Man of TIN Advent Day 15 – Hit the Beach, Tiger!

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A trip a few months ago to a Tiger store brought a few gaming related purchases, including these plastic beach boats. Painted grey they should make useful converted landing barges for 40 to 54mm figures including my Pound Store plastics.

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Once I have added some ledges of balsa for crew (mocked up here in cardboard), gunboat style  sandbag cover for the bridge tower and LC Letraset number letter decals, this should work well enough.

Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN for Advent Day 15, 15th December 2018

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Advent Calendar Day 14 – Army Men Around the House with Gareth McGorman

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I subscribe to the Michigan Toy Soldier Company blog and amongst the product reviews is occasionally a funny or quirky post or blog link.

Back in August 2017 they placed a link to blogger Gareth McGorman and his model soldier versions of miniature artist Slinkachu.

 http://michtoy-from-the-front.blogspot.co.uk/2017/08/farleys-figurs-of-week-159-army-men.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed:+blogspot/wfMeu+(From+the+Front)

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Gareth’s work reminds me of what might have  happened if H. G. Wells’ Little Wars or Floor Games were happening in a modern house. It’s a WW2 Miniatures version of Toy Story with a dash of The Borrowers. I like visual jokes playing with scale. You also realise behind each quickly glanced at shot is hours and hours of model making.

Gareth’s work in 2016/17 can be found in various sites including

https://www.facebook.com/littlearmymen

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Gareth’s work can be found on Facebook but also on his WordPress blog

The  Facebook header picture of Tommies dug in, camouflaged with the dry earth, really captures the imaginative nature of childhood playing with toy soldiers, down at ground or floor level, out in the garden …

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Some of the recurring figures in Gareth’s work …

2016 posts http://armymenaroundthehouse.blogspot.co.uk

2017 posts https://armymenaroundthehouse.wordpress.com

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Enjoy! Now you know what the tiny men (and women) get up to when you are out of the house or not looking.

Remember – They were only following orders …

Blogposted by Mark Man of TIN on Advent Day 14, 14 December 2018.

Man of TIN Advent Calendar Day 13 – the Art of the Brontes

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A new arrival from the local library …

Advent Day 13 – post number 300 or 301 – finishing a draft Bronte Gamer Blogpost at  last.

The Art of The Brontes is a thick Thames and Hudson by Christine Alexander and Jane Sellars, an expensive illustrated book which I thankfully managed to borrow  through  my local lending library.

It covers every known sketch, painting and doodle by each of the four Bronte children from their youngest childhood drawings to their adult drawings and paintings.

I won’t infringe copyright of paintings or drawings from private or museum collections by featuring them here.

Steel engraving lowered the cost of prints making them more affordable for the likes of the young Bronte sisters. IMG_2368

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Tropical Yorkshire in the Pacific?

I thought this might give me a clue to the possible backgrounds, terrain and landscapes for their fictional works of Gondal, Angria and Glasstown, upon which I have based some of my Imagi-Nations game scenarios recently.

Many of their fictional countries in the North and South Pacific or tropical West Africa are a bizarre blend of Yorkshire moors, the fashionable gothic or romantic art of their day with an element of the exotic gleaned from prints and journal illustrations of foreign countries.

I couldn’t quite get this blend of British or Yorkshire Tropical right in my head until I visited some of the sheltered and temperate gardens of Southwest England. Here you can see Victorian houses set in parkland with exotic planting brought back from many foreign countries giving that jungle or Himalayan valley and mountain pass impression.   No doubt there must have been such bizarre juxtapositions in Yorkshire big houses that the Bronte family might have known about or visited, being on the edge of gentry as a vicar’s family. These would be big early Victorian houses with their greenhouses, botanic gardens, plant introductions  and sheltered walled gardens.

I know this makes this Yorkshire Bronte Tropical fusion  sound almost as authentic as filming Carry on Up The Khyber Pass in Britain, with North Wales  standing in for the foothills of  The Himalayas.

Some of the sketches of landscape appear to be copies of prints, illustrations and drawing exercises as they learnt how to draw in the  style of their day.

Bronte Gaming Scenarios 

Some of the PECO Landscapes seem very suited to Bronte country and fictional terrain – the mountain scenes or  the seaside with ruined castle, for example.

http://www.peco-uk.com/prodtype.asp?strParents=3309&CAT_ID=3331&numRecordPosition=1

Branwell Bronte, owner of the original twelve soldiers that gave rise to many of the children’s  fictional countries and campaigns, wrote and illustrated some interesting early “Battle” books as well with ancient or Napoleonic ‘toy’ soldier drawings.

