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Combat Engineer

Toy Review by Mark Patraw

Manufacturer Information:
M & C Toy Centre LTD.
Unit 813
8th Floor
Peninsula Centre
67 Mody Road
Tsim Sha Tsui East
Kowloon, Hong Kong

Company Web Site

The Package:
Individual Power Team Elite (hereafter abbreviated as PTE) 12-inch figures come in windowed cardboard boxes (9-3/8" wide x 13" high x 2-3/4" deep). Said window provides a clear view of the figure and his assortment of gear. The box's predominate colors are green/yellow and the overall graphic design reflects a military theme as one would expect. There is, unfortunately, no personalization, beyond the character's title printed on a cardboard insert that's taped to the interior tray, something M & C Toys could improve upon (if nothing else, a short blurb about the duties/role/origin of the particular soldier you're buying would be appropriate). The back of the box has photos of other World Peacekeepers figures (Parajumper, Ranger, SAS, Green Beret, etc.) as well as figure/vehicle/diorama sets (motorcycles, barracks bunk/locker, a kayak, helicopters, heavy artillery, etc.). And, most disturbingly, a small (1-3/16" wide) warning that reads: "WARNING: CONTAINS LEAD. MAY BE HARMFUL IF EATEN OR CHEWED. MAY GENERATE DUST CONTAINING LEAD". Yeah, that'll really help you sell product. On one hand, I applaud the honesty (although I suspect it's mandated, not voluntary), but, really, the right thing to do would be to stop using the lead-based stuff, presumably the paint, in your products, not just slap a small cautionary message on the box. It's not like these figures have a lot of paint apps to begin with, so I don't imagine it would affect the overall cost of doing business too much to switch to safer paint. I don't chew on my toys, and all my PTE figures just end up lounging about on an improvised table of sorts, collecting dust, so the lead danger isn't a huge concern for me, but it's definitely something that parents of young children need to be aware of and look out for. M & C Toy didn't have this warning on their packages before (I checked two boxes I still have from figures I've bought in the past), but I doubt lead in their products is a new thing--they've probably been doing it all along and only relatively recent events in the news forced them to do something about it. While I like PTE figures (I've bought ten individual police officers/soldiers, and a couple of vehicle/figure sets over the years), I'm going to have to think long and hard about whether or not I wish to continue financially supporting a company that knowingly allows lead content in their products, items that are specifically marketed to children (ages 3 and up). Anyway, enough of that rant, back to business: The top of the box is sealed with a piece of tape. Slitting that open, you'll find the figure and accessories secured to a clear plastic tray, which is itself nestled inside a corresponding yellow cardboard background tray. There are two twist ties anchoring the soldier and M249 SAW in place, but everything else is held inside its' individual tray depression with a piece of transparent tape. Oh yeah, there's also one of those transparent rubber bands wrapped around the SAW's front, presumably to keep the bipod in place, but, as it snaps securely underneath the gun, I think that was an unnecessary waste. Getting the Combat Engineer out, and kitted up, is a fairly quick and painless process. In case you're wondering, there aren't any instructions of any kind.

Combat Engineer:
All male PTE figures share the same base body, only the head and hands (gloved or ungloved) vary. The musculature, except for the front torso area, is fairly understated--there's the impression of muscles, but none of them are very defined, except for those found on the chest. He has nipples and a butt crease, but the pelvis, while flesh-tone, is sculpted to give the impression that he's wearing underwear. Overall, the build is fairly slim, but that's typical of sixth-scale figures that wear real clothing (if the body was thicker, the figure would look bloated/fat when dressed). Regarding the head, one of the cooler things about PTE figures is that M & C Toy gives them random noggins, from a pool of numerous head sculpts. So, it's quite likely that, if you buy this same figure, you'll get an entirely different head than I did (I've only gotten identical head sculpts once in all the years I've been buying PTE figures). Mine looks like he's in his 30s, or maybe early 40s, (the gray locks naturally add to his maturity--the average person starts getting gray hairs at age 35, but the Combat Engineer looks like he got an early start) and has a short haircut that is very well sculpted--all the little lines the sculptor drew into it look great and give it nice definition. His facial expression is calm and neutral, maybe a little bit introspective even. The gloves feature a textured pattern, lines, and seams, making them look pretty realistic. I think M & C Toy overuses the gloved hands a little bit too much on their figures, but they're certainly appropriate for operating a jackhammer.

