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Saturday, January 26, 2013

UNA - Toy Soldiers

UNA is another little known toy soldier manufacturer based out of the UK, or more precisely, out of England. I don't know much about them, I just know that their WWII figures seem to be recasts of Timpo figures. The only difference is that the UNA bases contain an extra layer with a small hole where the manufacturer's name is imprinted. This makes the bases twice as thick and the UNA figures slightly taller than the Timpo guys. The figures came factory painted and my best guess is that they were in production around the 60s or 70s. 

UNA US Infantry - Part I
Overal, they are a nice set. But as I mentioned, the credit for the sculpting really goes to Timpo. Nonetheless, I really like the guy charging forward with the sub machine gun. One thing that I am surprised about is how well they have retained the factory paint. Either the previous owner was very careful with them or they did a very good job selecting the materials and the manufacturing process. 

UNA US Infantry - Part II
Here is another UNA GI which I got in a batch of mixed figures. He is also derived from one of the Timpo guys. Not the most exciting pose as he seem to just be standing around. I definitely prefer the action poses from the previous picture better.

UNA British Infantry
I purchased a lot of mixed soldiers and this one came with it. Af first glance it looks like a Lone Star kind of guy, but thanks to the base I realized that it was made by UNA. His uniform and Vickers MG lead me to believe that he is a British guy, but I have not comfirmed it or found any other UNA Tommies yet. Based on the helmet he might also be a GI.

UNA base
This is how the bottom of the figures is stamped, within the hole in the middle of the augmented base.

Click here to see some other GIs in action

Trojan - Toy Soldiers

Trojan is a less known manufacturer that was based in the UK. I have not been able to find much information on them. It is not even featured in O'Brien's guide to foreign toy soldiers. And as far as production goes, they also don't seem to have generated that much output. Not only for WWII figures, but in general for toy soldiers across all time periods. I am only aware of two WWII sets from them: German and Japanese Infnatry. As you can see from the picture below, the figures were factory painted, although not with the most accurate color schemes. The scale is on the smaller side of 54mm. The sculpting is decent. My guess -not yet corroborated-, based on the sculpting, painting style is that they were in production around the 60s or so. 

Trojan German Infantry
Definitely an interesting set, but more from the collector's standpoint due to its rarity. In terms of the poses, I wonder what the guy on the right is doing. He seems to be pulling out his pistol, but at the same time that he marches forward parade style. The man with the panzerfaust is a nice figure, particularly for its time, giving some variety to the usual poses. The prone machine gunner is my least favorite. He is a bit too thin and the front part sticks up. The officer charging forward is fairly nice.

Trojan Japanese Infantry
You don't often see this set and when you see it, it is often quite pricey, so I felt lucky when I was able to score one recently. I should say that I had only seen them in pictures, so it was a bit of a shock when I got them and realized that they are actually quite undersized for 1/32. At best they are 1/35, but they really feel small compared to the rest of my collection. The poses are decent and I suspect that I am missing a couple more. Unfortunately, the man on the left has the rifle tip broken off. I am sure that helped bring down the price. I'll see if I can repair it. The factory paint is still in fairly good condition. All in all, I see them more as a rare collectible worth having for the sake of completeness, than as figures I would want to mix in with the rest of my troops. 

Trojan ANZAC Infantry - Part 1
These guys are hard to come by. A nice figure which adds variety to the ANZAC troops of which there are not that many options. I think I will have to touch up the paint, but once that's taken care of, he will be a fine looking trooper.

Trojan ANZAC Infantry - Part 2
Another lucky find. I seem to be getting them a drop at a time. I just wished it had been an action pose, instead of a wounded guy, but well, it is still good to gradually assemble the set, and this guy is in better condition than his mate.

