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Whatever Works, Dude
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A combination of Real Life and a desire to be thorough delayed this longer than I wanted, but here's my photo review of the recently released Magic Cube SOCF CST Female Soldier set. If you don't feel like reading my babble, the punch line is that it's a good set, but has enough annoyances to keep me from buying the heck out of it in loose parts. I'm glad I voted with my dollars to tell Magic Cube that I want stuff like this, but I'd have tried to snag another box or two if not for the many problems I have with the set. I'm hoping that Magic Cube re-tailors its female tactical pants to fit better (and from the looks of the product photos of the KSK female fig, maybe they already have), but until then I've got to say that this set isn't quite worth the money.

Full Flickr set is over here, where you can get even more words and bigger images. Click any image to enlarge.



Magic Cube's SOCF CST set comes in a nice, sturdy box, with a magnetic flap that closes on the right side of the box. Inside the box, the components are all nestled securely in foam rubber. I think this makes the set seem more high-end than the usual vac-formed plastic trays, and it also makes it a lot easier to get stuff in and out of the box. Also much more collector-friendly.

By the way, does anybody know what "SOCF" is supposed to stand for? The CST's are real and documented, but I couldn't find a military acronym that matched "SOCF."



This is the first Magic Cube set that comes with a female figure, and it turns out to be an exact copy of a ZC World Takara-clone female body. It matches the one that came with the ZC Nikita spy/sniper set (which I repurposed into my killer librarian), down to the removable arms and small-busted short torso section. Under the pants, you've got ball-joint hips, double-jointed knees, and the standard femfig ankle cup. Headsculpt is not bad, and seems to be a clone of the ZC Sniper Wolf figure but with brown hair. I think the hair is a little too long for a military figure, but it's workable.

The boots are molded pieces with feet inside, and they're stiff-enough plastic that it's nearly impossible to get it to flex or get the feet out of the boots. Don't like 'em much and they got ditched pretty quickly.

But the real start of my problems with this set start with the pants…



The short version: superb workmanship, terrible tailoring. Bad enough that I haven't picked up any of the loose uniform sets.

Magic Cube's Black Tactical Set was criticized for having pants that weren't tailored to fit any female figure well without a belt doing a lot of work, and unfortunately, it looks like it's the same pattern that they used to make these pants. This close-up lets you see how ludicrously large the waist is. I also find the pants to be a little bit short, making it harder to blouse them properly or get the figure into a kneeling position without turning the pants into highwaters.

If nothing else, I am unimpressed by a toy set where the clothing in fits so poorly on the figure that comes with it in the box.



On the other hand, the blouse that comes with the set looks terrific. It's a very well-sewn, well-tailored piece that looks accurate. Shown here with the Mandarin collar down for garrison wear, which it can do with ease (and better than the BBi female-cut ACU blouse). I've also swapped out the useless plastic boots for ones from DiD and bloused the pants. They look OK in this photo, but they ride high because the pants are so relatively short.

The blouse also does a good job compensating for the ridiculously large waistband on the pants by either covering it up (as shown here) or padding it if you tuck it in (as seen in what Codename Silent G did with his).

The second photo compares the Multicam with the one on the recent Soldier Story US Army in Afghanistan figure. I think the patterns are accurate (to my eye), but Magic Cube's uniform just looks a lot more worn and broken in than the Soldier Story Multicam. If I were cool, I'd dig out the Soldier Story ACU-cut Multicam blouse I have somewhere in the parts box, but I never claimed to be all that cool.



This is not the vest that comes in the box (coming later). This is based on a reference photo provided by BrotherMatthew of a Naval Special Warfare intelligence officer who happens to be the godmother of his son. Parts breakdown:

  • Toys City Vest from SEAL Mk14 gunner. Fits nicely on female figures.
  • Pouches are mostly Soldier Story and Toys City.
  • Arc'teryx Kneepads are Soldier Story
  • SIG P226 pistol is from Toys City (I think). Not quite accurate to the reference photo since it looks like she has a Serpa holster instead of the 6004 I used, but it's what I had.
  • Playhouse MICH helmet from CJSOTF-A figure
  • Other gear is from random places, but I know the "Don't Tread on Me" patch is from Playhouse.



The Magic Cube box comes with a second uniform. The gray tactical pants are the same pattern as the Multicam pants (though they drop the lower leg pockets) and have the same strengths and shortcomings (great workmanship, bad tailoring). The second part of the alternate outfit is a long shirt that I've seen called a "Punjabi dress," though I'd be happy to be corrected on what it's actually called. It's a beautiful piece that's visually accurate and has a lot of nice detailing like the gold pattern on the front. It may not be very flattering to her figure, but I don't think it's supposed to be.

Boots are Soldier Story Oakley combat boots, which look great on female figures.



The third piece of the alternate outfit is the headscarf, which I kind of hate. The edges are not treated so it frays like nobody's business, and the set comes with absolutely no instructions on how to put it on. There are 2 pieces of micro velcro on it that are meant to attach to each other, but left completely you're on your own trying to figure out how to do it. 1:1 reference doesn't necessarily help, since most of the videos I dug up required pins or didn't translate well to 1:6. While the Punjabi dress is a rougher cotton, the headscarf is much more slippery, which also makes it really hard to get on. What I show here is the best I could do after about a dozen tries over 2 days. I think the headsculpt's bangs weren't doing me any favors, either.

If you look closely at the subsequent photos, you can see how easily the headscarf frays as I moved and posed the figure.

The resemblance between this outfit and the CST team member in the center of this photo is so close that I don't think it's a coincidence.



The set comes with one set of XTAC kneepads, which are OK, but not terrific. The straps hook onto little pegs on the kneepads, and both are strong enough that I wasn't worried about breakage. Unlike the XTACs from Toys City and Crazy Dummy, the straps on these are not adjustable, but they are elastic and fit perfectly on female figure legs. They'll probably fit on male figures, too, but for once I don't have to make adjustments for super-long straps. The photo above compares the Magic Cube XTAC kneepads with what I think are the Crazy Dummy XTAC kneepads from the SEAL Team 3 figure (or, if not, then the Toys City XTACs from the USAF CCT HALO Jumper). The details on the Magic Cube version are a little bit softer and the pegs are on the inside (which is actually more accurate). The Magic Cube kneepads are also painted plastic, which has the nice side effect of making them look a little bit worn down. The Crazy Dummy/Toys City XTACs have better details and are naturally tan plastic. The elastic bands are also adjustable.



The vest that comes with the set is an RBAV-SF (Releasable Body Armor Vest-Special Forces) in Multicam, and is sized slightly smaller to fit a female-sized torso. It's not quite up to the level of detail of Soldier Story or Crazy Dummy, but it can easily stand next to vests made from either one.

The one thing I'd say is that they seem to have used strips of Multicam fabric to make the MOLLE straps instead of using nylon webbing like most other companies do. Unfortunately, sometimes this means that tweezers can snag on the back ends of the straps when you're trying to weave 1/6 MOLLE straps through them. It's a minor issue, though, and the upside is that the straps match the camo pattern of the vest perfectly. The insides of the Magic Cube RBAV aren't quite as detailed as Soldier Story or Playhouse vests, but it's still quite nice, with internal pockets and nice functioning velcro all over.





Vest with all the gear that Magic Cube gives you in the box, which I don't think is quite enough for a fully-equipped figure. Since CSTs are attached to Ranger units and Special Forces ODAs, they're in smaller units that are a lot further forward than the average soldier. Even if they're also not supposed to be door-kickers, the CSTs are expected to shoot back with the men if they engage the enemy. Given that, 4 spare magazines plus 2 extra pistol magazines seems a bit light to me. All the reference photos I've found that I can make out show CSTs carrying at least 6 spare rifle mags.

The MOLLE straps are fine and it wasn't hard to get the pouches on the vest. The radio is a piece of junk -- big and chunky and ugly, and it's a royal pain to fit it in the pouch provided. Combined with the awful boots and the OK kneepads, it makes me think that Magic Cube could save themselves (and us) a few pennies and just stop making the molded gear. There are enough loose parts out there from Playhouse, Soldier Story, or Toys City that do it much better.

The magazine pouches will fit Soldier Story magazines just fine, and the grenade pouches can easily hold the frags that come with the set. I didn't opt to hang the smoke grenades on the vest as they do on the product photos 'cuz I'm lazy.

The gloved hands that come with the figure look like dead ringers for the ZC World Oakley gloved hands. I pulled a pair of ZC hands for this shoot, and now I couldn't tell you which one was the ZC and which one was the Magic Cube.



Comparison of the Magic Cube RBAV (re-rigged for a slightly heavier loadout) and the Soldier Story IOTV that came with the US Army in Afghanistan figure. The extra pouches on the Magic Cube vest are mostly Soldier Story, and the radio is from Playhouse (and looks infinitely better than the one that comes from Magic Cube). You can kind of tell how much smaller the Magic Cube vest is -- there's a lot less real estate on there to put pouches and stuff, and the layout is slightly different.

Also threw on the Magic Cube sunglasses to show how they look. I don't like the look of the lenses and I could never get them to sit right on the figure's face. I'd have said it might have been this headsculpt (which seems to have trouble with a few different female-sized sunglasses), except the same thing happened with the head that Magic Cube provided.





For kicks, I partially rigged out the RBAV-SF vest that came with the Playhouse CJSOTF-A figure in a more-or-less identical loadout to compare the two. The Magic Cube is definitely sized a little smaller and is a tiny bit less detailed, but I think it holds up next to the Playhouse vest quite well. Second photo shows the Playhouse vest on the female figure, which is a bit big but still workable, IMO. One reason why I like Playhouse stuff.

The rest is just random posed photos of the two female figures I got out of the one box. These shots do show how short the pants are in this set, since you can see them riding up a lot higher than they should when a figure takes a knee.









 

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Awesome review! I have this set on its way here, and I'll be saving this review for my own builds.

What troubles me the most are the pants - they are part of the uniform and needs to be well made - this makes me think I might have to do some serious body modifications to make the figure shorter - but being forced to do so with a set out of the box is beyond me.
 

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First off, this is an outstanding review; more reviews ought to be done this way.

I bought this set last month and was just as impressed and at the same time disappointed at the same issues Edwick brings up in this review.

I got the set from ebay at about 2/3 of the price that most other etailers had (lucky I guess...). The first thing to bother me was the HS on the figure...it just didn't have the "military" look I was going for. Thanks to Major.Rod I was able to get my hands on a BBI "Rosanna Jones" figure, and I put the Multicam uni on it. Adding a pair of molded Dragon modern desert boots (which allow the pants to be dressed properly over the boot), Toy Soldier tan helmet and BBI M4 and sunglasses completed the look.

The original figure is decked with the green tactical pants, a female-sized Hasbro t-shirt, "Punjabi" blue long shirt/dress and the original boots. But I'm still fussing over how to put the headscarf on...it's really frustrating. Perhaps Edwick can do a short picture tutorial since your way looks very cool.

Still haven't decided what kind of a vest to put on that figure...I may just buy the original loose.

All in all a decent figure, though I sure hope MC fixes the tailoring issues they have with the pants. At the price I paid definitely a great buy, and the biggest plus is that I now have a modern female US soldier without having to deal with all the "tactical whorishness" that seems to plague the female 1:6 figure market. I'd give this an 8/10, with points lost to the lack of a helmet (which sould have had a Multicam cover) and the poorly tailored pants.
 

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Regarding that acronym SOCF: SOC probably stand for Special Operations Command (which would make sense since CST belongs to the special forces as I've learned here :) ), but the F? Female? Foreign?

When looking for SOC at http://www.fas.org, Cultural Support Team didn't show up under CST either, so this is a mystery...
 

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Whatever Works, Dude
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the nice comments, everyone!

But I'm still fussing over how to put the headscarf on...it's really frustrating. Perhaps Edwick can do a short picture tutorial since your way looks very cool.
I definitely want to do a step-by-step photoset to show how to get the headscarf on, but I'm kind of afraid that if I take it off now, I'm never going to get it back on the same way again :dizzy. If/when I do this, I'll be sure to get documentation and update the review.

