Monday, November 6, 2017

BMC Iwo Jima Marines and Japanese in Marx-compatible colors.



Some years ago, I bought the Iwo Jima playset by BMC. That was when it was first released. I liked it then. The ground base was cool, and the LVT and Sherman tank looked good. Though I liked the poses and detail, I thought the colors of the Japanese figures were a bit too orange. The Marines were a lighter OD shade. I later acquired more of the sage-green Marines and tangerine-colored Japanese.

The new Add-on set issued by BMC has 14 Japanese (2 of each pose), 12 Marines (1 of each pose) plus the six-man Iwo Jima flag-raising diorama. The figures have not changed. One thing that has changed is the availability of the Iwo Jima figures in new colors. responding to customer suggestions, BMC offers this set in both the original colors and in colors that are more compatible with Marx, Tim Mee, MPC and Lido troops. These new colors are a darker green for the Marines and a khaki tan for the Japanese.

What a difference color makes! Both Marine and Japanese figures look great in these colors. The colors make the details stand out better. Frankly, I like these Japanese troops better than the Airfix counterparts. Ditto for the Marines. The Airfix 1/32 Japanese and Marines are okay, but the BMC figures are better. As good as the Marx recast Japanese Infantry figures are, BMC’s Japanese troops have better detail. They might not have as many poses, but the BMC figures are much better detailed. BMC Japanese have 7 poses, Marx’s set has 12.

Many people do not know that the originals were made as painted metal figures by King & Country. BMC licensed the figures for the Iwo Jima Playset.

The set itself has plenty of firepower. Japanese forces have riflemen supported with light machine gunners and “knee mortars”. US Marines have riflemen, BAR gunners, a flamethrower and a bazooka.  There is also a peculiar figure of a Marine in life jacket standing on  box. He was supposed to ride wither in he landing craft or the LVT.

Consider it a plus that the Iwo Jima Marines and Japanese are affordable, quality figures. List price is $12.20 a bag. That includes 12 Marines, 14 Japanese and an Iwo Jima flag-raising piece with six more figures. Man for man, that is less than the average price for Marx recasts. Get while the getting is good!


The BMC set has enough troops for a game of OMOG Advanced, by the way. That would place 12 on the US side and 14 for the Japanese.
*****

So how do these new “Marx compatible” colors measure up against the old ones? Let’s take a look! I have plenty in the older colors: light (Sage) green Marines and orange-tan (Tangerine) Japanese. The darker Green Marines and Tan Japanese look much better than their light green and Tangerine counterparts. See for yourself!

Improved Flag on rifle for Tan figures
A bag of cabbage salad? No, these are the Iwo Jima figures in the old colors



******

You can get there here: https://victorybuy.com/collections/bmc-toys

Marine on box imitates politician on soap box. 

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Review: Toys R Us "True Heroes" Pirates (and Skeletons) Set



 Yo-Ho-Ho and a Barrel of Bones!

The True Heroes Pirate set is unusual in several ways. It plays on a theme that has been around for a few years: Pirates versus Skeletons. The first of these were in plastic tubes imported from China about 3 years ago. The True Heroes version set has a bit more.

Opening the set, I came across 41 figures: 20 Pirates and 21 Skeletons. These are all new figures and differ from the Hing Fat figures and recasts of Marx and Ideal figures. Both the Pirates and skeletons in this set are in the 45 - 50mm size range, most being about 50mm. There are six different pirate poses and five different skeletons. The pose animation is pretty good as is detail. I think they would look great painted.
Egyptian-style Skeletons!

The skeletons could be used in Fantasy games. They can also be converted to other poses with relative ease. An average hobbyist could build quite an army with these bony fellow. Simple conversions might yield anything from standard bearers to command figures.
Swordsman and axeman - Shades of Harryhausen!

I was informed that the skeletons were originally offered by a company called Toyway in a large playset. The original set had one more footman - an archer - and a mounted figure on skeletal horse. (Of course, it would not take much to convert an archer from the five figures in the Toys R Us set.)
A rather large morningstar.

The accessories stood out. There were rowboats - one large and two small. Also included was a snap-together platform, possibly meant as a dock. Platform dock? Barrels, boxes and sacks were included, as were treasure chests and some very small cannons. As for scenery, there were a couple of plastic rocks and two Palm Tree pairs.
Good assortment of hard plastic accessories: boxes, barrels, bags & treasure chests

Some of the pirates looked more like Vikings.
Axe-wielding Pirate or Viking?

The True Heroes pirates would blend well with the Hing Fat and recast Ideal pirates. They would be rather short compared to the recasts Marx pirates. There are only six poses, but they are definitely different. One man has a hammer and a short sword, for instance. Another is wielding a hatchet.
Charge!

This is a nice little set that can boost your Pirate and Fantasy armies as well as provide interesting accessories. The small rowboats and cannons are a but small for 50mm figures, but might serve smaller scale figures. The palm trees look good, and the boxes, barrels, sacks and treasure chests are the kind of things that fit many gaming scenarios. A nice set for $9.99
Pirate carrying hammer and Pirate captain.

What with all the unusual sets of figures out there, one could put together a game where Skeletons face Zombies or Pirates square off with Fantasy characters.
Small cannon with skeleton for perspective on size.


2 small rowboats

I large rowboat

2 Palm tree pairs

2 barrels

2 sacks

2 boxes

2 treasure chests

2 stones

4 small cannon


20 pirates:

3 pirates with hammer and dagger

5 pirate axemen

3 pirates with sword and pistol

3 pirate captains

3 pirates shooting muskets

3 pirates walking with musket


21 skeletons

6 mace wiedlers

4 axe swingers

3 scimitar wavers

3 swordsmen

4 spearmen

*****


Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Review: Toys R Us “True Heroes” Mythical Warriors


A can of weird!

I have been trying to develop sets of Sword & Sorcery and Fantasy Rules for OMOK and Shambattle. These genre have been supported mainly by metal figure makers. I wanted to find an affordable alternative.

Audrey and I were in Toys R Us to pick up some toys for another occasion. I decided to see if they had any Army Men type figures. Though the Medieval and Modern troops were figures I had sen elsewhere, the Mythical Heroes and Pirates sets were intriguing. Not bad at $9.99 a can. I surmised that these might provide affordable figures.

The Mythical Heroes set comes with a stone bridge, stone dais, pillars, fake rocks, 2 sandbag bunkers, 10 little candles and a red dragon. There are also 42 figures.

The accessories have a sort of medieval feel to them and would work with figures from 28mm to 54mm size. The figures themselves run from around 48 to 54mm in size, 50mm being average. I would guess the inspiration was a mix of Conan the Barbarian and Lord of the Rings. There were seven poses: a Conan / Schwarzenegger type swordsman, two sorceresses, woman with two swords, Orque / Goblin with axe, an Archer and what might be a Dwarf. He looked like the Dwarf in Lord of the Rings, but has a Thor-type hammer. I think the figures are put in randomly, as there was no consistency in their numbers.

Detail and animation of the figures was pretty good. I am sure that an average painter could get great results with these figures.
Sorceress and Female Sword Fighter

At the price, a person could build up a couple of armies large enough for Shambattle for a lot less than he would spend on metal castings. The real shortcoming of the set is the number of poses. Those with a talent for converting  figures might be able to extend that count. The other problem is that all of the figures are cast in the same color. They would have to be painted to indicate two different armies.
Archer and Sorceress

Figures could also be used as is or converted as larger characters for 25mm and 28mm Fantasy gaming. The Goblin / Orque and Dwarf would be easy to convert into Ogres and Trolls. Here is an easy and cheap way to expand the big monster contingent of your fantasy forces.
Thor-Hammer Wielder and Conan-type Swordsman

A nice set for the money! The True Heroes Mythical Heroes set is an affordable Fantasy / Sword & Sorcery resource.
Goblin / Orque and Plinth / Headstone


What came in the set:

Bridge

Dais

2 pillars

5 rocks

1 plinth

2 bunkers

1 dragon

10 Candles


42 Figures:

6 Thor types

6 standing sorceresses

4 sorceresses waving wand

5 swordswomen

7 archers

3 Conan type swordsmen

11 orques / goblins / Pennsylvanians


You can get a free copy of our skirmish game, OMOK, and other games on this page - just scroll down: http://www.thortrains.net/milihistriot/downloads.html

Sunday, October 29, 2017

BMC New Civil War “Battle of Appomatttox”.


Jeff Imel, the new owner of BMC toys, sent me a copy of the “Battle of Appomattox” Civil War soldiers. I have wanted to review these soldiers for awhile. They are quite different from their original Civil War figures. Packed in a bag with large header card, the troops looked promising. The card advertises 26 figures. There are 24 regular soldier in Blue and Gray, and figures of General Grant and General Lee. The blue is close to Swedish Blue; the Gray is a medium shade.

Along with the two character figures of Lee and Grant are line troops. They come in four poses: standing shooter, kneeling shooter, reloading rifleman and standard bearer. There are three of each in each color. Size is within the 54-56mm scale. Grant and Lee run taller. From bottom of foot to top of hat, Grant is about 64mm. Lee is about 62mm. Both officer figures are very well-detailed.

The standard bearer is a two-piece figure. His flag is molded separately. This is one of the most dynamic poses I have seen for a toy Civil War standard bearer. Because of his pose, he could be a good basis for conversion to other poses. The simplest would be to put a pistol in his free hand.

The kneeling rifleman is looking over his right, a realistic detail. The standard rifleman is looking over his rifle, as if he fired and is getting ready to step back or is firing as he steps back. Face detail on these guys is good.

