October 04, 2016

TOM STARK'S PLASTIC PASSIONS: Feeling like a kid again...

Tom Stark goes PLASTIC again, this time feeling like a kid opening a bag of plastic soldiers for the first time...

Hello once again. My love hate relationship with the electronic world continues but, of all the places I take up that battle, I am much more often on technology’s side than against it when it comes to toy soldiers. Case in point, this entry.

Most everyone must have read or heard, thanks to the internet, the “talk” of how great a feeling a kid got when opening a bag of plastic soldiers from a new playset or from the local Five and Dime and seeing the figures for the first time. In most situations, the internet, and globalization in general (do I really want to go to Paris and go in a MacDonalds?), undermines this joy of the unknown. Unless one has steeled him or herself against looking, nearly every toy soldier being made now can be seen in a variety of stages of production long before they can physically grasp the final product. Yet in the great Ying and Yang of the world, internet shopping also offers a respite.

The box shown below recently arrived at my door after a shopping spree at an Italian eBay dealer’s store. Each item was described in somewhat broken English and there were rudimentary photos but it was difficult to get a clear idea of the scale and quality of what was being sold, particularly figures still wrapped in plastic packaging. I have a rudimentary knowledge of many European makers and the Buy-It-Now prices were very reasonable and that was enough for me.

Merry Christmas in July! I get to open the box shown and discover some very excellent guys previously unknown to me. I think the crème of this crop is the Italian ski trooper, a true 54mm figure in a very nice and pliable matte dark olive green. His compatriot clubbing with his rifle is a tad smaller but also good figure. The western foliage is not the best but adds to an existing agglomeration I have and will someday show up in a western photo shoot with a lot of cacti and all will be different. The same can be said for the fortified wall. The repro Marx 4 inch cowboys were a bit disappointing as they were in a near translucent plastic and came from a poor quality mold with significant flash. I thought they might have been “original” so they were a bit disappointing- but cheap! The rebel is the first Cromoplasto figure I have purchased and is a pleasant surprise, despite being painted, a trait of European plastic one must adjust to. At least his rubbery material and the paint used are a good match and there is very little paint loss. I may look for more by this maker. The two larger-scale Union figures are by Cane and are a bit simplistic in detail but well molded and a good scale fit with so many ACW figures on the market these days and ones made in Europe in the past. 60-ish mm or a bit larger were the norm there and then. The Nardi “swoppetts” are even a bit larger but I could not resist getting two in their original packaging, very carefully removed in one case for this photo, for such a low price. And even a few more odds and ends. You can be sure many of these will show up in my Puzzler photos in Playset magazine if I can confirm who the makers were. Seeking out and buying oddball figures to use in Puzzlers is a justification I use for shopping sprees such as this.

 Justification needed or not, for a very modest sum I got quite a few figures I had never seen before, enjoyed holding for the first time more than a grown man should, will spend more enjoyable time researching their makers and what else those makers produced and perhaps get LAUNCHED ON A NEW COLLECTING OBSESSION! What fun. Thank you Mr. World Wide Web.
Tom Stark 2016

Tom Stark is a plastic guy extrodenaire. He scours the world for unique plastic figures and has been an advisor on the Expeditionary Force range. His never ending love for all things plastic have led him to regular articles in the Uk's Plastic Warrior magazine and his PM Puzzler is featured in every issue of Playset Magazine.

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