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2017/03/30/charlotte-bronte-as-gamer-1/

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/06/12/the-brontes-games-scenarios/

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2017/04/17/pretty-in-gingham-the-brontes-bloodhound-regiment-of-angria-1839/

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2017/02/17/ashantees-or-zulus-reborn/

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2017/03/19/bronte-imagi-nations-maps/

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2017/05/20/a-skirmish-in-angria-close-little-wars-rules/

Blogposted by Mark Man of TIN, Advent Calendar Day 12, 12th December 2018

Man of TIN Advent Calendar Day 12 – The XTC of toy soldiers by Andy Partridge

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http://chalkhills.org/articles/cmj.html

It’s hard to believe that the author of a peacenik line like, “Generals and majors always seems so unhappy/Unless they got a war” keeps a stockpile of 3,000-plus toy soldiers in his attic. Yet XTC’s skittish songwriter Andy Partridge harbors a soft spot for cast iron generals and majors with a pint-sized appetite for destruction.

For nostalgic reasons, the machismo-mocking pop troubadour prefers the mid-20th century mass-produced toy infantrymen he deployed as a child, as well as late-1800’s German models with doll-like faces and lumpen features that cost about $30 each. “It’s still cheaper than a cocaine habit,” reasons Partridge, whose recently released Wasp Star (TVT) ripples with similar dry English wit. Since Partridge can’t draft troops very quickly at $30 a head, he also sculpts them out of epoxy and occasionally gets on his elbows and knees for carpet combat. The relatively innocent pastime keeps XTC’s frontman in touch with the “big kid” inside him–it’s not only a driving force behind his songwriting, but a defense mechanism. “The big kid protects me because I don’t trust anyone and I think people are there to f*** you over. It’s something my psychoanalyst is trying to unravel for me. I hope he doesn’t kill the big kid off, though, he’s been very useful.”
— Neil Gladstone

Earlier in the year  by chance I heard a repeat of an interview with XTC punk band lyricist Andy Partridge who talked about his love of toy soldiers, partly because of a chaotic childhood where his mother kept giving his toys away.

BBC Radio 4 – http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08r1tsz

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Photograph by Carl Fox

Many musicians live in a world of their own, but Andy Partridge — singer/songwriter and guitarist for the Brit art-pop band XTC — has scaled his down to minuscule proportions. He collects toy soldiers. When not releasing Fuzzy Warbles albums and other musical miscellany on the Web (www.ape.uk.net), the 51-year-old Partridge is at home in Swindon, England, messing around with thousands of toy soldiers, many of which he’s hand-painted in uniforms of his own design. “It’s a world that’s not going to bite you,” he says.

His obsession began early. “Being an only child,” Partridge explains, “I needed to flex my brain as much as possible and disappear into the fantasy world that these little figures populated. Toys were immensely important for me. There weren’t always people around to play with and the weather wasn’t always great, being England, so you’d be stuck indoors. We weren’t a very rich family, so a lot of my toys for birthdays or Christmas were secondhand. But the one thing that I seemed to get brand-new from grannies and aunties would be toy soldiers. I was besotted with the world in miniature.”

Partridge also cites H. G. Wells, suggesting one way to avoid life-size conflict: “The leaders of the different countries are given as many toy soldiers as they want. Put them in a room with a set of rules and a few dice, and they can work it out that way.” — Rhonda Markowitz, Tracks Vol. 1 Issue 7 February/March 2005 SideTracks

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Photograph by Carl Fox

http://chalkhills.org/articles/Tracks200502.html

“Yet for one so vehemently anti-violence, Partridge has a craftsman’s passion and skill for toy soldiers. He loves military history but only as it is encapsulated in the tiny, controllable world of the miniature battlefield. “I must be a tender little Napoleon, a benevolent Mussolini,” muses the man who describes himself as “very optimistic, repulsively so”. But it is the shabby, badly made, naive, folk-art toy soldier that truly engages him.”

