Sunday, April 22, 2018

My Other Blog: Thor's Man Stuff

I have a new blog covering non-spiritual and non-hobby subjects. There is going to be everything there from Bowie knives to bulldozers.  Be warned that it is NOT politically correct. Some of the material is far from genteel. But then, folks who know me know to expect that.

https://thorsmanstuff.blogspot.com/

Enjoy and feel free to share

Sunday, April 15, 2018

The Airfix Difference

54mm U.S. Infantry by Airfix These poses feel almost animated

Airfix paved the way.

The first waves of plastic soldiers in the 50mm -60mm range were toy figures. The earlier ones by companies like Lido, TimMee, Crescent and Johillco were made as toys. Though some were realistic, the general run of plastic toy soldiers was hardly a scale miniature. The Louis Marx Company took things up a few notches with its 54mm lines. Some were very well detailed and quite realistic. Nonetheless, they were considered toy soldiers rather than military miniatures.
54mm 8th Army

Airfix raised the bar on plastic soldiers. Their 1/76 figures created a whole new field for the toy and model soldier hobby. Airfix pioneered the 1/76 scale in plastic and was the unchallenged leader and most prolific producer of them. The British company did it agin when it introduced its 1/32 scale sets of plastic soldiers. It had taken them from classic army men to quality hobby figures. These were a very different thing than the plastic toy soldiers by such firms as Lido, Tim Mee, Timpo and Crescent. The Airfix figures were scaled properly. had excellent detail and greater historical accuracy. Just as other companies decided to join the small,-scale figure market, so they eventually opted in to the 1/32 range as pioneered by Airfix.
54mm British Commando - another good action pose

The first set of Airfix 1/32 figures that I saw was the British Commandos. They were at Polk’s Hobby, somewhere around $3 a box of 29 figures. The set had seven poses. Sculpting was good. Soon afterward, I came across their German Infantry. Though the pose count was low, the sculpting and poses were solid. The same could be said when I acquired their set of Russian infantry. They were soon joined by the 8th Army and the Afrika Korps. The only complaint was the small number of poses in each set.
54mm German Infantry, circa 1938-1942 

Around this time, Airfix began updating several of its older 1/76 sets. The old Infantry Combat Group was replaced by WW2 British Infantry. The German Infantry, Afrika Korps, 8th Army and US Marines received an overhaul. In each set, several poses were copied from their new 1/32 sets. Other poses were added to the 1/76 scale sets.. I wondered why Airfix never added these poses to the 1/32 sets.

54mm Italian soldier (stonato) and officer (cafone)

British Paratroopers. Next to the Tim Mee "M16" infantry, one of the most cloned and copied sets of figures.
Ghurka and British support infantryman. The British soldier was molded in hard plastic.
54mm German Paratroopers. One of the few sets with more than 8 poses

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Crescent, Johillco (Hilco), Lone Star, Herald and Timpo were the British equivalents of Lido, Tim Mee and Marx. They were toymakers. Though some of the later Marx sets, such as the 54mm Marines, were high-quality sculpts, most of their output was toy figures. Airfix offered greater historical accuracy and sculpting. I was suitably impressed when I saw the British commandos in 54mm. They looked realistic and had some of the crispest detail I had even seen in a 54mm soft plastic soldier.
Well-detailed British infantry. A good example of Airfix's well-animated poses and solid detail.

As I have said many times, the biggest flaw in the Airfix 54mm series was the lack of poses. Most have seven or eight poses.

Matchbox came along to compete with Airfix. The 1/76 scale were good, but not as good as the newer Airfix series. The 54mm versions had only one advantage over Airfix: the number of poses. One reason for this is that Matchbox’s sculptors were required to make their figures narrower, so as to make it cheaper to make molds.

More articles on Airfix 54mm figures will be coming

For information and images of the Airfix 1/76 scale figures, click here
Medieval foot soldiers. That is a great pose!
Figures provided by Timothy Hall from the U.K. Thanks, Tim!


Saturday, April 14, 2018

BMC Juno Beach and Iwo Jima Marines



BMC recently added tow new soldier sets to its repertoire. First is Juno Beqach, a set of Canadian infantry versus German coastla defenders. Second is a new, bigger bag of Iwo Jima Marines in OD colored plastic.

The Juno Beach set uses figures from BMC’s D-Day playset. The Canadian figures are casts of the D-Day British figures in olive drab plastic. The bagpiper is omitted. There twenty figures in seven poses. Eleven Germans in gray oppose them. The set also has a rock formation and an old-style Canadian flag.

Historically, Canadian uniforms were dark green. The dyes were more stable used by the British, so that Canadian uniforms remained green even when faded. British-made uniforms tended to fade to a brown drab.

As with the Iwo Jima Marines, color makes a big difference. The Canadians in olive drab look much better than the light tan used for British troops. The Juno Beach set makes a nice addition to the D-Day playset.


Speaking of the Iwo Jima Marines, BMC now offers a bagged set of 36 figures. It comes without the flag raising diorama and has no Japanese. Just Marines. These are cast in olive drab. As I have noted in a previous review, the olive drab looks much better than the sage green that was originally used for the Marines. It is a set of quality, well-detailed World War II figures at a good price.

Large bag of BMC Marines

You can order these from Victory Buy - click here






 


Thursday, April 12, 2018

Review: Tim Mee Air Force Figures and Planes


Tim Mee has recast two of its Air Force sets. The first is its 1950s set of Air Force figures. Second is a trio of HO-size World War II Aircraft.
Old style pilots

The Tim Mee Air Force figures were first issued in the early 1950s. They represent ground early Jet Age crewmen, officers and pilots. The original was produced in a blue plastic. Tim Mee has recast them in modern tan and green plastic.
Officers

The original plastic was prone to getting brittle with age. The recasts are a chance for collectors to have these figures from original molds in a plastic that will endure.
Ground Crew

These airmen are toys. The sculpting on several is gawky, to say the least. I would guess that the sculptor was the same one who designed the Tim Mee sailors, pirates and Robin Hood merry men. Nonetheless, these are based on the fellows who serviced combat aircraft. There are refuelers, ammo loaders, fire control and the fellow with panels guiding planes on the runway. And there are officers plus two pilots in old-style flight gear.
Ground Crew

The recast Tim Mee Air Force set is a must for collectors of plastic figures. They are also great for kids to run the play airfield for the Jets to take off and land. A really cool blast from the past.

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The Aerial Combat Set has recasts of three small toy planes. Inside the bag, in olive drab plastic, are a P-40 Warhawk, P51 Mustang and ME-109 Messerschmidt. They are about HO size. This is an item for collectors of Tim mee figures. Get while the getting is good. Items liek this are rarely recast.


You can get both through Victory Buy: click here

Monday, March 26, 2018

Review: BMC Army Camp Equipment set



The Army Camp Equipment set by BMC is a reissue of the Marx originals. These were included in many of the Marx playsets. They were also copied by Payton and Tim Mee. The set includes three tents, two sets of stacked rifles, garbage cans, a recoilless rifle (looks to be the 75mm M20), a Bazooka, a .50 caliber machine gun, and an oversize water-cooled machine gun. A nice assortment of accessories for army men.


The tents and stacked rifles make for a nice bivouac scene. The heavier weapons have other uses. For instance, the Shambattle games call for each side having two machine guns and a cannon. One set of the Camp Equipment arms one side! The set also works well for OMOG, providing heavy weapons and camp accessories. They make excellent markers for battle games.

The .50 caliber machine gun is pretty good for a toy. Though the tripod is not realistic, the gun itself is surprising. The carrying handle on the barrel and the sight at as they should be. (If you have ever fired one of these weapons, you know what I mean.)

The recoilless rifle can be used “as is” or mounted on a vehicle. With more range and accuracy than a bazooka. the recoilless rifle was very popular with the troops.

I took one picture of the Camp Equipment with the recently-released BMC World war II soldiers. They look good together.

You can get the BMC Army Camp Equipment here  https://victorybuy.com/collections/bmc-toys

OMOG can be downloaded here: http://www.thortrains.net/milihistriot/downloads.html

and Here: http://www.thortrains.net/armymen/sandygme.htm



Saturday, March 24, 2018

Review: Classic Tim Mee World War II Soldiers



BMC and Tim Mee have been bringing a lot of classic figures back to market. A few months back, they offered recasts of the Lido Combat Soldiers. Now they have issued copies of the Tim Mee World War II soldiers. The set has 11 poses and is cast in olive drab plastic. There are 28 figures in the bag.

These figures did not come from original Tim Mee molds. Back in the old days, two other companies offered their own copies of the Tim Mee figures: Dell and D&K. Jeff Imel, owner of BMC, managed to acquire the D&K mold. The result is a new run of classic figures for a new generation of collectors.

The Tim Mee World War II figures, as well as the Dell and DK copies, were very common  in the 1950s and 1960s. Bags of them could be found in toy stores, 5 & 10s, candy stores and general stores. The only figures as common were Lido “flat feet”. (Marx was only sold in a few select stores.) At less than a buck a bag, you got a lot. There were many poses of infantry in the Tim Mee set. More often than not, there was also another items. A Jeep, a cannon, maybe even a “deuce and a half” truck. Many also came with a paper flag on a thin wooden dowel with a round plastic base that simulated cobblestone.

