NEW RELEASES FROM KING & COUNTRY!
Welcome to 2023 and, what I hope, is some great news… China is finally opening up after three whole years of lockdowns, restrictions and all kinds of quarantine regulations!
What this means for King & Country and myself is that in, the not-too-distant future, I and our K&C team will once more be able to travel back into mainland China to meet our sculptors on a face-to-face basis and, at long last, be going again to visit the factories we work with and, hopefully, ramp up and speed up our design and production in this new year.
So, keep your fingers (and toes) crossed and look forward to going forward in 2023. In the meantime let’s take a closer look at what’s coming out this particular month…
Being released in January 2023
1. "THE TOMB RAIDERS…"
Few civilisations have ignited as much intrigue and interest as Ancient Egypt. For centuries the world has been fascinated with all aspects of Egyptology alongwith the lives of many of its rulers and the mighty monuments they left behind as evidence of their existence, culture and engineering brilliance.
‘Egyptomania’, as this popular fascination is sometimes called, reached a fever pitch in 1922 when Howard Carter, arguably the most famous Egyptologist of all time, discovered the virtually intact tomb of Tutankhamun, the young boy Pharaoh.
Earlier, in 2022, King & Country celebrated the centenary of this amazing discovery with the release of several sets of figures and Ancient Egyptian accessory pieces that help illustrate this historic event and have proven to be very popular adding an exciting new contemporary element to our existing ‘Ancient Egypt’ range.
Now, we are adding two more…
AE095 "The Ancient Antiquities Dealer"
Although Howard Carter’s discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb proved to be a world-class event all over the globe in 1922 other parties in previous centuries had shown great interest in the ‘Land of the Pharaohs’ and the people who had left behind such magnificent relics to explore… and often plunder.
In modern times the Emperor Napoleon himself had been in awe of the huge ruined structures that he encountered when he invaded Egypt in 1798.
Along with his army he brought with him more than 150 scientists and artists to explore and record many of the ancient locations he visited.
Needless to say there were more than a few local entrepreneurs only too willing to provide and supply and kinds of relics and remains from those tombs and burial sites already uncovered.
From the age of Napoleon up through the 19th Century followed by the 20th and even now into the 21st Century antiquities dealers are always on hand to offer sometimes authentic, sometimes patently false reminders, large and small of the world that was Ancient Egypt.
Here is one such figure sitting surrounded by just a few of his offerings… Are they the genuine historic article… or just some fiendishly clever imitation knocked up in a hidden workshop in a backstreet in Cairo..?
AVAILABILITY: Mid January
AE098 "Tutankhamun’s Sarcophagus"
This beautifully sculpted sarcophagus is closely based on the actual design of the large oblong carved stone structure that contained the intact mummified remains of the boy Pharaoh within his colourfully-decorated coffin.
K&C’s earlier released ‘Tutankhamun’s Mummy’ set AE088 fits neatly inside the sarcophagus making it perfect for Howard Carter and his patron Lord Carnarvon to view for the first time as they enter the burial chamber.
AE088 "Tutankhamun's Mummy"
The welcome return of an Ancient Egyptian set complete with the bandaged body of the young king and the beautifully painted and decorated outer coffins.
2. "KOKODA ADD-ONS"
It’s an awful long way from the dry desert sands of Ancient Egypt to the hot, humid jungles of New Guinea but we’ll make the leap anyway… With two dramatic fighting Aussie ‘diggers’ battling against advancing Japanese infantry somewhere on the Kokoda Trail in the middle of 1942.
KT007 "The Kokoda Grenadier"
A standing Australian infantryman prepares to ‘lob’ a ‘Mills Bomb’
(a British-made hand grenade) towards the enemy.
As he throws the grenade with his right hand he holds his trusty .303 Lee Enfield rifle in the other.
KT008 "Ready… Aim… Fire!"
While his mate throws the grenade this ‘digger’ adopts the prone firing position as he picks off one of the advancing Japanese and gets ready to take care of the next one.
3. "HERE COME THE MOUNTIES!"
I’ve always been interested in the Canadian ‘Mounties’ ever since I saw an old 1940s movie called ‘North West Mounted Police’ directed by the celebrated film maker, Cecil B. DeMille.
In particular, I liked the classic scarlet tunics and general uniform appearance of these 1885 ‘soldiers / policemen of the Queen’ as they patrol the vast north-west prairies of Canada during that time.
These are not the first Canadian ‘Mounties’ K&C have produced… Some years ago we released two standing troopers of the NWMP as part of our King & Country Club range that proved quite popular.
Over the years we had quite a few requests for more and so, some months back we got down to work and here they are.
But first a little more background… The North-West Mounted Police was formed in 1873 to maintain law and order in the then new Canadian North-West Territories following the transfer of huge tracts of land from the Hudson’s Bay Company to Canada.
This followed the Red River Rebellion and in response to general lawlessness throughout the territory. At the time there was also the fear that the United States Army might even intervene if Canada itself did not ‘police’ this vast area.
The decision was made to recruit and train a small, mobile force of mounted paramilitary policemen to patrol and enforce the law throughout this new territory and reduce any potential tensions with their larger neighbour to the south.
This new force, the NWMP, deliberately chose red coats to remind friend and foe alike of their British origins and the fact that many of their original recruits were either emigrants from the UK and / or former members of Queen Victoria’s army in Canada.
Over the following years the North-West Mounted Police established a chain of forts and outposts throughout their area of responsibility bringing law and order to what had been a sprawling, wild and lawless territory.
Within a relatively short time the welcome sight of these red-coated mounted policemen brought a large measure of stability and peace to the vast majority of the region’s original inhabitants as well as the thousands of new settlers that began to arrive.
UNIFORMS, EQUIPMENT & BADGE
In addition to their red tunics the NWMP wore other uniforms and dress to suit their particular duties and environments.
‘Prairie Dress’ typically included a ‘buckskin’ jacket and oilskins for wet weather together with a wide-brimmed hat which eventually evolved into the famous ‘stetson’ hat design which is still worn today. Below the waist, close fitting navy blue trousers with a broad yellow stripe along both sides were tucked into long brown leather riding boots.
During the period our NWMP troopers depict it was common practice to carry both a carbine rifle and a revolver.
The weapons selected for most of ‘Mounties’ included a version of the Winchester Model 1876 Carbine and as a side arm, either the .44 calibre Smith & Wesson revolver or the similar .450 calibre Adams.
In addition, extra ammunition for both weapons would be carried on the pistol belt as well on a leather bandoleer worn over the left shoulder.
The force’s badge emerged around 1876 and comprised a buffalo or bison head surrounded by maple leaves and surmounted by a royal crown underneath which was the French motto “Maintien Le Droit” on a scroll which translates as ‘Uphold The Right’.
This same motto is still used by today’s Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
NWMP001 "Mountie Saluting"
Standing at attention and saluting to the front in the ‘British’ style.
NWMP002 "‘Mountie’ Stand Easy"
Although still at attention this trooper holds his Winchester carbine across his body in a more relaxed stance.
NWMP003 "Mountie Kneeling Firing Carbine"
Getting in some target practice on the range.
NWMP004 "Mountie At Attention"
Carbine held securely at his right side and eyes firmly to the front.
NWMP005 "Mountie Bugler"
NWMP006 "Mounties At Ease (5 figure set)"
This NWMP Corporal is about to inspect these four troopers.
Five great figures at a very special price!
NWMP007 "‘Mounties On Parade’ (5 figure set)"
Another 5 x figure set comprising:
1x Corporal, 1 x Mountie Saluting, 1 x Bugler and 2 x Mounties At Attention.
Once more, 5 great figures at a Special Price.
4. "A HILL IN KOREA…"
More than a few of our collectors have also suggested that K&C take a closer look at the Korean War (1950-1953) as a possible subject to cover.
It’s certainly an interesting subject to consider and over the years I’ve read a number of books on the subject as well as watching quite a few Korean War movies and documentaries on it.
One particular aspect of it that I noticed was that a lot of the weapons, equipment and even some uniforms were distinctly WW2 in appearance.
Not surprising perhaps considering that the Second World War had only just finished five years before this particular conflict erupted.
One particular book that I have is by noted photographer David Douglas Duncan ‘THIS IS WAR!’. A photo narrative he compiled of amazing images he took while attached to several USMC units fighting in the first year of the war and published in LIFE magazine shortly afterwards.