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/interview-andy-partridge-andys-plans-work-out-but-theres-no-room-for-nigel-1196333.html

It also appears that Andy Partridge designed these charming Irregular Miniatures ranges, some of which figures I hope will complement my 40-42mm Pound Store Plastic armies.

http://www.irregularminiatures.co.uk/42mmRanges/42mmIntroduction.htm

http://www.irregularminiatures.co.uk/42mmRanges/42mmMarlburians.htm#MAP5

http://www.irregularminiatures.co.uk/42mmRanges/42mmDeutscheHomage.htm

According to Japanese XTC fan site

http://long-live-xtc.seesaa.net/archives/201310-1.htmlf

PAINTING FACES by Andy Partridge
Here’s a couple of good rules that seem to work well. After you’ve painted the face you must add THE one toy soldier ingredient, cheeks. They are naked without them.

Virtually every maker filled in the ruddy blush of their little heroes,you must do the same. Mix up some red and white to make a pink that is tonally similar to the flesh but with no darkening, it will zing out more. Load the brush and wipe it in a patch on either side of the face.

If your soldier is a real Victorian man he will of course have a moustache, some thin black on a fine brush will do well, quickly {always!} apply across the face. If he is the fresh faced type,  dab a spot of red in a small blob where the mouth might be.

Don’t be tempted to add a mouth under a moustache, one or the other, never both please, it always looks wrong, Britains and others knew that.

Same rule applies for beards.Hair can be a swift wipe with black or a reddy mid brown across the back of the head but don’t bother with sideburns as they always look like you’ve over messed with the face.

You have a choice with eyes. Most makers painted one simple black dot each side,which oddly looks better the farther away they are from each other. Nearer in to the nose comes over rather cross eyed. It’s a matter of taste as to whether they’ll have eyebrows or not, the rule seemed to be the farther back or simple the headgear, the more the likelihood of brows. Britains tended not to paint them in except for Scotsmen and some sailors?? I always leave them out.
Don’t try to give them whites of the eyes. Again it looks too fussy and not classic. A few German makers did so on their larger scale figures but even then the soldiers still looked like stunned madmen. Shell shocked?

Unfortunately for its minstrel connotations, Africans were always given whites to their eyes, but it seems okay as the contrast makes them look more toyish.

Check the photos of the ‘native’ figures in the Deutsche Homage picture section of the Irregular Miniatures website.

Text source: Irregular Miniatures website

I have used many of these painting tips from Andy Patridge over the last year, whilst repairing broken Britains, especially the one about rosy or pink cheek dots. It really does suggest the classic Toy Soldier style.

I reprinted these blog interviews as online web stuff has a habit of vanishing when you look for it again.

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN on Advent Calendar Day 12, 12th December 2018.

 

Man of TIN Advent Calendar Day 11 – Alternative 1979 VBCW with the Two Ronnies

Advent Calendar Day 11 offering – The Worm That Turned

I have never quite recovered from watching this wonderful surreal weirdness by the Two Ronnies as a boy in 1980. Partly I remember this because one of the props was my much loved Star Wars laser rifle sprayed silver …

Screenshots of costumes and uniforms: image copyright BBC

In the year 2012, England is ruled by women, who wear the trousers. The controller of all is Diana Dors.

Men have been forced into frocks and the 1970s idea of women’s roles of housework, hairdressing and cleaning. Ronnies Barker and Corbett or ‘Betty’ and ‘Janet’ as they are known plan to escape the very punk leather clad or PVC 1970s State Police.

The role reversals must have been great fun for the Costume Department.

A selection of Imagi-Nations Uniforms from the BBC costume department
Female Yeoman Warders by 2018 are no longer the absurd suggestion of this 1980 comic fantasy

Watching this 1980 series  again this year,  almost 40 years later,  it has lost none of its strangeness!

Some of the humour and jokes however may have dated. Its feminist credentials are possibly challenged by the occasional joke about effeminate men and any excuses for lingering camera views of the state police in hot pants.

The Worm That Turned  – Here is a 1970s VBCW (Very British Civil War) type scenario to beat all others … and a great source of Imagi-Nations uniform ideas.

The escape plan over the border post to Wales, away from the State Police – a refuge for our heroes Janet and Betty.

At the border post our heroes Janet and Betty

Worth watching again, even if it’s for a glimpse of the shops, high streets and supermarkets of late 1970s Britain, also seen in these behind the scenes shots posted by the Two Ronnies Appreciation Society.

https://tworonnies.co.uk/2017/02/06/the-worm-that-turned-rare-filming-photos/

https://tworonnies.co.uk/2018/04/09/on-location-the-worm-that-turned/

And the YouTube link to all 8 episodes.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=GcMd1F1acSo

Man of TIN Advent Calendar Day 10 – The Boys to Entertain You or Broken Britains rearmed

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“Meet the gang, for the boys are here, the boys to entertain you …”

That was the  familiar opening to the 70s WW2 Jungle sitcom by David Croft and Jimmy Perry,  It Ain’t Half Hot Mum, stalwart of my childhood along with their other sitcoms such as Dad’s Army.

