was not disappointed… The pieces are very well made, with crisp detailing and quality finishes. This is not to say that the pieces are perfect – what pieces ever are? And if I had to pick one area that gave me pains, it would have to be the fastex buckles that Toys City uses. They just don’t look as good as the buckles that we see used by almost every other sixthscale company out there. The molding is a bit off – the top surface of the open end of the buckle being uneven – smooth ( if not too shiny ) in some areas, distorted and rough in others. BBI had this problem way back when, and happily, they turned the corner and came out with an improved fastex buckle line up with the Chopper MEU, and Gunslinger era figures.
I would say ( to Toys City ), look for the buckles ( both fastex and slider ), that A.C.E. Workshop produced as an accessory set years back. They came on a tree ( or sprue ) of the sort that you would see in a scale model kit. And I believe that they are still available to this day – might even be released by another company at this point. Anyway, my point is, there are alternatives out there. Fix that little hiccup, and you will improve the overall look of you gear tenfold.
In the interest of both my own edification, and to add informative content to this review, I did a bit of research into the K9 Storm Intruder pieces included in this set. There were some pretty interesting pics of dogs wearing the stuff, and those led to the following:
Authored by Elbert Chu of FAST COMPANY:
If you see this dog coming for you, run. Thanks to his extensive training — and customized body armor that can cost upward of $30,000 — he’s bulletproof, can hear through concrete and can record high-def video of missions, even in the dead of night.
Since the moment it was revealed that the “nation’s most courageous dog” (Update: named “Cairo”) served alongside the 80 Navy SEALs who took out a really bad dude, America’s fascination with war dogs has hit a fevered pitch. And while the heart-tugging photos of these four-legged heroes are worth a look, so is the high-tech gear that helps them do their job.
Last year, the military spent $86,000 on four tactical vests to outfit Navy SEAL dogs. The SEALs hired Winnipeg, Canada-based contractor K9 Storm to gear up their canine partners, which it has used in battle since World War I. K9 Storm’s flagship product is the $20,000-$30,000 Intruder, an upgradeable
version of their doggie armor. The tactical body armor is wired with a collapsible video arm, two-way audio and other attachable gadgets.
“Various special ops units use the vest, including those in current headlines,” says Mike Herstik, a consultant with International K-9, who has trained dogs from Israeli bomb-sniffing units to the Navy SEALS. “It is much more than just body armor.”
The big idea behind the armor add-ons boils down to a simple one: the key to any healthy relationship is communication. Each dog is assigned one human handler. To operate efficiently in a tactical situation, they need to be connected.
So how much high-tech connectivity does a dog get for $30,000 anyway?
Using a high-def camera mounted on the dog’s back, handlers can see what the dog sees, using handheld monitors. Jim Slater, who co-founded K9 Storm with his wife, Glori, says footage is stable because the entire module is sewn into the vest. With unpredictable light conditions, like middle-of-the-night missions, the camera adjusts automatically to night vision. The lens is protected by impact-resistant shielding. And since we’re talking about SEALs notorious for amphibious assaults, the system is waterproof.
In Abbottabad, the patented load-bearing harness would have enabled a Navy SEAL handler to rappel from the helicopter with his dog strapped to his body. Once in the compound, the dog could run ahead to scout as the handler issued commands through an integrated microphone and speaker in the armor. The proprietary speaker system enables handlers to relay commands at low levels to the dog. “Handlers need to see and hear how their dog is responding,” said Slater. “In a tactical situation, every second counts.” The encrypted signal from dog to handler penetrates fortified barriers like concrete, steel-fortified ships and tunnels. That translates to standard operating ranges up to four football fields.
The armor itself protects against shots from 9mm and .45 magnum handguns. Slater is a veteran police dog trainer and built the first vest after a prison riot. He realized he wore full riot gear, while his K9 partner, Olaf, was basically naked. So he started making vests. The weave technology catches bullets or ice picks like a mitt wrapping around a baseball; knives and sharpened screw drivers wielded by prisoners require tighter weaves.
Keeping the armor strong, but light, is a priority. “Every gram counts for our clients. So we prefer advanced fibers and innovative textiles,” said Slater. “The entire communication module is 20 ounces.” The average armor weighs between three to seven pounds, depending on the size of the dog and the level of protection.
