Friday, December 18, 2015

Tim Mee versus Toy Story Soldiers

Tim Mee Bucket of Army Men and Toy Story Bucket O Soldiers
By the time I resumed interest in plastic toy soldiers, Tim Mee’s toy soldier bucket had pretty much come and gone. I had seen them on store shelves. I was pleased to see army men figure in the Toy Stories movies.
I bought one of the Toy Story buckets a few years ago. I learned that my bucket was the latest version. There was an earlier one with soldiers in seven poses that were toyish copies of the Tim Mee M16 GIs. The set I bought had 72 figures plus two paratroopers. The regular soldiers were in ten poses. They looked a bit crisper than figures from the earlier Toy Story set (I do not have the earlier set and only saw pictures in a video).
The figures’ sculpting was alright and they look like toys. The color is close to Kelly green. However, they are not quite as crisp, nor as authentic as the Tim Mee figures. The weapons have less detail and some of the poses are weird.
Tan Tim-Mee compared to Toy Story Figures
Of course, the difference between these sets of figures is a matter of intent. Tim Mee’s sculptors were making a good, realistic set of modern (at the time) soldiers. The movie toy makers were trying to replicate what was in the movie rather than produce authentic miniatures. .
Tim Mee in tan and olive drab comapred to lighter green Toy Story soldiers
For play value, I favor the Tim Mee bucket. 48 soldiers in green and tan (two armies), a tank, two jets, terrain piece, flags and stickers as opposed to Toy Story with 72 figures all in green with two paratroopers and no vehicles or planes. Tim Mee has a better variety of poses, too.
Tim Mee Soldiers in tan comapred to green Toy Story troops
The Toy Story figures have some good poses. Sculpting is good. There are five rifle poses, two officers ( one is saluting, as in the movie), a minesweeper, mortar man and bazooka man. The paratroopers are two different rifle poses with the cord attacked to a ring on the helmet. The field jacket looks more like a tunic. Under other circumstances, this group of soldiers may have sold like other plastic army men. Of course, this set was specially made to go with a movie. It is doubtful they will ever be sold in bags at the discount store.
Compare the awkward Toy Story prone rifleman with the Tim Mee soldeir in proper pose
This brings us back to something I mentioned back in July. The Tim Mee M16 / Vietnam toy soldiers are the most enduring and widespread set of toy soldiers ever made. Collectors like to speak of Marx’s many soldiers, but no set of Marx figures has endured in such abundance as the Tim Mee soldiers. Most of Marx’s figures are recasts sold to the hobby market since about 1982. Tim Mee soldiers are still found on store shelves. The M16 / Vietnam soldier set has been copied, clones, recopied, re-posed, and sold in every format from buckets and bags to playsets. They have been molded in almost every color possible.
No wonder these classic toy soldiers served as the inspiration for characters in the Toy Story movies.
Tim Mee’s M48 tank is perhaps the largest, most widely available toy tank made to accompany army men. It appeared around the time of the M16 soldiers. As toys go, it is a good model of the M48A2 Medium Tank with a 90mm gun. This tank has been copied and cloned. I have seen them in several shades of green, from olive drab to hunter green. These tanks have also been made in grey, tan, and mustard yellow. No other set of soldiers and no other toy army vehicles have endured as long and been produced in such great numbers as the Tim Mee M16 / Vietnam soldiers and the Tim Mee M48 tank. The tanks made by Marx, Ideal, Payton and others are either no longer in production or are sold as recasts to the hobby market.
The Tim Mee M48

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