NEW RELEASES FROM KING & COUNTRY!
Welcome to September’s ‘DISPATCHES’. As I write this I’m already preparing for my next overseas trip… This time to the U.S. of A. and a return to the ‘Windly City’ in the shape of the all-new ‘CHICAGOLAND’ Toy Soldier Show. Organized by my good friend (and K&C Dealer) Matt Murphy of Hobby Bunker fame.
After the sad demise of the much-loved and frequently-attended ‘CHICAGO TOY SOLDIER SHOW’ at the Hyatt Hotel in Schaumburg, Matt has picked up the gauntlet and has set up his own Show at the Schaumburg Marriott on Sunday 24, 2023. Prior to that Show date all kinds of dealers and collectors will arrive at the venue and, I’m sure, take part in some serious ‘room-trading’ similar to what always went on at the previous ‘CHICAGO SHOW’.
I am personally attending this new ‘CHICAGOLAND’ Show as an observer this year and not taking any of our displays or setting up as K&C always did in past years.
Among my reasons are the huge increase in costs of air-shipping a large number of dioramas plus the figures, fighting vehicles and all kinds of accessories that go along with them.
And as stated, I want to get the ‘feel’ of the hotel and the Show itself. So, this time around I get to have no responsibilities, no headaches but still get to meet up with lots of old friends and enjoy the show as a very interested ‘spectator’!
For the record, I will arrive in Chicago from Hong Kong via Tokyo and San Francisco on the afternoon of Thursday 21, September and will stay through till late afternoon of Sunday 24th.
After that I will be heading down to San Antonio and our ‘King & Country Texas’ store for a little ‘Special Event’ there a few days later.
However, before all of that there is all of this…
1. "‘THE BATTERING RAM’"
The M48 ‘Patton’ was an American first-generation main battle tank which first appeared in 1952 and was designed to replace the WW2 and Korean War era M26, M4 Sherman and post war M47 and M41s.
Armed with a powerful 90mm main gun it was produced to meet the battlefield requirements of both the U.S. Army and the U.S. Marines.
Eventually almost 12,000 M48s were built and a series of continual improvements were made to ensure better performance and reliability.
Beginning in 1959 most of the original M48 A1s and A2s were upgraded and modified to the M48A3 model, which is what King & Country has produced.
Numerous examples of the M48 saw active service in various Arab / Israeli conflicts as well as the war in South East Asia throughout the 1960s and into the 1970s. The M48A3 was to go on to see widespread service with both the United States and many of its NATO partners in Europe until it was superseded by the newer M60 Main Battle Tank.
Even today though the M48 remains in service in large quantities with Turkey (750), Taiwan (500) and Greece (390).
However, King & Country is focusing on the M48A3 in combat in Vietnam with two great examples…
VN159-1 "“The M48A3 ‘Patton’ Main Battle Tank” 'Witch Bitch'"
At the beginning of the 1968 Tet Offensive Communist forces overran the ancient imperial capitol of Hue in South Vietnam. U.S. Marines stationed at Phu Bai airbase south of Hue were ordered to lead the assault to retake the city.
Backed up by M48A3s, crewed by fellow Marines, the ‘Grunts’ fought their way back into the city and street-by-street, house-by-house slowly but steadily gained the upper hand.
During much of the battle foul weather hampered the use of close air support and thus the firepower of the M48A3s 90mm gun was essential.
The sheer bulk of an M48 also allowed the Marines to advance behind the armour of the tank as together they eliminated the enemy.
This particular USMC 48A3, ‘Charlie Four-One’ is nicknamed ‘Witch Bitch’ and comes complete with a full body Marine Tank Commander armed with CAR15 carbine and a “head ‘n’ shoulders” Tank Driver figure.
Each model comes in its own sturdy, full colour, presentation box.
VN159-2 "“The M48A3 ‘Patton’ Main Battle Tank” 'Mad Dogs'"
Our second M48A3 is nicknamed ‘Mad Dogs’ and has the hull tag ‘Charlie Four-Four’. Like the previous model it comes complete with its two crew figures and same high quality, first-class packaging.
Special Note: Just 200 of each of these USMC M48A3s are being produced. And so if you’re serious about your ‘Vietnam’ collection one or both of these great tank models will provide your ‘Grunts’ with some very valuable fire support!
