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1/6th scale modelling, a tale of four generations and several wars.

Discussion in 'Modelling' started by USMCPrice, Aug 31, 2022.

  1. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    I was a six-year-old kid when the original 1/6th scale action figure came out in 1964. The G.I.Joe had four figures an Action Soldier, Action Sailor, Action Airman and Action Marine. I asked for one each and some accessory/weapons packs for Christmas.
    I wasn't particularly enthralled with the new Hasbro toy; my favorites at the time were the Marx Toys plastic army men (basically 1/32 scale). I had several of the playsets and my extended family of relatives were always getting me more. I had shoe boxes full of tanks, landing craft, men, cannons, jeeps, trucks, mortars, tents, ammo crates, etc. from all eras. I had the Fort Apache set with cavalry, Indians, covered wagons, caissons and artillery. I had the Iwo Jima and D-Days sets of Marines, Japanese, US soldiers and Germans, I had Davy Crockett and the Alamo, the Civil War Confederates and blue barbarian invaders. My brother had the silver and gold knights and castle. We were living in the golden age of boy toys. These weren't the green plastic blobs and cheap vehicles that you find today, these were detailed vehicles and sculpts of soldiers. The quality went down with the arrival of the 1970's and the rise in oil prices (therefore plastic costs), and a sale of the Marx Toy company to Quaker Oats in 1972, the sculpt quality and weight of plastic decreased. The company was out of business by 1980. (BTW, BMC toys are now producing re-issues of many Marx toys soldiers, one of the presents to my oldest grandson last Christmas was an Iwo Jima playset. The quality is hit or miss on some figures though).

    [​IMG]

    BMC reissue.​

    Anyway, my dad's job at the time was to train up reconnaissance Marines for deployment to the growing conflict in Vietnam. He'd served as an advisor for Vietnamese forces and as CIA intelligence gathering asset during 1962/63. Unlike today, where the CIA has a robust, in-house para-military component made up of US personnel, back in the day their agents (CIA) ran foreign mercenary forces, but if they needed more robust, professional, quality military assets for a particular mission, they tasked US military forces with the missions through various DoD headquarters. It was still the same in the 1980's when I was in Special Forces, we'd be doing our primary mission of training indigenous forces in Central America, and we'd get loaned out to the CIA for a mission. You always hated it because the CIA are some shady fu*cks and you can never be sure if the mission is what it appears or part of some Machiavellian CIA plot and they're hanging you out to dry as a means of furthering some twisted plan. Anyway, he wasn't his usual big kid self, he was serious, stern and short tempered. I got 5 GI Joes for Christmas, four action Marines (a fire team) and a sailor, I got all the appropriate weapons and equipment, but he wouldn't play with them. He'd inspect them, berate me for what was wrong and make me fix them, tighten the guy lines on the tents, bedrolls on the packs not tight enough, you don't sling your rifle like that, etc. He wasn't always like that. He wasn't his usual self.
    I'd gotten grounded once for something or another and one day my friends came by to get me to play. I told them I couldn't because I was grounded. "Man, that stinks. Too bad. Can you see if your dad will come out and play." I was crushed, it wasn't fair that they'd get to play with him, he was mine. However, this incident goes to show that the serious, stern, short tempered version was not the normal version of my dad. Years later he would tell me he struggled with trying to make sure the men he was training were fully prepared for what they'd experience in Vietnam, but the casualty lists were growing longer and too many familiar names of Marines he'd recently trained were on them.
    The good thing was we lived on base, everybody had kids and all my friends were the kids of Marine or Naval personnel. We all had Joes and like most military bases there were woods everywhere where we'd go dig fighting holes, trenches, build bunkers of wood and play big, imaginary battles. They became the new favorite toy.


    [​IMG]

    Picture of dad around the time in question. He was a Sgt. E-5 but wearing Staff Sgt chevrons. The Marine Corps changed its rank structure in 1959 adding LCpl E-3 to the rank structure and crossed rifles to the chevrons. The new Sgt E-5 was the equivalent to the old Platoon/Staff Sergeant. Because the Marine Corps still didn't have adequate new metal rank insignia and to use up old stocks, they continued to use the old insignia through the early 1960's. He looked enough like me that when I was younger, and people would come over and see the picture on the wall they'd think it was me.


