October 31, 2015

Happy Halloween

Suddenly It's Saturday!
Get your monster on at Michigan Toy Soldier. We have been offering History Thru Hobbies Since 1996! We are open 11-5 ET Saturday & Sunday. Too far? Our website www.michtoy.com is 24/7. We have everything you need to to make your project MONSTERLY AMAZING!


...

October 27, 2015

FIGURE OF THE WEEK #89: Chialu Composition Cowboy & Indian Duplex Figure

Toys? Yes but to many collectors the toy soldier is a work of art in it's own right. So presented here you will find our ideas on the THE ART OF THE TOY SOLDIER. 


This week’s offering comes from the Italian company Confalonieri Chialu. Produced in the 1950s & 60s these were sold in the USA through department stores like J.L. Hudson's here in the Detroit area. Chialu figures were made of composition and like German figures of the period were 7cm in size.  The western cowboy and Indian series was the most popular. Featured here is one of the six duplex figures Chialu made of fighting cowboys and Indians. The range was imaginative and offered many figures not available from a any other manufacture. Today these figure still command a tidy sum from collectors looking to either bring back childhood memories or simply build a collection of wonderful works of art from a by some era.

When the age of plastic toy soldiers kicked in Chialu tried to produce figures in plastic using their original composition molds but this was unsuccessful and short lived. The company faded from toy soldier production and instead survived on Nativity and Manger sets until it's demise in the 1970s.

Have a favorite figure you consider a work of art? Send us an image of it along with a brief description. Email you submissions to michtoystaff@michtoy.com.

October 24, 2015

MEET OUR TRENCH RUNNER: Steven Lowenthal

Steven is a experienced modeler with a passion for the hobby who is more then willing to offer up informative help, tips, views and anything else to promote the hobby to beginners as well as  advanced modelers. So Meet our latest addition to the Trench Runners Corps...Steven Lowenthal

I started modeling as a kid, back in the days when TV's and phones had dials, kids read comic books and they played outside. My favorite kits to build were airplanes and the occasional auto. I took the inevitable detour when I became a teenager and went off to college. After school, while working in the arts, my attentions returned to modeling. I have been building ever since. Today I live with my wife and two daughters on Long Island in New York. Where I own a firm that builds custom computers.

While my interests have mainly stayed with aircraft, usually 1/48, with 1/32 coming in a close second, I have expanded my builds to include 1/35 armor and 1/350 ships. In addition, my tastes also include Fantasy and Super Hero figure painting in 72mm and 1/6. I enjoy all aspects of modeling, from construction, painting and weathering. I am particularly interested in the extra detail aftermarket and scratch building lends to the hobby. I haven't built "out of the box" since discovering Verlinden Productions back in the '80's. Using both aftermarket and scratch, I enjoy the challenge of fitting as much detail into a project as I can.

My goal, in participating in this blog, is to pass along my experiences in this hobby. Part of what makes modeling interesting is that, generally, there is no "right" way of doing things. It was only by trial and error that I developed different methods that gave me the results I was looking for. However, if you are building "Out of the Box" to building "Super Detailed" wonders, my "musings" should be only one stop in researching your skills. I am "just a guy making models". I hope to convey this in my writings. 

There are several modeling web sites I follow daily. All have excellent information and have a worldwide community to share your hobby with. Most are free, but some do require a membership fee for full site access. I recommend you check them out if you haven't already.

Hypercale.com
Internationalscalemodeller.com
Florymodels.com
Genessis-models.co.uk
Aircraftresourcecenter.com
Largescaleplanes.com
The Kitmaker Network at kitmaker.com
Modelwarships.com
Modelingmadness.com
Scalemodellingnow.com

Most of these allow people to share their work with others in the community. Personally, I post work on International Scale Modeller and occasionally on Flory Models. I can also be found on the International Scale Modeller Facebook page putting my 2 cents in answering people's questions.