VN160 "Sitting VC Female Soldier"
From a pair of mighty American tanks to a slim, slip of a young Vietnamese woman sitting holding her captured U.S. made M2 Carbine.
Many of these weapons were given to the South Vietnamese forces because they were lighter to carry and easier to use than the heavier, more cumbersome M1 ‘Garand’ rifles that the ARVN (Army of the Republic of Vietnam) had originally been issued with prior to the introduction of the M16.
A number of these carbines inevitably fell into Viet Cong hands and were often distributed to female members who found them simpler to operate and lighter to carry.
This young VC woman is holding a Korean War era carbine complete with a
30 x round curved magazine.
AVAILABILITY: Mid September
2. "‘EASTERN FRONT SUMMER OF ‘43’"
By July 1943 there was a massive build-up of huge armies on either side of the Eastern Front around Kursk in preparation for a German assault to destroy the Soviet salient that had formed in the area.
Among the German forces preparing to assault the Russian positions were no less that three of Hitler’s most elite Waffen SS Panzergrenadier Divisions. The 1st SS ‘Leibstandarte’. The 2nd SS ‘Das Reich’… and The 3rd SS ‘Totenkopf’ plus one more SS division kept in reserve, The 5th SS ‘Viking’.
Each of these Panazergrenadier divisions was on paper, organized and equipped in the same manner as a regular German Army armoured division however the SS Divisions had a substantially larger number of tanks and other armoured vehicles.
In addition each of these Waffen SS formations had two entire regiments of Panzergrenadier Infantry supported by the division’s own artillery regiment and separate battalions of anti aircraft troops, reconnaissance units and pioneers.
These 2nd Generation Waffen SS soldaten are dressed in the representative uniforms of the mid war period complete with their distinctive camouflage smocks and helmet covers which the Waffen SS pioneered.
WS385 "Watching & Waiting"
These two troopers stand waiting for the signal to advance. Note how one is
carrying a captured PPSh-41 submachine gun while his comrade has the standard
WS390 "Riflemen in Action (2 Figs)"
Standing and kneeling with K98s ready.
WS391 ""Over There’ (2 Figs)"
One trooper indicates something in the distance to his comrade.
WS392 "Open Fire! (3 Figs)"
This 3x figure set armed with an assortment of personal weapons open fire on the enemy.
WS393 "MG34 Gun Team (3x figs)"
Under the command of on SS-Rottenfuhrer (SS-Squad leader) this 2man gun
team goes into action.
WS394 "Waffen SS Officer"
Even in the midst of battle this officer moves among his men… calm and determined.
AVAILABILITY: Mid September
3. "‘FROM SUMMER TO WINTER’"
Three small but useful additions to our recent ‘Battle of The Bulge’ Germans.
BBG129 "The Scout"
Moving stealthily ahead of his comrades this soldier moves through the winter snow seeking out the enemy frontline.
BBG130 "Winter Tank Crew"
Two dismounted SS Panzer crewmen enjoy a smoke and share a hot cup of captured American coffee…?
AVAILABILITY: Mid-Late September
4. "‘AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT!’"
HONG KONG is not only the ‘home’ of King & Country it’s also one of the most vibrant and dynamic cities in the world and now a Special Administrative Region of the PRC (People’s Republic of China) with a population of almost 7.5million residents of various nationalities all packed into a relatively small territory.
Originally established as a colony of the British Empire it has weathered and overcome many a storm, violent upheavals, all kind of typhoons and other natural and man-made disasters, wars and crisis.
Through it all this small, densely-packed city with its hard-working inhabitants have created one of the wonders of the world and a major financial and trading hub on the southern coast of China.
During its existence Hong Kong has grown dramatically from a small, sparsely populated area of farming and fishing villages into the city and region I know today.
Perhaps its greatest time of growth was following the end of World War Two and the victory of Mao Tse Tung and his Communist Party in China in 1949.
Many skilled emigrants and refugees crossed over the border into what was then the British Crown Colony of Hong Kong and even in the often most difficult of circumstances sought a better life for themselves and their families.
That resulted in Hong Kong becoming the first of the Four Asian Tiger economies during the 1950s.
Nevertheless life could still be hard for the majority of its inhabitants even as many improvements were made and opportunities were seized in this busy, bustling and very crowded metropolis.
