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Fun with Army Men

There are many ways to enjoy Army Men.  The simplest and most common involves a sandpile or dirt backyard, small garden trowel and wood twigs.  You can dig bunkers, fortifications and trenchlines.  

Using them with electric trains (only larger O and G scale trains!) is fun.  Soldiers ride in hoppers and gondolas.  Do not stuff them in boxcars because it is hard to get them out.  Note that a train can crash a tank, but a tank cannot crash a locomotive.  So don't be a dummy: never put tanks on train tracks.

Outdoors, soldiers can be bombed with 'enemy dirt bombs."   Small, dry clumps of dirt will seem to explode upon impact.  

The cheap spring-loaded firing cannons sold with Army Men don't pack much punch.  Many cannot knock down a single Army Man from three feet.  You can buy the heavy metal cannons by Britains if you want to shoot and be assured of a knockdown.  The best is the cannon marketed as a 4.7 Inch Naval Gun.  It is accurate to nine feet.

South Street Rules

These are an unwritten set of rules that were generally accepted in 1962.  Updated info is included, but not noted as such.  Amendments were added whenever there was a new real war.

Allies and Enemies:

By the rules, the following troops can be used for the following armies:

US soldiers:  US Army, US Marines, Norwegian Army, Danish Army, South Koreans, ARVN, Canadians

Germans: German Army, Swedes.  Some companies now sell green Germans as modern US troops in the new helmet.

British: British Troops can be used for Israelis if they are molded in Green, and Arabs if they are molded in tan.  In some areas in the Northeast, British soldiers are considered enemy troops.  It's an Irish thing.  Even though the Canadians used to have British uniforms, it is considered prudent to use US troops for The Great White North's army.

Foreign Legion: in a pinch, Foreign Legionnaires can be used as Union troops.

Civil War: Union troops can substitute for foreign legion.  Grey Confederates can substitute for Germans.

Cowboys can also be used for Alamo Texans.

Russians: Russians can substitute for Poles, North Koreans and Red Chinese

Japanese: it is allowable to use Japanese for Red Chinese, North Koreans or VC.

Mexicans: Alamo Mexicans can be used as War of 1812 guys.  Blue go with the US, red with the British.

Napoleonics:  What?  Napoleon guys?  NOT HERE!  This is traditional American Army Men, and we didn't have no stinkin' Napoleon Guys!

Pirates: Pirates can be used as Revolutionary War and Civil War sailors, and as Alamo Texans.

Commandos: a small group of soldiers, if molded in a distinctly different shade of green than your regular Army Men, could be used as Commandos or Rangers.

Special Forces: it was allowable to paint ten soldiers' helmets red and designate them as Special Forces.  They acted as Commandos.

A medic can heal a man who was shot by taking out the bullet.  He cannot do this if the guy was bayonetted or bombed or fired up.

Vehicles and their Protocols

Both sides had to have a fair share of vehicles.  Green vehicles were generally US, and grey were German.  Later, some tan vehicles were also German or Japanese.  If you had only green vehicles, some had to be given to the other side.  A few companies molded them in blue or other colors.  Blue could mean Navy or Air Force, but usually they became the Enemy.  In a pinch, which was most of the time, they enemy had Green vehicles, too.

Jeeps: a machine gun could knock out a jeep, but jeeps could drive many places.  The power of Jeeps increased after the series Rat Patrol made its debut, and then a Jeep with a machine gun could knock out a half track or open self-propelled gun.  You could mount a machine gun, mortar or bazooka on a Jeep.  You could tow a cannon with a jeep, but not mount a cannon on it.

Trucks: trucks only carry men and tow cannons.  

Half Tracks: they can go anywhere and run over Jeeps and Trucks.  Half Tracks can even mount a cannon.  The second best vehicle on the battlefield.

Tanks: Tanks can go anywhere, knock down any building, run over any other vehicle except another tank or a train.  To blow up a tank, you need another tank, a big cannon or a bazooka.

Self-propelled guns: they are like tanks, but they have an open top and can be blown up if a guy throws in a grenade or drops a mortar on them.

Helicopters: these are rare.  They could carry soldiers and drop bombs (remember - we hadn't seen Hueys gunships or Cobras yet!).  They could be knocked out with machine guns or cannons.

Airplanes: airplanes could carry paratroops, strafe and drop bombs.  They could be knocked out by machine guns and cannons.

Rockets and Missiles: they had the same firepower as cannons, but could be shot up and come straight down into a bunker.

Armored cars: like tanks, but could not ride all over and were vulnerable to having their tires shot out.  Armored cars could only go where trucks could go.


Weapons have distinct powers and liabilities.  Know them, and make sure you have enough when you go to battle!

A rifle could shoot one guy at a time.

A submachine gun could shoot up a bunch of guys or a jeep.

A machine gun could shoot up troops, jeeps, trucks, half tracks and aircrafts.  If fired from above, like on a hill, it could also blow up a self-propelled gun.

A mortar could drop bombs and blow up anything but tanks and aircraft.

A small cannon could bomb anything except tanks.

A big cannon could blast anything.  Of course, its crew was vulnerable to everything out there.

A bazooka could blow up any vehicle.  However, it did not blow up a bunch of troops.

A flamethrower could burn out a tank.

A missile was like a big cannon.

Hand grenades are like a mortar, but they are thrown at close range.

Airplane bombs could blast anything except tanks.

Civil War, Revolutionary War and Pirate cannons could not harm tanks, half tracks, armored cars or self-propelled guns.

Civil War mortars acted like regular mortars.

Nukes destroy both sides, so nobody can use them.

Civil War

Cowboys, Pirates, Davy Crockett guys and Alamo Texans could be used to supplement either side.  If a figure was molded in blue or grey, however, he had to go to the appropriate side.

Cannons could blow up anything on the Civil War battlefield.  If you used Civil War cannons to supplement a modern war, however, they were not able to penetrate armored cars, self-propelled guns, tanks or half tracks.

Alamo Mexicans could be used to supplement Civil War armies.  Blue always went to the Union, Grey to the Confederates, and red to whichever side needed more men.


Pistol-size ray guns can take out other spacemen, very small rockets and jeep-size vehicles.

Rifle-sized ray guns can take out big vehicles - anything except half tracks and tanks.

If you use tanks with spacemen (they didn't make many space combat vehicles) their cannons automatically become super ray guns.

You can use missiles, but regular guns and cannons do not work in space.

Knights, Vikings and Romans

Knights in plate armor are like walking tanks.  It takes a lance on horseback, an axe, a mace or a direct hit with a catapult to down one with one shot.  Sword and spear guys have to gang up on them and stick them through openings in the armor.

Knights in armor cannot swim or ford waterways.

If confronted by a gun, it takes 3 shots to knock down a fully-armored knight.  A burst from a machine gun works, too.  Fully-armored knights are vulnerable to all heavy weapons, including grenades.  Flamethrowers wreak havoc on them.

Vikings are so cool that they can beat a knight as if he were an unarmored man.

Romans only have half armor.  They can be used to supplement knights' armies.


Houses can stop bullets, but a hand grenade can blow a door open.

Tanks can knock down any house.

Stone walls stop everything

Wood only stops bullets

A wood fort can stop bullets and old fashioned cannons, but can be penetrated by grenades, light modern cannons and all larger weapons.  Tanks and half tracks can drive through wood forts.

The easiest way to beat walls is to fire over them with mortars and grenades.

Some stone forts can be breached by tanks.  Big cannons can put holes in stone forts, since a stone fort is not the same as a stone wall.

A soldier with a flamethrower or machine gun can fire through vision slits on pillboxes, if he is close enough.

Tanks plow through almost anything!

Tents do not stop bullets.

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