Dragon - 'Walt' USMC Force Recon - Review

In my quest for increasingly greater value 1/6th scale figures, I switched my focus from BBI as a manufacturer to Dragon in the past few months.  Having already exhausted some of choices of BBI purchases, it was time to move on and Dragon seemed to be the next logical choice.  Like BBI, some of their older releases which retail anywhere between £29.99 to £49.99 can prove to be a real bargain, especially when you consider the amount of gear some of them come with.  It certainly makes ‘kit-bashing’ more economical, or you can stick with the figure ‘out of the box’ as they say with the original intended specification. 

This particular recent purchase was that of Dragon release No. 70266 – ‘USMC Force Recon (Basra Outskirts) ‘Walt’.  Released in December of 2003, this figure depicts a USMC Force Recon soldier, operating on the outskirts of Basra, Iraq.  I was lucky enough to pick ‘Walt’ up second hand from eBay for a mere £22.  He was mint in the box having never been removed or seen the light of day.

Featuring ‘FSBE’ (v1) (Full Spectrum Battle Equipment), there is not a hint of a plastic pouch on this figure.  No sir, this is a highly detailed MOLLE vest system with various pouches to affix upon his person, all of which highly fiddly without the use of a good pair of tweezers!

This figure also boasts (although strangely not advertised as selling point on the box) flexible rubber ‘muscle’ arms, which really do add an extra element of realism to the figure, especially as he wears nothing but a t-shirt, no nasty elbow joints to be found here!   From what I can tell, these arms were only ever used on one other release after Walt and then seemed to disappear from the Dragon product line all together (please correct me if I’m wrong).  Perhaps they did not prove popular with the consumer?  We’ll find out how they fair later on.

According to the Dragon website, our man ‘Walt’ comes with the following features:

Uniform:
MICH Helmet with Straps
Releasable Assault Vest
Desert DBDO Trouser
T-Shirt
Desert Boot

Equipment:
FSBE M16 Ammo Pouches (NEW!!)
M16 Ammo Magazine Pouch (NEW!!)
M9 Ammo Pouches (NEW!!)
Web Belt
FSBE Backpack (NEW!!)
Mini Mag-Lite Tactical Flashlight
Drop Down Holster
M9 Bayonet with Scabbard
Water Bottle
FSBE Water Bottle Pouches (NEW!!)
Ammunition Case Pouches (NEW!!)
AN/PRC-148 Walkie Talkie Pouches (NEW!!)
MOLLE Small Pouch
Head Phones with Mic
Motorola Sabre Radio

Weapons:
Hand Grenade
MK23 Caliber .45 ACP
M16 A2 with Sight Scope

Other:
Watch

So let’s start with the body.  An unusual one this, as although based on the standard Neo body, Walt, unlike any Dragon releases previous to him comes equipped with soft rubber ‘muscle’ arms.  The same level of movement, that familiar ‘ratchet sound’ is present in the shoulder for both rearwards and sideways movement, and the arm above the bicep area is able to rotate also.  There is however a notable reduction in movement achievable in the lower arm.  Unfortunately the ‘muscle’ is just too bulky to pull the arm back into such as position where Walt can comfortably shoulder his weapon.  This would perhaps explain why the ‘muscle arms’ only featured in two Dragon releases.  Although the superficial realism is increased, the level of mobility is reduced resulting in a figure that is far less poseable than that of the standard Neo body.  The hands are not removable and the level of rotation in the wrist is also greatly reduced although small increments of adjustment are possible.  With all of that said, the ‘muscle’ arms really do look good, especially for a figure of this type with just a t-shirt underneath exposing the arms.  I imagine this body would also be great for those PMC or ‘Nam bashes too!

The head sculpt, although by today’s standards is nothing too impressive, it certainly is good for the era in which Dragon produced this figure, with a far more realistic skin tone than my last Dragon figure ‘Louis Fletcher’ (although I think that was Dragon’s take on us pastey looking Brits!).  The head has good depth of features which makes it an ideal candidate for a re-paint, something which I’ll do at a later stage before permanently displaying this figure.

The clothing that Walt comes with I would say is acceptable, but by no means outstanding in comparison to previous Dragon figures I’ve seen.  Whilst the t-shirt is fairly non-descript and straight forward, the desert combat trousers certainly leave room for improvement, especially around the waist area.  The fastening is Velcro, straight up from the front opening to the waist band, no metal popper, nothing else, just the Velcro.  There are also no belt loops, which there would have been on the 1:1 trousers.  The side pockets are functional, but there are no rear pockets, again I find this hard to believe that they wouldn’t have been present on the 1:1 variation.  To this end I found it better to un-tuck the t-shirt from the trousers which gave a much better appearance than how it was presented in the box.

