Category Archives: 21st Century Toys Related

“First-Time” G.I. Joe Collector Creates Working 1:6 Scale USCG Helicopter———As His Ceiling Fan!

Holy Rotors, Batman! Imagine "flying" this stunning 1:6 scale USCG HITRON "Fast Attack" Littlebird helicopter INSIDE your home—with just the flip of a switch. For creator/customizer, Tom McMurray, that's now become a daily reality. Lower the rescue diver! Aye-aye! (Photo: Tom McMurray)

Semper Paratus! Imagine “flying” this stunning 1:6 scale USCG HITRON “Fast Attack” Littlebird helicopter INSIDE your home—with just the flip of a switch. For creator-customizer Tom McMurray, that dream is now a daily reality. Lower the Rescue Diver, Joe! Aye-aye, Sir! (Photo: Tom McMurray)


When we first heard that retired US Coast Guardsman and GIjOE “newbie,” Tom McMurray, had converted a beat-up, 1:6 scale 21stC Littlebird into a working, (fully electrified) USCG helicopter CEILING FAN, we knew immediately that fans around the world would want to hear all about it. After contacting McMurray, he graciously agreed to the following exclusive interview and also (very generously) provided us with these exclusive photos and video clips. Enjoy!


After completing the Littlebird’s custom paint-job and applying decals from Patches of Pride, McMurray begins work on the helo’s custom wiring and lighting. Out-STANDING! (Photo: Tom McMurray)

Tom McMurray (Photo: Suzanne McMurray)

Tom McMurray (Photo: Suzanne McMurray)

TJR: Congratulations on your superb 1:6 scale custom helicopter, Tom. Could you tell us first—what inspired you to take on such a challenging undertaking?

TM: “I was medically retired out of the U.S. Coast Guard (just shy of 40 years) as a Petty Officer 1st Class Port Security and Small Arms Instructor and wanted a project that would take time and represent my career. I wandered across a Littlebird over on e-bay. It was blue and not in very good condition. But over the following months, I picked up various parts one at a time and pieced it all together.”


This early test revealed exterior running lights and spotlights working perfectly. Interior lighting would also be added, illuminating the ‘Bird’s instrument panel and cockpit. (Photo: Tom McMurray)

TJR: How long did this project take you to complete?

TM: “I started in December of 2013 and finished it in July of this year (2014). I have close to 400 hours altogether put into this project. The hardest part was getting the stripes on the Littlebird to be exactly 67 degrees (as required by the Coast Guard). The painting pattern is correct and was used on an experimental chopper by HITRON for fast attack on “Go-Fast “ (drug-smuggling) boats down in Florida.”


The longer you look, the more custom details you see! (Photo: Tom McMurray)

TJR: After completing the helo’s tricky (and beautiful) paint-job, what did you work on next?

TM: “Well, as you can see, the exterior utilizes a waterslide USCG decal set (found HERE) that I picked up from Patches of Pride (PoP), and the cockpit uses one of their “Complete Cockpit Conversion Kits” (found HERE). I then further modified the instrument cluster and all of the gauges by drilling small holes behind the decals and then giving each gauge its own colored led light, sealed in behind it.”


Great closeup showing Tom’s disassembled cockpit firewall and the addition of new decals, a fire extinguisher, custom helmet paint, seat cushions, etc. Great improvements! (Photo: Tom McMurray)

TJR: That clearly elevated your Littlebird to a higher level. What else did you add?

TM: “If you look closely at the photo below, you’ll see that the pilot has a small laptop mounted on the console, and both of the interior spaces are lit by a red LED for night-vision. I also added all of the required exterior lights, a working high power spotlight and a working FLIR lamp underneath. The ‘float’ is required on any USCG chopper that works off the coasts, so I hand-fabricated that. Also, the .50 cal Barrett on the port side is mounted on a stanchion built into the deck. Finally, I cut all of the windows down halfway except the main hatch, which I mounted in the opened, rescue position.”


Peek into the finished cockpit and you’ll go GA-GA over all of its details, back-lit gauges, and additional 1:6 scale props such as flight charts and maps. Stunning work, Tom! (Photo: Tom McMurray)

TJR: You’ve impressed us enough already, but here’s where your story gets REALLY interesting. Tell us about converting your 1:6 scale USCG Littlebird helicopter—into a ceiling fan.

TM: “To mount it to the ceiling fan, I filled the upper engine compartment with a 2-part epoxy and let it dry around the threaded accessory lamp-post. Then, I took the lamp section off of the bottom of the fan, filled the extra cover with epoxy, attached it to the main fan motor with screws and let the finished project sit supported on top of a 10-ft ladder overnight to cure. My wife, the electrician, the contractor (that had just finished the room) and myself, all had our fingers crossed when I lit-‘er-up. Voila! SHE FLIES!!!! And not a shudder or vibration.”

