Friday, August 19, 2011

Review: Soldier Story USMC M1917A1 Machine Gunner Tarawa 1943

Hi all, after a long hiatus, I'm glad to be back blogging. And I'm dive straight in to provide a review of this figure I got recently.

When I first set my eyes on the preview pictures of the figure, it was the massive M1917 water-cooled machine gun drew all my attention. Soldier Story has always delivered in terms of the quality of their figures & equipment but I must say that they have out-done themselves  this time in terms of the quality and detail of this massive machine gun!

Here's an overall view of the MG along with her companions; the tripod, ammo box with cloth ammo belt & 30-06 rounds and the water can. And oh, they threw in 3 sand bags as well...

This baby is made almost (like 99%) entirely out of metal. The level of detail is amazing. Almost all the knobs, pins, handles & catches on the tripod actually work. You actually have to mount the gun on tripod as you would do if it was the real thing! Not that I've actually mounted a M1917 before but based on my experience with the GPMG, it can't be too far off. 

The M1917A1 was one of the many guns designed by John Browning - founder of the Browning Arms Company. Some of the most famous guns we know born from the brain of this brilliant gun designer. Just to put this in perspective: 2 of his most famous products are still in use today; the M1911 pistol and the Browning M2 50-cal heavy machine gun. In fact John Browning had 128 gun patents credited to his name! (source: wikipedia)

The M1917A1 is a heavy machine gun. One of the considerations when designing a machine gun is how to manage the heat on the barrel of the gun. This affects the effective sustainability of fire as an overheated barrel can cause a chamber explosion or the rounds to 'cook off'. In extreme cases, the barrel can even bend due to the heat. To deal with this, barrels can be air-cooled - like the M1919, changeable like the MG42 & the GPMG or water-cooled like the M1917A1.

Water-cooled guns have an obvious advantage: the gun can provide sustained fire for longer periods as water obviously cools better. They also have an obvious disadvantage: for instance, the M1917A1 package (gun, ammo, tripod & water can) weighs a hefty 47Kgs. So you won't be doing fire & moment with this baby. It's usually deployed in prepared positions as a fixed defensive weapon meant for holding the ground.

Ok... I guess I've bored you enough with all these facts so I'll jump back to reviewing this figure. The level of detail put in by SS on this 1/6 version of the M1917A1 is one of the highest I've seen (IMHO since I've only started serious collecting less than a year ago). 

The cocking level actually.. well.. cocks and squeezing the trigger actually releases the bolt! The rest of the components are also equally detailed (see pics)

Ok.. enough about the gun (I think I forgot that there is a 1/6 figure that was included). Here's our marine with all his gear loaded, really for an amphibious assault on the Tarawa atoll. 

The Battle of Tarawa kick started the American offensive in the Pacific theater of the war. It marked the beginning of a series of bloody island assaults which almost without fail, resulted in heavy casualties for both sides. The Japanese determined to defend each island to the last man and the Americans, determined to take each island required for their strategy against the Japanese. Nearly 6000 men died on the small atoll in 3 days of fighting (source: wikipedia).

Here's a shot of our marine manning the gun and a close-up of the HS.

According to some fellow collectors, the HS is sculpted after James Badge Dale a.k.a Robert Leckie in the HBO miniseries "The Pacific" (which btw IMHO failed to live up to it's hype). Despite the disappointment, one of the scenes I do remember was the one which is supposedly the enactment of how Sgt. John Basilone (played by Jon Seda) held off repeated Japanese attacks on his position almost single-handedly by cradling an M1917 and firing it from the hip. For his gallantry, he was awarded the Medal of Honor. You can read his citation in detail here

In fact there are many depictions of Sgt. Basilone with his M1917. 

And now with this figure, I am able to do one of my own:

Overall, this figure is definitely value for money. The no. of accessories that came along with it is just right and is definitely quality over quantity. Also SS seems to have gotten the fit of the uniform right this time (no more bagginess). If you're into WWII & Marines figures, then grab this one while it may still be available on the shelves.

I'll wrap up this review with a few last examples on the level of detail SS put into this figure:

 The fold-out handle of this canteen cup really intrigued me.

The .30-06 cartridges were detailed. But I added in some touches of my own by painting the projectiles & the hollows of the expended cartridges.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

This Blog is coming back to life.....!!!

Hi friends,

After a 6-month long hiatus (which was dominated by work & family commitments - I'm awaiting the arrival of my baby boy at the moment). I've decided to make a real effort to upkeep my defunct blog. What spurred me on was a flurry of page views last month which I'm still trying to figure out what the trigger was...

