Burns Night casting


Stuck in the mould …
The figure released at last.

Today – it’s Burns Night, Rabby Burns Birthday. Here is my Highland tribute to Burns , once a former volunteer or militia man of the Napoleonic invasion scare.


Robert Burns received a full military funeral in 1796 as a member of the Royal Dumfries Volunteers.

Casting my Burns Night Highlander

I spent part of a day off home-casting metal toy soldiers like this 54mm Highlander, something I haven’t done for several years.

Some eBay finds of vintage metal toy soldier moulds you ‘buy blind’ and aren’t too sure what you’re getting. This was one such mould. Not yet sure of the manufacturer.

Sometimes the moulds have been over cleaned purely for show, apparently like some people collect and display vintage butter pats or cake tins. Sometimes they are cracked, damaged or overworn.

The only glitch was the casting getting stuck for a while, not prised out until very cool, so maybe some mould release powder next time.

This figure is not highly detailed but has minimal flash and a lovely vintage  ‘Toy Soldier’ feel to it.

I look forward to making many more and getting them painted up for 54mm games this year. More photos of other moulds and castings to come soon.

Happy Burns Night (or Happy Birthday) if you are celebrating the occasion.

One of Burns’ Napoleonic wartime poems …

Does Haughty Gaul Invasion Threat? 

(The Dumfries Volunteers) by Robert Burns

Does haughty Gaul invasion threat?
Then let the louns beware, Sir!
There’s wooden walls upon our seas,
And volunteers on shore, Sir!
The Nith shall run to Corsincon,
And Criffel sink in Solway,
Ere we permit a Foreign Foe
On British ground to rally!
We’ll ne’er permit a Foreign Foe
On British ground to rally!

O let us not, like snarling curs,
In wrangling be divided,

Till, slap! come in an inco loun,
And wi’ a rung decide it!
Be Britain still to Britain true,

Amang oursels united!
For never but by British hands
Maun British wrangs be righted!
No! never but by British hands
Shall British wrangs be righted!

The Kettle o’ the Kirk and State,
Perhaps a clout may fail in’t;
But deil a foreign tinkler loun
Shall ever ca’a nail in’t.
Our father’s blude the Kettle bought,
And wha wad dare to spoil it;
By Heav’ns! the sacrilegious dog
Shall fuel be to boil it!
By Heav’ns! the sacrilegious dog
Shall fuel be to boil it!

The wretch that would a tyrant own,
And the wretch, his true-born brother,
Who would set the Mob aboon the Throne,
May they be damn’d together!
Who will not sing “God save the King,”
Shall hang as high’s the steeple;
But while we sing “God save the King,”
We’ll ne’er forget The People!
But while we sing “God save the King,”
We’ll ne’er forget The People!

Two ways of reading the last verse of  this supposedly patriotic poem!

A painting of Burns in his volunteer uniform by Scots military artist Douglas N. Anderson (who works for Osprey) can be found here http://halifaxburnsclub.org/Militia_Fletcher.html

For more about the Napoleonic era Volunteers in Britain https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Volunteer_Corps

Posted by Mark, Man of TIN blog, 25 January 2017.

Civilian figures # 1: the Zoo


Trying to find interesting 54mm civilian figures is always a challenge. Apart from an unusual set ordered online from China, it usually involves looking out for figures with playsets or vehicles.

An expensive way to acquire a few figures!


Parading Through The Zoo

It was always frustrating as a child to have a zoo or farm or a parade set out but no visitors  to watch; it usually resulted in lots of troops endlessly parading with their bands through the model zoo  (H.G. Wells Floor Games style)  along with assorted military staff feeding the animals, selling tickets etc.

Zoo animals were an important and long running part of any lead or plastic figure series, from Britain’s onwards.

To be fair, military bands and other forms of entertainment and display from balloon rides and fetes to fireworks to lifeboat launches were not unknown in the Victorian zoo such as Bristol Zoo. A bandstand was an everyday part of parks, seaside promenades, botanic gardens and often zoos.

This carried right through at Manchester’s Belle Vue Zoo from Victorian times into the 1950s, they staged elaborate military and historical tableaux through both world wars with a local cast of hundreds. Their theatrical stock of obsolete muskets were borrowed by the early Home Guard units locally in 1940.


