Ashantees or Zulus Reborn

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A pile of Zulus and natives ready for the painting table …

Recently I have been experimenting with using Revell Gloss Acrylic paints as they are not as smelly as the Matt Humbrol or Airfix enamels that I used in the past.

Just one whiff of enamel paint brings back happy memories of childhood and teenage years busily painting in a tiny fume filled room.

A spot of gloss painting is a change from several post Christmas weeks of  “F and B”, Flocking and Basing (or rebasing)  vintage Airfix and Peter Laing figures.

I am finding  it difficult to get a dark brown gloss Revell acrylic for painting savage natives defending their tribal lands against imperialist  aggressors.

Whilst I have been doing this, several interesting batches of Zulus have popped up in wargames blogs.

Ross Macfarlane on his Battle Game of the Month blogpost has been busy these last few days battling with some impressive Zulus. http://gameofmonth.blogspot.co.uk/2017/02/the-published-portable-wargame-pt-3b.html

The Michigan Toy Soldier Company blog has also featured some impressive looking plastic 54mm Zulus from Expedition Force:

http://michtoy-from-the-front.blogspot.co.uk/2017/02/tom-starks-plastic-passions.html

My fierce but motley playbashed bunch of Britain’s natives have been slowly collected together over several months  from job-lot, damaged,  scrap or for repair lead hollowcast figures bought mostly through EBay. Such damaged figures  have little value to collectors. So it doesn’t really matter if I repaint or repurpose them.

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Original paint play bashed or palely repainted, ready for the brown gloss paint.

I bought some Humbrol Gloss  Brown Number  10 and used this only very briefly on a couple of figures before I got fed up of the fumes  … not very family friendly!  Next time I will paint with these enamel paints outdoors or with doors and all the windows open.

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The end gloss results look promising already, even before gloss varnish, and suitably toy soldier like.

Shield designs aside, a suitable weapon such as a spear needs to be added to the hand. I have tried filing and adding a wire spear but on first attempt it did not stick.

These chunky Zulu figures are second grade Britain’s figures that were sold in A Series sets or singly. The fragile  knobkerry on each of these figures is usually found broken, the original is shown in Andrew Rose’s excellent The Collector’s Guide to Toy Soldiers (Salamander 1985/97).

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Zulus with arms – Detail from Page 89 of Andrew Rose’s The Collector’s Guide to Toy Soldiers (Salamander, 1997)

Andrew Rose’s book also shows various arm versions of the Britain’s classic running Zulus of Africa Set 147, 1906 to 1959 and another version of the set into the final Britain’s lead year of 1966.

Handy to see these more slender Zulu figures as shortly  before Christmas I bought a Britain’s Zulus “jigsaw  puzzle” in the form of a  job-lot of bashed legs, bodies and bases. This should keep me busy fixing throughout the year. Recast Britain’s type arms with spears or even rifles from firms like Dorset Soldiers http://www.dorsetmodelsoldiers.com

or GBE Toy Soldiers spares will be handy here

 http://www.gbetoysoldiers.co.uk/sparescatalogue.html

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A Britain’s Zulu “jigsaw puzzle” ready for repair and repaint.

Interestingly these loincloths on these jigsaw Zulus seem to have been painted by their owners in stripes and spots for a more tribal animal skin look.

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Spotty or striped loincloths added by owners? on these Britain’s Zulus.

Britain’s used to indicate ‘native’ or ‘non-uniform’ troops by using at random three basic colours of yellow, red and blue for clothing  –  “The loincloths were painted in three different colour schemes,  as Britain’s always did for native troops or irregulars who might not be expected to wear uniform.” (Page 107, Britain’s Toy Soldiers 1893 -1932 by James Opie, published by Victor Gollancz, London, 1985)

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Rough repair and rebasing using polymer clay (Fimo / Sculpey) of a Britain’s running Zulu and (left)  Crescent Zulu A162, a former Reka product.

Not sure whether to preserve (if  I can) the strange ‘Black and White Minstrel’ style extraordinary face painting on some of these Britain’s Zulus.

Not sure yet what to do with the shield designs as I don’t really intend these  to be Zulus, rather more Generican Natives or Ashantee tribes.

Ashantees?

In the Bronte juvenilia of Glasstown and Angria, these tribes are the savage Ashantees.

The Bronte family juvenilia stories feature various tribal forces such as generic ‘Arabs’ or also Ashantee warriors, for their map of their Glasstown Confederacy and Angria ‘Imagi-Nations’ was based on West Africa, the natives based on early 19th Century journals and prints (pictured in the blogpost shown below)

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

The Ashantees are led against Angria by the fictional Quashia Quamina Kashna, son of the equally exotically named King Sai Too Too Quamina.

