Monday, May 1, 2017

Review: Tim Mee Cyan Blue and Rust Brown soldiers

Back in the late 60s and early 70s, Tim Mee cast some of their “M16" soldiers in neon colors. There was neon pink, neon blue, neon yellow, neon green. I never understood why. By the time those soldiers came out, I was already into the smaller scale Airfix wargame figures, Tamiya kits and metal military miniatures.

Recently, Jeff Imel of Victorybuy has had these Tim Mee soldiers reissued. The first set was issued in green and tan. Since then, he has them done in grey, black, a dark blue, light green, dark green, red and yellow.  The latest sets are done in rust brown and cyan blue. In fact, the Blue ones are also included in the latest recast of the Tim Mee C130 gunship. I guess they are supposed to be Air Force guys.

I like the Tim Mee M16 guys. They are well-sculpted in action poses, are realistic enough, and have a good assortment of weapons and equipment. When I worked out the game of OMOG Advanced, they were one of the toy soldier sets I used as a reference. In fact, I worked to accommodate everything from a World War II era rifle squad to a modern one and anything in between. The Tim Mee M16 guys had a few things that made them ideal for this. Along with the set of poses and weapons, they are also the most common set of army men.  The Tim Mee figures have been cast, recast, reproduced, copied and cloned for almost 50 years. Figures from original molds are available, as are copies and clones from China and elsewhere. One figure has disappeared from the set: the marching guy. And the guy who used to be throwing a grenade is now waving the men onward. No problem. There is an officer with pistol, mortar man with crude 60mm mortar, flamethrower man, bazooka man (3.5" rocket launcher), radioman, minesweeper man, a light machine gunner and five riflemen. For OMOG, a squad can have its officer, riflemen, squad machine gun and choice of heavy weapons.

But Cyan? Rust? Or for that matter, Red, Yellow, Orange?

For toy soldier games, the different colors are useful. Camouflage is not a matter on small tabletop games, as both players can see each others troops. Different colors allows for different sides. A game with four armies on the table is easier to play if figures are distinguished by their color. That is, for people who are not going to paint their soldiers. Paint? All one needs do is get a bag and open them.

One could use the cyan troops as air force or a naval landing party. Dark blue sets could be SWAT teams.

The Tim Mee M16 guys are a great set for toy soldier games. You can easily put together a rifle squad plus supporting elements of your choice: mortar team, antitank squad, engineer section (flamethrower and minesweeper). The only missing thing from those times is a grenade launcher, either the old M79 or later M203 over-and-under. No problem, Either use one of the other poses as the grenade launcher or borrow the tear gas launcher man from the Tim Mee SWAT team / tactical troops.

As for collectors, Tim Mee reissues have sweetened the pot with a variety of different colors and reissues. Collect them all!

Here’s some toy soldier history for you:

Back in 1998, my friend’s nephew had some of the Tim Mee M16 guys. He called them “old-fashioned soldiers.” To my friend and I, they were modern troops. They are pretty much how we looked when we were in the Army.  Being called “old-fashioned”was a shock, but it was true. We looked very different from our counterparts in the 90s and beyond. That was what led to my making the Army Men Homepage. It started as a joke. And it evolved into a service for the toy soldier hobby.
Tim Mee soldier with experimental machine-gun

There are anomalies in the Tim Mee set. More common infantry antitank weapons of the time
were the M72 LAW and the 89mm Recoilless Rifle. Then there is that machine gun. The actual squad machine gun of the time was the M60, a belt-fed model based on the German MG42. The Tim Mee machine gun was an experimental type that the Army was considering for Jungle warfare. It looked like a contender, but was eventually rejected. Tim Mee jumped the gun on this one. Much the same happened to Herald, Timpo, Crescent and Lone Star of Britain when the British Army was considering a bullpup weapon in the 1950s. it looked like a sure thing, so the toymakers used it for their toy soldiers. They wanted to be modern and “state o the art.”  Unfortunately, the bullpup was rejected because of NATO compatibility issues. Too late! The molds were already made and the bullpup had remained ever since.
Herald Brand British Soldiers with "Bullpup" rifle

You can buy the Cyan Blue and Rust soldiers here:

You can download OMOG Advanced Skirmish Game Runes here: