Rudy Panucci On Pop Culture

Final Faction At Dollar Tree

The PopCult Toybox

In the bizarre clustermess that was the year of our lord, 2020, I have to admit, “Dollar Tree releases an exclusive,  original, high-quality collectible action figure line” was not on my Bingo card.

Because of the pandemic and your PopCulteer’s seriously-curtailed toy hunting activities, I didn’t even know about this line until a few weeks ago. There was no advance word. This line just showed up in November in some Dollar Tree stores, and was available nationwide (and online) by early January.

Final Faction is a line of Science-Fiction, alien-fighting action figures in the popular 1/18 (roughly four-inches tall) scale. Most of the figures have five points of articulation. Most come with at least one accessory. The paint detail is above-average. There is a backstory and accompanying nine-minute CGI cartoon on YouTube, and most importantly…they only cost a dollar each!

For a mere buck, you get a hell of a lot. Quality-wise, the figures are just a notch below ReAction’s line of licensed five-point figures, but those sell for fifteen to twenty times as much. If you are a 1/18 scale hobbyist, these figures are great customizing fodder. At this price you can try all sorts of things–from total repaints to attempting to add joints.

The backing cards are printed in full color on both sides and include Power Ratings and a bio for each character, along with this intro to the series…

In the year 2050, a large asteroid collided with our moon. Among the debris, we discovered a hibernating alien mothership. Now, the Kharn are awake and they want to plunder our precious natural resources. So, we recruited teams of special operatives to defend Earth from their alien threat.

They are the…

FINAL FACTION!

There you go. A cool space-opera premise with well-sculpted figures that sport decent (if limited) paint detail, and a computer-animated short. And they cost a buck apiece. You can collect the entire first series of figures for eight bucks (fourteen dollars if you buy all six extra accessory packs). For less than the price of one ReAction figure, you can own the entire line (if you can find them–in some stores the aliens and the robot are sold out).

Let’s take a look at that cartoon…

This whole line reminds me of the GI Joe: Star Brigade series (seen right), which was a bright spot in the waning days of the Real American Hero series of figures in the 1990s. In fact, the toys are completely compatible.

The file cards, design and even the personalities of the characters have a classic RAH vibe to them.

I was never really into the RAH Joes, but I know I have a few Star Brigade pieces scattered throughout my collection. It’s really cool to see the tradition of that line continue, especially in a line of action figures that are cheap enough that every kid who wants them should be able to have them.

I did a little digging into who created this line.

The IMDB page for the cartoon lists Elizabeth Schwartz and J.D. Schwartz as the creators, but the cartoon’s credits begin with “special thanks” for four Dollar Tree executives. I would say we can probably thank a team of folks at both companies for Final Faction.

The Schwartz’s run FourStarEntertainment Group, a Chinese-based design firm, who appear to have done all the heavy lifting on the Final Faction project. FourStarEntertainment has designed everything from furniture to candy to holiday decorations, housewares, shoes and electronics, and I have to say, they have knocked it out of the park with Final Faction.

I would imagine they have a long-standing working relationship with Dollar Tree (FourStar Group makes those pregnancy tests you find there, and tons of other things), so either Dollar Tree asked for an original toy line, or they designed it first and pitched it to Dollar Tree. Either way, we get a really cool toy line out of the deal.

Voice work on the cartoon is by a group of veteran voice actors who have previously worked on projects like Young Justice, One Piece, Aggetsuko, Pokemon and Moble Suit Gundam.

You can order Final Faction directly from Dollar Tree, or just head out to your nearest store to see if they still have them in stock.

Word has leaked out that there will be a second series of figures, along with a Dune-buggy-type vehicle that will be sold as a basic model, but will have tons of add-ons sold separately. I haven’t discovered a timeline for these yet, but there is info about a second cartoon buried among the details at IMDB, so I’d say we may see these new toys no later than Spring. Check out the leaks…

After the jump, I’ll bring you a detailed photo essay of the Final Faction figures.

The “good guys” of the line are Alpha Team 1, lead by Master Sergeant Steadfast. 

Before we look at the individual figures, some general observations:

These are simple, five-point articulation figures, which means that the figure itself is made of seven pieces of plastic: two arms; two legs; a head and front and back pieces for the torso, which are held together with two tiny screws. Posability is limited, but they still look cool.

The sculpting is top-notch, with an amazing amount of detail for such an inexpensive figure.

