Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Pop Culture Toy Soldier Sighting!!

So, everytime I see a toy soldier in an everyday setting, like a tv show or a movie, I get so excited, and then I realize that I'm the ONLY person around me that has any interest in Toy Soldiers, and I have to reign it in before I look like a total tool. meh.

Anyway, PC Gamer magazine, in it's current issue, uses some toy soldiers as the main image for their "Co-Op" article. The article was just so-so, because Co-Op gaming is pretty boring. Why would you want to WORK with someone, when you just just SHOOT them instead. Obviously the writer has never experienced the unparalled joy of ruining someone's night in Call of Duty 4.

Uhhh, wait, did you come here expecting real toy soldier news??? HA. er... I don't really have anything else. I'm mostly waiting for news of the Conte Spartans, and biding my time till the Indianapolis Show, which I attend every year. Gonna get me some Barzso stuff. I'm not sure what yet. Either the Big Castle, and then buy a few figures separately, or buy the actual playset, and simply fawn over the huge castle without actually buying it. Getting both would be a severe misappropriation of my funds (translated as my wife would kill me). Actually, that's not true. My wife wouldn't kill me. Of all the toy soldiers out there, all the different brands, she likes the Barzso figures and playsets the most. I think it was the Tripoli set that did it for her. She liked the bright colors and what-not.

Oh, hey, anybody got the new Italeri WWII arty pieces yet? I see they are selling them in Europe already. Was looking for reviews, thoughts, whatever.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Wikipedia, The Wonder of

Anytime I need information, my first stop shopping is always Wikipedia. Now, I know, I know. You can't always trust it. But, for the most part, it's proven itself over the past years as a reliable place to BEGIN any type of research. It's ok, you can disagree with me if you want to. The rest of my profession does (stupid traditional librarians....)

Anyway, I typed in Toy Soldiers, just to see what I would find, and this article came up. Not too bad. It also links to a nice introductory of the Marx Company. The nice thing about Wikipedia is, if you see anything that is WAY wrong, you can change it yourself. Or heck, add a whole new page on something you think needs to be there. Of course, if you're way off base, they'll revert it back. Just thought it was interesting.

There should be a word for spending way too much time on Wikipedia...

"What ya been doin' today man?"

"You know, just wikapedin' a bit."

Errr. maybe not.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Scored some 21st Century

I hit the Toys R' Us in Indianapolis today and picked up the 21st Century Italian and German DAK infantry. They had quite a few of them hanging on the pegs. When I got them home and opened them up, I was really impressed with the details and sculpting of the figures. These, along with their recent Germans, Russians, and Japanese, have simply been awesome. Some might say they are a bit spindley, but I think they look great.

My wife and I spent the better part of this afternoon painting some Barzso accessories. Barrels, treasure chests, logs, cannon, and those awesome slop buckets. I was a little hesitant to put the paint brush to these, since they came as part of a set, and it was expensive... and, well, I don't know. Anytime you change something, make it different than what it was originally, you wonder if it is for better, or for worse. In this case, it brought the pieces to life. I'm still loath to paint any of my figures, but I'm getting better at the side items.


TSSD shows on their website that Italeri has released some plans for 2008. It shows an ambitious lineup including Templar Knights, Arabs, Two sets of Napoleonic Infantry, Napoleonics Cav, and a Napoleonic Supply Wagon. Right off the bat, the Templar Knights and Arabs sound really interesting. I'll be curious as to how they turn out.

I'll be honest and say that their latest WWII offerings left a bit to be desired. The poses were less than dynamic, and the size was a bit too small to fit in with other figures. But, in this hobby, more is better, in whatever form it comes. I have not gotten the two new sets of Napoleonics that are out now. Mostly because of price. $22 is a lot to spend on 16 figures in 8 poses. I understand that these are coming from overseas, but still, you have to choose wisely what you spend your hard earned money on. I think I'm hitting the Hobbytown USA today. Hopefully they'll have an already opened box of either the British or Mamelukes that I can take a proper look at.

I am curious about their upcoming WWII Heavy Weapon sets (German and Russian). Will they come with a crew, or will they simply be the field pieces. If they do, I think it may be the first Russian crew members... ever. Rock on. If anybody knows, please pass along the info. Release date has been fluctuating on these. The website simply says "next month".

Friday, February 15, 2008

New Entry in the Plastic Field

New Russian Napoleonics from Blackcat Miniatures. If you haven't seen them yet, there are pictures at the Hobby Bunker forum. I wonder if that green is the color they'll be issued in.

I haven't done much with Napoleonics in a long time. A couple years back, I picked up everything I could... Airfix, A Call to Arms, Timpo... so I've got a fairly good collection of the stuff. But like Civil War, you need LOTS of troops, and a VARIETY of troops to make a good setup. So I'm looking forward to seeing what else Blackcat Miniatures is planning on putting out. Congrats to them for the new product and adding to the hobby, and for choosing a topic that hasn't been done lately (Napoleonics... pretty brave for a company to start with). Rock on.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

All your base are belong to us

Forgive the title, but you don't get many chances to use the most popular phrase of my internet generation. Anyway, I was thinking about figure bases, the differences, and why companies chose certain bases for their figures. So, the result of that said thinking is thus: My countdown of the 12 different types of bases, from worst to best. All right, lets get straight to it then.

#12 - "No Friggin Base At All"

Starting out at number "last", here we see a specimen known as the "No Friggin Base At All". Characteristics include not being able to stand up, usually resulting in being the first casualty in most battles. It's a pain. I mean geez, just a little extra slab o' plastic is all we're asking for here. Oh well. At least the "lack of base" helps him blend into the scenery better... at least when he's not laying on his back.

#11 - Forces of Valor
I hate to do this, but here we are with Forces of Valor. Lets name the reasons why these bases are horrible. They are all the same (different paint jobs don't change that), they are too big, and they are not permanently attached to the figures. The too big thing is what really gets me. Not very good for a scene with a bunch of guys. Their bases simply get in the way of one another. Plus, they are obviously on the ground, not in a building or somewhere else that doesn't have that particular type of ground. Sorry FoV, need to rethink you bases. (quick tip: take your extra 21st Century figures, rip them off their bases, and transfer your new liberated bases to your FoV figures with a touch of super glue.)

#10 - "The Hole"
Next on our list is the tragic story of the "Hole". They had the basics of a good base. An ill-defined outline that flowed with the movement of the figure, much like Marx, but then they went and stamped a hole in it. I know, I know, they probably had their reasons, and it was different, but this time different wasn't better.

#9 - Green, Metal, Shiny... Must be Britains
Yup, it's a Britain with it's shiny green metal base. Ok, so this was cool, and we all appreciate that it has a high quality, durable base. But the boat has done sailed. Everyone else uses plastic bases. In my opinion, these simply stick out like sore thumbs when grouped with other figures. So, as consolation, please understand it was a good idea, it just didn't catch on.

#8 - Waterloo
Hey, I got an idea, lets just ignore the laws of physics when building a base. Ok, so it's not that bad. It's just, why put that extra little ridge on there at all. The base is smaller than the platform that the figure stands on. I have never understood why they did that. Good thing they are awesome figures.

#7 - "Same, Same, Same, Same... Arby's is Different."

The ever popular "standardized base". No matter what the figure is doing, he gets the same base as everyone else. Whether it's a rounded off square, or the same size oval, it's always the same. This isn't horrible... it's not enough to turn you off of a figure, it just doesn't do anything extra for the figure. It's just... a base.

#6 - The Fluctuating Oval
It's all about the figure. "The base? Well, let's just throw a bit of flat plastic underneath him. make it bigger for guys with wide stances, and smaller for guys with narrow stances; just as long as he stands up." You got to appreciate a practical take on these things. While not "artfully flowing" like marx, nor does it contain traces of terrain like 21st Century, Conte, and TSSD, it's nice, and it doesn't get in the way.

Tie for #4 - Like Liquid Plastic
Finally, we reach a base that actually adds dynamic to the figure. Marx had a way of making the base flow with the sculpt. Now that I think about it, I should have taken a picture of that Viking running foward with the sword. His base actually shows us that yes, this guy is absolutely flying. Can't go wrong with this type of base.

Tie for #4 - Gravel

I'd consider the Barzso bases a tie with the Marx bases. These are simple bases, but yet they contain trace hints of terrain. They are just rough enough to let you know "hey, this base is part of the land, building, whatever...". It doesn't flow like the Marx base, but it still disappears nicely when in a diorama.

#3 - A Base, with a figure attached

This company goes all out with their bases. This one is actually quite tame compared to others from 21st Century. You see rocks, fallen logs, sandbags, sign posts, fences, tank tracks... all sorts of cool stuff. I REALLY like these bases. The only drawback, and it's one that I can usually ignore, is that the bases actually place the figure. The German standing on a brick side walk, can't be standing in a grassy field. The American trooper that obviously has a dirt covered base with a tree limb can't be inside a building. 21st Century has proved that it is possible to design a base so well, that it can actually take something away from the figure. But other than that, it's a nice example of what bases can be.

Tied for #1 - The Perfect Base

Here we are at the pinnacle of bases. Tied for first place are Conte and TSSD. Their bases are sculpted, but not to a point where it takes away from the figures. They are just mundane enough to allow you to use the figures anywhere... forests, beaches, deserts. It's an example of not stopping at the soles of the shoes with the sculpting and design process.

So there we go, all the bases I could think of in the few minutes that I spent thinking about it. Now I'm off to go play with some Weston Cowboys that haven't seen much table time since I got them.

Upcoming Release Dates

According to TSSD, we are looking at a possible March release date for the Pegasus Russian Navy figures. From what I saw of the samples, they should be an excellent addition to your WWII range. They'll be issued in blue... good choice in my opinion.

Also reported is that April will bring the new Steve Weston Mexican Bandits. I LOVE the light blue color they are using. The poses look fun, and the detail looks like it might be a touch crisper than it was on the Gunfighters.

We're all holding our breath for an announcement on the Conte Spartans... According to the various posts on their website, I reckon it could be anyday. I'm gonna go so broke.

Still waiting on the arrival of the 21st Century Chinese Infantry figures to my local Wal-Mart. Who knows when that will be.

Hat is putting together a few new sets of ancients in 1/32. Good for them to be back in the 1/32 market! I haven't seen a release date.

Waterloo is bringing out some Prussians. I've seen a few release dates posted for these, so I suppose they are simply up in the air.

And Imex will one day release their Alamo Mexicans... someday... maybe.

Did I miss anything? Meh, don't think about it too hard. Go enjoy the Superbowl Today. As a Colts fan, I guess I have to go with the Giants. So, without any enthusiasm, Go Giants!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Marder III Sd.Kfz. 139 @ Walmart

I was cruising through the Wal-Mart toy aisle early this morning, and spotted the Marder III Sd.Kfz 139. It was packaged all by itself, and was selling for $10. It was really nice, and it had a cool paint job that wasn't this. I was surprised at how much 21st Century stuff my Wal-Mart continually has.

But don't forget Target. I stopped by the Super Target in Fishers (just down the road from me) and they had copious amounts of 1/32 Forces of Valor WWII figures, a few vehicles, and several planes, along with the FoV 1/18 guys (I think that's the scale, the G.I. joe looking guys).

All in all, not a bad time to have to go shopping at the big boxes.