Finally, I often see people new to the hobby admiring the work others post and bemoaning how their work will never look as good. I've even seen people say they were giving up on modeling because they thought they could never produce similar quality models. If there is one thing I can tell novice modelers, don't look at other peoples work as unobtainable. Remember, the reason these people can produce such enviable models is because of their experience. It's only through building many models, that you will develop the skills and knowledge to produce such results. And yes, they failed. They more than likely failed multiple times. Failure is knowledge too, so the key is not being afraid to fail. As you continue to build, the failures will become far and few between. Experience builds great models. One last thing I would add is never stop learning. I am constantly buying new books, watching others work and modifying my methods. Watching how others accomplish tasks and use products will lead you to new methods, new ways and sometimes, better ways.

October 23, 2015

Another Somewhat Daily Dose of Useless Tidbits for October 23., 2015

The Art of Modeling
by unknown artist


Good Reads
Is Now Available for Download. Easily my favorite magazine right now this issue features a whopping 124 pages for less then two bucks! The main theme of this issue is creating and painting flats.

from the publisher..
One of the goals of FPM is to show you, our readers, things that you may have never seen before and introduce you to new ideas. That’s why this issue is a bit of a special one dedicated to flachen zinnfiguren or flat tin figures. In this issue we have a show report from the Mecca of this sometimes overlooked part of our hobby, Kulmbach. We also have instruction about how to sculpt a flachen zinnfiguren and even a guide to buying them. Jessica Rich shares with us how she painted her first flachen zinnfiguren and this month’s insight is with Penny Meyer, who was awarded Best of Show for flachen zinnfiguren at Kulmbach earlier this year.

We have all the usuals reviews, views and news and interviews; in fact, we speak to Karol Rudyk, whom we last spoke to in issue one, about his latest project that we can exclusively reveal in this issue!

Also we have a breath taking tutorial from Adrian Hopwood about his sensational rendition of Hush and one from our very own Italian Stallion, Davide Rainone on how he recently painted his Dr. Doom bust...


Worth a Kick?
Illumistation - Created by Westwood Woodworks
The Illumistation is a compact painting and craft case, comprised storage and a removable base with an LED lamp. Now on KickStarter

Truth in Advertising!
Battle in a Box from Perry Miniatures is exactly what the name says! Everything you need to to play a civil war historical game including...2 Generals, 145 Infantry, 12 Cavalry, 18 Artillerymen, 4 guns, 1 Farmhouse, over 4 feet of fencing, unit bases for all figures, a revised 'Firepower' rule set by Alessia Cavatore to play the game. Throw in a uniform guide and flags and you truly have a "Battle in A Box".
PS- Probably need some glue and a couple tools and some paint if you really want to go to war.


Parting Thoughts...

Toys in the Attic - "Soakies" Monsters from the 60s

Apparently the kids in the 60s were a grimey bunch. Additionally they were quite reluctant bathers because it was in the late 50s and early 60s that soap companies started to put their bubblebath in character-shaped containers to get kids excited about bathing. It was Colgate Palmolive that sold liquid bubble bath in plastic containers shaped like popular cartoon characters which they called "Soaky." This started as a brand name, but has since become a generic term for any soap or bubblebath container. In 1963 the company produced a line of four licensed Universal monster characters - Frankenstein, Wolf Man, Mummy and Creature from the Black Lagoon. Today, these Soakies are usually found empty, missing the cardboard box around their base and a tag that extended from their neck.
Universal Monsters soakies - set of 4
Universal Monsters with original tags and cardboard base