They’ve even gone stealth. A silent hardware system prevents any metal to metal contact —you won’t hear any jangling or see any reflective give-aways. K9 took the average 150-gram V-ring and developed a 5-gram version made of a Kevlar, poly-propylene, and nylon fiber blend. “It’s actually stronger, rated to 2,500 pounds. Completely silent, and ultra light,” said Slater.
Of course, these systems don’t come cheap — and it’s the dogs themselves that are the real investment. The Navy’s first Master Military Working Dog Trainer (a trainer of other dog trainers), Luis Reyes emailed from Afghanistan: “There are many products that help MWDs (military work dogs) and many are ‘cool’ but not necessary. No amount of money can replace the life of a canine that saves the precious lives of our troops in harm’s way.”
Although new tech is the buzz, what put K9 Storm on the map is dedication to customization. Its mainstay dog armor is the more-affordable $2,000-$3,000 base model. Each vest they make is custom sized for the dog. “The fit has to be perfect or it will flop around,” said Slater. That hinders mobility, or worse, can cause injury.
Clients can measure dogs themselves, or Slater will fly out for dog fittings. They’ve done 15-pound West Highland Terriers — which look like playful white puffballs but were bred to scare badgers out of holes, and are helpful in drug raids with confined spaces like air ducts. On the other end are St. Bernard’s, which push 240 pounds.
K9′s client list spans 15 countries, from China to Switzerland. Buyers include SWAT teams, police and corrections agencies, security firms, search-and-rescue units and border patrols. Slater and 12 employees spent years developing a proprietary computer-assisted design program to translate measurements into accurate patterns, which are hand sewn. However, it’s as much a tech company as it is an armor manufacturer.
The next phase of development includes plans for remote-delivery systems and enhanced accessory functionality. They describe a system that would help dogs transport medical supplies, walkie-talkies or water into constricted areas like rubble. They’re also planning new appendages such as air-level quality meters for mines.
No word on mounting mini heat-seeking missiles just yet. So, for now, bad guys will only have to tussle with highly trained fangs exerting 700 pounds of pressure per square inch.
Interestingly, I found that posted on the MSNBC website – not that I ever visit that site or any other political – I mean news site
Okay, so now that we have had our look at the dog and his gear, we are ready decide on a score… I was really excited to see how Toys City would handle this part of the set – would it be good, bad, or ugly? As I have already stated, my expectations were met and exceeded. I truly feel that they did a fantastic job with respect to the sculpting and paint finishing. I therefore feel it more than fair to award a full five out of five stars in this category – not only for quality and execution, but for originality.
Head-sculpt and base body…
There are only a couple of elements to cover here as I decided to cover the dog in his own category. So here is the breakdown for the head-sculpt and base body elements:
Real-like Head Sculpt
T 2.0 Body
I like the head on this guy – sort of a tough looking and determined individual who resembles a cross between a mid-forties Mel Gibson, and a mid-forties Richard Marcinko. It has been said of late that Toys City head-sculpts have taken on a bit of a cartoony look – even being compared to anime by one astute observer. Which is alright, if you are a fan of anime – or if you are looking for modern era military figures that embody that esthetic.
This got me to thinking, and sure enough, I noticed that the last few Toys City sculpts have seemed to be slightly off – or should I say exaggerated in some respect or another. The exaggerated ( off ) look starting ( as near as I could tell ) with the recent Toys City Corpsman figure. This surprised me, as I have become a big fan of Toys City sculpts for their realism and finish – their CCT HALO sculpt is still one of my all-time favorite sixthscale sculpts. So I took a really close look at the JSOC T1 sculpt to try and pin down the areas that seemed out of sync.
What I was able to determine, is that the eyes and ears are of the JSOC T1 sculpt are set too high up on the sculpt – almost as if the head has been stretched or skewed. I even did a little photoshop paste up to illustrate what the head would look like with the eyes and ears lowered to about the midway point of the head ( between the chin and the crown of the head ). I am no PS wizard, but even my half ass attempt made some improvement – which is to say, it made the head ( or features ) look more proportional.
