Well it is almost September and the Chicago Toy Soldier Show. One of the biggest plastic makers will not be there this year. If you have been collecting plastic toy soldiers over the last 20 years you probably heard of Toy Soldiers of San Diego or TSSD. When I first started looking for toy soldiers on the internet Nick was one of the first dealers that I found. I remember chatting with him about some hobby related topics and getting few things. He was very helpful.
Last year TSSD was sold to Dave & Kim Cook of https://micshaunscloset.com. They are now re-stocking older sets if you need something.
I had stopped collecting for a bunch of years and TSSD started producing their own plastic figures. A bunch of years later I started collecting again. This was around the time their Plains Indian Sets were being produced. The have always been a favorite of mine.
Last year I was planning on setting up to do an interview with Nick & DeAnna, but waited when I heard that they were talking about selling their company. Recently after purchasing some items from them we set up an interview.
Hi. Nick & DeAnna. It has been a pleasure to purchase your products over the years. I hope that both of your a doing well.
Warhorse Miniatures: I remember purchasing some things from you before you started producing your own products. Can you tell us how you got started?
TSSD: Hello Mike.
I started collecting again, perhaps 25 plus years ago after seeing an ad in a civil war history magazine from “The Toy Soldier Company”. Then Conte Collectibles arrived on the scene. I had visited with Richard when he was still in Las Vegas. I was very impressed with what he had already done in the hobby and what he had planned to do.
I wished to design & manufacture figures at least as good as Conte Collectibles had already released. The two keys to our manufacturing success was the sculptor David Lea and Bill McMaster of BMC Toys. He introduced us to his Hong Kong connection for the manufacturing.
Warhorse Miniatures: You started producing plastic figures in the 1990’s. Your first sets were American Civil War figures. What was the main reason you started with this theme?
TSSD: DeAnna and I could not afford to “Lay an Egg” on our first attempt. So we went with something safe, the American Civil War. At the time, it seemed that the most popular historical period was the Civil War.
Warhorse Miniatures: You have produced figures from the Alamo, American Civil War, Cowboys & Indians, Romans & Barbarians, Vietnam War and World War II themes. If you were going to start making figures in new theme, what would that be?
TSSD: Perhaps World War One. There are so many different ways to go. WWI had everything from Cavalry to Tanks!
Warhorse Miniatures: It seems that the cost of producing plastic figures these days has really increased since when you first started. Can you give us your insight into this?
TSSD: It has been years since we first started manufacturing. I think it is logical to assume that all costs to produce new figure set would have increased by now. That being said, it still seems very reasonable to me. The key to keeping the costs down is to manufacture enough sets the first time out.
Warhorse Miniatures: My favorite sets that you produced were the American Indian sets. They are really great to paint too. What are some of your most favorite sets and why?
TSSD: I agree, David did a great job with the American Indians. I have always like the long coat winter Union Civil War Infantry. They are different from most other Civil War sets made by anyone. They came out very well and they also look great when painted.
Also our very first set the Civil War Confederates have always been some of my favorite figures. I remember when we first released set # 1 they were very well received. Collectors had really not seen anything like them at the time.
Warhorse Miniatures: Along the way you worked with Barzso Playsets and Paragon Scenics. Was there any other companies that you worked with or wanted to work with?
TSSD: It was really great teaming up with Ron Barzso on “The Road to Stalingrad” playset. It was a big hit!! Today if we were to make something new, I would like to team up with Ken Ciak the owner of LOD Enterprises. I like what he is doing and what he plans to do.
Warhorse Miniatures: What are some of your favorite things in your collection? And are you still collecting?
TSSD: My favorite TSSD set is Set # 1, the Civil War Confederates. The sculptor did an amazing job. I also named each figure pose, which people really enjoyed. To this day they still are a hit with collectors. Over 10,000 sets sold world wide!
I also really like some of our foam pieces. Most made by Gary Fournier in SoCal. The 12 pieces that we added to the “Conte Collectibles” Alamo are some of my favorites too. With the Conte pieces and the TSSD Alamo pieces & TSSD Chapel building. You can easily make a great looking Alamo diorama.
Today I mostly collect “King & Country” metal figures. Years ago we were also a metal dealer. I have some metal figure sets from K & C, Frontline, Conte, W. Britain and other older companies.
Warhorse Miniatures: If there was one more set of toys soldiers or a foam piece that you could make what would it be?
TSSD: I would like to do something different. Like “The Charge of the Light Brigade” or If money was no object a Massive “Picketts Charge” type of playset or similar!
Warhorse Miniatures: One of the reasons you retired was because of your health. How are you feeling these days?
TSSD: I’m doing ok. I had a stroke several years ago. Plus several other heath issues since then. I feel lucky to still be here and still a part of the hobby. My Amazing wife DeAnna has been through all of this with me as well, Unfortunately! DeAnna ran TSSD while I still had my real job and she learned the business. She has done a Great job.
Warhorse Miniatures: Your journey in this business has been an inspiration to me, the Cooks and to others. What advise would you give to any one thinking about trying start there own toy soldier company?