Quashia was adopted as a baby by the Bronte’s fictional Duke Of Wellington and a rivalry grows up between Quashia and his stepbrother Zamorna, Wellesley’s eldest son who becomes King Of Angria.

Quashia and several Western characters successively invade Angria including Branwell Bronte’s fictional alter ego  ‘Northangerland’, Ardrah (who opposes the creation of Angria by Zamorna) and MacTerrorglen.

Confused? So am I, still slowly figuring out the complex and intricate Game of Thrones style cast of characters and events created  over many years by the young Bronte sisters and their brother Branwell. If it proves too difficult to create scenarios, I may keep the places but fast forward the Bronte  “Imagi-Nations” a few decades clear of the Bronte’s main fictional characters that populate their  Gondal, Angria and Glasstown sagas.

Stranger than fiction?

This fictional story of Quashia is not that dissimilar to true stories of how native princes were assimilated, educated or westernised such as Alamayu, the son of Theodore, King of Abyssinia (buried in 1879 at Windsor Castle Chapel and commemorated on a plaque by Queen Victoria). Alamayu  was captured in the Magdala Campaign of 1867-68.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prince_Alemayehu   This  Wikipedia entry links to original Victorian photographs.

The Magdala campaign in what is now modern day Ethiopia is described in fascinating detail in Ian Hernon’s Britain’s Forgotten Wars: Colonial Campaigns of the Nineteenth Century  (Sutton, 2003), republished as  a compilation of a trilogy of Hernon’s books. You may have also read this as the first part of the trilogy previously published by Ian Hernon as ‘Massacre and Retribution’ (Sutton, 1998).

So the Bronte juvenile stories, albeit fictional, are not much stranger than some real life Nineteenth Century events.

The  Bronte family Gondal stories (devised by Emily and Anne) are based on North and South Pacific islands (mixed with a bit of Yorkshire for good measure!) so the islands of Gondal (North Pacific) and Gaaldine (South Pacific) no doubt have their own tribes.

Illustrations from the Ashanti Empire Wikipedia entry show left an Ashanti warrior and right one with a simple musket and powder horn.

Plenty of scope for many interesting scenarios. That’s why I’m keeping the figures “Generic” rather than “Zulu”.

Still lots of lovely repair and repainting work to do … I will post photos of the finished results.

Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN, February 2017

 

 

 

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Baling out and unfreezing the sand table

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The recent nearly but not quite named ‘Storm Doris’ did minor damage in my garden overnight a day or two ago, flipping off the tied on and weighted-down lid of my improvised “sand table”.

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A drowned landscape and forgotten flag …

This ‘sand table’ was flooded with rainwater and a topped with a thin sheet of ice  this morning.

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Quite surreal, as this was how it was otherwise left at the end of a game.

The sculpted sand terrain had smoothed away underwater. Eerily many of the troops were standing or lying still where they had last fought.

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In reality the ‘sand table’ is  a bright blue plastic family sand pit filled with fine play sand but it does service for garden games for all ages of family.

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Cold War? Army transport with rocket launchers entombed in the ice.

Revealed frozen underwater was the end of a last summer  ‘pound store plastic warriors’ sand pit game, literally frozen in time.

I had forgotten to put this game away months ago, just tied the lid on and weighted it with stones.  The weather has not been great in the UK for outdoor garden gaming over the last few winter months.

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Unpainted, these simple pound store troops about 25-30 mm high in three different ‘national colours’ looked surprisingly good underwater, especially this silver cluster.

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I have never built a proper sand table Donald Featherstone style, having heard or read of several near disasters with the weight of sand indoors and the sand’s ability to get everywhere  – “can be rather messy, as sand does not always keep its proper place on the table” as Donald Featherstone points out.

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Wise advice on sand tables  from Donald Featherstone in his War Games 1962

Gaming in the sand pit was always a good garden standby in childhood, mostly using  a rough pile of builders sand in the garden / yard left over from an extension. Growing up with dogs, the sand pit did not thankfully become a litter tray for the neighbourhood cats.

Figures occasionally vanished, sometimes to resurface during later completely different period games. Some were never seen again. By now the entombed 1970s Airfix plastic will have crumbled to dust if that childhood sand pile is still there.

The Sheil website has ‘sand pit’ rules  for those who want to try this in an undrowned sand pit (with well attached roof).

http://www.thortrains.net/armymen/piratgme.htm

http://www.thortrains.net/armymen/westgame.htm

Happy gaming!

Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN blog, February 2017.

 

More Homecasting

Getting back into casting my own figures in metal, rather than Fimo / Sculpey Polymer Clay, after a break of several years is proving interesting.

