The very notion of the action figure has its roots in the military, with the first action figure being Hasbro's GI Joe. Since then, military toys have continued to be a popular genre from toy companies because of the variety of equipment and the fact that military uniforms and equipment are in the public domain so licensing isn't required. As times change, the popularity of the military varies as well, and now is a time when that popularity (and patriotism) is high.
While the regular grunt is always important, attention tends to focus on the more elite units that make up the armed forces of the world. This is partly due to the time since the last truly major world conflict (WW2) and also due to the changing nature of modern combat, as every soldier is an army of one and conflicts are taking less direct and obvious avenues. As recent combat in Afghanistan has shown (as well as in Somalia and other hotspots around the world), the value of these highly trained special forces is obvious.
Some of these special forces are in the new release from Plan-B Toys in the Special Forces line. The line was developed and produced originally at Resaurus and now resides with Plan-B. Don't let the new name of the package fool you - the same people who designed, developed and produced the originals are making these. Jon Matthews sculpted all the heads and vests for Mission 2 and Jay and Chris Borman worked on the new accessories. Tony Simione sneezed a lot.
The 'Second Mission' picks up right where the first one left off, covering modern military personnel along with authentic uniforms and weaponry. All the Special Forces figures and equipment are fully compatible over the first two missions (including the three accessory packs). Future plans for the line will include fire and rescue personnel and a World War 2 line, but for now the modern military is the scope of the line. (Read the RTM Spotlight on the Mission 3 figures.)
All the figures have identical articulation, which includes ball jointed shoulders, bicep twists, wrist twists, neck twist, waist twist, thigh swivels and knee, elbow and ankle joints. All of the weapons can be held by all the figures, and every figure has a replaceable head (since any action figure's head can be removed). All the heads are easy to remove and replace with any other head in the line as well as heads from previous figures and the six included in the accessory packs (which bear striking resemblances to members of the Plan B team). The pistols fit in the holsters (as do the silencers) and the vests are all removable and compatible with all the other figures. The line is highly customizable as heads, gear and vests can be easily and readily exchanged. The line is designed and built for play, and though they have the same attention to detail as collector oriented lines these are clearly toys first and foremost.
While military figures seem to be stuck at either 3-3/4" or 12", Special Forces figures fit in the middle at six inches. This might seem unusual compared to the rest of the military figures, but these fit perfectly in with the multitude of six inch figures that is the broader standard for action figures in the retail market. The scale allows the figures to be cheaper than the twelve-inch figures and more detailed than the 3-3/4" figures, and they also fit in with many other action figure lines.
Click on a picture below to see more pictures of that action figure.
Delta Force (or in military terms 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta) is an elite unit of the US Army who is designed as a Counter-Terrorist (CT) group that operates outside the United States. This unit was created in 1977 and was strongly influenced by the British Special Air Service (SAS). The members are highly trained and use the best and most advanced weaponry available, and much of their equipment is customized and can be found nowhere else.
The members of Delta Force are recruited from within the US Armed Services, mainly from Special Forces and Rangers. They are based in Ft. Bragg, NC and the government keeps a lid on information that is released about the unit, so much that for many years the very existence of Delta Force was a secret. Many of the missions that Delta Force has undertaken are still secret, though as time passes these become declassified and revealed to the general public.
Delta Force has been deployed in recent conflicts, the most publicized being in Somalia in 1993. Many of the events of that mission are detailed in the book and film Blackhawk Down, including the selfless actions of MSgt. Gary Gordon and SFC Randall Shughart. Both men were posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor on May 23, 1994 for their defense on the second crash of an American black hawk helicopter.
This member of Delta Force is in desert fatigues and armed with a modified M4 assault rifle, Sig Sauer P228 pistol, flashlight, AN/PRC-119 field radio and a canteen. The flashlight fits into a notch in the left shoulder of the vest. As for what's in the canteen, you'll never get us to talk!
US Navy SEAL Night Ops
SEALs (which stands for SEa, Air and Land) are the US Navy's answer to the special forces of the other American armed services. While the other services had infantry based units, the Navy needed experts on underwater demolition and from this need (and teams that were developed in WW2 and after) the Navy formed the first two SEAL Teams (One and Two) in 1962.
The SEALs weren't just limited to underwater demolition, as they are trained for counter-guerilla tactics and other unconventional warfare. These guys even get to be launched out of torpedo tubes on submarines or parachute in, depending on the mission. There are also a variety of famous ex-SEAL's out there, including Minnesota Governor (and former pro wrestler) Jesse Ventura, Dick Marcinko, Rudy from Survivor and even Thomas Magnum (from Magnum PI) was a former SEAL. Then again, Charlie Sheen was a SEAL in a movie, so perhaps we should stop now...
This SEAL is outfitted for 'night ops', which can have several meanings for Navy men. In this case, it means he'll be going undercover to find his target and penetrate the defenses in order to deliver his load. He's got on his rubbers, so he expects to get wet on the way to the target and he clearly has plenty of protection. As we said, with the Navy it could mean a couple of things...
The Night Ops Navy SEAL has a bit of a Goth image going, with solid black fatigues with matching Mk23 SOCOM pistol and MP5N submachinegun, all in stylish black. This frogman is also suited up for underwater action with a Dreager LAR-V rebreather and dive fins. The finishing touch to this ensemble is a limpet mine, which is suitable for sinking choice enemy ships should they present a problem. Rumor has it this guy might be in 'Men In Black 3'.
5th Special Forces Group Medic
Whenever kids play soldier, someone always wants to play doctor, and what better way than with a medic from Special Forces? Eventually one of your soldiers is going to get hurt (though hopefully more often it will be the mercenary) and they'll need a little medical attention, hence the medic. For those hardcore fantasy role-players you can think of the medic by his role-playing name - cleric.
