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Friday, March 22, 2013

The Bridge at Remagen

The Ludendorff bridge at Remagen was a railway bridge built during WWI in order to ship men and materiel to the Western front. It was about 1000 ft long. It gained notoriety during WWII for being the first place at which the Allies crosed the Rhine on March 7, 1945. Alexander A. Drabik was the first man across, leading his squad under machine gun fire. Lieutenant Karl H. Timmermann the first officer to reach the eastern side. Both of them received the Distinguished Service Cross for this accomplishment. Crossing the Rhine was of great significance as this was the last natural barrier of any significance in the west protecting the heart of Germany and all other bridges capable of supporting heavy vehicles had already been destroyed. The US 9th Armored Division had the distinction of accomplishing the crossing. This was made possible in part by a series of mishaps on the German side who desperately tried to demolish the bridge but were unsuccessful and the fact that it was only defended by a platoon-size garrison. The responsible German officers were subsequently court-martialed and 4 of them were executed. A few days after the bridge was captured and having being subjected to constant bombardment -including some not so well-aimed V2 rockets-, the bridge collapsed, taking with it 28 combat engineers who were working on it. At this point, the loss of the bridge did not matter that much as other pontoon bridges had already been built and troops could continue to flow into the other side. Also, some argue that this bridge was not sufficient to move enough troops across to continue the advance and the offensive had to wait for the armies to the north and south to get to he eastern bank of the Rhine. Even if that's the case, having crossed the Rhine had great phychological impact on both sides and the war in Europe was over just two months later. The bridge has not been rebuilt since then and today, all that remains are the towers at each end and a small portion of the ramp leading to it on the western side. The towers on the western side have been transformed into a Museum dedicated to Peace. Below are some pictures from my visit a few years ago.

The ramp leading to the bridge from the western side. The ramp is actually partially destroyed. There are about two arches left of it and the broken end of it stands about 20 feet off the ground. In this picture I only framed the portion that is still in good shape. 
View of the bridge standing at the edge of the broken ramp, as far as I could stand. From here you can also see the towers at the eastern end of the bridge. This is the view that the GIs met with (along with the metal structure of the actual bridge) when they crossed it. With the high ground at the other end of the bridge providing artillery cover and the protection of the towers, the bridge could have been a much more costly affair to capture. Luckily, for the GIs it was not adequately defended. Note that today there is quite a bit of overgrowth on what would have been the road/ramp leading to the bridge.

The view of the west-side towers from the river's western edge. Note that there is nothing left of the bridge. Where the bridge would have begun we only see a clean cut.

View of the eastern side, with the eastern bridge towers at the river's edge and the commanding hills in the background. The day of my visit was a bit cloudy so the towers are a bit difficult to see. This picture also shows the width of the Rhine river at this point. 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

US Infantry - Part IV

This post is a continuation of the 'More GIs' album. I had to split that post because Blogger would not allow more labels on that one. That tells you something about how many manufacturers have produced US GIs! Anyhow, this album covers some of the less common or older sets. They have been harder to find and that's why they have been the most recent additions. 

TimMee US Infantry Series 1 - Part I
These guys are actually 60mm figures. The same figures were later released in 54mm by Ideal. These 60mm figures say TimMee on the bottom of the base. These guys are not the best sculpted figures out there, but they hold a special place in my collection simply by being among the oldest. I'm sure that once they are painted they will look just fine next to the rest of the men.

TimMee US Infantry Series 1 - Part II
The prone guy is actually a Lido figure but he came with this batch of figures when I bought them so he ended up sneaking into the picture. BTW in this set you can already see some of the poses that would evolve into the Vietnam Tim-Mee figures: the mine sweeper, the kneeling radio man, the bazooka man with a straight back, the machine gunner...

TimMee US Infantry Series 1 - Part III
The rest of the gang. Again, you can recognize a few more of the guys who evolved into the Vietnam set.

TimMee US Infantry Series 2
These guys are also 60mm figures. They are a bit bulkier than the Series 1 figures, with better sculpting. The highlight of this set is the motrocycle man. The man in the middle seems to be wearing a German helmet so I need to do a bit more research to find out if he is really a GI. It came with the rest of them, so I am giving him the benefit of the doubt.

TimMee US Medical Team
One of the few sets that include a woman, not to mention the dog. Even though the stretcher is missing, I was still quite happy when I ran into this rare set. I am sure I can scratch-build and improvise a stretcher. Once they are painted, they will go great with the ambulance I recently got from FOV.

