August 27, 2015

Trench Runner Matt Koltonow's Historical Gaming Observations

Hey everyone, Matt here with observations on historical gaming... Perry have released some pictures of 3-ups of their new plastic Hundred Years War French Infantry over on their Facebook page. On the downside they probably won’t be out till next year, but on the plus side they look fantastic. I have the plastics from their War of the Roses Range and they are great figures. Lots of options but still pretty simple to put together. 

It seems like Facebook is the place for all kinds of new information these days. With a new batch of Rubicon Models on the way hopefully in September, the company has released some images of a few more upcoming kits, a M10/M36 Tank Destroyer and a Hetzer. I’ve picked up a handful of their kits already and absolutely love them. The kits are simple without sacrificing details and a designed from a gaming perspective. The boxes usually come with several options and are real easy to assemble even for a non-modeler like myself. 

There’s some exciting new stuff from Warlord on the way as well. Warlord is about to release their plastic fallschirmjager followed (hopefully closely) by British and American Airborne. It looks like this will be one sprue with all kinds of different parts, similar to the panzer grenadiers set. Having just finished a platoon of British Paratroops, I’m super excited to see what the plastic set will look like. I really like the metal range from Warlord but its be nice to have some pose variety. Until next time...Game On!

August 24, 2015

Another Somewhat Daily Dose of Useless Tidbits for August 24, 2015

I'm geeked. Absolutely can't wait for the PBS 25th Anniversary rebroadcast of Ken Burns Civil War. As we mark the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War, this year is also the 25th anniversary of Ken Burns’ superlative and iconic documentary on the conflict, 1990’s The Civil War. To this day, the documentary stands as the highest-rated PBS series broadcast; it attracted 38.9 million viewers during its September 1990 debut. Now, 25 years to the month that the film series originally premiered, PBS will re-air The Civil War over five nights, Sept. 7-11, 2015, at 9pm.

The rebroadcast of The Civil War will present for the first time a newly restored high-definition version. Over the course of two months, 50,000 feet of the original 16mm film negative, which is preserved at the George Eastman House, was scanned frame by frame at 4K (4096 x 2160 pixels, the resolution used for Ultra High Definition). The standard definition 1990 broadcast was taken from a duplicate of the original negative, resulting in a loss of quality. PBS says that this is the first time the film will be seen with the exact same fidelity and framing as the negative that Burns and his co-cinematographers Allen Moore and Buddy Squires shot over 25 years ago.

“The Civil War series has never been seen in such visual clarity,” said Daniel J. White, who did the restoration. “The colors are brighter and you will see more details in the images.  With this transfer, The Civil War will be preserved at the highest quality for generations to come.”

“Whenever you work on a film, especially one with the extraordinary endurance of The Civil War, there are always little details that you wish you could tweak so viewers can experience the film under the best possible conditions,” said Paul Barnes, the lead editor of The Civil War who supervised the restoration.  “Now, with high definition screens and the new digital transfer technologies that we used in this restoration, I think the film will finally be seen exactly as Ken originally intended.”

“I’m beyond excited,” said Ken Burns.  “For the first time, viewers will see what I saw when I looked through the lens of my camera. It is truly remarkable.”

To reach a whole new audience with the story of America's greatest crisis, and to offer those who have already seen the series a far more compelling experience, THE CIVIL WAR series has been completely restored to Ultra High Definition – 4K resolution – to bring it up to the standards current audiences demand.

Random Funny Stuff

The Art of the of the Toy Soldier #91

Good Art
Little Big Horn Diorama created by the Playset Addict using TSSD & Paragon figures that were all hand painted. View more Images Here

August 21, 2015

Finishing Techniques the Wilder Way

FINISHING TECHNICS: KV-1 Episode 9 has just been uploaded to the Wilder You Tube channel.

Adam Wilder has been posting a video series on modeling the KV-1 using Wilder products. Call it the Wilder Way! As one of the world's top modelers Adam has developed an extensive range of products for painting and weathering a model and in this video series he offers beautifully filmed and narrated with easy to follow techniques the series covers all the steps needed to paint any AFV. I highly recommend this series for both beginners and advanced modelers and thanks Adam for producing an excellent series.

The Series so far..
This is the first episode in a series devoted to painting and weathering a model of tank KV-1 
During this part applying filters using a brush are demonstrated.
The first of two videos about techniques for adding tones to the base coat of a turret using oil paints.
The second of two videos showing methods for creating extra tones on the base coat of the hull with oil paints.
During this part we apply dark washes.
This tutorial is about the first step in the chipping process.
We continue with the chipping process by adding steel tones.
We move forward by adding rust tones to the chipped paint.
Speckling is an important versatile technique which allows us to increase the natural look of a model.

August 20, 2015

Trench Runners: Tom Stark's Plastic Passions #2 = Timpo “overmolded” figures

Hello again. I came across a photo of some Timpo “overmolded” figures I took quite some time ago and thought a few words about them might make a good second installment  for this here blog thingy. I have written elsewhere about the different traditions of plastic toy soldiers in British/European circles compared to the US and the prevalence of painted figures in the former despite notoriously bad adherence of the paints to the plastics in the good old days of the 50’s through 70s. The Timpo Cossack pictured was one of the very first painted figures I ever got and this is what the paint looked like a few battles in the side yard later. Our partners over the pond had long traditions of painted soldiers when cheaper, lighter and more durable plastics arrived on the scene but their monotone appearance just didn’t have the shelf appeal. Painted they had to be. In the US, other than a few slush-cast pod-foots, we had no expectations of paint and a bag of raw plastic looked just fine to us.

British firms created two wonderful answers to the paint dilemma;  Swoppett-style figures and Timpo’s overmolded.   Swoppets relied on individual pieces and were not really a technical innovation. They were simply delicately sculpted figure components molded in different base plastic colors and then assembled. Not to downplay them, they were masterful figures and the approach was copied by many a maker, usually with less spectacular results.
But the star of this blog are Timpo overmolds in which layers of different plastics were applied to a figure core and built up to the final, colorful figures. Like Swoppetts, these figures also had some components to be assembled; typically a head, torso, legs and a weapon for ring hands but these components were more rugged than Swoppetts whose component parts were  intended more for expanding poses and adding play value rather than to enhancements to mimic paint. I can just begin to appreciate the mold making precision and costs. With up to four colors in a single component (look at the close up of the western bandit), each requiring a mold to fit nicely over the parts previously molded, and temperatures controlled at each step to fuse the parts without having them “bleed” into one another. This was a precise bit of engineering and industrial manufacturing. Essentially no other maker ever succeeded and few even tried. Alas, the cost was a bit too much to last but production did go on for the better part of 10 years with improvements made along the way turning out a host of wonderful figures in six themes; western, WWII, Crusaders and knights, French Foreign Legion in khaki dress, Arabs to oppose either the Crusaders or the FFL, Romans and Gauls/Vikings and arctic.

The western series was by far the largest and most complex with all manner of hard plastic accessories including buildings, some of the best wagons ever made, and even a train complete with its own specially engineer and fireman. Foot figures, mounted, horses with overmolded bridles, and small vignettes such as a cowpoke branding a calf,  an Apache smoke signaler, mortar and machine gun crews or this trapper riding a log down a mighty river! Many of these are still easy to find, especially from vintage toy dealers in Germany where they seem to have been exceptionally popular and are not out of reach financially. There are exceptions. The Roman signifier in his bearskin head covering has escaped my collection because he is does appear to be “rare” and I have routinely see him fetch over $500 when he does become available.  If you decide to add a few to your collection, use some caution. There are some that suffer from brittleness so it is always a good idea to ask about the condition of the plastic.


August 19, 2015

Product Spotlight: AK Interactive Unleashes Tanker Magazine & 4x2 The New Learning Series Book

AK Interactive has released three excellent new publications...