The boots are a nicely weathered usual plastic affair from Dragon with a fairly chunky grey sole, they look pretty standard issue so no real concerns there.  The provided belt is unfortunately the soft-resin variety which is a bit of a let down as ‘Louis Fletcher’ had a fabric belt and both of these figures were released around the same time.

The vest and pouches are well made and certainly very sturdy once seated correctly within the MOLLE straps.  You’ll need a good pair of tweezers to thread the Velcro backed straps through the loops, but once done provide a very secure mounting.  The two biggest flaws that I think lay with the vest is that the zip at the front shouldn’t be there, and it’s massive, certainly not to scale which is a real shame.  Secondly, the front of the vest, once un-done has room for an armour plate (it contains a soft insert), but the rear of the vest does not.  Despite these two points (the zip being the most prominent), the vest is pretty good and certainly better than some of the other Dragon offerings, after-all, this isn’t Soldier Story or Hot Toys and Dragon do cater for the budget end of the market.  I did however find one point quite strange, the figure came with 2 x ‘M9 Ammo pouches’, yet did not come with any magazines to fill them, and more to the point the model did not come with an M9 but a MK23… quite quite random!  Also included is the new style water canteens, the ‘2 quart’ with pouch, a very nice addition and something new rather than the previous issue canteens we’re used to seeing. 

A couple of other items to mention whilst on the topic of clothing and tactical gear are the holster and thigh ‘dump pouch’, both of which are fabric in construction.  The thigh holster is produced in woodland dpm and is fully adjustable whilst the dump pouch is adjustable for thigh width only, not mounting height.  It’s pre-stuffed with material to pad it out somewhat and certainly looks the part mounted on Walt’s leg.

The MICH helmet (Modular Integrated Communications Helmet) comes with in two pieces, that of the liner which has attached the straps, followed by the outer shell.  From experience it is far easier to place the liner on the head first, adjust as required and clip the outer shell on afterwards.  The straps have a lot of play in them, so as with most of my figures I adjusted to suit and then snipped off the excess strapping.

I found it a lot easier to place the helmet on first, and then poke the headset through the sides and put in position rather than the other way around.  Unfortunately the tight fit of the liner made fitting the headset first very cumbersome and would often move out of place, but once you have it seated right, it stays put quite snugly.  The Motorola Saber radio, a popular choice with Dragon is a nice piece which fits in its own ‘new and improved’ radio pouch, the picture depicts it located on Walt’s side, I’ve put it on his back near the shoulder as I do with most of my comms gear, that’ll be the ‘Hollywood’ influence then!

When it comes to weapons, Walt has been provided with an M16-A2 with RIS (fully adjustable and configurable) which also includes a vertical fore-grip, PEQ laser module and Aimpoint scope with flip-up covers.  My only criticism is that the receiver on the M16 is a little on the shiny side, so I’ll probably end up dry brushing a little black over this, quite the opposite of what I normally do!  As mentioned previously, Walt seems to be randomly equipped with a MK23 pistol which is far too large for the holster he has been supplied with.  Possibly a slight oversight from Dragon there as I believe the MK23 was never supplied to USMC troops.  I’ve since replaced this with a spare M9 that I had available.  Even though I swore that I would leave this figure alone until the review was complete, the massive hand-cannon just didn’t look right!  The provided bayonet also seems a little out of place for the USMC – looking very similar to that provided on the Dragon ‘Ranger’ figures, an Army knife, not a USMC one!  Another minor criticism, although a frequent one for Dragon figures, please stop providing us with the M26/M61 fragmentation grenade, they stopped using these years ago, we’re on the M67 now!

Other ancillary items included are an analogue wrist watch, a red ‘anodized aluminium’ effect mag-lite and a caribiner clip to mount on the vest.

Conclusion:

So, there are a few minor flaws with this figure which are notably the rather large and unrealistic zipper on the front of the vest, the lack of poses achievable with the ‘muscle arms’ and the terrible desert BDU trousers.  There a few other minor inaccuracies with regards to equipment, but nothing too major.  With all in this in mind, you have to ask yourself though, for £22, am I really that bothered?  The answer to that has to be a resounding no.  Even at twice the price, this figure is a bargain.  The ‘Walt’ body is highly sought after as a cheap alternative to some of the more expensive ‘muscle’ bodies and the amount of gear that you get in the pack is fantastic.  So what if the pistol isn’t correct, or the knife and the grenades aren’t accurate – swap `em out and use them on another kit-bash.  And that in essence is what I love about these cheaper BBI and Dragon figures, they provide an endless supply of parts for the ‘bits box’ as you remove pieces and replace them with better quality or more accurate parts, creating almost an entirely new figure out of the spares!

Overall, I would award ‘Walt’ a respectable 7.5 / 10.  Personally, I quite like him and after a bit of tweaking he will take pride of place on my shelf.

JOIN. LIKE. FOLLOW.

Connect with us via Facebook®