It hasn’t all gone to plan. Moulds, especially metal vintage ones not used for a while, need to be “run in”. Warming the moulds gently helps the metal flow too.

Moulding disasters get put straight back into the melting pot or melting spoon.

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Schneider Settlers and Indians – Back into the melting spoon together …
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Rough, but useable 54mm castings from old metal moulds in need of a bit of trimming and filing. Faces are a bit blank. 
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An attractive WW1 / early WW2 British infantryman marching, c. 54mm height

 

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Rough raw castings of Prince August 40mm Cowboys and Indians designed by Holger Erikkson

Lovely to know that these ‘HE’ or Holger Ericksson figures (cast from moulds sold by Prince August) are still popular many years after they were first carved by Holger Ericsson (1899-1988) as shown here http://www.tabletoptalk.com/?p=572

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Schneider type moulds for 30 to 40mm flat 19th century British infantry.
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Straight out of the mould, clipped but not filed yet – 40mm PA5 modern 1950s infantry marching (Holger Eriksson / Prince August moulds).

Lots of filing and trimming awaits … and lots of imagi-nations skirmish game ideas.

Casting using the vintage metal casting moulds is definitely trickier than the silicone rubber moulds, but a few tricks picked up from the toy soldier forums  such as warming the moulds first does help with the metal flow.

Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN blog, January 2017

In These Times

imageI missed this book first time round in 2014 in the run up to the Waterloo 200  Annversary, but was really interested to have finally read Jenny Uglow’s In These Times: Living in Britain Through Napoleon’s Wars.

The book is a social history of Britain and Europe throughout the Napoleonic Wars, covering events overseas from North America to Europe, naval battles and trade wars.

From the terror of the French Revolution and ending of slavery to riots at home and the threat of espionage and  invasions by the French, the book is well supported by diary entries, letters and the story of ordinary people as well as the notable figures of the day.

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Georgian Britain is not an area I knew much about, having previously mostly read about the Victorians and 20th Century.

There are lots of interesting details about the Militia movement, how the arms industry expanded and reacted to the threat of invasion, the switch from peace to war, truce to war again as Napoleon and the French threat grew and receded.

I remember seeing the ghost marks and signs of the remnant of the gun making trade in Birmingham during its redevelopment, now vanished firms that would have sprung up with different companies and areas making the flint lock, wood stock and the metal barrel separately then bringing them all together for completion – “lock, stock and barrel”.

The book is rich in many of these interesting details.

The Volunteers from the invasion scare (including Robert Burns, mentioned in our blogpost recently) are also fascinating

http://theconversation.com/dads-army-in-the-napoleonic-wars-was-a-great-excuse-to-don-velvet-and-ribbons-37425

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Volunteer_Corps

If you wanted a “what if” scenario, it would be  a Napoleonic or revolutionary France invasion of Georgian Britain defended by its stout citizens, an  Opération Sealion  1780s 0r 1790s style.

Certainly a must-have history book for the wargamer, as well as for anyone interested in the social history of the period,  it makes for interesting reading as background to the dashing red uniforms that crop up in Jane Austen novels.

Jane Austen’s brothers Francis and Charles  were both in the Royal Navy. There is good coverage of the Royal Navy during this period, its equipping and maintenance, mutinies, careers, Nelson’s career and Trafalgar as well as Merchant shipping.

I felt like I had lived my way through two decades of conflict engulfing a whole generation or two by the time I had finished the book. To make up for missing the book on publication the first time round, as soon as I finished reading it the first time, I sat down to read it all over again!

Well worth tracking down.

Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN blog, February 2017.

 

Man Craft hero #2 Kirk Crosby

A lovely story on the BBC Crafting website about our second ‘man craft hero’ blog post, Kirk Crosby, DIY toy maker:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/3pLmcV24BvznJXwJkx3JpyK/superdad-diy-toymaker-father-who-creates-kingdoms-from-clutter

Hopefully the BBC will feature more hot metal and Fimo “man craft” in the form of home casting one day?

Meanwhile if you are inspired by Kirk Crosby’s use of Playmobil figure forts and houses for his daughter, check out the very unusual Garden wargaming website using Playmobil for big garden of tabletop battles using some cleverly converted Playmobil based but literally reassembled figures.

http://www.gardenwargaming.com/intro/intro.html 

I look forward to sharing on this blogpost some of my rainy day holiday scrap toy making and also my favourite Playmobil toy inspiration figures.

http://gameofmonth.blogspot.co.uk/2016/07/shave-that-mustache-soldier.html 

 

Not to mention an obscure short-lived British rival from the 1970s …