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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