Close Little Wars away game

April  2016 Portable Game board

A  wet holiday week away from home led to an improvised gameboard in a tray, some found ‘logs’ and stones, a few dice and a handful of vintage OO/HO Airfix packed away in a tiny fishing tackle box or my “just in case” ….

My “Just In Case” survival box  of vintage Airfix, ready for a solo game on wet holidays.



A raid on family holiday art materials  turned up watercolour paints, A3 watercolour sketch book paper and other scraps (cereal box cardboard, glue, coffee stirrers) to make an improvised hex game board.



The scenario was based around Brutish Redcoats versus Generican  settlers …


This was a good chance over several evenings of “pick up and put away”, the joy of a portable game board.

It was a good chance  to try out a hexed up version of Donald Featherstone’s two page “Close Wars” rules as an appendix to his 1962  book War Games.


Flimsy cardboard game tiles warped a bit  when painted with watercolour … different card needed next time. I was very happy with my coffee stirrer bridge , the key point through impassable swamp and rocky terrain.

It had  a good miniature  Little Wars / Battle of Hooks Farm feel to it, using the lovely Airfix Guards.

I  haven’t written up the game report and probably never will now understand my end of turn notes (written to help me pick up the game the next evening).

Mostly I  wanted to clear away this unposted draft of 2016, ready for a new blogging year in 2017.

Happy gaming in 2017!

Posted on the final afternoon of 2016 by Mark, Man of TIN blog.


Toy Soldier Scrap Book

Edwardian or WW1 scraps from an old postcard scraps book in my collection. The uniform looks WW1, the gun more like the riveted traditional toy soldier  Boer war naval gun.


Further scraps
My favourite tiny scrap of the whole book, these charming toy soldiers. 
Review Hyde Park reads the wall poster – soldier boys in this Victorian or Edwardian scrap.
WW1 type costume for dressing up, some delightful wooden toy soldiers and  a scrap of Victorian general Lord Chelmsford. 
A delightful close up of one of the wooden toy soldiers. 
Another Victorian hero General Sir Garnet Wolseley, kilted boy soldier costume  drumming and a naval rating doll.
Another lovely scrap – Late Victorian or Edwardian scrap of early toy soldiers and toy fort, including an unusual flag. Sadly with some enthusiastic pencil scribbling that could be carefully removed.
More child marching band scraps to match the kilted drummer boy. 
The post card album is anonymous. A little pencil inscription on the first page beginning Mon Cherie …

Some of the other non-military scraps are interesting too. A colourful group of street scenes such as this railway scrap …

Victorian or Edwardian train guard. 
A close up of these Victorian newsboys 
Another little vignette, a shoeshine boy near The Monument in London. 

Some of the scraps are quite large scenes, including this military grouping of Tussauds waxworks.

Napoleon and General Gordon amongst the historical figures … 
Yachting on the Round Pond …
A much later press cutting in the back of the scrapbook from around 1945.

As with many scrapbooks, there is a strange reuse or later entry in the form of this World War 2 Royal Marines press cutting, talking about return from the recent fighting alongside Dutch troops in Holland.

Not knowing who the postcard album belonged to, I have no idea how this cutting is connected to the rest of the album.

Another curious addition included in this album when I bought it is this hand drawn silhouette titled ‘Welcome Home’.

An interesting little album …

Pound Store Wilko Heroes


One of my Christmas gifts, these delightful 35 –  40mm  charging plastic soldiers … a crossposting from my sister blog:

Posted by Mark, Man of TIN blog, 28 December 2016


Happy Christmas from the Man of TIN!

A very Happy Christmas from the Man of TIN blog. 

A very Happy Christmas and Happy Blogmas from the Man of TIN blog!

I have really enjoyed seeing all the Christmas greetings and parades on different blog sites for toy soldiers and wargames.

So begins my first blogging Christmas, or Blogmas,  a new Christmas Tradition for the Man of TIN blog –  the Christmas parade or photo.

