INTERNATIONAL CUSTOMS

Last modified: Saturday, January 6, 2001 6:20 PM

As we go about our daily business, it's easy to forget that there's a huge world beyond our range of immediate perception. Physical space creates distance between peoples and led to the evolution of different physical characteristics, languages and cultures, and the formation of nations. Certainly, all these tend to divide people and make us less aware of the fact that deep down, we're all the same species. Man, through invention, has been very busy trying to reduce the consequence of this distance, and the Internet has been one of the most effective facilitators ever created.

I "met" Pierfrancesco from Italy through e-mail correspondence prompted by his visiting this web site (that's why they call it the World Wide Web!). Although English isn't his native language, he writes very well: My knowledge of Italian consists of the names of a few food items... So through his efforts, we've been able to communicate.

The first thing that blew me away was him telling me that his interest in GI Joe came from the fact that he had played with the original GI Joes in the 60's... Dang! I had just assumed that Joe was an American cultural phenomenon. The other thing that I found astounding was that he was casually familiar with things like SOTW -- things I associate with Walmart and Target, USA. It is a small world, and if we could just do away with those silly borders and all learn to speak Esperanto, we'd be in great shape.

Just like any collector, his tastes became more refined as he grew older and became able to afford some of the outstanding custom work of well-known artists like Francis Tavares, Auggie Romero and Major Midnight. Just like any collector, he has to keep his wife in the dark about the financial repercussions of this little hobby!

Below are pictures of a few figures from his collection, with text links to much bigger versions of pictures. You should check out the large versions to see some of the incredible detailing that his friend, Luciano, puts into his work-- the rucksack straps even have end caps! (Note: some of the pics weren't cropped, since that actually increased the file size. It probably has something to do with our different compression percentages...)

Pierfrancesco says, "All the uniform sets are from my friend Luciano. The heads are from Francis Tavares (the Winter SS is a Cots 'Rolf'). The boots of the Airborne are from Paul Anama (Soldiers thru time), that I've known thanks to your page!"

82nd Airborne:    [front]     [back]
The uniform set with the chute packs, the helmet and the weapon container on the right are from Tripwire Toys; the field equipment includes an H harness, a pistol with holster and a canteen (Cotswold), a first aid pouch, an ammo bandolier, a shovel, a ka bar knife and a .45 magazine pouchs (JoBros); the Garand is from SOTW (the strap is from Action City); the boots are from Paul Anama (Soldiers thru Time); the grenades are from Luciano. From Cots are also the dickie, the dog tags and the figure. I've tried to rework the helmet, with foliage bands, a new chin strap and a first aid pack in front. The parachute is one of the best scaled things I have ever seen.

Waffen SS:    [front]     [back]
Winter SS:    [front]

 

Ascaro:    [front]     [back]
An Italian "Ascaro" (so were called the coloured troops in the Italian colonies in East Africa); it is a soldier of the first years of this century; all the outfit is done from Luciano; it has also a Carcano rifle, but I've preferred to use a Cots. Martini Henry rifle.

Fallschirmjager #1:    [front]     [back]
...a little masterpiece, totally from Paul Walmsley... you'll be able to appreciate the details of its equipment, front and back (see how perfect are the canvas gas mask bag, the blue bread bag and the P38 holster!); I've positioned near him a JoBros MG42, really a wonderful reproduction, to which I've added a leather strap.

Fallschirmjager #2:    [front]     [back]
...on Italian front, in the last period of WW2. He is a Cotswold figure with a Francis Tavares head. He carries a Feldmutze and a pair of shoulder grenades bags (from Paul Walmsley) with Cots grenades; a belt with bread bag, canteen (Cots), mess tin and shovel (Greg Ryder), a reworked bayonet (Cots) and a MP40 pouch (Matthew Mehlich); the MP40 SMG is from JoBros, with Action City strap (like Y straps). The helmet is a reworked and 'wash' painted from Cots (the chin strap has been replaced). The smock is from a Dutch customer (Jean Peters); the trousers from my friend Luciano and the boots are Sotw painted in brown (these are probably the best scaled jumping boots reproduction on market).

BAR Gunner:    [front]     [back]
The BAR gunner has been redressed in Ardennes front. The helmet and the wool 'beanie' are from the Classic collection D-day Salute set. ...he carries the typical harness with backpack and shoulder gas mask bag; six pouches belt, with a shovel, a canteen and a ka bar knife. The BAR too is totally a custom made, like the helmet, and the pics give not justice to their perfection. The head is from Francis Tavares; the shirt dickie, the dog tags, the headless figure and the boots, from Cotswold.

 

Kameraden:    [front]     [back]
...three Germans; in the middle, you can admire a Francis Tavares DOT pattern SS sniper, with a GEW 43 rifle (the binocular is from Luciano); on the left, a Paul Walmsley late war Wermacht NCO (the MP44 is from Luciano: the pic doesn't give it justice!); the third figure, always from Paul, is a Hermann Goring snipe (the gas mask case always from Luciano).

 

Jeep:    [view]
...a SOTW jeep with two US g.i. from Francis Tavares (both from the movie: "Saving Private Ryan", a capt. Miller and a sniper Jackson) and two from Luciano with F. Tavares heads (the driver and the soldier back to him)