Monday 24 October 2011

The Birmingham Toy Soldier Show

Yesterday I took a trip along to the 21st Birmingham Toy Soldier Show and, notwithstanding the utterly awful traffic problems caused by the occasion of the BUPA sponsored 'fun run', had a lovely time

I didn't take any photos this year but if you read my review of last year's show then you'll know what it's all about

I was a little worried, given the current economic climate, that the event might be noticeably less well attended, by both traders and punters alike, but far from it. Most of the traders who attended last year had returned and the buyers were out in force, too

I overheard several customers talking to dealers saying that they really appreciate the show because they live locally and found getting down to the big shows in London a bit more difficult. I certainly agree with that. I haven't actually been to any of the London shows yet, but I'm sure it's just a matter of time until I do, however the Birmingham show is really handy for me and gives me an opportunity to see some of the figures I might be thinking about buying 'in the flesh' before making a financial commitment

Indeed, it was at last year's show where I had my first opportunity to look really closely at some of the figures being produced by Thomas Gunn and the vehicles made by Figarti, and at this year's show I put my hand in my pocket and made my very first purchases from both of these manufacturers. You will be able to read about these, and one or two other purchases, a little later in my next 'Latest Additions' post

All in all it was a very worthwhile trip, but boy did I need a drink when I got home, having spent the best part of an hour stuck in a crawling queue of cars during the return journey, and I would thoroughly recommend you pop along next year if you happen to live in the area and haven't been before. The 22nd Birmingham Toy Soldier Show is due to take place on Sunday, 28th October 2012, at the same venue, The Clarendon Suite, 2 Stirling Road, Edgbaston

Happy hunting!

Saturday 22 October 2011

Latest Additions

Time once again to update you on some of the latest additions to my collection

First up this time are some First Legion crusaders. Three Teutonic knights to be precise. These are currently the only Teutonics they do and, therefore, the only figures from this range I have bought so far, and the only ones I plan to buy as things stand at the moment

Teutonic knight menacingly swinging his axe

Teutonic banner bearer, complete with a rather battered and bruised shield!

Teutonic knight with sword

Close up of the banner bearer showing how the top part of the banner comes in the box, ie as a separate piece which simply balances on top of the banner pole when assembled

All three figures together

I like these figures very much. They're well animated, expertly sculpted and finely painted, as we have come to expect from First Legion, and certainly well worth the money. If I have one minor gripe, it's the fact that the bases on which the figures stand are all different in terms of how they are textured and subsequently painted. A little disappointing since it detracts from the overall coherency of the group

I have a similar concern to report on with the next of my recent purchases, the new Tiger tank from TCS. It's their version of the last Tiger 1 to be commanded by the legendary Michael Wittmann, the one he was killed in whilst fighting in Normandy in 1944, the tank numbered 007

Tiger tank 007, the tank commanded by Wittmann in August, 1944

It's a gorgeous model and comes with a driver [head and shoulder figure], commander, thrown track and an attachment that can be placed on the back of the vehicle to assist with the placing of additional 'tank jumpers', sold separately

However, being part of the latest range of CS vehicles, it has been built oversize or, as CS maintain, 'true' to the size that most 1/30th scale figures are currently being made at. In other words, it's more 1/28 than 1/30 and as such simply cannot be placed alongside any of their older vehicles, as the picture below more than adequately demonstrates

The new Tiger [left] alongside their previous Wittmann Tiger, numbered 222. A further consequence of the size differential is that none of the crew figures are interchangeable!

Finally, but by no means least, I bought the additional Panzer crew set comprising Michael Wittmann and three of his crew posing for photographs around his tank. It really is a lovely set and, in my opinion, better painted than many of the company's figures. I don't know whether I'm imagining that or not but it seems to me that this is a rather special set and they may have given it a correspondingly special paint job to boot!

Wittmann's pose in this set has been designed to mimic the one he took in real life as he sat for the famous propaganda photos taken shortly before the Villers Bocage action

Although designed to accompany the new 007 Tiger, I'm going to place these figures in a diorama posing for photos on and around the 222 Tiger, the one Wittmann took into action at Villers Bocage, shortly after the real life photos were taken

So, there you have it, a few more pieces to add to the collection. I'll keep you posted as their associated dioramas develop

Thomas Gunn: Recent Releases

If you're a fan of Thomas Gunn, and by all accounts you are one of an increasingly large number of collectors, then you've probably seen these already and, if you're a very keen collector of TG figures, you might have already bought them!

In fact, you almost certainly have, and I say this with confidence since a few days ago I received an email update in my inbox informing me that the majority of the figure sets pictured below are either completely sold out or down to the last one or two remaining examples. Therefore, if you haven't already handed over your 'hard earned' for one of these sets you're going to have to hunt high and low for them and trust to luck

Much of the rest of the text is provided courtesy of Tom, the owner of TG

Dear All

Please find attached pictures of our new releases for October. Next month sees our first
American troops hit the ground and December sees our first WW1 and
Napoleonic figures on display at the London show

Some of you will have already seen these new October sets at Chicago and
have, indeed, already purchased them. For those of you who have not had chance
please read below

SS020 Late War Tank Hunters: 2 SS Tank Hunters, one aiming his Panzerfaust
at an oncoming enemy tank, whilst the other waits ready with his Gewehr 43
to finish off the unlucky crew or to use his Panzerfaust should his team
mate miss!
Limited to 200 sets in the Winter 1944 version and 100 in the Spring 1945
version and priced at $64

S023 Medical Kubelwagen: A unique piece that has never been made in 1/30th
scale before  to my knowledge. Seen everywhere on all fronts throughout WW2,
the medical Kubelwagen was a welcome sight for all wounded soldiers. Comes
with detachable stretcher and will work brilliantly with SS022/FJ007 Medical
sets or on its own as a diorama piece

The Normandy version comes in a dark yellow with green tiger stripe pattern
and the desert version is featured sporting a sand colour with grey
undercoat paint showing through due to wear and tear!
Limited to 200 sets in the Normandy version and 150 sets in the DAK version
and priced at $79

SS022 SS/DAK Medic Set: 2 beautifully crafted figures that will accompany
SS023 Medical Kubelwagen or work equally as well on their own. A medical
orderly tends to a wounded solider with a very painful looking leg and arm
Limited to 200 sets in the Normandy SS version and 100 in the DAK version
and priced at $62

SS024 HMG Anniversary Set: The very last in our series of German HMG sets
for a long time so grab this one whilst it's around. Next year we will look
at another weapon as I feel it's time for a change and a different theme!
This set features 2 SS gunners with one firing his MG42 and the other
feeding the ammunition through and will enhance any diorama as a classic piece

Limited to 200 sets in the Winter 1944 version and 150 sets in the Spring
1945 version. Priced at $75 this should be an affordable piece every
collector will want in their collection

Well, I couldn't agree more with the opinion, biased though it inevitably is, expressed in that last caption. I know I'd love one for my own collection and if there just so happens to be one knocking around the Maison Militaire stand at the Birmingham Toy Soldier Show tomorrow, then I might just grab it

Happy hunting!

Beau Geste Digest, Number 2!

What's this, I hear you cry, two Beau Geste digests in one month? Well, I simply couldn't resist posting something about this new WW1 release. I'm sure you'll agree, it looks absolutely stunning!

The mounted band of the Polish Lancers, a magnificent set of nine mounted musicians
The set can be purchased in its entirety all in one go or, if you'd prefer to spread the delight over a longer period of time, you can buy it in three lots. Here are a few more pictures of the three separate elements, together with some historical information and images of the original WW1 troopers which were the inspiration behind the figures

Kettle drummer and Trumpeters

Drummers and Cymbalist

Jingle Johnny and Winds!

While Poland did not exist as an independent state during World War I, its geographical position between the fighting powers meant that a great deal of fighting and terrific human and material losses took place on Polish soil between 1914 and 1918
When World War I started Polish territory was split between the Austro-Hungarian, German and Russian Empires and was the scene of many operations on the Eastern Front. After World War I Poland became an independent republic
On the outbreak of war, Poles found themselves conscripted into the armies of Germany, Austria and Russia, and forced to fight each other in a war that was not theirs. Although many Poles sympathized with France and Britain, they found it hard to fight for their ally, Russia and they also had little sympathy for the Germans
Some two million Poles marched off to the Great War and 450,000 died, often times the victim of another Pole in the opposite trench
Polish nationalists were divided. The Right led by Roman Dmowski's National Democrats urged Poles to fight for the Allies in the hope that a victorious Russia would grant Poland autonomy and eventual independence. On the Left, Josef Pilsudski, leader of the Polish Socialists, predicted the ruin of all the partitioning powers but argued that Poland's best hope for autonomy lay in an Austrian victory 
Under the partition, the only portion of old Poland to enjoy any degree of autonomy was the Austrian province of Galicia. Pilsudski's assement of Germanic attitudes grew less favorable, however, when his Polish Legions were placed under German command. The Marshal refused an oath of allegiance to the Kaiser and was imprisoned for the duration of the war
After more than a century of rule by its neighbors, Poland regained its independence in 1918, internationally recognized in 1919 under the Treaty of Versailles. The Paris Peace Conference, and the Versailles treaty that followed, resolved the issue of Poland's western border with Germany, including the Polish Corridor, which gave Poland access to the Baltic Sea, and the separate status of the Free City of Danzig
This wonderful mounted band provide the perfect accompaniment to the sets of Polish Lancers already produced by the company, and pictured below. The same four figures are also available without pelisse

Happy hunting!

Simply Soldiers Update

Hello there one and all

It's coming up to a year now since I started this little project, and I've thoroughly enjoyed doing it. I'd just like to thank everyone who has taken the time to have a look and hopefully find something they have enjoyed reading or looking at

A few days ago the stats counter informed me that we had passed the 10,000 page views milestone, a figure I frankly didn't even imagine we would reach inside of a year, so once again I thank you, from the bottom of my.....

Just in case you were wondering, I have absolutely no intention of giving up and as soon as I've finished this little thank you I will be compiling a few more toy soldier posts to put up over the next day or two

Thanks again, and happy reading!

Monday 10 October 2011

Beau Geste Digest

For all you glossy figure lovers out there, here is the latest news from across the pond in Argentina, courtesy of Martin Ainscough
Issue 9

New Delhi Durbar Kapurthala Elephant unveiled in Chicago!!!

Dear Collector
A shorter version of the newsletter this time to bring you all the Beau Geste news following the OTNS held in Chicago in September. I do hope that you still find it interesting and of course a set or figures that just might tempt you to add to your collection

Well as promised the latest elephant to join the ranks of the ever-increasing choice of sets and figures that collectively make up the Delhi Durbar range of 1903, the State Elephant from Kapurthala, was unveiled at the Chicago show

This new set consists of the Elephant of course in all its finery together with the mahout and his esteemed passengers plus servants ready to respond to their Master’s every request

Close up view of the latest Durbar Elephant’ and esteemed dignitaries - £546.00 plus post and packing
The new Elephant was not the only new Durbar set to make an appearance in Chicago as a new Music Courtship Group from the Patiala region was also unveiled for the first time at the show

Also showcased for the first time in Chicago was the eagerly awaited mounted Band of the Polish Lancers from World War 1. Resplendent in their colourful uniforms the complete band is depicted on grey/white horses which must really have been a sight for sore eyes! Thanks to an eagle eyed collector at the show a close up photo of the band is included below to give you an idea of the quality of this particular set. The complete band comprises 9 figures in 3 sets of 3 mounted bandsmen and they are priced at £162.00 for each set of 3 figures 

Close up of the Polish Lancer Mounted Band from the Chicago Show

The other ranges of figures that collectively make up the Beau Geste stable were not forgotten either with the addition of some long awaited mounted Sioux Indian figures, to continue the story of the Grattan Massacre from South Lands Miniatures, being showcased for the first time. It is to be hoped that this theme – the American Indian Wars - is continued along with whatever the next range of figures from South Lands might be

Not to be out done, Laura Cuello’s charming Sweet Moments range of figures has also been supplemented with the release of a series of female civilian figures indulging in a game of hoop-la on the beach to add to the existing figure range depicting a segment of Victorian Civilian Life
I will bring you more information and photos of the Polish Lancer Band, including some of the regiment’s history, plus the new figures from both South Lands Miniatures and Sweet Moments in issue No. 10

In the meantime, for more information on my current stock levels or inquiries about ordering figures then

Telephone – 01245 472468

The Kapurthala elephant in all its resplendent glory, together with one or two of the photos that inspired this beautiful creation

Happy hunting! 

First Legion: New Releases

First Legion have announced a number of new releases this month including a couple of mounted personality figures for their ACW range, General John Reynolds and General John Buford, and a Mamluk scaling ladder for their Siege of Acre series, complete with two climbing warriors, swords drawn and ready to attack

A scaling ladder, naturally, needs something to be propped up against to be scaled. FL will soon be providing this as well in the form of the first four releases of their modular city walls and towers, representing the besieged city of Acre

They have been promising a number of mounted Crusaders for some time and, indeed, two of them have been occupying pride of place on the Workbench page of their site for a while now. Open up the latest edition of Toy Soldier Collector and you will see on the inside cover a very lovely full page advert for FL featuring no less than five mounted Crusaders, three of which don't appear anywhere on their website as yet!

Please forgive the relatively poor quality of the last two pictures, but they were taken with my i-phone as I held the front cover of the magazine open with my other hand! I'm sure they're good enough to give you an inkling of what the final figures will be like, when they are eventually released. Really looking forward to that one!

In the meantime, happy hunting!