November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving from All of us at Michigan Toy Soldier!

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time of the year to think about all the things we are thankful for and to spend time with family and friends. Take some time out and enjoy the holidays. We want to thank you for your support, faith and trust in our products and services throughout the past year. 

November 24, 2015

FIGURE OF THE WEEK #93: Remco's Hamilton's Invaders Playset

The Hamilton's Invaders was a 1964 series of plastic toys of giant insect type monsters, toy soldiers and vehicles. The toyline was conceived and marketed by Remco on television during the early 1960s, inspired by the giant insect genre that were popular from the 1950s, that were in reruns on TV. I should mention this was back in the day when large retail department stores had 'exclusive' toy items and as such this playset was available only at Sears.

Remco's Hamilton's Invaders series of toys enables children to explore the age old question: "What would happen if the earth were attacked by giant bugs?" Remember, this was 1964.
Horrible Hamilton and his yellow friend The Spider were the two antagonists in this line. They were spring-motored which allowed them to walk and bite with their pinchers. The good guys were blue army-men sized soldiers in varying poses of shooting these pests. They were additionally equipped with a wind-up jeep, tank and helicopter.

Remco also made a few child-sized pieces - the Grenade Pistol and Bug Helmet so you could play the part of bug killer while outfitted for the part!. The vehicles and the child-sized toys all had a sticker with Hamilton's Invaders and the pincher logo on them.

November 21, 2015

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Matt Koltonow Review's Painting Wargaming Figures by Javier Gomez Review

Painting Wargaming Figures by Javier Gomez
Pen & Sword Books

 When it comes to buying reference material for painting, gaming, or history I’m usually looking for something specific. The books that end up staying on the shelf near my desk tend to be books I know I’ll thumb through again 6 months down the road. Painting Wargaming Figures by Javier Gomez is definitely one of these. This 218 page book covers pretty much all these basics from start to finish.

The book is broken down into 4 main sections. Basics, Colours, Themes, and Other Scales. The basics section covers what brands of paints to use, what tools to obtain, and some general tips. Included in here is a brief discussion on what color primer to use as well as an overview of different techniques such as Drybrushing and washes. Theres a few things in here that I’ve heard called other names but everything is explained thoroughly enough that I could tell what the author was trying to convey.

The next two sections focus on actually painting figures. Section two is done by color and section three is done by theme. The author does a good job identifying which figures he’s painting and uses almost all vallejo paints. This makes it easy to follow along which helps quite a bit. I’m all for using different product lines in my painting but sometimes it can be hard to follow if the painter jumps all over the place. Each chapter covers a different color and shows more than one method of painting each color. The figures range from ancient to modern and include some fantasy figures.

The third section is organized by theme. Each of these chapters covers a different theme such as Flesh or Horses. This section also includes a rather extensive section on basing as well as chapters on hand painted flags and shields. Again all the information is easy to follow. Each chapter has charts to tell you the exact colors to use and where mixing is required. As I mentioned earlier the author uses all kinds of techniques including washes and dry brushing and these are all labeled in these charts.
The final section of the book briefly covers painting in other scales with guides to paint in 54mm, 20mm, 15mm, 10mm, and 6mm. This section is significantly shorter than the others but that’s fine as the focus really is on 28mm figures.

Overall this book is fantastic. All the information in here is easy to find and very easy to follow. The photos are great very detailed. The individual paint charts tend to use a lot of mixing however its a good guide for picking colors and in most cases the color choice is explained in the text. The author covers a huge variety of subject matters, techniques, and tips in a very easy to follow format. I absolutely recommend this book to wargamers of any paint level.
View Product Here

Sample Pages:

Product Spotlight: Revell Unleashes 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Kits

Revell, an Elk Grove Village, Il. based maker of model kits has released nine new model kits for 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' - all entry-level ships from the movie — joining the hordes of licensed “The Force Awakens” products from various companies in advance of the film’s Dec. 18 U.S. release.

Aimed at ages 6 and up, the first four kits in the series deliver hyper-realistic replicas of the new movie's Millennium Falcon™, Poe's X-Wing Fighter™, Resistance X-Wing Fighter™ and First Order Special Forces Tie Fighter™ – complete with moving parts like retractable landing gear, open/close cockpit hatches, wings that open into attack mode, and even battle action lights and sounds.
Star Wars The Force Awakens SnapTite Build & Play™
RMX-1632 Star Wars The Force Awakens: Resistance X-Wing Fighter w/Sound (Snap) 
RMX-1633 Star Wars The Force Awakens: Millennium Falcon w/Sound & Lights (Snap) 
RMX-1634 Star Wars The Force Awakens: First Order Special Forces Tie Fighter w/Sound & Lights (Snap) 
RMX-1635 Star Wars The Force Awakens: Poes X-Wing Fighter w/Sound (Snap)
Order HereEach of the four SnapTite Build & Play™ model kits has 15 to 20 pre-decorated parts with no need for glue, paint or tools, takes roughly 30 minutes to assemble, and can keep kids engaged for hours after the last piece is clicked into place. They are also the first to use Revell's new DuraMod™ snap design, an innovation in the model market highlighted by extra durability, easy handling and assembly, a high level of detail, and interactivity not available in traditional models.

Star Wars The Force Awakens SnapTiteMax Build & Play™
RMX-1822 Star Wars The Force Awakens: Millennium Falcon (Snap Max) 
RMX-1823 Star Wars The Force Awakens: Resistance X-Wing Fighter (Snap Max) 
RMX-1824 Star Wars The Force Awakens: First Order Special Forces Tie Fighter (Snap Max) 
RMX-1825 Star Wars The Force Awakens: Poes X-Wing Fighter (Snap Max) 
RMX-1826 Star Wars The Force Awakens: Kylo Rens Command Shuttle (Snap Max)
Order HereThe second wave of five SnapTite Max Build & Play™model kits are for for ages 8 and up and contain 35- to 65 pieces that require no glue or paint.

December will see Revell's introduction of The Master Series consisting of three classic Star Wars paint and glue kits from Fine Molds for serious Star Wars model enthusiasts. The Master Series Fine Molds line will include 1:48 scale X-Wing fighter and Tie Fighter and 1:72 scale Millennium Falcon models with piece counts up to 900, providing the highest degree of detail of any model kit available

The Master Series™
RMX-5091 Star Wars Master Series X-Wing Fighter 1:72
RMX- Star Wars Master Series Tie Fighter 1:72
RMX-5093 Star Wars Master Series Millennium Falcon 1:72
Pre-order HERE


November 18, 2015

Another Somewhat Daily Dose of Useless Tidbits for November 18, 2015

Links & Web Gems:
Tabletop Gaming — Modeling Tips and Tricks
on the Make website
Nice article on all facets of working with miniatures including basing models, creating fur, tool tips, painting tips etc.. Nice overview By Gareth Branwyn 

Duh! Random Funny Stuff
Awesome images....

Too cool History...
Robert Hardy, 89, is a military enthusiast who studied English literature under J.R.R. Tolkien. He is selling off a huge collection of books, artwork and furniture. Among the objects is a huge 3D diorama of the Battle of Agincourt. The 3D model was commissioned specially by Mr Hardy from artist L.M. Rendall in the 1960s. The piece was rendered in amazing detail showing the progress of the battle in 1415

MichToy Quick Tip: Razor wire made simple....
and don't forget...

November 17, 2015

FIGURE OF THE WEEK #92: ATLANTIC COWBOY, 60mm Plastic Circa 1970s

ATLANTIC COWBOY, 60mm Plastic Circa 1970s
If it's Tuesday then it's time for the Art of the Toy Soldier. This week’s offering comes from accomplish toy soldier author, painter and historian Tom Stark. A regular contributor to Playset and Plastic Warrior magazines as well as our blog and the owner of Two Trees miniatures, Tom knows his stuff so let’s see what he has to say: 

This is an Atlantic soft plastic cowboy of 1970s-80s vintage. Atlantic was an Italian maker producing most all of their figures in both 60 and 25mm (1/72nd scale). In their 60mm themed western sets you would typically get between 8 to 12 unique poses and often some accompanying accessory pieces. Typically mounted figures were separate from their horses but not this poor fellow. Measuring about 8 inches long it is an excellent example of how a talented sculptor could create a figure full of motion before the days of multi-piece figures glued together after molding. This one comes from from the ultra cool OutLaws & Sherriff's set.

