Sunday, January 28, 2018

Review Part II - BMC D-Day Soldiers

Now we come to the second part of this review:

The BMC D-Day Playset comes with plenty of soldiers representing three armies: USA in olive drab, Germany in gray,  and Great Britain in light tan. Figures are in the 54mm to 60mm range. I first came across these figures about 20 years ago when I bought the original D-Day Playset at Toys R Us.

Here are the troops by country:

24 American Infantrymen with Gen. Teddy Roosevelt Junior

22 Germans (with Rommel figure)

12 British including a Scot playing bagpipes

That is a total of 58 figures. Indeed, a good amount of men for a playset this size. Troops also have enough heavy weapons. The Germans have two mortar crews and a couple of machine-gun teams. US forces have a couple of heavy machine-guns, bazookas. flamethrowers, BARs and mortar men. Granted, the bazooka man is lying down dead. The British have a BAR gunner
US Soldiers: Machine Gunner, BAR gunner, grenade thrower

One thing about the current batch of soldiers is that the plastic is a bit stiff. I am surprised only one rifle was broken in transit.

There is a good assortment of poses. One glaring problem stands outs. The sculpting ranges from mediocre to poor
US GIs: bazooka man (dead?_, kneeling BAR gunner. kneeling rifleman

Rifleman, casualty, mortar and mortar man, officer

General Teddy Roosevelt Junior pointing with stick, machine-gun loader, flamethrower operator (prone)
Generic mortars for US and German crews

I have had or seen most Army Men since Ajax and Plasticraft. Only a few feet from where I sit are bags of Tim Mee M16 troops, Lido World War II type infantry and a bag of the BMC Iwo Jima Marines and Japanese. To be honest, the D-Day troops are some of the most awkward sculpts I have ever seen. Immediately noticeable are the ill-fitting helmets.
German rifleman, grenade thrower, kneeling with submachine gun

German mortar men
German casualty, General Rommel (resembles like the Matchbox figure - best sculpt in the set)
German casualty, machine gunner and loader

Some of the figures could be improved by a head-swap. There is a real mixed bag when it comes ot quality among these figures.

Jeff Imel, BMC’s current owner, told me he will continue to produce these figures. Having new molds made would be too expensive.  Perhaps there is someway the existing molds could be altered to mitigate the worst of the sculpting. 

British Infantry: 3 riflemen and Bren gunner. Note the short rifles.

Rifleman, officer with Thompson submachine gun, Scot with bagpipes. 

You can get the D-Day playset through or BMC Toys' website. If the set is temporarily out of stock, you can usually by components of it separately.


Friday, January 26, 2018

Review BMC D-Day Playset - Part 1

Part I - Terrain, Boats and accessories

20 Years Later

I first saw the D-Day playset by BMC some 20 years ago. The set was sold at Toys R Us. I had also bought the Rough Riders set there. Both were a pretty good set, all in all. There were three pillbox bunkers with AAA guns, a bombed out Norman farmhouse, barbed wire fences and beach obstacle. The landing craft were excellent. My only complaint concerned the soldiers. The set included American, British and German figures. The sculpting was less than mediocre.

Jeff Imel, current owner of BMC, sent me his reissue of the D-Day set for review. The box art is new. Also new are stickers for the landing craft and pillboxes. Everything else is there, too: Dragon’s teeth and Czech hedgeghog beach obstacles, barbed wire fences, and rock piles are the obstacles. Three pillboxes, each sporting AAA guns, and a bombed out Norman house are the structures. The Higgins boats are excellent and sized right for 54mm to 60mm soldiers. And the soldiers themselves have not changed. There are also a dozen small sandbag piles.

1 Norman house
3 bunkers with AAA guns with stickers
2 Higgins boats with stickers
3 barbed witre sections over 12" long
12 Dragon’s teeth tank obstacles
12 Czech Hedhog obstacles
12 small Sand bag positions
3 rock piles
3 flags -US, British, German
American infantry
British Infantry
German infantry
4 mortars (2 each for US and German infantry)
Tray-type box

Includes 3 pillboxes with flak guns

The Good News

I first must admit a bias. I have had the Marx playsets as well as similar products by MPC, Tim Mee and Ideal going back to when I was a little boy. I am also an experienced model builder and figure painter going back many years. I got my “basic training” building the old Aurora monster models and painting ROCO minitanks and Airfix soldiers. I know what is good when it comes to scenery, terrain, vehicles, boats, heavy weapons and soldiers. Therefore, I am prone to err on the side of my experience. And yes, I can be fussy about authenticity and detail.
Set includes 2 Higgins Boats, and they are big

The whole tenor of World War II playsets is altered significantly by this set. Those of us who grew up with a mix of soldiers, offscale vehicles and an odd medley of terrain are in for a surprise. Everything in this set fits  scales ranging from 1/35 to 1/29 (50mm to 60mm). There are no undersized vehicles. Terrain pieces are also consistent. In place of the handful of undersized landing boats and vehicles, this set has two large, realistic landing craft. The little barbed wire fence sections common to the old Marx sets are not here. Instead, three long sections of barbed wire fencing cover at least three feet of play battlefield. There are three realistic pillbox bunkers with antiaircraft guns on the roof. And then there is the Norman farmhouse in full scale. The set also includes anti-tank and beach obstacles.
Barbed Wire pictured with my Homecast figures, 54mm - 60mm
Dragon's teeth and Czech hedgehogs

Sandbags pictured with my homecast soldiers, 54mm troops

Yes, it is a playset, but for those of us in the toy soldier hobby, this one is for the big boys.

For those doing skirmish gaming with 54mm figures, the D-Day Playset is a great asset. It provides the kind of accessories that are needed for games. They make game set-up faster, too.

I cannot stress enough how much I like these large, realistic landing craft.

The Bad News

A few concerns. The house is difficult to assemble. The plastic is too hard and the snap-joiners are awkward. Putting it together, it flew apart like the old Lionel exploding boxcar. I prefer to cut off some of the snaps and use glue.

The soldiers use a stiff plastic. I am surprised that only one arrived with a broken rifle. Sculpting is poor. Some of the US and German figures could be salvaged with head-swaps from more proportional figures.

Pillbox pictures with my painted homecast 54mm - 60mm figures

Overall assessment

The D-Day Playset by BMC offers toy soldier collectors, modelers and wargames a variety of good accessories, scenery and equipment. These is raw material for diorama-makers and lots of goodies for skirmish gamers There is also consistency insofar as scale. Granted, these are toys, but they are some of the most realistic, scale toys in the plastic soldier hobby.

The two concerns do not diminish the D-Day playsets’s value to the toy soldier hobbyist. Get while the getting is good.
Stickers for landing craft
D-Day Pillbox Stickers

Some advice

For sci-fi fans: the barbed wire can be used a laser-barriers. Paint the upright posts black or dark metallic “gunmetal”. Paint the horizontal “wires” in day-glo colors. Shades of Forbidden Planet!  A ray-beam barrier to beat the band!

For troops debarking the landing craft, the Marx 54mm Marines have a lot of running poses. Most of the BMC poses for American and German troops are soldiers in place

You can use the landing craft, barbed wire and bunkers (without AAA guns) for landings against Japanese forces. BMC’s Iwo Jima Marines and Japanese are perfect for this. Even better, add these to the BMC Iwo Jima playset.

Tomorrow- Part II: Day Playset Soldiers

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

What Makes Great Science Fiction?

Science fiction should be more than entertainment. Great science fiction should make you think. It needs to challenge the status quo and ask questions that many fear to ask. Science fiction should not only show the range of possibilities, but also consider their ramifications. This is why certain books, movies and television series make an impact. The old classic “Forbidden Planet” was a space opera on the surface, but it came to a point where it asked deep-seated questions of the psyche and the possible consequences of tapping its power. That is why it endured. The original Star Trek series was an anthology wrapped around a central story line and cast of characters. Each episode tackled different subjects, from time travel to bigotry. The crew, star-ship and “federation” were but a milieu to tell those stories. Though the special effects, uniforms and aliens are hokey by today’s standards, the stories still hold.