Click here to see more German Infantry figures
Click here to see German Infantry in action

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Lido - Toy Soldiers

Lido was a US firm started by two brothers named Arenstein in 1947. According to O'Brien's book on Collecting Domestic Toy Soldiers, it was an independent firm until it was sold in 1964. Since then its molds changed hands many times. In the mid 70s one of the brothers bought back the surviving molds and resumed production under the name Joy Toy which survived until 1990. In the recent years they were owned by Processed Plastic and the Lido figures were sold under the Tootsie Toy brand. In 2005 they went out of business and it is not known to me who owns the molds at this time. In terms of WWII Toy soldiers they are probably best known for their 60mm GIs, however they also produced some 54mm sets, such as German and Japanese Infantry. The Japanese in particular are very rare and expensive.
Lido 54mm GIs - Part I
I recently found these GIs on eBay. They did not indicate the manufacturer, but I could tell that they were vintage so I got them (not to mention that the guy throwing the rock is a very unique pose!), assuming that I would be able to track down the manufacturer later. Well, I spent almost a whole afternoon trying to identify them and could not figure it out. It was thanks to one of our readers who left a comment that we now know that they are early Lido GIs.

Lido 54mm GIs - Part II
The rest of the 8 figure set. The guy with the knife is a bit intereting. It resembles the pose with the rock quite a bit, but it's not quite the same. The guy in the middle seems to be lacking in terms of the action dimension. The officer is a decent way to wrap up the set. 

Lido 60mm US Infantry - Part I
This is another old set. Originally made in the mid 1950s, although continued to be recast and cloned over the years. Even these guys are from several different batches, even though I bought them all together. Note how they do not have any bases, and yet they are quite stable.

Lido 60mm US Infantry - Part II
Some of the Lido figures were copies of Marx figures. I think the guy on the left is one of those. 

Lido/Marx 60mm US Infantry - Part III
Some more guys. I bought them as Lido, but even if they are Lido, they seem to be recasts/clones of the Marx GIs.

Lido 60mm US Infantry - Part IV
Here are a few more alleged Lido guys. They came with the rest of the set, but I have not been able to determine their origin.

Lido/Marx 60mm US Infantry - Part V
These guys are some of the same poses, as those already show above, but they have a smooth helmet, without netting, and are slightly taller.

Lido German Infantry - Part I
These guys are pretty rare. The poses are fairly decent and a bit less common. There are a couple other poses out there that I am trying to get my hands on. The three with color on them were painted by a previous owner, but they used to come in plain grey. The guy on the right is operating a flamethrower. The original figure used to have a flame at the tip, but this one is missing it.

Lido German Infantry - Part II
Here is a close up of the two guys in their original color. As you can see, they are well detailed, down to the facial expressions. The main thing that jumps out as being a bit off is the machine gun that the man on the left is holding. 

Lido German Infantry Hong Kong Clones - Part I
I recently found the whole set of Lido Germans. They are not originals, but at least I got all 8 poses. 
One of the 'new' poses is the second guy from the right. Not my favorite one though. He is about to throw a grenade, but he is in a very awkward position, and the greande is not even German. 

Lido German Infantry Hong Kong Clones - Part II
The other two new poses are the ones on the left. Another grenade thrower -with a real German grenade and a man engaged in hand to hand combat. These two are much better and round up the set nicely.

Lido German Infantry Hong Kong Clones - Part III
Since they are clones, I wanted to show them next to the original figures to show the difference in size. Since the molds are generated from actual figures, some shrinkage is innevitable as you can appreciate from the picture.

Lido Japanese Infantry - Part I
Here are four of the six poses that I am aware of. These guys are really ahrd to find and if you do find them, they can be quite expensive. I got lucky with them, even though I did not find the full set. The scultpting and the detail are OK. Not the best, but decent enough. Given how rare they are, I am debating whether to paint them or not...

Lido Japanese Infantry - Part II
Here is one more pose. It is interesting that the shape of his helmet resembles that of a German soldier. Not sure what to make of that. He might be better suited to serve as a Chinese officer. The only one missing at this point is a man firing his rifle while advancing.