Starlux US Medical Team
This is another nice medical team. Again, I am missing the stretcher, but hopefully I can come up with a replacement to load up the casualty. The medic in this case seems to be walking along unconcerned about the patient. Might have been better to make him pay a bit more attention to him. The nice thing about the Starlux figures is that they come factory-painted which makes them look nicer. What is a bit odd, though is that they are all wearing ties, which is not something that I think would happen in the field.

Starlux US Officer
This guy looks like he could be an artillery officer waiting for the right time to begin the barrage. I wish I had a few more figures to go with him, even if it were just a mortar team.

Starlux US or French Infantry Part I
These guys look like GIs to me, but knowing that French troops also wore US equipment, I don't know if they might have been made to represent French Infantry. Not sure why the second guy from the right was made of a multi-color plastic. I like the pose though. 

Starlux US or French Infantry Part II
A few more GI looking guys. The unform color is a bit different and some of them are wearing ties, but the helmet does look American issued. As you can see I only have a subset of the total poses as the man feeding the machine gun belt is missing the machine gunner to partner with. 

Starlux US or French Infantry 45or 50 mm
These are slightly smaller figures than the 54mm guys. I don'tknow why they would have manufactured figures in two scales so close to each other. These guys show slightly more action than the other two sets. Would have been nice if they had been a bit bigger. 

Ideal 60mm US Infantry - Part I
These guys are actually reissued Ideal figures. The originals are harder to come by and pricier, but for me, these guys are just fine. the sculpting on these figures is quite nice for the time when they were released. As you can tell, some of them are very similar to the TimMee series 1 figures, like the prone guy on the left. I am not sure who inspired who, but I suspect, the Ideal figures came later. One distinct feature of the Ideal men is that they come without a base. They simply balance themselves on their two feet.

Ideal 60mm US Infantry - Part II
Here again we see a couple of figures very similar to the TimMee guys: the ones on the far right and left. These guys BTW are closer to 60mm than they are to 54mm. In contrast with the TimMee set, they included a few figures with a bit more action and movement in them, as illustrated by the second man from the right. Even the guy with the flamethrower is leaning forward in a good action pose. 

Ideal 60mm US Infantry - Part III
Here one can recognize the kneeling rifleman and the bazooka, although the rifleman lost his sniper scope in the Ideal set. One guy who fooled me for a bit is the one sitting with his legs apart. At first glance I thought he was a recast of the Marx figure, but later on a noticed that he does have a few significant differences, one of them being that his shirt is open down to his belly button. A rather unique touch. The man on the left, appears to be manning a machine gun. Unfortunately the set did not include it. Luckily I do have one or two spare ones that I can issue to him from other sets.

Ideal 60mm US Infantry - Part IV
This picture shows three more that might have been inspired by the TimMee set. The fourth man, firing from the standing position might have been inspired by the Marx guy. In any case, Ideal set was a nice, well sculpted and detailed set, and with 16 poses, a nice contribution to the hobby. I am glad I was able to finally lay my hands on them.

Werner 60mm US Infantry
These are some figures that I recently discovered. As you can see, they have a strong resemblance to the Ideal GIs, however these guys come with bases, which makes it easier to stand them. The base also comes stamped with the brand name Werner, so that establishes that they were released by a different manufacturer. Only the man standing with the bazooka is not present in the 16 Ideal poses. 

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 also a 60mm guy.

Lido 54mm GIs
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 interesting. 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.

Marx 60mm US Infantry
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
Another early 60mm Marx guy. He resembles the 40mm version of it quite a bit. He is a bit bulky realtive to the other 60mm guys and it makes you wonder if he was sculpted by a different hand, but his condition is still farily good. We'll have to find him a gun to pair him up with.   

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.

Archer 60 mm US Infantry - Part I
There were 10 poses originally in the set. A marching figure and an officer standing and holding a pistol are missing. Similar to other figures of the 50's and 60's, they lack a base to stand on, which makes it a bit tricky to balance them. The only figure which was made with a base was the second guy from the left, but unfortunately, it broke off from this figure. I will have to make one for him. The poses and the detail are acceptable for their time, but seem a bit coarse by today's standards.

Archer 60 mm US Infantry - Part II
The poses in this picture are a bit nicer in my opinion. I particularly like the man standing with the bazooka. The man advancing with the sub machine gun is also displaying a nice mix of caution and forward movement. The other two are just standard poses, reasonably well done.

Archer 60 mm US Infantry - Part III
Here is another Archer guy. I got him by chance on a large batch of figures. He seems to be a pretty unique guy in the sense that he is wearing the gas mask. At the same time, that is the thing that I don't quite like about him. But it does make him a good figure to have from the collectible standpoint. 

Monogram 1/35 US Infantry - Part I
I recently came across these figures on eBay. Some of the poses looked really good. 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 requiring assembly. 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.

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 things being farther than they really are.

