November 14, 2016

TOM STARK'S PLASTIC PASSIONS: Trojan War Chariots from LOD Enterises

Tom Stark takes a look at the new chariots in the The War at Troy Greeks Vs Trojans series from LOD...

I have often heard the last decade referred to as the Second Golden Age of plastic toy soldiers. Perhaps this is true if one’s perspective is that of a “collectors” market where the key elements are the historical accuracy and life-like animation of the figures.  Marx and a handful of others strived to meet these characteristics in the first Golden Age but there were many others, Bergen, Ajax, Timmee, MPC,  Atlantic, Reamsa, Oliver and on and on whose figures lacked realism but nonetheless contributed to a vibrant market that was evident in every neighborhood toy shop. Of all these, only Marx produced an ancient themed playset with its Ben Hur, a theatrical tie in. I don’t count the Flintstones. Clearly, today is not a time when any kid can walk into any toy store or five and dime (remember them?) and find a variety of plastic guys on the shelf and take some home for 99 cents. Perhaps now is the kids’ golden age for computer games.

But if it is old geezers and geezeretts we are talking about, I’ll happily concede we are in a second golden age. Barzso, Expeditionary Force, Hat, Conte, CTS, TSSD, Paragon, Replicants, and a few others, some already gone or fading from the scene, have in recent years made some fine figures available including in the ancients category Hat’s Punic Wars sets and Conte’s “action figure” Greeks; sadly the cowardly Conte Persians never appeared on the field of battle. TSSD even came out with a full-fledged ancient playset of Romans and Gauls. I never! Happily for me, a lover of ancients, LOD has joined these ranks.
click to enlarge image
About a year ago LOD released a first set of Trojan War Greeks in blue soft plastic and Trojans in cream consisting of four poses for each side. With Troy, we are talking really ancient and the arms and armor of these fellows looked the part. No thoughtless substitution of Alexander’s hoplites from almost a millennium later. LOD followed this up with foam walls, towers and a gate of Troy for besieging. The makings of a playset were taking form even if not in one big lithographed box. I am pleased to say they have now added to the line with a set of two chariots for epic duels in the Trojan plain stretching out below the walls. The set comes with two identical chariots, a charioteer and two warriors for both sides. The Greek and Trojan poses are different. The Greek warrior thrusts down with a spear and the Trojan slashes downward with a sword. All have round bases that fit into shallow round depressions in the chariot “floor” for stability.

Two each of two horse poses molded in dark brown provide the locomotion. Both are rearing and have a “braided” mane which really adds to the image of their ancientness (like that word?) They also have a harness molded on which includes studs near the shoulder to which a hook on the chariot yoke attaches. This is not a snap fit but since we grownup “collectors” aren’t likely to grab the horses in our grubby little hands and pull the chariots madly around our floors this is not a concern; they display very well.

The two chariots are in a soft light tan with four spoke wheels, typical of early chariots. I once read that these early wheels could not bear much weight and, consistent with that, these are light chariots just capable of holding their two man crews. The frames are also light and festooned with “ribbons” flowing in the wind of their charges across the plain and adding greatly to the feel of the period. There is a pivoted yoke attached to the front of the frame and this has hooks on either side for attaching to the studs of the horses mentioned above and shown in the photo. I do think the frame is a bit long and when attached to the horses it leaves quite a space between the front of the chariot body and the rear of the team. Perhaps this is an accurate, historical characteristic but I decided to shorten this gap by pulling the yoke off the front of the frame, drilling it out so a hole passed all the way through it and then cutting the upper frame piece to fit into it. The plastic used is bonded by superglue so, being sure the yoke was leveled to match up with both studs, I glued it on. This took no more than 3 minutes and you can judge if you think it looks better.

Some boiling water treatment for straightening will be in order despite nice packaging in a vacu-formed style tray which holds all pieces separate, relatively straight and visible within a clear plastic sleeve. Retailers should love this.

LOD is producing in 60 mm and this allows for use of the chariots with many of the existing figures available. Expeditionary Forces Persians are a natural and their chariot, while much heavier and likely from a later time-period, is not visually out of place. Atlantic Trojan figures and the Starlux ancients, particularly when unpainted if you are lucky enough to have some of these, match up well. Sadly, the Atlantic Greek chariot is so angular it looks like a soapbox derby reject and I won’t use it. In my opinion the worst piece Atlantic ever made. The Atlantic chariot horses are likely a viable option to differentiate the LOD chariots but I have not tried those yet.

All in all, great stuff LOD! Thanks for adding to the second Golden Age in what is approaching my personal golden age. Much better late than never.
Tom Stark 2016

Related Posts:

View all LOD Products Available

MEET YOUR MAKER: Ken Ciak of LOD Enterprises

No comments:

Post a Comment