    End part 1
     
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  2. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    I was going to do this chronologically but guess I'm going to jump around within the timeline a 'la Pulp Fiction. Fast forward 2021, I see a cool 1/6 scale, RC Jeep on YouTube. Fully articulated, hyper detailed, metal chassis and running gear by RocHobby. I call my son (Gen3) and tell him he needs to get one for his son (Gen4). He's eight so should be old enough to appreciate and take care of it. It's a little expensive at $330. but really cool. I send him a link and he agrees. We'd discussed my getting the big Joes out for a Joe War, because he really wanted to play one with his son because he has so many fond memories of them from when he was a child. Christmas comes along, we're at their house, Harrison (the grandson) opens a present and it's the jeep. He's stoked, I'm stoked, the son is stoked. The model is perfect. My son hands me a couple of presents, I don't have a clue what they could be. Open them, it's another jeep and a jeep trailer, for me. I feel like a kid. Since then we've taken them out mudding several times and it's a lot like mudding a real jeep, a lot of fun and a lot cheaper than breaking the real thing.



    This second one is almost sacrilegious, (oh the heresy) it's being driven by a Barbie, but it does show off the jeeps capabilities well.

     
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  3. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    Part Deux...
    The original GI Joe was a toy, but it had brought new levels of realism to the toy soldier, fairly accurate representations of the arms and equipment used by US military personnel in WWII and Korea.
    Over the next several years after that original Christmas my GI Joe collection expanded, more figures, new and better accessory/uniform sets, vehicles. However, all good things come to an end. It was a combination of growing up and becoming disillusioned with the military and war. My dad deployed additional times, the war was in the news all the time, the fathers of neighborhood kids were dying, never coming back, and they'd move away. We already moved a lot, but the casualties added additional turmoil to the mix. It was 1967 into 1968, Con Thien, Operation Buffalo, the first Hill Fights at Khe Sahn.
    [​IMG]

    Mom and Dad, late 1966 right before returning to Vietnam in 1967.
    I remember vividly, seeing a picture of dead Marines on a tank in Look or Life magazine taken during Operation Buffalo. It was the boots! They looked just like dad's, and I became convinced that he was dead. I cried, withdrew, boxed up the GI Joe's and all their stuff and moved it to the attic, I wanted nothing more to do with them. A week or so later we got a letter, and I knew he was OK, and I'd been wrong, but the Joes never came back out.

    [​IMG]
    The actual picture I saw, and thought my dad was one of the dead Marines on the tank. Operation Buffalo July 1967 near Con Thien. Years later during a conversation he and I were having in a bar, he told me he'd been there that day helping to recover the lost Marines. he would have been off to the right with his RTO by a second tank.

    Dad came home in 1968, wounded. He worked hard at rehab, he did another tour in '69-'70 for a total of 39 months in three tours in Vietnam and an additional tour as an advisor to the Korean Marine Corps. I never got the GI Joes back out.

