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Saturday, January 23, 2021

Marx - Toy Soldiers

Reposting after adding the US Navy Sailors
Louis Marx and Company was an American manufacturer of a great range of toys. Founded in 1919, by the 50s it was the biggest toy firm in the world. Its success rested on quality and affordability. While many of its toys were not military at all, it still produced a nice range of WWII toy soldiers, many of them sold as part of larger 'playsets'. Louis Marx and Company was in business up to 1972 when it was sold, after having been in decline for a while. Some say that its decline was brought upon by the advent of the electric toy. Its molds have changed hands several times since the original sale and even today you can find new production figures made from some of the original molds. Today Marx toys in general and toy soldiers in particular are valued across the collector community, helped in no doubt, by the nostalgia that baby boomers feel for them.

Marx British Infantry
A classic set. A bit slim for my taste, but nonetheless a good set of figures. Curiously enough, even though I usually favor action poses, I find the radio man in this set my favorite pose.

Marx German Infantry - Part I
Marx gave us about twice as many poses for the German Infantry. Again, you can notice a style in which the figures are a bit slim and upright. These guys were sold as part of the Battleground set. 

Marx German Infantry - Part II
You can tell that ease of manufacturing drove some of the sculpting. Like the man carrying the panzerschreck. It seems to me that it would be easier to carry it on your back.

Marx German Infantry - Part III
I have not painted this guy yet because I actually plan on painting him and about 49 other marching guys that I have been collecting to make a nice parade scene at some point.

Marx German Infantry - Part IV
I don't generally have much use for dead guys in wargames, but they might come in handy for some of the battle scene photo shots.

Marx German Motorcycle with Sidecar
This is Marx's representation of a Zundapp I suppose. For the 60's this was probably a highlight of the Battleground set, and I am sure that once it is painted it looks fairly decent. The only thing that I find amusing is that the feet of the man riding on the sidecar actually reach the ground. It reminds me of the Flintstones!

Glencoe / Marx Japanese Infantry - Part I
Now, here are some of the most dynamic poses in the WWII plastic figure world. A bit on the slim side, but fully action-packed. Definitely Banzai material! Glencoe has reissued some of the Marx sets, including the Japanese.

Glencoe / Marx Japanese Infantry - Part II
Other than the prisoner guy, who would be a very rare case since Japanese were not known to give up easily, these are also a very dynamic bunch.

Glencoe / Marx US Marines - Part I
The Marx Marines were for many years the only figures of their kind that you could find. They seem to be meant for a beach landing scene. There are a couple poses in the set that seem a bit awkward, but they are actually a very nice set if you compare them to other figures released at the time. You can definitely tell that they were sculpted by a different hand as they are not as slim and tall as some of the figures in the other sets.

Glencoe / Marx US Marines - Part II
In terms of the poses the two guys on the right are slightly odd. Maybe it's the way they are leaning, or maybe how the flamethrower guy is bending his knees. On the other hand, the two guys on the left seem just right.

Glencoe / Marx US Marines - Part III
Back to the point about a beach landing, the running poses and the Mae West would be well suited for it. Even the prone guy trying to determine the best route to get off the beach. Although I really wonder how many Marines actually wore life jackets during landing operations. Maybe this is a rear echelon officer coming ashore once the beach has been secured?

Marx US Infantry - Part I
Another set with a good number of figures. I like the MG and the bazooka man. The man on the right seems a bit off balance. Not my favorite. 

Marx US Infantry - Part II
The best one in this lot is probably the mine-sweeper. The man engaged in close quarter combat is also a good pose. The grenade man seems to be lacking energy. Not sure how far that grenade will go.

Marx US Infantry - Part III
Nice radio guy. The mortar man is missing his mortar. Overall a good way to round up the set and a nice variety of poses.

Marx US Infantry - Part IV
A nice set of casualty figures. The guy carrying the wounded buddy resembles the figure in the Atlantic British Infantry set. I wonder who produced it first. Definitely a nice pose. The guy on the right is one of the most realistic wounded guys out there. He reminds me a of that famous picture by Robert Capa of the guy being hit during the Spanish Civil War. Lastly, the wounded guy who is crawling impacts me due to its realism. You can almost feel this guy's pain.