These are toy figures. And as such, they succeed. The figures have a degree of character thanks to the detailed faces. Hands on the rifleman remind me of the hands on the fellow in the Lido set of WWII GIs, specifically the guy with the submachine gun. Come to think of it, BMC sells a set of those figures, too.

For a game in a pinch, the “Battle of Appomattox” set has its merits. Just enough troops on each side for a game of OMOG 19C. Just add dice, rules and impromptu scenery and there you go!

There are going to be more standard bearers than one needs, so consider conversions. With a little work, that empty have can be holding a pistol, a rifle or a bugle.
This image is from the BMC Toys site


*****

As I understand it, many of the original BMC molds were owned by the factory, not BMC. When the factory owner died, the molds were put up for auction and sold to someone else. The figures are now sold under the brand name Americana.

Get OMOG 19C Skirmish Game Rules free here: http://www.thortrains.net/downloads/OMOG19C.pdf

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Navy Tattoos for Painting Miniature Sailors

This is an interesting poster that describes common tattoos used by Navy Sailors. These apply to US and UK sailors, and possibly to Australians and New Zealanders, as well.


Saturday, October 21, 2017

Ogres and Giants on the Cheap

Fantasy fans: here is a quick fix to make affordable Ogres to face 25mm to 32mm scale figures. Tim Mee made a set of cave men that came in four poses. One had an axe, one was throwing a stone, one had a two-handed club, and a very odd one had a one handed club. The odd one looks like a cross between the Hulk and Conan the Barbarian. Some conversions are as simple as altering the weapons and a cool paint job. others do a little sculpting to alter the heads and some details. They look cool. Hey, you know what they charge for metal figures from reaper, Warhammer and such. Using the Tim Mee cavemen, you can have a whole squad of Ogres on the cheap.

Here is one example that I found on the Internet:  http://cheapfantasyminis.blogspot.com/2016/03/my-giant-ego.html

Tim Mee Cave Men


BTW - a few years ago, there were bags of recast Marx cavemen for sale. They also had a few poses which could easily be converted to various monsters. Again, a lot cheaper than fancy metal castings.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Real Superman

Superman


Superman. The real Superman. This figure looks like George Reeves, the man who played Superman in the late 1940s and early 1950s. For those of us over a certain age, this is the real Superman.

"...Look up in the sky, it's a bird, it's a plane, no... it's Superman!"

"Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound"

 He stands in that famous pose which was part of the opening of the Superman Show. At that point the announcer would say  "The never ending battle for truth, justice, and the American way."

George Reeves stood in his Superman costume with Old Glory as these words were read.

Superman was not one of the buff cut Schwarzenegger type strongmen. He was the older style strong man with thick torso, and these days the muscle-heads* would think him out of shape. Nonetheless, he was our Superman.

But on to another story. Back in 1957, the Louis Marx company manufactured  one of its playsets with a tin-litho structure. It was a toy skyscraper, complete with toy office furniture, workers and accessories. All the desks have ashtrays on them. From the outside, it looked like a multi-storied skyscraper. Inside were four floors.  The first floor had a bank, a drug store, a lobby and an elevator to the roof. Second was a floor with offices, then a floor with a gym, and lastly a stockroom.

Wow! Exciting! In the words of our mentor, “Yes, indeedy, boys and girls!”

It was a complete flop.

How could the folks at Marx not anticipate that? If you have lived anywhere that skyscrapers abound, you might be wondering why anyone would make a toy one. In the movie "Big", the adult toymakers came up with a skycraper toy. The main character told them it would not sell because it was not fun.

Anyone can see that.
Skyscraper photo courtesy of Mike Prendergast. Warhorse Miniatures

One item could have transformed a boring skyscraper into an exciting playset. One item. One figure. And here he stands before you: Superman. A skyscraper playset might be a dull day of play, but add this one figure and it becomes a Superman playset complete with the Daily Planet building. All you need is a toy Lex Luthor, a handful of plastic play Kryptonite and two or three old-style thugs to fill it out. Yet even without Luthor and his goons, Superman turns a dull toy into a fun toy.

Marx intended to make a Daily Planet / Superman playset. The company had everything in place: building, figures, accessories and Superman. Licensing fees were too high, so they scrubbed that idea. Rather than scrap the whole thing, they made it without Superman.

This figure of Superman is unique. Copies of him have been recast. Recast? Aside from a few sample figures, he was never cast in the first place. This is a toy figure for a playset that never happened. And had it not been for collectors, he might never have been cast again.

*******

The Warhorse Miniatures site is at https://warhorseminiatures.com/

Superman Figure aquired from James Wozniak at www.classicrecasts.com

*people like Jimmy Caruso.

** Louis Marx was notoriously cheap about licensing. He even disliked giving a few train sets to executives from railroad companies who allowed him to use their logos and liveries. One has to wonder if that cheap streak was behind his inability to secure licensing for Superman.
Louis Marx’s philosophy insofar as products was to make them cheap but make them sturdy. He was always looking to cut costs without sacrificing quality.