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My Collection

  
   As a youngster, I owned the Marx Guns of Navarone, Battleground and Desert Fox playsets. A good friend of mine had an armyset of his own. But it wasn't comprised of the familiar Marx soldiers and vehicles I'd come to know through the Penney's catalogs . His army was comprised of much beefier tanks, trucks, jeeps and a helicopter that all shared the same olive drab hue generally associated with U.S. military. So, as most kids did, I beefed up my Marx forces with a few Tim Mee Patton tanks, cargo trucks, jeeps, cannons and soldiers. They were a perfect addition and readily available at the local Hoys 5 & 10 store. I was completely fascinated with them and quickly became my favorites. To this day I still have the occasional and very brief flashback of exactly how it felt when I walked into that store and saw the tanks and trucks lined up in the bins. It's truly remarkable. I should note that I had no idea who actually manufactured these toys at the time because the tanks and trucks were sold loose and therefore no header cards were included. And, for whatever reason, I never noticed the trademark underneath the few vehicles that were actually marked with one. Anyway, I bought as many as I could with my allowance. Soon I had the largest armyset in the neighborhood. But that wasn't good enough. I wanted the biggest armyset in the world. That grandiose dream would quickly fade away when the very first Star Wars figures hit the stores. The very cool Micronaut figures soon followed.

 Unlike my other toys, which either got lost, thrown in the trash or given away, my armyset received special attention as it was safely stored away in my parents basement for over 25 years in a toy chest. In January of 2003, while visiting them, I decided to take a quick peak at the armyset I had long since forgotten. I brought the entire set up into the den and proceeded to line them all up on the floor like I did as a child. My father, who was watching TV at the time, glanced over at his now 38 year old son playing on the floor with toys. While most people would of thought me crazy, he got it. Not surprising, the Tim Mees remained my favorites after all those years. Rather than return the armyset to the basement, I put it in the trunk of my car and brought it home with me. After a quick search on the Internet, I found a website called Army Men a Go-Go. I sent the webmaster a pic of the unmarked olive drab tanks and trucks I had and his reply introduced me to Tim-Mee Toys. Thus began a lengthy process of discovering the company's history and their complete lines of military toys, many of which I had never seen before. My Tim Mee collection was officially underway. I began with 10 tanks, 3 trucks, 2 jeeps and 3 cannons from the original armyset. By 2005 I'd increased its size tenfold...and then some. That's around the time my attention abruptly shifted towards a company called Unimax, who produced a finely detailed line of 1/32 scale diecast vehicles called the Forces Of Valor. I spent the next 2 years immersed in my new collection until the company decided to significantly reduce their Modern Era line due to lackluster sales. And that was the end of that. My Tim Mee collection spent 4 more years tucked away until January of 2012 when I decided to have another quick peak. The passion for collecting Tim Mees came rushing back. As though I had never stopped. Time to fire up the Ebay search engine, invade the nearest toy soldier show and buy some more storage tubs!

 It's amazing how excited I get when an Ebay auction is delivered to my door or when I find a Patton tank or cargo truck at a yard sale or flea market just waiting to be rescued by a collector who will take it home, clean it up, give it a new lease on life. Even more exciting is the never-ending quest for those ultra rare items that are nearly impossible to find. One of those being the Holy Grail of all Tim Mee toys ...the Mobile Atomic Cannon. My favorite and most memorable "score" to date remains the 11 tanks I got from a woman in Canada. She'd bought them in the 70's for her son who never played with them. So I essentially had 11 brand new Tim Mee tanks from the same production run. I appropriately dubbed them "The Canadian Tim Mees."

 So there's the story. To the average person they're nothing more than cheap old plastic toys. Those who collect them may come across as a bit odd to others. But for those who do, they represent our precious childhood. An age of innocence, imagination and discovery. They bring as much joy to us now as they did back then. Perhaps more as we've grown to appreciate the little things in life.


 Semper Fi!


Here are a few pics of my collection taken in 2004.

99 Vintage Patton tanks

Convoy of Square cab trucks with elevating cannons

A sea of classic cargo trucks

SH-3 Helicopters ready for flight

Vietnam era soldiers marching on

Cayuse Helicopters standing by

Staghounds on patrol

Lockhead Armored Scout Vehicles

The Jeeps

M41 Walker Bulldogs

22 comments:

Archduke Piccolo said...

As we in the southern realms of the world would say: 'Good on yer, mate!' One always returns sooner of later to one's first passion. Although not a Tim Mee collector myself, I can still understand the hold of a collection that never quite disappears.

Especially such a fine army as yours!
Cheers,
Ion

Mike Bunkermeister Creek said...

Wow, that's awesome, MRS Bunkermeister is impressed too. She says you can come over and play with her husband and his Army Men anytime (that's me.)
Mike Bunkermeister Creek
Bunker Talk blog

TimMee Army said...

Thanks for the kind words, Archduke.

Unknown said...

Incredible collection. My mom started buying me timmee soldiers and vehicles in the early 70's at illinois dimestores. I always loved the deuce and a half. I still have one, but its getting old. I never saw one of the square cab trucks, but they look pretty cool. If you ever want to sell a couple, i would be interested. Brings back good memories.