As you can see at right, the figures have holes in their feet to accomodate stands, and in their back to accomodate snap-on accessories like jet packs and backpacks.

Most of the figures have paint details on their arms, legs, head and the front of their torso. Usually it’s just one paint op, but some have two or three colors. This is a big deal when you consider how cheaply these have to be made in order for Dollar Tree to sell them for a dollar each. The paint details aren’t perfect, but at this price it’s silly to complain.

Add in the full-color, two-sided printing and the fact that each figure has one or two accessories, and you just have to marvel at how they made this project work. The profit margins must be razor-thin.

Alpha Team 1

Master Sergeant Steadfast

This cleverly-named leader of the team (a play on The Steadfast Tin Soldier) has a cool backstory…

Steadfast is the leader of Alpha Team 1 and is highly experienced in special operations combat rescue.
Born and raised in the U.S.A.
He lost his left arm when he was gravely injured during the first Kharn raid. He now has a mechanized arm and cybernetic eye.
He loves to cook and bake desserts for his team to keep up morale.
Let it be known: you better earn that cookie under his watch!

Fully outfitted, showing off his weathered armor.

Close up detail on his face.

With his accessories at his feet.

This is a pretty cool figure. He’s got the bald head/goatee look of Stone Cold Steve Austin, plus a robot arm, and one non-robot arm (no paint detail on either). He’s wearing a military-styled outfit, with painted detail on the boots, and weathered paint detail on his chest armor. He comes with a ridiculously-oversized blaster and a helmet.

Sergeant Ruck

He’s a cyborg, but we won’t hold that against him. This a half-robot guy who has a pretty high coolness factor.

His backstory…

Born in the cold valleys of Austria, Ruck specializes in ground artillery.
He has mechanized legs and uses heavy weapons that attach to his body to stave off the enemy.
Ruck has a warm, compassionate heart.
Long-time friends with Steel, they have an ongoing competition to see who can outdo the other… at everything!
“Eat, work, play, and sports…” is Ruck’s mantra.

Ruck, in the package.

Ruck’s head-one glamour shot.

Outfitted with his shoulder blaster and his backpack, which I put on his arm for no good reason.

A closer look at that shoulder blaster.

This figure has paint detail on every piece except the back of his torso. His head has two paint ops, which is exceptional for this line. He also comes with two accesories that plug into holes all over the robot parts of his body.

Sergeant Steel

The African-American member of the team, Steel has more detailed paint ops than the others, some of which are very subtle. He comes with a winged jet pack, which is also compatible with most of the other figures in the line.

Very sharp-looking with his winged jet pack.

Still in the package.

His backstory…

Steel has multiple specialized air packs for any mission making him the team’s greatest asset in the sky.
Growing up in the warm plains of Africa, Steel dreamed of soaring like a bird.
Always the cool guy, he is quiet and reserved until action is needed.
Steel loves sports, his favorite food is nachos, and he is deathly afraid of snakes.

Specialist Shift

A female figure, which is a rare thing for an action figure line, Shift is a very cool addition to the team. She looks very much like GI Joe’s Baroness after Lasix surgery. Her accessory is a crossed pair of katana that plug into her back. They’re just one piece, though, so she can’t really use them. Her hair is molded to one side in the back so that they can stay plugged in without her having to turn her head.

Shift’s glamour shot. She’s a sharp-looking figure, but the paint on her head could be a little tighter.

Detail on that paint job, on an otherwise terrific figure.

Of course, you don’t get much articulation for a dollar.

Her backstory…

Trained in every form of combat, she is a force to be reckoned with. There has yet to be anyone who could challenge her skill.
Living in the mountains of East Asia, she was groomed to be a warrior from childhood.
She has “prevision,” which is the ability to see into the future just far enough to know what her opponents’ moves will be before they make them.
In combat, she sings when she fights.
She unwinds by watching puppy videos on social media.

Augmented Combat Rescue Mech (A.C.R.M.)

Finally we have the figure that seems to sell out the quickest. This is basically a robot piloted remotely, like they did with the blue dudes in Avatar. I have to confess, I didn’t open mine yet to see if his back-hole is compatible with the other figure’s accessories, but he does look cool, with plenty of paint detail.

His backstory…

The A.C.R.M. is a breakthrough in virtual reality tech with a helmet and special suit allowing piloting of the mech via a modular system.
The A.C.R.M. is currently piloted by Boyd, a 15-year-old disabled boy.
This mech is adaptable and aids in all combat and rescue missions.