ABOUT ‘ALL OUR YESTERDAYS’
One of K&C’s most popular and colourful series has been and still is ‘Streets of Old Hong Kong’. Our look back at Colonial Hong Kong circa 1897, a period when traditional Chinese dress and costumes were still worn by most citizens on the streets of this thriving port city.
Several months ago I went to an exhibition of miniature Hong Kong buildings that were created by a team of very skilled and knowledgeable diorama builders.
Most of the exhibits on display were approximately 1:24 in scale and were depictions of typical three and four storey Chinese-style Shop Houses and sections of streets that were once familiar sights all over Hong Kong but are now few and far between. Victims of the growth, development and prosperity of this amazing city and its hard-working people.
Looking at these exquisite reminders of a time not long past it struck me that the only thing missing was a lack of miniature figures to help populate the scenes as well as provide a truer, more authentic picture of this day before yesterday in the life and times of Hong Kong.
And so, here are our first offerings that give perhaps, a little portrait of some of the people who helped build and shape this amazing city during the tumultuous 1960s and the sensational 70s.
THE ‘VIETNAM’ CONNECTION
As I worked on this project I was also reminded that many of the Asian countries around Hong Kong also have large communities of ethnic Chinese families living and working in them… especially in their towns and cities.
Vietnam is one such example where there was a sizeable section of the population that was of Chinese origin particularly in what was then called Saigon. Whole sections of major South Vietnamese urban centres such as Hue and Da Nang also had ‘Chinatowns’ in their midst.
For many ‘VIETNAM’ street displays and dioramas this new range of additional figures is both are useful and additional touch of authenticity
HKY001 "The Coolie"
The dictionary defines ‘COOLIE’ as an unskilled native labourer usually found in Asian countries particularly India, China and South East Asia.
In Hong Kong these hard-working individuals were often seen pushing trolleys full of all types of merchandise or using a long wooden pole from which were suspended large rattan baskets full of fruit, vegetables or other items of every description.
HKY002 "The Newspaper Reader"
Hong Kong has always published a large number of Chinese language newspapers and, back in the 1960s, there were even more!
Here one elderly gentleman stands reading his favourite newspaper… A sight rarely seen today as everyone appears to get their news from their mobile phone…
HKY003 "The Spectator"
Everywhere around the globe, Hong Kong included, has people who just seem to… Not do or say anything… just observe.
HKY004 "Morning Relaxation"
Another Hong Kong resident just sitting and reading about yesterday’s events.
HKY006 "The Girl in The Blue & White Dress"
Back in the 1960s Hong Kong many young women still wore the modern, form-fitting version of the traditional Chinese ‘Cheong Saam’. It was both flattering to the wearer and brought a splash of colour onto the city streets.
HKY011 "The Smoker"
Back in those days smoking was not seen as the ‘unhealthy vice’ it is today. Going by photographs of the time a majority of Hong Kong’s adult male population were addicted to the deadly habit.
HKY012 "Everything's For Sale"
Along many streets throughout Hong Kong in those days could be found ‘Street Hawkers’ selling everything to everyone at virtually all hours of the day and night.
Some would be selling brand-new items, others second-hand goods of all shapes, sizes and descriptions and a few that fell off the back of a truck!
To ‘set up shop’ hawkers simply put down a mat, llaid-out their goods and hopefully wait for the customers to arrive.
HKY013 "Another Newspaper Reader"
A second avid devourer of the news. This time he’s much younger, dressed differently and reading a different Chinese newspaper.
AVAILABILITY: Mid-Late September
Special Note: Other ‘All Our Yesterdays’ figures are already in development with a few of them on display in the upcoming bumper 40 page Issue No. 60 of K&C’s own ‘COLLECTOR’ magazine.
5. "Being Retired"
JN028 "Advancing Japanese Soldier"
Moving forward clutching his “Arisaka 99” rifle this Japanese infantryman is already tough and battle-hardened after years of fighting in China ...
JN029 "Advancing Firing Rifle"
Another Japanese soldier takes careful aim.
JN045 "The Japanese Light Howitzer & Crew"
Compared to Allied artillerymen the Japanese Army had only a limited number of Light Field pieces. This particular Light Howitzer was ‘crewed’ by just 3x soldiers and could be ‘broken down’ and man-carried in jungle terrain and then hastily reassembled.
