NEW RELEASES FROM KING & COUNTRY!
WELCOME to this month’s ‘DISPATCHES’ and something a wee bit different I hope… As usual I will give you the details and dates of what King & Country will release but I also want to share with you some of the thoughts and background info that go into every single item K&C designs and produces not just in this particular month but throughout the entire year.
So, let’s get on with the show…
COMING THIS JULY
1. "FULL METAL JACKET"
As most of you already know, Stanley Kubrick’s ‘FULL METAL JACKET’ is my all-time favourite ‘VIETNAM’ movie and has been the inspiration for a whole bunch of K&C figures notably ‘Animal Mother’ VN093 and even ‘Miss Papillon’ VN122 to name but two!
What still amazes me is that Kubrick ‘shot’ the entire movie (at least the battle scenes) in a disused, former gas works on the outskirts of London!
There, he created part of the US Marine base at Da Nang… a street scene in Da Nang town… and, of course, the battle-scarred buildings and urban wreckage of Hue, the former imperial capital city.
Kubrick also created a unique group of characters to tell their stories in the movie… ‘Joker’… ‘Gomer Pyle’… ‘Cowboy’… ‘Rafterman’… the aforementioned ‘Animal Mother’… and the cool, black dude, ‘Eightball’ as well as the classic, unforgettable ‘Gunnery Sergeant Hartman’.
A question I often get asked is how do we translate a figure based on a movie to a sculptor who then has to sculpt a small 1:30 scale master in clay…?
Well, in my case, I create a file of whatever photos I can source from books, posters, magazines and of course, the internet.
From that visual information I will then sketch a series of drawings with the pose I require as well as visual information about certain accessories, weapons and military equipment that the figure should carry or use in action.
I will also supply the sculptor with as many actual photos of the character or the stuff he is using. As you would expect K&C’s reference library is pretty large as any collector who has ever visited the Hong Kong H.Q. can testify to however in recent years the internet and Google have been an amazing bonus and Godsend in providing even more background and important details.
VN120 "Full Metal Eightball"
‘Eightball’ is a black member of the ‘Lusthog Squad’ who combat correspondent ‘Joker’ joins to get a close up view of the fighting in Hue during the TET Offensive of 1968.
As the squad moves into the city ‘Eightball’ is sent ahead to ‘scout-out’ an area and gets ambushed by a lone female Viet Cong sniper.
The squad medic rushes forward to help the wounded ‘Eightball’ and is also shot by the sniper who puts a second bullet into the black Marine.
At this point, the squad leader, ‘Cowboy’ hesitates to risk anymore casualties and wants to withdraw when ‘Animal Mother’ leaps to his feet and charges forward firing his M60 from the hip in a bid to rescue ‘Eightball’. The rest of the squad follow him.
‘Animal Mother’s’ brave, foolhardy assault on the enemy sniper allows the rest of the squad to advance to a better forward position.
VN120 K&C’s ‘Eightball’ struggles to get off the ground after being shot by the V.C. sniper, his M16 in front of him.
VN121 "Full Metal Joker"
Throughout the entire movie we never get to hear ‘Joker’s’ real name. It was Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in boot camp at Parris Island who ‘christened’ actor Mathew Modine’s young Marine recruit ‘Joker’ after Modine interrupts Hartman’s introductory speech with an impression of John Wayne.
From ‘Joker’s’ demeanor you would expect that him to be a college student type and would have got himself some kind of student deferment however here he is in Vietnam, for ‘Stars ‘n’ Stripes’, the U.S. forces newspaper, and finally in the ‘real war’ as opposed to being ‘in the rear with the gear’.
Being a ‘REMF’ (Real Echelon M... F...) he has come to the ‘real war’ armed to the teeth with extra grenades (both fragmentation and smoke), a bandolier of additional ammo, a .45 cal. pistol, his knife and of course, an M16 rifle, he’s also brought along his camera to get a few ‘action’ shots... Soon, he’ll get all the ‘action’ he wants and then some!