October 22, 2015

Tom Stark's Plastic Passions #4

So far this blog has concentrated on new production figures and that’s fine. We all like new things. But the world of plastic toy soldiers has been around for 50 to 60 years now and if one ignores all that history he or she will miss out on a lot of great figures. Further, if you appreciate the art of these toy soldiers for what they are, toys with varying levels of sophistication, the past has all the more to offer.
But where to start? There is so much material.
I can’t remember where I got the idea but I decided I would focus this installment on different makers’ interpretations of an iconic pose; the stalwart American Indian shielding his eyes and staring into the sun/future wondering where life will take him. This pose was a staple in the world of cigar store Indians and found its way into plastic many times.
Marx went to this way quite early and at least twice, once in 40 mm and once in 60 mm. Both came onto the market in the 1950s in a variety on incarnations of the Fort Apache playset all of which will soon be reviewed in depth by Playset Magazine. Some people may not be satisfied with the detail and animation of these two poses but, if you are like me, nothing brings a sense of childhood-past to mind like the smell of the soft vinyl plastic these fellows were initially made of. Both were produced a bit later on, with bases, in polyethylene.

Timmee followed right on Marx’s heals. Most of its production, excepting perhaps its WWII Russians, was considered of lesser quality than Marx. While I prefer to think of them as just being a different style of toy, the close up of their figure (on left) does make me wonder if the sculptor thought Indians wore sunglasses of some type. His companion is by Hoeffler, a German masker who likely produced their rendition sometime in the late 1960s, but that date is a guess. Not at all sure why he would be holding what appears to look like a rock.

Next we have Austrian maker Linde who produced a fantastic line of American wildwest figures “borrowing” some from the Hauser/Elastolin ranges in general and Karl May in particular but also making many of their own such as this fellow. There are many truly excellent poses in this range of about 40 poses which I believe was produced as a product premium. He is joined by Danish maker Reisler’s pose who decided to get a bit creative and sculpt their interpretation of the pose on its hand(s) and knees

Another creative interpretation and perhaps my favorite is Italian maker Atlantic’s two-figure pose of Indians on their hands and knees, draped in wolf skins to suppress their scent, sneaking up on a buffalo herd. This is an old photo since I could not find the pose for this blog making me use a shot taken for a Plastic Figure and Playset Magazine article many years ago. Sorry it is dark. The figure to the back is the one shading his eyes.



Just so you don’t think it was only Indians that needed to look into the distance, the last photo shows pioneers and cowboys doing the same including a mounted, hard plastic Elastolin, a standing Leyla and a kneeling Reisler with a moveable right arm. At least when the sun went down this fellow could put his arm down too. Great stuff that I hope you enjoy.

October 20, 2015

BEST OF 2015! F.A.Q. - Frequently Asked Questions for Constructing & Painting Dioramas

Andrea Miniatures via their Andrea Press imprint pioneered the F.A.Q. genre of modeling books when they published FAQ Frequently Asked Questions by MIG which is one of the best selling modeling books of all time. MIG went on to write a updated version that was published by AK Interactive who have also published the excellent new F. A. Q. Aircraft Modelling book.

Andrea Press is coming full circle with the publication of  F.A.Q. - Frequently Asked Questions for Constructing & Painting Dioramas by Mario y Rafael Milla. This 320 page tome covers all that you need to know to build outstanding vignettes and dioramas with step-by-step details through over 380 questions and answers and more than 1300 high quality photographs.

This is definitive book on dioramas and covers every imaginable aspect of creating dioramas and display models from the four seasons to electronics to "closed" dioramas. 
To view 30 page sample CLICK HERE
A new 6 page sample can be viewed HERE
View Ordering Details

The Andrea  Press F.A.Q. series... 
AP-023 F.A.Q. Frequently Asked Questions by MIG
AP-030 F.A.Q. Frequently Asked Questions About Figures
AP-039 F.A.Q. Advanced Modelling Techniques About Planes
AP-037 F.A.Q. Frequently Asked Questions About Modelling Cars and Motorcycles
AP-057 F.A.Q. Frequently Asked Questions for Constructing & Painting Dioramas

October 19, 2015

Another Somewhat Daily Dose of Useless Tidbits for October 19, 2015

Random Funny Stuff

Casting Resin Parts - Making the Mold VIDEO Tutorial. 
FineScale Modeler magazine Associate Editor Aaron Skinner walks you through the steps for casting resin parts for your scale modeling needs in this excellent video. The Fun Starts HERE

Works of Art
This amazing 1/35th scale diorama is entirely self-made, including figures, weapon and equipment by Oleg Lanky of  Novocherkassk. MORE IMAGES HERE

The Grass is Always Greener...