TimMee Army said...

Thanks, Lou.

I didn't become aware of the square cab trucks until 2003 and , as you can see, was completely fascinated with them. There are a few listed on Ebay right now.

Unknown said...

My name is Stanley A. Vigil, I have the largest Army play set in the state of Colorado. My set contains the following items trucks, tanks, helicopters, jeeps, artillery guns, c-130's, jets, watercraft, 33,000 army men both tan and green. I've been collecting since I was a young boy of 7 years old to where I am at now. please contact me at303 917-4519

Unknown said...

This blog, along with the new Tim Mee pages on Facebook and Amazon, should introduce a whole new generation of collectors to the spectacular output of this splendid firm. Thanks so much for all you have done and will do for our timeless hobby!

Unknown said...

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Unknown said...

This makes me drool thinking of what an awesome stopmotion video I could make with all these.

Unknown said...

Would you ever consider selling some deuce and half trucks? Im 12 and starting a collection of military toys like you.

TimMee Army said...

Someday. The majority of my collection has been packed away for years and years. I'd have to set aside some time just to go through it all.

Unknown said...

I live in Mexico and starting to get some vietnam era vintage toy soldiers for my 6 year old, he likes them very much...hope he can continue with what I loved most being a child...my toy soldiers...I am glad I lived at the border, it made me discover them...

Jim Mosey said...

I live Ontario & recently purchased a few bags of Army men for my 7 year old grandson.These are random bags of toy soldiers and tanks'trucks ect.. that Value Village sell for usually 4 or 5 bucks a bag. I spotted some older stuff in a couple of bags that turned out to be older TimMee tanks and a cargo 2cd version truck in mint condition with all it's stickers still. I was shocked to learn that these were so old and very collectible. Thanks for your insight on these great older toys & memories. Beauty!!

TimMee Army said...

I've heard from several people who've found some of the old vintage TimMees in donations stores. One such find was a complete rocket launcher set with all four rockets. How lucky can ya get, eh!

Rolfe A. said...

Has the collection increased? And if, how much?

TimMee Army said...

Let's just say it's gotten way out of hand.

Rolfe A. said...

The same thing happened to me, belive me. Recently I had to get some plastic containers. I got a few new army men yesterday.

PPlastmanout said...

TimMeeArmy- it does not look to out of hand! Of my perspective may be different than most.

David C

SGTATARMS said...

What a relatable story- 1969 first tank and my brother got a deuce an a half
(no pintle). My parents moved us near 500 mile that spring and some where on the coast of Oregon my tank got buried under rhododendron at our new house (taps playing) never saw it again. Upon return to the south an visit Grandma- I found the replacements and started collecting again. When I got home from Grandmas- I had near 500 men 6 trucks 6 tanks 1 helicopter 7 jeeps and more cannons than I could haul. Every summer I went to visit - I bought more - man were my parents not happy, as they were rough on bare feet in the middle of the night, in the hallway, lol. Years later- I found the old deuce of my brothers at my parents- which started the search. I never found the originals (*most likely sent to a prison camp by Dad) I researched, and reacquired the lost troops and equipment by various means e bay /auctions/estate sales/ and where ever they showed up. Last troop count was too high to count- equipment was replaced in excess, C130's, helicopters, deuce an half, jeeps, artillery for days and more armor than Patton. Fortunately many broken/disabled troops and equipment being returned to duty in modified poses than the "original" 13 as well as cargo trailers to be returned and fit for duty again. Now the fng- recasts and/or the new stuff looks great- but it just doesn't compare to the "Originals"
SGT

Oliver said...

That is an incredible collection! My collection is much smaller. But one time I went to a thrift store and found an ac-130, 1 Patton tank,and a jet. There was also some men, but i thought they were ripoffs, so i didn't buy them. but they probably were not fake. the AC-130 was missing 3 propellers... but it was pretty good condition. the tank was completely perfect with original stickers. (The stickers weren't peeling either!) the jet had some stickers... but they were torn.... but the jet itself was fine. I already had an ac-130 and some armored cars and tanks, so my collection was quite big. but then a week later I went to another thrift store and found ANOTHER ac-130 for only $3.99!(the one i bought before was $10.) but it was missing all of the propellers and the side door. so... i better order some spare parts from somewhere.

Unknown said...

Great collection,
I recently got reacquainted with My Tim Mee armymen.( Processed Plastic Co.)
Thanks to ebay I found the exact set my mother got me as a child complete still sealed
in the bag.
The U.S. Army Truck with combat patrol 13 pcs!!!
Yes the truck was broken in half, but the bag was still sealed with water damage.
So I was able afford this beautiful gem from childhood.
A little E6000 "welding" and the truck rolls like a champ!
This was a blessing indeed.
Who knows maybe I will make stop motion movie or 2

SGTATARMS said...

Ha ha that's too funny! Congrats on winning that auction- (I bid on it as well) Not necessarily to make it a truck again but to gather the parts to replace missing pieces. There are a lot of avid collectors there and some great pieces to be had or shared. Drop me a email -