Yesterday Monday 16 April 1918 / 2018 would have been the late Spike Milligan’s 100th birthday. Comedian, writer, poet, WW2 Artillery Gunner, wartime casualty … and toy soldier collector! Happy Birthday Spike … Goon but not Forgotten.
Spike Milligan 100 and his Toy Soldiers
Published by 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 ... View all posts by 26soldiersoftin
9 thoughts on “Spike Milligan 100 and his Toy Soldiers”
A great man , I didn’t know he collected toy soldiers . Derek Guyler was also a collector and something of a expert on the Roman Army.
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Interesting, thanks Tony, I had forgotten that about Derek Guyler. I knew Peter Cushing made toy soldiers as there is some great Pathe newsreel of him on YouTube.
This is one of my favourite YouTube videos. The host wanted to speak about Spike’s career – he just wanted to talk about Toy Soldiers!
I think Spike probably delighted in frustrating interviewers! He comes across happily as one of HG Wells’ eternal boys …
Brilliant! I wasn’t aware of his hobby, either. I vaguely recall his fellow Goon Michael Benteen hosting a children’s programme called Potty Time where a miniature world would play out around him. I seem to recall it included miniature battles involving small models / puppets. Not quite Spike’s model soldiers but something of the wargame about it!?
I think those Battle bits of Michael Bentine’s Potty Time has had a profound long term effect on my desired and unachievable gaming terrain. It was certainly more fun than watching TV wargaming on Battleground again on YouTube. I’m not sure if watching his Potty Time version of Waterloo wasn’t mixed up with my memories of the epic Waterloo film on TV. There are DVDs of Potty Time but also a few fragments on YouTube. I have no idea how he did these battle scenes. Was it magnets? compressed air? No idea. Mad and Magical though. Bentine’s autobiography (wartime section) of the Reluctant Jester is an interesting read alongside Spikes WW2 memoirs.
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Potty time – it was well named. I remember watching those battle scenes on TV as a kid and thinking ‘this is great – I want to see more of those battles’! I’m vaguely familiar with Spike’s memoirs, but not Bentine’s. The insanity of war must have informed their surreal sense of humour.
From what little I know of him, this sounds lovely. I’ve never watched his shows (though I do like me some British comedy) but have been meaning to find and read his WWII memoirs.
Spike was an interesting and funny man, one who struggled with his mental health like many comedians, artists and writers, not helped by being blown up in WW2.
I hope you enjoy Spike’s wartime memoirs. I think his comic memoirs of wartime capture something different and unheroic about WW2 service life, something rarely recorded about all the boredom and being mucked about by the military. My late dad never liked or understood the Goon Show Radio humour as a young man when it was first aired on the radio until he had done his National Service, then he finally got the humour.
There is a good Archive radio interview with Spike in the In The Psychiatrists Chair series on BBC IPlayer Radio, alongside some episodes of the Goon Show. Sometimes Dated, straight out of his colonial or Imperial life in British India and 50s Britain, but at its best, inspired lunacy …