Marx US Infantry - Part V
I find the guy in the middle a bit odd. He is leaning forward too much, with his feet too close to each other. A bit unrealistic in my opinion. The other two guys are from the Battleground set that I found at a large bin in a local Toy Soldier Show. The two battleground guys will definitely get the paint treatment at some point.

Marx US Infantry - Part VI
Another 3 good poses. The stretcher bearer is missing the stretcher, but that should be easy to manufacture. Of course he will need another guy to help him but I have a few of these already. The wounded guy will go on the stretcher. The crawling guy is a nice variation to the prone poses who are entirely on the ground.

Marx US Infantry - Part VII
Here is another less common Marx pose. I actually found the raft a few years back without knowing what set it belonged to, and it was only recently that I found the rower. I have to say though that the raft feels quite a bit under-scale. The man is actually pretty nicely done. 

Marx US Infantry - Part VIII
Here is the larger version of the Marx raft. It comes with two rowers. Feels better proportioned relative to the size of the crew, although the raft still feels a bit brittle to have to go into combat on it. 

Marx US Infantry - Part IX
These are some marching GIs. The flag bearer was apparently sculpted by a different hand as the marching guys, but they are still close enough in scale and detail that they can be combined into a scene together. Now I just need to find an actual flag for the guy in the middle. 

Marx Gallant Men US Infantry
The Gallant Men, were 5 figures modeled after the characters in a TV series. They were released in 1963 as part of a 'Gallant Men' playset. They are a bit hard to get and there seems to be a strong emotional attachment to them which makes them a bit pricey. From left to right they are Lt. Kimbro, Pvt. D'Angelo, Sgt. McKenna, Conley Wright (the war correspondent) and Capt. Benedict. All very well sculpted, probably better than the rest of the Marx GI figures, although unfortunately, they are not in the most active poses. The Gallant Men were notable for being able to take on large number of enemy forces and defeat them with minimum casualties, the Gallant Men obviously not among them.

Marx US Paratroops
These are some old production US paras. They might be among the first ever made to represent this service branch. Unfortunately I do not have the canopies that came with them originally. They were hollow semi-spheres made out of hard plastic. I'd say the fully extended parachute would be more appropriate for the man on the right who is still floating down, than for the one on the left who already landed and you'd expect his parachute to be mostly crumpled up. Anyhow, It's probably not too hard to make some cloth parachutes for them and they would probably look more realistic. A couple of good guys to add to the unit in case you want to represent a drop/landing scene.

Marx Sitting GIs
This is basically a single pose of a sitting GI that you can use to fill up a truck or half-track. The figure is actually quite plain and I think slightly on the larger side of 1/32. Also, since it is a single pose, once you put more than a couple on the same vehicle, it does look repetitive. And they come with a backpack which makes them sit off the back seat more than you'd like them to. On the other hand, there are not that many figures that you can use as passengers, so I am glad I got some of them, and I guess they are going to have to be good enough for now. 

Marx Soviet Infantry
The bottom of the base of these figures actually says 1965. These figures were cast more recently, but the mold was made that year. Probably among the earliest WWII Soviet figures to be made. Several of these were also made in 12" size.

Marx French Infantry
These are also reissued figures based on the original Marx molds. They are wearing original French Infantry outfits. Sometimes when you see them listed online, they are referred to as Free French Infantry, but then they would be wearing British or American outfits, which is not the case with these figures. Faithful to the Marx sculpting style, these figures are slim yet well proportioned and with a nice level of detail.

Marx US Navy Sailors - Part I
I'll start by remarking that I am not a great fan of this set. I don't collect ships, and certainly not in this scale. So I don't have much use for sailors. On top of that, many of these poses are not really that usable for the type of scenes I like to setup which are mostly action/battle scenes. So why did I get them? Well, apparently these guys are considered by many in the hobby among the 'holy grail' sets. Very hard to find and very coveted. So for the sake of filling an important gap in my collection, I recently let myself get drawn into a crazy bidding war on ebay for them. The sad part is that even then, I only got 6 out of the 7 poses in the set. On the positive side, the sculpting and detailing of these figures is actually quite nice, with the distinctive tall/slim style of many Marx figures.

Marx US Navy Sailors - Part II
And here is the last pose, courtesy of my friend Christian, the Plastic General. This guy seems more useful for an action scene. Even though he is not hyper active, you can always use an officer guiding the troops through the heat of battle. Now, why would he need to draw his side arm is he is most likely on the deck of his ship? Is he maybe dealing with some insubordination? Or is he taking symbolic pot shots at a Japanese Zero? I've recently come to know that these figures were part of a training Center Playset, so maybe he is 'motivating' the recruits?