Not to say that Toys City has lost their head-sculpt mojo – a company rarely has a pronounced backward stumble after having produced so many good sculpts in a row. So I had to wonder why they would have a sculpt with a shortened forehead and wonky eyes and ears. The only thing I could come up with, was that they were “ tailoring “ the sculpt to better fit within the helmet, and/or hat, and comms… The raising of the eyes and ears being roughly equivalent to lowering the crown of the head so that the headgear ( helmet, and/or hat, and comms ) would not ride too high.
I don’t know if this is the case or not – but it makes some sense, and therefore stands to a chance to reason. Just look at the recent sculpts DELTA Force Gothic Serpent sculpts from DAM?VTS – they were arguably pinheaded – this in order to accommodate the layering of the head mounted communication gear and helmet. Without this reduction of the crown ( top of the head ), or the raising of the eyes and ears, it would look as if the figure was packing an unabridged copy of War and Peace under his helmet
So is that what was happening here – an intentional and necessary distortion or tailoring of the sculpt? I would love to have a corroboration of confutation of this supposition…
Getting past the arrangement of the features, how does the head stack up? Paint wise, it is immaculate – with great use of pigments and paints to achieve just the right amount of sub surface light scattering. Even the beard looks good – well sculpted, and well finished paint wise. I even like the paint effects as seen on the eyes ( kind of pun there I ( eye ) suppose ). Of course, I do happen to like lightly painted ( colored ) eyes on my figures, as I find it easier to see the level of contrast between the iris and pupil if the paint of the iris is lighter ( being that the paint of the pupil will always be black ). I also have really bad eyesight, so the higher the contrast between colors and or shades, the better I can see it. That therefore may be a personal preference thing that doesn’t extend much past my own tastes.
Moving on to the base body…
Every sixthscale company from Hasbro to Hot Toys has, at one time or another, had to revisit and revamp their base body. Some companies go through several iterations and changes before they settle on a design – which is to say, get it right… There are also those companies that just seem driven to tinker – to keep trying new things whether the feedback that surfaces from the collecting community dictates the need for change or not. So bottom line, every company has room to grow and improve.
I am not trying to sugar coat things, I am merely stating my own observations as they stand from a decade plus in the hobby. And while Toys City has had their fair share of problems with their base bodies ( the back bending, reverse angle, knee joints stand out in my memory ), they have been willing to address problems ( the fix of the back bending reverse angle knee joints serving to illustrate this point ).
In this spirit, I am eager to see in what direction Toys City will venture in the future. Will they strive to improve their base body design? They will no doubt keep an ear to the rail and a nose to the wind to listen for and sniff out feedback from the collecting community. A community that has grown quite savvy to the intricacies and nuances of base bodies.
My advice to Toys City, would be to look at what other sixthscale companies are doing – not to copy their designs, but to see what has been done – to learn from the mistakes. Toys City certainly does not seem afraid to try new things in order to innovate in a market where innovations are not always easy to achieve. So by looking at both the competition’s wares, and at the form of the human body, maybe they can find a way to wow and dazzle us with their latest base body iteration.
Now that I have more or less spelled out some of my feelings as to where Toys City can improve, let me take equal time to express my likes with their base body…
There are present, the requisite musts that Toys City have incorporated into the design of the T 2.0 Body.
For one, the ankles are almost perfectly articulated – adding in the anatomically correct, must have, pronation and supination element. Add to this the inclusion of the ball and socket, pop on/pop off foot, and you have a very well thought out, and well executed ankle joint. Not to mention a nice shortcut when it comes to swapping out pants on the figure. Eliminating the need to try and pull a pair of rigid molded ( or tightly laced cloth ) boots off of the figure’s feet – ala DML Adam, DiD, and BBI G1 base bodies.
In addition, the neck connection is of the ball and socket design, which allows for easy removal and placement of the head-sculpt. That is an absolute must in a hobby where we the hobbyist ( kit basher and customizer ), are likely at some point to swap out a sculpt or two for variety sake. The easily removable head-sculpt option also allows for easier uniform, vest, helmet, and communication gear placement. Sort of in the same spirit as the boots – no more need to break out the hair dryer or mug of boiling hot water in order to heat up and pop off a tongue and groove mounted head-sculpt. Hopefully someday my old time favorite DML will make the change to ball and socket mounted head-sculpts.
And before I forget, the Toys City base body does feature a very respectable range of motion. A must have inclusion/feature. So despite some hiccups, there certainly are more than a few redeeming qualities to consider.
Alright then, let’s get right down to score for this category… I am going to put aside some of my quibbles and focus slightly more on the pluses when determining the score. I therefore feel that a score of three and a half out of five stars is fair. Look at this as the equivalent of a C minus – and remember, every sixthscale company out there that makes a base body has had at least one issue with that base body. It is therefore sage to say that Toys City is going through the normal growing pains that accompany any sixthscale company. From both a collecting and customizing point of view, I hold out high hopes for the future of Toys City in all areas of their product line.
We have a really great selection of uniform goodies to cover… Here is the breakdown:
CRYE Precision DIGI2 AOR1 Desert Gen2 AC Combat Shirt Navy Cut
CRYE Precision DIGI2 AOR1 Desert Gen2 AC Combat Pants Navy Cut
Detachable Gen 3 Kneepad
DIGI2 AOR2 Woodland 0612F Riggers Belt
Asolo Moab Ventilator Hiking Boots
4.0 Heavy Duty Gloves
I have already explained and discussed my own personal feelings when it comes to cloth versus molded boots. I am of the mind that either is a viable option, and that the best way to decide is to look at the boots in question case by case. Seems pretty obvious, but when you think about it, there are some preconceptions afoot ( no pun ) concerning the use of either mixed media ( cloth ) or molded boots. Some seem to feel that it is a sign of corner cutting when a company goes molded as opposed to cloth. That cloth boots are automatically better because they are a closer analog material wise to the real deal, and that plastic is a cheap cop out. I would argue that this notion falls flat when the cloth or mixed media boot in question looks dodgy.
Let’s take an average pair of outdoor adventure type boots ( or military if you prefer ), and break them down:
On average they have two to four ( and sometimes more ) layers of material. This material on average, is 2mm – 4mm thick. Okay, now let’s say that in order to make an accurate analog ( I speak of accuracy in terms of scale and overall look ), we would need to find a suitable material with which to work. Using scale as our accuracy metric, we would need this material to be six times thinner than the fullscale equivalent. That would mean ( on average – using a 3mm measure as our baseline ), either cloth or leather that is roughly .10mm thick. I know that my math may be off a bit – but it is close enough to prove a point – that being just how impossibly thin the material in question would have to be. We would need a cloth or leather material roughly as thin as a manila envelope or gnat’s eyelash. That is really thin – and would therefore be really fragile.
It would be almost impossible ( but let’s just say really tough ), to find anything that thin that would hold up to the manufacturing process let alone the first time we handled a finished product. We would need a gossamer thin uber cloth, and outside of a NASA or JPL skunk works style lab, something that would fit the bill may not be available. And if our wonder fabric existed, could it be had affordably if at all? So the sixthscale companies that make cloth boots have to use what is currently and affordably available – the fullscale stuff in other words. So we have fullscale stuff being used to fashion a sixthscale item.
In areas like web gear and uniform elements the use of fullscale materials isn’t as noticeable. We can illustrate this point by using something like a medium weight cotton or poly blend poplin ( the sort of stuff men’s dress shirts are made from ) as our web gear and uniform element construction material. But with boots that incorporate leather or suede elements there really is not that much in the way of ultra-thin equivalents. So we have the thicker stuff, and that in turn means that we have thicker boots. Use the six times reduction formula is reverse to calculate just how thick the fullscale construction medium equivalent would be. We would have boots that were made from leather, cordura, poplin, or canvas that would be as thick as a slice of Texas Toast.
This is the big reason why I don’t mind a pair of expertly sculpted and detailed molded boots.
So just how are the molded boots that come with this set? They are very good. And I would be willing to extend this to each and every pair of Toys City boots that I have handled. Toys City must have some really talented sculptors in charge of making their boots. The look is really, really nice.
However, there is a downside here – or at least there is with the sample that I received for my review.
Upon opening the box and removing the main figure tray, I noticed some grey paint smudges streaked across the inside of the tray cover lid. These paint smudges/streaks, were located right where the figure’s boots were packaged. Interestingly, I had the same experience with the Toys City Overwatch figure that I received – you know, the one that looked like a SWCC ( Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewmen ).
Frustratingly, in the case of both the Overwatch figure, and the JSOC T1 figure, the boots were experiencing paint rubs even before the figures were removed from the packaging. I Checked out the JSOC T1 figure’s boots, and in those areas where the paint had rubbed off, I was sorry to see that not only was the paint not staying put, it was ever so slightly tacky… Not good.
I am sure that I don’t have to tell anyone out there why tacky paint is a bummer deleuxe – and not just when it comes to things sixthscale… Sitting on a park bench with tacky paint, grabbing a handrail with tacky paint, getting dust and lint stuck to an item that you have just painted – all of these are serious top level bummers. You have to wonder about the root cause of the paint being tacky. Is it uncured? Is it reacting to the plastic? Is it destabilizing? Will it continue to tack – or will it finally dry? Is there a chemical reaction occurring that is causing noxious ( potentially dangerous ) fumes to vent from the tacky paint? The JSOC T1 boots did smell funny in that not ha ha funny sort of way.
My biggest fear is that this is a case of the paint in question reacting to the material from ( or of ) which the boots are made. That there is a reaction occurring between the petroleum elements in the plastic, and the chemicals in the paint that add to either it’s viscosity, or it’s stabilization. If it was an enamel based paint that was used, then that could be the answer. Enamel paints do not cure when used on softer plastics or harder rubbers – any rubber for that matter. So maybe that is what is happening here. An easy enough fix for future Toys City molded boot finishing.
I have considered removing the offending paint ( which is the medium grey color located on various sections of the mid sole and tread ). And once the paint is completely removed ( no small task ), I have considered doing a repaint with an acrylic based paint – and yes, acrylic based paints do seem to get along well with most plastics and rubbers. So again, maybe this is something for Toys City to consider.
Still, these and other Toys City molded boots do look really cool. So one can hope that future releases will be both rub, and tack free.
Alright, time to look at the uniform elements of the uniform elements category… This time out we receive the CRYE Precision DIGI2 AOR1 Desert Gen2 AC Combat Shirt Navy Cut, and the CRYE Precision DIGI2 AOR1 Desert Gen2 AC Combat Pants Navy Cut. I did some research on the AOR series of camouflage and found a neat site where the differences in color and pattern between AOR and MARPAT were discussed ( with pictures no less ). Pretty neat to see a side by side of AOR1 and Desert MARPAT… Turns out they are much more different than I had originally thought. Doesn’t really relate to this review, but it was an interesting bit of research none the less.
The quality and fit of the uniform pieces is as good as any other sixthscale uni out there. I am really happy with the scale look as well – the fabric is just thin enough to hang on the figure in a scale appropriate ( or accurate ) way, yet is not so thin that you have to worry about it falling apart at the seams when you pose the figure or change his drawers. Good stuff.
Score time then… I don’t see much room for improvement with the uniform elements featured with this set. They are well crafted and finished, and the scale-ness of the fabric is spot on, The only real grievance is with the tacky paint details on the boots. I just remembered that there was a problem with the paint on the very first Toys City Figure that I reviewed – but in that case it was with the gloves ( on the SBS Connery looking guy ). So it might be a case of a few colors or types of paint that have issues when it comes to playing nice with softer plastic and/or harder rubber. With that in mind I am going to award a four and a half out of five stars in the uniform category.
Softline elements ( web gear and pouches )…
There are some exciting new offerings in the softline category – so nice… Here is the breakdown:
DIGI2 AOR1 Desert Assault Plate Carrier
DIGI2 AOR1 Desert 6064D Admin Pouch
DIGI2 AOR1 Desert CP Single M4 Mag Pouch
DIGI2 AOR1 Desert CP Medic Pouch
DIGI2 AOR1 Desert MLCS Smoke Grenade Pouch
DIGI2 AOR1 Single Pistol Mag Pouch
NVG Counterweight Pouch
DIGI2 AOR1 Desert 9039D Modular Assault Pack
That is the list as compiled ( composed ) in Toys City’s pre-release information. I see a 6094D in there, which tells me that the piece in question ( the admin pouch of all things ), is based on an LBT ( London Bridge Trading Company ) piece. And I don’t feel that it would be exactly going out on a limb to say that most of the rest of the kit is LBT as well.