    Fast forward around 20 years, High School, College, the Marine Corps, then the US Army, I have a little boy and have just returned from a deployment. I take him to the toy store and what does he want 3.75 inch GI Joes, I refuse. He loves the GI Joe, Real American Hero cartoon, birthday, what does he want GI Joes. I go off to Ft. Bragg for SFAS and Phase I SFQC, coming home I want to bring the kid a gift, all he wants are GI Joes, I relent. Buy him "ACE", the F-14 "Sky Stryker" and a few other figures, he loves them. I get hm more men and vehicles, his grandparents and aunts and uncles get him more, they're what he wants for birthdays and Christmas'. Everytime I come home from a school or deployment all he wants is to play a Joe War. Pillows, blankets and quilts make good terrain, and we have hill fights. They go on for hours, days, the wife brings food and we stop for bathroom breaks and stop for a couple hours of sleep. Eventually, I tell him about the old Joes in Granny's attic. We go to get them, but she's given them away (they'd be worth a fortune today), but because of this, when my boys grow up, I put the toys back and keep for the grandkids.
    Then in 1997, 21st Century Toys produces "The Ultimate Soldier" toy collection. Better articulated, more realistic 12" action figures and equipment packs depicting WWII, Korea, Vietnam and Cold War soldiers. I buy some for the boys and we have "Big Joe Wars", dig fighting holes, bunkers, I even get carried away and mix some napalm once (bad decision, could have been much worse than lost eyebrows and a couple melted troops). They were fun and fond memories for the boys. They eventually outgrow them; they're boxed up and stored in the basement.
    Fast forward to 2004, the older son comes home from VMI for the summer and tells me he and a friend are enlisting in the Marines, he wants to fight the war. 2006 he's in Iraq and it's the deadliest phase of the war for the Marine Corps. Being the parent of a servicemember deployed to war is the hardest thing you'll ever do. When the news says two or twelve Marines have been killed in Al Anbar you stay glued to the TV to see if it's your son's unit. You get calls in the middle of the night telling you the unit has had a casualty but it's not your Marine. You're thankful, then feel guilty because you know someone is getting an in person visit from the casualty notification teams. Then on the nights when no one calls, you worry that everyone else is getting calls and the casualty notification teams are on their way to your house. You have trouble sleeping and awaken with dread every time headlights come into the neighborhood.
    In a letter home he told me he missed the Joe Wars we used to play and when he gets home, he'd like to have one more. 1/6 figures had gotten better and more detailed since the Ultimate Soldier days. DML/Dragon, BBI, and a number of manufacturers were producing figures, vehicles and equipment, so I started collecting, kit bashing loose figures and equipment, buying custom parts, etc. and built a full-scale WWII Marine infantry company, plus some supporting arms. I had to do something to stay occupied, keep my mind off the war and as usual I went overboard.

    End Part 2
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2022
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  4. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    Troisième partie (part three)

    When the boys were small, the Ultimate Soldier figures were better detailed than the old Hasbro GI Joes I grew up with, but more fragile, less playable. Most of our backyard wars the boys and I had were Vietnam themed, that was the era I was most familiar with. I joined the Marine Corps in the post-Vietnam/Cold War era. Much of the uniforms and equipment was little changed from Vietnam, we wore jungle boots in the field, but ours had Panama not lug soles and nylon vs cotton canvas boot shaft, a PRC-25 and a PRC-77 are virtually indistinguishable on the outside, an M-16 differs externally from an M-16a1 or M-16a2 only in the forward assist and birdcage vs three-prong flash suppressor. When I was in boot camp, we were still taught the M-1941 pack system (WWII/Korea/Vietnam only colors, materials and some detail improvements changed) in addition to the A.L.I.C.E system of web gear. We were issued ALICE gear, with some older M-1956 gear that was still serviceable, (butt packs, suspenders, ammo pouches, canteen covers).
    We had about a platoon of men, an M-151 and an MH/AH-6 helicopter "Littlebird". Visually it is the same as the Vietnam OH-6 "Cayuse". I toyed with scratch building a 1/6 scale UH-1 Huey, but it never got much further than 30% complete. We cut trails through the brush out behind the house to a big dirt pile. Our troops would patrol through the jungle, fight through an ambush or two, consolidate at a final rally point, then assaulted the hill. There were three of us, so we alternated being the base of fire and being the maneuver elements. We'd flank positions to free up elements that had gotten stalled and pinned down. We'd take trench lines and have to go "hand-to-hand". Finally, we'd take the hill, consolidate on the objective and set up defensive sectors. The "Little Bird" would fly in replacements and evacuate the dead and wounded. Machine guns would be emplaced, fields of fire assigned and cleared, lateral limit stakes placed. Then the counterattacks would begin. Sections of trench line would fall and we'd have to assault and retake them. Supply would be brought forward from the CP to the forward positions. Wounded troops evacuated to the aid station. We'd call in artillery, adjust fire (buried fire-crackers), we only called in a napalm airstrike once (my eyebrows got singed off and a couple of troops melted). We only had six Ultimate soldier NVA regulars and those little rice-burning communists were hard, they'd immediately respawn and pushed us to the limits.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    These are some pictures of the Ultimate soldier NVA Regular I found online, they were pretty good figures.​

