Saturday, September 10, 2022

Fort Apache part 3: small detail

This is just a quickie.

On the over-the-gate blockhouse something was bugging me. It was the weird horizontal compartment between the floor of the blockhouse and the top of the can just make it out in these photos  (downloaded from the web). It served no purpose and was a weird engineering/design decision.

To fill it in, I took a fort wall section over the the bandsaw and cut out some horizontal pieces that exactly fit the gap.

Glued into place, I can hardly tell that the gap was there.

I think that details like this are going to make the project take longer to complete, but will also make the project that much more fun.

Soldier on!


Thursday, September 8, 2022

Fantasy Fort Apache: part 2 - barracks conversion.

MPC made this four-piece bunkhouse for a few years, and I think that you can still get recasts of it.  The box of Fort Apache odds  and ends that I got on ebay had three of these segments.  I used two for the structure and the third was cut up for raw materials.

The Fort Apache project has commandeered the woodshop, and I need to make significant progress if I want to get my Fall woodworking projects done.

On my smaller bandsaw, I started cutting-up the extra building segment.  The various pieces, shapes, and textures were used for the finished product.

From that new stockpile, I made two doors for the doorways at either end of the building.
(riddle: when is a door not a door?)

One of the odd things about this building is that the windows aren't square...the tops are wider than the bottoms.  I decided to correct this weirdness with some window-shutters.

Again, the shutters were harvested from the parts pile.

Glued into place, they cover the window frame discrepancies.

When it came time to join the two segments, I used Testors Model-Master glue and wood clamps.  Regardless of the material or the project, always clamp for the strongest bond.

Then it came time to deal with those ridiculous MPC chimneys.
The  chimneys are over-scale for the building, and the idea that there would be two free-standing fireplaces in the middle of the building was crazy; so I opted for a simple stovepipe.

The existing chimneys I turned into ventilator cupolas.

I salvaged the gables from the excess roof section to make the shingled covers for the cupolas.

Next I glued and clamped the two roof sections together.

The manner in which the MPC roof was joined to the building required a tab-and-slot system...leaving me with these unwanted slots in the roof.

Using water-putty, I filled and sanded the openings successfully.

With additional surplus shingle pieces I made awnings for the doors at either end of the building.

Ready for priming.

I use Tamiya primer for most projects, styrene plastic and pewter.  I've always had very good luck with it.

Coming down the home stretch.

Now comes the stovepipe.

Moving to the drill press, I made a hole the size of the pipe.

The stovepipe was salvaged from an old AMT Mercury Redstone rocket.

It was pretty straight forward.  The moral of the story:  Never throw anything away.

Glued in place and clamped with masking tape.

Once I fix those little discontinuities at the bottom, it'll be ready for painting.

Next up: the free-standing block house.

Stay tuned, and, as always...

Soldier on!


Monday, September 5, 2022

Fantasy Fort Apache (part 1)

One Christmas in the 1950s my oldest brother got a Marx Fort Apache.  I remember it but only vaguely, but I do recall that I was fascinated by it.  About a year ago I had the idea similar to my "fantasy" Giant Blue and Gray set, and that was to assemble an ultimate Fort Apache.

This past Spring, at the Gettysburg Toy Soldier Show, I got a bargain on a late-production Marx Fort Apache.  It was complete and even had some extras.  Then on ebay I got another bargain on a huge lot of Fort Apache pieces, enough to make a couple of forts, with lots left over.

Combining these two purchases, I laid out the footprint of my fantasy fort, including the over-the-gate blockhouse, the freestanding blockhouse, the headquarters/supply building, a little blacksmith shop that I made from a BMC building, a little Marx cabin, and a barracks made from three sections of the MPC bunkhouse.  All of these components, plus a small horse corral, leave plenty of room for a good-sized parade ground.

The plan is to make all of the palisade walls double sided, modify buildings, and then paint the whole shebang.  With school in session again, this will be a long process. I will be posting updates as the project progresses.

In the photo above you can see the MPC bunkhouse, in the process of being converted into a barracks; my next post will be about that conversion.

Stay tuned, and, as ever ...

Soldier on!



Wednesday, August 31, 2022

The best laid plans.

 Why do I keep kidding myself?  I never get done all the things that I have planned for the summer.

The semester has started, which delays all toy soldier projects.  However I have the Fort Apache that I am reengineering spread all over my woodshop, so I have to continue forward progress as I have woodworking projects slated for the fall.

I'm working on a blog post as a progress report, and hope to get it up soon.