This isn’t surprising, as we have seen a pretty good selection of LBT gear on several sixthscale figures of late. This is no doubt echoed ( or is an echo ), of what we could expect to find in the real world theater of operation – namely Afghanistan.
So how does the Toys City version compare to that of the competition? Very good. Toys City has an eye for detail and finish with their tailored and sewn line up. The stitches are even and tight, the fabric is scale appropriate and durable, and the little details, such as the micro scale velcro and grosgrain ribbon attachments, are high quality.
In addition, the print of the camouflage ( AOR1 in this instance ) is crisp, clean, and well defined – with a good level of color contrast between the various pixel patterns. The only miss by my estimation is the fastex buckles that Toys City uses – as discussed back in the K9 category.
Okay, let’s move on the score… The misses in the softlines category are few, and the hits many. I therefore feel that a four and three quarter out of five stars is in order. Were the fastex buckles of a higher grade, the score would have been a prefect five out of five.
Hardline elements ( plastic parts and sundry tools )…
Plenty of great parts are included in the hardline category… Here is the breakdown:
DIGI2 AOR1 Desert Pattern FAST Ballistic Helmet
Helmet Rail Connector
PVS-15 Night Vision Goggle
SF Helmet Light
SF Helmet Light Mount
MSA SORDIN Supreme Pro Neckband Headset & PTT
VIP Strobe Light
Cyalume Light Stick x6
Tactical Wristband Map Pouch & Map
DIGI2 AOR1 Desert Military Tape
The big deal inclusion here ( for me ) is the MSA SORDIN Supreme-Pro Neckband comm set. I had this same set slated for a figure design that me and Brian were playing around with a little over a year ago, and I am happy to finally see one produced in sixthscale – just wish it had been with our figure… It can be undeniably satisfying to be ahead of the crowd when it comes to unveiling something.
The look of the MSA SORDIN Supreme-Pro Neckband is totally cool – and the design is clever. A great way to integrate a comm set with a helmet without having a bulky connector bridge sitting right on top of your noggin. Of course, I have never worn a comm set like this, so I have no clue what I am talking about from the standpoint of personal experience. But from having seen more than a few comm sets in sixthscale and fullscale, and having studied their design, I have a feeling that this one is more comfortable and convenient to use and wear.
The other cool element that comes with the set, is the AOR1 patterned Ops Core Ballistic Helmet. Remember when laying hand on a sixthscale Ops Core Ballistic or FAST Helmet was about as difficult as finding a tic on Junebug’s dingle berry? Or at least as difficult as explaining that analogy… Now that we have the Toys City, and Soldier Story sets hitting the market at right around the same time, we are practically up to our Junebug’s dingle berries in Ops Core Helmets. This is a good thing – actually, it is a GREAT thing.
And just like we saw with all of those Crazy Dummy, and Arms Rack MK46 and MK48 sets that flooded the market last year, this bumper crop of Ops Core Helmets is serving to saturate the market, while at the same time driving down the price per unit. Excellent. If only we could figure out how to apply this same market strategy to things like prescription medications. Weird how free markets regulate themselves through competition…
And of course with all of the Ops Core Helmet flavors that we have to choose from, it is nice to see an original flavor that cannot be had in any of the aforementioned accessory sets. The Soldier Story Neptune Spear figure will have an AOR 1 camouflage finish Ops Core Ballistic Helmet as well, but for now, the Toys City version can enjoy being the one and only AOR 1 Ops on the block…
Not too much more to report with respect to the hardlines, so let’s have ourselves a little hardline score… I really like the look and the quality of the parts that comprise this part of the set. Having the added options when loose parts shopping is also helpful – and the added options help to keep that cost in check at the same time. Again, it is weird ( it really isn’t weird – I am being a wise ass ) how an increase in choices ( options ) effect prices, and the how the combination and interplay of the two are integral to the success of any free market. I mean, can you imagine if it was mandated that you only have one option? It really wouldn’t be an “ Option ” then would it?
