Hi guys, I just got some information about Barzso Playsets. According to Jim Clouse, Ron plans to produce some of his old sets. If they sell well, Ron plans to produce some new sets next year.
Some big news coming from Barzso Playsets. While Ron has been quiet the past year or two, he’s still been busy.
Ron has been looking for a better formulation of plastic resin to run figures in – – and has found it! The company that runs the figures are on board and have produced a selection of Ron’s previous figures.
The new material is more durable than the original resin, figures come out of the mold with straight weapons, etc. I have some of the early mold shots, and I even went to the length of dropping a firing guy on my concrete basement floor – no damage! Paint also adheres very well to the figures.
Here is a list of the figures that are available in the new material:
Pirates – Powder Blue
Confederate Casualties – Gray
Woodland Indians – Gray
Union Casualties – Powder Blue
Civil War Camp Poses – Powder Blue
Barbary Coast Pirates – Gray
1805 US Marines – Powder Blue
Lewis and Clark Character Figures – Powder Blue
Due to the higher cost of the material being used, prices will be $20 for eight figures (single poses, no duplicates). Ron said depending on collectors’ reception of these figures, he plans on making new figures for 2018.
Figures will be available at the Chicago Show this week, and will be added to the website soon after.
Looks like some more Great News before the big show starts. I hope to hear more 🙂
For more Barzso news check out my other post, Interview with Ken Ciak and the Future of LOD Enterprises.
Hi guys, It is a week away from the biggest Toy Soldier show of the year. But if you are like me, you can’t make the trip to Chicago. Usually I search the internet before and right after the show to see if I can pick up some new information on the hobby. Usually for the most part, the new releases or previews are done at the Chicago Toy Soldier Show. So besides searching the internet, I am doing some of my our research.
The past week I had asked Ken Ciak a few questions and then followed up on some others to create this blog article. It was a thrill to chat with Ken and learn more about him and his company LOD ENTERPRISES. So let us begin.
“LOD Enterprises is a manufacturer and distributor of plastic collectible toy soldiers. The firm, based in Green Bay, WI, draws on the rich history of plastic soldiers and playsets to create new figure sets for the collector’s market. The company started in 2014 with Ken Ciak as its managing member.”
This year LOD will have Set # 3 of the War with Troy, and previews and some pieces of the Ancient Warship & Trojan Horse available.
Warhorse Miniatures: Hi Ken, I would like to thank you for taking some time to answer a few questions. I would like to say that I like your figures and what you have done for the hobby.
Ken Ciak: Thank you for the opportunity to discuss for a few minutes about the figures and accessories from LOD Enterprises. I appreciate the compliment about the War at Troy figures. It has been very rewarding working with a lot of talented people who more than help to make my vision and ideas a reality. The response from collectors has been great and motivates me to keep working hard to create more figure sets.
Warhorse Miniatures: Tell us a little about yourself and how you got started in all of this?
Ken Ciak: My background would not directly lead anyone to think of me to enter into the toy soldier hobby. I am part of the three & three-quarters inch Star Wars generation so while toy soldiers were still readily available, my focus with toys and collecting changed mightily in 1977. That being said, I always enjoyed toy soldiers and playsets. I like the ability to have a full complement of figures and diorama pieces all in one box. I purchased a couple of American Revolution sets from Classic Toy Soldiers in 2010 and 2011 before grabbing the TSSD Romans and Barbarians set when Nick and DeAnna released it.
Warhorse Miniatures: What was the hardest part about getting started?
Ken Ciak: The hardest part of getting started actually turned out to be relatively easy as soon as I started reaching out to people in the hobby and toy soldier community. I had zero idea of how to go about it but found that people at the Toy Soldier Show in Chicago were always approachable and willing to help. My initial thought was to get either Nick or Ron Barzso to create a set where I would be willing to invest to have my Trojan War playset made by one of them. I certainly over simplified the process, but found both of them (along with many others including Bill McMaster) able to guide me through the process. Three years later, I am no expert and still learning with each day but the journey has been fun and introducing a new set is gratifying as the previous one.