This group of Broken Britain’s have the look of  a dodgy ENSA show or music hall chorus line, cheap comics in a strange troops revue.

Seen from another angle, they are more Broken Britain’s – East Kent Regiment in Khaki on guard –  from a donation by John Forman, all broken  figures that would otherwise probably be scrapped.

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The East Kent Regiment based and rearmed, defending my stylishly camouflaged gun emplacement.

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2018/10/14/from-old-digital-radio-to-54mm-houses-and-coastal-gun-emplacement/

There were seven types of Broken Britain’s infantry in the group kindly donated by John Forman, variously missing feet and bases and all missing rifles.

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1. Britain’s Guardsmen firing – six classic figures with broken rifles – not sure which Guards Regiment, as they were play-bashed enough to have no obvious plume colours.

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The figures as they arrived from John Forman.

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Rifles repaired, busby repainted and figures tuppeny based, otherwise I have kept the patina of battered body and face paint.

2. Britain’s Line Infantry (spiked helmet in black home service  with black facings firing  rifle – Royal Irish Regiment set 156, wearing gaiters – 1 figure.

3. Britain’s Line Infantry (spiked helmet white foreign service) with yellow facings  on guard with rifle – Worcester Regiment set 18 c. 1930,  wearing gaiters – 1 figure.

4. Britain’s East Kent Regiment on Guard, The Buffs Set 16 – yellow facings,  second version with square base, on Guard. Produced 1910 – 1930, wearing gaiters – 2 figures.

5. Britain’s  East Kent Regiment on Guard, service dress set 326a produced postwar in Steel Helmets (my “boys to entertain you”, above) – 5 figures.

6. Gloucester Regiment (Boer War) firing, produced 1901 to 1941 – 3 figures

7. The 3 charging Highlanders seen in a previous blog post

East Kent Regiment in Khaki Service Dress 

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They have rifles missing as well as feet or base missing, so replacement bases are required, easily made from Fimo polymer clay to suit tuppeny 2p coin bases.

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Rifles repaired, feet made from cocktail sticks glued into Fimo polymer clay bases. Third figure   East Kent Regiment in Khaki service dress  and fourth, Gloucester Regiment firing.

The rifle repairs are more fiddly, requiring drilling a hole with a 1mm pin vice or hand drill into the broken section. If this is a stubby section of broken rifle this is quite tricky, whereas it is much easier to drill into the hand section where it grips the rifle, which has a greater thickness of lead.

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Drilling into the rifle hand of another of John Forman’s damaged Britain’s Guards riflemen..

So finally  how did the ENSA “boys to entertain you” turn out in the end?

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My Boys to Entertain You (and Mr Hitler) from the Britain’s East Kent Regiment …just a little work to do on tidying and painting the Fimo and tuppenny bases.

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And for a suitable ear worm … the theme song to It Ain’t Half Hot Mum. Whilst the services / Seventies humour might have dated and the Indian characters would be handled differently today, as a child and still today, to me Windsor Davies is every bit the archetypal comic Sergeant Major to his “Lovely Boys”.

Blogposted by Mark Man of TIN on Advent Calendar Day 10, 10th December 2018.

 

 

Man of TIN Advent Calendar Day 9 – The Russians are Coming 1873 New Zealand hoax

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Advent Day 9 – Another unpublished blog draft finally sees the light of day!

17 February 1873: Daily Southern Cross editor David Luckie publishes ‘The Russians are coming!’ hoax in New Zealand

If you want to read the whole article, you can find it here:

http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/DSC18730217.2.19

During the 19th century the Russian and British empires were involved in a number of conflicts. With nothing but clear blue water between New Zealand’s shores and Russia’s Pacific ports, many New Zealanders feared a sea-borne invasion.

On the 17 February 1873 the editor of The Daily Southern Cross, David Luckie, published a hoax report of a Russian invasion of Auckland by the Russian ironclad Kaskowiski (Cask of Whisky).

Aucklanders were alarmed to read that the crew of the Kaskowiski had seized gold and taken the mayor hostage.

