Tuesday, January 31, 2012

21st Century 1st Air Cavalry Division Tunnel Rat (released 2002) - Another five dollars buy :)

This was another recent purchase I made for SGD5 (that's 5 Singapore dollars). See my previous post to see what else I had bought for only 5 dollars :) This was the 21st Century Toys Ultimate Soldier 1/6 scale 1st Air Cavalry Division "Tunnel Rat" (Vietnam) 12-inch figure boxed set that was released way back in 2002 before DiD and Soldier Story came on the scene. Although the quality and details are not like what it is today, it was good for its day and still worth getting even now (for 5 dollars, I can't complain right?)


I like the molded mask which is one-of-a-kind. It is a 1969 Riot Control Gas Mask issued to troops in Vietnam. The Vietnam Gas mask was issued as a ONE TIME USE gas mask but the mask had the capabilities of being used more than once due to the high quality and high grade products used in making these masks. I had actually bought the basic nude 12-inch figure body with molded mask from China Square Central and kitbashed my own 1:6 version of a Vietnam Tunnel Rat earlier (see my post HERE)

21st Century Toys 12-inch Ultimate Soldier figures were popular back in the late 90s because there just wasn't any other 1:6 offerings then but as the collectors' market grew, more and more 1/6 companies got on board and offered better quality stuff than what 21st Century Toys were producing and so demand dwindled and soon supply slowed until 21st Century Toys stopped producing 1/6 scale figures altogether.




The 21st Century Toys Ultimate Soldier 1st Air Cavalry Division "Tunnel Rat" (Vietnam) boxed set came in a window box that was velcro secured and had a book-style flap, full color picture of the Tunnel Rat figure with a tunnel and jungle foliage background and 1st Air Cavalry Division insignia. The inside flap has a short write-up: "During the Vietnam War, the cunning Viet Cong and North Vietnamese built large and complex underground tunnels. To counter these small, hidden fortresses, the U.S. Army came up with the "Tunnel Rat", soldiers who specialized in going down these tunnels."


Tunnel Rats would crawl down these dark, narrow tunnels with minimal uniform and equipment, often carrying only a pistol, knife and flashlight. Entering these hot, humid and damp tunnels posed all kinds of hidden dangers - from enemy soldiers to booby traps, to poisonous snakes and spiders. This was one of the least envied positions and the brave soldiers who fulfilled the role of Tunnel Rat were among the most respected during the Vietnam War (1961 - 1973).

21st Century Toys Basic Tunnel Rat 12-inch Figure

According to "Vietnam War: Cedar Falls - Junction City: A Turning Point", each tunnel rat team usually consisted of from six to ten men led by an officer or a noncommissioned officer. The individual in charge had the responsibility of drawing a sketch of the under­ground complex from information relayed from the team members within the tunnel. The lead element of the tunnel rat team was usu­ally armed with a pistol equipped with a silencer (to fire in a tunnel without a silencer was to risk broken eardrums), hand telephone or "skull mike," flashlight, compass, and probe.


The job of a tunnel rat was difficult at best. Hot, dirty, and gasping for breath, he squeezed his body through narrow and shallow openings on all fours, never knowing whether the tunnel might collapse behind him or what he might find ahead around the next turn, and sensing the jolt of adrenalin at every sound. Surely this modern combat spelunker is a special breed.


Here are some pictures that I've taken offering close-up views of the molded OD XM-28 Lightweight Protective Gas Mask (1969 Riot Control Gas Mask). Tunnel Rat "Willard" is wearing Type 1 OG-107 utility shirt which has 2 functional flap chest pockets, yellow on black "US ARMY" insignia over left pocket, black on white "WILLARD" name tape over right pocket, color 1st Cavalry Division "TUNNEL RAT" SSI on left shoulder, color E-4 Specialist rank insignia on left and right shoulders.


No coincidence that this Tunnel Rat's name is "Willard". Willard is a 1971 horror film based on the novel Ratman's Notebooks by Stephen Gilbert, about a young man (social misfit) with an unusual connection with rats, and uses them at his own sociopathic will. It was remade in 2003 with Crispin Glover as Willard Stiles.