    Anyway, so Chris is off in Iraq and fondly remembers the "Big Joe Wars" (that's what the boys called them). I decide WWII Marine Corps is the era I want to replicate. I start building figures, I may be a little obsessive, but they have to be correct. I notice the little things that Marines notice and my figures are right. I set a 782 gear unit SOP, just like in real life. I can't decide between the Series "E" TOE used at Tarawa or Bougainville or the Series "F" TOE used in the Marshalls and Marianas. I opt for two platoons of Series "F" and one platoon of Series "E". Each platoon has three 12- or 13-man squads (TOE dependent) and a headquarters section. I build 60mm mortar teams and six .30 cal M-1919 gun teams. I buy extra .30 cal water-cooled M-1917's to carry in the jeep trailers so now I have a weapons platoon. I build a partial Company Headquarters section, not bothering with clerks, bakers, cobblers, etc. I have two jeeps (now a third with the RC from last Christmas), I acquired two Ultimate Soldier M-5 Stuarts (IRL only used as flame tanks on Saipan, the M3 would be the correct version), a Hasbro M3 75mm GMC (slightly underscale but otherwise a good model), two Dragon 37mm anti-tank guns (I'd bought a Hasbro version but sh*it canned it, it scaled out more to a 57mm and wasn't a good model of the actual gun). I bought two Dragon 75 mm Pack Howitzers and built their crews. I built a combat engineer section (attached from higher HQ) with flamethrowers and satchel charges, built Corpsmen. Started to scratch build two LVT-2 Amtracs, got about 80% complete but couldn't figure out the running gear and tracks.
    Chris comes home from Iraq and he's jacked up mentally. He's jumpy, hyper-vigilant, can't drive. When you drive him somewhere he worries that vehicles coming up on you rapidly or debris on the side of the road are VBIED's or roadside IED's. I decide it's not the right time to have the war and continue working on the men for when/if he gets better.
    [​IMG]
    Chris in Al Anbar province, Iraq
    [​IMG]
    Chris the day his unit got home from Iraq
    End part three....and a teaser for the next part (4). A picture of Marines at the seawall from the first post-deployment battle.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2022
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  5. Owen

    Owen O

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    Image of marines at the seawall not showing.
    I see a broken image link icon.
    Am enjoying the mix of family & military history in this thread.
    Cheers.
     
  6. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    Thanks Owen, for the kind words and for letting me know about the broken link. I re-did the link and added a second picture. Let me know if it displays. It does on my end.
     
  7. Owen

    Owen O

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    Screenshot of what I now see.
    2 broken link icons. :(
     

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  8. Biak

    Biak Adjutant Staff Member Patron  

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    Chris looks every bit a Marine ! not a soldier :D
     
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  9. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    Hey Roger, can you see the two pictures that aren't displaying for Owen?
     
  10. Biak

    Biak Adjutant Staff Member Patron  

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    Nope, just his Homecoming photo.

    End part three....and a teaser for the next part (4). A picture of Marines at the seawall from the first post-deployment battle.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  11. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    Thanks, they show on mine I wonder why they're not displaying for others? I appreciate you re-posting them so they're visible. You're an "expert", tell me how to fix it. :D
     
  12. Biak

    Biak Adjutant Staff Member Patron  

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    Ha !!!! Give me a minute. Many an hour ?? I'll probably have to Google it .
     
  13. Biak

    Biak Adjutant Staff Member Patron  

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    Ok that didn't take long to confound me.

    Hosting Manual

    I've been able to download pictures that don't upload (due to size) then upload from a file on the tablet.
    We'll probably have to ask Otto.
    OR ! Call in the Marines.
     
  14. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    Like I said, they show on mine. Then you got them to show. They uploaded fine to my album here or you couldn't have gotten them to appear. Or maybe you're using mind-control to make me think you made them appear, that's it. Have you ever stared at goats? If not, there's some kind of magic or witchcraft going on here, or maybe Bobby made a trip north and taught you some of that Cajin Voodoo!
     
