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Saturday, December 8, 2012

Waterloo 1815 - Toy Soldiers

Waterloo 1815 is an Italian firm, started in the late 90s. It began recasting Atlantic figure sets and shortly after they began sculpting their own line of figures. They do most of their sets in 1/72 scale and have only released a handful of them in 1/32, which is a shame because they do have a decent variety of WWII figures which they could scale up. Aside from their own product line, they are also dealers of many other brands. One interesting point that I am still trying to clarify is why the Waterloo 1815 name is often associated with HAT. Perhaps some of their figures are recasts of HAT figures,but I don't know for sure. In terms of the WWII figures that they have released in 1/32, not surprisingly they are all Italian Army sets which fought in North Africa, but that's actually a good thing as that has been a niche that has been neglected by all manufacturers. Their pricing is fairly reasonable if you buy directly from their web site. You can get the figures for a fraction of what you will pay for them in the US. In terms of quality, the level of detail is good and creative, but the poses sometimes feel a bit stiff. If they made the scultpting of their figures reflect more fluid movements, I think they could be a top tier manufacturer. OK, so let's take a look at the sets that they have offered us. 

Waterloo 1815 El Alamein Division
Waterloo 1815 came up with this set around the same time as CTS released their Italians, but I like these guys better as they are focused on the North Africa campaign. I was trying to figure out the actual division that these figures might represent, but there were multiple Italian Divisions -Pavia, Trieste, Trento, Ariete, Brescia, Littorio, Bologna-, which fought during the First and Second battles at El Alamein, and the fighting in between. One of these guys appears to wear a Bersaglieri helmet, but there were Bersaglieri units attached to several divisions, so it does not really help to narrow down which one they belong to. In any case, they are good troops to have next to the DAK to fight the British 8th Army.

Waterloo 1815 Folgore Division
Anothet good set for the West Desert campaign. The Folgore division was an Italian Parachute Infantry unit which fought in North Africa with distinction. During the second battle of El Alamein in the fall of '42, it held back the allied attacks of more than 5 divisions for about two weeks. I like how they reflect the relaxed dress code that existed in the North African desert. That's what I meant about the nice, creative level of detail. The only thing I don't quite like about these guys are their bases, which make them a bit wobbly.

Waterloo 1815 Folgore Division Light Artillery 1942 - Part I
These figures are manning a heavy machine gun. The man with the bullets does not quite get to feed them into the MG, but he's still useful to have close by. The spotter with the binoculars is doing a good job. I might just try to remove the plastic that joins the cap to the hands which looks a bit odd. The machine gun itself looks like it could take out more than just infantry. It could easily knock out soft-skin vehicles and maybe even some lightly armored ones, but probably not very effective against some British 8th army Grant and Matilda tanks.

Waterloo 1815 Folgore Division Light Artillery 1942 - Part II
These other guys are the crew for the small howitzer. I am not sure about the caliber of the gun. I thought it might be a 37mm which is what was often issued to the paratroopers as it was easier to drop along with them during an airborne operation. However a reader recently commented that it's likely a 47mm Bohler gun (see comments section below). Apparently the wheels were detachable and it could be mounted on a tripod. It might not be clear from the picture, but all these figures come without a base, but they still manage to stand well on their own. One thing I don't quite like about the gun is that you can't change the elevation without messing around with the peg that inserts into the wheel carriage. All in all a good addition to the Folgore infantry.

Waterloo 1815 WWI Italian Infantry - Part I
From the bushy set of feathers on their helmet, this is a set of what appear to be Bersaglieri troops. While they are also WWI figures, as we've pointed out already, the Italian uniform and equipment did not change much in the inter-war years, so I think these guys will blend in well with their WWII peers. In terms of the set itself, I like the poses and detail on most of the figures. The only one that is a bit odd is the man throwing the grenade. It's not very apparent on this picture, but his front leg is too close to his back leg; not quite the way one would throw an object.

Waterloo 1815 WWI Italian Infantry - Part II
A nice set of poses here. I like the man on the left, crouching, but not quite kneeling. There is not much to criticize. Perhaps the only other thing to point out is that they are made out of this very light but hard plastic, which makes it a bit annoying to take off the spruce. You need a sharp knife, and you need to apply a good bit of pressure too, so if you slip a bit you might be slicing off your finger. One good thing is that Waterloo chose to give them a regular base. An improvement over those funny bases in their WWII sets.  