NA426 "The Duke of Wellington"
Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington (1769-1852) was an Anglo-Irish soldier and Tory statesman who was one of the leading military and political figures of the first half of the 19th Century.
His victory over Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 puts him in the first rank of British military heroes. After serving in India he rose to prominence during the Peninsular Campaign of the Napoleonic Wars. Following Bonaparte’s exile to Elba in 1814 he became Britain’s ambassador to France and was granted a ‘Dukedom’.
During the Hundred Days Campaign of 1815 he commanded the Allied Armies which finally defeated the French emperor at Waterloo. Wellington’s battle record is second-to-none... he took part in and often successfully won some 60 military battles during the course of his long military career.
After leaving the army he entered politics and was elected twice as Britain’s Prime Minister.
Our K&C figure portrays him wearing just one of his many ceremonial uniforms from the period 1812-1815.
RAF077 "Squadron Leader ‘Skipper’"
A standing figure of the character played by Robert Shaw... dressed in his No. 2 uniform, ‘Mae West’ life jacket and roll neck sweater.
TRW092 ""Reloading", The Apaches"
Reaching back to extract a fresh cartridge for his “Springfield” rifle.
TRW093 ""Taking Aim", The Apaches"
A lying prone Apache “takes a bead” on one of the enemy.
TRW103 ""He’s Dead!", The Apaches"
Two figure set
TRW131 "Kneeling Plains Indian w/Carbine"
A second version of a very popular figure from our Sioux / Cheyenne warriors fighting Custer at the Little Bighorn in 1876.
TRW156 "Brave Bear"
A Southern Cheyenne dog soldier who has the distinction of being the warrior who actually killed Custer!
USMC018 "Marine Reloading "
A lying ‘Leatherneck’ holds a fresh clip of 8 rounds in his hand as he prepares to reload his M1.
USMC042 "Marine w/ Tommy Gun"
A Marine Corps NCO (non commissioned officer) cautiously advances his trusty ‘Thompson’ at the ready...
VN013 "Covering Firing "
Not wishing to expose himself to the enemy this Marine raises his M16 over his head and opens fire on ‘fully automatic’.
Although frowned upon as a waste of ammo... in a tight situation you did what you had to do to make the enemy keep their heads down and perhaps allow your buddies to advance or even fall back to safety.
VN045 "Kneeling LAW Gunner"
In the close-quarter fighting that took place all over HUE the M72 LAW (Light Anti Tank Weapon) proved invaluable at taking out enemy bunkers, buildings and machine gun ‘nests’... One shot... One kill!
VN098 "The ARVN Military Policeman"
The ‘Quan Canh’ (military police) guarded army headquarters, government buildings and prisoner-of-war camps, escorted convoys and performed other typical military police duties... similar to their Autralian and U.S. counterparts.
He is shown with his steel helmet painted gloss black with red and white stripes and ‘QC’ on the front.
A black armband with the same letters and a white braided whistle-cord round his right shoulder can also be seen.
His pistol belt supports a black holster containing the ‘M1911’ .45 cal. pistol and a pair of handcuffs.
He wears standard US Army, but locally-made OD fatigues and black-shined boots.
QC’s would often accompany U.S. and Australian Military Police to act as interpreters with the local people.
BBG119 "Winter Jagdpanzer IV"
The Jagdpanzer IV otherwise known as the Sd. Kfz.162, was a German tank destroyer based on the highly successful Panzer IV chassis.
Originally intended as a replacement for the Sturmgeschutz III it eventually fought alongside the earlier-produced Stugs and never actually replaced it in the Wehrmacht’s arsenal.
This fighting vehicle began production in December 1943 and continued being produced until the final days of The Third Reich in May 1945. Approx. 2,000 were manufactured.
Our K&C model mounts the 7.5cm Pak 42 main gun and comes with a vehicle commander in the open hatch.
Just over 250 of these Jagdpanzers IV’s were deployed in the German attack in the Ardennes which began on December 16, 1944... and that’s how many we have made!
And so that’s our story for this month, here’s hoping you find something that pleases you here.
In the meantime all the best and… happy collecting!
Best wishes and... Happy Collecting!
Andy C. Neilson
Co-founder & Creative Director
King & Country