TSSD: I would say “Go For It!!” Make a good business plan and follow it. Find the best sculptor that you can. It all starts there. Visit with other toy soldier companies as well. I wish everyone working in the hobby and anyone wanting to manufacture all the Best & Good Luck.
Warhorse Miniatures: Thanks again for taken your time in answering the questions. Would you like to share anything with the collectors?
TSSD: I would like to Thank Everyone in this Great Hobby that helped us and supported us all these years. And I want to Thank my business partner & Wife who made all this possible! DeAnna has been the perfect “Toy Soldier Wife” and business partner!
Thank you everyone and keep on collecting!!
FORMERLY ‘TOY SOLDIERS OF SAN DIEGO
Well that concludes the interview. Thank you Nick & DeAnna for all everything you have done for the hobby. Now we will start with some news.
Ed Borris has acquired these original Barzso sculpts that were never made. He has plans to have them cast for a limited run mini set. These were supposed to go with the Bushy Run set Ed says.
I read on Stad’s page that X-Force is getting ready to release a medieval set again. Here are what look like some peasant militia. You can read more over here, Stad’s Stuff.
I recently got these Mars World War II Japanese Paratrooper from Kent of Toy Soldier HQ. You can check out his page over here, http://toysoldierhq.com/. He also sells on eBay, Kent on eBay. Mars is getting better with there sets. I would give them a B for this set. The grade of B is mainly for a missed opportunity of this set being so much better.
I like the subject matter and most of the poses they did chose. The main thing that I dislike is the scale of these figures. If they were just a little thicker, it would have been a great set. They do look good when you mix them in with Marx & MPC Japanese figures. MPC is there best match. Some of the Marx figures look ok mixed, some not that good. TSSD are bigger that these figures and Airfix are thicker. Like the Marx figures, the Airfix figures look ok with some poses and not that good with others.
Some of the figures look clean and some less. You can see what I am talking about by looking at the pictures. The weapons look better than the earlier Japanese set. For the price it is worth getting to add these figures to you vintage Banzai!!!
It has been a busy summer with work. I have picked up a few more figure sets and playsets the last couple of months. While writing this article I purchased the TSSD/Barzso “The Road To Stalingrad” playset, lol. In my next post I hope to have some pictures of the things that I have been getting. Plus a few more reviews of new or older products. That is it for now. Thank you for reading.
Around 2015 I started becoming more active in collecting toy soldiers again. I joined a few of the facebook groups and started this blog page. I also started attending the toy shows on a regular basis. After a while you start building some connections & friendships with other collectors. One of those collectors is named Ed Borris. He reminds me of Boris Todbringer from Warhammer. The Grizzly Leader of Middenheim who gave his eye defending his realm also known as Elector Count Boris Todbringer, Graf of Middenheim, Grand Duke of Middenland, Prince of Carroburg, Protector of the Drakwald, Warden of the Middle Mountains, Beloved of Ulric. They must have used Ed as inspiration.
Today I got a chance to sit down with the Infamous Ed Borris. If you have been collecting for a while you most likely have either heard of him, met him at a show or seen some of his custom conversions on the internet. He is famous for his Alamo conversions. He also has a some limited run figure sets made. Plus a custom designed figure of himself set in the Alamo theme. Which I am proud to say I own.
Hi Ed, I hope you are feeling better soon.
Warhorse Miniatures: I know that you are a collector of a lot of the Marx figures. Can you tell us about yourself and when did you start collecting?
Ed Borris: Well, I was born and raised in Chicago. I was hooked at an early age (with toy soldiers). What got me me hooked was my Alamo playset that I got for Christmas one year when I was 5. It was the large Alamo with 5 cannons, the cream and metallic blue Mexicans and the 45mm defender. I’ve been collecting off and on since then. I really got back into it in 2000 and slowly became a dealer/collector.
Warhorse Miniatures: I have seen some of your great conversions over the years. When did you start doing this?
Ed Borris: Back in 2000 I started gathering Alamo figures off of E-Bay. At first I bought all my conversions from Roger Ross and Gary Dutko. While I like their figures they didn’t necessarily cover the poses I wanted. So examined what they did and decided to try it myself. I made poses I felt I needed. One day a buddy came over and he saw my Alamo that I had set up in my basement at the time and some of my conversions. Well he really liked them and asked if he could buy some of them from me. I was reluctant, but I said why not and he bought 25 or 30 of my conversions. I thought if he liked them maybe other people would too. So I started making them, most of them unique. Unlike others I don’t do too many guys over and over or just do a lot of head swaps. The first time I went to a show and tried to sell my conversions I brought about 140 or so of them. Four or five guys bought 5 or 10 at a time. Then suddenly Craig Remington walked in took one look at them and said how much. I gave him the price and he said he’ll take them all. I’ve been churning them out ever since.
Warhorse Miniatures: I would think that you must have done thousands of conversions. Can you tell us about the process?
Ed Borris: There are few standard conversions that whoever converts does and I do them too. My process is, I think a pose up in my head or look at a picture from some book or magazine what pose I think I want to do. I then try to find the parts from my rather large pile of figures & parts to make the pose come alive so to speak. My actual process is fairly simple I don’t have a drill or a saw, I cut everything with an X-acto knife and use brush on crazy glue with straight pins to attach all the parts. I do use filler now and then, but often the glue and the paint can obscure the seam lines. Often when I’m trying to put together one of my visions I discover my idea won’t work, however the guy I end up with is better than my vision. (At the end of the interview we have a tutorial that Ed provided.)