Tanker Magazine Premier Issue
This new 100 page magazine offers a new concept based on modeling techniques with sections focused on painting, building and weathering, delivered each quarter on a particular topic; The world’s best modellers will guide you through these pages to help you master the latest techniques and all the classic tricks.

Feature articles and S-B-S from world renown modelers Adam Wilder, Editor Kristof Pulinckx, Ruben Gonzalez, Frenado Vallejo, John Simmons and Emmanual Nouailler and more.

We are sure that Tanker will herald a new global benchmark for scale modelling magazines. This new approach and concept for a new quarterly magazine, focuses on amazingly realistic paint schemes and finishes, showing you how to accomplish them.  I especially like the sections titled School of Techniques and Tip's & Tricks. Excellent! Short! & Sweet !
AKI 4810  Listing with page Samples

4x2 is a learning book where 4 modelers build, paint and weather 4 different models each with 2 different finishes: a vehicle during the time when it was built and used, and the same vehicle destroyed or abandoned and found later in time (weathered). With this idea in mind AK brings you articles of the same vehicle modeled with different techniques. A book to inspire new ways of modeling, 150 pages with highly detailed step-by-step processes.
AKI-4801 Listing with page Samples

Aces High no. 5 AKI-2908
This issue kicks off the second year of Aces High magazine. This issueof AH brings you to the skies over Vietnam in the 60s and 70s, with Vietnamese MIG's, US Navy, Air Force and Marine aircraft featured in a new gallery section, and the classic magazine features of vehicle and figure sections are all here. A number of essential schemes in which you can see the finishing techniques at the hands of European teachers under the direction of Daniel Zamarbide the author of the best selling F. A. Q. Aircraft Modelling

FIGURE OF THE WEEK #86: Britains Hollowcast Cowboy & Indian

So how does a couple of pre-war toys end up as a FOTW? It's easy...beautifully simplistic design that is sleek and colorful. They come from the William Britain company, are 54mm and made of hollowcast lead. These two are in remarkable condition for figures that are close to 75 years old and more then likely were never played with allowing this collector the chance to appreciate vintage figures that look just like they did when they were bought back in the day.

DYK: The miniature soldier market was completely transformed in 1893 when William Britain invented a process for hollow-casting lead. Britain's hollow-cast system involved pouring molten lead into a mold that was turned as the metal cooled, with a small opening allowing for excess lead to escape. The finished product was a hollow figurine considerably cheaper and lighter than earlier designs. Without Britains, toy-soldier collectors would have a much heavier load to bear. That’s because company-founder William Britain, Jr. revolutionized the industry by greatly reducing the weight, and cost, of these toys. Sold at various times under the names William Britain, W. Britain, Britains, and Petit they still command attention from collectors with a eye for quality and value. Regulations forced Britains to stop production of all lead toys in 1966.

August 17, 2015

Another Somewhat Daily Dose of Useless Tidbits for August 17, 2015 World War I Binge!

Good Reads
One hundred years after the Austrians fired the first shots of war against the Serbs, the events of the First World War are some of the most devastating and traumatic in history. From the brutal carnage of the Somme, Arras, Passchendaele and Gallipoli to colonial campaigns in Africa, Mesopotamia and Palestine, from revolution in Russia to civil war in Ireland, The First World War Remembered brings the conflicts of 1914–1918 to life as never before.

Gary Sheffield’s authoritative text is supplemented by over 200 photographs and colour battle maps, as well as 30 painstakingly researched rare facsimile documents – personal and unit war diaries, letters, secret plans and telegrams, orders, maps and posters – that until now have been filed or exhibited in museums and archives around the world, including: Kitchener’s orders to the British Expeditionary Force sent to France in 1914, a letter describing the Christmas Truce of 1914 and Douglas Haig’s handwritten draft of his famous “Backs to the Wall” order. Produced in association with Imperial War Museums, this is the ultimate interactive guide to The Great War.

Good Viewing
Battle of the Somme - Real Footage A video in memory of all those who gave their lifes during First World War. Features real footage from the Somme, including quotes and figures.

Good Views
New images added to our album Images of War - WWI Collection - The Great War

Undated. Good view of the equipment and weapons toted by Stoßtruppen - storm troops. Initially, storm troops were formed on a completely unofficial basis within infantry formations to perform such functions as the punitive raids which had become an accepted part of life in the trenches.

Good Views
New images added to our album Images of War - Relics & Militaria of The Great War

Good Art
1/6 scale (action figure) by Unknown Artist.

Good Games
A selection of World War I Tables has been added to our Facebook Album: Game On! Drool worthy man-caves and game layouts for gamers!

Good Blog
Roundwood’s World by Sidney Roundwood. Fantastic Blog with lot's great tips and S-B-S. Check out the section on Trenches
to see the building of a WWI Trench for gaming. Currently there are 92 different posts on the Great War alone.

Found on Facebook
"La Grande Guerra" - The World War I  is a nice collection of Great War images, relics  and more. Updated regularly. 

August 13, 2015

FIGURE OF THE WEEK #85: The Fallen Comrade by Roger Dubois

Last time I featured a beautiful WWI vignette titled Another Cross to Bear.  That reminded me of some beautiful figures in my collection by Roger Dubois. Roger been creating World War I dimestore figures for many many years now. His creations start as old damaged and broken Barclay and Manoil figures that otherwise would end up in the trash heap of time. Each figure is a one of kind creation, usually converted with extensive reworking from original figures. His figures and several articles by him on how he creates these wonderful figures have been featured in Old Toy Soldier Magazine a few times. Pictured here is one of my all time favorites by Roger, the whimsical World War I German soldier kneeling by the Grave of a fallen comrade.

August 11, 2015

Another Somewhat Daily Dose of Useless Tidbits for August 11, 2015

Good Reads
The summer issue of "The Standard" which is the quarterly magazine produced by W. Britain Collectors Club, is packed full of fascinating facts, hints and tips, with articles. This issue features an in-depth article by Ian Church on German rations and field kitchens of the Great War and a preview of the upcoming Britains set. Ted Deddens has a How-to article on how he paints gloss figure masters for Britains. A dynamic article and diorama on Little Round Top by Jim Hillstead is featured along with Anglo-Zulu War expert Ian Knight's examination of Colonial volunteers during the Zulu Wars. Paul Blake documents how he built details of a diorama re-creating the Defence of Rorke's Drift. Highly recommended. MORE DETAILS HERE

Good Art
The Art of the of the Toy Soldier #88 

Good Art
 Stunning 1/48th scale vignette
Good Builds
WWI German AEG G.IV Late. by Zdenko Bugáň
1:32nd Scale Wingnut kit built straight out of the box. Posted in our The Art of War - Modeling WWI Aircraft album HERE
More Good Builds
 Posted in our It’s a Small World album 
1:72 & 1:44 Braille Scale Models

Good Shameless Plug
 Looking for old King & Country?
We have over 150 sets from a private collection available now. 
Have a look HERE 

August 06, 2015

Trench Runner Tom Stark's Plastic Passions

Well here I am.  A 64 year old modeler starting a blog on plastic soldiers. Who would have thought it? Rick’s recommendation  to me was write about whatever I am interested in and when it comes to toy soldiers, there isn’t much that would not be included. Any scale, any material, any finish or none at all and pretty much any time period. Rick did want it limited to plastic greater than HO but that still leaves me a lot of latitude and if I stray from time to time, so be it.

  Here we are in the summer doldrums waiting for what passes these days as a flood of releases as we approach OTSN and the Christmas season. Saving for another day why today’s flood is but a mere trickle compared to 10 or 15 years ago, my advice is “Look East young man!” Thanks to the modern, world-shrinking miracles of the web and PayPal, plastic figures from countries that may not have even existed when I was a kid are easier to get to than riding my bike miles across an Ohio countryside to the local toy and hobby stores. Places like Bulgaria, Romania, Russia and the Ukraine,  none with any motivation to withhold their new release until September.

