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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Supreme Playsets - Toy Soldiers

Supreme Playsets is a relatively unknown company that manufactures soldiers for kids. They come in bags and are relatively inexpensive. This would be great for me as a collector if only they offered more WWII sets. They do cover a large range of figures, like knights, pirates, ancients, but only one WWII set. One interesting feature of their figures is that they come factory painted. Once I heard that they were based out of Russia, but I don't have any evidence of it. One thing that points in that direction is that they do tend to favor sets depicting Russian figures, like Russian Knights, Russian Napoleonic Infantry, or WWII Soviet Infantry as you will see below.
The Soviet Infantry set was released only 2 or 3 years back. They are recasts of the 1/72 Italeri Soviet Infantry. There is an imporant difference though between this set and the Italeri 1/32 set. While Italeri also released a Soviet Infantry set in 1/32, that set only contains 8 figures, whereas the Supreme Playsets Set contains 12. If you want to try to identify which 4 are the new ones, do so before reading the rest of the post.
Supreme Playsets Soviet Infantry - Part I
As you can see it is a solid set, althpugh the credit for that should really go to Italeri. The man on the very left is carrying an anti-tank rifle (not sure if it is a PTRS or a PTRD), which is actually a nice and unique figure/weapon across all the Soviet Infantry sets that I have seen. He's great at taking on lightly-to-medium-armored German vechicles. The two figures that Italeri did not release in 1/32 are the first and the third guys from the left.

Supreme Playsets Soviet Infantry - Part II
As you can see, Supreme Playsets relased these figures in two color schemes. The green base color that you see is actually the color of the plastic, and only the face is really painted. The rest of the figure just has some brown patches throughout the body. So, other than the eyes, which actually look fairly decent, the rest of the paint job is rather poor. The same is true for the brown figures in the first picture above. The two new poses that Italeri did not release in 1/32 are the first and the fourth guys from the right.

Click here to see a post about Soviet Infantry
Click here to see Soviet Infantry in action

Monday, October 29, 2012

Crescent - Toy Soldiers

Crescent is another English manufacturer of what now are vintage toy soldiers. According to Richard O'Brien's Collecting Foreign-made Toy Soldiers, they were founded in the 20's, and initially made lead/metal soldiers. In the 50's they started making plastic figures and they were in production into the 70's. They have a small range of WWII figures, primarly commonwealth troops, and seem to have worked on both 60mm and 54mm. In recent years I have managed to get my hands on a few of their sets. Here's what I have found.

Crescent British Commandos/Paratroops
These are 60 mm figures. I actually don't know for sure if they are Commandos or Paratroops -I've seen them labeled either way- so I plan to use them as both. Once they are painted I think they will fit in well, and having a mortar guy on the unit and another bazooka man can't hurt. For a commando or a Para unit. Of all the Crescent figures on this post, these are the easiest to find.

Crescent 60mm British Infantry - Part I
Crescent also produced 60mm British Infantry figures, and they are a large 60mm set. They apparently came factory -painted and seem to retain the paint relatively well. I believe there are 1 or 2 more poses in the set which I hope to get at some point.

Crescent 60 mm British Infantry - Part II
The officer. A nice action pose. Running into the heat of battle.

Crescent Modern British Infantry
Based on the weapons, these guys seem to be modern British Infantry. They are a bit on the smaller side of the scale for 54mm, but I think that once they are painted they will fight just fin. I particularly like the two guys on the right. Their forward lean makes them good action poses. The two on the left are at the other end of the action pose spectrum.

Crescent 'Movables' British Commandos
These guys are analogous to the Britians Swoppets. You can remove their weapons and body parts to combine them into different poses/figures. In my opinion, the level of detail and realism is not quite there, however due to their uniqueness, they deserve a spot in the collection. I think they came in sets of 7, so there is one missing from this picture.

Crescent British 8th Army
These guys are failry well sculpted for the time when they were made and and come factory painted. I am not sure exactly how many there were in the original set, but this sample gives an idea of what they looked like.

Crescent British 8th Army clones
These guys are 40mm clones made in Hong Kong. I made the mistake of buying them on eBay without checking that they were the right scale. The only bright spot is that it let me realize that there is at least one more pose that I do not have in 54mm - the guy with the sub MG.

Crescent Sikh Infantry - Part I
These are some guys that I have been trying to get for a while. They are 54mm figures. I have seen sets with 6 of them, but I have only been able to buy 3. They are also pre-WWII figures, but as you can see, they should blend in. Also factory painted.

Crescent Sikh Infantry - Part II
One more for the collection. I actually had to get a batch of 20+ mixed figures just to get this one extra pose. I find the figure a bit puzzling. On the one hand he appears to be leading a charge, but in that case, you would expect his expression to be more lively. Perhaps he jut got hit? But then he would be losing his balance, wouldn't he?

Crescent Sikh Infantry - Part III
And one more, with a good deal of original paint left on him.

Crescent Sikh Infantry - Part IV
This is the last one from the set. An action pose, rallying his comrades to move forward. This guy's paint has been touched up by the previous owner, which actually makes his beard look pretty good.

Crescent Soviet Infantry
This set was a real find as it is not easy to come by. To my knowledge there are only 5 poses. The pose on the left is rather original. As you can see they came factory painted.  The level of detail on the sculpting is fairly decent, except for the faces which are a bit dull. All in all, a nice set to have in the collection. 

Crescent WWI British Infantry - Part I
This guy is a British WWI figure, but I think that given the puttees, he might pass acceptably enough for a French WWII trooper. The helmet is different but some French guys actually wore British helmets, so I just need to find a few more of his comrades and they will form up a French unit in my army.

Crescent WWI British Infantry - Part II
Here is another guy from the British WWI set. He has more of the original paint on him, although the tip of his bayonet is broken off. If it were not for the gear on his chest, I think he could easily pass for a WWII French Infantry soldier.

Click here to see more Indian Infantry figures
Click here to see more British Infantry
Click here to see British Infantry in action

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Revell - Toy Soldiers

The original Revell firm was founded in the mid 40s in California. It initially was in the business of selling toy cars and car models. Later on it diversified into many kinds of model kits, like ships and planes, the kind you spend hours assembling together. In the mid 50s they established a subsidiary in Germany. This is the branch that went into the toy soldier business. Their main focus however has been on the 1/72 scale and they have only released a handful of sets in 1/35. In 2006 Revell Plastics GmbH officially separated from its parent company which by that time had already been acquired and gone through a merge with Monogram. In the end, the subsidiary turned out to be more successful than the parent company. Unfortunately, at about the same time, it also stopped selling the 1/35 figure line and today it only sells 1/72 figures, which is too bad, because if they had gone in the opposite direction, scaling up their 1/72 figures, they would have been able to release many sets in 1/35. Anyhow, so let's take a look at what they did give us.

Revell British Paratroops - Part I
As I mentioned, Revell made these guys in 1/35 scale, so you might not want to place them right next to the Conte guys. A nice set for the most part. The second guy from the left is the one guy that I don't find that great as he seems to be falling forward. And the guy pulling his parachute is a nice, unique pose, but of course, you can only use him in some limited scenes.

Revell British Paratroops - Part II
Another interesting detail is the weapons canister. The picture does not show it clearly, but it is actually separate from the figures. I found these guys manufactured in two different plastic colors, as seen above, with green being the most common.

Revell British 8th Army - Part I
A good set for the most part. I painted several of them some time back. As you can see, the guys I left out were the ones that are standing a bit funny. But the man with the MG and the bag pipe are quite good.

Revell British 8th Army - Part II
These other guys are all quite acceptable. The man second from right firing while advancing is a nice pose. I suppose with the berets and bagpipes these guys could belong to the Black Watch, the famous Scottish regiment which fought in North Africa.

Revell Afrika Korps - Part I
These figures are actually not that far in size from the Airfix figures. Most of the guys in this set are pretty well done except for the guy on the left whose running I find a bit awkward. He seems about to trip and fall over.

Revell Afrika Korps - Part II
The set includes a very nice heavy machine gun mounted on a tripod. The two guys operating it and the gun itself can be removed from the base The guy on the left is probably my favorite figure from this set and a good example of some of the elements that make a good figure: bent knees, slight crouch, body balance shifted off-center, intense look/gaze.

Revell German Engineers or Deutsche Pioniere - Part I
As you can see there is a good diversity of poses reflecting their many roles, such as construction, demolition, mine laying, mine removal, and combat.

Matchbox German Infantry and Revell German Engineers or Deutsche Pioniere - Part II
As you can see, the Revell guys are close enough in size to mix with 1/32 figures. When I painted these guys I thought they should have a few more guys in fighting poses to also reflect their combat role, so I recruited the four Matchbox guys in the back row. A very interesting piece of equipment that comes with the Revell set is the 'Goliath' or SdKfz 303b/Gerat 672, which is operated by the man on the left. This was essentially a remote controlled tracked bomb which could be used against fortifications. This site has a good description of it.

Revell German Engineers or Deutsche Pioniere - Part III
Engineers were also tasked with river crossings and bridge building. In this case, we have a couple guys on a raft negotiating a section of a river. I must say that with that size of boat it would have taken many trips to bring a unit across a river. My guess is that the manufacturer wanted to convey the spirit of the role, without having to produce a much larger boat.

Click here to see more British Paratroops
Click here to see more Afrika Korps figures

Pegasus Hobbies - Toy Soldiers

Pegasus Hobbies is an American manufacturer of figures, kits and accessories. They are based out of California and while I don't know exactly when they entered the market, they seem to be a relatively recent arrival. Nonetheless, they have a nice decent range of figures, but the unfortunate part for us is that most of them are in the 1/72 scale. They did begin manufacturing some sets in 1/32, but they only released 3 of them and only one was WWII-related as you will see below. One of the sets that they have in 1/72 which I really, really hope that they release in 1/32 is a WWI/WWII French Infantry set. I exchanged some emails with them about two years back and they expressed that there was a good possibility of it happening, so I am still hopeful that will be the case and the French could definitely use some extra figures/poses. In reality, I fear that their 1/32 line has not sold as well as expected and they might not be pressing forward with more sets. That would be a shame as the quality of the sculpting and the creativity of the poses is really above average. In the meantime, they have just released a set of German Paras, which is a very welcome contribution to the hobby. OK, so let's take a look a the one WWII set that we  do have available to us.

Pegasus Hobbies Soviet Naval Infantry - Part I
First of all, they provided us with a branch of the Soviet military that no other manufactuer had paid attention to. That was a great choice, and when these guys are painted they look really nice. Second, notice that we get 12 poses, which is a great number. And the poses are really dynamic and ready for some action. They would really fit well on some close quarters battle scene like Stalingrad or Sevastpol, which is where many of these guys actually fought.

Pegasus Hobbies Soviet Naval Infantry - Part II
The only thing to be aware of, is that in order to manufacture some of these complex poses, some of the figures come in two parts, and the arms, weapons or legs need to be glued to the figure, which requires finding the right glue so that they remain attached. But I find that only a small inconvenience in exchange for what you get. The whole set is so well done that I find it hard to pick a favorite figure. Perhaps the prone man firing the sub machine gun, but it is a very hard call.

Pegasus Hobbies German Paratroops - Part I
A nice complement to the existing paras. An officer with a cap to lead them, a man with a heavy MG firing off the hip, and a very much needed panzerschreck. In terms of scale, they are a very good match with the existing Airfix figures. Perhaps the head/helmet is a bit smaller, but it's not going to be very noticeable. Once they are painted they will mix well with the others.

Pegasus Hobbies German Paratroops - Part II
In terms of sculpting, they are just the way I like them. Lots of action in these poses. All of them engaging the enemy and their bodies leaning the way they are supposed to and plenty of detail on them. In terms of new weapons, the panzerpfaust is also a welcome addition to the unit and will be put to good use in close quarter combat against Allied armor.

Click here to see a post with the Soviet Naval Infantry in action.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Oliver - Toy Soldiers

This is an obscure brand for me. I am not sure if it is related to a company called Oliver Toys which manfactured farm toys. As far as I can tell, there are only a few figure sets out there allegedly manufactured by this company, but only a few: the Japanese figures shown in this post, French Foreign Legion, and some Galdiators. The figures are 60mm in size. The ones I have are clones of the originals, reissued by a dealer called ATS Toy Soldiers. As you can see, the scuplting and poses was fairly decent. If you have any more info about this firm I would love to hear from you!

Oliver 60mm Japanese Infantry - Part I
I had never heard about these figures until one day that I was browsing through eBay. They offer 11 good poses to complement your Imperial Army. Certainly they are a bit larger, but they should still fit in. I also saw them listed in a brown color. I like that the poses are quite dynamic, like the third guy from the left or the second one from the right, and are well proportioned. They also carry a nice variety of weapons.

Oliver 60mm Japanese Infantry - Part II
What reveals that they are unofficial recasts (i.e. clones) is that if you pay attention to the base of some of the figures you will see how the base of the original figure is contained within a larger base which indicates that a second mold was made using an original cast. If the molds are lost, I suppose that is a good solution. What I didn't quite like was that the eBay listing did not point that out, and on close inspection, the figures have other imperfections typical of clones.

Click here to see a post about Japanese Armor

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

MPC - Toy Soldiers

Multiple Products Corporation, also known as MPC and Multiple Toymakers, was an American manufacturer of plastic figures, playsets and toys in general that was in business during the 50s and 60s. Not to be confused with Model Products Corporation which was in the business of model cars and vehicles. In terms of WWII figures they produced several sets covering some of the main participating nations. Their sculpting style is quite unique in the sense that most figures are tall and slim. Definitely on the larger side of 54mm. In addition to the 54 mm figures, they also had a line of 60mm figures that came with 'ring hands' which allowed them to hold different weapons and equipment. 

MPC German Infantry - Part I
These guys are not my favorite. A bit too stiff for my taste. Even the man who is displaying a bit of action, throwing the grenade, does not seem to be well balanced. The second man from the right is probably the best pose. In terms of uniqueness, the brightest spot on this set is the Filed Marshal with the baton, not seen among other manufacturers.

MPC German Infantry - Part II
A few more less-than-ideal guys. The prone guy is OK, but he is really on the longer/taller side. The guy on the left looks like he is asking for a ball to be thrown to him. The guy on the right really looks like a 2-D figure.

MPC Japanese Infantry - Part I
Again, the figures tend to be on the tall and slim side, but they are a notch better than the Germans. And even if they are not the best sculpted guys out there, I have a soft spot for old figures like these, and I trust that once they are painted, their appearance will improve.

MPC Japanese Infantry - Part II
The guy without a base tends to fall over, and the rifle strap belonging to the second guy from the left is often broken when you find these figures. The same goes for the tripod on the machine gun. So if you find these guys without broken weapons grab them!

MPC US Infantry - Part I
As far as MPC figures go, I think this is one of their better sets. The guys are not as tall and the posing of the figures reflcts a bit more action and better balance. As you can see, once they are painted they look quite acceptable. 

MPC US Infantry - Part II
The guy on the right is my preferred one from this batch. The prone guy is much on the skinny side for my taste. The guy on the right has an uncanny resemblance to one of the Marx figures. I wonder who got inspired by who?

MPC US Infantry - Part III
Here are somme additional guys which I found without even realizing that they existed. Based on the sculpting I am guessing that they are MPC but I am not 100% sure as that would mean that they made two guys swinging/clubbing with their rifles. Anyhow, they came in a large batch of mixed figures, which is why I love those batches :-) If you can confirm or deny please leave a comment!

MPC US Infantry - Part IV ?
Here's another mystery. Not really sure if this guy is an MPC figure. However his sculpting reminds me of the ring hand MPC guys. But in this case, he has regular hands. If anybody knows his origins, please let us know.

MPC Soviet Infantry
I have mixed feelings about this set. The 4 guys at the ends of this picture are OK, but the other guys are a bit odd. Like what's up with that guy doing that funny step? The cossack officer is a nice touch, but he seems to be a bit off balance. And the guy throwing the grenade seems to have a stiff neck.

MPC Ring Hand US Infantry
I only have one figure from this set, and it came without a weapon. Apparently you could put a variety of accessories on them and produce several different figures. I find it an interesting idea. Maybe at some point I will find the rest of his buddies. BTW, he is a 60mm guy.

Click here to see other German soldiers
Click here to see other Soviet soldiers
Click here to see other US GIs
Click here to see other Japanese soldiers

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Monogram - Toy Soldiers

Monogram used to be a US firm that specialized in scale models, primarily cars, military vehicles, ships, and airplanes. The kind that come in many litle pieces requiring assembly. While vehicles were its main focus it also released several kits of infantry figures. Monogram was founded in 1945 and for a while it was the main rival of Revell, another firm of great tradition in the modeling world. In 1970 Monogram was purchased by Mattel, and ironically, through the years Monogram traded hands again until it ended up at Odyssey Partners who had also purchased Revell and thus the brand Revell-Monogram was formed. In terms of figures, the Monogram guys are supposed to be in 1/35 scale, but I find them to be smaller than traditional 1/35. The poses are nice and diverse, and even though the focus of my collection is figures don't require assembly, a fellow collector had recommended them to me so when I ran across some of these guys already assembled, I decided to get a batch. Let's take a look at them.  

Monogram 1/35 US Infantry - Part I
I recently found these guys on eBay. Some of the poses looked really good. As I mentioned, they are supposed to be 1/35 in scale, but they turned out to be quite smaller. So much that I thought they were 40mm figures until I confirmed that they were indeed sold as part of a 1/35 kit . There are supposed to be 18 figures in the set. I suspect that I have most of them, but maybe I also got a few extra figures from other sets. Like the guy in the middle holding the artillery shell.

Monogram 1/35 US Infantry - Part II
This picture has some of my favorite figures in the set. The mortar team and the bazooka team are very well done. In fact, they are the poses that made me get these figures. I really like how one of the mortar men is lying on the ground while dropping the shell into the tube.

Monogram 1/35 US Infantry - Part III
Here are the rest of the guys. The previous owner painted them with white helmets, but they seem to be part of the same set, although I do wonder about the mortar team. I doubt one set would have had two mortar teams.

Monogram 1/35 US Infantry - Comparison to a 1/32 figure
Here is a shot with a 1/32 figure next to a monogram guy. The 1/32 guy from Italeri is on the smaller side of the 1/32 scale compared with let's say the Conte or TSSD guys, but the Monogram guy still looks quite smaller. I don't think I will be able to use these guys next to my other troops :-(   Maybe they would come handy in a diorama where you need to create the impression of depth, making things appear farther than they really are.

Aurora? 1/35 Soviet Infantry
I bought these guys advertised as Monogram, but an alert reader has pointed out that these guys might be from a set released by a company called Aurora. Just a small sample of what they look like. The sculpting is fairly decent, with nice level of detail and good poses, but they are even smaller than the other guys!

Click here to see other US GIs
Click here to see more US GIs
Click here to see the US Infantry in action

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Terrain Pieces

This post will contain pictures of commercial or custom made terrain pieces. Whether you war-game, setup dioramas or just like to have fun with a nice battle scene, terrain pieces can go from being a nice complement to playing a central role in your setup. And if you are into building them yourself, they can turn out to be really fun projects to work on. You might even find yourself constantly scouting all types of places for anything that might be useful in one of your future projects or just 'the right' item to give that realistic touch to the one you are currently working on. It is also a process of experimentation to see which way of doing things turns out better. Anyhow, Whether you make them or buy them, having nice terrain pieces to complement your troops can give a big boost to your scenes. For now, I will begin with one that I recently purchased.

CTS / Form Tech - Destroyed Tiger Tank
This is a foam product that comes kind of painted. I must say that I liked it when I saw the pictures and bought it online. Then when I held it in my hands and saw it up close I second guessed my decision. Then when I took this picture I concluded that it's not too bad. I think I will enhance the paint job later, put a bit of vegetation around the edge of the base to smooth it out and that should give it a good face lift. As you can see it has room for a couple of figures maybe even more if you squeeze them in there. It does seem however to be on the smaller side of the 1/32 scale. Anyhow with a bit of touch up work I think it can be a nice addition to quite a few battle scenes.

Click here to see a post about a trench system
Click here to see the trench system in use

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

First Gear - Toy Soldiers

First Gear is a company that currently owns the molds for a few of the original Britians Deetail WWII sets. They have been issuing recasts of German, Japanese, British and US infantry since the mid 2000s. They have replaced the bases of the figures with plastic bases with round ends instead of the traditional square metal bases. They have also given the figures a different paint color scheme, which is more realistic. Britians Deetail would only paint the details on top of the base plastic color. First Gear paints the whole figure. I also read once that Britains Deetail would not use more than 6 colors. First Gear seems to be more flexible in that respect. There is another company in Argentina called DSG that owns the molds for Afrika Korps and British 8th Army. Initially I thought these figures were also produced by DSG, but I recently learned that they are actually made by First Gear. First Gear's figures are much more affordable than the original Britains Deetail figures and even those from DSG.

First Gear US Infantry
These are the rest of the Britains Deetail guys, as they are presently made by First Gear. You can see that they make them in a couple of different uniform color schemes. Note also the difference in the bases.

First Gear German Infantry
These are new production figures of the old Britains Deetail figures. They only make six poses and they have given them bases with round corners. The uniform is painted grey which makes more sense to me than the blue of the originals.

First Gear Japanese Infantry
Recent recasts of the old Britains Deetail figures. They come with round bases and brown uniforms. I actually like the new color scheme better than the original.

First Gear British Infantry
These are recasts of the original Britains Deetail figures produced in the last few years. I find the color scheme better than the original, but I don't like how they paint the eyes that much. Note also that the bases have rounded corners, not that it makes a big difference.

Click here to see a post about the DSG figures