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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Conte Collectibles - Toy Soldiers

I still remeber the first time I laid eyes on Conte's first set of German Infantry figures. I was at a Toy Soldier Show and a vendor had one of Conte's D-Day sets on display. They were the most realistic, action-filled and diverse poses that I had ever seen. I was totally in awe of these guys. I did not feel like spending several hundred dollars for the whole playset which included several terrain pieces, so I tried to buy the figures separately. After a bit of negotiation I was able to get about 80 of them for about $2 a piece. This was several times more than what I had ever paid for a plastic soldier. I walked away with a mixture of guilt, wonder and excitement. This was in the early 2000s and over the next few years Conte delivered several other sets of WWII figures. Luckily for us, he was as excited about WWII and toy soldiers in general that he produced a great number of poses with great level of detail. Unfortunately he seemed to have a rocky relationship with some of his dealers, probably as a result of not being able to keep up with demand, and his business took a bad turn somewhere along the way. But it was a great ride while it lasted. They still seem to be in business so I am hopeful that someday they will resume sculpting new figures. They defintiely set a new standard for plastic toy soldiers which has improved the overall output of toy soldiers manufacturers in general. So without further ado, let's take a look at Conte's contribution to the hobby.

Conte Collectibles German Infantry Set 1 - Part 1

Conte Collectibles German Infantry Set 1 - Part 2

Conte Collectibles German Infantry Set 2 - Part 1
Note that Conte introduced plug-in arms which allows the creation of new poses by just exchanging the weapon/accessory. This is a manufacturer who refused to yield to the typical manufacturing constraints of his time and decided to make figures in two parts in order to get the poses he wanted. In the case above, the guy with the MG-42 is the same figure as the guy with the phone.

Conte Collectibles German Infantry Set 2 - Part 2
Again, by using pluggable arms, I was able to create four figures out of two base running guys.

Conte Collectibles German Infantry Set 3 - Part 1
The other 4 poses were German SS figures which are shown below: the officer, the man with the grenade, the man kneeling on two knees, and the man advancing cautiously with a sub MG.

Conte Collectibles German Waffen SS - Part 1, Spring Cammo
These guys are not grouped according to how they were released. Instead the picture shows some guys from Set 3 and Set 4.

Conte Collectibles German Waffen SS - Part 2, Spring Cammo
This picture actually shows German infantry from Set 3 painted as Waffen SS.

Conte Collectibles German Waffen SS - Part 3, Fall Cammo

Conte Collectibles German Waffen SS - Part 4, Fall Cammo

Conte Collectibles German Waffen SS - Part 5, Fall Cammo
Again, German Infantry from set 3 painted as Waffen SS

Conte Collectibles British Paras - Part 1
16 figures in great action poses... the only guy that I find a bit stiff is the officer standing up firing his side arm, but hey, he could be Sam Elliot (Sgt. Major Basil Plumley) saying 'gentlemen, perpare do defend yourselves!'

Conte Collectibles British Paras - Part 2

Conte Collectibles British Paras - Part 3

Conte Collectibles British Paras - Part 4

Conte Collectibles US Paras - Part 1
I like these guys even more than the Red Devils. The material was a bit different though and some of the men had a hard time standing up. They required some straightening up with hot/cold water.

Conte Collectibles British Paras - Part 2

 Conte Collectibles British Paras - Part 3
There is actually one more pose, a casualty, which I did not include in the pictures, for a total of 16 poses.

Conte Collectibles US Infantry - Part 1
This was Conte's most prolific set of poses. GIs meant for the Normandy landing. You can tell that he has a special spot in his heart for these guys. The only thing I did not like was that they were sold in blister cards and to get all 25 poses you had to buy something like 8 or 10 sets of them. Not that I mind buying several sets, but if I am going to buy repeat poses I like to at least get an even number of them. The way the blister cards were organized you could end up with 4 of one pose and 1 of another... again, great sculpting, but unusual business sense.