Warhorse Miniatures: Last year you had a limited run set of Mexicans based from original Barzso sculpts. Do you have any other sets planned that you want to make?
Ed Borris: I do have one figure in the works that I found in a junk box, I made a couple slight changes and suggested a couple of more to Jason Pope who is going to make him up for me. It will be small run, very small.
Warhorse Miniatures: Besides your Alamo collection. What are some of your favorite things to collect?
Ed Borris: My only other real interest is Custer’s Last Stand. I also collect single figures that I find interesting, they can be from any era. Generally they are odd figures that you don’t often see or take notice of. The pose is what usually strikes me.
Warhorse Miniatures: Any funny stories that you would like to share with us from some of the shows?
Ed Borris: John Stengel and I were at a dealer party at Mad Dawgs in San Antonio. I got there late because my original flight got cancelled. By the time I got there most of the people were half in the bag. So I had some catching up to do. Anyway gradually everyone else cleared out except John and me. We were pretty toasted. We finally decided it was time to go and we suddenly realized we didn’t really know how to get back to the motel. I somehow managed to remember part of the way I walked there and we staggered back together to the motel.
Medieval figures by Valdemar Miniatures
Warhorse Miniatures: What do you think of the hobby these days? There was Marx and then nothing. Then companies like Barzso & Conte popped up. Do you have any insight about the hobby from the past to the present?
Ed Borris: Unfortunately I didn’t get involved at the height of the Marx heydays. I got back around 2000. I say the tail end of the higher prices, but the height of Conte & Barzso and the emergence of TSSD & Paragon. When I got interested again those newer companies were already in action. I think they were great for the hobby, they breathed new life into it and got more people involved. Not just old Marx collectors. The more the merrier I say. If the hobby was just old Marx items the hobby would had pretty much died out. Many people involved now have no interest in old Marx items and collect newer items.
Ed Borris’s Ron Barzso tribute figure made by Jason Pope
Conversions by Ed Borris
What is a conversion?
My definition would be the transformation of a figure into a new and different pose.
Why would someone convert a figure or figures?
No matter how many figures are produced on a subject or era, one can always imagine a pose or poses that are lacking for their needs. Most manufacturers of plastic figures and even metal figures generally only cover the most basic of poses even if it is a specialized set. Like perhaps a cannon crew. Someone may want a dead cannoneer draped over the cannon which may not have been produced. If someone truly desires that pose for their diorama, they would either need to make one themselves or pay someone to make one for them. While I convert different era’s my specialty is the Alamo. I find that casualty figures are lacking. It seems that when manufacturers are making figures that they shy away from these poses. They have a limited number of poses that they can produce in one set and they fill them standard poses. That’s what got me started in converting in the first place, trying to fill that void.
What process is involved in converting a figure?
⦁ Visualize the pose you want to end up with, this really the most important step,. You have to know what you want in the end before you can start. Do you want to produce someone being shot, dead, firing, charging, fighting hand to hand etc etc.
⦁ Consider what parts would be needed to transform the figure to the desired pose.
⦁ Locate the parts needed from other figures or other sources.
⦁ Verify that those parts from other figures are compatible with the original figure. There is often a difference in sizes in various figures even if produced by the same manufacturer. The parts could be too large or too small. There are differences in the way they are dressed to make them not compatible. For instance a figure in long sleeves cannot easily be matched with a figure with short sleeves or a figure from the Revolutionary War may not match up well with WWII Marine.
What tools are needed to convert a figure?
There are many tools that can be used, some people use small hand held saws, Dremels, drills, and soldering irons. These all have their uses and over time you can decide for your self what you need. I however believe in the KISS philosophy ( keep it simple stupid), I use the flowing tools:
X-acto knifes ( I use a large one for cutting and a smaller one for fine tuning)
Straight pins (they reinforce any parts you may add to the base figure)
A push pin (use to make the hole in which you insert the straight pin)
Glue (choose your favorite, I use brush on crazy glue)
Combination wire cutters/pliers (to push in the straight pin and cut the inserted pin down to size)
Bic Lighter (I use BIC you can use whatever you like if you choose to go this route. I use the lighter to heat up one of the X-actos to smooth out rough seams where you are attaching parts from different figures)
Paint (often the parts you may use may be different colors than the figure you are merging them with) I try to paint all figures to fit into the typical play set theme, where different armies are one color.
I will now go through a step by step of a simple conversion.
I use simple tools. Once you get comfortable making conversions you may find other tools not pictured will help you in your task. I have two X-acto knifes, glue, straight pins, push pin, combo pliers/wire cutter and a BIC lighter. The push pin is hidden by the glue.
I selected these two figures as I have done them many times before, instead of standing firing pose and an advancing pose, we will have a shooting pose advancing.
Cutting the figures
I am going to cut each of these figures at the waist. There is a clear division between the torso and the legs, it’s hard to make out in this photo, but I am going to make my cuts at this division.
Preparing the figure for pin insertion
When combining figures from different makers, you will often find that the plastic from one figure is of a harder type then the other. I always insert the pin in the harder plastic figure so it makes it easier to combine the figures later on. Since these figures are from the same maker, I selected the upper torso as there is more room to insert the pin without worrying about the pin protruding from the legs when I combine them. It is not necessary to completely insert the push pin, just insert if far enough so you will get a firm connection.
Inserting straight pin and cutting off the pins head
Use the combo pliers/wire cutter to push the pin into the figure, again don’t push the pin all the way in as you will want to use the pin to connect to the other part of the figure you are trying to make. Just push it in far enough so you will have a firm platform to combine the figures. After you have inserted the pin to your satisfaction, cut the head off the straight pin, you will want to leave enough pin sticking out so you can combine it with the other part or parts. The length you will leave protruding will vary depending on the parts you are combining. For example you would leave more pin when combing upper and lower torsos then you would for a hand or head.
Combining the parts
You are now ready to combine the two parts. Line up the parts and try to center them so they will combine as evenly as possible.
Now that you have it lined up, put some glue in between the two parts. I use a brush on Crazy Glue as this makes it easy to apply the glue where I want it. Once you have applied the glue push the parts together.
Hold the two parts together firmly and give the glue a chance to set up. You now have a new figure.
The only thing left to do is try to smooth out the seams between the two parts, I heat up the smaller X-acto knife and smooth out the junctions.
Now that you have a finished figure you can paint it if you wish, note the figures used in this conversion were the same color, that is not always the case. I paint all my Mexicans one color and the defenders another, so I have that clear distinction between opposing forces.
I would also advise to save your extra parts as they may come in handy later for making additional conversions.
Ed Borris & Plastic Toy Soldiers
I sometimes find myself asking why I collect plastic unpainted toy Soldiers. This requires me to take a close sometimes scary look at myself. So, I’m going to take you on a journey to my early years.
I grew up in Chicago in a predominately white lower to middle class neighborhood as an only child. We lived in the basement of a house owned by my grandparents. The dominant religion in my neighborhood was Catholic. The ethnic makeup was predominantly of Eastern European descent with a sprinkling of Irish and Italians. Although Chicago is a vast city our street only extended for one block,but that one block housed a lot of children.
One of the interesting facts about Chicago is that it averages about 84 days of sunshine a year and the winters can be rather snowy and cold. You may ask yourself what does this have to do with unpainted plastic toy soldiers? Well, due to the weather a lot of days are spent indoors.
What does a young child do to occupy himself on these days spent indoors? Different children do different things, some watch TV, but in those days we only had four channels to choose from, you can read, or the most popular, play with toys. Different kids had different tastes, so many would color, play with cars or build things with building blocks. My personal choice was generally unpainted plastic toy soldiers.
Why unpainted plastic toy soldiers? Well, they were readily available, almost every drugs tore or variety store carried them back then from one maker or another, they were cheap and for me they held my attention. I could set them up and have battles for hours at a time. There was a cool little variety store located a couple of blocks from where I lived called Darby’s. It was an old-fashioned store with wooden floors that sold just about everything. They had a candy counter and one half of an entire aisle devoted to toys with a counter made of wood portioned with glass forming bins containing all sorts of toy soldiers, plus rack bags galore. This store was a favorite of mine, so when my mother would announce she was going there I tried to always tag along and con her into buying me some toy soldiers as they were always my first choice. Back then there many different toy soldiers to choose from in the many bins in the toy aisle. Some contained painted metal, mostly Barclay pod feet type guys or unpainted plastic Marx 60mm figures, the ones that later became Warriors of the World. On most trips my con game was successful, I would choose the plastic figures that you got the most bang for your nickel or dime. Sometimes my dad would accompany us and he would usually buy me a Barclay metal figure. I guess he identified with metal toy soldiers and he probably thought they were more of a collectible item. I preferred the plastic guys, but who was I to complain?
Why do I prefer unpainted plastic? To me there is something simple yet elegant in an unpainted plastic figure, you can see the facial expressions of each figure. The lines in the clothing, the details of the weapon they hold plus the were usually advertised as unbreakable. Always a plus with rowdy young child.
Once I returned home, always an anxious time for me because I could hardly wait to tear open that bag and incorporate these newly purchase figures into one of my many battles. I had a sandbox in my yard and on those sunny days my toy soldiers would accompany me to the sandbox where I could dig trenches, make fox holes and give my battlefield a more realistic feel.
In my early days, I didn’t get boxed play sets, but rather just bagged or loose figures. That all changed with my 5th Christmas. On Christmas morning there was a rather large box under the tree. When I opened it there was a box that said Alamo on it. I waited anxiously as my father removed the large staples from the box so I could see what was inside. Inside there was a tin Alamo, bags of Mexicans & defenders, horses, cannons accessories and everything a kid could need to fight his own battle of the Alamo. My set had two bags of metallic blue Mexicans one bag of cream defenders. Then I had two bags of silver and one of tan defenders, there were 5 cannons , bags of accessories and horses. I was in awe and couldn’t wait to start my battle. Of course I had to wait for my dad to read the instructions and assemble all the tin pieces before I could begin the carnage. Funny thing after 67 years on this planet I can still remember that day as if it was yesterday, it was the first Christmas I remember and one I will never forget.
