Toy History on the Auction Block: Owners of Bankrupt 21st Century Toys Begin Long Process of Selling Off Prototypes and “One-of-a-Kinds”

The weird, wild, COOL(!) 1:6 scale prototype of the "Battle Suite" by reknowned customizer Neville Page is currently available for sale on ebay, minimum bid? $500! (Photo: usarules)

This weird, WILD, super-creative 1:6 scale prototype of 21st Century Toys “Battle Suite” was built by renowned custom vehicle maker, Neville Page. Unfortunately, it was shown only at the Toy Fair in NYC and never reached final production status. This amazing one-of-a-kind vehicle is now up for auction over on ebay with an opening bid of $500. (Photo: usarules)

This closeup of a resin headsculpt prototype reveals superb sclulpting and details. What a SHAME it never made it to final production! (Photo: usarules)

This closeup of a resin headsculpt prototype reveals superb sculpting and details. What a SHAME it never made it to final production! (Photo: usarules)

Piece by piece, item by item…

Heads up, 1:6 scale fans! The past, present, and vast, unfulfilled future potential of 1990’s popular toy manufacturer, 21st Century Toys (21stC), is currently being auctioned off on ebay to the highest bidders. Years after the company’s untimely and unfortunate bankruptcy, its owners are attempting to recoup some of their losses—one auction lot at a time.

Everything from 21stC’s original clay-sculpted prototypes of its never-produced “Grimsphere” line, to resin castings of new headsculpts and equipment, even full-size mock-ups of never-produced vehicles—it’s all up for sale RIGHT NOW. Let’s take a look at some of the auctions currently running…

The Weird World of “Grimsphere”

The first auction to catch our eyes includes a MASSIVE 150-bag lot of original prototypes from the pre-production phase of 21stC’s unreleased “Grimsphere” line. While it is difficult to determine EXACTLY what’s in all those little bags, according to the auction’s description by seller, usarules:

“These are from the un-released Grimsphere line that was introduced at the New York Toy Fair. These are hand-made prototypes, NOT production toys. Very very RARE! This auction is for a HUGE lot of parts. Over 150 bags. Misc parts, hats, boot, weapons, bones, heads, hands, tombstones, etc. Both wax and resin parts in various conditions! Please see the photos. These things look AWESOME!”

Closeup of the 150-bag lot of unproduced "Grimsphere" prototypes currently being auctioned to the highest bidder on ebay. (Photo: usarules) Click to enlarge.

Closeup of the 150-bag lot of unproduced “Grimsphere” prototypes currently being auctioned ovcr on ebay. (Photo: usarules) Click to enlarge.

Fans, collectors and entrepreneurs alike realize the tremendous potential at stake with this particular auction. The 21stC Grimsphere line was sort of a futuristic, “goth-vampire killer” sci-fi line of 1:6 scale figures. Writing on the bags reveals intriguing clues about the unproduced line, with descriptions such as, “Chainsaw for the Jesse character,” “Vampire,” and “Specimen Jar.” Cool!

Now, over 10 years later, this massive, historical trove of original 21stC prototypes, if still in viable, usable condition, could provide a tremendous boost for any enterprising individual (or existing company) wishing to produce new products of their own. Just think of it! All the hard, artistic work is already done. All that remains is to find a company with the requisite infrastructure and equipment to begin mass-producing copies. (Hello, Cotswold? Hobbycrash?)

This auction lot contains FOUR resin copies of the never-produced "Detective" headsculpt, complete with molded on wrap-around sunglasses. (Photo: usarules)

This auction lot contains FOUR resin copies of a never-produced “Detective” headsculpt, complete with molded-on wrap-around sunglasses. Superb! What a shame it didn’t get manufactured. (Photo: usarules)

It's unclear from these prototype photos, but it's possible the legs of the "Battle Suite" walker may have been intended to fold up, or "transform." Shown with included figure (in shrink-wrap). (Photo: usarules) Click to enlarge.

It’s unclear from these prototype photos, but it’s possible the legs of the “Battle Suite” walker may have been intended to fold up, or “transform.” Shown with included figure (in shrink-wrap). (Photo: usarules) Click to enlarge.

WW2 Meets “War of the Worlds”

This second auction is a real MIND-BLOWER. It’s for a one-of-a-kind, 1:6 scale prototype vehicle of something known only as the “Battle Suite.” Created by famed vehicle designer, Neville Page, this wild contraption gives you an idea of the highly creative, “outside the box” approach 21stC was shooting for, and the type of products it was planning to build before it collapsed financially.

