The PopCult Toybox
As I promised last week, today we take a close look at the new SENTINEL 1 action figure, which is an exclusive to Toys R Us.
There are four figures in this line, Bandit, Shadow, Wolf and Barracuda. They are not based on any licensed property, but look like they could fit into any number of paramilitary-themed video games. “True Heroes” and “SENTINEL1” are trademarks of Toys R Us, and the toys sold under these names are usually made by a variety of Chinese factories. Most of their smaller-scale figures and vehicles are made by Chap Mei, and it’s possible that these figures are as well, which would make them Chap Mei’s first forays into 1/6 scale action figures. However, it’s just as likely that they are made by another company. Toys R Us does not like to release information about who produces their store-brand products.
Whoever makes these has crafted a very impressive figure for the price. Even the packaging is well-done. For the purposes of this review we will focus on Bandit. All four figures have basically the same features and accessories, headgear, a removeable vest, a knife and a large gun with less-than-realistic styling.
This figure comes on the wave of low-priced, modestly-articulated 12″ figures that sell for ten dollars or less. As I wrote last week, this scale is currently popular with buyers, so everyone seems to be getting in on the act.
The best comparison for this figure would be GI Joe, which is ironic, since there are currently no GI Joes being sold in the mass market. Standing a full twelve inches tall, this figures is a bit taller than the standard 1/6 scale figure. He seems even bigger than that because he is broad. From elbow to elbow, this figure is about one-and-one-half times as wide as a standard military action figure.
Much of the reason for this is the molded-on clothing and gear, but he’s also sculpted to be much more muscular and stout than other figures.
Articulation is impressive for such a low-priced figure (normally ten dollars each, with recent “buy-one-get-one-half-off” sales you can get two for fifteen bucks). There are nine points of articulation: knees, hips, shoulders, elbows and neck. Six of those joints are ball-and-socket joints with a wide range of movement (knees, elbows, shoulders). The head swivels and pivots a bit, but it’s also easily-removable, which is handy for folks who want to customize.
The figure stands well on its own in a variety of poses. The joints are tight enough to hold a pose without being uncomfortably tight. The sculpting is nicely-detailed, with “stitching” on the clothing sculpted in, along with a decent amount of paint detail. I counted as many as five paint operations on one piece. There are some details, like kneepads, that are molded separately, then glued in place. The headsculpts are very good, not too cartoonish, and with serious expressions.
One drawback is the lack of wrist or ankle articulation. Because his feet won’t move from their straight-ahead position, he can’t kneel. The static wrists make holding a weapon a little awkward.
There are two pieces of removable clothing, a vest and headgear (in the case of Bandit, a ball-cap). There are also two weapons, which don’t match the weapons being held by the prototypes on the packaging. The vest is a soft-plastic, bulky depiction of a survival vest, with sculpted-on pocket and latch details, along with several pegs that will hold the weapons. There’s even a small amount of paint detail on the vest, and printing on the bottom of it that identifies it as a Toys R Us product with serial numbers.
The ball-cap also sports some great sculpted details, but no paint detail. There is a blank patch molded on to the front, but nothing is in it. A customizer might find all sorts of things to paint there. Other figures in the line have different headgear, like helmets or head-wraps. The detail is equally good. It seems that the four SENTINEL 1 characters sport two different body sculpts from head-to-toe, which is a bit of a surprise in a budget-priced line. They could easily have used one body for all four.
The gun is an assault rifle of some type. I am not gun-literate enough to know how accurate a depiction it is of anything in the real world. It has a hole in it that allows it to be mounted on several different pegs on the vest. There is also a (very rubbery) knife, mounted on a smaller peg.
As a stand-alone action figure for kids, these are great. They’re big. They don’t have too many small accessories to lose, and parents won’t have to worry about finding them unclothed in compromising positions. Older kids and hobbyists might be put off by the limitations of the figures, but they have a certain charm as well.
SENTINEL1 figures will never take the place of high-end collector’s figures like those of Hot Toys or DAM, but customizers might find them to be an intriguing challenge. One major limitation is the lack of wrist articulation, but for the price, that’s not too bad. I’ve already got a couple of ideas for turning these into Marx-style action figures, but that will have to wait until I get my mad scientist lab up and running.
All-in-all, the SENTINEL 1 figures are a worthy addition to the low-end 1/6 action figure market. At ten bucks a pop, they are the right price for kids and for folks who want to cut up, reassemble and repaint their toys.Customizers might find some decent fodder for recreating a video game character, or if they want to do extensive resculpting, a superhero. The headsculpts are not bad at all and could be repurposed, with a little ingenuity.
They are exclusive to Toys R Us. It remains to be seen if these molds will wind up being used for figures that will turn up in other stores. You can find these in stores in the “True Heroes” section, or online.
The Other Three SENTINEL 1 Figures: