Sunday, July 13, 2008

Reviewing the Troops: BMC 10 pound Parrot Gun

BMC takes aim at improving its artillery line with this new package of four guns and twelve men. 

BMC figures are, in my opinion, at the very bottom of the toy soldier food chain, as are their previous attempts at artillery.  BMC has set the industry standard for lackluster sculpting, dreadful animation, clumsy casting, and just an overall amaturish look to their figures. Welcome to "made in China".

Some times its difficult for the political prisoners who manufacture these cheap figures to maintain the same passionate attention to detail that I'd prefer.  Go figure.

That being said, this bagged set brings a small (really, really small) ray of hope into the gloom that defines BMC soldiers.

This little ten pounder is pretty nifty.  With much more detail 
than their absolutely sterile 12 pound Napoleon  
with its flimsy wheels, detail-free trail, and doughnut-like muzzle swell (right).

This Parrot almost begins, sort of, to approximate the look of the real thing.  Man! how's that for qualifiers?

Details include the prolonge, carriage bolts, and the characteristic breech welt of the Parrot gun.

The carriage is much beefier than their earlier attempt. Sadly, the wheels are still pretty flimsy. Still this effort represents a quantum leap forward for the modelers at BMC.

 A close-up of the details that make the difference.

The real thing outside the Visitors Center at Antietam National Battlefield

There are twelve figures that come in this set, six different poses, six blue, six gray.  Although, generally, the sculpting is down to BMCs usual low standards for figures, the poses are markedly crisper than earlier generations of BMC troops.

This soldier with the short pair of binoculars is the best of the bunch with that new crispness of this BMC offering.

Note both the detail of the belt, buttons, and folds of material.  This is a much higher level of sculpting than available with earlier BMC troops.  Also the flared coattails provide a little more animation than usual.

Okay, here we are, back in familiar BMC territory.  Check out this absolutely goofy animation.  What exactly is this man doing?  His expression of concern would be more appropriate if he were holding a python rather than a very poorly sculpted prolonge rope.  Though I shouldn't poke fun, life can't be easy for a man with biscuits for buttons.

The animation here is equally stilted, and what's the deal with the missing end of the sponge rammer?  No, its not just this one, the Yankee version has the same problem.

It strikes me that some of these new artillery poses would work in other vignettes, such as prisoners (BMC makes an Andersonville set),  wounded, or camp fatigue life.

This guy as a prisoner looks like he's doubling over and heading for the sinks.  Still a nice figure for casual fatigue duty. He could even pass as a civilian or a teamster.

This fellow is shouting that he can't hear you.  "Howzat? Eh? Speak up! durn it."  Too much time around the guns with no ear protection.

This somewhat nicely sculpted and very compact artilleryman mistakenly went to the limber chest for the thirty pounder, that projectile is way too large for the muzzle of his ten pound gun.

Other ammunition is included in this set as well...
four pyramids of balls (for smoothbores only) accompany these (rifled) Parrots.

And even so, the balls are also way too large for the muzzle of the gun.  Uh-oh, looks like William Pendleton is back in charge of Confederate artillery. 

Now here's a very short video of not the ten pound Parrot but the 12 pound light gun howitzer, the Napoleon.  I hope you enjoy it.

All things considered, there are more pluses than minuses with this new BMC/Americana offering.  The guns are improved, the figures are sculpted with somewhat more detail and animation and provide some diversity of use.

I'd recommend you pick up a bag and lets all hope that this tiny incremental improvement represents a trend with BMC.

As always, I invite and welcome your comments, questions, and corrections.

Some time I'll have pictures of my fine tuning of the BMC Leister House (Meade's Gettysburg Headquarters) as well as some pictures of a modification I made to part of that house which provided me with a whole new building...

a blacksmith's forge:

See you again on August 1st.




where can I get these Manny?

Dave said...

I have found the best value is from a seller named plasticmodelkits on ebay. Unfortunately he doesn't have this set yet though. I got mine off ebay for $7.05 with FREE shipping.

I'm not so picky about details I guess as mine were mostly purchased for my young Grandson to play with. I DID however notice right off that glaring mistake about the cannon balls. Geesh. Seems like BMC's sculptors need to read a Civil war book sometime.

Dave W.