One of the reasons that Toys ‘R’ Us Philippines (TRU) really hasn’t distinguished itself from SM’s Toy Kingdom (TK), is that they don’t maximize their biggest asset; exclusives. Both TRU and TK source their product from the same local distributors, so whatever you see in one will likely be in the other. The only difference in their stock lists is chain exclusives; TRU, being an international brand, has access to toys from top toy manufacturers like Hasbro that can only be sold in their stores. The G.I. Joe Benchpress and Snow Serpent figures were two such figures, as was the green G1 version of the Legends Class Devastator.
However, local pricing for many of these is on the far side of, “Shut the f*ck up!” Price points can reach 40% more than similar toys. To make matters worse, most exclusives aren’t original toys, but rather re-colored versions of regular releases. The Marvel Universe Giant-Sized X-Men Box Set is good example, with most figures in it a re-colored version of old figures already released. Despite the inherent exclusivity (i.e. enforced collect-ability) of the toys, they gather dust until the inevitable markdown. On the flip side, the exclusives that end up at TK (e.g. Walmart Exclusive Iron Man), which are priced relatively lower, sell faster.
Honestly, I wish they’d get the memo and stop this silly practice, or at least put their money into better options, like TRU proprietary brands. Lines like scale replica toys, Fast Lane, or the military toy line, True Heroes.
The True Heroes Sentry Outpost set is part of that TRU line, which is manufactured by Chap Mei Plastic Toys, a Hong Kong toy maker. I’ve loved Chap Mei since I opened those first Police vs Bad Guyz sets years ago. Their toys are perfect for collectors that focus on multiple lines and scales. Chap Mei sets have vehicles that approximate the 3.75” scale of G.I. Joe, 6” scale accessories that go perfectly with Marvel Legends, and detailed figures that are somewhere in between.
The Sentry Outpost set is composed of several different pieces; the requisite action figure (4 or 5 points of articulation, sculpted more for fun than realism), a dirt bike (a Frankensteinian mess that is sized for 3.75” toys, but with handlebars that are ridiculously thick), some 6” scale guns (2 grenades, shotgun, MP5 sub-machine gun, pistol, binoculars, knife, and a backpack), and the draw of the entire set… a sweet helicopter.
The toy is loosely based on the MH-6 Little Bird or the “Killer Egg,” whose development came from a need for a lightweight, easily transportable helicopter. The MH-6 was designed to specialize in extracting small units of Special Forces out of hot LZs, while the AH-6 was designed to support those operations in a light attack role.
The toy captures the aircraft’s design nicely. The single seat pilot compartment is framed by the glass cockpit. Behind that is a tiny cabin with a compartment that is locked in with a screw, but a few turns with a screwdriver and you can slide it out and use it as a bench for a heavy machine gunner (a short one so he won’t get decapitated). The skids are equipped with rails that act as bench-type seating for a small fire squad. The empennage of the bird has the same slender and short look of the original with the “T” style assembly (source).
The details of the toy are very well done, if not perfectly scaled and true to the real thing. I especially like the fact that the fuselage isn’t completely smooth, but made to look like it’s been assembled from sheets of metal. There are details like the exhaust ports on the tail section, the (non-functional) red light upfront and the one on top, the hook underneath… all of it gets my geek blood going. There’s even a seat belt to hold a pilot in place.
I do wish they’d dumped the bike and just added a few armaments to the helicopter. An M230 Chaingun or a pair of 7.62mm M134 Miniguns would have been sweet. Or some 2.75” Hydra 70 rocket pods. Why not some Hellfire or TOW anti-tank or Stinger missiles? (source) Any of these would have been far more welcome than the rather dull dirt bike.
Still, this little vehicle was far more satisfying than the authentically G.I. Joe Cycle Armor that I recently bought, especially considering that the price on this thing is only about P500-600. That's about half of what I paid for the Alpha Class vehicle. That excellent fun to price ratio is what make Chap Mei (and True Soldier) toys such a great value.
Though the rest of the set might not be as great as the helicopter, think of it like the rest of the X-Men in the Bryan Singer movies in comparison to Wolverine. Sure Cyclops and Storm make it more fun, but in the end, the main mutie is all you can think of and you can’t wait until he kicks Deathstrike’s ass.