Could it be that people searching for info on WII theme toys in my fellow blogger's ultra-popular blog actually found out about my previous post on the DiD "Major Richards"?

I don't know.. anyone who does know do enlighten me...

In any case, I thank all those who have taken a look at my blog... =)

This blog is coming back to life!!!

Cheers to eternal youth!!!


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Toy Carnival @ S.A.M at 8Q - The Toys are Rumbling in..

Organised by The Falcon's Hangar and supported by the Singapore Art Museum (SAM), this toy carnival will see many of our fav. retailers gathered with their stash of goodies (of which they have promised good deals)...

So let's go make sure they keep their promise... hahaha. And oh, admission is FREE!!
Refer to the following posters for details. See you there!!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Review of DiD 1/6 Major Richards 101st Airborne Div.

As promised, here's my review on the 1/6 figure of Major Dick Winters by DiD:

There have been quite a few 1/6 airborne troopers from varying toy-makers but what sets this figure apart from the rest is that it's modelled after Major Richard "Dick" Winters (played by Damian Lewis) in the war mini-series "Band of Brothers".

DiD's banking on characters from famous war flicks has definitely made it figures very appealing indeed. Based on this attribute, the head-sculpt of this figure alone is value in itself. Check out the close-up views of the HS:

You will notice that DiD names its figures inaccurately (perhaps because they do not have the official license to use those names - unlike Hot Toys who bought rights to use exact names of the movie characters they make). Another great figure that DiD "did" is based on Tom Hank's character in the movie "Saving Private Ryan". You can check out the review on that figure from another follow toy-collectors blog here:

I'll move on to strip down the Major from his service uniform to prepare for combat in his field jacket. The uniform on this figure was quited detailed; so much so that the neck-tie was actually tied and not Velcro-ed or buttoned. I had to be careful to not loosen the whole thing as I won't be able to re-do this tiny tie...

There are also lots of 1/6 buttons used so I wouldn't recommend undoing them unless you have very nimble fingers or are very good with a pair of tweezers.. =)

Jo Toye: " 3-day supply of K-rations, Choc bars, charms, candy, powdered coffee, sugar, matches, compass, bayonet, entrenching tool, ammunition, gas mask, musette bag with ammo, my webbing, my .45, canteen, 2 cartons of smokes, Hawkins mines, 2 grenades, smoke grenade, gamma grenade, TNT, this bullshit and a pair of nasty skivvies!"

Perconte: "what's your point?"

Toye: "This stuff weighs as much as I do. I still got my chute, my reserve chute, my Mae West* and my M-1!"

* for those who might be wondering what a "Mae West" is:

The Mae West was a common nickname for the first inflatable life preserver, which was invented in 1928 by Peter Markus (1885–1974) (US Patent 1694714) with his subsequent improvements in 1930 and 1931. The nickname was originated because someone wearing the inflated life preserver often appeared to be as physically-endowed as the actress Mae West. (source: wikipedia)

That's the yellow thing our Major is wearing around his neck in this pic:

It's amazing how much a paratrooper has to carry into combat. Much more than other infantry units as they are expected to be cut off from any support the moment they land on their Drop Zone (DZ). Here's the major, ready for combat:

I liked the helmet for this figure. It has a metallic feel and the texture feels authentic. It came with bunches of straps inside which I decided to get rid off and eventually I glued part of the straps across the rim (just like how they wore it in BOB). Notice the collars with the rank which I had to glue on myself (quite fun I must say).

Here's Major Winters with his M-1, probably crouched in a trench ready to lead an assault:

You'll realise that the M-1's a pretty bulky weapon. It's long (1.1m) and weighs a hefty 5.3 kgs!! In contrast, an M16 is about 4 kgs with a fully loaded 30-round mag. You can only imagine doing FIBUA with this and how fit the soldiers were in the old days... Yet it was a great weapon in its time; semi-auto fire and it had great punching power with its 30-60 round. I'm proud to have fired it when I was in Vietnam.. (kicks like a mule!!)

General George S Patton called it  "The Greatest Battle Implement Ever Devised" (source: wikipedia). There's good detailing on the one that came with the figure including a moving operating rod (charging handle) and 1 en-bloc clip with 8 rounds:

Unfortunately, the operating rod cannot be retracted fully to fit in the clip wholly. Also I think that the color of the wood on the rifle was a tad too "reddish".