Okay, back to the review ( LOL ). Taking into account the quality and variety of the elements in the hardline gear category, I feel that a five out of five stars is in order. I went big there because of the originality that Toys City is bringing to the table with the inclusion of the MSA SORDIN Supreme-Pro Neckband comm set, and the AOR1 patterned Ops Core Ballistic Helmet. Beating Soldier Story to the punch with the AOR Ops, and Crazy Dummy with the MSA SORDIN Supreme-Pro Neckband, really paid off.
As was the case with the other categories, we get quite the assortment of nifty stuff in the weapon element category… Here is the breakdown:
DEVGRU Custom 12.5 inch-barrel Assault Rifle
M4 Magpul PMag 5.56 30-round Magazine
PEQ-15 Laser Indicator
M3X Tactical Light
Tactical Light Remote Switch
Elcan Specter Dr 2-4x Optic Sight
Tactical Fore Grip
2000 5.56 Silencer
DIGI2 AOR1 Desert Custom Tactical Sling
Sig Sauer P226 Pistol
Pistol Magazine x3
Black P226 6004 Holster
Tactical Combat Knife
I am not going to overboard ( I know – me not go overboard – that will be the day ), and am instead going to go right into things with a look at the main piece of fun in the weapon elements category.
So just what is a DEVGRU Custom 12.5 inch-barrel Assault Rifle is exactly? I would have to guess that it is an M4 that has been seriously hopped up by a DEVGRU somebody or another… Maybe even a private purchase number from a company like La Rue Tactical, Magpul, or Noveske Rifle Works. I tried to do a little research on the topic – but when I searched using “ DEVGRU Custom Assault Rifle “ as my keyword verbiage, the only thing I found were some Airsoft listings, and a whole butt-load of sixthscale related listings concerning the very same rifle that comes in this set. Oh well – turns out there are actually still a few things that are NOT on the internet.
The good news is, this rifle is really , really sharp… There are so many pluses with this one – I was impressed the moment I took it out of the packaging. The overall look is phenomenal, and the little details like the pop up RIS rail front sight are a real treat. Add in the black and silver Elcan Specter Dr 2-4x Optic Sight and you have a super duper dope set up. I am happy to finally have a variant of the Elcan Specter Dr 2-4x Optic Sightic Sight other than tan, or copper candy wrapper red – although I really should amend that to some degree as there are actually precious few tan Specter Dr’s out there… In addition to the night ops scheme, Elcan Specter Dr 2-4x Optic Sighth as a cool see-through lens. This detail really adds to the appeal. More of these – please!
I should also mention the Sig Sauer P226 that comes with the set… It is a very nice example of how far minutely etched-in cartouche and model spec detailing can elevate a sixthscale firearm. In the absence of a descent Sig Sauer P226 Navy MK25, this may be one of my all-time favorite sixthscale Sig’s. Add in what is a fairly affordable loose parts price point, and the overall appeal of this piece is increased even more.
So let’s not waste another minute going up all over the weapons that come with this set… Let’s get it together and see about a score. I really had no problems with this part of the set. True, the rifle foregrip was a little loose, but that was not a big deal – and it made it easier to straighten out what I had at first thought was crooked foregrip. Just wiggle it a bit and it straightens right out. No pun was intended there – but now that I re-read that last – I have to giggle a bit. Right – the score… Okay, five out of five stars.
I am becoming a big fan of Toys City figure sets. They have their issues, but let’s be honest – what sixthscale figure company doesn’t? As with people, a company can, in part, be measured by how it deals with difficulties. Do they bury their head in the sand and pretend that the problem isn’t there – that it will just go away if they ignore it? Do they disregard issues of quality control, and ignore the voice of the consumer? If they take this approach it will no doubt be to their detriment. Do they dismiss or attribute issues of quality control to the nature of the product or process by which it is made? Deciding that problems and screw ups are just part of their MoE ( Margin of Error )? Again, if they take this approach it will be to the detriment of their bottom line.