Monday, November 26, 2012

Toy Soldiers of San Diego - Toy Soldiers

Toy Soldiers of San Diego is an American firm located as the name indicates in Southern California. They began as a dealer -I discovered them in the late 90s or early 2000s- and a few years later, they evolved into having their own line of figures. While they also carry other sets outside of WWII, like cowboys and indians, romans and barbarians, etc. they have done an excellent job covering several WWII participants. Their level of sculpting is very good, with their poses being both dynamic and very well detailed. They are of comparable quality as Conte I would say. They are one of the few companies that currently issues new sets of WWII figures, so we certainly want to give them our business to make sure they continue to do so.

TSSD US Infantry
A nice set of GIs. Definitely can mix them up with Conte's as the size matches just right. Similarly to Conte, they also came up with their own version of the gutsy Sgt. [on the left]. The medic defending himself is a nice touch, probably more appropriate for the Pacific Theater of Operations where no quarter was given, even to medics.

TSSD US Infantry Heavy Weapons
A heavy weapons squad. Nice two piece MG and finally, a mortar guy who actually has a mortar.

TSSD US Infantry Long Coats
A good set of guys to have if you want to setup your own Battle of the Bulge. My only complaint is that I would have liked to have a few more poses.

TSSD German Elite Troops - Part I
Toy Soldiers of San Diego called them elite troops. I guess some folks have reservations about using the Waffen SS label. Nonetheless, they came out with a very good set. First manufacturer that I am aware of to produce mounted WW II troops. The machine gun team is also very well done.

TSSD German Elite Troops - Part II
This picture is showing the second mounted figure, including a different horse. Same MG Team, just painted in fall cammo color scheme.

TSSD German Elite Troops - Part III
Some more nicely sculpted poses. The guy on the left offers a bit of drama to any scene he participates in. The man with the sniper rifle is wearing one of those tent quarters (zeltbahn) which could be joined with another 3 parts to make a tent in the form of a pyramid to get some protection from the elements.

TSSD German Elite Troops - Part IV
Showing three of the same figures from the spring set from a different angle in fall cammo color scheme.

TSSD Germans in Long Coats - Part I
The opposition for the GIs in winter uniforms. Note how even with long coats, they gave them enough detail in terms of the equipment that they are carrying on their back.

TSSD Germans in Long Coats - Part II
Another picture of the log coats, containing the last two poses -the guys at the two ends.

TSSD German Infantry expansion set
These are some recently released German guys that complement the TSSD German 'Elite Troops'. They will paint well as SS guys in cammo gear or as regular landser wearing winter gear, as they go well the Germans with longcoats, with the nice added touch that they come with a different head gear. You can't see well in the picture, but the man on the right is holding/throwing a grenade also. The only thing to complain about is that they only released four poses. 

TSSD Japanese Infantry - Part I
Another nice set with some intense action poses. They actually have 8 poses only, but the guy with the flag can also hold a rifle instead - see below.

TSSD Japanese Infantry - Part II
The rest of the pack. As you can see, they also project a good dose of energy. The fixed bayonets very much in line with their tendency to engage in close quarters combat.

TSSD US Marines - Part I
These guys are also a nice dynamic bunch which captures well the nature of the fighting in the Pacific, with the wounded having to defend themselves. Their original color is very similar to the BMC guys, so even unpainted they blend well together.

TSSD US Marines - Part II
The guy fighting with the shovel is quite dramatic. The other men showing a representative variety of weapons: sub machine gun, Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) & Garand rifle.

TSSD Soviet Infantry
As with the other sets, nice sculpting, and good poses. The woman sniper is a good unique touch which pays tribute to the many women who fought at the front lines of the Soviet army.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Timpo - Toy Soldiers

Timpo was a British firm started in 1938 and in production until 1978. Its name stood for Toy Importers. Their figures were famous for having detachable weapons and parts, aka swoppets. Some were manufactured with similar techniques as the Britians Super Deetail, using plastic of different color on the same figure. Timpo made a wide range of figures but only a small set were focused on WWII. After bankruptcy, its assets were purchased by Toyway.

Timpo British 8th Army - Part 1
As you can see, these guys have nothing to do with the more typical Timpo swoppet figures. I suspect these might have been made before they switched to that stayle. These guys remind me a bit of the Cherilea guys, particularly the machine gunner. They are also on the taller side of 54mm figures. This set contains who appears to be one of three Monty guys in my collection.

Timpo British 8th Army - Part 2
These guys are not my favorite figures. There are two things that I don't quite like. They are standing too upright and their facial expressions could have used a bit more work. Some of their faces look more like skulls.