Holy Rotors, Batman! Imagine "flying" this stunning 1:6 scale USCG HITRON "Fast Attack" Littlebird helicopter INSIDE your home—with just the flip of a switch. For creator/customizer, Tom McMurray, that's now become a daily reality. Lower the rescue diver! Aye-aye! (Photo: Tom McMurray)

The accuracy and realism of Tom’s working ceiling fan helicopter are striking. (Photo: Tom McMurray)

 TJR: Tell us about your interest in GIjOEs and 1:6 scale vehicles. What else have you created?

TM: “Believe it or not, these are the first GIjOEs I have ever owned. Honestly! As you can see, I made a lot of changes, but after 37 years in the Coast Guard, I didn’t need much help. And now, I’m looking for my NEXT project. Thanks for all the parts, decals and help Mark.” —Tom McMurray


At night, Tom’s “heroic helo” creates a colorfully realistic light show. COOL! (Photo: Tom McMurray)


Tom’s custom-mounted .50 cal Barrett sniper rifle can stop a high-speed boat with one well-placed shot through the engine block. Out-STANDING! (Photo: Tom McMurray)


Another view of Tom’s USCG Littlebird in action. (Photo: Tom McMurray)


Lowering a Rescue Diver down with Tom’s custom harness and pulley system. (Photo: Tom McMurray)


The realistic lighting on Tom’s custom helo makes for exciting “night-ops” action. (Photo: Tom McMurray)


At rest, you can see that the blades of Tom’s fan were also custom painted to perfectly simulate the rotors of a real USCG HITRON helicopter. Amazing work, Tom. Congratulations! (Photo: Tom McMurray)

Bottom Line: McMurray’s 1:6 scale custom Littlebird helicopter is one of the most impressive we’ve ever seen. His attention to detail and accuracy reflect his many years of experience and service in the Coast Guard, and his inspired conversion of a typically static-display model into a working ceiling fan is truly remarkable. Our sincerest thanks to Tom for his service to our country and for his generous contributions to this article. Enjoy a video of Tom’s helicopter in action:

UPDATE 12/17: Here’s a new video on YouTube from Joe Burlas showing how to connect the 21stC Littlebird helicopter to a ceiling fan. Thanks so much for your help, Joe!

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1:6 Scale Custom Stuart Tank by Ryan Nagata

In this screenshot from a video released by the Replica Prop Forum (RPF), professional Prop Master, Ryan Nagata, poses with some of his 1:1 scale custom ray guns at a 2012 "prop party" convention held in California. (Photo: RPF)

In this screenshot from a video released by the Replica Prop Forum (RPF), professional Prop Master, Ryan Nagata, poses with some of his 1:1 scale custom ray guns at a 2012 “prop party” convention held in California. (Photo: RPF)

21st Century Toys—Taken to the Nth Degree

It’s Thursday, so that means it must be—Tank Day! And what better way to celebrate Tank Day than by remembering the superb 1:6 scale Stuart tank produced by 21st Century Toys? You know the one. Right out of the box, that heavy, plastic beast of a machine was a ton-o-fun for GIjOE and RC fans alike. Its wheels, treads, and opening hatches were all were nicely done, but ardent “tankers” couldn’t help but want—more.

Fortunatley, along came highly talented, professional “prop master,” Ryan Nagata. Ryan’s experience in creating impeccable recreations of famous movie props made him a superbly qualified candidate to take the Stuart to the next, higher level. And so, after properly researching the extensive WWII history of 21st’s spunky “iron coffin,” Ryan soon had his own Stuart transformed to an astonishingly accurate replica with heretofore unimagined levels of detail and realism.

Ultimately, “tanks” to the internet (Ha!), Mr. Nagata’s intricately customized Stuart quickly became world-famous. It’s now an unbelievable example of a rolling, smoke-belching, gun-firing work of miniature military ART. Beautiful to behold and thrilling to operate, it’s the sort of tank all GIjOE fans dream of adding to their collections. According to Nagata:

“This is a 1:6 scale model of a WWII Stuart tank I built for an upcoming project. This one has all the bells and whistles including proportional steering, a working turret, recoiling gun barrel, a mini smoke generator to simulate exhaust, working head and tail lights, and an animatronic commander and driver.”

Bottom Line: Absolutely amazing work, Ryan. Thank you for inspiring so many fans and showing us what a 21st Century Stuart CAN become if we take our time to do—it—right. Imagine all the “backyard battle action” that “tankers” could enjoy with this beauty! If you’d like to see a video of Ryan discussing his professional prop creations, go HERE. If you’d like to see Nagata’s tank as profiled on the Patches of Pride site, go HERE. If you’d like to learn more about the man himself, visit Ryan’s personal website HERE.

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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!