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Sunday, January 29, 2023

Vympel - Toy Soldiers

Vympel seems to be a recent entrant into the 1/32 Plastic Toy Soldier space. They are based out of Russia. I first came across them when I saw pictures of their 'Das Reich' set. For a while I was a bit confused because shortly after I saw the same figures being advertised by Hanomak. Later I learned that they made some type of commercial deal with them and Hanomak ended up selling their Das Reich set. See more on that below. Initially I thought that Hanomak had purchased Vympel as a whole, but later it became apparent that they were still operating independently, when they released their next set representing the pre-war German expedition into the Himalayas. I hope to see more production from Vympel going forward as their Das Reich figures in particular were a good addition to the hobby.  

Hanomak Waffen SS - Das Reich Division
Hanomak / Vympel Waffen SS - Das Reich Division

This is an interesting set for a couple of reasons. Originally, when the pre-release pictures came out, they were published by Vympel, but later it seems that Hanomak purchased the rights and began distributing it. This caused a bit of confusion. Also, the original pictures had 6 figures in it, however one of them was of a slightly larger scale, so Hanomak decided to not release it as part of this set. Probably a good decision. These five poses are true 1/32 scale, meaning, smaller than the 'Big 1/32' scale that Hanomak uses for their other figures. In terms of the figures themselves, they are all nicely sculpted, and good action poses. My only criticism is that they also require you to glue some of the hands/weapons to the figures. The molds have pins and holes in them to help with this but the rubbery material makes them useless because the pins bend when you try to put them into the holes. So the only solution is to slice off the pins and glue them as best as you can line up the arms with the hands. The other criticism is that the hands that come wit the weapons are smaller than the hands that come attached to the arms. Not very noticeable, but not great either. What I really like is the cammo foliage on the helmet of the second guy from the left, in addition to his overall stance. A great pose. And the machine gunner is also very nicely done. A unique variation on the pose. The sandbags are a separate piece so you can place your machine gunner behind a wall or any other protection you want. Lastly, the fact that most of them are wearing cammo smocks -even the commander- means that when these guys are painted they will look even more interesting. 

Hanomak / Vympel Flamethrower
Hanomak / Vympel Flamethrower
The sixth figure in the Das Reich set was meant to be the flamethrower guy.  As mentioned before, it was a bit larger than the other figures in the Das Reich set, so it got released along with the Norland set by Hanomak.

Vympel Germans In Search of Shambhala
Vympel Germans In Search of Shambhala
I believe this set represents the German expedition led by Ernst Schaefer in 1938-39 to Tibet. The Nazi regime was interested in all things mystical and Shambhala, located in Tibet, is at the center of such mystical prophecies. I mainly care about this set because it has a few figures which can be used to enhance my unit of German mountain troops, particularly the two German men in the front row. The one figure that I don't have much use for is the one who appears to be a Tibetan holy man. It is nonetheless nicely detailed and interesting. 


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