Great Graffiti 

Historically Speaking...

October 14, 2015

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month!


October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month!
Think Pink & DONATE to help in the Fight Against Breast Cancer. The American Cancer Society's Making Strides Against Breast Cancer events saves lives through groundbreaking research, early detection, and by giving patients a hand to hold.

October 13, 2015

Matt Koltonow's Historical Gaming Observations: Running a Historical Wargaming League

Running a Saga League
Thursday night Saga League
As some of you may know, every Thursday night here at Michigan Toy Soldier, I run a game night. As the group began to grow we figured it would make sense to either start a group project or a tournament or campaign of some sort. Something to cut down a little bit on the prep time I needed each week. We have a lot of gamers in our group who are either new to the hobby overall, or new to historical wargaming in particular and as such we needed a game with a relatively low model count. We don’t usually get started until 7 so the game needed to be quick. After some deliberation (and a couple of well received demo games) we settled on a Saga Escalation League. The idea behind this was that, with the way the army lists in Saga work, players would have a pretty low amount of figures to paint, and a very modest amount of paint work to expand as the games got bigger each month.

Part of what I love about this hobby is the painting and modeling. I wanted to come up with a scoring system to incentivize painting as well as playing. Players should want to win obviously but I wanted new players to stand a chance and I wanted it to feel less like a tournament and more like a series of games. My original plan was as follows:
1 point for showing up
3 points for winning
1 point for a draw
1 point for each painted unit

This plan was a start but because of some late additions to the group, the painting bonus was far more to keep track of then I thought it would be. Short of having players “register” painted figures there was no real way to figure out who painted what when. Factor in the fact that out of the 18 players who made up the final number, some would of course have armies from before the league. The painting bonus eventually turned into a possible 7 point addition at the end of the league. 

The next problem we ran into was the point for showing up, and ideally what to do if players don’t make their game. Because we have limited space and people tend to have busy schedules this time of year, we needed a very loose format. At the beginning of the month I emailed out a list of everyones match ups (created by pulling names out of a hat). Players would then have until the last day of the month to get their game in and report back. The final decision was that players should keep in touch with me to schedule games and what not. If a player showed up here and another did not, the player who was here would get the point for showing up, and the point for a draw. The player who didn’t show up, gets nothing. So far in the middle of the first month of the league, most of the players have managed to get a game in. 

Heres the technical stuff for people interested in running their own league. The first scenario everyone played was a modified version of Clash of the Warlords, pulled from the core rulebook. Players had 6 turns to kill the enemy warlord. If both warlords were alive at the end of turn 6, it’s considered a draw. This was simple enough that even players who were getting their first games in here, could get a feel for the rules and be able to play without too much difficulty. The next 3 games will be scenarios pulled from the book. For the first month, play a 3 point game. This is less then what the book recommends (4-6) but its enough for this demo type situation. The second month increase to 4 points, the third 5 and the fourth 6. Finally we limited the heroes of the viking age to any game after the first. In a 3 point game the heroes tend to be very over powered. I kept in touch with everyone via email, and tracked the points in excel. 

The final advice I have is read the book cover to cover, read all the supplements, read all the faqs. Re-read all of it. Saga is not an overly complex game, but 18 players have a way of making it one. Questions that never came up in a year of demos and multiplayer game night and convention style games, came up almost instantly. One of the shining moments so far was when 5 of us needed to pour through the books looking for an answer to what seemed like a simple question. If theres any confusion on things take the time to write down what ever solution you come up with, and be consistent. When trying to get a big group on the same page, try not to use house rules or anything that can’t be looked up. Keep it simple. Even with a smaller player count, it doesn’t need to be overly complex to be fun. The league runs until December and there are people playing most Thursday nights at the shop. Stop by if you’re interested in seeing how it all works. 

