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21st Century Toys
The Ultimate Soldier
Modern U.S. Machine Gun Set Series III
Toy Review

By Mark Patraw

Manufacturer Information:
21st Century Toys, Inc
San Leandro, CA


The Package:
These guns come on a pretty basic blister card that measures roughly 10 inches wide x 14 inches high. The cardboard is corrugated and stands up to shelf wear better than the thinner stuff one usually sees in this type of packaging. The guns and their ammo drums/pouches sit in an interior plastic tray from which they are easily freed--no twisty ties, etc. I was very disappointed to see that 21st Century Toys did not include any information whatsoever about the guns themselves on the package, not even what they are; I would have liked some background info. Instead, they saw fit to advertise some remote control vehicles on the back (two tanks and a humvee), which makes zero sense from the standpoint of what you're buying.

M249 w/stand:
This gun has very nice detail and is mostly black in color. It's about 6-7/8 inches long. The bolt action lever on the side moves back and forth, the top handle (which is incredibly loose) pivots left and right, and there's a thin U-shaped ring that pivots up from the back of the stock. Finally, there's a two-legged stand that swings down and outwards from below the barrel. Unfortunately, the joints on this thing are so loose, it is functionally useless. Now, maybe I just got a bad one, (there is a noticeable seam in between the two halves of the front of the gun where the plastic isn't quite connected, which probably accounts for some of the problems) but I'm very unhappy about this aspect of the weapon.

M60 w/shotgun:
This gun is black, gray, and silver, with a bit of brown for the pump action on the shotgun. It's about 6-3/8 inches long and looks very good from a sculpt standpoint. The pump action on the shotgun moves back and forth, as does the bolt action on the side of the M60. I really would have liked to have had the option to remove the shotgun too, but it's permanently attached.

M60 w/grenade launcher:
This gun is identical in appearance to the previous one in all respects except that the sub-weapon mounted below the barrel is a grenade launcher instead of a shotgun. This bothers me a little, as I think 21st Century should have done a bit more to make these two guns stand apart from one another. The barrel on the grenade launcher slides open to reveal a loaded shell, which is painted. While a cool touch, I really would have rather had removable shells as additional accessories than a single shell sculpted inside the barrel. Unfortunately, the sliding mechanism on this is incredibly loose and the grenade launcher will open and close by the force of gravity alone. Like the shotgun, I also think the grenade launcher should have been removable.

M60 w/scope:
This gun is all black and looks a lot like a nasty sniper rifle with its long barrel and scope. This is the largest gun in the set, clocking in at 7 1/2 inches. The lower handle slides back and forth (it's easy to slide it right off the gun, so be careful), the top handle pivots left and right, the bolt action of the side slides back and forth, the lid on the front of the scope pivots up and down, and the entire scope assembly pivots upwards and forwards (be VERY careful with the scope, I broke a tiny piece of mine off almost immediately after removing it from the package when I was trying to operate this pivot joint).

Four ammunition containers come with this set. While this is an okay selection of accessories, I would also have liked to see one or two stand-alone ammunition belts and some additional gear you could attach to the guns (flashlights perhaps). Shells for the grenade launcher/shotgun would have been great too. Each gun also has an adjustable elastic strap attached to it as well for slinging it over your favorites soldier's shoulder/back.
You get:

- Three, black ammo drums. These fit on the sides of any of the four machine guns, but work best on the M60s. A single, painted bullet is sculpted in the opening where the belt would feed from. It'd be cool if these opened up and had actual ammo belts in them, but alas, they do not.

- An ammunition bag. This will only fit on the bottom of the M249; the bag slides on underneath and the short piece of ammo belt sticking out will go into the corresponding lower slot (the upper slot is for the drums). This accessory has some nice sculpted detail (zipper, seams, etc.) and paint operations that make it look fairly realistic. Instead of this molded plastic one, getting a soft goods bag with working zipper and an actual ammo belt inside it would have rocked.

This machine gun pack cost me $7.88, plus tax, from my local Wal-Mart. This isn't too bad of a price for four, large, 1:6-scale machine guns, but the loose joints and relative fragility I've noted hurts their value and makes me hesitant to recommend them (although it is entirely possible I just got a bad set). I've thought about getting the other two packs of machine guns from this line that I saw on the pegs (Series I & II), but if the quality is similar, I can't justify their purchase as that price--I think it'd be wiser to wait for clearance rather than spend another $16 for the two of them.

Final Analysis:

- Four, large, cool guns to outfit your 1:6-scale troops with.
- Fairly reasonable cost.
- Good detail and a respectable amount of moving parts.

- Some of the smaller parts on the guns are fragile, so take care not to break them (cough . . . scope . . . cough).
- Many of the moving parts on these guns are far too loose, even to the point of uselessness.
- Paint work varies, try to pick out a good set if you see them on the pegs.
- Quality issues aside, these are decent for what they cost, but others companies offer better weapons for your money.

Where to Buy:
I've only seen them at our local Wal-Mart. Look in the toy aisle with all the model kits, that's where I found them. There were two other sets (Series I & II) available as well.

For Parents:
21st Century Toys recommends this gun set for ages five and up.

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