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 expected 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.

Marx 60mm US Infantry - Part I
I bought these guys as Lido, but even if they are Lido, they seem to be recasts/clones of the Marx GIs. Note how they do not have any bases, and yet they are quite stable.

Marx 60mm US Infantry - Part II
These guys have a smooth helmet, without netting, and are slightly taller.

Marx 60mm US Infantry - Part III
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
I am not 100% sure, but I think this is an early 60mm Marx guy. He resembles the 40mm version of it quite a bit. He is a bit bulky, but other than that he looks fairly decent. We'll have to find him a gun to pair him up with.

Marx 50mm GI?
I don't really know the origin of this guy, but my best guess is that he is a 50 mm Marx, If anybody knows, please let me know.      

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Expeditionary Force - Toy Soldiers

Expeditionary Force is a firm based out of Singapore. They seem to have been making figures through the 2010's. They manufacture figures in a wide range of historic periods, from ancients like Greeks and Persians, to American Civil War and most recently World War II, GIs and Germans. They figures are very well detailed, and their manufacturing method involves making bodies and arms separately, so that you can attach different arms to the same body and create a very different figure. They also manufacture the head gear separately, so for instance, the WWII GIs can be given regular GI helmets, or they can also wear Adrian helmets so that you can make Free French out of them. Similarly, the Germans can wear steel helmets or soft caps. All this does require quite a bit of gluing, but it also allows you to create variations of the figures if you don't want the poses exactly as they present them in their pictures. Their figures are very well detailed and the poses show a nice degree of action. They are meant to be 54mm, but at least the first sets of WW figures, were more along the lines of 60 mm. I know that some folks, like my good friend the Plastic General, have found this problematic. In my case, I find the number of poses released to be sufficient that I don't have to mix them with other figures if I don't want to. For instance, the recent WWII GIs, come in 5 sets, with most poses being unique. Their more recent figures are smaller. The late war Germans are somewhere between 54mm and 60mm and the Japanese fit right in with big 1/32 scale. OK, so let's take a look at them.

Expeditionary Force Free French - Assault Section - Part I
I intentionally placed similar poses next to each other for ease of comparison. Subtle differences in the positioning of the legs and arms, and the weapons they carry. Note how the first and fourth men from the left, are based off the same body, and the arms make all the difference. The helmets also make a big difference from how they look as GIs, particularly the officer who is wearing a kepi in this case. 

Expeditionary Force Free French - Assault Section - Part II
Three out of the four bodies are repeats, just with different arms. The new body is the one holding the bar, and smoking a cigar. Again, the arms make a substantial difference. Overall, they have managed to create a good range of figures using this interchangeable system of bodies and arms, without sacrificing much in terms of movement or creating awkward poses. 

Expeditionary Force Free French - HQ Company - Part I
This set has the most diverse poses. They call it the HQ Company, but it also has a few heavy weapons. Note how the officer is holding a set of binoculars. You will see that this is a theme that repeats itself quite a bit. Perhaps a bit too much. The bazooka team turned out pretty good. The sniper seems a little too exposed in my opinion. 

Expeditionary Force Free French - HQ Company - Part II
Out of these guys, I really like the flame thrower and the radio man. The rest are good role players to fill the ranks. The bar man is a repeat of the earlier set. 

Expeditionary Force Free French - Defense Section - Part I
This set has a few more kneeling guys with the same base body. I also put them next to each other for ease of comparison. The arms are some of the ones that we have already seen on the standing figures. The officer is similar to one of the earlier ones, but they have given him a pistol this time. 

Expeditionary Force Free French - Defense Section - Part II
And we got a third bar man in this set. I could have used a few more sub MGs and fewer men walking with the rifle across their chest. 

Expeditionary Force Free French - MG Section - Part I
A nice set of figures. The arms of the machine gun team attach in such a way that you can only put them in one position, which helps to make everything line up well. Other poses allow you to rotate the arms as much as you want. 

Expeditionary Force Free French - MG Section - Part II
These are very similar to the previous ones, except for the officer and the rifleman.
The man standing with the rifle across his chest was supposed to be kneeling. The standing man was supposed to be another officer, but I swapped them so I could have a kneeling officer, as seen in the next picture. 