Great sci fi challenges us to think. Robert Heinlein’s “Starship troopers” (the book, not the movie) questions why men fight. Philip K. Dick’s dystopian Blade runner questioned the issue humanity and technology. The old classic “A canticle For Liebowitz” questions nuclear war and humankind’s repeated attempts to annihilate itself.

Yes, science fiction can be entertaining. Movies like “The Fifth Element” and “Valerian” are a romp through fantastic worlds. However, they merely entertain, though they entertain well. The truly great sci-fi asks and inspires.

 It is truly said that the idea is not to have all the right answers, but to ask all the right questions. Great science fiction does just that!

Friday, January 5, 2018

Building Attack Danger Zone

Great Halls Afire!

Jeff Imel sent me this unusual item. The two-piece model is a building facade with base. There are “flames” molded by some of the windows. The color of this ‘house afire’ is brick red. It comes with five stickers to place on the “flames”. These look like burst and fire.

The brickwork and other details are nicely molded. Almost too nice for a toy. And the size of the door is just right for figures from 30mm to 45mm. In model train sizes, S scale to O scale.

The Building Attack can be used with toy soldiers. it will also work with toy firemen . And on a model railroad, this building facade would make a nice “house afire” scene at the back of a layout. Model railroaders, be warned. This has some detail that demands extra painting.

In my opinion, this is an item best included with another product. A lighter version had been included with sets of firemen. The building facade could also be packed with a set of soldiers.

Get it here:

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Lionel & American Flyer Classic Resources DVD

Your old and new trains are in good hands. Right here, you can get the original instructions to bring your trains to life!

Here it is:

The best set of resources for old style model railroading ever! Prepared by experts and standing the test of time and technology. Even in this digital age, the basics have not changed.  This DVD puts them all at your fingertips.
    You get the best of classic O and O27 Gauge, S Gauge and HO scale information. These resources cover everything you need to get started and build your own model railroad empire.  Here is a partial list of what is on board.

How to choose a track layout that is best for you.

How to assemble track
Wiring your layout, from simple power to automated train operations.
How to set up and run your trains
The way to set up and use the most common accessories
Cars that do something: Automated cars and how they work.
How to repair your trains and accessories
Games you can play on your railway
Tips on better scenery for your railroad
Courses that teach you about real railroading
All about O, O27, Super O, S and HO track
Genuine resources from real classic railroads.

Get started today!  See that old train set come roaring to life. You can do it with the original instructions written specifically for those trains in the attic.

Here is what is on board:

Original O and O27 manuals by Lionel covering from 1945 through the 1980s
Original S Gauge manuals from American Flyer
Original sets of instructions for HO from Lionel, American Flyer and Tyco
Lionel and American Flyer manuals on track plans and layout building
 Instructions for K-Line O and O27 trains
Tips on everything from trackwork to scenery to wiring your layout
Extra instruction sheets for operating Lionel accessories
Track plans from Lionel catalogs for O, O27, Super O and HO
Track plans for HO and American Flyer S gauge

A book on making common repairs to electric trains

The Lionel and American Flyer manuals themselves are massive resources that give specific instruction of using track, wiring, setting up accessories, maintaining and running trains, troubleshooting, track plans and layout building. These aren't the little, cheaply-printed booklets packed in to modern train sets. These are crammed with up to 64 pages of good, reliable information on all aspects of model railroading.

And we have added to this DVD.  Here is a list of the classic hard-to-find Lionel booklets you also get:

Train Layout Planning Book for Pop
Romance of Model Railroading with Lionel Trains
Scenic Effects for Model Railroads: Lionel Trains
Official Book of Model Railroading by Lionel
Fun with Lionel Model Railroading
Lionel Track Layouts

And there is more: For those who want to know more about real railroading, we located a set of Army School of Transportation correspondence courses on railroading that covers everything from planning operations to loading cars. We also found resources from classic railroads, including blueprints of classic locomotives and photographs of cars and motive power.

Many of the manuals and instruction books are considered "collectible" and bring high prices. If you bought these manuals individually, you could spend several hundred dollars easily. On our DVD, you get them all for a low price of $9.99 (Plus $2.00 postage and handling). For a total of $11.99, you get all of this in one convenient place. Order now and start building your railroad empire.

Click here to get your DVD now: