About Me

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No Fixed Abode, Home Counties, United Kingdom
I’m a 60-year-old Aspergic gardening CAD-Monkey. Sardonic, cynical and with the political leanings of a social reformer, I’m also a toy and model figure collector, particularly interested in the history of plastics and plastic toys. Other interests are history, current affairs, modern art, and architecture, gardening and natural history. I love plain chocolate, fireworks and trees, but I don’t hug them, I do hug kittens. I hate ignorance, when it can be avoided, so I hate the 'educational' establishment and pity the millions they’ve failed with teaching-to-test and rote 'learning' and I hate the short-sighted stupidity of the entire ruling/industrial elite, with their planet destroying fascism and added “buy-one-get-one-free”. Likewise, I also have no time for fools and little time for the false crap we're all supposed to pretend we haven't noticed, or the games we're supposed to play. I will 'bite the hand that feeds', to remind it why it feeds.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

G is for Grunt

There are various stories surrounding the etymology of the term. Date-wise - some commentators (most?) state that it originated with the US Marine Corps, possibly as early as the 1900's, others wanting to date it no earlier than the Vietnam war. I've seen it reported as being created 'between the wars' - that's the two world wars for those young enough to have lived through several more recent 'wars', but yet not old enough to know that two are given a bit more prominence in history than the Bush-B.Liar adventures! While others put it down to coming into use during the Second World War.

Some say it's due to the noise a soldier makes when he lifts his pack, other sources state it's down to a WWII acronym used to designate untrained depot-sent replacements; GR - General Replacement, UNT - Untrained = GRUNT (yet they already have an abbreviation...BCR - Battle[field] Casualty Replacement), while my own preferred definition is that it's the short-form for Ground Troops. Still more will wax lyrical about pigs, mud and the trenches of Flanders?

Anyway, it's a hook to hang this post on and something the Grunts are secretly proud of, whatever the original meaning! I don't often cover new production small scale these days, Dave Keen does such a sublime job on PSR and the Forums do them to death, but these...I know how it felt to look like these....

Peter Burgner (PB Toys) was at the Plastic Warrior show last weekend and chatting in the car-park beforehand I asked if he had anything nice (he always has something 'nice'!) and he said "Yes, A Call to Arms have released a new set in 1:72 scale", as it's about ten years since anything came out of that stable, I was quite amazed and when Peter said they were Modern Infantry I was well up for a set (after I'd established they weren't a re-issue of the Britains Lilliput figures!).

In the end, as I clutched them in my mitt along with a nice German vintage spaceman with detachable (and easily lost) helmet, he let me have them...I promptly got them out to have a look and was a bit confused; I recognised them immediately, but with a head full of figures (and a room-full all around me) couldn't place them.

My brain went "Matchbox NATO paras - no, too slim, too big, no parkas...Matchbox Battlekings - no, no radio operator, no Germans...bloody-hell, it's the Britains Super-Deetail poses!"

Looked at Peter and said, 'It's the failed Britains, scaled-down?", "Yar" he said "They're good, yes?"

And as can be seen from the images above, they are good and not only the failed ones have been produced, but the final series-production ones as well, they really are rather exquisite, and - the reason for the 'hook' above - will cover the 1980's just as well as the stated 1970's. I know because I was that man!

And this is where I can have a go at the uniforms as presented...very rarely do/did British soldiers wear berets in combat, except for some urban patrolling in Northern Ireland, where helmets were considered unnecessarily aggressive or a 'red rag to a bull' and counter-effective. I believe there was some beret-wearing bravado in the Falkland Island's campaign, but there were also some nasty head-injuries.