Accessories include: M7A3 CS riot tear gas grenade x2 (white, silver top and fuze, red stripe, red lettering reads "M7A3 RIOT CS"), .22 caliber Hi-Standard pistol (dark gray with brown grips, no moving parts) with holster (Black soft plastic holster with embossed US letters, belt loop), MX-991/U angle head flashlight (OD with black tape detail, silver lens), square tip bolo machete (dark gray blade, brown handle) and sheath (gray hard plastic sheath with belt loop), silver Baker knife and sheath (brown simulated leather sheath with belt loop), one quart plastic canteen with M1956 cover (molded OD, black snap, stitching detail, removable cap, belt clip), cutdown M1 carbine with 30-round magazine (dark gray with simulated woodgrain, removable 30-rd.- magazine with brass bullet detail, black adjustable elastic sling with plastic buckle), suppressed .38 revolver (dark gray with brown grips, no moving parts, non-removable suppressor) with holster (Brown soft plastic simulated leather holster with belt loop), brown molded rat, a "leather" belt (brown simulated leather) with silver plastic buckle, green rope.


Closer views of the cutdown M1 carbine with 30-round magazine (dark gray with simulated woodgrain, removable 30rd magazine with brass bullet detail, black adjustable elastic sling with plastic buckle), one quart plastic water canteen with M1956 cover (molded OD, black snap, stitching detail, removable cap, belt clip) and brown molded rat.


Close-up shots of the M7A3 CS riot tear gas grenade x2 (white, silver top and fuze, red stripe, red lettering reads "M7A3 RIOT CS"), .22 caliber Hi-Standard pistol (dark gray with brown grips, no moving parts) with holster (Black soft plastic holster with embossed US letters, belt loop), MX-991/U angle head flashlight (OD with black tape detail, silver lens) and suppressed .38 revolver (dark gray with brown grips, no moving parts, non-removable suppressor) with holster (Brown soft plastic simulated leather holster with belt loop)


Here's the 21st Century Toys Ultimate Soldier 1/6 scale 1st Air Cavalry Division (Vietnam) "Tunnel Rat" 12-inch figure in full attire of Type 1 OG-107 utility shirt (2 functional flap chest pockets, yellow on black "US ARMY" insignia over left pocket, black on white "WILLARD" name tape over right pocket, color 1st Cavalry Division "TUNNEL RAT" SSI on left shoulder, color E-4 Specialist rank insignia on left and right shoulders), Type 3 tropical combat uniform trousers (silver snap fly, 2 side cargo pockets, simulated front slash pockets, 2 flapped rear pockets) and tropical combat boots (soft plastic, black with OD upper, OD ankle reinforcing strap, brass eyelet detail, vibram sole) with all the gear and accessories as mentioned above.


The 21st Century Toys Ultimate Soldier 12-inch figure body was called the Caucasian male Super Soldier body with regular gripping hands. The 1/6 scale Caucasian male head sculpt with gas mask also has light brown hair and blue eyes.


The Tunnel Rats were combat engineers. They were volunteers and had to be small and thin, and highly skilled at hand-to-hand combat. The job was to kill, capture or entomb Viet Cong with explosives.


In reality, the tunnel rats didn't have much with them when they enter the tunnels. You could say this 21st Century Toys 1/6 scale 1st Air Cavalry Division (Vietnam) "Tunnel Rat" is overdressed! But then again, if the figure was barely equipped, there will be no buyers. It's always nice to get lots of parts and then decide which to keep and use, and which to put aside for kitbashing later :)


Tunnel Rats were forbidden ever to fire off more than three shots in a row so that the enemy wouldn't know if they had run out of ammunition. Smoke grenades were for use when the Tunnel Rats are ready to emerge, and want to avoid a bullet from a startled American's rifle.


Close-up views (top body shots) of the 21st Century Toys Ultimate Soldier 1/6 scale 1st Air Cavalry Division (Vietnam) Tunnel Rat "Willard" 12-inch figure with all the gear, accessories and weapons, the full complement.


Scroll down to see more views of this fine figure - I quite LIKE it actually :) What's even better is that I didn't have to pay the original price for this and got it at a greatly discounted price (It's almost FREE haha)





And finally, the RAT! A nice addition to the growing number of 1:6 scale animals / creatures that I have been amassing as well ;p click on the "CREATURES" label to see more critters of all different shapes and sizes (53 posts at last count).



4 comments:

Eric Stettmeier said...

I like that he's named 'Willard.' Neat nod to the book/film.

Great post! I had never heard of actual Vietnam era 'tunnel rats.'

@lex Gen X 1:6 Hardcore said...

thanks Eric :)

izmed.khoirul said...

wow, where you buy this figure just for 5 SGD in sinagpore? as i plan to go to singapore this week.
i love the accesories

@lex Gen X 1:6 Hardcore said...

hi izmed.khoirul, i think that might have been the last one they had ;p have you been to China Square Central? lots of collectible figures and toys there CHEERS