Monday, December 30, 2013

Heading West (to the Pacific)


Here's the last of what I got done this weekend.  Harkening back to the days of my youth, and what got me started down the path to how I ended up where I am today.  The John Wayne film "Sands of Iwo Jima" was first experienced by me at the age of five, and from that point on I knew I wanted to be a US Marine.  I watched every movie, show, and documentary, read every book I could find, and stuck my nose deep into the comic book "Fightin' Marines" to glean every tale of USMC exploits, which generally were against the Imperial forces of Japan.  And so my first toy soldiers were painted as Marines and Japanese, and I played with them in the basement, my room, in the front yard, the back yard, at friends' houses, okay, you get the point.

So, this is nothing but an extension of my childhood longing to play with toys...

The full USMC force, in all its dungaree wearing, leggings over boondockers, and brown-side out helmet covers.  Chock full of BARs, Garands, M-1 Carbines, 'Grease Guns,' Tommy Guns,' mortars, bazookas, and, a Marine's best friend, flamethrowers.

There are 12 'regular' rifle teams, 3 'assault' teams (with flamethrowers), three water-cooled .30 cal. MGs, two bazookas, two 81mm mortars (no 60s though, at least yet), and seven leaders.

A couple rifle teams.  Now, as everyone knows, I'm a 10mm guy, and everything is either Pendraken or Minifigs.  These are Minifigs, which I bought before I'd ever really even heard of Pendraken, and before Pendraken came out with US Marines.  I'll say that I generally favor Pendraken over Minifigs (for a number of reasons), but Minifigs has some stuff Pendraken doesn't make (at least yet), and, regardless of whether Pendkraken makes it, Minifigs has some stuff that really shines.  For me, these guys really shine.

These are some great sculpts; great personality, great poses, easy to make out the weapons, and, combined with the paintjob, these guys are everything I'd hope for in some WWII US Marines.

Here are two of the assault teams, featuring their flamethrowers.  I think the long grass works pretty well.  In these uniforms these Gyrenes are good from immediately after Guadalcanal all the way through to the end of the war (and even through the Korean War if you ignore the lack of flak jackets for the later war).

I really want to do Marines and Japanese for Guadalcanal, but coming up with figures has been tough.  Pendraken makes a BAR man, a Tommy-gunner, and a Marine walking with a Garand at 45 degrees (which just takes a second to whittle a bit with a knife, in order to pass as a Springfield) that could work, but I'd really prefer to have at least one more, and preferably two (or even three!) more poses, to differentiate.  With that I would happily buy some more Marines to make a force for Guadalcanal.  Then if we could get someone to take the WW1 range and slap leggings on them, replace the Chauchats with BARs, convert a pose to a Tommy Gunner, and convert the Hotchkiss MG to a water-cooled M1917 .30 cal MG, I'd snatch those up in a heartbeat to do Wake Island and the Philippines.  The Japanese pretty much work for the whole war.  The WWI US officer figure with his Colt .45 in hand is one of my favorite figures, and would work perfectly if you through some leggings on him.  As a matter of fact, if you put a steel pot on him and dropped the cuff of his trousers all the way down to this boondockers he'd work for Guadalcanal on through the end of the war.  

Daydreaming...  While I'm at it, Minifigs makes Vietnam era guys with M-14s and flak jackets, but only two poses.  So, I'm begging here, either Minifigs make a couple more poses with M-14s, or Pendraken pick it up, pleeeeeeeeeease!  Once cannot have enough US Marines in one's collection...

Water cooled .30 cals, again, good sculpts.

Bazookas.  If you've been paying close attention, you've probably seen some spots of bare metal on the various WWII troops I've posted today.  These are 'battle damage' from one our family's cat decided to have a look around in my play room and knocked over a few boxes of toys.  Lotsa guys knocked off bases, lots of bent barrels and bayonets, lots of bare metal spots...  I actually fixed a lot, but the pics show there's more work to be done.

81mm mortars.  I really need some 60s, which were really the backbone of the an infantry company's firepower (the Skipper's artillery).  Pendraken makes some; I'd order some, but I recently send Mr. Leon my last five years' worth of salary.  Okay, maybe not quite that much, but a lot, at least for me.  I'm not allowed to buy any more toys for a very long time.

A couple of the Marine officers.  On the left, we have the Lt using binos to try to find his butt (har har), and the company commander on the right inspiring the men forward.  "Beg your pardon, Sir."  "Whaddaya need, Staff Sergeant?"  "Umm, the enemy's the other way, Sir."  "Roger that, face about men!"  Apologies to all my former 'Zeros.' ;)

And now, on to our dastardly, and wholly despised, enemy (this is also a joke, just poking fun at the old movies and comic books; I spent seven years in Japan, loved everything about it).

The whole Japanese force; as per usual, there are fifteen infantry teams, of which three are 'assault' teams (with flamethrowers), three teams have 50mm grenade launchers, AKA "knee mortars," and the remaining nine are 'regular' rifle teams.

Here are two of the assault teams, featuring the flamethrowers.

Again, these are Minifigs.  So, while I gushed over the Marines, these are not my favorite.  Not as many poses (not technically true, but quite a few differ only their placement of the individual's feet).  To me, just not very inspired.  Not bad, just don't have that 'oomph.'

Two of the 'knee mortar' teams.  If you look at the second guy from top on left, and guy at bottom on right, you see a very curious pose.  I imagine he's supposed to be throwing a hand grenade, but he looks like he's showing it to the enemy.  "Pay attention a$$holes, I got something for ya!"  If you're thinking he's about to prime it (the Japanese grenade was designed such that you pulled a pin then had to hit the fuse pretty hard on something solid in order to prep it, and supposedly a lot of Japanese soldiers would pull the pin and smack the primer on their helmet), the Minifigs WWII Russians have a guy in almost exactly the same pose, and the Minifigs Germans have a guy doing the same thing, except he's standing instead of kneeling.  The Russian and German grenades didn't need to be whacked on anything...

Here are two of the 'regular' rifle teams.  Top guy on right and bottom guy on left are carrying the Type 96/99 Light Machine Gun.  Yes, in real life it could mount a bayonet, but you can see the problems it causes for me; not only do 90% of the infantry poses feature a man carrying a long rifle with bayonet between 45 and 90 degrees, but so does the LMG gunner...

Here are two Type 92 machine guns.  These two are from Pendraken, and while this is not the best picture (and they need a wash), I love the pose.  It looks straight out of the movies and actual photos of Japanese troops, whether in bunkers or behind a berm supporting an assault.

And here are two of the Minifgs Type 92s.  Prone really is a pain in 10mm, and just not great sculpts.  It is cool that they have the feeder strip poking through on both sides of the gun, which is real (it wasn't belt fed, but fed in stripper clips).

Two 20mm AT rifles.  Pretty good sculpts that don't work very well in my tall jungle grass...

Two 80mm mortars.

A couple of the officers.

And the piece de resistance, two Type 95 tanks.  Maybe no Japanese tanks were painted this way in real life, but this is exactly how they looked in my comic books!  They are sturdy little models that went together quite well.

So, I'm still not sure when I'll get to it, but I've got a bunch of stuff together for an early-mid-war Pacific campaign, with more stuff on the way.  I've got USMC vs IJA troops for ground work (not pictured here are M-3 Stuarts for the Marines, though I need 60mm mortars for them and field guns for both sides); I've got surface forces for both sides (couple CVs, couple BBs, couple CAs, few CLs, about eight DDs, and a couple subs each, using Axis and Allies 1/1850 pre-painted plastics); I've got air in 1/600 from PicoArmor (though it's early war: Wildcats, Dauntlesses, and Devastators vs. Zeros, Vals, and Kates); and lastly, I've got some PT Boats and various Japanese vessels on the way from Dave at PT Dockyard, so I'll be able to hit all facets, unless I'm forgetting something.  I'm thinking of an alternate but historically based Solomons campaign in late '42/early '43.

Well, I've still got a lot of work to do.  I still have late-war Germans that need rebasing, late-war US in the middle of being repainted and rebased, Brits and Argentinians (from Pendraken's Falklands range) that need to be painted and based, NVA that need to be rebased, VC that need to be painted and based, Vietnam war US that needs to be repainted and rebased...  And I'm expecting about 12 tons unpainted lead later this month, for all manner of early to late-war WWII forces.

Hope you like'em, and I'll look to get some stuff back on the tabletop.


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