Paintwork on the figure is limited solely to the head (everything is molded in flesh-tone plastic, except for the gloves, which are molded in black). The hair and eyebrows are gray, which I like, as an older soldier adds some variety to my PTE display. The eyes are brown, have "doll dot" white highlights on the pupils, and are outlined in black to give the impression of eyelashes. The lips are an appropriately understated shade of pink and he has a subtle five o'clock shadow. All of the head's paint apps, while relatively basic, are clean and neat (no wandering eyes, smears, bleeding, etc.).

M & C Toy's 3rd Generation Power Team Elite figures are well articulated, especially considering the price. The number of joints and range of motion are fairly comparable to many higher-end 12" figures produced by other companies. Starting from the bottom, the Combat Engineer moves at the: Ankles (pin joint for forwards/backwards movement); knees (a pin joint above, and below, the knee cap, for forwards/backwards movement, as well as a cut joint underneath the knee cap itself that allows the lower leg to rotate 360o); Thighs (full rotation via a cut joint); hips (ball joint that rotates forwards/backwards and allows the leg to move inwards/outwards); waist (semi-ball joint affair that allows slight movement to the sides and some forwards/backwards motion); mid-torso (full rotation and slight movement forwards/backwards); shoulders (ball joint with full rotation and inwards/outwards movement); biceps (cut joint permits 360o rotation); elbows (a pin joint above, and below, the elbow, for forwards/backwards movement, as well as a cut joint underneath the elbow itself that permits the lower arm to rotate 360o); wrists (full rotation and slight movement up/down, the latter of which is severely hampered by the sculpted gloves); and neck (ball joint for full rotation as well as movement forwards/backwards and to the sides). The joints in the arms and legs need to be tighter/stronger though; I had a tough time getting him to stay put in many of the photographs you see--his legs like to slide out from underneath him. If a genie suddenly appeared and allowed me to improve the articulation of these fingers, in addition to tighter joints, I'd want to add: Rocker ankles for side-to-side movement of the feet (although, admittedly, they'd be useless inside the boots); shoulder/chest extenders/flexors that would allow the entire arm to move further inwards/outwards from the body for more varied and realistic poses; and another joint in the neck, underneath the chin, so he could look further up/down, which would be particularly useful for a lying position with the gun. One last oddity: When I stripped him down, I was displeased to find a white sticker on his naked back proclaiming to me that the figure was made in Dongguan, China (which, of course, I promptly tore off and threw in the trash)--I don't know, maybe the law requires this, but it seems both unnecessary and an odd spot to place it.

I was sad to see that there were no soldiers of African descent, or other ethnicities, in the case of 12" World Peacekeepers my Big Lots! got (nor in the PTE 12" S.W.A.T. figures or 3-3/4" World Peacekeepers that they also had on display for that matter). That was one of the things I always liked about this line, there was a lot of diversity in the troops, mirroring real world conditions (if you're going to call your line World Peacekeepers, it'd BETTER make some attempt to represent the broad range of human variability). Curiously, I noticed on my sales receipt that this figure rang up as "POWER TEAM ELITE - WHT", now, I realize that "WHT" may very well stand for something else, but I have to wonder if it means white as in Caucasian. I don't know if M & C Toys has stopped making non-Caucasian figures altogether or if my local Big Lots! store just gets cases with nothing but Caucasian figures for some reason. Either way, it's unfortunate.

PTE figures seldom disappoint with quantity and quality when it comes to accessories, and the Combat Engineer is no exception. However, there does tend to be quite a bit of reuse of gear when it comes to PTE figures--buy enough of them, and you'll quickly get tired of seeing the same old grenades, binoculars, M1911 pistols, belt pouches, combat knives, etc. Fortunately, this figure has the very distinctive jackhammer, and the cool M249 SAW, both items I haven't gotten with any of my other PTE figures.