Being a medic isn't always the safest or most glamorous job out there. You might be under fire, have to fix a guy who has been blown apart and then have to watch his life ebb away if you don't get there in time. The plus side is that the medic school is just across from the nurse's school shower (for covert surveillance training).
The medic is loaded with plenty of gear to both help out sick friends and allow enemies to die for their cause. The medic seems to be the only member of the special forces with enough sense to wear his helmet and the wounded one-eyed head that accompanies him is proof that you really should wear it. Just because you heal people doesn't mean you go unarmed, and the Sig Sauer 228 pistol and modified M4 assault rifle should allow this guy a chance to work should he be interrupted. Toss in a full sized stretcher, IV bag and a roll of gauze and it's time to play doctor!
75th Ranger Regiment
Rangers have been a part of the American fabric since before the United States was officially a nation, with small units called Rangers in Colonial America. Since then there have been Ranger units in every major conflict (and many minor ones) that the United States has undertaken, from the American Revolutionary War to the present.
The 75th Ranger Regiment is based in Ft. Benning, Georgia and the primary mission of the Rangers is to support US Policy and objectives through special military operations. Rangers are unparalleled at airfield seizure and raiding, and they are sometimes used to support general purpose forces. Rangers also rely on external fire support from sources like naval gunfire and attack helicopters.
Rangers are very popular subjects for movies. Nicolas Cage played a Ranger in Con Air, Saving Private Ryan was about a squad of Rangers, Rangers were the centerpiece for Blackhawk Down. Just remember that Power Rangers and Ford Rangers are not included.
Rangers always lead the way, and being in front means you need to pack some heat. You can tell it's Mattel with the M16A2 assault rifle and an M203 grenade launcher attached to the bottom, which are useful for removing targets large and small. A pair of field glasses is included, and the tiny pair actually has clear plastic lenses on either end so you can see through them. A flashlight that attaches to the left shoulder of the vest and a rappelling rope and harness can help this guy get into some inaccessible spots. For close combat, there's the SOCOM Mk23 pistol and silencer for those nights when you want to be quiet.
US Navy SEAL Team 6: Red Cell
This figure's name is a slight misnomer in that Red Cell was not officially part of SEAL Team 6 (as far as we know), though every member save one of Red Cell was a former member of SEAL Team 6. Then again, 'Plan B' was the secret code name used by the team while on alert, so maybe they know something that the rest of us don't...
SEAL Team 6 was the Navy's elite counter-terrorist organization, while Red Cell was created with a slightly different purpose. Dick Marcinko (former Commanding Officer of SEAL Team 6 and a new action figure from bbi) created Red Cell after a meeting with the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations about the vulnerability of American military bases to terrorist attack. Red Cell's first operation was conducted in 1985 at the New London, Connecticut Naval Submarine Support Facility.
Red Cell's mission was to test the security of American Naval bases, and test them (and find flaws) they did. They even videotaped their incursions to prove to base commanders they had infiltrated (and also to stock the vault's of Fox's 'World's Funniest Naval Base Security' special). There were also some covert purposes behind this testing. While they were in town testing a base a small group of men would infiltrate the nation they were in to perform some proactive counter-terrorism by aggressively neutralizing terrorists similarly to teams from Israel and Great Britain.
The team has been disbanded (at least as far as we officially know), but the action figure lives on. The Mk 23 SOCOM (Special Operations COMmand) pistol is manufactured by Heckler and Koch and was designed for American special forces in combat. It comes with a flash and noise suppressor and there is a civilian version available for around $2000. Luckily, the members of Red Cell got theirs from the government free. So they didn't have to pay for them, you did! Along with the SOCOM, Red Cell carries an MP5 SD3 submachinegun, which can fire over 800 rounds a minute, a ballistic load-bearing vest and 4 flash bang grenades. Those grenades are great at parties!
Every hero needs a villain to fight (unless it's Batman made by Hasbro who apparently only needs versions of himself) and the Special Forces are no exception. While modern villains more often take the form of politicians, businessmen or terrorists, all of these people need soldiers to work for them. Here's where the mercenary gunman comes into the picture. Think of him as Tom Hanks in both The Road to Perdition and Saving Private Ryan at the same time, maybe 'The Road to Ryan's Perdition' or something else catchy.
These soldiers of fortune (who don't have a fortune since they still need to work) can be seen all over the world. They have some military training and often have backgrounds of service before they got into merc work. This mercenary is loaded for bear with a pair of fragmentation grenades, a Sig Sauer P228 pistol and a FA-MAS assault rifle manufactured in France. Like you need another reason to dislike the French! Toss in a box of ammo and a Kevlar ballistic vest and this guy is ready for work.
He also has an extra head for when he trades in the ski mask for a potato sack mask. The sack mask works better in West Virginia, while the ski mask is considered very stylish in Aspen. He also freelances for 'Soldier of Fortune' magazine, for when business is slow. He edits the garden section.
Pictures of Delta Force
Pictures of Navy SEAL Night Ops
Pictures of the Medic
Pictures of the Ranger
Pictures of Red Cell
Pictures of the Mercenary Gunman
|Where to buy Special Forces 2: The Special Forces action figures retail in the $9 to $10 USD price range (each) and are available by the case directly from Plan-B Toys, and individually at stores such as your local comic book store, Gamestop, Babbages, Software Etc, Funcoland, Puzzle Zoo, Hollywood Toys & Costume, and Xtreme Toys, as well as various online toy retailers.
One such online store is RTM sponsor The Outer Reaches. (Be sure to check the other RTM sponsors, listed on the Shop Center.)