October 10, 2015

THE AMAZING...Abrasive Cleaning Disc

From the I didn't know I needed one of these department comes... 
The Abrasive Cleaning Disc
from Hobby Stix
This product is ideal for cleaning out clogged sanding stixs, x-acto knives, tools, hobby files and hobby sheets, contributing to longer lasting and more effective abrasives.  The Abrasive Cleaning Disc can remove resin, metal, wood, plastic, and other medium residue from your abrasives.  Rub off excess materials without damaging or dulling the coating of your abrasive tools and save money by prolonging the life of you modeling tools. Size: 2” diameter, 1/4” thick. View to Order HSX-0701


October 08, 2015

Toys in the Attic: Aurora Monster Models of the 1960s Part 8 'The Aurora 13' Dr. Jekyll as Mr. Hyde

Aurora's first monster model was Frankenstein which appeared in 1961. Aurora followed with twelve more monster kits over the next five years. These 13 kits are affectionally referred to by collectors as "The Aurora 13.' 


'The Aurora 13'  No. 8 Dr. Jekyll as Mr. Hyde
"...and late one accursed night, I compounded the elements, watched them boil and smoke together in the glass, and when the ebullition had subsided, with a strong glow of courage, drank off the potion. The most racking pangs succeeded: a grinding in the bones, deadly nausea, and a horror of the spirit that cannot be exceeded at the hour of birth or death. Then these agonies began swiftly to subside, and I came to myself as if out of a great sickness. Excerpt from R.L.Stevensons 1888 novella.

There was something strange in my sensations, something indescribably new and, from its very novelty, incredibly sweet. I felt younger, lighter, happier in body; within I was conscious of a heady recklessness, a current of disordered sensual images running like a millrace in my fancy, a solution of the bonds of obligation, an unknown but not an innocent freedom of the soul. I knew myself, at the first breath of this new life, to be more wicked, tenfold more wicked, sold a slave to my original evil; and the thought, in that moment, braced and delighted me like wine.

...I stole through the corridors, a stranger in my own house; and coming to my room, I saw for the first time the appearance of Edward Hyde."

1964 saw a heyday for monster kits with the release of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Dr. Jekyll as Mr. Hyde, King Kong and Godzilla in the Long Box series. ...All the kits in the series featured a creepy diorama which helped provide ghoulish haunts for the monsters. The dioramas were sculptured as suitable environments for each, with accessories such as bats, rats, lizards, spiders and other eerie stuff.


Original Kit Issued: 1964 - 1968 as Catalog #460
Plastic: White
Sculptor: Attributed to Adam “Larry” Ehling
Box art: James Bama
Re-Issued: 1969-1975, 1992, 2000



"I have no soul. I'm beyond the pale. I'm one of the living dead!"

The kit shows Jekyll already transformed into Hyde, holding the formula beaker up while grasping his own neck. Also on the flat base are a stool, table (complete with other beakers and spider web), two rats, and a nameplate that gives the name of the kit. The Mr. Hyde depicted here closely resembles that portrayed by Fredric March on film. The original molds for this model have been lost or destroyed, so that no modern reproductions can be made.


Dr. Jekyll as Mr. Hyde Glow in the Dark
1970-75 Reissue of #482
Plastic: Brown & luminous
Square box format
Box art: Harry Scheme




Toys in the Attic: Aurora Monster Models of the 1960s

Sources: 
Web: "Collecting Aurora Monsters" Dennis L. Prince
Web: Professor Plastiks "Aurora Monster Kit History"
Print: Aurora Model Kits by Thomas Graham
SaveSave

October 07, 2015

Another Somewhat Daily Dose of Useless Tidbits for October 7, 2015

Good Reads
The Conquering Tide: War in the Pacific Islands, 1942-1944 (Pacific War Trilogy book 2)
by Ian Toll

World War II’s Pacific theater has become historical shorthand for bestial violence in appalling conditions. Grisly tales of battle-scarred Marines and Life magazine photos of sun-bleached Japanese skulls merely hint at the horrors of a war rivaled in ferocity only by the Russian front. The depressing image of life on those hot, sticky islands even crossed continents; in Joseph Heller’s classic novel “Catch-22,” a running threat to underperforming officers in the Italian theater is to be reassigned to dig graves in the Pacific.
Toll’s projected trilogy about the Pacific war,  can be considered a counterpart to Rick Atkinson’s fantastic Eurocentric Liberation Trilogy.