Military mascots often ended up in zoos during after both World Wars  (including Winnie the Pooh at London Zoo) and an informal naval zoo existed, at Whale Island, this was a little uninspiring as a regular play or garden scenario.  http://www.europeana.eu/portal/en/record/2024904/photography_ProvidedCHO_TopFoto_co_uk_EU044495.htmlEven

Today, Edinburgh Zoo has a penguin called Nils Olaf  “commissioned” into the Norwegian Royal Guard and occasionally visited and paraded  by his fellow (human) comrades in their magnificent full dress uniform.

The Zoo and Wartime Morale

I have 1939 ‘propaganda’ press pictures of servicemen enjoying elephant rides at Belle Vue Zoo Manchester. This was sort of true of many British Zoos in wartime – there were  special rates for servicemen (and lady friends) in uniform, entertainments in WW1 for injured servicemen.

In the first few weeks of being closed to the public on ARP grounds in September 1939, London Zoo made arrangements for servicemen to walk round for the animals to look at. ‘The Zoo’ also made their canteen over to the RAF as the big houses around became RAF Regent’s Park full of training aircrew.

Britain’s and other lead toy soldier manufacturers made plenty of civilians and farm workers in the more pacifist aftermath of WW1. Plastic manufacturers haven’t widely followed suit and painted railway figures in this 54mm /1:32 scale are often quite expensive.


Hong Kong farm girl, China made farm labourer and the real thing – Britain’s / Herald Farm Girl.


Failing the mounting of a full scale military parade through your zoo, Wild West town etc. all day and everyday,  some normal civilians are useful for floor games, sandpit games or  wargames.

F.E. Perry in his quirky First Book of War Games and Second Book of War Games often featured civilian or town settings alongside his wargames scenario / photographs.

The 54mm female figure from the left is from the c. 2007 zoo vehicle  playset, whilst the “Marilyn” stylish 1950s unfinished painted figure is from recent Chinese plastics online purchase of civilians. (Photo / figures: Man of TIN)

These  feature sets  came from a zoo gift shop with two zebra striped jeeps handy for conversion, some brilliant wooden watch towers and rope ways (of which more anon), a couple of odd sized animals and these interesting modern civilians. Similar figures are made for dinosaur playsets.

Something vaguely unsettling about this boy child in his simple factory paintwork. Useful photographer figure though!

Something similar to the girl child in the photos has recently been repainted and reused in a Slinkachu type way on the front cover of an art photography book about the recent group of artists / photographers playing with scale for satiric, unsettling or comic effect.


Microworlds contains some slightly disturbing dystopian or to some tasteless items from a range of photographers.


Another candidate to be my Man of TIN blog photographer? (from a 2007 zoo vehicle playset)


More plastics including civilians are featured on my Pound Store Plastic Warriors sister blogsite –


Police and firefighters are now available sometimes in pound store tubes, suitable for conversion.

Back in the 1980s there were Britain’s Deetail nurses, doctors and  construction workers, not forgetting the Britain’s farm workers ranging from lead to Herald plastic and a modern farm worker range still around in toy shops or online today.



In future blogposts I will feature more civilian figures to be used for game scenarios from the Chinese made sets available online  to the useful USA manufactured  Toob “heritage” plastic figures roughly in 54mm, also purchased online.

Steve Weston’s Plastic Warrior website also feature an excellent set of Mexican Wild West civilians or peasants.


Posted by Mr MIN, Man of TIN, January 2017.






A few Peter Laing figures amongst the scrap lead mountain

A successful bid on an online auction site around New Year  brought a kilo box of lead figures for spares or scrap for recasting, all for £10.

Among them I thought I had spotted some 15mm Peter Laing figures  in the single photo of a mass of random lead.  Now that Peter Laing figures are no longer made, finding new ones is exciting.


So throughout the last two weeks in odd moments I have been sorting through this random mix of Napoleonic troops of many nations, a few ancients and even the odd space figure.

Flocking and basing my way through a small part of a kilo of lead

It’s like a gamer’s owl pellet, ready for dissection. Mostly painted, with few broken figures.

Two weeks on and off spent flocking and basing and I am still not through this kilo of  this scrap lead mountain. Almost all will return to active service, few will end up in the casting ladle.

Most are 15mm to 20mm with many different manufacturers, with some good matches for Peter Laing 15mm figures and others of the gnome type of chunky 15mm that I thankfully bought very few of in my early gaming years.

I was right that there were Peter Laing figures in that kilo of lead – sadly less than I thought – but I really like the randomness of the other figures.

The Peter Laing figures match quite well with some of the other figures.

Other slender 15mm figures that match well the Peter Laing American Civil War figure second from left. 
Some other Peter Laing style figures flank the Peter Laing American Civil War Union infantryman. 
Some Ancient Peter Laing warriors 
Ottoman or Renaissance Peter Laing  Turks 

Some of the figures I recognised from the amazing collection of Peter Laing figures by John Patriquin the Wargame Hermit blogger.


The rest of the kilo of mostly Napoleonic era troops in their distinctive shakos, bicornes and helmets will be organised with minimal repainting into Gondal, Gaaldine, Glasstown and Angria forces for my Bronte juvenilia inspired skirmishes later this year.

They all look battle-hardened figures with battered bayonets and muskets to be carefully straightened.


Just one interestingly shaped Peter Laing horse – not sure what – distinctively shaped even amongst a jumble of figures.

Posted by Mark, Man of TIN blog, January 2017.

Twelve Drummers Drumming

To celebrate the last of the 12 days of Christmas


To celebrate the last day of Christmas (arrival of the wise men, Epiphany, Twelfth Night and all that) and the traditional day to switch off or take  all your decorations down by, I give you –

Twelve Drummers Drumming.

These twelve drummers are the usual reason along with yesterday’s eleven pipers to shoehorn toy soldiers into Christmas  … tree decorations … wrapping paper …

Didn’t have enough milkmaids in my farm selection to do the Eight  Maids a-milking or enough senior commanders to make up the required number of Ten  Lords a-leaping (on horseback or on foot).

You can check out the origin of the the Twelve Days https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Twelve_Days_of_Christmas_(song)

The Twelve Drummers – in Deetail 

From the back row – Semi-flat gilt home cast US sailor, Johillco Khaki drummer.

Middle row – Modern Britain’s Guards Deetail “new metal” type Guards drummers,  Charbens plastic Guards drummer, hollowcast line infantry drummer, Lone Star / Harvey / Timpo Guards drummer, Modern Britains  Deetail “new metal” US Marine drummer.

Front row – bizarre Royal Marines repaint / head remodelling (carved / cut down busby) of Charbens Guards drummer figure 2 middle row.t

Repaired Britains Guards drummer boy (new right hand added with Fimo)

Centre – lovely modern metal Britains drummer boy (1999)

Hollowcast Guards drummer, ‘Made in England’ not sure of manufacturer

Last but not least, another odd one picked up job lot online –  Swoppet body, Royal Marines drummer but with carved Busby into Marines  helmet.

Hallmark cards vintage drummer boy brooch in my collection.

The baker’s dozen … or thirteenth drummer.  This Hallmark cards ‘vintage’ drummer boy was a gift. He was originally made or sold as a brooch or badge with pin back,  temporarily attached for the picture with white tack  to a clear 1970s Star Wars figure base. He was too tall to feature in the first group photograph. 

Maybe he is a belated tribute to Bing Crosby and David Bowie singing the Little Drummer Boy, odd but a combination of voices which works …

The fir trees are again Christmas decorations, sold with these wooden bases attached. Stylish and atmospheric for those winter forest game scenarios  …

Next year I might be able to put together a Peter Laing figure twelve drummers drumming photo. I can’t quite make it with Peter Laing Pipers yet though. I (and E-Bay) often seem to have an excess of his 15mm drummers … and never enough fighting men. But that is for another Christmas.

A very Happy Toy Soldier New Year 2017

Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN blog, 6th January 2017.

Eleven Pipers Piping

Eleven Pipers Piping …

Celebrating the eleventh day of Christmas with eleven pipers piping from my toy soldier collection.  Figures old and new, painted and unpainted …

Britain’s Pipers old and new, Prince August, Johillco and Lone Star / Harvey  Timpo plastics from my collection. 
Interesting Christmas gift – these decoration trees.


The trees are great and stylish for 54mm toy soldier games.

These trees are from trade only suppliers Ascalon, look out for them in Christmas decorations and interior design shops http://www.ascalon.co.uk/categories/christmas/whiter-shade-of-pale/stand-wooden-tree-12cm/7690

Blog posted by Mark, Man of TIN blog, 5th January 2017.

Bronte’s Waterloo Soldiers


A young Bronte sister looks on as their Waterloo Soldiers are animated by  their imaginative minds – screen shot from BBC,  To Walk Invisible (December 2016)

One of my Christmas highlights on TV this year was the BBC drama To Walk Invisible about the Bronte Sisters and the tragic story of their brother Branwell.