November 16, 2015

Links & Web Gems: Off the Beaten Track..the Chubachus Library of Photographic History

A really cool blog from the Chubachus Library of Photographic History contains some great stereo views that have been animated. I couldn't find any other info on this blog other than...The place for the most fascinating photographs from history specializing in animating stereoscopic images. Below are some of the cool November postings.

Here are three Views of Union Soldiers Posing in Front of a Lean-to Shelter During the Civil War Near Lewinsville, Virginia (1861)
"Picket guard on the alert, near Lewinsville, Va."
"Picket guard, Lewinsville, Va." Civil War-era colorization of the same stereoview
Higher resolution version of the scene
A line of bodies of dead Confederate soldiers gathered for burial the day after fighting on Alsop's Farm during the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, May 20, 1864. By Timothy O'Sullivan. Animated stereo view.

American soldiers of the 79th Infantry Division posing with captured German POWs and machine guns during World War 1. From the Official History of the 315th Infantry.
Portrait of three unidentified Sanitary Commission nurses during the Civil War.
From Miller's Photographic History of the Civil War.

November 13, 2015

Another Somewhat Daily Dose of Useless Tidbits for November 13, 2015

Works of Art?

Random Funny Stuff

Just saw the Peanuts movie with my wife & loved it... brings back great memories & is a lot of fun. View Trailer

and..Snoppy takes on the Red Baron once again!

Which reminded me of the old Monogram kits...

Sneak Peek: The latest diorama tool for modelers..the ez-brick layer..coming soon

November 12, 2015

Tom Stark's Plastic Passions #5 Paragon American Civil War Figures

Our large scale plastic figure guru Tom Stark takes a look at the new Paragon ACW figures...

I'm back to new figures with this entry on the four, 60 mm American Civil War figures made by Paragon in both blue and grey soft plastic. At least some of these figures were produced with separate arms but these have been cemented in place at the factory and only the heads remain to be placed by you. There are a variety of heads including one kepi and about three styles of broad brimmed hat. The space between the arms of the thrusting overhead pose is a bit cramped for the brimmed hats but you can get one to fit in with a little stubbornness.  I like the poses which are what I’ll call close order combat poses. Hand to hand thrusting with bayonets or reacting/reeling backwards from the thrust of an opponent or the saber of a cavalryman. The running, one leg up and thrusting to the left figure, shown as a rebel in the photos is particularly well animated, dramatic and useful in a charging group although he does take a bit of straightening in hot water to stand up. Not uncommon these days, all the weapons need this treatment also.

Paragon with a CTS Confederate and mtd. TSSD figure
These fellows are a perfect scale match for the San Diego Toy Soldiers, Conte’s now seemingly defunct plastic and the larger CTS not to mention many of the old 60mm figures out there such as Reamsa. I’ve shown a TSSD cavalryman and infantryman for size and color comparisons. Of course this rebel grey fits in well with most all confederate greys. Something about greys that slight shade variations all seem to blend together well to my eyes. Not so much Union blues which by rights should be a deep navy but dark colors just don’t show the detail so the convention by makers seems to be a rather wide variety of medium to light blues.  Paragon’s is a light medium blue and just a touch darker than TSSD’s.