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Story reprinted in full here earlier on my blog

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2018/10/01/auckland-invaded-1873/

This hoax was believed by a considerable part of the city’s population, despite a footnote appended to the article which ‘explained the whole romance’.

Crowds besieged the offices of the Daily Southern Cross and the ‘incident’ was discussed in the streets throughout the city. This sounds much like the American public’s response to Orson Welles’ War of The Worlds on 1930s radio.

To a general reader or a gamer looking for a historical scenario, there seems almost too much detail.

Harking back to the ‘nobility’ of Allied actions against a hereditary or past enemy in the Crimean War  grounds this fictional warning in the reality of recent colonial history. It foregrounds the new barbarism of secret weapons –  a mephitic sleeping gas that knocks out the crew of enemy warships, a submarine pinnace.

Today in a world of fast jets, drone strikes, aircraft carriers and chemical weapons, warring governments and insurgencies  still compete to slur or smear their rival over the minimising of civilian casualties. The other side has to appear more barbaric to justify military intervention. We want a war where “our side” (the good guys)  fights with decency and clean hands …

Rereading the article today in a 24 hour rolling news culture, it seems quite clunky.  

Hard to believe it caused the upset and public outcry it did. To us in retrospect it reads more like H.G. Wells’ prophetic  Victorian Science Fiction. It sits comfortably within a genre of  “The Battle of Dorking” and Edwardian invasion narratives against Britain.

At the same time today to a modern audience,  it almost reads like a Carry On Up The Khyber script with its clunky puns about the Khazi of Calabar and Bungdit Din. The Russian ship is called the Kaskowiski (Cask o’ Whisky).  It is captained by one Admiral Herodskoff (Herod’s Cough?) , Herod being the traditional Nativity bad guy and abuser of civilian populations. The story is simultaneously trying to give itself away and create and maintain realism, partly to pardon or excuse the Editor against exactly the reaction it wants to stoke up. The story says “I showed you it was nonsense, full of  Herodskoff, Kaskowiski and other puns, set and dated three months in the future but you believed the truth behind it.”

It is an elaborate practical joke but written with a political aim. It has to be read in the spirit of the technology and times of 1873, of remote posts of Empire when there were very few news outlets, telegraph being the most modern, newspapers already full of old news.

The Crimean War with its on-the-spot reporting by William Russell of disastrous logistics and medical care was only a decade in the past. An expansionist Tsarist Russia was still a rival and traditional enemy of the British Empire.

After all, it’s not as if  we live in a world where fake news and social media storms no longer happen. It’s not as if countries go to war anymore  in coalition, based on a now infamous “dossier” about Weapons of Mass Destruction against a former enemy of ten years before.

The day after the hoax was published in 1873, the Editor David Luckie stated his intention was to publish the article as a warning, which would hopefully lead to future protection.

The Russian war scares of the 1880s caused the New Zealand Government to erect batteries overlooking the harbours of the four main centres.

Elsewhere across the British Empire the Volunteer Regiment movement was being formed, partly for Home Defence.

Remains of these Victorian batteries, some updated to meet the threat of a Japanese invasion during the Second World War, can still be seen on the NZ coast.

http://www.heritage.org.nz/news-and-events/this-month-in-history

For games scenario ideas based on the Kaskowiski incident see below

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2018/11/30/kaskowiski-1873-inspired-scenario/

More NZ Heritage Links

You can explore more about these historic places associated with New Zealand’s coastal defence, on the New Zealand Heritage List, by following the links:
Fort Takapuna / O Peretu, Auckland http://www.heritage.org.nz/the-list/details/86

North Head –Devonport, Auckland http://www.heritage.org.nz/the-list/details/7005

https://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/local-news/north-shore-times/94337030/historic-disappearing-gun-goes-off-with-enormous-bang-on-aucklands-north-shore

Blumine Island Battery Historic Area, Queen Charlotte Sound http://www.heritage.org.nz/the-list/details/7529

Wright’s  Hill Fortress, Wellington http://www.heritage.org.nz/the-list/details/7543

Battery Point Battery Historic Area, Lyttelton http://www.heritage.org.nz/the-list/details/7553

These NZ preparations look very much like the 1850s / 1860s Palmerston Follies preparations against a possible  French invasion in early Victorian Britain. They would continue in New Zealand to be prepared for active service against the Japanese threat in WWII.

Blogposted by Mark Man of TIN, Advent Calendar Day 9 – Sunday 9th December  2018.