The opening minute or two featured a gothic or dreamlike sequence where the four children running through a great imaginary place or palace open a box of Waterloo Soldiers and then choose some, based on  a real account of what happened when their father returned from a trip to Leeds with a box of wooden soldiers on the 5th June 1826.

This dreamlike sequence sees the children, their minds or heads imaginatively aflame, and their imaginations breathe life into or animate these wooden Napoleonic or Waterloo soldiers. Clever special FX  brings these Waterloo toy soldiers to life (using actors rather than CGI) amongst these child giants.

Each Young Bronte chooses and names a different figure from amongst the Napoleonic sailors and soldiers including a Napoleon figure, Sneaky, Waiting Boy, Gravey and Wellesley (The Duke of Wellington). A reminder that the Napoleonic wars had finished only a few years before the children’s birth.

The figures go on to becaome characters in their imaginative worlds of GlassTown, Angria and Gondal.

You can see the programme on BBC I Player  for the first few weeks of January 2017 – see the programme website.



The Waterloo Soldiers come to life …

Their shared imaginary worlds Angria and  Gondal had their origins in the Glasstown Confederacy, an earlier imaginary setting created by the Bronte children.

Glasstown was founded when 12 wooden soldiers were offered to Branwell Brontë by his father, Patrick Brontë, on 5 June 1826.The soldiers became characters in their imaginary world.

Branwell came to our door with a box of soldiers Emily & I jumped out of bed and I snat[c]hed up one & exclaimed this is the Duke of Wellington it shall be mine!!  When I said this Emily likewise took one & said it should be hers when Anne came down she took one also. Mine was the prettiest of the whole & perfect in every part Emily’s was a Grave looking fellow we called him Gravey. Anne’s was a queer little thing very much like herself. [H]e was called Waiting Boy[.] Branwell chose Bonaparte.

— Charlotte Brontë, The History of the Year   (Wikipedia source: Gondal)

This record of events by Charlotte is well and pointedly used in  dialogue  in the opening section of the BBC’s To Walk Invisible by the child actors /  the children portraying the young Bronte family. It reveals some of the rivalry and battles to come amongst the four surviving Bronte children.

The BBC screenplay / drama then skips almost 20 years later to around 1845 when the children are grown up, experiencing many difficulties in life and back together at home in their father’s parsonage in Haworth in Yorkshire (now a Bronte museum). http://www.bronte.org.uk

During December 1827 Charlotte suggested that everyone own and manage their own island, which they named after heroic leaders: Charlotte had Wellington, Branwell had Sneaky, Emily had Parry, and Anne had Ross. Each island’s capital was called Glasstown, hence the name of the Glasstown Confederacy.




Naming their soldiers, their minds aflame. (All images Copyright: BBC To Walk Invisible)

The Paracosms or Imaginary shared worlds created by the Bronte children offer interesting gaming scenarios, which I have written about in the blogpost mentioned below. It is however taking me a long time to piece my way through the rich but scatty and scanty piecemeal survivals from this “imagi-nations” in their maps, stories and characters of their  worlds.


I hope to set some of my Napoleonic / 19th century onwards games in this setting.


So what is a Paracosm?

“A paracosm is a detailed imaginary world. Paracosms are thought generally to originate in childhood and to have one or numerous creators. The creator of a paracosm has a complex and deeply felt relationship with this subjective universe, which may incorporate real-world or imaginary characters and conventions.”

The Bronte children’s world is a curious mixture of their native Yorkshire, exotic tropical West Africa (“Ashantee”) read about in books, recent historical figures like Wellington, Napoleon or xplorers like Ross and Parry

Commonly having its own geography, history, and language, it is an experience that is often developed during childhood and continues over a long period of time, months or even years, as a sophisticated reality that can last into adulthood.” (Wikipedia Entry: Paracosm)

Some interesting writers are listed in this paracosm article / Wikipedia entry – some I have never heard of or read but some more familiar ones such as Tolkein or  C.S. Lewis.


Bronte family map of Glasstown and Angria (Wikipedia source)


Sounds like lots of gamers, their blogs detailing  imaginary nations  and games systems …


The Wikipedia entry on Paracosms  also mentions Mark Hogenkamp’s 1/6th figure recreation of a fictional WW2 Belgium town in the Normandy period, after traumatic brain injury, documented in a book, art project and documentary film – http://marwencol.com/about/#about-marwencol


A similarly toy soldier or play restricted childhood created the inspiration Pete Shulman’s amazing clay creation and plastic kit decades long battlefields in America: http://www.peterswar.com/

Hopefully you will find the Bronte 2 hour one off drama To Walk Invisible as interesting as its opening toy soldier minutes.