  • Jackhammer w/3 interchangeable bits. The main body of the unit is molded from yellow plastic while the handles, top, and bottom are done in dark gray. The sculpt is a bit boxlike/underwhelming in terms of detail; there are raised/recessed areas, springs, etc., but I guess it just looked more impressive to me when the figure was unopened than it does in-hand. Maybe I'm expecting too much--the real world items aren't all that elaborate either. A small amount of black paint, in the form of a wash, was applied to the yellow section, doubtlessly to imply grime/wear, but the execution is very poor and amateurish--it looks exactly like what it is: black paint smeared on plastic. Even the greenest customizer/kitbasher could have done better. The three bits are all molded from black plastic and consist of a point (which can double as an improvised stake if you feel the need to have your Combat Engineer hunt vampires), a small wedge (very similar to a slot screwdriver tip), and a wider wedge. They all pop in/out of the jackhammer's bottom via a hexagonal hole--the fit is good, the bits won't come out unless you want them to. While I'm probably coming off a little negative on this item, I do want to point out that the jackhammer was the main reason I bought this figure--it's a unique and unusual accessory that I wished to add to my sixth-scale collection. I just wish the sculpt/paint could have been better is all.
  • Safety Goggles. Molded in black (frame) and clear (lens) plastic with a black elastic strap attached. Obviously, it's a good idea to protect your peepers from errant chunks of rock, asphalt, concrete, etc. whilst hammerin' away.
  • Protective Mask. Molded in white plastic with a black elastic strap attached. The form is simple, but realistic. Can't have any nasty dust clogging up the Combat Engineer's sinuses, can we? I can't say I've ever seen any of our local DPW (Department of Public Works) employees using one of these when they operate a jackhammer, but it couldn't hurt. Doubtlessly, some of the fine particles one kicks up while breaking things apart with a pneumatic hammer are bound to be hazardous. And, continuing on the topic of safety, I do take issue with the fact that this figure doesn't come with any kind of ear protection--jackhammers are LOUD and can cause damage to one's hearing. M & C Toy does make a headphones accessory for their PTE figures that would have been perfect . . .
  • M249 SAW (Squad Automatic Weapon) w/removable handle and ammunition box. The gun is molded entirely from black plastic and the sculpt has quite a bit of detail. I'm quite pleased to see that M & C Toy went the extra mile and included a permanently-attached, articulated bipod that swings out, from underneath the barrel, and splits open, for those situations where a soldier needs that additional support for accurate firing. The removable handle, also molded in black plastic, on the other hand, has a couple of problems. First, it comes off too easily. The handle IS strong enough to bear the weight of the entire gun, as you can see in one of the photos of the Engineer carrying it, but, it detaches too readily while you're handling the weapon. The second problem is a design issue--the cylinder on the gun that the handle clips onto doesn't provide enough room for the handle to properly rotate--the handle pops off if you try to swivel it 90o on either side of the weapon, because there isn't enough clearance room in the slot, underneath said cylinder, that the handle rotates around. The ammunition box is actually a three-piece affair: container, lid, and a small section of belt ammunition. It would have been cool if there was a complete, rubbery belt of ammo rolled up inside, but this truncated version is a reasonable compromise. The box and lid are molded from black plastic, while the bullets are molded in silver with a black paint app for the belt surrounding them. The box slots into the appropriate area on the bottom of the M249, and, likewise the belt "feeds" into the corresponding hole on the side of the weapon. As per PTE usual, an adjustable, stretchy, material strap is connected to the weapon, via two small metal rings, so that you can sling it over the soldier's back or just give additional support. I felt the strap could have been a bit longer, even after adjusting it to its maximum length (the SAW is a fairly big gun after all). All-in-all the SAW is a nice bit or ordinance and my new favorite PTE gun.
  • Cell Phone/GPS. Molded in black plastic with a dark blue paint app for the front inlay. The sculpt is pretty impressive and realistic looking (I particularly like the little nub projections on the bottom)--a few more paint apps for the buttons/screen and you'd have quite the convincing miniature here. The thick antenna is just the right size to stick in the shoulder loop of the Tactical Harness.
  • Ring Clasp Assembly. Three plastic doohickeys that can be connected to one another to form a short chain (they're unassembled in the package). All three are molded in silver plastic, and I think real metal would probably have been more appropriate (take care that you don't stress, and potentially break, the plastic of the middle clasp section opening/closing it too often). I'm really not sure what the intended purpose is for this item; you can kinda store two of the jackhammer bits inside the larger eye-holes, but that looks a bit silly/impractical. I chose to attach it to his Tactical Harness and let it hang there.
  • Combat Boots. Made out of tan, rubbery plastic, with a small amount of black paint dusted on the toes to make them look a bit dirty. They go-on/come-off fairly easily, but the figure's ankle articulation is pretty much useless when they're on. The sculpts are identical (i.e., there's no left or right boot, which isn't a packing error, PTE boots have always been like this--one boot sculpt, and thus, one mold to worry about, probably saves money) and they have a moderate amount of detail (laces, stitching, etc.).
  • Desert Camouflage Pants. The crotch opens/closes via two snaps and there are two working pockets on the thighs (no snaps on those though). I've grown rather fond of digital camouflage patterns (which some PTE figures have had), but the more traditional approach still looks fine.
  • T-shirt. Dark brown, fits well, with good tailoring.
  • Tactical Harness. Made out of olive/dark green, rubbery plastic that opens/closes via a belt buckle clasp. This thing looks pretty sharp with a lot of attention put into sculpting the surface texture, straps, and seams. The Combat Engineer's appearance definitely improves with it on (pants and a T-shirt are pretty mundane after all). There are two little loops on the front of the shoulder pads which is where I chose to attach the Cell Phone and Ring Clasp Assembly.
  • Dog Tags. Both the actual tags and the ball chain are made out of real metal. One tag has "POWER TEAM" stamped on it in relief and the other "WORLD PEACEKEEPERS". The scale is pretty reasonable too.
  • Camouflage Cap. Made out of tan, rubbery plastic, with a three-color desert camouflage pattern painted on the exterior. It fits well, whether facing forwards, backwards, or to the side. The sculpt is pretty nice, with a textured pattern all over the surface and seams. I'd generally prefer a soft goods cap to a sculpted one, but this item is done well. There was a bit of plastic flash left attached on the back of mine, which I removed with toenail clippers.