For the next four or five Christmases or birthdays I would receive a Marx play set every year and each one was greatly appreciated, some more than others. I would put a set on my want list every year, Battleground, The Artic Explorer and Cape Canaveral. But instead of the Marx sets I requested I’d get a substitute and although grateful, there was always a tinge of disappointment. Although in some instances I probably got more enjoyment out of some of these replacement sets than I would have from the Marx set I wanted.
Anyway, from the age of 5 to perhaps 14 unpainted plastic toy soldiers were a part of my life, when I wasn’t outside doing whatever it was that kids did back then I was inside playing with my toy soldiers. Of all the things that occupied my time, I enjoyed those times the best. I remember with sadness when my parents started commenting that I was getting to be too old for toy soldiers and maybe I should pass them on younger kids. I guess they could never grasp how I felt about my toy soldiers and all those things they meant to me, they were like friends to me. The day my mother finally made me give them away almost broke my heart, it was another one of those days I will remember forever. However, that day was a day of sadness and not joy.
Gradually I accepted that perhaps I was too old and maybe I should move on to other things. Whenever I would go over to a friends house and if he had a little brother playing with toy soldiers, I would always check them out. If I was at some store that sold toys, I would make it a point to sneak into that aisle to see what was being sold in the way of toy soldiers.
As I grew older, I moved on to other things and for the most part I was occupied with girls, sports , school and working. Toy soldiers were pretty much on that back burner, but I never fully forgot those good times I had with them. If I would go to some store that carried them I would always make it a point to check out what was new. While I would refrain from purchasing any it was more out of a sense I was too embarrassed to buy them, not that I didn’t want them.
Eventually I got married at a young age, too young really and I found myself disenchanted with my wife and basically bored with her. At this point I decided that I was of the age that I could become a hobbyist and build dioramas. That would be like playing with toy soldiers again, but not actually crawling on the floor and having battles. So I began buying them with the intent of making a diorama that depicted Waterloo. I would run off to the local hobby shop and buy boxes of Airfix 25mm figures, terrain pieces and other items to complete my diorama. When I wasn’t playing ball, working or out chasing women (yes, I was still married), I got to work on my diorama. I should point out that at this time I ventured into making conversions, they were somewhat crude. But conversions none the less. I would spend hours when not otherwise occupied setting up and gluing figure to my diorama base, then viewing the battlefield and rearranging them.
One day I got divorce. About a year later I got remarried. This event caused me to put my hobby on hold again as I now had what I thought was new purpose. This hiatus lasted 19 years. Once again I found myself getting a divorce after 17 years of marriage, I got custody of my two young daughters so after two years of learning to be a proper parent I discovered E-Bay. The first thing I searched for on E-Bay was you guessed it, unpainted plastic toy soldiers. My first purchase was a home made Alamo compound. Once again I was back in the hobby, now that I had an Alamo compound I needed figures to occupy it. I was off and running and haven’t looked back since.
Since that initial purchase I have bought many unpainted plastic toy soldiers and even revived my making of conversions. Eventually, I graduated into becoming a dealer and have remained one to the present time. What do I sell? Why of course unpainted plastic toy soldiers.
You can see what Ed & Mike are selling on eBay at this link, eBay Seller beverlkutnic-0.
Thank you for reading. That is it for now.
I first noticed the Mars Figures company a few years ago, http://www.marsfigures.com/. At the time they were making little plastic toy soldiers in 1/72 scale. I don’t collect figures in that scale so I really didn’t pay any attention to them. After reading an article on the Stad’s Stuff website I was aware that they had now began producing figures in 1/32 scale.
They started making some sets based on modern warfare. These subjects I do not collect, so I still didn’t really give them to much notice. They did remind me of the old boxed Airfix, Esci or Matchbox plastic toys soldiers that I used to get as a kid.
This year I noticed that they had started to make some World War II sets. I liked some of the figures in a couple of these sets. But it wasn’t until the Pirates of the Caribbean set was released that I really wanted to get a set of their figures.
Earlier in the month I started talking to Sergey Zabashta the owner of Mars Figures about doing an interview. After a few weeks he finally found time to answer a few questions.
Warhorse Miniatures: Hi Sergey. Can you tell us a little about yourself and Mars Figures?
Sergey Zabashta: Yes of course. From my early childhood I was fond of collecting model airplanes. The same was for 1/32 & 1\72 scaled plastic figures. When the USSR collapsed it was a difficult time for many people. Many people stopped taking part with their hobbies because they were faced with many other problems. My interests had also changed. Approximately in 2001, I realized that I wanted to work and make money that brought me satisfaction. I analyzed the 1/72 scale market at that time. I concluded that I can earn money and that I would be interested in doing it.