Visually, it’s a cross between a Star Wars “Scout Walker” and the turret of a double-barreled Sherman Tank. This thing has “bad-ass” written all over it! Standing at over 2 feet tall, it was also wired for lights and sound effects and was apparently going to include one fully outfitted figure or “driver” with each vehicle (see shrink-wrapped figure in adjacent photo on the right). According to the description…

“Ultimate Soldier Fans, here is a chance to own some real 21stC history. This is a PROTOTYPE, Sci-Fi WWII U.S. Army ‘Battle Suite.’ Designed for the 1/6th scale figures. Hatches open and close. This thing is HUGE, over 25″ Tall and 12” Wide. It was built by Neville Page at Neville Page’s Studio. (Neville is now on the TV Show “Face Off” as one of the judges.) This is one of the most expensive prototypes 21stC EVER had built.

It had working lights & the two guns moved. These are hand-made, NOT production toys. Considering its age and how many times it was moved, it is in good shape. It will require the buyer to have model building and model painting skills to bring it back to life, as you can see in the photos. This thing is VERY Cool.”

Another intriguing headsculpt that would never be produced. This handsome character appears to have come with a pony tail. Perhaps some sort of heroic "Vampire Slayer?" We may never know. (Photo: usarules)

Another intriguing unproduced headsculpt currently for auction over on ebay. This handsome character comes with a pony tail that was molded separately. Perhaps he was intended to be some sort of heroic “Vampire Slayer” character? Unfortunately, we’ll probably never know. (Photo: usarules)

Very cool, indeed! Imagine all the wild sci-fi diorama possibilities this thing could create. It’s easy to picture some cigar-chompin’ “Sarge” poking out of the hatch, scanning the wastelands with his binoculars and blasting away at a bunch of post-apocalyptic “Grimsphere” zombie-vampires walking around. “There they are, men! Blast ’em!” Ka-CHOOMMM!

If this unique sell-off of historic, 21st Century Toys paraphernalia continues, it would bode collectors well to keep VERY close eyes on ebay during the next few months. Fans on the One-Sixth Warriors forum are already doing just that. They’re plotting to pool their respective resources, then go in together on the bidding and “divide up the spoils” if they should ultimately emerge victorious.

Bottom Line: We’d like to wish usarules all the best with their auctions. 21st Century Toys brought a lot of happiness to a lot of people and the chance to own an authentic piece of the company’s history is a rare and delightful opportunity. Whether these prototypes end up in the hands of individual collectors or enterprising companies, it will be VERY interesting for fans to see what, if anything, is ever done with it all. To get in on all the exciting “auction action,” jump over to usarules’ ebay page HERE. Best of luck and Happy Bidding!


6 thoughts on “Toy History on the Auction Block: Owners of Bankrupt 21st Century Toys Begin Long Process of Selling Off Prototypes and “One-of-a-Kinds”

  1. Wayne Faucher says:

    I could see that walker prototype with a straight up WW2 figure in the top hatch as opposed to a sci fi soldier… THAT would be cool.

  2. Anon says:

    We are trying to buy the Grimsphere lot in order to inventory the contents.

  3. Anon says:

    Also, we already have several prototype Grimsphere figures, plus the concept art used to promote the line.

  4. kneonknight says:

    There is some irony in this, considering that 21st Century Toys was the first manufacturer to give Hasbro any serious competition in the action figure market, and their items (especially the vehicles) consistently bring good prices when they are up on the block. I really do hate to see them go – it was nice to have someone following the ‘razor and blades’ approach to marketing their figures and accessories.

    I’ll shut up now, before this turns into “Damn You, Hasbro!” chapter infinity.

  5. kneonknight says:

    Oops. I for got to mention that I hope that whoever ends up with all the nifty prototype bits in the poly bags will use them to create some cool and AFFORDABLE stuff for all of us 1/6 junkies.

    Just remember, “Razor and Blades”.

  6. Jack Smith says:

    I don’t think it would be legal to buy one of these prototypes and then make copies, for sale or any other use. Unless “usasales” obtained the copyright assignment from the bankruptcy they can’t assign it to anyone else. Neither can original sculptors, or former 21st Century Management, unless they are in fact the legal copyright owner.
    Besides the fact that it is wrong to copy someone else’s property I would think twice if it is something I would really want to risk doing.

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