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Monday, August 24, 2015

Pech Hermanos - Figures

Pech Hermanos was a Spanish firm based out of Barcelona. Started by the Pech brothers, Jose and Manuel in 1945, they started out by recasting and cloning metal soldiers in 50mm. Towards the mid-50's they began casting figures in rubber and later on in plastic. This is also when they began to sculpt their own figures. These plastic sets are bigger in scale, in the 60mm range. They cover a wide variety or periods and nationalities, as well. In terms of WWII figures, they produced sets for most of the participating nations, each with about a dozen poses. And then they also produced complementary artilly sets and heavy weapons sets. They seem to have had a great, and very productive run while it lasted. The following linksshow more of their sets:
Pech Hermanos Collection Page 1
Pech Hermanos Collection Page 2
Pech Hermanos Collection Page 3
Pech Hermanos Collection Page 4
In the sixties, the business was dissolved, allegedly due to family difficulties, and some of the molds got sold to the firm Oliver, known today for their reproduction of the Pech Japanese. Other molds apparently ended up in the hands of BUM who still manufactures several of their WWII heavy weapons sets of the GIs, and some Spanish soldiers in parade poses. Today, the original Pech figures are a much sought after collector's item in Spain, fetching top Euro for a complete set. Unfortunately I only have one Pech Hermanos figure to show, along with several recasts from Oliver. Let's take a look.

Pech Hermanos Japanese Infantry
This guy is part of an artillery crew -the officer in charge-, but it is basically sculpted in the same style as the rest of their Japanese infantry figures. He is also 60mm in scale. Note also the size and shape of the base and compare it to the bases of the Oliver guys below. As you can see, their soldeirs came factory painted.

Oliver Japanese Infantry (Pech Recasts) - Part I 
The first half of the set. Note how they have much larger bases and Oliver did a poor job embedding the smaller base within the larger one. On some cases, like the man on the right holding the binoculars, the inner base sticks out higher than the outer one. Overall, the figures show quite a bit of dynamism and action. I bet the originals were even nicer. Another thing to note is that Oliver apparently replaced the grenade thrown by the man on the left for some type of pole or stick. 

Oliver Japanese Infantry (Pech Recasts) - Part II
The rest of the set. Again, a good set of action poses. I also like the fact that even though the figures are large in size, they are not bulky. They have nice thin lines. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Plubius - Figures

Plubius is a Russian manufacturer based out of St. Petersburg. They are not very known in the west, but apparently they have a good range of metal figures in 40mm, which they have been producing since 2009 or so. These figures cover sets like Vikings, Saracens, Normans, Saxons, Tatars, Germanic, Pirates, Knights, etc. And of course, they also have some WWII Soviet troops. At least two of these WWII sets have also been released as 1/32 plastic sets. The sculpting for these figures is among the best in the industry. Unfortunately, they have only made a limited number of sets. What I heard as the reason for this is that the molds deteriorate and only support a limited number of casts. Therefore it is very hard to find these figures in 1/32 plastic and they have become very pricey. But if you can get your hands on some, they are well worth it. Let's take a look at the two sets which I have managed to locate.

Plubius Soviet Naval Infantry - Part I
These guys are a great complement to the Pegasus figures and add much needed variety to this service branch of the Soviet Army. As I mentioned, they are really hard to find. I got these guys courtesy of my friend and fellow collector, The Plastic General. He discovered them and managed to obtain some from a contact in Russia. The level of detail and fluidity of movement in the sculpting is among the best I've seen. They are so well done that leave you longing for more poses. 

Plubius Soviet Naval Infantry - Part II
I also like the fact that every pose is an action pose, as opposed to having some marching or standing guys, which tend to have a more limited use. And as you can see, there is a nice variety in the weaponry and outfits of the figures. I also like the fact that the bases have some detail and texture, but they are not bulky as has been the trend recently in the hobby. 

Plubius Soviet Infantry - Part I
Again, these are some of the best figures I have seen. I love the action-packed poses, how the movement and intensity of the fight is captured, and the great level of detail. For instance, look at the figure on the left, standing on a German helmet. I also like the man on the right firing the MG with the circular ammo drum from the hip. 