The Christmas photo cast 

I always like to know what or whose figures are shown in photos, it’s a great way to discover new ranges or ideas for figures that you already have.

Figures are all 54mm and come from a wide range of sources.

There are two 54mm Prince August castings that I made or home-cast using their Trdaitional Toy Soldier moulds to make the Policeman and saluting Guardsman (our Man of TIN gravatar). Both were originally made by me as family gifts as brooches with brooch backs.

The lady with an armful of presents is an odd resin ready painted Christmas village figure from The Christmas Shop open all year round in Bath.

The bowler hatted man is Dr. Watson, bought as an unpainted casting from Tradition of London. The dog is from the Tradition Victorian streets range.

The children are from the beautifully painted metal Imperial Productions of New Zealand ‘Town and Around’ Range Set no. 29 Letter to Santa (girl and postbox) and Set No. 35 Yuletide (children with presents and wreath for the door). The postman came from the same shop, the friendly team at the Guards Model Soldier Centre in London at the Guards Museum near Buckingham Palace.

I can’t remember where the lovely street and house scene is from, probably the Guards Model Soldier Centre as they have a whole street display of them in their parade cabinets.

A light dusting for a few moments scatter from a flour shaker and a quick grinding of salt for shiny snowy … then swept away after the photo. A white felt background behind the house.

I tried out various lighting options including battery led candles, then played around with in Apple /Mac/ IPad photo editing programmes.

Black and white street snowy scene. 

I had some fun playing around with LED battery candle light but this made the photo very grainy.

Candle lit Street  scene at night. Is that Moriarty lurking to the left? Help is at hand in the foreground …
The same scene rendered into blurry Victorian photograph or newspaper print. Sherlock Holmes has crept into the foreground, another Tradition figure. 

Sherlock and Moriarty, bought as unpainted Tradition castings, have snuck in …

A very Happy Blogmas and Happy Christmas. I look forward to another year, a  New Year of reading a wide range of  toy soldier and gaming blogs, writing new blogpost, receiving comments  and all the chat.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by and read and commented on Man of TIN blog and our sister site of Pound Store Plastic Warriors.

Posted by Mark, Man of TIN blog, Christmas Eve 2016.

Nutcracker Toy Soldiers


Great toy soldier ideas and colour scheme from this special Nutcracker in our family collection (Photo / figure: Man of TIN)


A Very Happy Christmas to all my readers, gamers and blog friends.

Gaming to me has always been a little bit like The Nutcracker story.

There seem to be lots of Nutcracker Soldiers around as a Christmas decoration theme this year.

I’m not very knowledgeable about ballet, nevertheless the idea of toys coming to life (at midnight naturally) has long had an appeal to me and many other children and adults.

The fact (or facet of the imagination) that some toys are likely to be bad, jealous, malevolent makes for a more interesting story, just as in the Steadfast Toy Soldier. An instant Enemy! Instant villains, instant bad guys.

The Nutcracker features the basics of narrative and gaming – good and bad, overcoming evil. Colourful uniforms, childlike toys. Return to the nursery etc. and the basic plot of Toy Story.

1,2,3, 4 – I declare a Toy War!

I like the creative tangents and incidental hobby learning stuff whilst surfing the Internet – all more inspiration for gaming scenarios, historical background and uniform paint schemes.

Will this be 2017 project – a Nutcracker army made out of Fimo?  Moulds sourced from Etsy.

There are stacks of Pinterest and Wikimedia images of The Nutcracker, the toy soldiers and other characters. Well worth a search through for some bling uniform Imagi-Nations inspiration.

Decorative Nutcrackers give some great Imagi-Nations uniform ideas  (Wikimedia source: Raul654)

The Tchaikovsky ballet, once of the  Tzarist Russian era, is now an American snowy Christmas classic with many adaptations from Duke Ellington jazz to cartoons.

The ballet is itself adapted from E.T.A. Hoffmann’s story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, by way of Alexander Dumas’ adapted story ‘The Nutcracker’.

Hoffman was an interesting Prussian character and story teller living in the upheaval of Napoleonic Europe, writing in the Romantic or Gothic vein of the Bronte sisters but with the folk tale influence of Hans Christian Andersen. Andersen also wrote and lived during wartime, namely the Danish wars of 1864 and the mid 19th Century. He is quoted in the book that inspired the Danish TV series  1864.

Plots and scenarios

The idea of Nutcracker toy soldiers defeating the evil mouse king and his troops throws up some interesting fantastic / fantasy gaming scenarios.

Silvered metal finish inexpensive Nutcracker charm Soldiers are available as charms or pendants in batches on EBay or Etsy. Silicone food moulds of  The Nutcracker are also available for Fimo toy soldier production.

Maybe a horde of mice warriors is required? I’m sure many fantasy  manufacturers make them such as Eureka Miniatures Warrior Mice in 28mm alongside their Toy Town Soldier range

There are some mice and rat related fantasy games out there such as Mice and Mystics

A seven-headed mouse king, now there would be a figure …

The Nutcracker Plot or Storyline

The grandfather clock begins to chime … Mice begin to come out from beneath the floor boards, including the seven-headed Mouse King.

The dolls in the toy cabinet come alive and begin to move, the nutcracker taking command and leading them into battle after putting Marie’s ribbon on as a token.

The battle goes to the dolls at first, but they are eventually overwhelmed by the mice.

Marie, seeing the nutcracker about to be taken prisoner, takes off her slipper and throws it at the Mouse King, then faints into the toy cabinet’s glass door, cutting her arm badly.

(Plot summary, Hoffmann’s Nutcracker story – Wikipedia)

Slipper artillery, now there’s another thing …

Check out Youtubè sections ballet or cartoon versions (about 25-30mins in) of  The Nutcracker’s ‘battle with the mice’ and you’ll variously see innovative cheese artillery, mousetraps, Christmas present terrain or scenery, toy forts, cavalry, cannons,  the lot,  performed by dance companies big and small all over the world. Tchaikovsky’s music here reminds me greatly of his martial 1812 Overture, beloved of many wargamers.

A more detailed plot outline can be found in the article about Hoffmann’s original story  can be found at

The idea of toy parades and music, of toys coming to life can be found in many cultures:

Parade of the Wooden Soldiers music cover (Wikipedia source).

The secret midnight life of toy soldiers  is also well caught here: including this great Crackly Russian version of this familiar music:

Happy painting and gaming (at midnight, naturally!)

Blogposted by Mr. MIN, Man of TIN, Christmas / December 2016.

Happy Christmas!


Safari Toob Jamestown settlers

Another useful Safari Toob set of figures are The Jamestown Settlers set in 1:32 or 54mm scale, which contains some interesting and useful ‘character’ figures for modelling or gaming.

Educational descriptions of each figure. 12 Jamestown pieces includes 3 farm animals,  log fire and a wonky ship, so each figure is between £1 and 2 pounds or dollars effectively. 

These Safari Toob figures are produced in cooperation with the Jamestown Settlement Museum in Williamsburg Virginia.

For American customers the Toob set is around $12 dollars, but can also buy ‘bulk bags’ of some of these Safari  Toob figures too.

Amazon UK retails these Toob sets for £12 to £15.

Captain John Smith of Pocahontas fame. Pocahontas features in the Powhatan Toob set. 
54mm Jamestown Settler workman with ax(e) by Safari Toob. Twig log collected by  Man of TIN.
54mm Jamestown blacksmith (without an anvil) but useful Fire. A 54mm anvil could be made from Fimo / Sculpy or suitable white metal one found. 



Safari Toob figures are ‘educational’ and come with short caption texts. We will feature more about the Powhatan Indian set (left) in another blog review  post. 

The Safari Toob website reliably informs that:

Arguably one of America’s most important landmarks, Jamestown was founded in 1607 by English settlers. While Jamestown is now celebrated as an important location for the development of the early American colonies, it wasn’t without its trials.