Expeditionary Force Free French - MG Section - Part III
The only thing I don't like about the kneeling officer is that he seems to be pointing his binoculars downwards. So I guess I need to put him on high ground to make it look adequate.

Expeditionary Force Free French - Mortar Section - Part I
These three mortar teams are almost all the same. the only thing that varies is the officer. 

Expeditionary Force Free French - Mortar Section - Part II
This one has a kepi and is holding a sub MG.

Expeditionary Force Free French - Mortar Section - Part III
This one is similar to the first one, but I raised the left arm to give it some variety.

Expeditionary Force German Infantry - Assault Section - Part I
This assault section contains a good number of automatic weapons. Particularly well suited for the task is the man firing the Sturmgewehr 44. It's also an interesting touch to have a man firing an MG 42 off the hip. 

Expeditionary Force German Infantry - Assault Section - Part II
The rest of the section is armed with rifles with fixed bayonets in case the assault runs into close quarter combat. The bayonets are a bit tricky to glue as there's not much contact surface to work with, but with a strong glue, they stay in place just fine. There's an extra bayonet for the man firing, but I chose to leave that one off. 

Expeditionary Force German Infantry - Defense Section - Part I
As you might agree, the most interesting pose in this section is the standing machine gunner, particularly because of the tripod. Note also that instead of having the ammo fed by a belt, it has a drum attached to it. A really nice pose. The officer is a variation of the officer in the assault section, with different arms. The man on the left with the assault rifle is also nicely done. The ammo carrier is OK. 

Expeditionary Force German Infantry - Defense Section - Part II
As you would expect with a defense section, there are also some guys crouching. Based off the same base body, they have managed to create four poses. The man on the left is actually a sniper. the man on the right has a grenade launcher attached to its rifle. 

Expeditionary Force German Infantry - HQ Section - Part I
The HQ section has a few additional heavy weapons. The panzerschreck team is another well done couple poses. There's also a phone operator, which is based on the same body as the man with the panzerschreck. The man with the assault rifle is a repeat of the one in the defense section.

Expeditionary Force German Infantry - HQ Section - Part II
The rest of the section gives us another standing machine gunner (yes!), a panzerpfaust, another sniper, another ammo carrier, and yet another officer, with the same arms as the one from the defense section, which I've posed differently to create some variety.

Expeditionary Force German Infantry - MG Section - Part I
This section features another superb couple poses operating the machine gun, and the MG itself. You get two of these in the set. You also get two of the crouching poses on the left. Rounding up the set are three men leading the teams. One is the officer shown here. 

Expeditionary Force German Infantry - MG Section - Part II
Then there are also two other officers (NCOs?) wearing helmets and also holding binoculars. 
I posed one with the binoculars at eye level. 

Expeditionary Force German Infantry - MG Section - Part III
The other one Iposed with lowered arms. He could be tapping the shoulder of one of the machine gunners or simply signaling to cease fire. 

Expeditionary Force German Infantry - Mortar Section - Part I
The mortar section is also very well done. One thing to point out about the mortar teams as well as the machine gunners is that their arms are manufactured very precisely so that they can only be attached in a specific position, which is very helpful so that they line up just the right way, as the left and right arms need to meet in just the right place. Many of the other guys allow you to rotate the arms and pose them at any angle that you wish.

Expeditionary Force German Infantry - Mortar Section - Part II
This set also comes with three different officers/NCOs and just as I did with the MG section, I've posed them slightly differently yo create some variety,

Expeditionary Force German Infantry - Mortar Section - Part III
A frontal view of the mortar, as well as the last officer with binoculars at eye level. 

Expeditionary Force Late War German Infantry - Part I
These guys are smaller than the first set of Germans, but they are still larger than 'big 1/32' scale. 
Each set has 9 figures, and I purchased 2 sets so that I could assemble a greater variety of poses by combining different arms/weapons, heads, and bodies. In this picture I meant to display the figures I assembled with the base body that's stepping forward with the left foot. Only afterwards did I notice that there two base bodies in this picture. The differences are very subtle, mostly in the tunic, and one has a grenade tucked in the belt. I would have preferred to see more noticeable differences in the placement of the feet. Setting that aside, as you can see, I was able to make quite a few poses with them. Sometimes just rotating the head a bit give the figure a different attitude. 