Warhorse Miniatures: I like the adventure that you have taking us with the War with Troy series. First the Walls of Troy and some figures, then you expanded with Chariots and additional figures. Lastly character figures, the Trojan horse and now a galley. Has our journey finished or has it just begun?
Ken Ciak: Thank you for sharing that you are enjoying the War at Troy adventure. The Iliad is one of my favorite books and I remember reading a version of the Trojan War in the 6th grade and being hooked. The story is rich with characters, both mortal and immortal, and filled with action. The journey is not over as there are additional figures and accessories in the pipeline for development.
Warhorse Miniatures: So what new line of figures would you start or what do you think you might do in the future?
Ken Ciak: As for future releases, there are a few ideas that the sculptor and I are working on. There will be another War at Troy figure set that will combine characters and possibly allies of the Trojans (Amazons). I would like to release a WWII figure set in the next couple of years. We have also kicked some ideas around for a Christmas set that is not a toy soldier set, but would include Santa, elves, and reindeer and aimed more towards kids.
Warhorse Miniatures: I am happy to see that you are now producing some figures that were originally produced by Barzso Playsets. Any other Barzso sets that you might produce in the future?
Ken Ciak: The Barzso figure sets are wonderful and I am honored/humbled to be able to continue to market them. Ron has done a tremendous job in the hobby and been a great guy to visit with and discuss opportunities. We had talked last fall about the Revolutionary War and Robin Hood figure sets and re-releasing them. Ron had them made at the same factory in Hong Kong (Eastcorp Toys) that the War at Troy sets are produced. I liked the opportunity to expand into two other eras, especially two eras that I enjoy. Also to do so with a popular and well-done brand of Barzso Playsets. It has worked out well for me and the market has been very responsive to having all four of the figure sets available again. Ron and I have spoken about some other sets and there is a possibility of producing another one or two in the future.
Warhorse Miniatures: What other Barzso sets do you think you might produce in the future?
Ken Ciak: Regarding Ron Barzso, I had an opportunity to visit with him yesterday and we are going to discuss some figure sets at the Chicago Show. I am excited about the opportunity and they will be new figure sets. We will announce the subject and details next weekend. As for his older sets, they will not be recast by LOD Enterprises at this time.
Warhorse Miniatures: Great News!!! Will the figures from you and Barzso be a new subject or an existing theme from Barzso? Also do you think it will be one or two different sets?
Ken Ciak: The figures with Barzso will be an existing theme and there will be multiple sets. Ron and I are going to hash out the details on Thursday when I arrive and I think he/we will announce it right away after that. Our trading rooms are close so I am hoping it creates some buzz with the weekend traffic.
Warhorse Miniatures: Thanks Ken, is there anything else you would like to talk about regarding LOD Enterprises.
Ken Ciak: I appreciate the opportunity to talk about LOD Enterprises and our time in the toy soldier arena. It has been a quick three years. We are continually working to improve our product and introduce plastic soldiers to fans of all ages. We are working on a set of rules for war gamers (hoping for an early 2018 release) and will continue to expand on the successful figure sets we offer.
New Sets, Ancient Warship & Trojan Horse
War of Troy Set # 1
War of Troy Set # 2
War of Troy Set # 3
Walls of Troy
Ok guys, I am going to wrap this up. This article took me longer to prepare than I thought it would. I am still learning about the blogging and try out new features. I hope everyone enjoyed the article. Here are a few tip bits and some new things that I decided to add at the end.
I am excited to hear about the news with LOD and Barzso. Plus to see what other future items the LOD comes out with. Right now LOD is one the most interesting companies, I feel good with them continuing on making quality products for years to come. The wargaming rules for his figures sounds promising, and maybe it gets some new collectors into our market. Me and Ken talked about a few other things, he likes read about history. When we talked about the WWII figures, I mentioned on how collectors are with uniforms and weapons. They expect more when it comes to recently eras. I am glad to hear from him that he will take his time to get the details right with these future figures.
Warhorse Miniatures: I think making toy soldiers is hard. I mean that sometimes it is hard to make collectors happy. If you do make a WWII figures, collectors want to see both sides made together. I have been waiting for some new Japanese soldiers for years now.