Plubius Soviet Infantry - Part II
Great sculpting. The attitude of the man in the middle is totally consistent with the the weapons he carries. Throwing himself into a close quarter combat situation. The woman on the right reflects the important role that women played in the Soviet army, not just as nurses, but in many combat functions. The only things not to like about these figures are that there are only six poses and that they are really hard to find. 

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Schylling Toys - Toy Soldiers

Schylling Toys is a US firm based out of Boston, MA. They have been around for about 30 years and they make and resell all sorts of toys. In fact they seem to make almost every toy but Toy Soldiers. That is except for a single set of US GIs. I suppose they've done it to be able to check off that category. Not surprisingly, what they have done is to clone (or recast?) the Matchbox GIs. Besides that, there is not much else to say when it comes to Toy Soldiers, so let's take a quick look at their set.

Schylling Toys US Infantry - Part I
Here is another set inspired by Matchbox. These seem to be direct clones of the Matchbox figures, although you do see slight differences, like the missing bayonet on the second guy from the left, the running pose. Despite being clones, I find that the quality of the plastic is fairly good and the level of detail has not been lost. 

Schylling Toys US Infantry - Part II
Here you see the rest of the poses. It is interesting to see that the officer pose is missing, the one who is aiming or firing a pistol. Instead we have the guy lowering his weapon, which by the way, might also be missing the bayonet if my memory serves me well. 

Monday, December 29, 2014

Dragon Models - Toy Soldiers

Dragon Models is a firm based out of Hong Kong. They got started in 1987 and have been going strong since then. Their initial focus was 1/35 model kits for figures and ground vehicles. Since then they have diversified in many directions. They added aircraft to their model kits, they introduced plastic figures, 12" action figures, remote controlled vehicles, diecast vehicles in 1/72, and many other items. They do not sell directly to the public, and in some cases they allow other companies like Revell or Italeri to resell their products under their own brands. In terms of 1/32 WWII plastic, they have not really addressed that segment of the market. They have released a few WWII plastic figures under the Can.Do brand which are essentially whole figure versions of their plastic kits, but even those are 1/35. However they are close enough in size that they could be combined with some smaller 1/32 guys. Their level of detail is actually very good and they come factory painted. The only thing not to like about them are the bases which are a bit oversized, perhaps because they wanted to make the figures taller and easier to combine with 1/32. I only have a few of the sets which they released. Hopefully I can get a few more sets over time. Let's take a look.

Dragon German Infantry - Approach to Stalingrad
These are the basic 4 poses. There is a 5th pose with each set which is much harder to find. Seems like they intentionally produced it in smaller quantities to make it a more appealing collectible. As you can see, the figures are very well detailed and the paint work is done quite nicely. I bought these guys as a set of 12 figures which had 3 of each pose. 

Dragon German Infantry - Barbarossa 1941
The weapons and the bases have to be glued to the figures. As you can see, some of the bases have a slight grade on them and might make the figure seem like it is not standing straight. Also the thickness of the bases is not ideal in my opinion. These guys do not depict much action, but other sets do have poses in fighting poses.

Dragon German Infantry - Winter Combat - Part I
Here's another nice set from Dragon. It is missing one of the basic figures -the man aiming his sub MG from a standing position- as well as the 'special' pose -each set has a pose that is only present about 2% of the time-. I have to say that I really like the detail, the quality of the sculpting and even the paint job. I am still not a big fan of the bulky bases. Will probably replace them at some point. One thing to note though is that the bayonet attached to the waist is a bit brittle. As I was inserting the men to their bases one of them broke off just from me holding the figure a bit tightly. 

Dragon German Infantry - Winter Combat - Part II
I managed to find the fourth guy of the basic poses in the Winter Combat set. Another very well done figure by Dragon. One intersting thing is the lighter color for his leather subMG magazine pouches. It's possible that was done intentionally for cammo purposes. Now I just need some Siberian troops to go against these guys!

