(Note: Upon reflection, I've removed about 10% of the snarkiness from this post)
In the words of the great Peggy Lee:
"Is that all there is?"
What a disappointment. After waiting nearly two years for this offering, the let-down matches the build-up.
Here BMC/Americana had an opportunity for a fantastic product launch, one with an eager market hoping that their new Parrot gun and figures are reflective of some new corporate commitment to better sculpting and exciting new products.
Alas, the Irish Brigade has advanced into action only to be revealed as simply their same old, tired, poorly cast, flash-ridden, lackluster Union soldier figures, this time molded in green plastic.
Same old sugar, different bag, admittedly, a bag with a much more attractive hang-tag.
Here's a great "Why bother?" moment. A lost opportunity for BMC/Americana to climb out of the quagmire of the lowest echelon of toy soldier manufactures and start a slow but steady climb toward improved quality.
Of the soldiers included in this bagged set, only three and one half are new figures: Father Corby, General Meagher, an advancing guy, and a running guy who's merely a resculpting of an earlier figure. Check this out:
Examine the kepis, noses, beards, collars, and equipment straps of these two figures, one is a "new" Irish Brigade soldier and the other is just the old BMC running Confederate...clearly they are two different sculpts.
"再做它，只不相当很糟糕这次." (Chinese for "Do it again, only not so lousy this time.")
It simply takes my breath away.
But back to the Corby and Meagher figures.
The sculpting of these two new figures is head and shoulders above the rest in the set, leaving one to ponder how delightful it would have been if all of the Irish Brigade figures reflected this new attempt at better sculpting in the BMC/Americana studios.
Cast in brilliant green, father Corby is posed giving final absolution to the troops prior to battle.
These closeups demonstrate an uncharacteristic (for BMC/Americana) attention to detail and good anatomy, and of course the sprue lump on top of his head. Corby has an exceptional face and beard, and the detail of his stole and hat/gloves (at his feet) are imaginative and well executed...
a faithful copy of the Corby statue at Gettysburg National Military Park.
(image from the Irish Cultural Society of the Garden City Area)
This astride figure of General Meagher, with the ground his men covered at Antietam in the background, is similarly well sculpted with simple yet effective detail.
The sword is a quantum improvement over last year's BMC/Americana release of blue and gray cavalry troopers (which will be profiled sometime in the future).
Again, this figure is reflective of the equestrian statue of Meagher on the grounds of the Montana State house, prompting one to wonder; "if not for statuary what would the sculptors at BMC/Americana do for inspiration?"
Finally, the fourth new figure is this guy:
looking somewhat puffy, perhaps too much salt pork in his diet. Nothing to write home about, but at least something new.
Aside from these four anomalies the rest of the figures are the same old thing that we've come to expect from BMC/Americana figures.
Curiously, BMC/Americana choose to mold artillery figures (sadly, their earlier generation) in green to include with this infantry brigade.
What, do you suppose, is causing this company to be so complacent in such a dynamic and competitive market?
If there's a silver lining in all of this, at least the green plastic affords one the opportunity to fill out the ranks of Armies in Plastic's fine Berdan's Sharpshooters...
Finally, this point I've raised before. The BMC/Americana bottom line for me is the price. If you're just looking for new recruits to fill out depleted regiments, these conscripts are very cheap and plentiful. And sometimes, in the great plastic grinder that is pretend war, numbers trump quality.
As the manpower-strapped Abraham Lincoln said with the 1861 arrival of the first western troops to Washington DC; "Thank God for Michigan!" So might a 54mm Lincoln in similar straits shout "Thank God for BMC/Americana!"
(See you on the 1st)