12/3/10

Product Review - Military Helmet Overview

With the recent release by BrickArms of the Modern Combat Helmet (MCH) and Brodie I thought it would be a good time to conduct an overview of modern military head gear from BrickArms, BrickForge, and LEGO. There are other custom houses that provide similar designs, such as Woody's Minifig Customs and Amazing Armory Ltd., but they are not part of this review.

The helmets under review today include the BrickArms M1 Pot Helmet, Modern Combat Helmet, Brodie, and Stahlhelm; the BrickForge Solider and Military Helmets; and the LEGO 'pot' helmet that came with the Toy Story Army Men. It is the purpose of the review, not to say which of these elements is 'better or worse', only to provide the facts that help determine which products are right for you.

Many will note that both LEGO and BrickForge have a beret which could also be classified as military head gear. Those items have been reviewed previously and can be found here.

The M1 Pot Helmet was used widely by the American military starting in World War II until the mid 80s, where it was replaced by the combat helmet from the Personnel Armor System for Ground Troops (PASGT) package. In fact the M1 was a replacement for the M1917 Steel Helmet, or Brodie! This iconic helmet design is popular among military memorabilia collectors and have inspired similar helmet designs for military factions around the world.

The three minifig designs based on the M1 Pot Helmet we will review include LEGO part bb406, Toy Story Army Helmet, the BrickForge Soldier Helmet, and the BrickArms M1 Pot. Each of the 360 product shots below show front, side, and back profiles. There is also a front profile with a minifigure face to give you a sense of how much of a minifig's expression will be visible with the helmet on. The minifigure head used for all items is from the Series 2 Karate Master.

LEGO Toy Story Army Helmet (Green)
BrickForge Soldier Helmet (Sand Green)
BrickArms M1 Steel Pot (Gunmetal)
All three products are made of ABS plastic and had a firm connection to the minifigure head. As can be seen in the profiles above, the LEGO design has a more pronounced arch to the front brim, likely to show off more of the facial print. Both the BrickArms and BrickForge helmets were nearly identical in every way, except the rim of the BrickArms helmet is more angular while the BrickForge item has a rounded rim.

The color selection is most limited for the LEGO helmet, only being available to date in green. The BrickForge Soldier Helmet is currently available in five colors - Black, Bronze, Dark Bluish Gray, Sand Green, and Silver. The BrickArms M1 Steel Pot is currently available in Black, Gunmetal, and Olive Drab Green.

Currently BrickArms and Brickforge offer a modern, military style combat helmet used by troops today. The design itself is based on a series of helmets that resemble the PASGT helmet, the Modular Integrated Communications Helmet (MICH), the Marines Lightweight Helmet, and the SPECTRA helmet used by UN forces (seen here). All of these designs were meant to be an improvement in comfort and ballistics stopping power for the soldier. Often these helmets are augmented by covers that can provide additional camouflage for different combat environments.

Both the BrickArms Modern Combat Helmet (MCH) and BrickForge Military Helmet are made of ABS plastic. The grip of both of these helmets was quite firm. The main difference in the design of these two products is that the BrickArms MCH has a more pronounced area around the 'ears', which can be seen in the side view product shots.

BrickArms Modern Combat Helmet (Dark Tan)
BrickForge Military Helmet (Dark Tan)
The BrickArms MCH is currently available in five colors - Black, Dark Gray, Dark Tan, Gunmetal, and Tan. The BrickForge Military Helmet is currently available in Blue, Bronze, Dark Blueish Gray, Dark Green, Dark Tan, Gold, Green, Medium Blue, Red, Reddish Brown, Sand Green, Silver, Tan, Trans Green, and White. The helmet also comes in Black, with and without SWAT print, but these offerings are currently sold out.

The M1917 Steel Helmet, or Brodie, was one of the first metal helmets used in modern warfare. At the beginning of World War I, many combatants only had a cloth or leather cap which offered little or no protection against projectiles. The design was patented in 1915 by John L. Brodie of London when the original French design was found difficult to manufacture. The helmet was primarily designed to protect a soldier's head from both bullets and fragmentation falling from above. The Brodie was used until the early to mid 1940's by the British and American forces until replaced by the Mk III Turtle Helmet and M1 Pot, respectively.