Paragon with TSSD figures
The sculpting style is bold with features such as pack straps and belts and equipment standing out from the base figure. At the same time, the figures have a softness to them almost as if the plastic was just the slightest bit warm when ejected from the mold and the edges of all the details slumped very slightly. It appears to be more a factor of the plastic used than the mold but I could be imagining this. It is a minor point and does not take away from the figures in any meaningful way or make them unsuitable for mixing with other makers but it is there as I think some of the close-up photos show. Perhaps I am turning into one of those overly-critical “experts” so feel free to send me some hate mail and shrink my swollen head!

The figures come packaged is sets of 12, so three of each pose at around $1.50 each so an excellent buy for adding to existing ACW battlefields.  And now I’ve talked myself into the topic for my next entry; a look at Reamsa today.

November 10, 2015

FIGURE OF THE WEEK #91: 30mm Polish Winged Hussars from the early days of military miniatures

These two figures came in a recent collection we purchased. I suspect they are 30mm by Charles Stadden, Suren or Holger Ericsson made in England from the early years of British table-top wargaming. At the very start of what we might think of as modern wargaming 30mm was the preferred size. Charles Grant in Napoleonic Wargaming (1974) notes that that Stadden once produced a range of "one inch" figures which had by then been discontinued. In an article in Military Modelling the same author describes a Stadden Crimean War range in 25mm scale which was issued in the 1960s, never added to and then went out of production. John Garratt, meanwhile describes a similar range aimed at the wargamer and "including casualty figures" which was produced briefly between 1956 and 1957. He also describes one inch figures in the collection of US wargamer Charles Sweet that includes "British, Prussian, French, Dutch and Spanish which were withdrawn from the Stadden range after a short time and are much prized by collectors" and also "a group of Cromwellian pikemen which are even more rare". Adding to the confusion was another one-inch range sold through Norman Newton of New Bond Street in the mid-1960s. These were the Stadden "Figurines" which included Napoleonic British, French, Russian, Prussian, Polish, Italian, Dutch, Spanish and German States figures, horse and foot as well as some vignettes. Whatever the source these are from the early days of military miniatures and they meant something to the owner who lovingly packed them away 50 some years ago only to resurrected with his passing.

In researching these figures I came across an article on Polish Hussars from a website called "Badass" where you find some of the most humorist historical writing anywhere. I'll let this post about the "Winged Hussars" speak for itself...

Invariably, whenever most people talk about the military prowess of the Polish cavalry, some joker busts out with some intelligent, well-constructed argument that vaguely resembles something along the order of "YA RITE HOW BOUT CHARGIN NAZI TANKS W HORSIES FTW LOLOLOL OMG I”M HILARIOUS SOMEBODY LOVE ME PLS".  Well not only are the wild claims of that infamous engagement dubious at best, but it's time that the Polish cavalry – and particularly the Winged Hussars – get appropriately recognized as one of the most eye-skeweringly hardcore associations of ass kickers ever assembled.  These daring, brave, unabashedly-feathered bad asses crushed throats up and down Europe for two centuries, annihilating battle-tested armies three times their size with nothing more than a huge-ass lance, an awesome set of ultra-cool wings, and a gym bag full of iron-plated armor ballsacks.

The hussars as we know them first show up on the scene in the early 16th century as part of a hammer-smashing army of stone-cold motherfuckers under the Hungarian King Stefan Bathory.  Bathory (who fought the Turks alongside Vlad the Impaler and was an ancestor of the infamous virgin-cidal blood countess and psychopath Elizabeth Bathory), basically levied the cavalry force by conscripting one out of every twenty Polish and Lithuanian peasants to strap on a pair of wings and a suit of heavy armor and start piercing the faces of anyone stupid enough to step to Eastern Europe.  Over the next two hundred years, these ordinary dudes morphed into a ten-ton anvil of pointy justice that would go up against some of the toughest armies the world had to offer and completely trash them inside out.