Yet the second problem with these figures (Britians 'bad' not ACTA's) is that the webbing being worn is not the stripped-down front-pouches and water-bottle you'd expect on Internal Security troops, indeed, it's not really any kind of webbing, being neither full CEMO (Combat Equipment - Movement Order), nor the every-day CEFO (Combat Equipment - Fighting Order), with the respirator case missing on all and two figures having a water bottle where the other kidney pouch should be, something that is impossible as the two pouches were joined together with a gusset and only had belt clips on opposite ends, without one, you'd not have a belt-order of any kind!! While we all had extra pouches and customised webbing in the field anyway, so this is a sort of [inaccurate] depot 'basic-training' set-up.

Still - given that I like both the Airfix Rebs with their 'all Confederates have Boar's hats' rule and the Cherilea late type swoppet knights - who am I to pick holes!! Although...why is there a Stirling SMG on the cover? And if these are 1970's the SLR's should have wooden stock and fore-grip, not black plastic...and that's no 84mm Karl Gustave, it was twice the size and firing it like that would land you on your arse!

These are lovely figures and if you're doing the Cold War you need these, lots of them - to go with all those Airfix ex-BW Lannies and Saladins! And the webbing/helmets can be sorted with a few blobs of Green-stuff?

Thanks to PB for the figures, he has them in stock right now; PB Toys


Ross Mac rmacfa@gmail.com said...

I think the problem might be that they got the decade wrong. They look rather 1960's ish to me.

for example http://www.forces80.com/webbing_contents.htm

Hugh Walter said...

Hi Ross - Interesting link, but that 60's look went through to the 1990's I'm afraid, indeed all bar the front-line fighting troops in the 'First' (really second) Gulf War (Kuwait crisis) were still likely to be carrying '58 Pattern.

The 'Combat 80' Infantryman concept (MBT80, MICV80, LAW & MAW80, SA80 etc...) became 'Combat 90', as delays pushed things back and lessons were learned from the Falklands, some kit had come in, none of it by the due date though!!

I was in the first Platoon at Whittington Barracks to get two pairs of BCH, the previous few platoons had had one pair of BCH and one of DMS. We got the SA80 at the end of '87 and were one of the first battalions to get a full issue, with the helmet and S10 respirator the previous summer, and I believe some of the BAOR units had started to get LAW80, but we were still lugging 84mm's!

The clothing though, wasn't even unveiled to the press until I was out of the army '91/92?

Our military procurement has been and continues to be an international scandal, only - as with most scandals these days - no one has been sacked, cashiered, fined, demoted or imprisoned and we still rely on BAEsystems for just about every crumb!

So the figures are right, just that - as can be seen in the photo's on your link - the webbing isn't right for N.I., CEMO or CEFO!

But many thanks for the input and the link,


Anonymous said...


Hugh Walter said...


I also mean to say lannies, it was the (two sharp syllables) short-form slang/jargon for Land Rover (three long syllables), the whole point of army slang and abbreviation is to make things quicker to say, or send over the net.

'Landie' is the farmer's long version carried into the modern army by the sons of the 'combat-wombat' ego-tripping readers of Landrover Owner International magazine and contains two long syllables, making it not much shorter to say then the original Land Rover, IE; pointless.

I am a product of my generation, and in the Glosters we said 'Lannie', as did my father in the 1960's when getting them out of the motor-pool in Brecon!

The same is true of Helicopters, which in my day were 'Helli's' (or 'Choppers' in the US forces) but which - I believe - are now know as 'Heel-ee-ohs' across all services, times change, I won't necessarily change with them and your comment was a waste of Internet space!


mathias said...

Hello Hugh,
maybe a chance to see this beautiful set in 1/32 or not? I'm affraid not...
Best regards from France .

Hugh Walter said...

Hi Mathias

Someone on the Treefrog Forum has reported a conversation with the owner who says he won't sadley be doing them in the larger size.

I met the chap a few times back in the early/mid noughties, when he used to attend Andy Harfield's show (back in the day when I used to attend as well!), and the whole thing is a self-funded labour of love for him, I seem to recall he has a 'day-job' and carries-on ACTA in order to produce those figures he'd like to see in either size, as and when he can afford the time/money to get a new set produced!