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Saturday, October 3, 2015

Expeditionary Force - Figures

Expeditionary Force is a firm based out of Singapore. They seem to have been making figures for the last 4 or 5 years. They manufarcture figures in a wide range of historic periods, from ancients like Greeks and Persians, to American Civil War and most recently World War II, GIs and Germans. They figures are very well detailed, and their manufacturing method involves making bodies and arms separately, so that you can attach different arms to the same body and create a very different figure. They also manufacture the head gear separately, so for instance, the WWII GIs can be given regular GI helmets, or they can also wear Adrian helmets so that you can make Free French out of them. Similarly, the Germans can wear steel helmets or soft caps. All this does require quite a bit of gluing, but it also allows you to create variations of the figuresif you don't want the poses exactly as they present them in their pictures. Their figures are very well detailed and the poses show a nice degree of action. They are meant to be 54mm, but at least the recent WW figures, were more along the lines of 60 mm. I know that some folks, like my good friend the Plastic General, have found this problematic. In my case, I find the number of poses released to be sufficient that I don't have to mix them with other figures if I don't want to. For instance, the recent WWII GIs, come in 5 sets, with most poses being unique. OK, so let's take a look at them.

Expeditionary Force Free French - Assault Section - Part I
I intentionally placed similar poses next to each other for ease of comparison. Subtle diferences in the positioning of the legs and arms, and the weapons they carry. Note how the first and fourth men from the left, are based off the same body, and the arms make all the difference. The helmets also make a big difference from how they look as GIs, particularly the officer who is wearing a kepi in this case. 

Expeditionary Force Free French - Assault Section - Part II
Three out of the four bodies are repeats, just with different arms. The new body is the one holding the bar, and smoking a cigar. Again, the arms make a substantial difference. Overall, they have managed t create a good range of figures using this interchangeable system of bodies and arms, without sacrificing much in terms of movement or creating awkward poses. 

Expeditionary Force Free French - HQ Company - Part I
This set has the most diverse poses. They call it the HQ Company, but it also has a few heavy weapons. Note how the office is holding a set of binoculars. You will see that this is a theme that repeats itself quite a bit. Perhaps a bit too much. The bazooka team turned out pretty good. The sniper seems a little too exposed in my opinion. 

Expeditionary Force Free French - HQ Company - Part II
Out of these guys, I really like the flame thrower and the radio man. The rest are good role players to fill the ranks. The bar man is a repeat of the earlier set. 

Expeditionary Force Free French - Defense Section - Part I
This set has a few more kneeling guys. I also put them next to each other for ease of comparison. The arms are some of the ones that we have already seen on the standing figures. The officer is similar to one of the earlier ones, but they have given him a pistol this time. 

Expeditionary Force Free French - Defense Section - Part II
And we got a third bar man in this set. I could have used a few more sub MGs and fewer men walking with the rifle across their chest. 

Expeditionary Force Free French - MG Section - Part I
A nice set of figures. The arms of the machine gun team attach in such a way that you can only put them in one position, which helps to make evertyhing line up well. Other poses allow you to rotate the arms as much as you want. 

Expeditionary Force Free French - MG Section - Part II
These are very similar to the previous ones, except for the officer and the rifleman.
The man standing with the rifle across his chest was supposed to be kneeling. The standing man was supposed to be another officer, but I swapped them so I could have a kneeling officer, as seen in the next picture. 

Expeditionary Force Free French - MG Section - Part III
The only thing I don't like about the kneelign officer is that he seems to be pointing his binoculars downwards. So I guess I need to put him on high ground to make it look adequate.

Expeditionary Force Free French - Mortar Section - Part I
These three mortar teams are almost all the same. the only thing that varies is the officer. 

Expeditionary Force Free French - Mortar Section - Part II
This one has a kepi and is holding a sub MG.

Expeditionary Force Free French - Mortar Section - Part III
This one is similar to the first one, but I raised the left arm to give it some variety.

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

Publius - Figures

Publius 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.

Publius 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. 

Publius 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. 

Publius 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. 

Publius 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