From 1609 to 1610, James struggled through a crippling lack of food known as the “Starving Time” which diminished the population by nearly 60%. However, the settlers were resilient, and over time Jamestown developed into one of the premier bastions of English civilization in America.

Useful 54mm accessories (cannon) matches with the pirate set barrels and cannonballs.
Wonky musket aside, this is a useful 54mm musketeer figure from the Safari Toob Jamestown settler set.
54mm Navigator with cross staff figure from the Safari Toob Jamestown Settler set. Pirate chest from a pound store plastic set.


Especially useful in both the Powhatan Indian figures (to be featured in next blogpost) and the Jamestown Settlers sets are the tradesmen and the civilian women.

54mm Jamestown settler woman cooking that can be used for many periods and nationalities.
Jamestown cook
54mm Jamestown Settler woman gardening.

There are equally good figures (shown) from the later Wild West settlers Toob set.

54mm Safari Toob Wild West settler and child with Jamestown settler with hoe. Toob sets often match together well.







Musketeer with wonky musket
Musketeer with wonky musket
Wonky and tiny thin 2D out of scale ship suitable for setting the background.

Expensive but interesting character figures, full of conversion possibilities.

Several other companies produce plastic 17th Century figures, but you can always mass produce your own with Doug Shand’s brilliant idea of dollar store conversions of Airfix Australians:

Next Toob review will be the Powhatan Indian set which could also make interesting 54mm Maoris …

Posted by Mark, Man of TIN blog, December 2016.

Safari Toob Pirate Set


Handy barrel, rope and cannonball scenery feature as well as duelling figures in the Safari Toob pirate set.

Some really useful Treasure Island type figures here, some that no doubt early gaming writer Robert Louis Stevenson would have enjoyed.

A tiny Pirate ship in the background, this Skeleton Compass leads these two Toob pirate figures onwards in their map hunt for buried treasure. Palm tree is a Tiger stores cocktail stick. (Photo: Man of TIN)

Safari’s   Pirate Toob set has some interesting and useful 54mm or  1:32  plastic prepainted figures for gaming in the 18th and 19th Century.

The duelling figures with swords out would work really well with Donald Featherstone’s simple sword fight rules in  one of my favourite Featherstone chapters “Wargaming in Bed” in his book Solo Wargaming.

Nice touches like the monkey on the shoulder.
This Toob pirate reminds me of a pirate book illustration by American painter Howard Pyle. Shame about the wonky musket.

The Buccaneer was a Picturesque Fellow” by Howard Pyle is the oil painting, which the illustration was of, was sold in 1905 under the title The Buccaneer, and is currently part of the Delaware Art Museum’s collection.

Howard Pyle’s The Buccaneer.  (Source image: Wikipedia)
Again, nice detail seen from the back like the pirate parrot or macaw. Useful atmospheric barrels, cannon balls and rope cluster.
Excellent injured pirate or veteran
Good back details on this peg leg pirate.
Hmmm. Something vaguely 1980s pop star or biker about this pirate. One for a paint conversion … nice cannon though!

The set also has a useful lady pirate based on contemporary illustrations of Mary Read and Ann Bonny.

Female pirate based on Ann Bonny, less scantily clad than the engraving.
Ann Bonny
Contemporary image or engraving of Ann Bonny (Source image: Wikipedia)

Safari Toob figure sets or Toobs are not cheap so probably do not qualify for inclusion on my Pound Store Plastic Warriors website:

They do sit well alongside the much cheaper Hing Fat pirates which almost qualify for (seaside) pound store status.

Lots of conversion possibilities!

More about this Toob and Safari figures at their website:

They are about $12 dollars from Safari or from Amazon UK about £12 (to £15 RRP).

This gets you 6 figures, 7 if you count the skeleton,  along with the  cannon, barrels and the tiny ship.

I will post further Safari Toob figure set reviews over the next few weeks, the Jamestown settlers and Powhatan Indians and Native American Indian / Wild West set.

American customers have access to a range of Civil War and Revolutionary War figure Safari Toobs.

Posted by Mark, Mr MIN Man of TIN blog, December 2016.