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Spc. Shift

Final Faction
by yo go re

Who thought we'd ever see the day where The Corps! was the "luxury" brand?

In the year 2050, a large asteroid collided with our moon. Among the debris, we discovered a hibernating alien mothership. Now, the Kharn are awake and they want to plunder our precious natural resources. So, we recruited teams of special operatives to defend Earth from their alien threat. They are the Final Faction.

With the news that CVS and Rite Aid are remodelling their stores and getting rid of their toy sections, that's potentially 12,000 fewer places to buy toys. Now, that doesn't really affect us too much, since we've got a fairly narrow focus of here on OAFEnet and only Walgreens really tries to serve that niche, but that's still a loss. So that's why it's so heartening to see a new toyline coming up somewhere unexpected.

Living the mountains of East Asia, Shift was groomed to be a warrior from childhood. Trained in every form of combat, Shift is a force to be reckoned with. There has yet to be anyone who could challenge her skill.

Looking at the Final Faction website, we also learn that she has "prevision," which is the ability to see into the future just far enough to know what her opponents' moves will be before they make them; that in combat, she sings when she fights; and that after a battle she unwinds by watching puppy videos on social media. So clearly at least a token amount of effort has been put into character creation, rather than just drawing some costumes and some names and calling it a day.

Specialist Shift's design is best summed up as "what if Scarlett, but Baroness?" She wears a black body suit with red armor protecting her torso - and note, that's sculpted armor, not just a paint difference. There's actually a lot of detail in the sculpt, though you may not notice it because the black tends to flatten things out. Like, seeing her belt or the intricate gloves she wears is easy, but the seams and wrinkles on her pants? Not so much.

This is a figure that would really benefit from a customizer's touch. As it is, she's really only painted on the front: the boots and gloves go all the way around, but the belt and body armor turn black when they go around to the back. The digital renders of the character give you an idea of what the "intended" look is, if you want to give her a touch-up; we're not going to judge the figure too harshly for cutting this corner, because let's face it: Bandai barely ever paints anything you can't see in the packaging, and even Hasbro has skimped this same way before. Yes, it would be more impressive is she were fully painted, but... you'll understand why we're being so forgiving by the time the review is over.

The face is not overly detailed - these are 3¾" figures, after all, so there's a limited amount of room for the unknown sculptor to make the magic happen. Still, whoever they are, they did a nice job. The eyes are painted with solid black against the light skin, rather than trying to paint whites and irises, but that's not a problem at this scale.

One area where this figure does lag behind modern 1:18 figures is the articulation. All we get is the Big Five: heck, shoulders, and hips. That went out of style with the Kenner Star Wars figures! Everything is just swivels, though the sculptor has remembered to make her hips rounded, so at first glance it looks like they'd be GI Joe-style balljoints. And remember, it wasn't that long ago that actual Joes were being sold with just 5PoA.

Shift's weapons of choice are swords. Swords that appear to have brake levers on the hilts? They're molded in black plastic and not painted. The handles are giant, and her hands are open to match. The two swords come in a double-scabbard backpack, and are definitely removable - they were stuck slightly when I opened the figure, so I wasn't sure if they were separate or not. Her long hair is sculpted to sit far enough away from the figure's body that it will fall over the backpack rather than getting in its way.

So with Shift, we've got a figure that's only half-painted, has cartoonish sized accessories, and only has five points of articulation, so you can probably tell we're going to say it's not worth getting, right? Well, no: Shift is absolutely a good value. The Final Faction line is created by Greenbrier International, which is probably not a name you're familiar with; but maybe you'd know its parent company, Dollar Tree? Yes, the super-discount stores you can find all over the place. Greenbrier International is their in-house manufacturing division, the way Walmart has "Great Value" or Target has "Up&Up," and thus Final Faction is a Dollar Tree exclusive. Heck, the Final Faction website is currently just a redirect to a dedicated page on Dollar Tree's website.

This may not seem particularly unusual on the surface of it, but remember, Dollar Tree isn't the same kind of store as Dollar General: Dollar General sells things at low prices; Dollar Tree sells things for literally one dollar. This action figure cost one dollar. It's (mostly) fully painted, it's got adequate articulation, it's not a generic sculpt, it comes with unique accessories... and it cost one dollar. You could find enough loose change in the parking lot to buy this figure! Even if you just wanted to buy this to be a driver for some random GI Joe vehicle, you'd still be getting more than your money's worth because it only costs a dollar! The back's not painted? $1. There are no elbows or knees? $1. For a dang dollar, this thing is amazing. Way above what we'd expect for the pricepoint. And most importantly, it can put action figures - real action figures - in the hands of kids who might otherwise go without. There are more than 15,000 Dollar Tree stores in the US and Canada, many in places without easy access to other stores; for some kid, somewhere, a $1 Final Faction action figure is going to be their gateway into our hobby, and that's going to be pretty dang awesome. There are heroes, there are villains, there are accessory packs (of all things!), there are apparently vehicles on the way in Series 2... the animation they've produced for it may be cheesy, but these toys are not terrible. And the next time I swing by a Dollar Tree, I'm definitely going to be getting some more.

-- 01/08/21

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