The website also mentions Steadfast’s pet dog, who has a mech suit, but they didn’t include a figure in the first series. He is pictured in the graphic for the second series, which you can see earlier in this post.

The Bad Guys

The KHARN are the evil space Republicans trying to plunder our natural resources. The figures are notable for not being too derivitive of existing alien designs. They are considerably heavier, made with huge chunks of solid plastic. These guys are also good “troop builders” and that, combined with the low price, might explain why I didn’t see any when I finally did venture out to a Dollar Tree yesterday.

Except for one of them, they sport the same articulation and assembly configuration as the Alpha team, despite their excess bulk. Two of them come with an accessory. All of the figures have some paint details.
They are…

Hive Class Synthoid

Okay, first, yes I think it’s funny that this alien’s name is one letter off from a popular thyroid medicine, aside from that, this is the oddball of the whole line. He is a hefty sumbitch, with the head and torso combined, so that he has one less body piece. However, his body is so bulky that it takes three screws to hold his torso together. This is the only figure in the line that is not sold with an accessory.

His arms plug in and out very easily, which is on purpose. He has a dedicated accessory kit that includes extra limbs. He comes with one blade-like arm and one regular arm. The accessory set includes the opposite limbs as blades or a regular arm, and one extra set of blades molded in a different color.

He looks sort of like if H.R. Giger designed ED-209 from Robocop.

This is Synthoid with his extra arm from his accessory pack. I think it looks better than the blade, which you can see above.

Here is the big fella in his package.

Synthoids are used in all Kharn operations and are not to be underestimated. They have very advanced technology, a synthetic biology, and are highly intelligent.

Hive Class Brute

This is just a great monster alien, big, bulky and scary-looking. He has five points of articulation and comes with a blaster. Paint detail is on his head and the front of his torso. This is a very impressive sculpt.

“Dude, do you really gotta get that close?”

The fearsome alien with his giant dildo ocarina.

Here’s he is, hanging out behind his package.

The Kharn Brute Class specializes in power and destruction. They have very low intelligence and are controlled by a commander. Their skin is nearly impenetrable and it’s hard to take them down.

Hive Class Drone

Another impressive sculpt, the Drone sports paint on his torso, legs and head, and he comes with a bright blue blaster.

The Kharn Drone Class is a basic grunt used for combat and labor operations. Not highly intelligent, but able to accomplish mission tasks.

There are also six accessory sets, three for the Alpha Team and three for the KHARN.

For the good guys, you get AIR ASSAULT, a variety of jet packs and anti-gravity devices; COVERT OPS, for steath missions this set includes a drone, a hoverboard and a variety of small arms; HEAVY ARMS, is a collection of space blasters and laser rifles, for when they need the heavy artillary.

The bad guys have SHOCK ARMS, a collection of three blasters; QUAKE ARMS, two weapons that plug into the backs of Brute and Drone, plus a blaster; SYNTHOID gets a unique accessory set with replacement limbs. The figure looks best with the regular arm from this set attached.

To sum things up, this is an incredible value. Any fan of space toys, 1/18 acion figures or just cool cheap stuff in general should seek these out. I do have one other strange observation: While each figure and package is stamped with “Greenbrier International, Inc.” (that’s Dollar Tree’s corporate name), there are no copyright or trademark symbols on the figures, packaging, or cartoon. I guess they didn’t see any reason to go to the expense, since it’s not like anybody is going to produce a knockoff and sell them any cheaper.

Final Faction is exclusive to Dollar Tree, but Dollar Tree owns Family Dollar, so I wouldn’t be shocked to see these turn up there, too.

This makes me really eager to see if Dollar Tree and FourStarEntertainment Group might team up for more action figure lines in the future, perhaps superheroes or cowboys or ancient Egyptians…or a combination of the three.

3 Comments

  1. Thomas Wheeler

    Outstanding review of a certainly unusual store exclusive action figure line! I’ve got the robot already and I’m impressed!

  2. Pharmadan

    FYI the Air Assault pack is meant to go to the ACRM mecha like that Synthoid pack.

  3. The Ch8t

    Nice. I got into collecting these recently. Just as I was moving away from collecting 1/18, I can’t help but respect the ambition and early 2000s charm of these little guys.

    Btw, Shift’s swords can actually be removed from the backpack and used.

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