Conte Collectibles US Infantry - Part 2
Gotta love those touches like the guy holding his helmet. You really get a sense of action and movement with these poses.

Conte Collectibles US Infantry - Part 3
Contains one of my favorite poses overall... and we got a good variety of 'prone' guys.

Conte Collectibles US Infantry - Part 4
Really like the grenade thrower in this set. Making the man who is kneeling looking away is also a nice touch. 

Conte Collectibles US Infantry - Part 5
These guys here are ready to lay down some supressing fire!

Click here to see more German Infantry
Click here to see more US Infantry
Click here to see the Waffen SS in action


  1. I know exactly how you feel about these figures. When I first saw them at The Hobby Bunker in Malden, which I frequented in those days about 10 years ago, I could see that this was something unique, and a vast improvement on what had hitherto been available in plastic. I bought all the German figures, and the two sets of US Airborne that were available. Plus I ransacked the spare figures box on the counter every week for additional figures (and came away, over the months, with a surprising number).
    They were a perfect complement to 21st Century's armor, which was still available then in Toys R Us and Walmart, as supplies allowed. And you say Conte had supply problems! Remember the on-again,off-again nature of the availability of 21st Century's items? One omnth Toys R Us would have them, then they would take down all the 21st Century Toys logos from the wall, then they would be back!
    Before this, all I had ever seen in plastic WWII was Marx, and Matchbox's 1/72nd line. Conte's figures really were taking it to the next level.
    I just wish that Conte's current obsession with the Spartans would abate, and they could get back to WWII, and release some AWI plastic, as people thought they would after The Patriot came out.

  2. This is so amusing... back then I was also running around all the ToysRUs in the area (even calling them!) to try to catch their next delivery of 21C items. You are defintiely right. At the time, Conte figures with 21C vehicles were 'state of the art' products. What every collector had been dreaming of since childhood! About Conte, I am also hopeful that they will resume production of new plastic figures. WWII would be nice, but any period would also be OK.

  3. Even getting the old figures back on the market would be great. The US Infantry is very hard to find, and expensive, notwithstanding the fact that it was released in the last decade in 10 sets!

  4. The best bet to get Conte figures these days is to buy them at a toy soldier show. They usually have bins with many loose figures and you can pick and chose the poses you want. They will charge you about a dollar or two a piece, but that's not much different from what they cost new.

  5. For some people collecting products and memorabilia during the war will serves as their connection to what happened in the past. It will be their link to certain events that they know played a significant role during the war. We know that stories about World War 2 will live forever, it may have different versions but still the fact of it will remain to be told from generation to generation.

  6. Very nice paint on them, i start collecting also and painting toy soldiers 1 32 scale, i found set 1 of germans, but from set 2 and 3 i have few poses only, from ss set i have nothing,i was wondering if you can post the numbers under the 2 soldiers,set 2 part 2 on german infantry, the 2 guys standing with the rifle at eyes those 2, i have some poses but some look like the one standing from set 1.

    1. Thank you. Conte figures are certainly among the most exciting so they are good sets to collect. I will take a look at the numbers and post them when I am back home (I am traveling at the moment for a couple weeks).

  7. Looking to purchase 2 conte collectible WW2 GIs. 1} standing w/ tommygun 2}standing, firing rifle w/both legs straight, Trade for other GIs or $.

  8. Bella Donna on Long IslandOctober 25, 2014 at 2:55 PM

    Looking to purchase 2 conte collectible WW2 GIs. 1} standing w/ tommygun 2}standing, firing rifle w/both legs straight, Trade for other GIs or $. 516 242-5298

  9. What primer and paint did you use?
    They seem to be more flexible plastic than usual (at least the US paras, that I have). So some of my first painting had scaled off after being exposed to kids.

    So I assume there is a special paint needed.

    1. Yes, the plastic is softer, which makes it easier for the paint to come off. I used a primer called Desing Master, but even that did not solve the problem. The real solution was to use something called PlastiDip to cover them. Take a look at this other post, where I describe it in more detail: