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Monday, October 1, 2012

Marx - Toy Soldiers

Louis Marx and Company was an American manufacturer of a great range of toys. Founded in 1919, by the 50s it was the biggest toy firm in the world. Its success rested on quality and affordability. While many of its toys were not military at all, it still produced a nice range of WWII toy soldiers, many of them sold as part of larger 'playsets'. Louis Marx and Company was in business up to 1972 when it was sold, after having been in decline for a while. Some say that its decline was brought upon by the advent of the electric toy. Its molds have changed hands several times since the original sale and even today you can find new production figures made from some of the original molds. Today Marx toys in general and toy soldiers in particular are valued across the collector community, helped in no doubt, by the nostalgia that baby boomers feel for them.


Marx British Infantry
A classic set. A bit slim for my taste, but nonetheless a good set of figures. Curiously enough, even though I usually favor action poses, I find the radio man in this set my favorite pose.


Marx German Infantry - Part I
Marx gave us about twice as many poses for the German Infantry. Again, you can notice a style in which the figures are a bit slim and upright. These guys were sold as part of the Battleground set. 

Marx German Infantry - Part II
You can tell that ease of manufacturing drove some of the sculpting. Like the man carrying the panzerschreck. It seems to me that it would be easier to carry it on your back.



Marx German Infantry - Part III
I have not painted this guy yet because I actually plan on painting him and about 49 other marching guys that I have been collecting to make a nice parade scene at some point.




Marx German Infantry - Part IV
I don't generally have much use for dead guys in wargames, but they might come in handy for some of the battle scene photo shots.



Marx German Motorcycle with Sidecar
This is Marx's representation of a Zundapp I suppose. For the 60's this was probably a highlight of the Battleground set, and I am sure that once it is painted it looks fairly decent. The only thing that I find amusing is that the feet of the man riding on the sidecar actually reach the ground. It reminds me of the Flintstones!



Glencoe / Marx Japanese Infantry - Part I
Now, here are some of the most dynamic poses in the WWII plastic figure world. A bit on the slim side, but fully action-packed. Definitely Banzai material! Glencoe has reissued some of the Marx sets, including the Japanese.


Glencoe / Marx Japanese Infantry - Part II
Other than the prisoner guy, who would be a very rare case since Japanese were not known to give up easily, these are also a very dynamic bunch.



Glencoe / Marx US Marines - Part I
The Marx Marines were for many years the only figures of their kind that you could find. They seem to be meant for a beach landing scene. There are a couple poses in the set that seem a bit awkward, but they are actually a very nice set if you compare them to other figures released at the time. You can definitely tell that they were sculpted by a different hand as they are not as slim and tall as some of the figures in the other sets.



Glencoe / Marx US Marines - Part II
In terms of the poses the two guys on the right are slightly odd. Maybe it's the way they are leaning, or maybe how the flamethrower guy is bending his knees. On the other hand, the two guys on the left seem just right.



Glencoe / Marx US Marines - Part III
Back to the point about a beach landing, the running poses and the Mae West would be well suited for it. Even the prone guy trying to determine the best route to get off the beach. Although I really wonder how many Marines actually wore life jackets during landing operations. Maybe this is a rear echelon officer coming ashore once the beach has been secured?



Marx US Infantry - Part I
Another set with a good number of figures. I like the MG and the bazooka man. The man on the right seems a bit off balance. Not my favorite. 



Marx US Infantry - Part II
The best one in this lot is probably the mine-sweeper. The man engaged in close quarter combat is also a good pose. The grenade man seems to be lacking energy. Not sure how far that grenade will go.



Marx US Infantry - Part III
Nice radio guy. The mortar man is missing his mortar. Overall a good way to round up the set and a nice variety of poses.



Marx US Infantry - Part IV
A nice set of casualty figures. The guy carrying the wounded buddy resembles the figure in the Atlantic British Infantry set. I wonder who produced it first. Definitely a nice pose. The guy on the right is one of the most realistic wounded guys out there. He reminds me a of that famous picture by Robert Capa of the guy being hit during the Spanish Civil War. Lastly, the wounded guy who is crawling impacts me due to its realism. You can almost feel this guy's pain.



Marx US Infantry - Part V
I find the guy in the middle a bit odd. He is leaning forward too much, with his feet too close to each other. A bit unrealistic in my opinion. The other two guys are from the Battleground set that I found at a large bin in a local Toy Soldier Show. The two battleground guys will definitely get the paint treatment at some point.



Marx US Infantry - Part VI
Another 3 good poses. The stretcher bearer is missing the stretcher, but that should be easy to manufacture. Of course he will need another guy to help him but I have a few of these already. The wounded guy will go on the stretcher. The crawling guy is a nice variation to the prone poses who are entirely on the ground.


Marx US Infantry - Part VII
Here is another less common Marx pose. I actually found the raft a few years back without knowing what set it belonged to, and it was only recently that I found the rower. I have to say though that the raft feels quite a bit underscale. The man is actually pretty nicely done. 

Marx US Infantry - Part VIII
Here is the larger version of the Marx raft. It comes with two rowers. Feels better proportioned relative to the size of the crew, although the raft still feels a bit brittle to have to go into combat on it. 

Marx US Infantry - Part IX
These are some marching GIs. The flag bearer was apparently scuplted by a different hand as the marching guys, but they are still close enough in scale and detail that they can be combined into a scene together. Now I just need to find an actual flag for the guy in the middle. 


Marx Gallant Men US Infantry
The Gallant Men, were 5 figures modeled after the characters in a TV series. They were released in 1963 as part of a 'Gallant Men' playset. They are a bit hard to get and there seems to be a strong emotional attachment to them which makes them a bit pricey. From left to right they are Lt. Kimbro, Pvt. D'Angelo, Sgt. McKenna, Conley Wright (the war correspondent) and Capt. Benedict. All very well sculpted, probably better than the rest of the Marx GI figures, although unfortunately, they are not in the most active poses. The Gallant Men were notable for being able to take on large number of enemy forces and defeat them with minimum casualties, the Gallant Men obviously not among them.


Marx US Paratroops
These are some old production US paras. They might be among the first ever made to represent this service branch. Unfortunately I do not have the canopies that came with them originally. They were hollow semi-spheres made out of hard plastic. I'd say the fully extended parachute would be more appropriate for the man on the right who is still floting down, than for the one on the left who already landed and you'd expect his parachute to be mostly crumpled up. Anyhow, It's probably not too hard to make some cloth parachutes for them and they would probably look more realistic. A couple of good guys to add to the unit in case you want to represent a drop/landing scene.


Marx Sitting GI
This is basically a single pose of a sitting GI that you can use to fill up a truck or half-track. The figure is actually quite plain and I think slightly on the larger side of 1/32. Also, since it is a single pose, once you put more than a couple on the same vehicle, it does look repetitive. And they come with a backpack which makes them sit off the back seat more than you'd like them to. On the other hand, there are not that many figures that you can use as passengers, so I am glad I got some of them, and I guess they are going to have to be good enough for now. 



Marx Soviet Infantry
The bottom of the base of these figures actually says 1965. These figures were cast more recently, but the mold was made that year. Probably among the earliest WWII Soviet figures to be made. Several of these were also made in 12" size.



Marx French Infantry
These are also reissued figures based on the original Marx molds. They are wearing original French Infantry outfits. Sometimes when you see them listed online, they are referred to as Free French Infantry, but then they would be wearing British or American outfits, which is not the case with these figures. Faithful to the Marx sculpting style, these figures are slim yet well proportioned and with a nice level of detail.


Marx 40mm US Infantry - Part I
I recently bought these figures without really knowing the manufacturer and scale, but I knew they were old and worth collecting. They turned out to be smaller than I epxected and it took me a while to figure out who made them, but I finally figure out that they are an early Marx set.


Marx 40mm US Infantry - Part II
The figures are made out of hard rubber, heavier and harder than plastic. We can tell from the weapons that they were made after the war. While the poses are not the most exciting or well sculpted, I like having such an old item in the collection.


Marx 60mm US Infantry - Part I
I bought these guys as Lido, but even if they are Lido, they seem to be recasts/clones of the Marx GIs. Note how they do not have any bases, and yet they are quite stable.


Marx 60mm US Infantry - Part II
These guys have a smooth helmet, without netting, and are slightly taller.


Marx 60mm US Infantry - Part III
Here are three original Marx 60mm US Infantry figures. Note that the kneeling rifleman, is also present in the 40mm set. The bazooka guy is a very sturdy one, and one that I remember fondly from my younger days.


Marx 60mm US Infantry - Part IV
I am not 100% sure, but I think this is an early 60mm Marx guy. He resembles the 40mm version of it quite a bit. He is a bit bulky, but other than that he looks fairly decent. We'll have to find him a gun to pair him up with.

Marx 50mm GI?
I don't really know the origin of this guy, but my best guess is that he is a 50 mm Marx, If anybody knows, please let me know.      





6 comments:

  1. I bought some army guys recently at Toys R Us...None had wounded soldiers. I guess the manufacturers do not want kids to think war COULD be real...

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  2. Yes, things get sanitized a bit too much, but then there's also the fact that there are a lot more things to do with action poses as there is with casualty figures... At least I find that I can setup more scenes that way.

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  3. Have some lous marx soldiers would you be interested in them?

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    1. I think I have my share of them, but just in case, what sets do have in mind?

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  4. I had the Marx Battleground set when I was a kid, and still regret letting it go. The set I had contained the paratroopers and their parachutes. The parachutes were made of hard plastic, were white, and came (in my set) with thin wire to use to attach to the men. One chute was open all the way for the guy still falling. The other was mostly open but was flat on one side (about a third) for the guy on the ground.

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  5. You can see a photo of the chutes here: http://www.prestoimages.net/store30/rd392/392_pd1312875_4.jpg

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