(Sergey continues) It began with the fact that I created the EVO brand and repackaged LW products (At that time, a company with a large assortment of figures of 72 scales) in bags with my EVO logo. I also resold wholesale products from Zvezda, Miniart and others. It did not last long. Then I leased a number of molds from the Archipelago company. By that time I decided to make a beautiful package(box art) and a new brand that I called Mars (god of war and a close planet in my horoscope :-))
(Sergey continues) Things went well and I also bought some of the molds from the Converter company. The production of these figures from those molds were copies of Esci and Revell figures. At that time it was not prohibited in my country but buyers from Europe had a negative opinion about such products. Therefore it was decided to make new original molds. The first set was Pirates of the Caribbean Sea in 1/72 scale. There were many difficulties with the production of the first set, but I was able to achieve a good work of the mold. Today we have more than 100 sets in 1/72 scale. And about 20 sets in the 1/32 scale. This year 10 new sets are planned.
Warhorse Miniatures: Most of your figures are cast in the 1/72 scale. When did you decide to cast them in 1/32 scale?
Sergey Zabashta: I had long thought to start producing figures on the 1/32 scale. I played with toy soldiers of this scale in my childhood. I liked to play WWII figures. In the USSR we had WWII themed toy soldiers from Matchbox, Airfix, and Hong Kong copies growing up. I wondered if I could make a mold for figures of the 1/32 scale. The production of these molds takes a lot of time and money. So for a long time I did not dare to experiment. One day, a friend of mine suggested that I remake the Taliban set in 1/32 scale. This set initially consisted of 8 figures. My friend once invested in producing this set from Oritet. Two molds were made. At that time they were issued, but the head of Oritet died and the project was discontinued. I made a mold using these 4 figures. Production of this mold took about 1 year, but the mold turned out to be successful and is still working. After that, I finally decided that I would release some of the sets in the 1/32 scale.
Warhorse Miniatures: Your first sets cast in the 1/32 scale were based on modern warfare of Afganistian & Vietnam. Why did you choose these subjects?
Sergey Zabashta: I thought that the 1/32 scale from the USA were the most favorite of this scale being collected. So I wanted to make some sets on the topics related to the conflicts in which the USA took part. Six sets were released for this period. My favorite is Viet Cong. The period of the war in Afghanistan was also limited by manufacturers of 1/32 scaled figures. I made 2 sets for this period, but the sales were low. Therefore more sets for this period are not planned.
Warhorse Miniatures: My favorite set you did in 1/32 scale are the Pirates of the Caribbean. The sculpting with this set has really improved over some of the earlier sets. Are you using a new sculptor?
Sergey Zabashta: This is the same sculptor who made the figures in Vietnam and Afghanistan.
Update. Sergey says that the Pirate, Vietnam and Afghanistan were sculpted by the same sculptor. The World War II sets are made with new technology and sculptor. The Somali Insurgents had a different sculptor too.
Warhorse Miniatures: I know you are planning some new WWII sets and Napoleonic sets for the future. What else are your planning?
Sergey Zabashta: I plan to continue making WWII sets. I am also planning on making sets of Conquistadors. They will be heavy cavalry and light Cavalry.
Update. Sergey said that there will be 4 Mounted poses. These figures will be new sculpts. He is in the process of making the horses first and looking at different sculptors for the figures. He is real excited about this project.
Warhorse Miniatures: There are a lot of collectors out there like me that collect Barzso, Conte and Airfix. We are looking for new figures that match those figures in scale. Your last set of Pirates of the Caribbean figures match the Barzso pirates perfectly. Are you going to make future sets in the same scale as these brand of figures?
Sergey Zabashta: Yes, of course. I plan to produce figures of 54-58mm. I do not plan to make larger figures in the same way as they produce some technological difficulties.
Warhorse Miniatures: Thank you for taking your time in answering the questions Sergey. Is there any thing that you would like to say to the collectors?
Sergey Zabashta: Today, most collectors are people over 40 years old. I would like a younger generation to grow up being interested in history and figures. It would be nice if fathers played with their children using toy soldiers. Then when their children grow up they would also continue this. I still remember my feelings when I first picked up the Airfix soldier from the Ghurkas set. I was only 9 years old then. I hope my thoughts were interesting to you.
For questions about the distribution of Mars figures, write to
That concludes the interview section of this article. I have a few things that I would like to also share.
I repainted a Barzso Block House foam piece that I got in Gettysburg last month and took out some figures to take some pictures. One of the Barzso Redcoats in the kneeling pose firing had a base. Up to this point I thought they all came with out a base. I had a few other sets that I had in storage that I took out and noticed that these had bases.
My question is when did they discontinue or start using a base?
Ever once in a while I stumble across something on eBay or sometimes I read something on Stad’s Stuff about some foreign plastic figures and then will look for them. A few weeks ago I stumbled across these Cromoplasto Indians.
They are 1/32 in scale. The material used is rubbery. The are almost semi flat too. One day I will repaint these too….
Last month I picked this metal figure up at a local flea market. He was made by The Saturday Evening Post in 1982. They appear to be about 1/32 in scale. Probably around 56mm or so in size. The details are really nice. I paid S5.00 for this figure. I will paint this one too, one day……
Last month while at the Gettysburg Toy Soldier show I purchased this Barzso Block House for S100. It had been repainted a semi gloss brown. I didn’t like the way it looked. So I planned on repainting it. It was another project to add to the pile of never ending projects. I was lucky enough to find some time when the weather was nice. Here are some pictures below of my progress.
