Army Men, Toy Soldiers, and Military Miniatures - Real Combat, Plastic Men

Syaoran Li

Prime Minister of Ireland
True & Honest Fan
Alright, I figured I'd sperg about one of my hobby interests that I have had ever since I was a small kid. Of course, I am talking about those little plastic army men toys, along with similar toy soldiers and even military miniatures like the kind used in tabletop wargaming.

I loved playing with toy soldiers as a kid, especially the standard green and tan Army Men (usually modeled after American G.I.'s from World War II or Vietnam) and Cowboys & Indians figures, which were made in a similar manner as regular army men but came in all sorts of bright colors.

Notable manufacturers back in the day included Louis Marx, Tim Mee, Timpo, MPC, and Airfix. All of them eventually went out of business or quit producing toy soldiers, although Tim Mee recently was revived as a brand and sells quality army men figures online. Many independent brands also make their own figures and sell them online to hobbyists.

Airfix still makes model planes, but no longer produces model soldiers.

Most of the army men you find in the dollar stores and Wal-Marts are generic Chinese-made clones of Tim Mee and Airfix figures from the 1970's. The most popular type by far are clones of Tim Mee's Vietnam-era troops.

Now, I occasionally collect army men and toy soldiers as a hobby for the sake of nostalgia and I am thinking of branching out into historical wargaming.

You can post pictures or share your thoughts and opinions on the matter, whether it be childhood memories of playing with army men or experiences in miniature wargaming or collecting figures.

Feel free to discuss all sorts of toy soldiers from all eras. Green plastic army men, antique tin soldiers, historical miniatures, or other soft plastic figures similar to army men like Cowboys & Indians, Civil War troops, Knights, Ninjas, Romans, Pirate Men, Spacemen, and even those neon green zombie figures you see in the toy aisles and dollar stores around Halloween nowadays.

I want this thread to focus mainly on army men-style toys or military miniatures although I am also cool with discussing sci-fi and fantasy miniatures and toy soldiers (like Colonial Marines, Star Wars, or even generic stuff like Spacemen or Zombies) and military-themed dolls and action figures like G.I. Joe.

I'd like to keep Warhammer 40K out of this thread simply because there is a dedicated thread about it over in the Games sub-forum.

I'm posting this in General Discussion rather than Games since this thread is focused more on the soldiers themselves rather than specific wargames like Warhammer, Flames of War, or Chainmail.
 

Syaoran Li

Prime Minister of Ireland
True & Honest Fan
In my area the only wargamers are Warhammer 40k, and maybe War Machine once in a blue moon.

On an unrelated note, I am thinking of buying some 54mm Vietnam War figures online for Christmas. I've seen some cool Special Forces figures and also a few Marines and Viet Cong as well.
 
I guarantee parts of my yard will be excavated and look like a graveyard given how many of those little army men of all colors, types and sizes i lost out there over the years. i found a old comic book in my attic just recently actually, one of those old marvel ones with the add at the end for the footlocker full of army troops, shame there aren't any good ones around like that anymore.
 

The Shadow

Sweet dreams, shitbird.
I wasn't into the toy soldiers, but I built a lot of model planes (and cars, but the only military car I built was a Willys MB) when I was young. I've tried to get back into it as I got older but it's hard to be as autismo about the paint and trimming as I was then so they don't turn out as well and I give up. I loved building WWI and WWII planes- the exposed guns and turret bubbles and spinning props were always cool. I built a Bf-109 and Hawker Hurricane at one point and painted a backdrop and hung them from my ceiling at one point, that was kind of the crowning achievment.

Then as a teenager I think I shoved them in a drawer and forgot about them and they got junked. I wish I hadn't done that.
 
Do modern axis and allies boards still suck? I recall buying whatever the most recent one was in like 2009 and the map/miniature count was absolute dogshit, and the 80's game is a couple hundred bucks.

Also I'd recommend Tide of Iron if you know anyone willing to flip through rulebooks.
 

millais

The Yellow Rose of Victoria, Texas
True & Honest Fan
I used to like building those Japanese-brand naval scale models, because the stock color of the plastic was close enough to "battleship-grey" that it did not really require any additional painting, just had to add flags and decals. They were way more expensive than the American brands, which were cheaper but required a lot more trimming down of parts to make them fit together properly.

As a child, I also scratchbuilt some battlefield landscape for plastic army men out of cardboard rather than the typical balsa wood used that model railroaders prefer for landscaping. I built a short stretch of double trench line with a WWI-style no man's land in between, complete with tank/plane wrecks, craters, and lines of razor wire. As a separate piece to be used in conjunction with the trench front, I built a kind of bombed-out nondescript two story urban structure that doubled as a Stalingrad Univermag and Peleliu airfield headquarters.

I have had a lot of fun recently with the "Ultimate General: Gettysburg/Civil War" games that for me have successfully encapsulated the essence of the childhood army men battles. Although those games are technically Army-level real-time tactics simulators, you can tell the developers tried to design them as a Corps-level real-time tabletop game, but I find that in practice, it ends up being like a Division-level army men simulator since the brigade is the smallest controllable unit. It's exactly like army men in the sense that you are pushing these brigades around the battlefield in real-time, always feeling around for the enemy's flanks and trying to maneuver and position your brigades in such a position to take best advantage of the landscape and enfilade the enemy line with a good series of volleys. The issuing of orders is very intuitive and gives you a lot of control in that you use your cursor to "draw" the marching route you want your brigades to follow, which allows you to order your brigades to quickly do a lot of otherwise complex stuff like wheeling around at a certain point to turn the enemy's flank or obliquely shuffling to one side to extend the line while maintaining their facing towards the enemy line. And of course, the battlefield is gratifyingly littered with digital corpses in proportion to the casualties you inflict and suffer.
ultimate-general-civil-war-1116-01.jpg
 

Syaoran Li

Prime Minister of Ireland
True & Honest Fan
Apologies for the thread necromancy, but I got some extra spending money for Christmas from one of my relatives and I decided to buy some new army men figures off of Amazon with a little bit of the spending money.

First was a bag of authentic Tim Mee Army Men that so often appear as dollar store clone figures. These are made in the United States and while they have the same Vietnam-era equipment as the clones do, they are also of much higher detail and material quality. They have several sets in multiple colors from the traditional olive green and tan to stuff like red and blue, black and gray, or even a whole set in bubblegum pink. I got the set that was a mix of bright green and medium green figures for that classic look.

The more impressive purchase for me was a container of monster figures similar to army men. They come in black and light gray and are basically public domain B-movie monsters, Stuff like Count Dracula, The Mummy, Frankenstein's Monster, Wolf Man, knock-offs of Godzilla and Mothra, and generic stuff like zombies, giant spiders, cartoon devils, witches and aliens. Accessories include gravestones and plastic cobwebs.

Both were fairly cheap, especially considering both are higher-quality American made figures and not cheap Chinese clones like you buy at the local dollar stores and Wal-Marts.
 

Starscreams Cape

Read my posts in his voice
True & Honest Fan
Always wanted to try out Bolt Action, any opinions on it?
I just got into Bolt Action within the last month and a half or so. I've been pumping out figures like a Ural Mountain Soviet Factory. I've got my Waffen SS done and I just started a Soviet army.

The game is really, really good. Now, you need some decent terrain, which isn't a huge problem - especially with YouTube videos telling you how to make ruined buildings, etc. Game mats have come a long way, too.

I was surprised how easy the game is to learn and how simple and sort of relaxing it is to play. It helps if you have a strong local community playing the game, too. Our local game shop has a Bolt Action league that is over 20 strong.
 

IAmNotAlpharius

For the Emperor!
True & Honest Fan
It's hard to find historical wargamers out there, the market seems ruled by Warhammer/40k stuff, nothing wrong with them but still. There's a few World War II guys in my area but not enough to have anything ongoing.

I bought and painted an army of Germans and another of Americans (WWII), but the only person I knew who played it is really autistic. He rage quits every time he starts to lose, so I haven’t tried playing a game of Bolt Action in ages. Thankfully there’s an active 40k and 30k scene, so I can still play tabletop games.
 

Syaoran Li

Prime Minister of Ireland
True & Honest Fan
I wish there were more miniatures and army men for the Korean War era.

Yeah, the American G.I.'s and British troops can easily be represented using World War II figures but the same cannot be said of the North Koreans or Red Chinese.

Although, I suppose you could use WWII Soviet troops as an impromptu stand-in for the North Koreans and Chinese in a Korean War scenario.
 
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