BrickArms Brodie Helmet (Tan)
BrickArms is the only custom house (of the three we are evaluating) who currently provides a Brodie style helmet. True to it's namesake, the Brodie rides high on the minifigure's head giving plenty of clearance around the head. This design has the least amount of coverage for the facial print, allowing a clear view of facial expressions. Again, the product is made of ABS and has a firm connection with the minifigure head. The BrickArms Brodie is currently available in Black, Dark Gray, Dark Tan, Gunmetal, and Tan.

If the Brodie was the British answer to insufficient head gear in World War I, the Stahlhelm, or 'steel helmet', was the German response. Prior to the Stahlhelm, German soliders wore the Picklehaube - a boiled leather helmet with distinctive metal spike on top. The Stahlhelm was designed by Dr. Friedrich Schwerd of the Technical Institute of Hanover after conducting studies on the injuries incurred during trench warfare. Unlike the Brodie, the Stahlhelm provided suitable protection for both the head and neck. The Stahlhelm underwent modifications through the years, but the basic design was used through the conclusion of World War II.

BrickArms Stahlhelm (Dark Gray)
Once again, BrickArms is the only provider (of the three) who makes a minifigure-scale Stahlhelm. The distinctive styling is maintained, while still leaving good clearance for the face. There were no issues with connections. ABS quality all around and available in five colors - Black, Dark Gray, Gunmetal, Tan, and White.

In summary all of the products reviewed today are recommended buys. There were no issues with any of the products, whatsoever. The decisions largely come down to styling preference, color choice, and price. The BrickForge items (Soldier and Military Helmets) are priced at $1.50 USD per piece. The BrickArms items (M1 Pot, MCH, Brodie, and Stahlhelm) are priced at $1.25 USD per piece. The LEGO Toy Story Army Helmet has an average price on BrickLink of $1.43 USD ranging between $0.68 and $2.19. No matter how you look at it, customers are winners all around with these quality items available.

Additional Stats - BrickArms Helmets
Website: www.brickarms.com
Location: United States
International Shipping: Not directly, but resellers are available
Products & Colors: M1 Pot Helmet (Black, Gunmetal, and Olive Drab Green), Modern Combat Helmet (Black, Dark Gray, Dark Tan, Gunmetal, and Tan), Brodie (Black, Dark Gray, Dark Tan, Gunmetal, and Tan), and Stahlhelm (Black, Dark Gray, Gunmetal, Tan, and White)
Retail Price: $1.25 USD

Additional Stats - BrickForge Helmets
Website: www.brickforge.com
Location: United States
International Shipping: Yes (see store for details)
Products & Colors: Soldier Helmet (Black, Bronze, Dark Bluish Gray, Sand Green, and Silver) and Military Helmet (Blue, Bronze, Dark Blueish Gray, Dark Green, Dark Tan, Gold, Green, Medium Blue, Red, Reddish Brown, Sand Green, Silver, Tan, Trans Green, and White)
Retail Price: $1.50 USD

Additional Stats - LEGO Toy Story Army Helmet
Locations: www.bricklink.com or wherever LEGO sets are sold
Colors: Green
Average BrickLink Price: $1.43 USD (12/1/10)

Reference pictures and historical information provided by Wikipedia.

3 comments:

  1. you missed out the amazing armory Jin Roh german helmet from the set, and the WWI german helmet fom Amazing armory, also the bricktw/si-dan modern helmet, the old amazing armory M1 and the sluban m1

    ReplyDelete
  2. @custom minifig - Yes, if you look at the first paragraph I state that I know there are similar helmets and other offerings from other custom houses, they are simply not part of this review.
    Perhaps at some time down the road we will have the opportunity extend the offerings by other custom houses.

    Good catch with Si-dan, I hadn't considered them initially.

    I'm not certain which BrickTW piece you are referring to. If you could clarify that would be great.

    ReplyDelete
  3. One thing that I should point out is that the BF Military Helmet was originally marketed as a Stalhelm.

    Good review, though! I've been wanting to see a comparison like this one for a while.

    Ryan

    ReplyDelete