Elite Force US 2nd Ranger BAR's Gunner Blue Box International $9.98 exclusively at Toys R Us
Review by Rudy Panucci
Blue Box International (BBi) has filled the void in the "green aisle" at Toys R Us that was left by the exit of the Ultimate Soldier line, and despite the severe contraction of the 12" action figure market over the last year, they are still plugging away with a variety of new offerings, all of which have impressive levels of detail and quality.
Most of the BBi line seems to be modern era figures, which to be honest, leave me a bit cold. I've always been more fascinated by 20th century warfare, instead of the latest conflicts, and luckily, BBi does have a few World War Two figures in their current line-up. They're just a bit hard to find. I don't know if that's because they're being short-packed, or if they just sell out faster than the modern stuff, but when I bought this figure, it was the only one in the store. They had tons of the modern sets, but only one WWII guy.
I picked him up, even though I didn't really need another BAR's Gunner. Does anyone? This is one of the most overdone figures from the WWII era. I think every company that made 12" military figures had three or four BAR's Gunners. But for ten bucks, and with the ultra-high quality, this was a no-brainer.
Unfortunately, this features the least-articulated body design that BBi offers, but that's really no shock when you consider the price. You don't get the full knee, elbow, neck and waist articulation that you may be used to. I'd say this body has just a little less articulation than a Hasbro standard Classic Collection body. And while it's not of vital importance, I do have to mention that this figure is held in his package by what may be the most irritating twist-ties I've ever encountered.
The headsculpt is pretty decent, and familiar. I think this has been used several times before by BBi. The uniform features Velcro closures, but is otherwise top-notch, with good tailoring and stitching. The web gear is good, but not museum-quality. It seems like it would be durable enough for younger children, without sacrificing too much detail.
In addition to the fatigues, boots (very nicely done), and web gear, this set includes a standard helmet, gas mask bag, Browning Automatic Rifle, knife, bayonet, pistol, three smoke grenades, two grenades, a sheet of paper stick-on insignia, a camo helmet cover, and one of those weird weight-belt things that I should really know about, but remain clueless.
The BAR looks great. The grenades, pistol, and knives are well-sculpted but lack any paint details. The helmet does not include a liner or chin strap, but it does have foam glued inside it to hold it on the figure's head. Overall, while far from the best accessories available, they are close to being the best for the price. Only the Soldiers Of The World uniform sets, which have been missing from store shelves for more than year now, offered higher quality at a comparably low price.
It's interesting how much we've become spoiled in the 1/6th scale hobby over the last decade. Ten years ago, a figure with this level of detail would have easily sold for more than a hundred bucks on the customizer's circuit. Now, these sets are selling in a lackluster manner for under ten bucks at Toys R Us. With Hasbro's recent retreat from the 1/6th scale figures at mass retail, we're might see a new dark age, where prices skyrocket and we find ourselves having to resort to mail order to get our 12" action figure fix.
All in all, I have to give this set a thumbs up. Even with the Velcro and limited articulation, this set is well worth the price. It's not the best BAR's Gunner on the market, but it is pretty darned good, and more importantly, it can still be found in stores at a low price.
Other WWII figures in this series depicted on the box include a US Army 5th Ranger with a machine gun, and an 82nd Airborne figure with a bazooka. If WWII is your era of interest, you can't go wrong with these low-priced figure sets (These other sets may be more expensive, but if they are, they'll feature increased articulation, more accessories, and metal snaps instead of Velcro). They may be as hard to find as this guy, but if you're into WWII, the hunt will be worth the effort.
If your interest runs more towards modern eras, you really ought to get to Toys R Us and check out the other offerings from BBi. They have an impressive slate of Navy Seals, Digital Camo Marines, and other popular modern military soldiers. You're not likely to find anything that's Earth-shatteringly new, or innovative, but you will find quality figure sets with decent accessories at a very reasonable price.