The combat record of the Winged Hussars stands for itself.  In 1577 a massive charge of this ultra-heavy cavalry unit smashed a German army from Danzig, blitzing into the teeth of a 12,000 man force and crushing them until all that remained was a well-trampled patch of red where the enemy army once used to be.  Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth losses in the battle totaled about 88 men, and most of those clowns weren't even Hussars.  In 1601, a thousand Hussars defeated a Swedish cavalry force four times that size.  At the Battle of Kircholm four years later, the Hussars (whose commanders' completely badass motto was "Kill First, Calculate Later"), sent 1,000 lancers in a charge against 11,000 Swedish infantrymen and cannons for some reason, and incredibly, despite the ridiculous idiocy of sending your elite troops on such an impossible mission, the friggin' Hussars jammed their poles (OMG AWESOME PUN) into anything they could find and not only emerged victorious, but utterly slaughtered their opponents army, hacking the broken infantry units into giblets as they fled the field.  Amazingly, that wasn't even the most impressive stuff this mobile last stand accomplished in its proud heritage as the Commonwealth's premier exporter of busted-up faces.  At the Battle of Klushino in 1610, the Hussars were outnumbered ten to one, and still somehow came out on top, utterly annihilating an army of 40,000 Swedes and Russians with just 4,000 lancers.

What might be even more awesome then the Winged Hussars' much-deserved reputation as seemingly-invincible anilalators is their completely over-the-top awesome battle gear. These guys went with the heaviest armor they could find, decking themselves out in fully-articulated plate mail at a time when most European armies were switching away from breastplates and over to firearms, but these ferocious warriors didn't even give a crap about rushing at state-of-the-art muskets with hand-to-hand combat weapons.  Their primary implement of facial demolition was a lightweight (yet still completely insane) 19-foot lance capable of outreaching even the most well-endowed infantry spear hedges, and after they splintered that up the asses of their foes, the Hussars could fall back on pistols, a dagger, and one of two different types of swords.

While the badass weaponry and armor was unquestionably utilitarian, the Winged Hussars also went that extra mile to ensure that they were armor-crappingly terrifying while charging ahead in perfect formation.  Their armor was burnished and well-polished so that it gleamed in the sunlight (most Renaissance-era knights preferred black armor because it was more resistant to rust), they wore brightly-colored heraldry, and OH YEAH they also had giant-ass wings strapped onto their backs.  These wings, which were made of ostrich or eagle feathers glued onto wooden frames that arched up and over the back, made an insane whistling noise while the Hussars were charging, completely unsettling, terrifying, and overawing the enemy in the brief moments between when they said, "holy shit WTF" and when they had a kebab skewer jammed into their eye sockets at about a hundred and twenty miles per hour.  Some of the Hussars also used to up the "wow factor" by stuffing severed heads down the tips of their weapons and charging into battle with a lance-full of heads, which sounds pretty gnarly. The hussars were also super-well-trained, capable of changing directions and altering their formations in mid-charge, and then plowing through their enemy, circling around, and hitting them again from the rear.  In case you've never seen footage of a well-executed cavalry charge before, this is kind of like the equine equivalent of the Blue Angels doing all of their trademark death-defying stunts while in the middle of a dogfight.

While they have a long and illustrious string of ass kickings under their heavyweight championship belts, the Winged Hussars' finest hour came during the epic Battle of Vienna in 1683, when the Ottoman Turkish armies were busting nuts across Eastern Europe looking to conquer all of Christendom.  With the main body of the Holy Roman Imperial army completely surrounded and besieged by over 200,000 Turkish warriors, the badass Polish King Jan Sobieski led the single hugest and most balls-out cavalry charge in history.  Their wings fluttering and zipping like creepy, spear-flinging birds of prey, three thousand Winged Hussars plowed into the Turkish force, driving them back, plundering their supply train, and driving the Turks from the field.  It would be the furthest West the Ottoman Empire would ever advance, and it was the Poles who had finally stuffed them like Shaq blocking a layup attempt by Verne Troyer.  Honorable mention during the Battle of Vienna has to go to the Ottoman Grand Vizier Kara Mustafa, who personally charged out to try and help his men, fought in hand-to-hand combat even after his entire bodyguard was annihilated, and only escaped after saving the Holy Banner that once belonged to the Prophet Muhammad from falling into Christian hands.  Mustafa was rewarded for his heroism by having his head chopped off and delivered to the Sultan in a velvet bag, but what can you do - there's just no pleasing Sultans sometimes, especially when you've just let three thousand Polish Hussars completely rout a force roughly a hundred times larger than them. They just didn't realize that this is how the Winged Hussars rolled.  These guys were nuts – they never backed down from a fight, always went completely balls-out all of the time, and looked at ten-to-one as an exciting challenge rather than a suicide charge.