Interesting comment by Jon Meech about the Bronte worlds as early RPG Role Playing Games.

Warning – if you are a historical wargaming purist, here follows a fantasy game reference alert!

To me “Angria or Gondal Rebooted” is a chance to jazz up some scrap / spare 15mm Napoleonics of various countries and manufacturers from recent job lots.

The Bronte family  ‘tiny book’ works of their world fiction are similar to games write ups or wargames journals.

I found several interestingly titled articles on this interesting aspect of their work such as

Emily Bronte, World’s First Dungeon Mistress

Branwell Bronte’s contribution as dungeon master  and flavour text
and a Game of Thrones comparison


and extends into Jane Austen role play – with or without zombies


Lots more interesting articles along this Bronte Sisters Role Playing Game / Dungeon Mistress / Fantasy vein

Posted by Mark, Man of TIN, 4/5th January 2017








Zinnfiguren Poem by Joachim Ringelnatz

There is a certain odd “found poem” feel to this Google Translate / automatic translation of the following poem “Zinn figuren” or “Tin Figures” by Joachim Ringelnatz.

I came across this at random in German on a German website



Box for these Schneider type zinn figuren homecast moulds.


“Tin figures”

The pewter figures are
Connection between art and child.
They portray all times.

As you walk, stand and ride

Small fairy tale from every country:
Indians, Knights, Saxons,
And what the Creator otherwise invented.

Even trees, beautifully grown,
Even houses, ships, railways,
Aircraft, cars, pelican

Like every other animal;
In short, everything and everything
Is here –
Studied by colour, form and meaning –
Beautifully formed in tin.

Sometimes tin is made of lead.

Sensibly, posed with love,
Shows the small big world.

If we still like the old,
Will this mean for me:
The pewter figures are
Connection between art and child
And us, the old people


Or Microsoft Translate’s Version.

“Pewter figures”

The pewter figures are connection between art and child.
You describe all the times.

move, stand and riding

small fairy tale stained from any country:

Indians, Knights, Saxony, and what else invented the creator.

Also trees, beautiful also grew, houses, ships, railway, aircraft, cars, Pelican,

like every other living thing.
In short, All sorts and all is here – study for colour, form and meaning – beautiful pronounced in Tin.

Sometimes is the tin lead.

Made with love, that shows useful, small big world.

If that still like us old, will that mean for me: link between art and child and us, the old people are the Tin figures.


A lot is obviously “lost in translation” or automatic translation as the saying goes. My German is “sehr  rustig” but hopefully a better translation will turn up.

The original German poem: 


Die Zinnfiguren sind
Verbindung zwischen Kunst und Kind.
Sie schildern alle Zeiten.

Da schreiten, stehn und reiten

Klein-märchenbunt aus jedem Land:
Indianer, Ritter, Sachsen,
Und was der Schöpfer sonst erfand.

Auch Bäume, schön gewachsen,
Auch Häuser, Schiffe, Eisenbahn,
Flugzeuge, Autos, Pelikan

Wie jedes andere Getier;
Kurz: Allerlei und Jederlei
Ist hier –
Studiert nach Farbe, Form und Sinn –
Schön ausgeprägt in Zinn.

Mitunter ist das Zinn aus Blei.

Sinnvoll, mit Liebe aufgestellt,
Zeigt das im Kleinen große Welt.

Wenn das uns Alten noch gefällt,
Will das für mich bedeuten:
Die Zinnfiguren sind
Verbindung zwischen Kunst und Kind
Und uns, den alten Leuten

This poem was written  by Joachim Ringelnatz (1883-1934), deutscher Schriftsteller, Kabarettist und Maler (or German writer, cabaret artist and painter).


Joachim Ringelnatz (Wikipedia source)


You can find out more about this writer, banned by the Nazis as “degenerate artist” (that to me from the perspective of modern times  is usually a fairly good character reference).

A former sailor, including service on minesweepers in the German Navy during WW1, Ringelnatz died destitute and penniless of TB in Berlin in 1934 after falling foul of the Nazi party in 1933.




This site (above) has a good brief biography in English  including details of how Joachim fared when his  books and his satirical poetry performances were banned by the Nazis.




http://www.zinnhobby.de/ website

Photographs / figures: metal moulds, vintage figures and home cast figures from Man of TIN’s collection.

Posted by Mark,  Man of TIN blog, January 2017