Another feature of this M1 is that you can fit in the bayonet that was provided. Mind you the blade of the bayonet's made of a metal-like material and it can give u a nasty poke (talk about detail..):

Finally one of the last features of this figure is that it comes with a pair of flexi-finger hands. The articulation is good but it's still quite challenging to do a good grip for a firing pose on the M-1. Still it's good enough for a creative pose:

Overall, this figure is not too different from the other paratroopers in the market. In terms of the accessories, it is pretty basic. But it's definite a must-get for all fans of "Band of Brothers".


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Preview: 1/6 DiD Major Richards 101st Airborne - Zim Zam Goddamn, We're Airborne Infantry!

"We put upon the risers"
"We fall upon the grass"
"We never land upon our feet"
"We always hit our ass"
"Hidee tidee Christ Almighty"
"Who the hell are we?"
"Zim Zam Goddamn"
"We're Airborne Infantry!!" 

Sounds familiar.. yup, these are the lyrics of the song the boys from Easy company were singing during the run up to Mt. Curahee (those who recall will remember that Easy company was in the middle of nice spaghetti lunch before their CO from Hell - Captain Sobel ordered them up the hill).

At long last, I myself have dragged my own lazy bottom and opened my 1/6 DiD "Major Richards" 101st Airborne figure. Those familiar with the mini-series will know that the figure is actually depicting Major Richard "Dick" Winters (played by Damian Lewis), XO of 2nd Battalion, 506 Paratroop Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division in the mini-series "Band of Brothers".

I pre-ordered this figure almost immediately once it became available and I must say I have not been disappointed. Here's another view of the figure before I roll out the full review with him decked out with all his gear:

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Part 2 - Kitbash 1/6 Hong Kong Police Force Figure - PTU Sergeant

As promised, here are more shots of the PTU figure - showcasing some of his equipment. But before that a pic oh him with his winter jacket shown with the movie poster:

As a sidenote, I'll recommend the movie mini-series to cop movie buffs. No one produces cop movies like Hong Kong. This series is not really about action but is intended to reflect the realities of lives of the officers.

Back to the pics. Here's a few with him drawing his S & W M10 revolver & brandishing a Benelli shotgun. The PTU is actually equiped with Remingtons instead of Benellis but I made do with what I had (it's a kitbash anyway..).

Btw, I got the gear and uniforms from a shop in Richmond 111, Kowloon, HK. Man, this guy really knows a carrot (me) when he sees one. He knows that I've fallen in love this figure and charged me a premium price for it.. He basically sold most the items separately... damn... but alas.. I could not help myself.. =P  I also discovered that the naked figure he gave me had very weak lower limbs so I had to make ensure its safety by putting it on a stand..

Here some of the gear on the figure's belt including the classic water bottle holder the HK police issues to uniformed officer on the beat (personally I would have prefered that the bottle cap was a different colour).

I'll end the post on this figure with a close-up shot of him in the awesome police jacket.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Kitbash 1/6 Hong Kong Police Force Figure - PTU Sergeant

Yeah!! After weeks of procrastination, I've finally decided to kick-start my own toy blog. And as promised to my toy-collecting sensei, Shaun (sorry buddy - I know I self-appointed you as my sensei), My 1st post shall be about my spoils from Hong Kong...

Before I bore you with more text, here's a preview of how it looks like (taken with absolute amateurish skills on my point n shoot):

lassic hands on the belt pose while on the beat

PTU is the Acronym for Police Tactical Unit. The PTU is a paramilitary unit of the Hong Kong Police Force. The Police Tactical Unit provides an immediate manpower reserve for use in any emergency. Police Tactical Unit companies are attached to all land Regions and are available for internal security, crowd control, anti-crime operations, disaster response and riot control throughout Hong Kong. The Police Tactical Unit is often referred as the 'Blue Berets' by Hong Kong locals, which is in reference to the blue berets worn as part of the uniform. -taken from wikipedia

This particular uniform (with long sleeves & tie) is worn during the winter and also comes with a jacket (which I will feature in Part 2 of this post).

Some of you may have come accross the PTU in the movie and movie-series by Johnnie To which stars the ultra-manly Simon Yam:

You may have noticed that my figure actually looks like another actor - whom I hope most of you would have recognised. Yup - it's Andy Lau. I would have prefered Simon Yam's Head-sculpt but I did not manage to find it. Admittedly the HS has a rather glossy feel but like I said, I did not really have a lot of choices there that I liked. I'll end part 1 of this post with a close-up on the HS:

Alrite then... will continue with part 2 soon.. Ciao...