Auburn US Infantry - Part I
I was not familiar with these figures until a recent Toy Soldier Show, but a fellow collector who was also digging through a bin that I was looking through identified them for me. They are about 70 mm tall, so a bit beyond my scale however I liked the sculpting work, particularly that of the two guys on the left who look very confident. I was told they were Korean War figures, but I think they can pass for WWII GIs.

Auburn US Infantry - Part II
Here are a few more guys that I recently found. The grenade man is pulling the pin with his teeth. A nice touch that I have not seen replicated by any other manufacturer. The guy crouching is a bit odd. As far as I can tell he is delivering a note. The other guys are solid guys, in a similar stance as the guys above. All solid guys, nicely sculpted.

Auburn US Infantry - Part III
And yet three more poses. A bazooka, always good to have some heavy weapons in your unit. The guy with the bayonet, might come handy in some pacific scene. And the guy standing around and having a smoke is a nice detail from a grunt's every day life. Definitely a figure manufactured in an earlier time. I doubt such a pose would be released today.

Auburn US Infantry - Part IV
Here are the last four poses as far as I know. The guy firing, the one with the sub machine gun and the crawling guy have become standard poses in most infantry sets of most nationalities, so it makes a lot of sense that they would also be part of this one. 

Bonnie Bilt US Infantry - Part I
This is an interesting set. Not very realistic as they are flat figures, but unique in the sense that they are made out of plastic, but are flat like many lead soldiers used to be. The prone man on the right was supposed to have a maching gun, but I suppose those were easy to lose, so I wonder if there are many left. 

Bonnie Bilt US Infantry - Part II
The stretcher set is very interesting. The carriers have two small holes on their hands where the handles of the stretcher fit in. I am not sure when these guys were originally manufatured, but it must have been in the 50s or 60s. The material is actually hard plastic. Later in the 70s they were still made -probably cloned- in soft plastic and came in three colors: red, yellow, and blue, so you could have different color armies fight each other. If you ever 'shot' at these guys using marbles, then you know how hard they were to hit given how thin they are..

Timpo US Infantry - Part I
These are the nicest among the Timpo figures that I have seen. There are quite a few poses for this set -probably close to 20- Unfortunatley I only have a handful. They are hard to find. I found this guy going through a big toy solider bin at a Toy Soldier Show. 

Timpo US Infantry - Part II
Here are two more guys that I managed to get by chance when I bought a lot of mixed soldiers. They used to be factory-painted but as you can see, most of the original paint is gone.

Timpo US Infantry - Part III
Here is another batch of Timpo GIs with some more color on them. I find the sculpting quite good in terms of the poses. The level of detail could be finer, but they are still quite well done for their time. For instance, take a look at the man running with the sub mg. That is a very nice pose. 

Timpo US Infantry - Part IV
And a few more. Note that the radio man is also featured here. I could have removed the other pic, but since it is a close up I figure it's worth leaving it there. I should also point out that these figures were later reissued but a company called UNA. You can tell them apart because the UNA figures have the company name stamped underneath.

Timpo US Infantry - Part V
The latest Timpo GI. Not a very exciting pose. He seems to be carrying a suitcase with a blanket roll attached to it. The strange thing is that it also has a backpack with a blanket roll on the back, so I am not really sure what the suitcase is or why he would have two packs. The paint quality on this figure is still very good. And BTW, note that this paint color scheme is different.

Timpo US Infantry - Part VI
Here is yet another Timpo guy. He looks like a mortar or artillery crew member. I don't think Timpo made any artillery sets, so most likely he is the former, but then again, I would expect him to he holding a mortar shell in that case. So I am not really sure what he is supposed to be operating. He came in a large batch of mixed figures, so I don't have any other context to guess from. If you know, leave a comment!

UNA US Infantry - Part I
OK, here are the UNA guys. As you can tell they are recasts of the Timpo figures.

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 US Infantry - Part III
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.

Solido Belge US Infantry
Solido Belge was a Belgian Toy Solider maker. As best as I can tell this guy seems to the a US GI. The sculpting is fairly good for an older figure in terms of the pose, although the figure could have used a bit more detail in terms of accessories. The paint job is acceptable, but nothing extraordinary. All in all a decent figure and based on its rarity a good addition to the collection.

Reisler US Infantry - Part I
Reisler is a Danish Toy Soldier manufacturer. These are just 3 poses out of about 25 GIs that they made. Some of the Reisler figures I have seen online have paint on them, but I don't know if they came this way out of the factory. As you can tell, the figures are well proportioned and have a decent amount of detail on them. Several of the poses that I am missing are even better. Hopefully I can get my hands on them soon and show them. 

