Saturday, March 26, 2011

Five-minute Field Modification

Okay, more like ten minutes.

Utilizing the redundant saddles from the Imex 7th Cavalry sets and those uncharacteristically beautifully-sculpted downed, and saddle-less, horses from BMC/Americana, a little carving and plastic "welding", one is greeted by this usable combination:

Add a wounded Toy Soldiers of San Diego trooper and the combination is pretty compelling:

Soldier on!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Marx Cavalrymen pass in review!

This was the symbol of quality for plastic soldiers when I was a kid.  The Louis Marx company churned out numerous playsets on a variety of themes.  The sculpting and animation of their figure, and the television or thematic tie-ins were so compelling that the imaginations of a generation of kids were sparked thanks to these marvels in 54mm.

I recently acquired this delightful, and well-played with group of twelve Fort Apache cavalrymen, and though they are of a later era, they will augment my growing phalanx of ACW troopers. (remember: if you have a beef with how I play, stay in your own yard).  I think they will do nicely, especially in this very rich  blue hue.

Dirt from the trail, or perhaps the previous kid who owned him, crusts the  front of this jolly trooper as he lopes along on his standard Marx steed.  The novelty of this figure is his very relaxed and natural pose, a nice break from the usual combat poses usually available in mounted figures.  He looks like a member of that long line of Federal horsemen in the open credits of the John Wayne/William Holden film "The Horse Soldiers" (which heavily influenced this nine-year-old back in the day).

The bugler roused me from my reverie of the past with a call to arms.  Wait a second, that guy, those cheekbones, that chin, they all look so familiar...

Of course!

This dismounted trooper, sword intact (unlike our hero above) is particularly menacing.  I think that the sculpting and animation of all of these figures is quite outstanding and well thought-out.  I particularly like his grasp on his scabbard, indicating he has just withdrawn that flashing blade.

"OOOf!"  I hate it when that happens.  This grimacing horseman has just received a slug to the chest.  We can only hope for the best and trust to his otherwise robust state of health to pull him through (though I'm doubtful).

This refugee from a barbershop quartet sports both a trapdoor Springfield as well as a great looking handlebar moustache.  Despite his profession of arms he looks quite the friendly fellow.

Sometimes the Marx treatment of that trapdoor Springfield makes it look a little too much like the M1 carbine of a much later era.  Time travel, perhaps?
Drawing a bead on unseen enemies downrange, this stalwart cavalryman is well balanced and beautifully sculpted.  Noteworthy are his trouser stripes and very convincing boots.

This man is obviously in a hurry. the animation and intensity of his gaze is absolutely outstanding, his revolver however, has an oddly truncated barrel.

Of all the troopers in the group this is the only one with chevrons...

in this instance, a corporal, on his way to a fight.

Leading the charge, afoot interestingly, is this officer with sword in hand and running pell-mell into the fray.
His glance to the side, however,, causes me to think he's just caught glimpse of a flanking force of the badguys. 

 That cavity in his chest may be a chilling freeze frame at the moment of impact.  Or, perhaps, merely a casting flaw

This shot illustrates his shoulder-straps.

By the paucity of stripes and other indicators of rank, it is evident that these are actual soldiers and not a group of reenactors rendered in 54 mm.  How many sergeants does one twelve-man squad need anyway?

Not only is this superb animation but the face has outstanding character as well.  I really like this guy.
I think that this figure with neckerchief blowing in the breeze and fantastic balance may be my favorite figure in the group.

Marching-guy below, gave me pause:

There is something about these Marx troopers that's vaguely familiar...the open collars, suspenders, the distinctive non-Stetson hats...hmmm.

Omygosh!  They're...


Odd that this pacifist sect would be so well-armed, kinda have to wonder what the folks at Marx had in mind.

This marching Anabaptist may be on his way to a communal barn-raising, mistaking, perhaps, his shootin' iron for his adz.

The casual pose of the mounted man in this group contrasts with the rearing Britains Deetail horse in the background.  Sometimes it's nice to let the guys take a break.

In all, a very nice ebay find at a very low price.  The bargains are out there, and the army continues to grow.  Campaigning season may be only weeks away.

Soldier On!


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

More Cavalry Hijinks!

 Last weekend Susan and I drove up to Gettysburg to listen to Park Ranger Matt Atkinson give a really good program on General Sickles.  As is my usual custom when in G'burg, I also stopped by Gettysburg Miniature Soldiers not merely to see what was new, but to complete a set of Britains cavalrymen.  

A friend of mine recently gave me a Britains Deetail Federal cavalryman, and it prompted me to go online to see what it would cost to get a few more.  The results were pretty daunting; a set of six, after postage, would cost around $45.  These days that's a little rich for my blood.

So I figured that if I poked around the toy soldier shop I'd find them for a better price plus no shipping charge.

And I was right.  Four dollars per, Huzzah!

And here, for your edification they pass in review with the Toy Soldiers Forever! studio in the background.

The box was a mixed lot with newer figures having the dark green base...

and older figures sporting the light green.  Other differences will be discussed momentarily.

This mounted officer had a badly bent saber, though the tried-and-true hot water treatment
restored his blade to armoury condition.

This trooper was the gift that motivated me to recruit him some comrades.  I think the sculpting and animation of the Britains horses is some of the very best available.  The riders are pretty fine too.

Superior sculpting aside, there are some quality differences between the older and newer figures, notably in the painting, which can be a little haphazard in those earlier pieces with the light green bases.

This trooper, with the wildly immodest open-front shirt provides the only "character" figure, with a spitting image of...

The "Hof"!

 Saddle up, night rider.

Here's Hasslehof from another angle, note the poor painting and the pecular saddle arrangement.  That saddle holster is also somewhat pedestrian and poorly sculpted.
 Here's  a side-by-side with one of the earlier figures on the left and later on the right.  Note the superior painting of the newer figure as well as the better sculpted integral saddle.

 From a second angle the fragility of the paint on the lighter green bases is also apparent.

And here comes our surprise twist...

Here is the marking of the slightly inferior older Britians figures...

and here comes the markings on the superior, and newer, recasts...

Gasp!  Say it ain't so!  Red Chinese treachery unseats John Bull!  Who among us ever thought to see the day?

Regardless of pedigree, British or Red Chinese, A.P. Hill appears equally threatened by either.  A little lesson in tolerance, perhaps?

On my tabletop the Deetail horsemen operate as an integrated unit.

Beautifully sculpted and ready for battle.

The worst nightmare of the infantryman who neglected to keep his musket in good repair.

These twisted rubber bands, though so simple, make very convincing reigns.

Against a beautiful blue sky this Federal is ready for the advance.
And signs in my front lawn indicate that...

the spring campaigning season is nearly upon us.
And, may I add, not a moment too soon.

Soldier on!