Sunday, January 31, 2016
Jean Hoefler is a German firm started in Furth, Germany in 1923. It was founded by three brothers, George, Leonard, and Johann Höfler - it is not clear to me where the name Jean comes from. The firm had its origins in the manufacturing of sheet metal products, and while the other two brothers broke away to produce other consumer goods and tools, Johann focused on making tin toys. In the 50's, Johann's son Ernst took over and shortly after moved away from tin into plastic. The range of toys that they produced was large, and it's possible that they are better known for their cars, than their toy soldiers, particularly the red, ride-on 'bobby' car. In terms of toy soldiers, they covered a good range of periods, such as medievals -including some nice siege machines-, cowboys and indians, US Cavalry, Napoleonics, Astronauts, and of course, some WWII figures. They seem to have been popular during the 80's when they were one of the few firms making these figures. In terms of WWII figures in particular, I am only aware of their US GIs. Let's take a look at them.
Jean Hoefler US Infantry
These are five out of the eight poses made by Jean Hoefler. I have also seen them in dark green plastic. The missing guys are a bazooka man, a heavy machine gunner, and an officer leading on his men. The sculpting is fairly good, both in terms of the level of detail and the movement in the poses - aside from the guy who is just standing around. I don't know if the figures came factory-painted or if a prior owner painted them. Overall a nice set. It would have been nice if they had made some Germans to go against them. Being a German firm, it's likely that they decided to side-step that land mine.
Logistics is key for every army, but for the Soviets, with its huge territorial expanses, this was a crucial element during WWII, as it was bitterly discovered by the Germans. During the course of the war, the Soviet High Command needed to move huge amounts of men and materiel to replace its losses which were several times higher than those of the Germans throughout the course of the campaign, and in the later phases of the war, to overwhelm their enemy and roll them back all the way back Germany. While much of it was done by rail, trucks played a key role in getting the cargo to and from the railway endpoints, or covering areas where the railway infrastructure was inadequate. In terms of toy soldier trucks, we don't have much, but I recently found one which is a good start. Let's take a look.
Ural Soviet Truck
This truck was actually introduced in 1976 and saw action in Afghanistan. Its name comes from the fact that it was manufactured at the Ural Automotive Plant. It is a very versatile vehicle, which has been adapted to many uses both within the military and in the civilian world. It is capable of traveling very rugged terrain and has a reputation for being easy to maintain and repair, Given the scarcity of WWII Soviet cargo trucks in the toy soldier world -outside of model kits, I find this to be a very viable alternative to give my WWII Soviet troops some logistical support. As you can see, the canvas has some Cyrillic writing, which makes it distinctively Soviet.
Click here to take a look at German Cargo Trucks
Click here to take a look at US Cargo Trucks