I noticed a few areas that I have to touch up. I was thinking of maybe repainting the stone too. Besides the touch up I was also thinking of dry brushing the wood timbers. What color should I use? A beige or light gray? Plus a ash brown wash?
Next time when you are having a bad day, think of the time Davy had to fight a Grizzly Bear with a tiny knife….
Take Care and Thank you for reading.
One thing about going to the toy shows is getting a chance to meet fellow collectors, dealers and company owners. Just to talk about our collections, their products or hobby news. It is almost like therapy, lol. I don’t have to many personal friends that are collectors. So it is fun to talk or explain things to people that actually know what you are talking about or share the same passion in collecting.
Eddie White and Rich Egan.
Or collectors you meet you can talk about the crafting of things. I have been looking into all kinds crafting builds, sculpting items or figures, casting & making molds the past few years. I find it really interesting when I come across someone that is currently creating things. Even if it is something that I might not personally collect. I like to learn what they are doing.
Michael Sreckov on the right talking to fellow collector Thomas Kontos at the Midwest Toy Soldier Show.
A few months ago while I was at the Midwest Toy Soldier show I meet Michael Sreckov. He owns a small business called Warring Warbirds, Inc. They build hand crafted Airplanes and other unique items.
I remember seeing some pictures of his work being displayed in some of the toy soldier forums about the Chicago Toy Soldier Show. They are really impressive.
Michael found some time to answer a few questions.
Warhorse Miniatures: Can you tell us a little about your background and how did Warring Warbirds get started?
Michael Sreckov: I started Warring Warbirds, Inc. about four years ago. I was at the Chicago Toy Soldier Show during the room trading as everyone loves to do. I have been going to this show since 1996 and been a toy soldier collector since I was 12. I loved to see companies like King and Country, Figarti and Britains go head to head in competition with each other bringing new innovated ideas and concepts to the toy soldier industry and to the toy soldier collector. They were always trying to do one up from each other with the so called “Wow factor” to there displays and products. For example the Deutsche Reichsbahn train set introduced on a beautiful diorama depicting a German Train station during WW2 that Figarti did or the awesome diorama’s that depicted snap shots of history that are breath taking that Andy & Gordon Nelson from King and Country would do when showcasing there artistic new figures and vehicles making there creations come alive in miniature.
Michael Sreckov continues:
It was my fellow collectors and I that would talk nonstop of the many wonders they would see room to room. My friend Hans gave me the idea that he would love to see more WWII aircraft to go with his figures and dioramas that he was buying from K& C and Figarti. Then it dawned on me that this was a niche I would love to fill, but how. You heard the saying when opportunity comes a knocking you start a rocking. It was at one of my brother-In-Laws family parties that my opportunity came. See my brother in-law wife’s family are Filipino. My sister in-law’s first cousin was a artist and wood carver. His family owns a mahogany forestry in the Philippines and they carve airplanes, boats and cars and other wooden products. I could not believe what I was hearing. I spoke to him about starting a model plane business that catered to the toy soldier collector. From there it began. I started to ask my fellow collectors what they would like to see in planes.
Michael Sreckov continues:
I would make prototypes like Horsa Gliders and Lancaster Bombers all in 1/32 and 1/30 scale like the toy soldiers and bring them to the show and showcase from the back of my car in the parking lot of the Chicago show. Every plane I built was sold and more people asking where they could get them. I started to think, If I could get orders from customers at the shows. I could start getting them made and delivered to them. I knew my customers, because I am that customer. That toy soldier collector that knows all the details from the exact colors, patterns and accessories of a soldier as to the details to a model plane of a Junkers JU-52 transport bomber. See the devil is in the detail and so am I when it comes to creating works of art. As you can see in the photos I attached.
Warhorse Miniatures: What is the process with the designing of the planes?
Michael Sreckov: It takes 6 to 12 hours in research on the planes then a ten stage process: Carving, Interior build, Putty, Masking, Priming, Base coat painting, Masking, Secondary coat, Detailing, and Final sealer coating. Then the item is carefully packaged for shipping.
Warhorse Miniatures: Are they made of solid wood or a mixture of different materials?
Yes, they are made from Mahogany wood. The only other material would be metal land gear and polymer canopy’s.
Warhorse Miniatures: So I am guessing that most of your sales are at the shows & orders you receive by email. Do you do custom orders too?
Yes at the shows and orders that we receive by email. We do custom orders, but these can take longer pending on the size and detail special pricing.
Warhorse Miniatures: How much do you charge for these?
That depends on the size of the model, The level of detailing and shipping costs. For example a fighter plane 1/30 scale can be around $600 – $800 a model. Medium size range from $800-$1,500.00. Larger planes under 48″wing span $1,500- $1,800 and then there is custom which we would quote a price.
Warhorse Miniatures: Besides the planes do you do the dioramas too?
Yes. Typically bases for the model planes so they can be displayed. Like a 2 x 2 or 3 x 3 diorama base with a run way and area for adding toy soldiers,vehicles and buildings.