Reisler US Infantry - Part II
I recently got lucky and found a few more of these guys. Note that among them is a nurse, which I was not aware of until now. The guys in this picture are dsiplaying quite a bit more movement than the previous guys, and I particularly like the two poses at both ends. The machine gunner is also a good pose as you always want some heavy weapons in your units, and the radio man is also important to be able to call in some artillery support!

Reisler US Infantry - Part III
Two more poses which came in this last batch. The man on the left is a typical prone guy firing, but the one on the right, really caught my eye as it shows what is probably a very common situation in the field, however not frequently represented in the toy soldier world. He is much better suited to be placed behind a log or behind a pile of debree, but in order to get a better picture s you can fully appreciate him, I just placed him in the open.

Reisler US Infantry - Part IV
 A few more Reisler guys. Note that initially, I mistook these guys for Timpo GIs. It wasn't until I started to research some of the other poses that I realized that Reiselr also produced their versions of several Timpo poses.

Reisler US Infantry - Part V
And a few more, also made by Timpo. Not sure if the color they have was added by a previous owner or if they came painted like this out of the factory.

Reisler US Infantry - Part VI
This is an original Reisler, as far as I know, and not a very common one. I only recall one more wire cutter among WWII plastic toy soldiers. The Revell German Engineer.

Reisler US Infantry - Part VII
Another three GIs straight out of Timpo's lineup. The only reason you can tell that they were made by Reisler is by the label on the bottom of the base of the middle guy. So considering the number of manufacturers which have reissued Timpor GIs, these guys are not that special. But it's still good to be one step closer to having the complete set of Reisler guys. 

Reisler US Infantry - Part VIII
These are two of the less common Reisler poses. They actually came together in the original packing, which shows that they were sold separately. The man on the left is operating a recoiless rifle/gun. The guy on the motorcycle is OK for the most part, except that his right hand can't be placed on the bike's handle. They simply do not line up, but the right hand does, so at least he can drive with one hand :-)
The other thing to note is that the detail is not as crisp as you would expect from original figures, but they do get bonus points for being fairly unique.

BUM US Infantry - Part I
This is machine gun team is sold as American by BUM. The art on the box shows them wearing GI uniforms, however when you look at the actual figures I don't really recognize the features of the American uniforms. So I actually plan on using them as Italian Infantry, since they could use a bit of help when it comes to heavy weapons. The poses are actually OK, but the level of detail on the figures, is not so great. For instance, the face of the man on the left is pretty plain.

BUM US Infantry - Part II
Another heavy weapons team from BUM. Also allegedly American, but note really. This set also comes with the barbed wire, but I did not include it in the picture to get a better shot. Note also that the figures seem to be clones. You can tell not only because the level of detail is a bit faded, but also because the original oval bases are now encased in larger rectagular bases. 

Timpo Swoppets GIs - Part I
This is a diverse set of GIs. I am not sure how many upper/lower bodies it contained originally, but in this batch I got about 8 upper bodies and 8 lower bodies, with which you could assemble many different poses. Unfortunately all of the helmets were missing.

Timpo Swoppets GIs - Part II
Some more poses. Some already repeat parts used in the previous picture, but some are using new ones. All in all, a decent set as you can assemble quite a few engaging action poses, although not with the same level of realism as what you got with other manufacturers.

Timpo Swoppets GIs - Part III
This is a nice set from Timpo and in very good condition. The fact that the figures still have their helmets does make a big difference in making them look unmistakably as GIs. I wonder if the man on the back was orginally holding a shell or something. He is not holding anything at the moment. Or perhaps his upper body got swapped? That might be because it is also a bit odd that he would be holding a rifle at the same time that he is helping to load the bazooka.

Remco 'Hamilton Invaders' GIs aka Blue Defenders - Part I
These guys are from a 1960's toy series. They were mankind's defenders against giant insect invaders. They are on the larger side of 60mm. The scuplting is fairly good in terms of the level of detail. The poses are also good for most of them. For instance, of the three in this picture, the two on the right are just fine, but there is something about the officer that feels just a bit off. Maybe it is the position of the left elbow...or maybe I am just too picky.

Remco 'Hamilton Invaders' GIs aka Blue Defenders - Part II
Here are the other 3 poses. Again, some of the poses are better than the others. The grenade man in the middle seems a bit awkward. I do like the detail on the weapons though. At any rate, these guys seem to be something of a collectible because there were not so many of them - they were only released along with those insect playsets. Those bugs are even more of a priced rarity.

If you would like to see some painted GIs, click here.
Click here to see More unpainted GIs.
Click here to see even more GIs.
Here's a post of the GI's breaking out of Normady.
And here is another post with GIs defending an italian farmhouse.