$10 plus tax. Let that sink in for a minute--a highly-articulated, sixth-scale figure, with a complete outfit and loads of accessories for ten smackers. Compare that to the $15 Mattel is charging for a 6" DC Universe Classics figure these days. Yeah, I realize Mattel has to pay for the DC comics license, but there's a lot of re-use in that line, just like there is in PTE. Still, there's something very wrong in the toy industry when a small company can produce a much larger figure, with a lot more gear, and charge 1/3 less for it.

These are a great buy, if, like myself, you like sixth-scale military figures but can't afford the higher price tags of Hot Toys, Sideshow Toys, Dragon in Dreams, etc. Heck, you can buy a whole case of these guys for less than the cost of many of Hot Toys' single figures (the quality of a Hot Toys figure is significantly better, I'm just sayin'). Even if the PTE figures themselves aren't up to your sixth-scale standards, it's likely you'd be able to use some of the gear for kitbashing/customs, particularly if you're willing to add some more paint apps to improve their appearance/realism.

Final Analysis:

- Exceptional value. Good luck finding similar sixth-scale product at this price point (Lanard's 'Ultra Corps' figures, are the only ones I can think of, and those don't have the same level of quality as M & C Toy's offerings).
- Highly articulated figure. Number of joints and range of motion are relatively comparable to more expensive sixth-scale base bodies.
- Fairly well sculpted figure and accessories with some pieces, like the M249 SAW, being particularly detailed/impressive.
- Variety of gear and a complete outfit provide several display/roleplaying possibilities.
- I like the random head assignments of PTE figures--your Combat Engineer is likely to look completely different from mine. Definitely a bonus if you're planning on "army building" by buying multiples of the same figure.
- The Combat Engineer has a little more 'pizzazz' to him than some of the other more traditional PTE figure military professions, mostly due to his unique jackhammer accessory. He sticks out from the others on the store shelf.

- Lead is a big no-no for toys--while I applaud M & C Toys for labeling the danger on the packaging, ethically, they should stop using materials that contain lead altogether. I suspect most parents/grandparents/siblings/etc. will put these right back on the store shelf if they're diligent enough to spot the warning before they bring it up to the cash register (I didn't notice it myself until the next day).
- Packaging could use some more personalization, and instructions wouldn't hurt either.
- 'Dirty' paint apps on the jackhammer are very amateurish/random.
- Handle on the SAW should be a tighter fit and the rotation needs more clearance to work properly.
- Leg/arm joints need to be tighter/stronger--the figure can prove difficult to stand/pose at times.
- The ethnic diversity PTE figures used to showcase has apparently given way to nothing but Caucasian soldiers--at least at my Big Lots! anyway.

Where to Buy:
Big Lots! is the only retailer that sells Power Team Elite figures (both the World Peacekeepers and S.W.A.T. lines) in my area. In addition to the 12" figures, M & C Toy also produces a smaller 3-3/4" line of PTE figures that Big Lots! also carries. If you can't find any locally, try searching some online dealers or eBay.

For Parents:
The manufacturer recommends this figure for ages 3 and up. While I enjoy Power Team Elite 12" figures, due to the admission of lead content, I cannot in good conscience recommend the purchase of one of these figures for a child. Definitely don't buy one if anyone in your household, child, pet, or otherwise, is known to chew on toys.

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