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.

 

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Author: 26soldiersoftin

Hello I'm Mark Mr MIN, Man of TIN. Based in S.W. Britain, I'm a lifelong collector of "tiny men" and old toy soldiers, whether tin, lead or childhood vintage 1960s and 1970s plastic figures. I randomly collect all scales and periods and "imagi-nations" as well as lead civilians, farm and zoo animals. I enjoy the paint possibilities of cheap poundstore plastic figures as much as the patina of vintage metal figures. Befuddled by the maths of complex boardgames and wargames, I prefer the small scale skirmish simplicity of very early Donald Featherstone rules. To relax, I usually play solo games, often using hex boards. Gaming takes second place to making or convert my own gaming figures from polymer clay (Fimo), home-cast metal figures of many scales or plastic paint conversions. I also collect and game with vintage Peter Laing 15mm metal figures, wishing like many others that I had bought more in the 1980s ...

2 thoughts on “Baling out and unfreezing the sand table”

  1. A most enjoyable post with the almost poetic nature of the photos. Spring will come and Summer too and al fresco gaming will be a real pleasure once more. Enjoy the indoor stuff if the weather is anything like here in Tradgardland.
    Alan

    Like

    1. Alan
      It was a strange experience seeing the figures literally frozen in time at the end of a game months back and also frozen into thin ice.
      If the lid hadn’t blown off the sandpit in the high winds they would all probably still be in place until spring or even summer. Here’s to the warmer weather for all of us.
      Mark, Man of TIN blog.

      Like

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