Duncan’s great photos as well as a recent visit to the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. inspired this first small group of figures shown here.
When I visited the memorial site it was a grey, early morning with a little low-lying mist still hanging over the ground.
Appearing out of the mist were 19 ‘poncho’ – clad figures making their way over what could have been a paddy-field. Either about to go on patrol or perhaps returning from one it just seemed a perfect image to try and capture in miniature and here they are…
USMC058 "Wet Weather Patrol"
Four Marines, including an officer carrying his M1 Carbine… another Marine with his Browning Automatic Rifle and two more ‘Leathernecks’ with their Garands trudging through the rain to complete their mission.
This little set comes in its own box with a specially-designed, full-colour label.
USMC060 "Marine Officer w/Camouflage Poncho"
In addition to the standard issue olive drab ‘ponchos’ a number of Marine Corps camouflage pattern ‘ponchos’ were also issued.
This officer has managed to obtain one… After all, rank has its privileges!
5. "GOOD MORNING VIETNAM"
Now, ‘DISPATCHES’ would not be ‘DISPATCHES’ without a little taste of ‘VIETNAM’ and this edition is no different. So, here we are, still in Asia and just a few hundred miles away from Korea!
Here are a few of Andy’s original sketches for the ‘Patrol Briefing Set’ which the figures are based on.
VN158 "Patrol Briefing Set"
This 3-figure set focuses on three kneeling and crouching Australian soldiers about to take part in a sweep around the base area outside of Nui Dat which was the headquarters of the 1st Australian Task Force in South Vietnam during the War.
As the platoon sergeant goes over the map in front of him the two ‘diggers’ listen carefully to his instructions.
As can be seen both the sergeant and one of the riflemen are carrying the standard L1A1 Self Loading Rifles while the third soldier rests his M60 Machine Gun on its bipod legs on the ground.
In addition, one of the kneeling riflemen is also carrying an M79 Grenade Launcher. Each set also includes 3 x copies of the map.
VN163 "Vietnamese Girl w/Her Little Brother"
Yet another unique little set of Vietnamese figures to complete any Vietnam scene… A young girl together with her small brother make their way through a village… or along a country road… or perhaps just observing these big foreign soldiers on patrol through their country…
VN171 "The Water Buffalo Boy"
A second, alternative version of a very popular set… This time the young cattle herder is wearing a red ‘T’ shirt and short khaki pants as he rides on top of the family’s water buffalo.
6. "A PRINCESS IN KHAKI"
Following the passing of Queen Elizabeth II in September 2022 we have received suggestions from collectors all over the world to again make available the little figure we produced of the Queen when she was simply Princess Elizabeth and a member of Britain’s ATS (Auxiliary Transport Service) during WW2.
When Princess Elizabeth turned 18 in 1944, she requested her father, King George VI, allow her to join the Auxiliary Transport Service (the ATS).
This was the women’s branch of the British Army. Since the outbreak of WW2 Britain had conscripted many young women to join the war effort.
Unmarried women under 30 had to join the armed forces or work on the land or in any of the country’s war industries. The King agreed to his eldest daughter’s request with the proviso that she was not to be given any special rank or privileges while serving.
The Princess began, after initial training, as a ‘second subaltern’ and eventually was promoted to ‘junior commander’, the equivalent of an army captain.
While undergoing training as a vehicle mechanic she took driving and engine maintenance courses and proved to be an apt pupil and willing participant.
By the end of WW2 there were over 200,000 women serving in the ATS at both home and abroad in many theaters of war.
To the end of her long life the Queen was intensely proud of her wartime service in the ATS and was known to occasionally diagnose and even repair a faulty engine as she had been taught to do during her service career so many years before.
TR011 "HRH Princess Elizabeth (ATS)"
This reissued K&C figure portrays the Queen as the young Princess Elizabeth in parade uniform standing proudly at attention and saluting.
And so, my friends, that is this month’s ‘DISPATCHES’… No retirements this time around but some very interesting figures to ponder on.
On that cheerful note here’s wishing us all a happy, healthy and more sane New Year in 2023 and beyond.
Best wishes and... Happy Collecting!
Andy C. Neilson
Co-founder & Creative Director
King & Country