From the publisher:
This masterful history encompasses the heart of the Pacific War―the period between mid-1942 and mid-1944―when parallel Allied counteroffensives north and south of the equator washed over Japan's far-flung island empire like a "conquering tide," concluding with Japan's irreversible strategic defeat in the Marianas. It was the largest, bloodiest, most costly, most technically innovative and logistically complicated amphibious war in history, and it fostered bitter interservice rivalries, leaving wounds that even victory could not heal.

Often overlooked, these are the years and fights that decided the Pacific War. Ian W. Toll's battle scenes―in the air, at sea, and in the jungles―are simply riveting. He also takes the reader into the wartime councils in Washington and Tokyo where politics and strategy often collided, and into the struggle to mobilize wartime production, which was the secret of Allied victory. Brilliantly researched, the narrative is propelled and colored by firsthand accounts―letters, diaries, debriefings, and memoirs―that are the raw material of the telling details, shrewd judgment, and penetrating insight of this magisterial history.

This volume―continuing the "marvelously readable dramatic narrative" (San Francisco Chronicle) of Pacific Crucible―marks the second installment of the Pacific War Trilogy, which will stand as the first history of the entire Pacific War to be published in at least twenty-five years.


I also strongly recommend the first book:
Pacific Crucible: War at Sea in the Pacific, 1941-1942 




Random Funny Stuff
Works of Art
Check out the amazing camo on the tunic of this 120mm German Sniper by By Ruslan Slyusarenko
more views HERE
Works of Art
This amazing diorama of The Battle of Agincourt was created by the Perry Brothers and model maker David Marshall of MMDioramas for the British Royal Armouries to celebrate the 600th anniversary of the battle. It features over 4000 28mm figures. The Royal Armouries blog features Agincourt 600: Making the Agincourt Diorama well worth a click over to HERE.

October 06, 2015

Toys in the Attic - Ideal Battle Action Combat Playsets

Ideal Battle Action Combat Playlets c.1965
"Our troops lie in wait for the enemy. Two of their soldiers approach in a jeep.  Suddenly, the vehicle hits a carefully planted triggering device and CRASH!  A tree comes thundering down to bar their path.  FIRE!  Our hidden machine gunner swings his vibrating gun around with a cracking blast.  Ambush complete!"  It really takes you back to the pure joy and innocence of our youth... dirt everywhere, total excitement, and not a care in the world... and all this courtesy of Ideal Toys Battle Action playsets.


“Battle Action - The Military Toy Line, With All The Sound and Action Of Real Combat by... Ideal"! Such reads the original Ideal Toys catalog text describing this classic line of 1960's military playsets.  "Each Battle Action unit is a complete and exciting toy!", and yes, they certainly were…the range included the following sets, each sold separately , Battle Action Combat Set, Booby Trap Road, War Field, Check Point, Sniper Post, Road Block, Mined Bridge, Twin Howitzer, Machine Gun Nest, Fighter Jet Strip

Ideal Toy Corporation
Founded in 1903 as the Ideal Novelty and Toy Company, In 1938 the company changed it's name to the Ideal Toy Company and operated under this name until 1982 at which time the company was sold to CBS Toy Company who ran the company for about 3 years before selling the company to Hasbro. Ideal was one of the more prolific U.S. toy companies, although trailing Marx, they did put out a wide range of toys to include about everything. Always active in Military toys but best known for their Evil Knevil toys and Battle Action Playlets.