Please stay tuned, and...

Soldier on!


Sunday, May 8, 2022

The Magnificent Seven

 (Cue the music)

 I wanted to come up with a clever title for this post, but the iconic "The Magnificent Seven" is something that you don't want to mess around with.

Last weekend I went to the annual Gettysburg Toy Soldier Show.  As always, I had a blast, and as always, there were lots of bargains to be had.

I picked up a late-issue Marx Fort Apache set, nearly complete, without box, for a very good price.  The set is the red/brown version with the free-standing blockhouse.  I had another red/brown set and I've combined them to make a Fort Apache fantasy set, much like I did with my Giant Blue and Gray set that I profiled here.

The set comes with the usual cavalry and Indians as adversaries.

I wanted to go in a different direction than just having these two traditional goodguy/badguy, badguy/goodguy scenarios, and mix it up a little.  To that end, I also picked up several Marx cowboys, gunfighters, and bandits.  The idea is to create the gang that Billy the Kid ran with - the Lincoln County Regulators.  The Regulators were a quasi-legal organization but eventually, nearly all of them returned to a life of crime, rustling, murder, and eventually, getting their just desserts.

I found some great 1/32 figures of gunfighters as well as the four Earp brothers.  The gang was filling up nicely. Then I stumbled across an ebay auction for a set of Weston 54mm Magnificent Seven figures.  The plan was to just fold them in to the Regulators as  seven more anonymous gun-slingers.  But then when they came in the mail I realized...


So, on the toy soldier table, that's exactly who they'll portray, probably assisting the cavalry in their efforts to defeat the regulators, or joining forces with the Indians to fight against unscrupulous cavalry renegades.

For anyone just arrived from Rigel 7 and not familiar with the movie, first of all welcome to Earth (and this blog), and here is the briefest recap of the 1960 John Sturges film.

Seven gunfighters are hired by the elders of a small Mexican village that is being extorted and terrorized by bandits.   You can imagine the rest.

Sturges assembled some of the coolest of the cool for this movie - Yul Brynner, James Coburn, and Steve McQueen.

The theme music is epic (in the truest sense of the term) and the action is fantastic.

Find this movie and watch it this weekend.

So here we go, with a walk-around of this offering by the Weston Toy Company of the UK.

James Coburn, a favorite of mine, plays the Britt, who is equally adept with knife and gun.

The folks at Weston did a pretty good job of catching his posture and likeness.

Britt is my favorite character in the movie.  Coburn only has eleven lines in the movie but he dominates every scene that he's in.

Actor Brad Dexter (left) plays Harry Luck.  Harry seems to be the least complex of all the characters.  He has a hard time believing that the mission of the Seven is totally altruistic, he's certain that there has to be a big pay-off ...he ends up a happy man.

Again, the Weston figure does a good job of capturing Dexter's full face.

Robert Vaughn's, Lee, is (in my opinion) the most complex of all of the Seven.  In an early portrayal of what has come to be known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Lee is haunted by his past, and probably haunted by all of the men that he has sent to their graves.  The viewer is left to doubt just how effective Lee will be in the effort...until three shots in rapid succession remove that doubt.

Lee's attire is like that in the movie, and that pose with his hand against the cabin wall very much suggests his moment of truth.

Horst Buchholz does a great job of portraying the pain-in-the-butt, Chico.  Chico is my least favorite, and least satisfying character,  Weston, however, does a great job of capturing him in 1/32nd scale...

right down to the silver conchos on his vest.

I always enjoy Charles Bronson, however his character - Bernardo O'Rielly is corny and predictable...nonetheless, he really knows his way around a gun.

That's Bernardo with his shootin'-iron drawing a bead on one of Calvera's banditos.

Then there's Steve McQueen as Vin.  Vin is sort of the second in command of the Seven.  As with all McQueen characters, he's a man of few words and a lot of action.

The last of the Seven is their leader, Chris Adams, played by Yul Brynner.  Chris is the driving force behind recruiting the Seven as well as keeping them motivated to do the right thing.  His parting with his old pal Harry Luck is another peek at the character's reluctant altruism.

Although Weston also sells the banditos that the Seven are pitted against, their leader Caldera, isn't distinctly portrayed among them.  And actually I wish that a Caldera figure would have been included in the Magnificent Seven set.  Eli Wallach as Caldera is a force of nature, and the character would have been worthy of his own movie; provided that Wallach reprised the part.


Whew!  after all the excitement, I gotta go lie down.

Until next time...

Soldier on!