Friday, March 14, 2014

A very forgettable Alamo

Remember the Alamo...

this one however...not so  much.

Never one to turn down a free sample I thought it would be worthwhile to review the BMC Alamo set.  I've really enjoyed their other buildings including Lee's headquarters, Meade's headquarters, Dunker Church, and the Andersonville set.  Each are splendid in their own right and each lends itself wonderfully to modification, as you can see here and here.  I've never been disappointed with BMC buildings and I looked forward to the Alamo and the conversion possibilities it could provide.

The detail is adequate...

assembly is a breeze...

but in the words of the great Peggy Lee...

"Is that all there is?"

BMC's Alamo is alarmingly, and disappointly two-dimensional.  Its only a façade.

The Alamo was a fairly large compound with lots of cool redoubts, ramps, and adobe and palisade walls,  I was expecting at least four walls for goodness sakes. 

But no, all you get is the front facade.

This is especially chintzy when one considers that BMCs Andersonville set includes a complete prison enclosure with operating gates, no less.

(image from

A closer look reveals another liability, there is only the tiniest foothold for one soldier to find a place from which to fire,

Its a great position, don't get me wrong, but again - what Peggy Lee said.

The palisade walls, here playing host to some of my Civil War guys, are the best thing about this set and may show up in future posts.

The included playmat is bizzare.

Now lets take a look at the figures:

Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna is one of four character figures.

This is Santa Anna, he was a despot...

not to be confused with  Carlos Santana...

he's a fantastic musician, for proof go here

Of the four character figures, Santa Anna is, in my opinion, the best one and may have toy soldiering applications beyond the Alamo era.

There are three character figures among the Texicans:

Fess Parker

as Davy Crockett.

William Travis

Jim Bowie (looking a little zombie-ish)
Those three figures, along with Santa Anna, are well-sculpted and have good animation, the rest of the crew is quite a different story altogether.

Now to the rank and file...oh my what a motley crew.

Lurching around like poorly sculpted hillbillies the Texicans look intoxicated.

Crazy-chops McGoofy

Perhaps the silliest little man ever cast in plastic.

The improbable pose of this Texican defender leads me to think that he has been distracted by an overflight of mallards.  I like his classic Crossman pellet-gun, by the way.

The tomahawk on this guy shows some of the flash which is typical of the figures.

The Mexican flag bearer presents a nice opportunity for those who are inclined to paint their figures.  The flag is an empty canvas waiting for a talented brush.

The plastic, as is usual for BMC figures, is not of the highest quality.

This Mexican shako soldier is nicely drawing a bead on the one Texican able to take position in the upper window of the chapel.

The sculpting of this kneeling guy looks like he's been extruded from a toothpaste tube.

Sadly this very forgettable Alamo is a real missed opportunity for something that could have been much, much better.  I think however, that like many BMC building sets, duplicate Alamo kits and some skill with a box cutter and soldering iron could turn this into a much more play-worthy set.

Soldier on!


p.s. a Toy Soldiers Forever! shout out to my new friend Josh who's soldiering on with the best of them.


Unknown said...

I must say that your comments are on target, Mannie. However, I would point out that this was BMC's first venture at a new playset after years of nobody really attempting it. They had growing pains here. The next few sets got better. Also, Bill McMaster was aiming for the kid's toy market so didn't go as strongly for the best quality overall in terms of sculpting, etc. I got the original boxed set with the accessories (which were pretty cool-especially the carts) so I felt okay with the set overall. Not my favorite, but still have a bit of a soft spot for it. I like your description of Cheers,
Mike Bryan

Mosstrooper said...

Oh dear - they do seem to have lost the plot with this set !

The Collector said...

I agree with Mike's comments.

Archduke Piccolo said...

Not really a collector of BMC - though I do have some 'Yorktown' guys - I think there is too much of an attitude among corporates that 'anything is good enough for kids.'

I daresay that the intention with this playset was simply to 'enact' an assault upon the main wall of the Alamo. Otherwise, who knows?

I felt that the Yorktowns I got (my daughter then aged about three found some in a supermarket and thought Dad might like them), came with very nice cannon (though you had to turn the wheels around and then had a problem with loose wheels) and an equally fine siege mortar. The mounted officer was pretty good too.

Acquiring a second mounted officer later, I made one into my US commander, Horatio Stiles; and the other my British one, Banastre Mirleton...

Brian Carrick said...

Michael's comments are very fair, the Alamo Chapel facade is a nice moulding and makes a good backdrop to a shelf display but you'd never need a second one.

The figures are a bit toytownish but are very usefull, my Texans have become Spanish Guerillas, Fenians and Boers, while the Mexicans have become British Marines and Sepoys, Santa Anna is currently a General in the Russian army.

The only thing I don't like and haven't found a use for elsewhere is the "Come and get it" gun.

Best wishes and keep up the good work on this great blog, Brian

Unknown said...

Hey Mannie I miss your posts. Please respond. It's been a while
Thanks Asher

Mannie Gentile said...

I've taken a new job as a park ranger at the Frederick Douglass Historic Site in Anacostia, Washington DC. I commute six hours per day so my evenings are nonexistent and my weekends are very crowded. I don't think I'll be able to update this blog as much as I'd like to, and believe me - I'd like to. Thanks for your patience.


Diplomatist said...

Just a note to let you know that I've nominated this blog for a Liebster Award. It's entirely up to you if you want to accept it and how you want to respond. Details at

Unknown said...

Completely understandable Mannie. I hope you enjoy your new job and that you have no regrets, and with tourist season starting you must be very busy.Its hot up here in montana. I can't imagine what it's like down there. I hope you still get chances to live in the world of 54mm! Thanks Asher.

Unknown said...

Hey Mannie! Just checking in again. I'm kinda upset about you leaving Antietum I was planning on going there this summer because of a national track meet I have. But congratulations on the job. I mean everything's great as long as you play with toy soldiers
Right? Well at least your by Bull Run. Thanks ,Asher.

Unknown said...

Hey Mannie tomorrow's the first day of the battle of gettysburg. I was wondering if you could do something for the 151st anniversary of the greatest battle in American history. Also Happy Fourth!!!

Mike's Painted Miniatures said...

As a set i agree its pretty poor. However the facade itself appears to be the most accurate depiction of the Alamo Church that is currently available. Some resin and even metal depictions costing over £100 I have seen are way off the mark as to correct scale and factual accuracy.
I have bought this BMC facade for my Alamo dio and when painted up looks very good.

Mike's Painted Miniatures said...

As a set i agree its pretty poor. However the facade itself appears to be the most accurate depiction of the Alamo Church that is currently available. Some resin and even metal depictions costing over £100 I have seen are way off the mark as to correct scale and factual accuracy.
I have bought this BMC facade for my Alamo dio and when painted up looks very good.

Quantrilltoy said...

As usual BMC is erratic in quality but I like the carts with their solid wheels as they look good for medieval and up. The accessories are fairly good. I like all the character figures and the Mexican rank and file. The Texan rank and file are the problem but I found the kneeling man useful; I fact I have a row of twelve complimenting a Confederate firing regiment with rear rank Timpo Action Pack Confederates. I trimmed the bottom of the legs down as they do look like flares. The only problem is the musket is short but this would also make them good for dismounted cavalry with carbines. The Come and take it cannon I gave the cart wheels to and provided a limber.