The short, verbal description so far is to take the scarf and fold it in half lengthwise. Then drape it over the figure's head and do two little folds at the temples so the flat edge of the scarf cuts across the forehead and the sides pull down flat over the head. Leave one edge a little longer than the other. Pull the shorter edge under the chin and pull it to the back, then pull the other under the chin and pull it behind the figure as well. Try to get the 2 velcro squares lined up to keep the scarf together, and you're mostly done. I think a proper hijab should not show any of the hair, but I've seen lots of CST reference photos where they don't have their headscarves fully covering all their hair, so I was more willing to have some stray strands on mine (especially since she has bangs to begin with).

Most of the video reference I've seen on YouTube incorporates a separate undercap and then the hijab over that, which makes for a much neater look because the undercap covers up the forehead and the scarf can focus on covering the rest of the head. I mean to try that with some spare fabric I have lying around for a separate figure that's still in progress.
 

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I bought the set a few days ago and boy..am i disappointed.
The only upside about this figure is the Blue blouse IMO.
Ditto. Got mine yesterday, and it was pretty much a breeze to get it all going, but I think that overall, the main value from this set comes from the punjabi dress - it really is a wonderful piece, but overall the set is incomplete and in some ways bad (like the lack of weapon and helmet, the poor pants and so on).

I'm going to add the scarf today with the help of a few needles - I think that by securing the scarf above the forehead with one needle, then securing both ends under the chin with one needle should be enough. If I remember, I'll take a couple of pics.
 

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Great review!

Too bad about the pants tailoring. Having said that, I'm recalling the early ACE uniform sets. The BDU pants also fit like that and put some people off, however when you tucked in a tee and the BDU shirt the ACE pants fit just right with just a bit of tension needed to do them up. They were made to accomodate layers. (Ended up being the foundation of my favorite squad builds.) I'm guessing MC designed these pants the same way even though the factory assemblers did not tuck the BDU shirt in either. I realize that doesn't help if you are not usng it that way. The spare/gray pants for example should have had a better fit since they definitely would not be used with the BDU top.
 

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Great review!

Too bad about the pants tailoring Having said that, I'm recalling the early ACE uniform sets. The BDU pants also fit like that and put some people off, however when you tucked in a tee and the BDU shirt the ACE pants fit just right with just a bit of tension needed to do them up. They were made to accomodate layers. (Ended up being the foundation of my favorite squad builds.) I'm guessing MC designed these pants the same way even though the factory assemblers did not tuck the BDU shirt in either. I realize that doesn't help if you are not usng it that way. The spare/gray pants for example should have had a better fit since they definitely would not be used with the BDU top.
I tried the tucked in look, but unfortunately, not even with that AND the belt did it look good - I ended up snipping the pants along the seam line, gluing them shut and then had her wear the BDU untucked. Then it didn't look half bad - and the pants stayed up. Yay.
 

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Nice review.

I would still like to get the set even with the shortcomings. But for that price it really should fit a lot better. I've been watching prices on this, and it's still quite pricey.
 

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Right, since I have nothing better to do, this is my way of attaching the burqa - and again, sorry for the incredibly bad quality - I'm still not over speed. (or maybe I'm just a useless photographer, take your guess)

Forur of these were used, map pins with the heads squeezed off with a pair of pliers:


First, I put some double-adhesive tape over the forehead and hair so that it would stay still the during the critical moments - the cloth is VERY flimsy.


Next, I placed the scarf folded in half onto the tape on the forehead, with the figure's left side about half an inch longer than the right side. There is a reason for it, and also that the velcro is placed where it is. Take note if you care.


The scarf is then secured with the first pin on the forehead - don't press all the way down, since it might need adjustment.


Fold the cloth into a nice little wrinkle at the temple


and secure with a new pin


Do the same on the right side. Then pull down both sides, put the short end (the right one) under the chin, the left one over that, and secure with the last pin.


The first who calls her a pinhead is a meanie I don't wanna play with.

Now, take the short end and pull it up onto her shoulder and try to keep it there.


Take the left side, sweep it across her neck until it comes back behind her - this is the velcro mate:


Secure the velcro and then pull up the scarf that has been trapped under it. Adjust the fitting, press in the pins until they are almost gone and it is a wrap.




 
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