Monday, August 11, 2014

REVIEW: Elite Force LT (Army NBC Troop)

Elite Force
As you may recall, we brought you the news last month that Blue Box International was to re-issue a number of their military figures as Target exclusives. Now the figures - and vehicles - have hit retail and so we thought we'd pick up a few to bring you our thoughts on them. As this our first look at the line I'm sure I'll also raise a few points about the Elite Force toys in general but my aim is to try to stick to what's at hand without straying too far (although I can't guarantee that so forgive me if I do...)

So with all that said, let's look at today's offering.

LT (Army NBC Troop)
First up, we need to discuss the figure designations. Like the original GI Joe toys, the Elite Force figures have both a ''role'' name and a ''code name.'' In this case, the figure's code name is LT and his role is, as you may have gathered, that of an Army NBC Troop (that's Nuclear, Biological, Chemical for those wondering whether the TV network had started its own private army...) I'm really not sure whether one takes precedence over the other and if I switch between the two I hope it won't be too confusing.
The sculpt work is, as you can see, impressive. There's a bunch of highly-accurate detailing on the figure and the sculptor has done a great job capturing the ''bagginess'' of his NBC suit. I'm reminded somewhat of the GI Joe Rise of Cobra Volcano Viper and the 30th Anniversary Hazard Viper, both of which feature the same ''bulky'' style of over-suit.
I also enjoy the ''layered'' look of the suit, with the neck collar and smock tails really conveying the idea that the suit is made of multiple pieces and the straps at the knee are a particularly neat piece of sculpting that again, helps sell the idea of the baggy NBC suit.

The mask and helmet pieces are cast onto the figure, meaning they can't be removed (this isn't always the case with the Elite Force figures, with some sporting removable helmets and some, like LT, having their headgear cast as part of the head itself) but that's a minor point and not really something to get too hung up on.
Whilst the shoulder and elbow joints could be a little ''intrusive'' to some collectors, overall it's an impressive - and somewhat imposing - sculpt, where the only other minor issue may be one of the waist proportions. Some of the figures in the line seem slightly ''tubby'' or to have torsos with no shape or real definition. Maybe it's simply because I'm used to seeing hyper-stylized superhero figures or ''comicbook'' proportions...
Articulation is very good - falling just short of being great - and certainly much, much better than that seen with a lot of other figures at this scale (and especially this price-point.) Each figure sports a swivel head, swivel-and-tilt shoulder joints (allowing the arm to rotate at the shoulder and also ''out'' from the body), swivel biceps, single-jointed elbows, swivel wrists, swivel waist, T-crotch hips (with a single plane of motion), single-jointed knees and swivel feet or calves. In the case of LT, his feet also include a forward tilt joint, which allows for an additional plane of motion.

The joints move freely enough and, minor sculpt bulk issues aside, you'll find yourself able to pose your LT figure in a variety of stances - so long as you're not looking for a side-kick action pose or planted-foot stance, that is, as there's a distinct lack of ''outward'' movement at the hips. What the figures have is more than enough to get by with in most instances - they can walk, sit, kneel and crouch - but if you're hoping to reach GI Joe-level Ninja poses then you'll have to look elsewhere. This really is a very minor point though, considering the price and I can just about forgive BBI for using this system if it keeps costs down.
The paint app is solid, although not particularly amazing. Some of the other figures have a little more detail but LT's paint is limited to a few accessories and ''textural'' splatters on his NBC suit. It's worth noting that the paint application is one of the areas to watch when purchasing the Elite Force figures, as quality control can vary significantly when it comes to how well they're painted.
In a change from past releases, BBI has elected to include only a limited number of weapons and accessories with each figure (typically you'll find a weapon and backpack and, in some cases, an additional webbing or pack item or removable helmet.) I'm one of those people who like to display their figures with their full inventory (as it saves me having to find storage space for weapons and keep track of which items go with which figures) so this is pretty much an ideal amount of gear for my tastes, although I'm sure there are others who would like to see an extra weapon or two simply to add some display variation with multiple figures.
The Army NBC Troop comes with two accessories: an M4 Grenade Launcher and an ''Assault Pack.'' The latter fits very snugly into the port on his back (which is rather large, so unless you're going to fill and paint it I'd just leave the pack in place) but thankfully - as the images show - it doesn't make him too top-heavy or off-balance.
The M4 is a nicely detailed weapon but unfortunately it feels very ''bendy.'' Indeed, as you may notice in the above image, it's slightly curved from where it was stored in the packaging and unfortunately the stock and barrel are very prone to warping, as they're so thin. I'm sure it would be possible to ''flower press'' them in a book or under a weight to restore their shape but I also would advise caution when placing it in LT's hands, as it does feel prone to snapping.

Final Thoughts
I could have picked any one of the figures from the Elite Force line and my core impressions would have remained the same, so before I go onto highlight some of LT's positives (and negatives) I'm going to quickly comment on the line as a whole.

The Elite Force line suffers from some quality control issues - specifically when it comes to the paint app. Some figures will be fine, others not so much. I'll admit, I was unable to find an acceptable app on one figure I was considering this weekend and, as a result, I passed on making a purchase. But then again, I was also unable to find a GI Joe: Retaliation Joe Colton that didn't look boss-eyed until very recently, so it's not like Hasbro is above such problems, either.

On a positive note, the level of articulation these figures sport is highly impressive. Sure, the T-crotch is a pain but it's not an insurmountable problem and, as I mentioned above, unless you're going for Ninja high-kicks or crazy acrobatics, it's really not going to be an issue. And when you consider that both Mattel and Hasbro seem bent on going back to the Old School 5 PoA set-up, it's refreshing to see a line that's so well-articulated.

And then there's the pricing. I know some collectors will make the mistake of assuming the $5 price tag is an indication of quality (or a lack thereof) but nothing could be further from the truth. The sculpts are the equal of anything I've seen from Hasbro or Mattel, the articulation (again, T-crotch aside) is virtually on par with what GI Joe was offering just a few years ago, the paint apps (when they're done right) are good and each sports a good range of accessories and weapons, all of which work well with the figure. It's an impressive accomplishment for sure.

As for LT, in terms of design he's one of the most striking and unique-looking figures line the line-up. And yet paradoxically he's also one of the simplest in terms of sculpt. But I like that BBI hasn't tried to make this real-world character into something he's not. There are no laser-powered Ninja blades or turbo helicopter backpacks here. This is a realistic design based on uniforms and equipment used by the military right now. For some who prefer their figures with a little more oomph they may seem bland but for collectors of accurate military toys then this line will be most welcome.

Yes, LT has a couple of faults, chief of which is the very flexible weapon he comes packed with and his fairly generic paint work. But neither are insurmountable issues and can both be fixed. And sure, the T-crotch articulation is a flaw the line is saddled with but we've already mentioned it (repeatedly) and so I'm not going to criticize LT for being part of the toy line he's a part of.

Overall then, LT is a great example of a very cool line. If you're a fan of military toys and you thought th real-world styling of Pursuit of Cobra was GI Joe's finest moment then you should definitely check-out these toys and - more importantly - this figure. I think you'll like what you find.

Proof that you can do great figures at a low price. Hasbro and Mattel take note.

Image Gallery


  1. I just saw these yesterday at Target and almost bought a few and I just might still.

    1. There are some really great-looking figures in the line-up. I've a few more Reviews coming that'll showcase them.

      If you do go ahead though, just be sure to check paint apps, as their quality varies greatly.

  2. Very nice review. Hope to see more soon.

    1. Thanks. We have a few other Elite Force figures lined up for Review and we'll be covering them soon!

  3. Very cool looking figure, Lanard and Chap Mei could do with taking note too. This toy looks superb, as does Chaos, I'm looking forward for reviews of the others, I'd love to get my hands on them. Must look up their previous issue of these moulds and get my edumacation on. I find I'm more satisfied with this class of cheaper figures these days, no loss in quality for the most part.

    1. Yeah, it's so difficult to convey that these figures aren't good because theyr'e cheap or that their lower price gives them a free pass. They genuinely are good figures. The fact that they're half the price of any similar offerings from other companies is just a bonus.


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