Timpo British 8th Army - Part 3
Here are a few vintage figures with some original paint still on them. Notice how they were also cast on a darker plastic color, which I actually like better than that of the newer recasts. 

Timpo French Foreign Legion - Part 1
A set with very few poses. The poses are actually fairly acceptable, although in terms of detail, the faces are not the best. They seem to have been sculpted by the same hand that made the B8A figures. Not sure wha period they were meant to represent, but I like the fact that they have equipment which could pass for WWII era, including the white kepi. WWII legionnaires fought in the deserts of North Africa and the Middle East. They even fought on opposite sides in the Syrian campaign of 1941.

Timpo French Foreign Legion - Part 2
This is a vintage figure. Apparently they came factory painted and you can still see traces of the original colors on this figure. Unfortunately this legionnaire seems to have lost his rifle, but he is still ready to throw a grenade.

Timpo / Lone Star ANZAC Infantry - Part 1
Again, these are not typical Timpo figures. In fact they were originally produced by Lone Star and today you can buy them under the Timpo name. The sculpting on these figures is a bit coarse, but it's nice that they provide a bit more variety and poses. Luckily they are also wearing a tropical uniform. I am sure that once they are painted they will blend in acceptably with the Airfix guys. This set includes an officer with a cap, which looks a bit more official than the Airfix commander that comes with the Australian guys.

Timpo / Lone Star ANZAC Infantry - Part 2
This other set contains a bazooka guy, which is a welcome heavy weapon addition, as well as a radio man, which is also not present in the Airfix set. These  guys are sold in a blister pack which is branded as both Lone Star and Timpo, so if you look for them you might find them under either brand but as I mentiuoned earlier, they were originally released by Lone Star.

Timpo / Lone Star British Naval Infantry - Part 1
These are recast figures of the Lone Star British Naval Infantry. They are pretty much the same poses, except for the fact that they do not have any factory paint on them, and that they are made of a more resilient plastic which does not break. Now that I have found these guys, I will not paint my original/vintage Lone Star figures and paint these newer recasts instead. 

Timpo / Lone Star British Naval Infantry - Part 2
Out of the original nine Lone Star figures Timpo recast 8 of them. The guy who is missing is the helmsman, however I did not really have much use for him as part of a raiding party, so it's not like I will be missing him much, 

Timpo US Infantry - Part I
These are the nicest among the Timpo figures that I have seen. There are quite a few poses for this set -probably close to 20- Unfortunatley I only have a handful. They are hard to find. I found this guy going through a big toy solider bin at a Toy Soldier Show. 

Timpo US Infantry - Part II
Here are two more guys that I managed to get by chance when I bought a lot of mixed soldiers. They used to be factory-painted but as you can see, most of the original paint is gone.

Timpo US Infantry - Part III
Here is another batch of Timpo GIs with some more color on them. I find the sculpting quite good in terms of the poses. The level of detail could be finer, but they are still quite well done for their time. For instance, take a look at the man running with the sub mg. That is a very nice pose. 

Timpo US Infantry - Part IV
And a few more. Note that the radio man is also featured here. I could have removed the other pic, but since it is a close up I figure it's worth leaving it there. I should also point out that these figures were later reissued but a company called UNA. You can tell them apart because the UNA figures have the company name stamped underneath.

Timpo US Infantry - Part V
The latest Timpo GI. Not a very exciting pose. He seems to be carrying a suitcase with a blanket roll attached to it. The strange thing is that it also has a backpack with a blanket roll on the back, so I am not really sure what the suitcase is or why he would have two packs. The paint quality on this figure is still very good. And BTW, note that this paint color scheme is different.

Timpo US Infantry - Part VI
Here is yet another Timpo guy. He looks like a mortar or artillery crew member. I don't think Timpo made any artillery sets, so most likely he is the former, but then again, I would expect him to he holding a mortar shell in that case. So I am not really sure what he is supposed to be operating. He came in a large batch of mixed figures, so I don't have any other context to guess from. If you know, leave a comment!

Timpo US Infantry - Part VII
This is an interesting pose. It seems to have been made in slightly different variations over quite a few versions of the Timpo GIs, boing back to the day in which they were still made in metal. This one is one of the more recent ones. Unfortunately I do not have the stretcher bearers.

Timpo US Infantry - Part VIII
Here is the rest of the stretcher team, with a good amount of the original paint still on them, which is nice so that we can still see the armbands designating them as medics.

Timpo US Infantry - Part IX
A couple of heavy weapons guys a kneeling rifle man. I was lucky enough to find the mortar to go along with the figure.  