Dragon German Infantry - Krakhov 1943 
This time I managed to get my hands on all five poses of the set. To my surprise, the fifth 'special', & rare pose is just one of the other poses in a different paint scheme. He is the second one from the left, wearing the cammo smock. Again, as with the other sets from Dragon, the detail is really nice. The poses could use a bit more action, but they are still a notch better than just marching or standing guys. At least these guys have their weapons ready. About the bases, I won't say anything anymore. 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Air and Space Museum at Dulles, Virginia

If you like big machines, the Air and Space Museum at Dulles, Virginia is the place for you. Their collection includes both civilian and military aircraft, since the beginning of aviation to modern times. They also include some amazing items related to space travel such as capsules, space suits, satelites, etc, but pehaps the crown jewel of this museum is the recently retired Discovery Space Shuttle. In terms of military aircraft the collection covers all 20th century conflicts from WWI through the Cold War, and it includes not only domestic craft, but also some captured foreign planes. I have been to this Museum a few times, and every time I enjoy it as much as the first time. Below are some pictures I took during my most recent trip. Clearly, I have a bias towards the WWII items, but I also took a couple snapshots of some other cool things. Let's take a look.

British Hawker Hurricane IIC

British Westland Lysander IIIA

German Arado Ar 234 B Blitz

German Dornier Do 335 A Pfeil

German Focke-Wulf Fw 190 F

German Fw 190 F, Ar 234 B and Do 335 A

German Heinkel He 219 A Uhu

German Junkers Ju-52

German Messerschmitt Me 163 B-1a Komet

Japanese Aichi M6AI Seiran

Japanese Kawanishi NIK2-Ja Shiden Kai "George"

Japanese Kawasaki Ki-45 KAI Toryu "Nick" under Aichi M6AI Seiran

Japanese Nakajima Jini-S Gekko "Irving" over Kugisho MXY7 Ohka Model 22

US Boeing B-29 Superfortress Enola Gay

US Boeing B-29 Superfortress Enola Gay

US Curtiss P-40E Kittyhawk

US Curtiss SB2C-5 Helldiver

US Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat

US Lockheed P-38J Lightning

US Northrop P-61C Black Widow

US Republic P-47D Thunderbolt

US Vought F4U-ID Corsair

US Vought-Sikorsky OS2U-3 Kingfisher

The Concorde

Lockheed SR-71A Blackbird

Space Shuttle Discovery

The Marine Corps Museum at Quantico Virginia

The Marine Corps Museum, located in Quantico, Virginia, chronicles the history of this distinguished US military unit from its origins as a naval infantry detachment aboard colonial era ships charged with defending against or acting as a boarding party, as well as defending the captain against mutiny from sailors to its modern day deployments. The Museum is nicely done with many impressive and very well made life size dioramas, vehicles & weapons displays, videos, and lots of material to read as you go along. I recently visited it for a third time, and it was just as interesting as the first. This time I did take the opportunity to document some of its displays, namely those depicting the conflicts of the 20th century. Let's take a look. 

Harrier fighter jet hanging at the main lobby. Note that the Marines have their own air units. 

Life-size diorama of a helicopter landing, something which became quite useful during the Vietnam War. 

Close up of the landing crew. Note the high level of detail on the figures. 

A WWII era Corsair.

A WWII diorama depicting an apmphibious landing. Could very likely be at Tarawa.

A wounded man taking cover against the sea wall. Hard to say that he is not real!

The men jumping off the Amtrak and charging off the beach.

Overcoming the seawall.

Urging the men to follow, despite the flying lead!

The Amtrak MG providing some covering fire. 

A marine unit charging up a street in Mexico Ciity during the war of 1847.

A rifled artillery piece. 

An early armored vehicle, of the WWI era.

Hand to hand fighting at Belleau Woods. 

Some German casualties at Belleau Woods. 

A WWI German MG08 Machine Gun.

WWII era medic tending to the wounded. 

An updated Browning MG -to be water cooled- being used in the Pacific as AA defense. 

A WWII Stuart tank.

WWII era US weapons.

Some more WWII era weapons. Note the flamethrower, which came in quite handy to deal with caves and bunkers in the Pacific. 

WWII era Japanese weapons.

Some more WWII Japanese weapons, including their portable MG and a light mortar. 

WWII Japanese Pistols.

WWII Anti Tank Gun.

A 1/16 scale (my estimate) diorama of the Tarawa landing. 

WWII Sherman in action.

One of the famous flags flown over Iwo Jima.

The standard issue M1 Garand.

A Korean War Pershing Tank.

A landing craft such as the ones used at the Incheon landings druing the Korean War.

A Vietnam era artillery base.

A man evacuating a comrade.

A helicopter unloading cargo at the Vietnam era artillery base.

A more recent howitzer.