Thursday, October 31, 2013

So, what makes a good display figure?

In order to be good, does it have to be a Navy SEAL or other Special Forces operator, bogged down with almost every imaginable piece of gear? Or a highly-detailed SWAT figure or sniper complete to the last detail? What about simple figures? Can less sometimes be more? 

I ask this question as a serious question, and not as flame-bait. Everyone has their own opinions. My opinion is basically that it depends on the type of figure being done. 

When I do figures, I try to go for historical accuracy. For instance, I have 2 WWII 82nd Airborne troopers and one 101st Airborne trooper as they would have been geared and uniformed for the Normandy invasion, and one 17th Airborne trooper for later in the war. They all have appropriate equipment for their time. The 82nd troopers are displayed dug in a machine gun nest behind sand bags, so they have no mussette bags and very little gear. Since they're static, they would have dropped a lot of it. The 101st trooper is pre-jump ready, so he is equipped with everything, including the infamous leg bag. If it is something a paratrooper would have been issued or acquired, he has it. 

The 17th trooper has some different, late-war gear. He's wearing double-buckle boots instead of jump boots, and he has an M1943 jacket and para trousers. All have paratrooper aid kits, and here's where a slight rant begins.

It bugs me to see beautiful Normandy paratroopers with aid kits tied onto their helmet netting. It just wasn't done then, in either division. They put nets and scrim on their helmets to break up the silhouette, and they wouldn't have ruined that by tying aid kits onto their helmets. By the time of Operation Market Garden, though, they were tying the aid kits onto helmet netting. The 17th did it as well, so my 17th trooper has his aid kit on his helmet. He also has his trench knife in the later-issued M-8 scabbard instead of the earlier leather scabbard.

End of rant,...almost. It bugs me to no end when reenactors do it, too!, it's the end of rant.

So seriously, what makes a good figure? I have the one in the picture above who is a combat correspondent and photographer. He's got khaki cargo pants, civilian-style boots, a black t-shirt, and a civilian vest for a uniform. For equipment, he's got a military-issue belt, ammo pouch to store misc gear in, and a military canteen. He also has a camera and a laptop bag. He's very lightly equipped, but is done appropriately for who he's supposed to be. Is he a better or a worse figure than say my paratrooper, who in reality would be loaded down with 150 lbs of gear, weapons, and equipment?

Comment if you want. Tell me your opinions. I welcome them all. Am I right? Can a figure be simple but still be good, or does he or she have to be loaded down with myriad amounts of gear and equipment?

Monday, October 28, 2013

The 17th Airborne...

...was a lesser-known US airborne division during WWII. Most everyone has heard of the 82nd and the 101st, and their actions in Normandy, Holland and Belgium, but not a lot of people know anything about the 17th. This is what inspired me to do this figure.

While he's changed a lot since I originally did him, the concept is still the same. I got his uniform in a lot I bought cheaply at a flea market last year, and it has taken me a year to finally get him the way he is now. He looks good, so this is probably how he will stay.

I picked up the figure also at a flea market. I had the helmet and the boots. I originally bought a garand cartridge belt and gave him an M-1. I had another GI Joe with a BAR, so I decided to switch. He had no mussette bag or suspenders, and limited accessories until recently.

But you can't have an under-equipped trooper jumping across the Rhine, so I finished him. I bought a few things, and took a few things from other figures I had changed, and made my 17th trooper ready to fight. I think he looks pretty good.

As an added note, the original 17th Airborne began forming in 1942, but was not officially activated until mid-1943. As such, it did not ship out to England until well after the Normandy Invasion was planned. It remained stateside to compete training.

Arriving in England after the invasion of France, the 17th was not chosen to participate in Operation Market Garden, as Allied high command didn't feel it would be completely combat ready. The division did see significant action during the German Ardennes Offensive, aka "the Battle of the Bulge". The 17th competed its only combat jump in March of 1945, dropping across the Rhine River and into Germany, along with the British 6th Airborne Division, as part of "Operation Varsity". Once the invasion of Germany had begun, the demise of the Third Reich was almost certain. The 17th remained active during the occupation of Germany, and arrived home to little fanfare or renown. It was officially deactivated in September of 1945.

See, when you play with toys, you can learn new and interesting things!

Friday, October 25, 2013

A new look for a Max Steele

So I'm in a thrift store and I buy a Max Steele figure for 50 cents. He has no clothing or accessories. His molded hair will make it so that no hat or helmet will fit. The painted streaks on his face also will limit his use.

What to do?

I never give up, and going through my kit box I find a Vietnam era tiger stripe uniform. It comes together. I have jungle boots, and M16-A1 rifle, a grenade launcher and a bunch of other goodies. 

I can do a Vietnam War LRRP. The LRRPs, or Long-Range-Reconaissance-Patrol infiltrated deep into enemy territory and spied on enemy units, troop strength and movements. Their mission would be compromised if they were detected, so they moved basically unobserved. Their objective was to avoid enemy contact. They moved in groups of 4 or 6, packed heavy firepower, and carried everything they needed for several days in the field.

How would Max work as a LRRP? With painted face he'd be ok. With hair spiked up, I could use a drive-on rag for a headband. I have the uniform, weapons and equipment so let's do it.

It worked better than expected. Max turned out great. He's loaded for bear with rifle, ammo pouches, aid kit, knives, machete, two canteens, hand grenades, smoke grenade, rope, rucksack, claymore mine, and M-79 grenade launcher.

Thus, a kitbashed figure is born. What do you think? I think he looks pretty good.

Thursday, October 24, 2013


This blog will be primarily about 1/6 kitbashed action figures, though I may from time-to-time post figures and projects of other scales. I may also post and review complete figures and kits.

I'll be focusing on my own figures and projects, but if anyone who reads this blog has any figures they'd like to feature or write about, let me know. We'll do it.

I've started playing with G.I. Joes in the early 1970's when I was young. I wish I had some of my collection from back then. I also spent many hours playing with Johnny West and the original "Best of the West" collection and with 8 inch Star Trek, Fantastic Four and Spider-Man figures.

About 15 years ago, I bought a few Civil War "Soldiers of the World" figures. Only later did I realize how poorly made they really were. I also got a few G.I. Joes. When 21st Century Toys came out with the Ultimate Soldier, I was again hooked, and I dabbled a bit with 1/6 scale. I didn't do a whole lot for a few years.

Only recently, when I saw some of the offerings of Dragon, Hot Toys, DiD, and Sideshow did I get heavily into it again. In the past few years, I've collected 31 figures, plus over 30 others that I purchased, bashed cheaply and sold. Over 1/2 of the 31 in my personal collection are true kitbashes. I am constantly changing them and modifying them. I have new ideas all the time to make them better and more unique.

1/6 dioramas are large, complex, and somewhat expensive, so my diorama work will be limited. That said, I do have ideas for a few small ones, and one work in progress. They'll be featured in a later post.

Starting soon, I'll be featuring my figures. I'll give a history of each, and what inspired me to do them the way I did.

I hope you enjoy!