November 06, 2015

Matt Koltonow's Game On!: Making WW2 Objective Markers

After finishing up those British Paratroopers in my previous post, I decided it was time to start putting together all the little details to scatter around the table. One of the first things I wanted to make was some sort of objective markers that weren’t just beads or scraps of paper. Seeing that I play both Bolt Action and Chain of Command, these would double as jump-off points and objectives. I got the idea from the Too Fat Lardies Blog.

The core of the project is TAM-32510 Jerry Can Set. It’s a 1/48 scale accessory kit that fits close enough to 28mm figures. I ended up basing these on some washers I bought from the local hardware store that are just over 40mm in diameter. I added in some spare german weapons from Wargames Factory for the german objectives. For the British, I took the piat and ammo bag out of the Warlord plastic set. Originally I had planned to put the shovel on there as well, but the thin plastic broke between clipping it out and gluing it on.

I put together all the fuel drums in the set and sorted them two to a base. Then I put together a handful of the jerry cans, and cut anything off the sprue that looked interesting. I glued a bit of notecard onto the washer to cover the hole. Once the groundwork is done it’s really not noticeable. I sorted all the pieces into groups and fiddled around with it until it looked right. 

Once everything is glued in place, I covered the base in sand and primed it using Tamiya Grey Surface primer. The groundwork gets painted in Vallejo Dark Mud then dry brushed German Camo Beige and finally Iraqi Sand. The “recipe” for the dirt was given to me by a friend and I use it for everything except desert bases. Once the ground work was painted, the equipment was painted various colors using a mix of Vallejo and Ammo of Mig paints. Lastly everything was given a wash of Army Painter Strong Tone. 

All together the german markers took maybe an evenings work not including dry times. As you can see in the background, I also picked up Tamiya’s 1/48 car model. This is another hidden gem for 28mm wargaming. The kit is very simple to put together and pretty quick to paint.

November 03, 2015

FIGURE OF THE WEEK #90: Egyptian War Elephant by the Wooster Family 1950s

Egyptian War Elephant by the Wooster Family

This elephant was created by the Wooster Family in the 1950s. In the 50s, August Paul Wooster was considered the top window washer in New York City but ran a tin soldier business on the side. Working at night or when it was raining and he couldn’t wash windows Paul molded the figures for the family to assemble and paint. The Wooster’s had a toy soldier shop and mail order catalog in New York City under the name Knight's Castle where they sold their own figures as well as imported soldiers from Germany France and England. A little larger then a clothes closet the shop ran a world wide mail order business and has counted King Farouk of Egypt, Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and the Eaton brothers of Detroit who owned one of the countries largest collections with over 40,000 figures as customers. Another major client was the US State department although no one knows why.

The elephant was originally sculpted in wax by Mrs. Wooster who did the sculpting for all the families creations. Cast in solid lead this monster weighs over 10 pounds. Assembled and hand painted by sons Earl and Clive, these are 70mm and sculpted in a German Elastolin/Lineol/Heyde hybrid style.

This piece was originally created for the Eaton brothers and is one of several beautiful pieces from Ancient Egypt including a Pharaoh’s Procession, Egyptian War Chariot, a second elephant and a massive Pyramid under construction. Now part of the Michigan Toy Soldier Collection it was purchased from the family about 15 years ago. These are beautiful examples of hand made labors of love from a by gone era. I'm not even going to quibble with the fact that I know of known example of Egyptians ever having War Elephants! Look for more from this fabulous collection in future posts.

Click to enlarge
Wooster 1950s catalog
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