Warhorse Miniatures: And any other creations besides airplanes?
Well my good friend Marcus Thorsen of Thorsen Studios has made some beautiful dioramas for my plane displays which are for purchase. For example: We displayed the Hartenstein Hotel from the Movie Bridge Too Far. See pictures attached.
Well that concludes the interview. Michael will be at the Chicago Toy Soldier Show this September. Stop by and say hello. Here is his contact information below.
Warring Warbirds, Inc.
3640 Waterscape Terrace
Elgin, Illinois 60124
Mobile: (708) 683-0518
It was announced on May 30th that the East Coast Toy Soldier Show will continue. It will be on Sunday, November 3rd 2019.
We have more news about Conte. They released some information about their plastic figures on facebook. You can read that below.
Mr. C thought we should show this one, so you understand the process a bit.
We start with a wax original sculpt. Then we make ‘mold masters’ out of what is referred to as a ‘casting resin’. Once the mold masters are perfect, we send to the factory for review and prototyping. The gray figure on the right is a ‘mold master’ which is a virtually an exact copy of the original wax.(not shown) The cream colored figure on left is a plastic prototype made at the factory. Once the cream figure has been reviewed/modified/approved by Mr. C the factory can start making the heavy duty molds which ill produce the plastic soldiers we all have been waiting for.
You can see that what the factory is achieving is almost an exact copy of the mold master. Very slight shrinkage in size usually occurs; also the different colors can play ‘tricks’ with your eyes and make things look slightly different.
the great news here is that the final product looks to be true, faithful and beautiful ‘copies’ of our originals
(in the past, especially with product which we made in Canada, our beautiful originals were often heavily compromised, modified or changed at the factory thereby losing some of the action or sculpting excellence which we pride ourselves upon)
In answer to numerous similar questions:
1) we hope to show the first 4 charging attacking fighting poses in one fell swoop when factory prototypes are approved. We might even delay their unveiling a short time so they can be pictured with the 8 additional action sculpts which have NOT yet been sent to the factory.(like the centurion which we’ve previously shown here on FB)
2) many of the attacking/fighting poses DO have alternate heads, arms and such . we will try to prepare photos of the several alternate permutations.
3) no decision has been made on colors of plastic yet but red, silver , bronze seem the usual suspects
4) Yes, there are ‘casualties’. Thus far a falling wounded with spear in chest, a wounded prone on side, a dead face down, a dead face up have been finished as sculpts. Several at factory and several sit here on RC’s desk.
Wounded on knee is almost finished as a sculpt.
5) Roman fort. Nothing to report here. We hope to do one if there is enough collector interest for Roman range. Right now, all action is towards figure sculpt and production and a large scale hand to hand battle.
6) Configuration of sets. NOTHING HAS BEEN FINALLY DECIDED. Having said that, we are leaning towards 12 and/or 16 figures per set.
7) Pricing. No conclusions yet. Need to factor in shipping from factory to USA, shipping once in USA to us, customs fees, production costs, sculpting costs, possible tariffs, packaging, costs of mold masters, etc. etc. This is much more involved than many collectors might realize. Our goal is to keep the price as low as possible for our fellow collectors while also being able to make product which is in keeping with(and better than much of our plastic from the past) our historical Conte standards
8) Yes there are centurions (yes plural), aquilifer, signifer, vexillarius etc. either in the mix already or otherwise coming soon. First versions of these ‘characters’ are all in action fighting poses.
As I write this, I know that a brand new sculpt of a signifer who is attacking stabbing with sword in one hand and ‘flag’ in other is almost finished. A variation of this pose has him holding the ‘flag’ with 2 hands and using it like a spear.
9) What other Roman ranges (made by others) will these ‘go with’? We are designing these as a “conte” series with typical conte size and have given absolutely no thought at trying to match the size or ‘look’ of Romans made by others.(There are a lot of nice Romans by others)
The sculpting detail, the animation, the full-round designs, the ‘interaction ‘ of the figures within the range etc. are what we are focusing on.
Each collector will have to decide for themselves whether our new sets ‘go with’ any of the other Romans out there….
Our Romans will , in general, be a tad shorter than our Barbarians. This is intentional and based upon historical fact and ancient writings. It was even recorded that the Barbarians often attempted to insult the Romans by calling them ‘pygmies’
No set date yet. As soon as the first groupings go into mass production we shall have some updates.
We are as anxious as you to see these fellows in action and doing our best .
Lastly, Mr. C asked me to let you know that while he tries to answer all emails and letters, he cannot respond to all of the private inquiries and questions asking for special advance info or advance sneak peeks. He wants all collectors to have access to updates equally and at the same time. The best places for updates are here on FB or to be signed up (on our web page) for email blasts from us directly.
Sergey sent me a picture of the new Zombie Pirates in green color. They should be out in June. My favorite one looks like Barbrossa.
I almost forgot about the leaked photos of the Plastic Platoon 7th Cavalry prototype sculpts. Plastic Platoon released these are some pictures were leaked. Hopefully we will see these by the end of the summer. Here are more pictures.
Well that is it for now. Thank you for reading.