October 05, 2015

Trench Runner Mat Johnson takes a look at AP053 British Inniskillings Heavy Dragoons from Waterloo 1815

June 2015 marked the 200th anniversary of the battle of Waterloo.  To figure modellers it comes as no surprise that, feeding of the significance of the anniversary, many manufacturers will be releasing fresh Napoleonic figure sets this year.  The somewhat confusingly named Italian figure manufacturer ‘Waterloo 1815’ is no exception.  The set I am looking at is their ‘British Heavy Dragoon’ set.  Although it does not specifically mention a particular unit the figures are modeled after, they most closely represent the legendary 6th Inniskilling Dragoons. 

The Inniskilling Dragoons trace their roots back to 1600’s Ireland where Protestant citizens of Enniskillen and surrounding counties raised units of volunteers to defend the town against the forces of the Catholic King James.  The units fought well in many clashes gaining the attention of the English army who sent regular officers to take command and properly equip the unit. Following this conflict the dragoons remained a British army regular unit and were enumerated as the ‘6th’ Dragoons in 1751, denoting its place in the seniority of the British army. 

Following the cooling of hostilities in Europe in 1814 the Inniskilling Dragoons along with thousands of other British soldiers were sent to North America to strengthen British forces who had for 2 years successfully defended Canada from American invasion during the War of 1812. With these newly acquired reinforcements the British took to the offensive.  Many large and small scale raids on the United States took place from Canada and along the American coast, most notably in the Washington and Baltimore area.  This is the scene in which I have choose to set the dragoons that Waterloo 1815 has manufactured. 

The first thing I notice about any figure set is the box art.  Some is almost framable, and this box art is no exception.  A nice scene showing charging dragoons captures the rush and speed of a cavalry charge on an 18th century battlefield, unfortunately the ( only ) two horse poses in the set suggest more Thanksgiving Day parade then glorious charge smashing the enemy lines! This is a very minor complaint, and really my only mentionable grievance with the set.  They come moulded in a very hard light tan plastic that in my sample set required a coat of primer to help the paint stick properly.  Although as mentioned there are only two horse poses there are 6 very nice rider poses.  After removing them from the sprue there was only minimal cleanup required, which is to be expected.  The horse's reins required a little more careful clean up, but again nothing out of the ordinary.  All of the straps and buckles seem to be there for the most part, and nicely and crisply moulded.  All the troopers carry a nice representation of what I assume to be the standard dragoon issued Paget carbine.  In reality this carbine had a 16” barrel which looks fine to me on the models, I really have no interest in putting callipers on a piece of equipment you can hardly see once they are mounted.  As mentioned there are six poses of riders for a total of twelve figures.  Two officers, two trumpeters, two guys getting shot, and six yet unscathed riders.  One of the poses I like particularly is the figure slashing across his body with his sword.  This is the only figure that requires assembly as his right arm comes as a separate piece, however it attaches with no issues using plain old Testors model glue.  As someone who builds dioramas, I feel that you can never get enough getting shot, or dead figure poses in a set.  When I make a scene for a museum I have to represent the unfortunate reality of war, and that is casualties.  So it is nice to be provided with 2 figures getting shot, this will save some time in having to modify figures should one be using this set to create a scene or diorama.  As far as fitting the riders on to the horses, most fit with no issue.  There was only one trooper who gave me trouble, and that is the guy with his sword raised over his head.  I didn’t fight it at all and left him off of the saddle slightly as if he is standing, caught up in the excitement/danger of the moment.  I painted my set with quite the array of acrylic paint.  I used various folk art paints for the uniform, artists water colours for the straps, and my go-to Tamiya acrylics for the flesh colour and the horses.  I cheated and airbrushed the horse's base colour adding paint and tinting it as to not have too many horses the exact same colour.  I don’t like to get carried away shading uniforms in this scale as I feel sometimes it can easily be too much. When I look at someone from 100’ away I don’t just see a collection of dark shadows, in my opinion shadows are hardly noticeable at all.  So after painting the base colours I just applied a light black wash with my smallest brush around the straps, collars, cuffs etc. to highlight the details.  My source for colour and uniform details was an old colour plate produced by Pimpernel Studios in 1986 ‘Cavalry of the line -dragoons’.