Timpo US Infantry - Part X
Two infantry men and an MP guy (in the middle). Note how some of these poses are repeated in the Reisler figures, like the guy on the right. He's actually one of the Timpo guys displaying the most movement, which I always like.

 Timpo Divers
Not sure what nationality they represent. These type of subs were mainly used by the Italians, but it's possible that they also represent British divers, after all, Timpo was a British firm. A decent set. The mini sub is made of a pretty light plastic, and it is hollow, which makes it feel even lighter. The oxigen tanks are removable, but the rest of the figures is one piece. The colors are not painted, but is the plastic's original color, which suggests that this was an item made in their later years. 

Click here to see some Timpo Swoppet figures

British Artillery

British Artillery is an interesting niche in terms of Toy Soldiers. I have not seen anything in recent years, but apparently during the 60s or 70s, they were a topic that received some good level of attention from British manufacturers. Unfortunately that means that to add some decent guns into your collection you need to buy some old collectibles which is not necessarily cheap. Thus, this is one area where some new production would be very welcome. The two main suppliers of these guns were Crescent Toys and Lone Star, although between the two, I like the Crescent guns a lot more. Let's see what we have available to us.

Crescent 5.5 inch Medium Gun
The 5.5 inch (or 140mm) gun went into service in 1941 and first saw action in North Africa. It was operated by a crew of 10. Its firing range was between 16,000 to 18,000 yards. Each shell weighed 100lbs. The firing angle went from -5 to 45 degrees. This model by Crescent has a wheel on the side that can be loosened/tightened to adjust the firing angle. It also comes with a lever on top that controls a spring and it allows it to shoot actual rounds. Unfortunately none came with the gun, so I will need to improvise some ammo.

Crescent 25 pounder Field Gun
Also known as Ordnance QF 25 pounder, this was a 87.6mm caliber gun. Introduced shortly before the war, it was the main howitzer in the British Army during the War and many years thereafter. Its maximum range was 13,400 yards with a HE shell of 25 pounds (hence the name). This is another nice model by Crescent. The rivets on the gun shield make it look very real. Like the 5.5 gun, it also has a lever that allows it to shoot rounds. 

Crescent 25 pounder Field Gun - from above
This picture shows the circular platform that these guns used to have which enabled them to be rotated to point in the right direction more easily. When the gun was deployed, the platform would be placed underneath the wheels of the gun. Unfortunately, most of the models that you find today are missing this part, as it is relatively easy to detach it.

Lone Star Anti Tank Gun
This is an under-scale gun by Lone Star. Rather than 1/32 it seems to be 1/40 or 1/43. Based on its size it can probably be used as a 6 pounder or even the 2 pounder anti-tank guns. Like the Crescent guns, it also comes with a lever-controlled spring that allows you to shoot rounds with it. 

Lone Star Anti Tank Gun - Desert Version
This is the same gun as the previous one. I don't know if Lone Star released it in this color scheme, or if a prior owner spray painted it this color. In any case, I just got three of them in this style and they provide much needed artillery support for the B8A guys. 

Lone Star 25 Pounder - Front
Here is another under-scale model by Lone Star. Given their 1/32 figure range, I just wish they had manufactured these sets to match those figures. BTW, this one also lets you shoot with it. 

Lone Star 25 Pounder - Back
Here you get a good idea of the size of the gun relative to some actual 54mm figures. I guess it could be used to represent a smaller caliber gun. But definitely, if you are undecided between the Crescent 25 pounder and this one, the Crescent one is head and shoulders a much better choice.

Crescent 18 Pounder
As you might suspect, perhaps from the wooden wheels, this is a WWI gun. At the beginning of WWII some British units were still equipped with them. Anecdotally, I have also heard -although I have not verified- that they were also used at the outset of the war by the Soviet Army, hence I staffed the gun with a Soviet crew for this picture. This model comes in metal and as other Crescent guns, has a spring-based firing mechanism. The only thing to criticize is that it is a bit underscale. This particular model is well used, so the gun barrel drops below horizontal, which is why I had to place a small twig to support it.

Britains Deetail L6 'Wombat' 120mm recoilles Antitank gun
The Wombat is actually a weapon developed in the1950's. I suppose this is why it looks so much like a WWII artillery piece. At any rate, since I don't have many other British anti tank guns, I have decided to accept it in my WWII collection. Plus it has a nice, heavy caliber!

Click here to see a post about British Armor
Click here to see British Infantry in action