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Monday, December 29, 2014

Dragon Models - Toy Soldiers

Dragon Models is a firm based out of Hong Kong. They got started in 1987 and have been going strong since then. Their initial focus was 1/35 model kits for figures and ground vehicles. Since then they have diversified in many directions. They added aircraft to their model kits, they introduced plastic figures, 12" action figures, remote controlled vehicles, diecast vehicles in 1/72, and many other items. They do not sell directly to the public, and in some cases they allow other companies like Revell or Italeri to resell their products under their own brands. In terms of 1/32 WWII plastic, they have not really addressed that segment of the market. They have released a few WWII plastic figures under the Can.Do brand which are essentially whole figure versions of their plastic kits, but even those are 1/35. However they are close enough in size that they could be combined with some smaller 1/32 guys. Their level of detail is actually very good and they come factory painted. The only thing not to like about them are the bases which are a bit oversized, perhaps because they wanted to make the figures taller and easier to combine with 1/32. I only have a few of the sets which they released. Hopefully I can get a few more sets over time. Let's take a look.

Dragon German Infantry - Approach to Stalingrad
These are the basic 4 poses. There is a 5th pose with each set which is much harder to find. Seems like they intentionally produced it in smaller quantities to make it a more appealing collectible. As you can see, the figures are very well detailed and the paint work is done quite nicely. I bought these guys as a set of 12 figures which had 3 of each pose. 

Dragon German Infantry - Barbarossa 1941
The weapons and the bases have to be glued to the figures. As you can see, some of the bases have a slight grade on them and might make the figure seem like it is not standing straight. Also the thickness of the bases is not ideal in my opinion. These guys do not depict much action, but other sets do have poses in fighting poses.

Dragon German Infantry - Winter Combat - Part I
Here's another nice set from Dragon. It is missing one of the basic figures -the man aiming his sub MG from a standing position- as well as the 'special' pose -each set has a pose that is only present about 2% of the time-. I have to say that I really like the detail, the quality of the sculpting and even the paint job. I am still not a big fan of the bulky bases. Will probably replace them at some point. One thing to note though is that the bayonet attached to the waist is a bit brittle. As I was inserting the men to their bases one of them broke off just from me holding the figure a bit tightly. 

Dragon German Infantry - Winter Combat - Part II
I managed to find the fourth guy of the basic poses in the Winter Combat set. Another very well done figure by Dragon. One intersting thing is the lighter color for his leather subMG magazine pouches. It's possible that was done intentionally for cammo purposes. Now I just need some Siberian troops to go against these guys!

Dragon German Infantry - Krakhov 1943 
This time I managed to get my hands on all five poses of the set. To my surprise, the fifth 'special', & rare pose is just one of the other poses in a different paint scheme. He is the second one from the left, wearing the cammo smock. Again, as with the other sets from Dragon, the detail is really nice. The poses could use a bit more action, but they are still a notch better than just marching or standing guys. At least these guys have their weapons ready. About the bases, I won't say anything anymore. 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Air and Space Museum at Dulles, Virginia

If you like big machines, the Air and Space Museum at Dulles, Virginia is the place for you. Their collection includes both civilian and military aircraft, since the beginning of aviation to modern times. They also include some amazing items related to space travel such as capsules, space suits, satelites, etc, but pehaps the crown jewel of this museum is the recently retired Discovery Space Shuttle. In terms of military aircraft the collection covers all 20th century conflicts from WWI through the Cold War, and it includes not only domestic craft, but also some captured foreign planes. I have been to this Museum a few times, and every time I enjoy it as much as the first time. Below are some pictures I took during my most recent trip. Clearly, I have a bias towards the WWII items, but I also took a couple snapshots of some other cool things. Let's take a look.

British Hawker Hurricane IIC

British Westland Lysander IIIA

German Arado Ar 234 B Blitz

German Dornier Do 335 A Pfeil

German Focke-Wulf Fw 190 F

German Fw 190 F, Ar 234 B and Do 335 A

German Heinkel He 219 A Uhu

German Junkers Ju-52

German Messerschmitt Me 163 B-1a Komet

Japanese Aichi M6AI Seiran

Japanese Kawanishi NIK2-Ja Shiden Kai "George"

Japanese Kawasaki Ki-45 KAI Toryu "Nick" under Aichi M6AI Seiran

Japanese Nakajima Jini-S Gekko "Irving" over Kugisho MXY7 Ohka Model 22

US Boeing B-29 Superfortress Enola Gay

US Boeing B-29 Superfortress Enola Gay

US Curtiss P-40E Kittyhawk

US Curtiss SB2C-5 Helldiver

US Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat

US Lockheed P-38J Lightning

US Northrop P-61C Black Widow

US Republic P-47D Thunderbolt

US Vought F4U-ID Corsair

US Vought-Sikorsky OS2U-3 Kingfisher

The Concorde

Lockheed SR-71A Blackbird

Space Shuttle Discovery

The Marine Corps Museum at Quantico Virginia

The Marine Corps Museum, located in Quantico, Virginia, chronicles the history of this distinguished US military unit from its origins as a naval infantry detachment aboard colonial era ships charged with defending against or acting as a boarding party, as well as defending the captain against mutiny from sailors to its modern day deployments. The Museum is nicely done with many impressive and very well made life size dioramas, vehicles & weapons displays, videos, and lots of material to read as you go along. I recently visited it for a third time, and it was just as interesting as the first. This time I did take the opportunity to document some of its displays, namely those depicting the conflicts of the 20th century. Let's take a look. 

Harrier fighter jet hanging at the main lobby. Note that the Marines have their own air units. 

Life-size diorama of a helicopter landing, something which became quite useful during the Vietnam War. 

Close up of the landing crew. Note the high level of detail on the figures. 

A WWII era Corsair.

A WWII diorama depicting an apmphibious landing. Could very likely be at Tarawa.

A wounded man taking cover against the sea wall. Hard to say that he is not real!

The men jumping off the Amtrak and charging off the beach.

Overcoming the seawall.

Urging the men to follow, despite the flying lead!

The Amtrak MG providing some covering fire. 

A marine unit charging up a street in Mexico Ciity during the war of 1847.

A rifled artillery piece. 

An early armored vehicle, of the WWI era.

Hand to hand fighting at Belleau Woods. 

Some German casualties at Belleau Woods. 

A WWI German MG08 Machine Gun.

WWII era medic tending to the wounded. 

An updated Browning MG -to be water cooled- being used in the Pacific as AA defense. 

A WWII Stuart tank.

WWII era US weapons.

Some more WWII era weapons. Note the flamethrower, which came in quite handy to deal with caves and bunkers in the Pacific. 

WWII era Japanese weapons.

Some more WWII Japanese weapons, including their portable MG and a light mortar. 

WWII Japanese Pistols.

WWII Anti Tank Gun.

A 1/16 scale (my estimate) diorama of the Tarawa landing. 

WWII Sherman in action.

One of the famous flags flown over Iwo Jima.

The standard issue M1 Garand.

A Korean War Pershing Tank.

A landing craft such as the ones used at the Incheon landings druing the Korean War.

A Vietnam era artillery base.

A man evacuating a comrade.

A helicopter unloading cargo at the Vietnam era artillery base.

A more recent howitzer.