VN123 "Old Vietnamese Woman"
One thing many American GI’s noted as they patrolled the countryside and went through villages was how often they seemed to be populated only by young children and old people.
Among the many reasons for this were the facts that the young men had frequently been drafted into the ARVN forces (Army of the Republic of Viet Nam) or had fled and been forced into the Viet Cong. Some young women had also been recruited into the Viet Cong or had moved to the larger towns and cities seeking work.
That meant many of the remaining children being left behind in the care of elderly grandparents or other relatives.
K&C’s ‘Old Vietnamese Woman’ leans on her stick and contemplates the world around her. Over the decades she has seen the French Colonizers... the Japanese Occupiers... and now, these big, bold Americans. Most of them have come and gone. Will these Americans come and go too...? Who knows, all she wants is for the war to stop...and peace to return.
Additional Note: A figure of ‘Rafterman’, ‘Joker’s buddy will follow later.
2. "LITTLE BIGHORN"
From a film set in Vietnam but filmed in London to a body-littered hillside somewhere above the Little Bighorn River in Montana Territory on June 25, 1876.
TRW185 "The Indian Bugler"
This brand-new figure of a victorious Sioux warrior has claimed two ‘prizes’ from his defeated enemies... a black cavalryman’s hat and... a cavalry bugle.
He does not know how to make a sound out of it but it will make a worthy trophy in his tepee and remind him of the great day when the Lakota Sioux and their Cheyenne brothers defeated the hated ‘Longknives’ under the command of Lieut. Col. George Armstrong Custer.
3. "HOME SWEET HOME"
After the recent releases of our European Farm Gateway SP120, the European Walls & Gates SP114 and the Wall Additions SP119 we felt it was time add the perfect centerpiece for this collection of walls and gates…
SP122 "The European Farmhouse"
The design for this kind of farm dwelling goes all the way back to the early 17th Century and can be found in many countries in north western Europe including Britain, France, Belgium, Holland and Germany.
One of the great advantages of a design like this is its historical adaptability... It can be used in eras ranging from The Thirty Years War (1618-1648) up through the Seven Years War (1756-1763) to the tumultuous turmoil of the Age of Napoleon (1803-1815) followed by the Franco Prussian War of 1870 and the double cataclysms of both World Wars in the 20th Century.
This handsome little structure can be the perfect backdrop for figures and all kinds of fighting vehicles in all types of historic situations.
You tell the story we provide the setting...
4. "HEAD ‘EM UP... MOVE ‘EM OUT!"
For some of our older collectors and dealers, including myself, those words will bring back memories of a terrific TV show called ‘RAWHIDE’ which ran from1959- 1965 and helped launch the career of Clint Eastwood. Set in the years after the Civil War it told stories of the many challenges faced by drovers on the great cattle drives from Texas northwards to the railheads in Kansas, Nebraska and Wyoming.
As a kid I loved ‘RAWHIDE’, it was my favourite TV ‘Western’ and helped fuel my interest in the Old West and that particular part of its colourful and exciting history.
Now journey forward quite a few years to when King & Country took over the ‘Kings X’ store in San Antonio, Texas and our confounder Laura McAllister Johnson moved to the ‘Lone Star State’ to live and work.
On my frequent visits to Texas over the years both Laura and myself explored different aspects of Texan history and the people and events that shaped it.
As many of you know K&C has long delved deep into that history with series and, ranges that have included ‘The Alamo’ and ‘The Rough Riders’ and even individual fictional ‘Western’ and ‘Texas’ figures such as Ranger Captains Woodrow Call and ‘Gus’ McCrae from Larry McMutry’s classic “Lonesome Dove” book and TV series.
So, K&C is no stranger to the ‘Old West’ or as we’ve called it ‘The Real West’ and over all these years we’ve managed to explore different aspects but not, until now, have we looked into the huge, and important subject of ‘The Cattle Drives’ that developed in the years after the Civil War.
Texas, at that time, had millions of ‘Longhorn’ cattle both domestically reared and in the wild that could help feed a rapidly expanding country that had a taste for beef.
These cattle had been raised in Texas from the time of the first Spanish settlers and were a mix of animals from Spain together with Mexican breeds and even some cattle of British origin brought west by Anglo-American colonists.
The result was the ‘Texas Longhorn’, a tough, sturdy animal, used to dry, hot surroundings with long, extended horns up to 8 feet in width!
The peak era of the Texas Cattle Drives was just about 20 years from 1866 until the mid 1880’s. During that time a great number of herds of between 2-3000 head of cattle would be driven northwards to the markets and railroad-loading facilities by a crew of usually 12 men led by a ‘Trail Boss’.
Many of the Texans who became ‘cowboys’ were former Confederate Cavalrymen well used to a hard life on horseback and also handy with a rifle and a six-shooter. Some others on the ‘crew’ would be Mexican or Tejano and a few more might be black former slaves who knew a thing or two about handling cattle and horses.
Cattle drives usually began in the Spring after round up when grass was plentiful and the herd could be delivered to its destination up north before the cold, winter weather set in.
On the drive the Trail Boss was the ultimate authority and could earn anywhere from US$100-US$125 a month. The average cowboy, by comparison earned 30-40 dollars each month while a good cook might get US$50-US$60.
In each crew there were usually about 10 ‘drovers’ or ‘wranglers’ who would take up their posts along the outside and rear of the herd as it moved along. Most herds would cover between 10 to 15 miles a day, depending on what delays or weather conditions were encountered.
A drive from Texas up north to Kansas might take anywhere from 25-100 days.
Along the way the herd and its cowboys could come up against Indians and / or rustlers as well as a host of natural hazards including flood-swollen rivers, extreme drought, lightning strikes and even sudden stampedes caused by thirsty animals crazed at the smell of water.
These first few figures paint just a small portion of a much larger portrait of a unique part of Texan and American history that deserves to be seen… in miniature.
CD001 "The Trail Boss"
A commanding figure who led by example and was a natural-born leader. Chances are he had been an officer in the Confederate Cavalry during the war and was looking to one day owning his own ranch and driving his own cattle to market instead of doing it for someone else.
CD002 "Jake the Swing Rider"
A ‘Swing Rider’ was a cowboy who rode closely along each side of the herd, about a third of the way back from the ‘Point Rider’ who led the cattle.
Among Jake’s duties are to keep the herd together and be constantly on the lookout for any animals that might try to stray or break away.
‘Swing Riders’ also backed up the ‘Point Man’ when the herd would turn. If the ‘Point Man’ had to leave his position, a ‘Swing Rider’ would ride in his place until he returned.
CD003 "Wes the Flank Rider"
‘Flank Riders’ also rode on each side the herd but near the rear... about two thirds of the way back behind the ‘Swing Riders’.
Their role was to back up the ‘Swing Riders’ and keep the cattle bunched together preventing the tail of the herd from fanning out.
And now we come to the herd itself… Here are 6 different pairs of Texas Longhorns with varying but typical colour combinations.
CD004 "2 x Texas Longhorns"
Two animals one primarily brown the other a mottled and speckled mix of white, black and brown.
CD005 "2 x Texas Longhorns"
Two more beasts, the far away one is mixed black and white, the near animal is a brown and white mix.
CD006 "2 x Texas Longhorns"
Two Black and white mixes, the farther away Longhorn has some additional black speckles.
CD007 "2 x Texas Longhorns"
One mostly brown animal with the other a mix of brown and white.
CD008 "2 x Texas Longhorns"
Two mostly white Longhorns with brown patches and speckles.
CD009 "2 x Texas Longhorns"
One mostly black animal with some white areas... The other a mix of black and white.
Almost as soon as France surrendered in June 1940 a resistance movement soon began against the occupying Germans.
At first small in numbers, ill-equipped and disorganized it suffered badly against the combined forces of Vichy France’s own collaborators and the German Gestapo. Slowly but surely the resistance grew gaining experience and expertise that by June 1944 would provide valuable intelligence on the German occupiers, military strength and dispositions. They would also undertake guerrilla warfare operations that included sabotage, assassinations and ambushes that hampered and delayed German attempts at pushing the Allies back after the Normandy landings of June 6.
The Resistance itself came in all shapes and sizes and all kinds of different political beliefs. It welcomed everyone with one simple aim… Free France from the Germans and their Vichy collaborators!
DD346 "FF1 Gendarme"
After the Fall of France in 1940 most French policemen became a tool of collaboration between Marshal Petain’s Vichy regime and the Germans. Until the end of 1942 the French Gendarmerie were used to suppress, capture and imprison Communists and Foreigners and basically do most of the Germans’ ‘dirty work’. By mid 1943 however many policemen were seeing the ‘way the wind was blowing’ and began to change sides and perhaps belatedly recognize their own patriotic feelings. Some began to join the resistance and even take part in clandestine operations against the hated ‘Boche’.
Following the Normandy Invasion and the liberation of towns and village it was now time to put on the F.F.I. (French Forces of the Interior) armband, grab your rifle and go out and round up some German prisoners!
DD347 "3 x Captured German Officers"
How the mighty have fallen... This trio of German Officers are now at the mercy of their French captors and looking distinctly worried. Fortunately for them they are regular Wehrmacht and, generally speaking, conducted themselves properly in occupied France.
After all, France provided a relatively safe haven compared to the Eastern Front.
Had these three been Waffen SS or Gestapo their fate would have been decided immediately and… very differently.
DD348 "FFI Young Resistance Girl"
This striking figure of a young girl carrying her Schmeisser MP40 machine pistol is based on a famous photograph taken of another young girl during the liberation of Paris in August 1944.
6. "FIGHTING CRUSADERS"
FIVE ‘Second Editions’ of five very popular Crusader Knights and Men-at-Arms.
MK214 "Crouching Crusader Knight w/Sword"
An alternative colour versions of one of our Foot Knights.
MK215 "Fighting Crusader Knight w/Sword’"
Rushing forward to meet the enemy.
MK216 "Kneeling Crusader Archer"
MK217 "Crusader Halberdier"
MK218 "Crusader Archer Standing Ready"
And that my friends are July’s releases… Not too many but certainly contain one or two surprises. Now onto retirements… and perhaps a slightly bigger surprise…
7. "BEING RETIRED THIS MONTH..."
HK131 "Wine Shop Facade"
A great 2 storey facade with nice architectural detail.
WoD033 "221b Baker Street"
A handsome “facade” rendition of one of London’s most famous addresses. The Georgian-style building was the address of the fictional duo but can actually be seen in London today. There really is a “Baker Street” although the building that now houses the “Sherlock Holmes Museum” is actually located between 237 and 241 Baker Street!
Our model reflects the colour and style of a typical Georgian built but Victorian-era “row house” of the kind that Mr. Holmes would have occupied.
THE AUSTRALIAN LIGHT HORSE
Now, this ‘Retiral’ might come as a surprise but there are very practical reasons for it. First of all the series has been in production since 2009 and has certainly enjoyed a good, long run and has included more than a few of my own personal favourites but, in my opinion, it’s time to give it a rest.
There is a limit to how many galloping horsemen any company can produce however every cloud has its very own silver lining and that means K&C Light Horse Dealers & Collectors can enjoy some 40 very special figures and battlefield accessories at some extra specially good prices while stocks last.
So, take advantage of this opportunity if you collect our Australian Light Horse to add-on a few more troopers or some of their Turkish opponents now!
Best wishes and... Happy Collecting!
Andy C. Neilson
Co-founder & Creative Director
King & Country