Happily it seems that Toys City is in the business of listening to the collective voice of the collectors and hobbyists – the consumers of Toys City’s wares. They seem not only willing to address issues of quality control, but are willing to do something to remedy these issues. This was most recently exhibited in their response to issues of quality control concerning the helmet that comes with this set.
Before I forget, I wanted to mention in relation to the box, that the human operator ( SEAL ), and his K9 companion, both come in separate boxes. I found this to be an interesting solution for how to best deal with the size and weight of the dog. I kind of like the idea of the dog being separate and having what is actually a pretty cool and secure packaging set up. The foam block into which the dog is packed speaks to the care and forethought that Toys City put into the packaging and presentation of this set. Good stuff.
Dog: 5 out of 5 stars
Head-sculpt and base body: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Uniform elements: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Softlines ( webbing and pouches ): 4.75 out of 5 stars
Hardlines ( tools, electronics, and sundry parts ): 5 out of 5 stars
Weapon elements: 5 out of 5 stars
Grand total: out 4.5 out of 5 stars
What I changed and/or added…
Preparation wise, I left this one as is ( or stock ) out of the box. No custom touches were applied in this case. I did nevertheless go about the usual finishing procedures that I use when unboxing and gearing up a figure. Part of the finishing process that I use with most if not all of my figures is a technique that I call Thread Patrol.
I have discussed thread patrolling in more than a few of my reviews, and I hope that it is one of those tidbits that readers will try with their own figure sets. I have to give thanks to the father of one of very best friends Corey Ficken for teaching me the technique. Corey’s father, Chris Ficken, was having lunch with all of us young whipper snappers, back in the mid 1990′s ( and yes, I was wearing a NIN tour tee ), when he noticed me tugging at a loose strand of thread connected to my brand spanking new Nike ACG Air Moab trail runners. Chris stopped me right before I very nearly undid a critical seam with my increasingly frantic thread tugging. He told me about a nifty little trick to remove errant threads using a butane lighter so as not to compromise a seam. He demonstrated the technique, and the offending thread was vanquished. Unfortunately, my Moab’s didn’t last much more than a year or so after that day, but the trick with the butane lighter stood the test of time… And I am happy to say that it still serves me well to this day – both in sixthscale, and in lifescale. Thanks again Mr. Ficken.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with what I have termed thread patrol, here is a breakdown:
One of the byproducts of sewing is leftover thread. This is an unavoidable outcome that can be solved with some deft scissor work. For the most part 1/6 companies do a fair job of removing the surplus thread remnants, but there is always something leftover. Often times the amount of leftover ( overlooked ) thread remnants is roughly equal to the quality of the garment – better sewing and better finishing, less loose thread. And in some cases ( I won’t mention names as I don’t want to hurt any feelings ), the amount of leftover thread can be downright ridiculous.
With that said, part of my preparation of a figure always includes the removal of the thread remnants from any and all of the cloth elements. I feel it just looks a whole lot better to have the figure’s uni and gear neat-looking and squared away. My preferred method for removing the pesky threads is the use of a butane lighter. I simply pass the flame over the loose end of the thread and viola… it’s history. In cases where the loose thread is longer than an inch or so I will trim it down with scissors before giving it the butane lighter treatment. The lighter not only burns the thread down, it also cauterizes ( or seals ) the end of the thread thus helping to keep the seam from unraveling. This method requires some practice as you want to melt the thread without burning the garment. Once mastered it can become an invaluable finishing tool.
Alright, we have reached the end of another review. How many does this make? I am not sure, but I do know that up to this point ( and including this review ) I am at a review wide ( cumulative ) word count total of 157,096 words. That is a whole bunch of words. With that, I have to extend my most heartfelt gratitude to those who have stuck with through these reviews – the readers who have taken the journey right along with me. I sincerely appreciate the time taken to read even one of these reviews, and I hope that you will be back to read the next review as well.
Thanks again and best regards, Mike
Pics upcoming… It is going to be a very busy week around and outside of my home with major activities happening. Therefore pics will take more time to publish than usual.