One thing that made the Tim Mee soldiers desirable was their bases. Lido figures tended to fall over. Tim Mee soldiers stayed up until you deliberately knocked them down.

The D&K copies are a little smaller than those from the Tim Mee mold. Some say they are less detailed, but they look okay to me. Keep in mind I have handled these figures since the 1950s. Good is good, and they are as good now as they were 60 years ago. The Combat Soldiers are toy soldiers. They were never intended to be 100% accurate military miniatures.

These troops look like American soldiers circa 1944 - 1955.  They are great for World War II and the Korean War. We used to have these with the Tim Mee Jeeps and cannons and the Army trucks. This is a good set of soldiers to fill in your collection.


Here is what I got in mine

5 guys with bayonet
5 guys with bayonet overhead
5 officers with pistol
3 minesweepers
2 submahcien gunner
2 marchers
2 heavy machien gunners
1 grenade guy
1 crawling guy
1 prone shooter
1 radio guy

Apparently, you get at least one of each pose. The additional 17 figures are picked randomly, just like they did in the old days.
Soldiers with the Tim Mee Jeep and Cannon


Size is a little smaller than the original Tim Mee figures. The figures are mostly in the 55mm range, with the marcher 62mm from head to foot. Compare sizes with a full-size minesweeper.

Of course, they fit very well with those classic Tim Mee Jeeps and cannons. (And I remember that we used to try to fit the radio guys in the seats.)

Painting? I have the Castings Inc / REB 3 cavity metal molds that make copies of Tim Mee World War II soldiers.  Painting them is rather straightforward. But then, these are classic army men, so paint is not required.

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To get a feel of the old times I would pair these guys with the Tim Mee reissue Jeeps and cannons. That is how we used to get them. Bags often  included a cannon, jeep or other item.  Remembering back, those were perhaps the most common toy soldier cannons. For Civil War sets, Tim Mee took the same cannon and put red spoked wheels on them.
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For OMOG Advanced, these figures make a good all-around infantry squad. The machine gun provides heavy weapons fire. You have an officer, a submachine gunner NCO and several riflemen.

The Dell mold has twelve figures. Unlike the DK mold, It does not have the mine sweeper. Dell has the other ten poses plus the bazooka man and man charging gas mask.

These Combat Soldiers are available from Victory Buy at https://victorybuy.com/collections/bmc-toys

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Easy Painting Tricks for Cool Knights and Armored Warriors

Fighting Knights
You can make variations with this method.


Many hobbyists are content to give their miniature knights’ armor a coat of metallic paint. There are easy techniques you can use to make better miniature knights and armored warriors. I learned this one

For knights and armored fighters: paint the armor flat black. You can follow up in several ways.

1) Paint the armor a flat black.

2) Dry brush lightly over the black with Silver, Aluminum or Steel color

3) Optional - you may paint certain details in a Steel color: helmet, elbow armor, atc

4) Go over the figure with Rub n‘ Buff silver or drybrush very lightly with Silver-colored paint to expose details.


For bronze-colored armor on Knights or others, here are some tricks
Bronze and Silver Knight

1) Paint the armor a dark bronze tone

2) Get Antique Gold and drybrush lightly, or use Rub N Buff Antique Gold.

Bronze and Silver knights using the above techniques. Knight second from left used a different method.


Optional methods for Bronze armor.: You can paint the armor  a very dark brown, then follow with moderately drybrushing a Bronze color. Finish by either: a) lightly drybrushing with a Gold tone such as Antique Gold, or b) apply Antique Gold or Gold Rub N’ Buff to hit the highlights.
Despite a poor photograph, these Greeks benefitted from this technique.

I usually apply Rub N’ Buff with a fingertip. First, I rub it on paper to thin it out, which makes a lighter coating. Practice with cheap figures to get the feel for it.

As the photos illustrate, these techniques allow a lot of variety. They are versatile. You can go from knights that are mostly black to others that are almost silver, and any shade in between. Bronze knights can range from dark bronze to almost gold. Practice with cheap figures to get the hang of varying the color.

For cloth, such as hauberks and cloaks, do as with other clothing. Paint the item a base color. Let it dry for at least 24 hours. The apply a wash of a darker shade of that color. You may follow up by touching up highlights - tops of folds, etc. -  with the base color.

Learn to paint some of the common Medieval heraldic objects such as birds, fleur de lis, stylized lions, etc. You can paint them on shields, hauberks, and horse gear.
Diagonal Pattern and Bird Motif