Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Metal soldiers and cool buildings

In a recent post I mentioned that, in my opinion, Wm. Britians makes the best metal soldiers. Here's a nice example what I'm yappin' about:

This is one of the newer Wm Britians line "American Civil War" #17862 Union Infantry Standing Firing #1 54mm Metal Soldier. This is an example of a new and even higher standard of quality from this grand-daddy of all toy soldier manufacturers.

look at the detail on this guy! The sculpting, detail, animation, anatomy, and painting are absolutely superb. Put me down as a "Me likee".

Does this amping up of quality have anything to do with the new First Gear Inc. ownership of Britians?

This just in from reader Craig Charron:

As to the Britains Co., and its new, high standards, some of the credit has to go to folks from back home in Michigan. Richard Walker, who now manages the operation for First Gear, is
 as Michigander, and sets the bar pretty high. Funnily enough, he has ties to my home town of Oscoda, but that is another story. And, the sculptor for the Blue Coats line is also from Michigan. Once again, the Penninsular state leads the way! .


Thanks for the insight Craig, "Tuebor" indeed!


He seems to be drawing a bead on the connoisseur market.

This soldier is incredible, though again the price puts it way out of my range. The only reson I was able to feature it was thanks to a friend who provided me with this loner. For as nice as the Conte figures can be, I think they are outclassed by Britians in animation, anatomy, sculpting, detail, and finish. Oh, and (I almost forgot) the "highness" of their prices.

Speaking of her highness:

I think the company is called "Britians" because only folks in the queen's income bracket can afford these gems.

Now for the contrast.

BMC, that stalwart at the bottom of the plastic soldier food chain, maintains that position in the metal line as well. To say it suffers by comparison is understatement of the broadest sort.

This is the metal "Irish Brigade" soldier made in China for BMC, yikes!

Nice base. I didn't know that they had linoleum during the Civil War.

How this Kewpie-doll managed to grow a mustache is beyond me. The khaki trousers were a real attention-getter, not to mention the eyebrows. Although I prefer my metal toy soldiers finished glossy, like this one, I need them to at least bear a passing resemblance to reality.

And speaking of paint...

"Made in China", if you get my drift.

Note the warning on the highly-collectible box. Not for licking, swallowing, or other consumption by children under 3.

"Mommy, I'm dizzy again!" "Mommy, Billy's fingernails are blue."

Now, in fairness to all parties. These fine Britians are hoity-toity "miniatures" not intended to be enjoyed by the masses, the hoi poloi, children, and, in other words, me. Any soldier that can't actually be played with in the dirt is of little interest to this writer.

And the suckiness factor of BMC figures (which is very high) is moot when you consider the price. You can't beat BMC's prices for sheer numbers of troops. When your factories are in China (I didn't say anything about slave-labor or Walmart here, that's just you jumping to conclusions) you can keep that price point low, low, low and the consumer happy.

BMC has three strengths that should keep them around for a long time:

1. They come out with new product every two years (or so)
2. Their ancillary materials (bunkers, houses, stockades, etc) are very good and very cheap
3. six bucks will get you a whole bunch of soldiers

Like mom said, we all have our strengths.

The bottom line, for me, is this:

If you can't get them dirty, you can't play in my yard.

Now speaking of BMC/Americana's buildings, they are not only very good in their own right but they convert well to other structures.

Here's a the BMC/Americana version of the Widow Liester house at Gettysburg (Meade's Headquarters).

I jazzed it up a little by lifting the corners of some shingles, glazing the windows, and giving it a nice weathered paint job.

Here's the same kit, transformed into a small industrial building:

It's a small foundry or a large forge, definatley a workshop of some sort.
The smokestack and hearth were made from wall panels from the BMC/Americana "Lee's Headquarters" kit.

Similarly, the clerestory was salvaged from window panels from the Lee kit.

I'm also working on a Pennsylvania bank barn that is made up of three of the Lee HQ kits... at six bucks a pop you can get a lot of them to use as raw materials. I'll be posting on that barn conversion another time.

In the meanwhile...

keep on playing!


See you again on October 15


Christopher Walkerloo said...

Hi Mannie,

but who makes the best die cut card toy soldiers? what...? die cut what??? check out my new figures at www.Walkerloo.com... 1:20 scale figures in full colour cheap enough to fill your floor and made by people with pensions and healthcare... oh and out of 80% recycled material... ps. nice blog.

Chris Walker, www.walkerloo.com


eave some room for KING AND COUNTRY.Can they be beaten?


The best paper figures are Junior Generals

Mannie Gentile said...

Chris and fixed bayonet guy,

Let's not you two go getting into a slap fight here.

I'd love to see examples of your wares and decide for myself and perhaps feature them in a future post.