Lido Japanese Infantry - Part III
I think these are the last two poses. Unfortunately both of them are a bit broken. The man on the left is just missing the tip of the rifle. The officer on the right is missing a hand in which he was holding his binoculars. I'll probably end up painting them in which case I will try to repair them as the fix will be less noticeable. Even in this state, I was hapy to run into them, as they are very hard to find and also got them at a great price compared to what they regularly sell for in better condition. 

Click here to see some painted German Infantry
Click here to see a post about other GIs
Click here to see a post about more GIs
Click here to see a post about even more GIs
Click here to see a post about GIs in action
Click here to see a post about US Armor

Hilco - Toy Soldiers

Hilco is the name of the plastic line of figures issued by Jonh Hill & Company, also known as Johillco. John Hill & Co was founded in 1898, and built hollowcast figures for a long time. They were a cheaper and lower quality alternative to the well established Britains figures of the time. During this period they produced a very wide range of figures. It was not until the mid-50s that they started to adjust to the changing landscape of the toy soldier manufacturing world by issuing their line of plastic figures, however this move seems to have come a little late and the company went out of business by the early 60's. I am not really sure how many WWII plastic sets they produced. So far I have only come across one of them.

Hilco British (or US?) Infantry - Part I
These are only three poses from the set. I've seen another 4 or 5 guys. I am not sure how many there are in all. The figures are a bit on the slim side, and the sculpting is OK, but not extraordinary. Even so, they seem to be a bit hard to get. And for some reason, that piece behind them with the tree stumps seems to be something special as I saw it go for 20+ dollars on eBay. Also, The shape of the helmets makes me doubt whether they are really British Infantry or US GIs.

Hilco British Infantry - Part II
Here are a few more Hilco guys that I recently found. As you can see they are mostly recasts of Britains Herald (grenade thrower, officer), Timpo (minesweeper, radio man), and Crescent (flamethrower) figures. The one sure thing that confirms that they are Hilco figures is that the base is stamped as such. About the country that they represent, I am now wondering if they actually come from two different sets: American and British.

Hilco British (or US?) Infantry - Part III
Another guys based on the Timpo figures. Note how the plastic that this guy is made of also shows those unusual color variations. 

Hilco British Infantry - Part IV
And here is one more guy. This one also seems to be a copy of the Herald British Infantry. The plastic and original paint scheme are different from the figures in the previous pictures, so there must have been several releases of these figures. 

Hilco British Infantry - Part V
And they keep coming in one at a time. From a large lot of mixed figures... Although similar to the Timpo guy, I know it is Hilco due to the stamp on the bottom of the base, and also due to the strange and unique plastic that many of them are cast in. The other sign that this is a Hilco guy is the fact that the base is split into two sections, just as it is for the kneeeling radio man. A good heavy weapon to add to the team.

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

Sunday, January 13, 2013

100,000 hits

Today is a special day for WWII Plastic Toy Soldiers. Today it has reached the 100k hits mark. So this post is simply to thank all of you out there who have contributed towards reaching this milestone. It's been roughly 1.5 years since I began this blog. When I started it I did not really know whether it would find an audience, but 150+ articles later and with 100k hits under its belt, it seems to have found its niche in the hobby. My goal so far has been to create a reference guide of the figures and vehicles out there, organized either by manufacturer or by branch of the military. A place where you can see all the sets that were made by  firm X, or where you can see all the sets made representing the paratroopers of country Y. In the latter I have also included artillery and vehicles. I hope this objective has been fulfilled and that you have found it of some use. As this phase of the project nears completion, I am contemplating what the next set of posts will contain. Most likely, I will turn my attention towards shooting some more battle scenes, and towards other aspecst of the hobby such as modeling terrain and buildings. And perhaps I might document the progress I make as I go back to painting more figures. As they say, the future is wide open! If you have any thoughts or suggestions about the type of posts that you would like to see, feel free to drop a comment. Again, thanks for your continued readership and your help to get us to 100,000 hits!

Click here to see a post about a battle scene
Click here to see a post about a manufacturer