One thing I like to do with models is to be different.  So instead of creating a Waterloo scene showing these riders running down unfortunate French infantry, I have placed them in 1814 Maryland chasing down a patrol of American militia and a hand full of regulars.  The Inniskillings were mainly used during their brief time in North America as couriers and scouts, so a scene like this is not out of the question.  I will be expanding upon this diorama adding the American infantry as the subject of a future review / conversion article.  The brick building in the scene is part of the old Airfix French farmhouse kit that I pulled out of my parts box, and the landscape items are from Woodland Scenics and the Johnsons backyard.  With very slight modifications to the horses, and careful glue work, I added a bit of drama with two horses being hit and throwing their riders.  This creates a good focal point for viewer, and keeps the possibilities open for expanding the scene. 

In conclusion this is a very nice figure kit.  Whether you are a wargamer, diorama builder, or figure enthusiast I would highly recommend it if you are in the market for some British heavy cavalry. Mat Johnson October 2015
Image courtesy of Plastic Soldier Review
Mat's mini diorama featuring AP053 British Heavy Dragoons from Waterloo 1815 
Mat's mini diorama featuring AP053 British Heavy Dragoons from Waterloo 1815 
Mat's mini diorama featuring AP053 British Heavy Dragoons from Waterloo 1815 

MEET OUR TRENCH RUNNER: Mat Johnson

Mat and his lovely wife Amanda (I think)
Mat is our newest writer and will be posting on 1/72nd products and his diorama work for several museums in Canada. I was drawn to Mat's views by his philosophy which he mentions in detail below..."I will be focusing more on the positives and the enjoyment factor of the hobby"  

So meet our latest addition to the Trench Runners Corps...Mat Johnson

I am very excited to be checking out various products for the Michigan Toy Soldier Company, but first here is a bit of background on me..

I am 32 years old and live in Durham, Ontario with my wife Amanda and our many pets.  I am a full time wood worker, my family has run a wood millwork business ( an excellent source of display bases) now for 25 years. Besides modelling, my other hobbies include distance running, sports, my n scale railroad, and road trips. My first modelling memories come from helping my Dad paint a box of ESCI 1/72 Confederate infantry when I was 9.  To be honest I don't remember if the officers coats had the correct number of buttons, or if the bayonets were exactly scale length, all I remember is having fun and learning, and this is what I feel modelling is all about and my reviews will reflect that.

I currently build models and dioramas for several museums around Ontario. Because of this, most of the things I review, whether it be a set of figures, vehicle, or plane will be placed in some kind of scenic setting. I like this because it adds not only visual interest, but a sense of scale. 

I feel that aside from my museum work I represent the average modeller in that I build models and paint figures simply for enjoyment and relaxation - and not obsessing over tiny irrelevant details.  I am tired of reading model and figure reviews where all the author does is rips the product apart and tries to show how skilled / knowledgable they are by re-doing parts, scratch building parts of it, and in the end really turning people like myself off from buying the very kit they are reviewing.  I hold nothing against those people if that is what they enjoy, but I will be focusing more on the positives and the enjoyment factor of the products I am writing about.  I encourage everyone regardless of your skill level to always find the positives in other people's work. I recently left a Canadian Railway Modellers Facebook page after witnessing one so called ' expert' actually making fun of someone's "attempt at weathering" on a freight car he bought on line.  I thought it looked fine, even if it wasn't up to his ' standards' what did making fun of the persons work accomplish ?

Thank you in advance for reading my reviews, and thank you to those who remember that at the end of the day this is a hobby, one that needs to be fun, and shared positively with other people to keep it growing.

The everyday version of Mat & Amanda Johnson