Expeditionary Force Late War German Infantry - Part II
These are the poses I was able to assemble with the base body that is stepping forward with the right foot. Again, thanks to the variety in weapons and heads, you can get a good range of fighting poses from a grenade thrower, to a panzerfauster (a late war weapon), a charging man, a firing man, etc. BTW, another sign that these are late war Germans is the absence of jackboots, and also the prevalence of cammo tunics and helmet covers.  

Expeditionary Force Late War German Infantry - Part III
These last batch is also stepping forward with the left foot. The two on the right side of the picture are using the same base body as as the first batch. The 4 on the left are using the last type of base body, which has the back foot pointing forward instead of sideways. Again, a more pronounced difference in the base body would have been preferred. The set came without one of the heads, so for now the guy on the far left is headless. Expeditionary Force will be shipping it to me with my next order. All in all, I like the set's range of arms/weapons and heads, but the base bodies could have been a bit more interesting and diverse. 

Expeditionary Force Japanese Infantry - Part I
A nice set from Expeditionary Force in what nowadays is being referred to as Big 1/32 scale. Meaning, more compatible with TSSD than Airfix. As is EF style, their figures are produced as a set of bodies to which you can attach different heads and arms/weapons. Each set comes with 9 figures and 6 base body types. In this post, I have created 18 different figures from 2 sets, but you can certainly create more/different poses. The level of detail is very nice, and the quality of the plastic is also good. Robust so that you don't have a lot of bent tips, but not hard. And it is also easy to glue. In this first picture I have 3 different bodies. Unfortunately, some of the bodies have very similar stances, you have to watch the feet very carefully to tell them apart, which makes me wish they had made them more different so that we could see the variety more easily.

Expeditionary Force Japanese Infantry - Part II
The next body type is a man advancing with his right foot forward. Note that by giving them different weapons they already look quite different. On top of that you can attach a head with or without the flaps hanging on the back of the helmet, and you can also tilt them slightly to give the body language a different expression.

Expeditionary Force Japanese Infantry - Part III
This next base body is stepping forward with the left foot, and leaning forward slightly more than the men in the next picture. And not seen here, there's also some differences in the pouches attached to the back of the belt. One thing to note about the figure with the flag is that the flag does not come attached to the rifle. Therefore, you need to attach the flag to a man who is holding the rifle horizontally. I almost glued it to a man who was carrying the rifle across his chest, but then realized that gravity would make the flag hang differently. Same thing with the tassel on the officer's sword from the first picture. You need to watch how it hangs, or else be ready to cut it off and reattach it at the right angle. 

Expeditionary Force Japanese Infantry - Part IV
Another base body stepping forward with the left foot, but these guys also have the back foot pointed forward, more than the men in the previous picture. So as you can see, some of these base bodies are pretty hard to tell apart. It would have been better to make one less base body stepping forward with the left foot, and add a crouching or kneeling pose. But even with so many similar base bodies, the variety of arms and weapons, makes it possible to avoid having two figures turn out exactly the same. You just have to plan things out well before you start gluing them so that you don't end up making a clone by mistake. 

Expeditionary Force Japanese Infantry Machine Gun section - Part I
This MG set can be purchased with one or two MGs. You still get 9 figures, which means that if you only ask for 1 MG, then you will get 7 additional infantry men. Since I already had 2 sets of regular infantry, I opted for the two MGs. What's interesting in this set, aside from the obvious nice addition of the MG teams, is that the officer comes with the option of looking through binoculars. You also get a new head type, wearing a bandana around the head with the rising sun design on it, like the one that the kamikaze pilots used to wear. I gave it to one of the MG men who is likely making a final stand at his position. And you also get a couple of ammo boxes to round up the scene. 

Expeditionary Force Japanese Infantry Machine Gun section - Part II
What was a pleasant surprise with this set is that it also comes with a couple of extra options for the arms/weapons. Apparently these had been intended for the original set, but ended up being a bit late and got released with this set instead. So with this set you can look forward to being able to assemble a grenade thrower, and also a man firing a submachine gun. As you can see I opted to 'sacrifice' the second MG ammo handler and instead armed him with the submachine gun, which turned out nicely. Lastly, note that in this set, we also got a new body type: the kneeling guy on the background. I chose to arm him with a rifle in the aiming position. All in all a nice add on to the original set.