Ken Ciak: That is one of the most appealing aspects of the hobby is working hard to achieve a set with appropriate details even for the most discerning customer. I will be taking my time to make sure I have all of the details down for the WWII set. The Bronze Age and the Iliad have a been a passion for a long time so many of the aspects are “easy” for me to gather from a research and knowledge standpoint.
So if your going to the Chicago Toy Soldier Show, don’t forget to see LOD Enterprise and say hello. For further information you can click on the links below.
LOD Enterprise Toy Soldiers
I have been following the blogs on BMC Toys for most of this year, reading about the development of their toy soldier playsets. Some of the past World War II playsets are coming back this month. The boxes have been updated and so have a few other details too. BMC Toys made a lot of different toy soldier playsets, plus bagged sets of soldiers and other accessorizes for plastic toy soldiers.
The other day I was able to ask Jeff Imel of BMC Toys & VictoryBuy Inc. a few questions. I am glad he had some time to answer them. Thanks again Jeff.
Warhorse Miniatures: Hi Jeff, I just wanted to thank you for taking some time to answer some questions. I see that you are President of BMC Toys and VictoryBuy Inc., can you give us a brief history of yourself, VictoryBuy Inc and BMC Toys?
Jeff: Yes, I’m President (and Chief Bottle Washer) of VictoryBuy Inc., and BMC Toys® is now a brand that is part of my company. I started dabbling in online retail in the late 90’s on a variety of platforms and products. Early 2002 I went full time with the business (then Ferretbee Enterprises) and in 2015 incorporated the company as VictoryBuy Inc. BMC Toys was founded by Bill McMaster in 1991 and began producing original historically themed plastic soldier playsets shortly thereafter. He used his experience as a Toys-R-Us purchasing agent to start BMC Toys Inc. and brought the classic army men playset to a whole new generation. Bill operated BMC Toys until he unexpectedly passed away in 2014. I worked with Bill’s family and together we found all the people and parts needed to continue production of the BMC Toys product line. New production was made in the same factory that has been producing the line for over 20 years and will be in stock around September 8th.
Warhorse Miniatures: I see that the old World War II BMC playsets are coming back in late August, can you add anything about the process and changes to any of these sets?
Jeff Imel: My original intention when I began the process of continuing BMC Toys production was to just send an order to Bill’s manufacturing agent (Thomas Leung in Hong Kong), and get the products back in stock as quickly as possible. I soon found that some of the products had licensing agreements that were no longer in place without Bill around. The artist of the fine art used on several of BMC products was very helpful and we reached an agreement that allowed me to sell what was already on hand, but he had a new licensing agent that I couldn’t reach an agreement with for new production. The licensing issue, along with the fact that most of the package art was so old it was on film and not in a digital format, led me to redesign the packaging from the ground up. I decided to reduce the size of the large playset boxes to help cut down on freight costs which have increased tremendously since the sets were first introduced, and also upgraded those boxes to a sturdier and more reusable tray style that was often used for vintage playsets. Once that was decided, I figured since we’re redesigning the packaging, now would be the time to make any other changes or upgrades. We (myself and Thomas) reviewed of all the contents, colors and tooling (molds). Thomas suggested sticker sheets might be a good idea for the vehicles, and I already had this in mind since it worked out well on the Tim Mee reissues I offer. I wound up designing the sticker sheets and most of the package design work myself, which turned out to be a much bigger project than I anticipated, and delayed the new production by nearly a year. I decided to have the Bombed Farm House mold improved a bit, and had a new mold of a flag and rock formation made as upgrades to the D-Day Normandy and Iwo Jima boxed playsets. The flag and rock pieces are copies of pieces from the original BMC Alamo set, although the new flagpole is thicker since the original had a tendency to sag. I made minor color changes on some of the accessories, and also increased the piece count of the Appomattox bagged set.
Warhorse Miniatures: BMC made some interesting playsets, like “Battle of the Little Big Horn”, “Battle of Yorktown”, “Gettysburg”, “Alamo” and some others. Do you have any plans of re-releasing these?