  15. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

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    They don't show for me, either. Pabst? Voodoo? A combination of both?
     
  16. Owen

    Owen O

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    They don't show in Biak's reposting of them.
    But they do now in USMCPrice's.
    Wow.

    Edit. Another broken image icon about the words
    "Chris in Al Anbar province, Iraq" :(
    Can only see his home coming photo.

    Another Edit.
    Ah, looked at your Albums in Gallery.
    Have you got all your photos set up for everyone to view ?
     

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    Last edited: Sep 2, 2022
  17. Biak

    Biak Adjutant Staff Member Patron  

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    There's some weird $#it going on. This morning the two photos below the one of Chris of the 1/6th are visible ? I now see Three pictures.Must of had to percolate overnight.
    And I think I figured out where the confusion of you seeing pictures in post #10, my post only showed broken links but because you uploaded them they were visible to you. Okay, I'm grasping at straws here but the main thing is we can see them now.

    Oh Yeah. Holy Crap-ola ! Until I zoomed in I thought that was an actual beachhead. Outstanding.
     
  18. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    Thank you, Owen and Roger.

    It was a good day, both the boys were home, and nothing to do but hang out, let the imagination run wild and be kids again.

    We all put a lot of work into getting the battlefield ready. I cut pressure treated 2x4's into 1"x1"x16" pieces with my band saw which makes a 1/6 scale 6"x6"x8' timbers and used them to build Japanese trench lines and bunkers. I bought two 20lb bags of play sand and a bunch of small 3"x4" cotton cloth parts bags. They were about $20. for 250. I gave Ryan a tablespoon and put him to work filling and tying them. He worked at it 'til his fingers bled.

    [​IMG]
    Here's a section of Japanese trench line with a 12" Japanese soldier in an observation offset. He must be a Rikusentai (Japanese SNLF/Marine) since he's 6' tall, the average Japanese soldier tended to be shorter. You can see the timbers and sandbags.
    [​IMG]
    Another section with a simulated damaged palm, a splintered trunk, complete with charred end, and towards the top right an entrance to a bunker. For scale the top of the sandbags are even with the bottom of a 12" figures chin when standing upright. That's so they can see out and fire their weapons resting them on the sandbags for support, the bunkers actually had embrasures so you could fire from maximum protection.

    We have a huge crepe myrtle tree beside the house. My wife had me trim it and I cut the branches into appropriately long sections and intended to use them for the seawall since they're very smooth and look close to coconut logs. I cut out part of a slope with a shovel and used pieces of crepe myrtle to build the seawall and used jute cord (looks like scale manila rope) to tie some of the upright supports. Other crepe myrtle logs were used for bunkers and shell splintered tree trucks. I had small metal cans with the lids removed, filled with sand and a mixture of diesel fuel and charcoal lighter fluid to make little smudge pots that would put off black smoke. I hauled in two pickup truck loads of sand (from my friendly Ace hardware) and shoveled it out to cover the beach area.

    [​IMG]
    The seawall. You can't really tell from these pictures, but Ryan actually dug shallow shell impact craters, put some black powder in them and lit them off so they were slightly charred. We couldn't figure out how to simulate water, so you'll have to just use your imagination there.

    This was just part of the battlefield, we had a big Japanese command bunker, a large flat area over the rise where we had the simulated Japanese airfield a' la Saipan and Tinian, a trail cut through thick brush, along a ponds drainage ditch to simulate the jungles and rivers of Guadalcanal and Bougainville. This led to the repurposed Vietnam hill, which was now the hills and ridges of Peleliu, Saipan, Guam and Okinawa.
     
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  19. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    A dead Marine rifleman lies where he fell, advancing on the enemy. Two of his fellow Marines, one a BAR man continue the assault.
    [​IMG]
     
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  20. Owen

    Owen O

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    Oh to have a US style yard rather than a small UK garden.
    Love that scenery & all the extras.
    We have dug small trenches in mine but it all got put back after the shoot was done.


    Edit. Photo of Chris in Iraq now showing ok.
     

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