NEW RELEASES FROM KING & COUNTRY!
Welcome to this month’s releases which are centred around one of the most famous battles of the Second World War and one of the most widely-used military vehicles of the Vietnam Conflict…
Let’s jump right in…
1. "Hitler’s Last-Ditch Gamble"
The German offensive into Belgium in December 1944 was a final, almost suicidal attempt by Adolf Hitler to catch the Western Allies by surprise, split them apart and perhaps force them to seek a separate peace with the Nazis.
Only the stubborn willingness of some brave American units to stand and die prevented a major enemy breakthrough in what had been a quiet and peaceful stretch of the Allied line.
This mighty struggle, which later became known as ‘The Battle of The Bulge’ ranks as the largest and most important battle ever fought by the U.S. Army in all of WW2 in any theatre of war.
More men, vehicles, supplies, equipment, aircraft and military effort went into this important battle than any other in American history.
It was bigger than Gettysburg… more extensive than the Normandy Landings… and even larger than the 1990 Gulf War.
31 American divisions, fully one third of the entire U.S. Army during WW2, saw action in this battle.
Over two months, from December 16, 1944 until January 25, 1945 nearly 20,000 Americans were killed – almost as many as in all of the 80 days of fighting from the D.Day Invasion until the battles in the Normandy ‘bocage’ ended in August 1944.
‘The Battle of The Bulge’ is the story of men frozen and fighting in the most appalling winter conditions as the snow piled up around their foxholes while enemy artillery splintered the forests above them that provideded shelter.
Their dogged determination in the face of a fanatical foe brought Hitler’s offensive finally to a grinding halt before forcing them back into the crumbling remains of the once vaunted and much-feared Third Reich.
Here are the latest reinforcements to K&C’s U.S. Army ‘Winter Warriors’…
BBA100 "The Four-Man Patrol"
A small, four-man section moves carefully forward from their foxholes… During the night they could hear German voices and vehicles moving along a forest track near their dugout… Now they are going to investigate.
Led by an NCO (non commissioned officer) armed with a ‘Tommy Gun’, two riflemen, each cradling their M1 Garand rifles, and a B.A.R. man with his Browning Automatic Rifle head out for a ‘look-see’.
BBA101 "Sitting, Smoking & Waiting"
These four GI’s are perfect to position on top of an armoured fighting vehicle such as a ‘Sherman’ tank or the ‘M36 ‘Jackson Tank destroyer featured in our photo.
These four ‘Tank-Riders’ are also armed with a ‘Tommy Gun’, 2 x Garands and a Browning Automatic Rifle.
As all 4 x figures have no bases they can be also placed in and around any ground display or even in a foxhole!
BBA102 "Walking Radioman"
This GI is ‘humping’ the SC-300 / BC1000 man-pack radio usually reserved for infantry platoon headquarters.
This radio set was known as the ‘walkie-talkie’ while the hand-held SCR-536 /BC611 was nicknamed the ‘handie-talkie’.
Radiomen usually carried a lighter weight personal weapon… sometimes a 1911 Colt Automatic .45 pistol or, more commonly, the M1 Carbine as is shown here.
BBA103 "Standing Medic"
Wherever any American, GI fought he could be sure a Medic would be close by.
The emphasis placed on rapid battle field medical care and attention as well as the ready availability of modern medicines such as penicillin and sulphonamides, dramatically reduced the rate of death among wounded soldiers to less than 5 per cent … half of the WW1 rate!
Our hard-working Medic, usually nicknamed ‘Doc’, enjoys a well-earned ‘smoke’ before joining the rest of his platoon as they prepare for the next enemy assault. Please note medics were usually unarmed in the European theatre of war.
AVAILABILITY: Mid-Late July
Also ‘in the works’ is this additional little 2-man set BBA104… ‘Chow Time’.
In the bitterly cold, freezing conditions of the Ardennes during that wartime December of 1944 any kind of hot food was always welcome and much appreciated.
Here, a sitting G.I. ‘Chef’ is hunched over a small portable field kitchen stove with a large pot of some kind of stew and vegetables as he ladels out a serving to another hungry GI with his mess tin held out in front of him.
These two figures were suggested by a very, well-known wartime photo of American soldiers forming a line in the snow to pick up their hot ‘chow’.
AVAILABILITY: August 2023
Special Uniform Note:
As per our other ‘Bulge’ GI figures previously issued last year these new reinforcements are wearing their web fighting order on top of the standard ‘Enlisted Man’s’ wool overcoat complete with brass buttons.
This full-length, double-breasted overcoat was worn throughout the last winter of the war although a tad cumbersome when water-soaked or when the long skirts got caked with mud it was still generally well-liked by the troops themselves. Especially in the bitterly cold, freezing winter found in the Ardenness in December 1944.
2. "VIETNAM WHEELS"
In United States military history the ‘Deuce and a Half’ truck has a much-valued logistical history of what it does best – moving men and material from ‘Point A’ to ‘Point B’.
America’s best WW2 fighting general, George S. Patton declared, “the 2 1/2-ton truck was one of our most valued weapons!”
By 1951 however a decision was made to replace the existing WW2-era GMC CCKW (better known as the ‘Deuce and a Half’) with a newer, improved model. After much testing and many experiments the REO Motor Company was chosen to produce their 2 1/2 ton, 6×6 off-road truck which was rapidly superseded by the 10 x wheel M35 design version.
The new vehicles, as ordered by the Pentagon, were to be capable of performing a wide variety of tasks including:
and Acting as a Dump Truck,
Other capabilities were also to be made available such as ‘Wreckers’… ‘Medical Vans’… and even ‘Guided Missile Launchers!’
During the 1950s, while the newer REO M35 was beginning to appear in the U.S. Military’s transport inventory many thousands of the older WW2 era GMC ‘Deuce and a Half’s’ were still in service.
It was not until the Vietnam War erupted in the early 1960s that the M35s began to take over the main truck transport role.
In 1965, as the first major America ground units arrived in the Republic of Vietnam their M35A2 trucks came with them.
Soon M35s became a familiar sight on the country’s road system as well as a permanent fixture and feature on all U.S. forces bases, camps and other military establishments.
Throughout their use in Vietnam the M35A2 trucks proved themselves time and time again and were justly famous for their reliability, flexibility and toughness in even the most difficult of circumstances.
This reputation ensured a long and valued service with the U.S. military that lasted more than four decades until well into the mid 1990s.
The M35A2 has proven to be one of the most versatile and operationally successful vehicles ever deployed with the American military in its entire history… no small compliment for a great big truck!
VN170 "The USMC M35A2 Cargo Truck"
This long-awaited and much-requested model is, without doubt, the finest wheeled vehicle K&C has produced yet!
Our United States Marine Corps M35A2 is typical of the Troop Carrying / Cargo Carriers employed all over South Vietnam during the war.
Being a USMC vehicle it would have been stationed in ‘I Corps’ which comprised the northernmost region of South Vietnam bordering Communist North Vietnam at the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) which divided the two countries.
Our K&C model has, of course, rolling wheels and comes with a detachable ‘canvas’ cover (actually resin) for the driver’s compartment.
The Marine Corps driver is also included with the vehicle and is dressed in his everyday ‘utilities’ and wearing his ‘flak jacket’. Next to him, on the seat, is his camouflaged steel helmet and M16.
In the rear of the vehicle the wooden seats are lowered to allow sitting ‘Grunts’ to be placed in or, if the collector wishes, some military supplies.
Now, an ‘empty’ truck can look OK but when you add a few Marines onboard it really comes alive!
VN172 "Sitting Rifle Team"
Two seated ‘Grunts’ carrying their venerated M14 Rifles. As many Vietnam Vets have testified the replacement of the M14 by the newer, lighter M16 was not especially popular especially with the Marines. As the Corps placed a high value on marksmanship and appreciated the extra ‘stopping-power’ of the heavier M14 7.62mm NATO round most Marines tried to hold onto their favoured rifles that little bit longer, at least while 7.62 ammunition was still readily available!
VN173 "Eating & Drinking"
Two more seated ‘Grunts’ eating some ‘C Rations’ and taking a swig of water. Next to both Marines are their helmets and their separate M16s.
Please note the little bench they are sitting on is not included, shown for photo purposes only.
VN174 "Sitting M60 Gun Team"
The final two Marines are part of an M60 Gun Team. One guy is holding his M16 while the other has the M60. Out of Safety concerns both have their weapons pointing downwards to the floor of the vehicle.
Special Note: This new M35A2 can easily accommodate 10 x seated Marines and even a few standing ones.
3. "SECOND GENERATION NVA & VC"
From time to time as we sell out of a particular figure we consider whether to retire that piece entirely or, perhaps, produce an alternative and, we hope, an improved new version.
Here are two examples…
VN177 "NVA Flagbearer"
During the TET Offensive of 1968 many North Vietnamese Army regular units found themselves fighting alongside their Viet Cong comrades as they tried, in vain, to wrest the country from their South Vietnamese and American opponents.
This new version of one of our most popular figures has an NVA regular running forward clutching a Viet Cong banner.
As can be seen the flag of the Viet Cong, adopted in 1960, is a variation of the North Vietnamese one – the flag itself is divided into two equal halves… Red Above, Blue below with a 5-pointed star in the centre which symbolized the five classes of society; entrepreneurs, farmers, workers, intellectuals and soldiers.
Often these simple flags would also have some Vietnamese writing on them honouring a particular battle such as the Siege of Khe Sanh or the TET Offensive itself.
VN178 "Female VC Firing an AK47"
This ‘Young Woman Warrior’ is just one of many thousands of females who fought with the Viet Cong during the conflict.
Armed with the amazing AK47 Assault Rifle this young girl could prove equally dangerous to any of the ARVN or American opponents who met her on the battlefield!
4. "‘… AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT.’"
As some of you guys might know my wife, Liza began a little company called ‘La Maison Rose’ back in 2018. Here in Hong Kong she is the marketer and retailer of ‘Royal Copenhagen’, a long-established Danish company that produces all kinds of, fine porcelain homeware.
Both Liza and myself are also huge fans of Denmark itself and its capital city, Copenhagen.
One of the most colourful sights in that beautiful city is the Royal Palace of Amalieborg which is a guarded by a special ceremonial company of the Royal Danish Life Guards.
Over the last few years K&C, in conjunct with ‘La Maison Rose’, has produced a small, select range of these Danish Life Guards that can be seen everyday on duty guarding the Palace and the Danish Monarch.
One very interesting aspect of the Life Guards is their peculiarly original ‘Guard Boxes’ which can only be seen at the Royal Palace.
Its design is quite unique and we thought it would make a great little accessory to this splendid little series.
So here it is…
CE098 "The Danish Sentry Box"
This tall 9-sided, Sentry Box is rarely if ever occupied by the Life Guard on duty. Usually, in colder months, it will contain only the soldier’s greatcoat hanging from a hook inside.
As can be seen in the photographs the only decoration on the red and white sentry box is the gold and black royal cypher of the present Danish monarch, Queen Margrethe Ⅱ on the roof.
AVAILABILITY: Mid July
5. "ALSO AVAILABLE THIS MONTH…"
Among the very special, hand-carved and hand-painted 1:30 scale mahogany models are these two Vietnam-era American aircraft… and a superb Korean War fighter/bomber.
(i) The OV-10 ‘Bronco’
The North American Rockwell OV-10 ‘Bronco’ was a twin turbo prop light attack and observation aircraft used extensively during the American involvement in the Vietnam War.
Our 1:30 scale K&C model is in USMC markings and comes in two distinct colour schemes… the brighter ‘Leaf green’ and the more subdued ‘olive drab’. Both versions operated out of Da Nang in South Vietnam in the late 1960s.
Just TWO of each version are available and all come with a signed certificate.
Also from the Vietnam War…
(ii) The Bell AH-1 ‘Cobra’
This was the single-engined attack helicopter developed and manufactured by Bell Helicopter.
A member of the prolific ‘Huey family’, the AH-1 was also referred to as the ‘Huey Cobra’ or ‘Snake’.
The AH-1 was rapidly developed as a ‘gunship’ in response to the U.S. Army’s urgent requirement for a dedicated attack helicopter to help protect the more cumbersome and slower troop-carrying ‘Hueys’ from enemy ground fire.
Each AH-1 ‘Cobra’ was capable of carrying a range of different weapons systems under its small, stubby wings in addition to a chin-mounted gun turret.
The Cobra’s armoured tandem cockpit also allowed the pilot and gunner an excellent view of any potential battlefield while its slim overall shape and speed made it a difficult target to hit.
1967 saw the first AH-1s enter service in Vietnam. Over the following years they would provide vital fire support to friendly ground forces while still escorting and protecting other troop-carrying helicopters.
They also flew in ‘hunter-killer’ teams pairing up with the OH-6A Hughes ‘Cayuse’ scout choppers. Overall the U.S. ‘Cobra’ fleet in South Vietnam chalked up over one million operational flying hours during the conflict.
K&C is offering two versions of this incredible fighting machine… a
U.S. Marine Corps ‘Cobra’ and a U.S. Army Air Cavalry option – both
exceptionally fine scale model aircraft.
(iii) The Vought F4U-4‘Corsair’
The Vought F4U-4 Corsair was an American Fighter aircraft that saw active service primarily in WW2 but also played a vital role in the Korean War (1950-53).
Designed and operated as a carrier-borne aircraft it became one of the premier fighter / bombers in both conflicts.
During the Korean War the Corsair, now with a four-bladed propeller was utilized mostly in the ground attack, close support role carrying a broad assortment of bombs, rockets, cannon and machine guns.
Our K&C hand-carved, hand-painted mahogany F4U-4 ‘Corsair’ is in the distinctive squadron markings of VMF323 ‘The Death Rattlers’ flying from the Light Escort Carrier USS Sicily operating off the coast of South Korea in the summer of 1951.
We have just 4 of these amazing models available. If you are interested in one contact K&C direct for more details.
For more details and availability contact K&C Direct!
Take a look here!
6. "FINALLY… A LITTLE EXTRA BITE!"
Here’s another wee ‘sneak peek’ at an upcoming character release that I’ve wanted to do for some time… ‘Count Dracula’.
The original Count Dracula was a creation of author Bram Stoker in his gothic horror novel ‘Dracula’ in 1897.
Count Dracula is an ‘undead’, centuries-old vampire from Transylvania who inhabits a decaying castle somewhere in the distant Carpathian Mountains.
As a student of the ‘Black Arts’ he had a deep knowledge of alchemy, magic and a particular fondness for the fresh blood of beautiful young women, preferably but not exclusively… virgins.
Although introduced and made famous by Bram Stoker the Count has achieved worldwide notoriety and immortality thanks to Hollywood and the ‘Silver Screen’.
Many famous and well-known actors have portrayed the blood-sucking Count in countless film adaptations among the most memorable was the Hungarian, Bela Lugosi, who starred in the title role of the 1931 film and several more in the years afterwards.
The next major star to take on the role and make it his own was the British actor Christopher Lee, who appeared in numerous Hammer Films from 1959 up to the 1970’s.
It was Lee who fixed the classic image of a tall, dark and handsome vampire villain with dual, elongated fangs and a thirst for fresh blood!
As a lover of classic Hammer Horror movies this is my little ‘homage’ to a great, blood-curdling fictional character and things that go bump in the night…
7. "BEING RETIRED THIS MONTH"
Only 3 items this month…
LOJ003 "The Three Wise Men"
In the Gospel of Mathew he says these men came from the East to worship the Christ, born King of the Jews. With them they bring gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh for the infant Jesus.
NA454 "The Emperor’s Tent"
Previously available as only part of a larger set this ‘second edition’ now carries the Emperor’s Personal Standard flying above it.
TR015 "“The Queen & Her Corgis” (Emerald Green)"
Another favourite Royal colour was ‘Emerald Green’. Once again, the Queen in a standard pose with her Corgi posse at her feet.
Now, don’t be worried, for those Royalists among us, only this particular ‘green’ version of Her Late Majesty is being retired. The other two versions are continuing and will be joined later by a new colour combination.
P.S. Later this month I will be returning ‘down-under’ to visit K&C Dealers, collectors and friends in Brisbane, Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne after 3 long years away.
Looking forward to meeting up once more and discussing all things toy soldiers and how to solve the problems of the world and much, much more!!!
Best wishes and... Happy Collecting!
Andy C. Neilson
Co-founder & Creative Director
King & Country