Jeff Imel: The early BMC Toys molds (pre-1998) were owned by the factory in China that produced the sets. The owner of the factory passed away unexpectedly, and the molds were sold to another factory. The products were then sold under the Americana Souvenirs brand. Since I don’t have access to the original molds, there are no current plans to reissue the early sets.
Warhorse Miniatures: Are there any plans for any new playsets? What are your plans for BMC?
Jeff Imel: No new playsets are in development yet. I have some ideas, as well as some projects that I found in Bill’s files. So far, my focus has just been on relaunching the existing BMC Toys product line ‘American Heroes Collector Series’. There are a couple of smaller projects I’d like to develop soon. One is a set of Coast Guardsmen that would plug into the D-Day Higgins Boat. There is also a tank project that Bill developed that is ready for the mold phase. In the short term, I’m adding a new product line to BMC Toys, the ‘Classic Army Men Collector Series’. This line will feature recasts of vintage figures and accessories made in the US. The first product in this line is a recast of the Lido WW2 GI’s. The next product is a 1950’s mold from DK Toys and Novelty. It’s a set of WW2 Soldiers that are copies of the early Tim Mee figures. My plan for BMC is to relaunch the products, and maintain it as a retail toy line sold in hobby shops gift shops and eCommerce. I see the product line as a bridge between the inexpensive toys sold in the mass market and the more expensive hobby shop plastic figures.
Warhorse Miniatures: Thanks again Jeff, is there anything else you would like to add about VictoryBuy Inc., or BMC Toys?
Jeff Imel: When I work with venerable brands like Tim Mee and BMC Toys, I generally see my role as that of caretaker. This was driven home even more when I met Bill’s son James to complete the sale of BMC. As we shook hands he said “Take good care of my Dad’s company.”. I take that to heart, and it reminds me that these aren’t just pieces of plastic, but are encapsulations of people’s memories. They’re a small physical representation of the soldiers they’re based upon, the artists that designed and sculpted them, the business people that brought them to market, the mold makers, factory workers, and the now several generations of folks that play with, collect, and in turn share them along with the memories with the next batch of youngsters. A bag of plastic army men seems like such a simple thing, but it actually takes a lot of people and a lot of work to produce. I have too many people to thank for their help in relaunching BMC, so for today, I’d just like to thank and remember Bill McMaster and his family.
I was glad to learn more about Jeff and BMC & VictoryBuy. It should be interesting to see what they produce in the future. I will run out and grab a few playsets soon, they make great gifts for the young & old a like. So don’t miss out on these sets this time.
I like the “AMERICAN HERO COLLECTOR SERIES”, especially now when it seems that History is being erased. Here is a list that I grabbed from the BMC blog page, that you can go to through the link above.
Here’s a rundown on the changes to the BMC Toys product line in 2017:
- 40028 ACW Appomattox Figures 26pc: Piece count increased to 26.
- 40022 Alamo Figures 37pc: No changes.
- 40023 ARW Yorktown Figures 34pc: No changes.
- 49991 WW2 Amtrac Vehicle: Sticker sheet added.
- 99999 WW2 Atlantic Wall Fortifications 21pc: New item.
- 49996 WW2 Bombed Farm House: Walls changed to tan ABS plastic, reinforcing lines added to interior and roof pins are thicker.
- 40024 WW2 D-Day Figures 34pc: No changes.
- 40009 WW2 D-Day Normandy Playset: Smaller tray style box. Sticker sheets, 3 flags and rocks added. Barbed wire, sandbags, and improved Farm House.
- 40027 WW2 D-Day Utah Beach Playset 40pc: Sticker sheets added.
- 49997 WW2 German Bunker with Cannon: Sticker sheet added.
- 49999 WW2 German Tiger Tank (Gray): Sticker sheet added.
- 49998 WW2 Higgins Boat Landing Craft: Sticker sheet added.
- 40032 WW2 Iwo Jima Figures 32pc Olive and Tan: New item.
- 40026 WW2 Iwo Jima Figures 32pc Sage and Butternut: No changes.
- 40013 WW2 Iwo Jima Playset: Smaller tray style box, sticker sheets, 2 flags and rocks added.
- 49990 WW2 Sherman Tank: Sticker sheet added.