  My most recent addition from these far-off spaces came from the Russian Federation and emphasizes my broader than I think is typical  interest in plastic soldiers. It is an eight foot and two mounted set of 1/32nd medieval  demi-rounds! Did I know they were demi-rounds when I bought them; no. Did I care when I opened them; not in the least. Some of you, if there are any of “you” really reading this, may also have read my articles in Plastic Warrior on demi-round plastics and others may know me as the fellow behind Two Trees Toy Soldiers’ painted Zinnfiguren and my attraction to flat and semi-flat figures would be well established. Flats in any material are part of the history of the toy soldier hobby and let me say that until you try to sculpt a figure in less than a fully round format, you have no idea how much more difficult it is than a fully round one. And yes, I can hear the questions forming in some of your heads. I even appreciate comic book flats – now. Certainly more than when I was 10. But I digress.

This set, advertised as a tournament ,  gives some nice diversity with a noble man and woman and a trumpet blower on the civilian side, 5 foot knights engaged in vicious combat and two wonderful knights on caprisoned horses charging with lances, albeit a bit short. Unlike some such sets,  the scale is holds between the foot and mounted. Quite often in this genre the mounted poses “shrink”. The armor/clothing details are historically accurate for the the early 13th century,  the detail excellent and there is virtually no flash around the edges, an affliction many demi-round sets from the east suffer from.  They are also not so thin as to be translucent.  As demi-round sets go, I would have to say this is one of the best artistically; no offense intended for others that were more clearly aimed at a younger toy market. These come close to being the soft plastic equivalent of  Zinnfiguren.

   I am not sure if these are current production or recasts of old ones but I had never seen them before and I look. The eBay seller, denandmax2012,  has one or more sets remaining as I write this so my guess would be they are new. I have purchased from this fellow a few times and delivery has always been made and always more quickly than represented. And he takes PayPal which provides another level of price protection.

Looking for a toy soldier fix for the month of August? Highly recommended.

August 05, 2015

FIGURE OF THE WEEK #84: Another Cross to Bear

I've never made my love of figures from the Great War a secret. This one came my way many, many years ago from an old time modeler who was selling his collection of personal figures and models he had built over a lifetime. This gentleman, who name is lost to the fog of memory was modeling back in the early years of the 50s & 60s and his collection was like opening a time capsule with all the old catalogs, magazines and reference materials the collection contained. I fell in love with every single piece and I just never could bring myself to sell them. The entire collection is still in my possession to this day. On a recent dusting battle I ended up rearranging these models and figures as a way of making them seem new and fresh again. The one featured here is titled "Another Cross To Bear." This 1/35th scale figure is beautiful in it's simplicity. One figure telling a sad story. I hope every collector has a figure like this that can evoke such an emotional response as this one does to me and remind us why we love the hobbies we pursue.

August 04, 2015

Another Somewhat Daily Dose of Useless Tidbits for August 4, 2015

Good Reads
The Wall Street Journal had an interesting article titled "Tomb of the Now Known: Jamestown Settlers Identified After 400 Years" Archaeologists put names to remains of four English settlers. 

It's fascinating the things modern archaeologists can do these days. The article tells how they identified the four sets of remains that were discovered at the site if the original Jamestown five years ago including those of Sir Ferdinando Wainman the first English knight to die in the New World. I never equated English Knights with the New World. It's a very interesting article so have a look HERE

Good Art
The Art of the of the Toy Soldier #87 

Good Laughs
Found at a Walmart which explains everything! Random Funny Stuff

Good Art
"The Key to life...the radio" is the title of this stunning 1/35th scale vignette by Zdeněk Petrovič
>>>detailed views HERE

Good Old School
"Came across an old article from the early 1970s featuring this fantastic diorama. Tied to track down more information with no luck.