Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin. This is the story of a very suitable present for a toy soldier household – of Guardsmen Trooping the Cushion.
These were a recent gift of a pair of these Boden cushions, which handily can be camouflaged by reversing them onto their red spots on white side. Toy soldier cushions? What toy soldier cushions?
Alongside Cath Kidston’s Guardsman and London ranges (that form my everyday mug collection), these British designed Boden cushions are obviously generic stylised Guardsmen with an almost Union Jack flag.
Boden may not be my taste in clothes but I like these cushions. They have a toy soldier parade look. Sadly this design and cushion seems to be no longer available.
Another Guardsman cushion no longer available online is this more toylike John Lewis design, one which I don’t have. It reminds me a little of my Man of TIN profile picture of the Prince August Guardsman saluting that I made.
Blogposted by Mark, well cushioned Man of TIN, 30 August 2018
“Little Wars: a game for boys from twelve years of age to one hundred and fifty and for that more intelligent sort of girl who likes boys’ games and books” is the long and unusual title of H.G. Wells famous book that started modern war gaming back in 1913.
H.G. Wells had an eye for intelligent girls or ladies, such as Amber Reeves, a pioneering feminist Socialist student at Cambridge University https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amber_Reeves with whom Wells had a child outside marriage in 1909. Wells called Amber “Dusa”, a shortened form of his pet name (!) for her of Medusa.
Wells proved himself to be more than just the father of modern war gaming!
The years before Floor Games (1911), an account of floor games with his two sons, led onto the “SandgateCannonade” of Little Wars (1913) were certainly busy ones for Wells, personally and professionally.
I wonder if this Xavier Sager designed Strategie / Strategy postcard girl is “the sort of intelligent girl who likes boys games and books” that Wells had in mind? It’s certainly a nice field gun shooting at what looks like tiny men or toy soldiers.
I came across this curious “Little Wars” style postcard online attached to a completely unrelated foreign language medical website about heart disease.
I was puzzled – Any reason why it was on a medical website?
It’s an interesting little card from somewhere in the early 1900s through to WW1. Look carefully and you will see that the ammunition for her toy gun is hearts!
What Strategy is it that she proposes?
Why the Gulliver Lilliputian style differences in size between giant lady and puny male victims?
Are these her tiny fallen lovers?
Is she a Femme Fatale figure? A Dusa or mythical fate spinner, a fatal woman?
What of the tiny fallen or wounded figures on the floor, including one in uniform, cursing or crying out? He must have a very revealing view of Mademoiselle “Strategie”.
What would the spirited Amber Reeves make of it all?
Strategy was produced as a comic or satirical postcard by Xavier Sager. Sager was a European postcard artist whom I had not heard of before but a quick internet search reveals him to have been most prolific.
However little appears online or in print about Sager’s life. Xavier Sager may have been born in Austria in 1870 or 1881 and died in the USA in 1930. He mostly illustrated Paris life in the first few years of the 1900s. You can see many of his designs here and on Pinterest:
Sager’s image reminds me of this curious Gibson Girls comic drawing by American artist Charles Dana Gibson entitled “The Weaker Sex” (1903).
Xavier Sager reputedly produced over 3000 designs of what in America would later be called pin ups, nose cone art and far more relaxed and revealing than the fashionable Gibson Girls of America at the time.
Many of the military ones seem focussed on cheeky, erotic or patriotic subjects such as flags, national songs, uniforms and female company for Allied soldiers including the Americans after their 1917 entry into WW1. They must have sold like hot cakes or donuts to the American doughboys.
This post is for Marvin, a talented painter of WW1 miniatures!
There are plenty of Xavier Sager’s collectable vintage postcard images for sale online or viewable on Pinterest, if you want to look up his work any further, along with websites below.
Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 26 August 2018
B.P.S. Blog Post Script
Mademoiselle Strategie with her ammunition of hearts may well be the female version of the man collecting a Jar of Hearts (conquests, hopefully, not real human organs) in Christina Perri’s recent song Jar of Hearts, better heard in the remix of the time travelling Postmodern Jukebox, court musicians to the Duke of Tradgardland. Enjoy!
This used copy (in better condition than I expected) cost only a few poundsfrom Better World Books, an Abe Books Internet supplier of ex-library stock whose profits go to literacy and library projects worldwide. What’s not to like?
I never borrowed this Featherstone title from my local library, it was always out on loan.
Some supposedly simple ‘back of postcard rules’ by different gamers that Featherstone starts with.
No obvious simple (solo) convoy game rules but should be some interesting ideas. Add Bob Cordery’s book and ideas as well, it should promise to be an interesting few months puzzling out some rules for protecting my eraser ship convoy from the Wolf Pack.
It’s come quite a way since picking up these in Flying Tiger a few weeks ago.
I now look forward this autumn to working out some kind of (solo) convoy gaming simulation, once I have puzzled out what to do for escorts. I might have to raid the card ships from our old family copy of the Dover Patrol game for now.
Thanks to many of you for all the excellent suggestions regarding simple naval wargames rules. I have now ordered a paperback copy from Lulu of the Bob Cordery’s new Gridded Naval Wargames which received most recommendations, as well as a £2 bashed up, ex-library copy of Donald Featherstone’s Naval Wargames.
If these rules don’t suit an old infantry skirmish gamer, there were other helpful suggestions. Thank you all.
It will be interesting moving out into new territory or terrain, a whole new language of ships and naval warfare, a world or ocean apart from H. G. Wells type Little Wars or the small infantry skirmish game of Featherstone’s Close Wars.
Two tone grey camouflage makes it difficult to identify individual ships, which is the point of the dark grey lower and light grey upper sections. However it makes identifying individual cargo ships in any future naval game a problem, so a few pre-war coloured funnels might return as they did in WW2.
Paints used are several coats of Revell Aquacolor Acrylics, Gunship Grey and Stone Grey for the ships and painting separate layers of Ultramarine Blue and Mossy Green onto the black card bases made from scrap art framing or mounting card. What colour the sea?
Big ships don’t leave such a wide angle wake as a small river craft. Getting some kind of bow wave and wake was more tricky, a blob of off-white paint on the bow brushed along the side of the ship and its aftermath seemed to do the trick in most cases.
I also have to name and label my convoy ships, probably with some Bronte inspired Angria, Gondal and Gaaldine names: Angrian Princess, Gondal Queen, that sort of thing that suits possible Imagi-Nation naval campaigns.
I am not by nature a naval gamer. Some of my school friends were but it didn’t immediately ring any bells for me as someone who likes Simple 1:1 figure gaming, none of this 1 figure equals so many men. You could argue even more so, that one ship represents even more men.
Buying HMS Flying Tiger eraser battleships as recruits for a Pound store navy?
++++++ TSAF Toy Soldier Air Force official Air Ministry photograph, Gondal. ++++++
++++++ Passed By Censor for Publication. ++++++
New Flying Banshee FLB Mark I has undertaken successful air trials in the skies over Gondal.
This new Dive Bomber Biplane variant of our previous Biplane is undergoing Air Trials at one of the TSAF field air stations.
TSAF Air Ministry Spokesman: “Our new Flying Banshee aircraft Mark I is designed to terrify ground forces or shipping from the air and smash the enemies of Gondal through aerial bombardment.”
TSAF Test Pilot and Squadron Leader “Lucky” Haworth: “Its rugged construction is designed to withstand the rigours of dive bombing targets on land or sea. It has recently completed some successful bombing trails from an undisclosed island air station. It can also operate from small island airstrips or forest clearings.”
This stocky Banshee Biplane variant is a development of our previous dive Bomber monoplane, pictured alongside it.
“The Flying Banshee FLB Mark I is a bit of a powerful beast to fly and has quickly became known to trainee or inexperienced pilots as the FLaB (or Flies like a Brick).”
Details of its armament, experimental wing whistles and performance are not yet being made public.
+++ TSAF Air Ministry communication ENDS +++ +++++++
Back to the Man of TIN blog
My regular blog readers might recognise the Moshi airplanes adapted for use with 54mm Toy soldier figures. If H.G. Wells had incorporated the Aerial Menace into his 1913 Little Wars rules, they might have looked a little like these biplanes or monoplanes.
Upper wings were added from three layers of stiff card, curved edged card scrounged from our household recycling, originally trainer sock packaging.
Stout struts were added using balsa wood, much in the model of the Curtiss Hellcat Dive Bomber variant. This machine will be in use in garden game scenarios so needs the ruggedness. Not elegant but sturdy!
Two drawing pins hold the dip or angle on the main top wing / struts. This part was a bit of a pig!
Masking tape gives a doped canvas feel to the wing and also adds the fake top flaps. Plenty of super glue used throughout.
Currently Test Flight or Interbellum Silver.
Status: Not yet on Active Service. So far we have not applied Gondalese or Gondalian Air Force markings or decals at this test flight stage.
Gondal is one of the North Pacific island Imagi-Nations invented by the young Emily and Ann Bronte that we have fast forwarded a Century into the future from its Bronte Juvenilia origins (set in Napoleonic, late Georgian and Regency / early Victorian British Empire period) through to the interbellum 1920s and 1930s.
Amongst the growing ground crew you can see some recent conversions or repaints to become ground crew including LAC Leading Aircraftswoman “Penny” Farthing, a former Britain’s Land Girl or farm worker.
Old childhood plastic Starlux Engineers in Khaki ground crew overalls work on the Banshee biplane. Oiling up the plane, wearing the stylish new TSAF Gondal Air Ministry issue Blue helmet, is a Crescent Mine detector figure repaired and rebooted from a broken lead figure donated by Alan at the Duchy of Tradgardland.
Airfield Defence: Britain’s gun, pound store soldier sandbags and mix of old and converted Britain’s and homecast Air Force and Navy figures, Gondal being a proud island nation. Barbed wire is from spiral bound notebook wire after recycling a used small notebook.
Slowly building up suitable airfield accessories in 54 mm.
The planes now need a suitable adjustable altitude flight stand for garden gaming use.
The Banshee aircraft name was stimulated by the unlikely names of the Fantasy Name Generator aircraft names
I know some colonial history but I knew nothing about the barbarous practice of Blackbirding:
Blackbirding is the coercion of people through trickery and kidnapping to work as labourers …
In the 1870s, the blackbirding ship trade focused on supplying labourers to plantations, particularly the sugar cane plantations of Queensland and Fiji … between 1842 and 1904. Those “blackbirded” were recruited from the indigenous populations of nearby Pacific islands or northern Queensland.
So many ships entered the blackbirding trade (with adverse effects on islanders) that the British Navy sent ships from Australia Station into the Pacific to suppress the trade.
Islanders fought back and sometimes were able to resist those engaged in black-birding … Wikipedia article source
Disturbingly the Wikipedia article mentions that Blackbirding has continued to the present day sourcing plantation workers in developing countries such as Central America. All the more reason to support Fair Trade.
The causes of the American Civil War are complex, whether it was states rights or slavery or both that triggered the secession and conflict. The arguments, tensions and legacy continue to this day in America.
Blackbirding was new to me. I also knew nothing about the opposite of Harriet Tubman’s heroic Underground Railroad (to help free escaped slaves from the Southern USA to the freedom of the North around the time of the American Civil War), the opposite being now known as the Reverse Underground Railroad.
“The Reverse Underground Railroad was the pre-American Civil War practice of kidnapping free blacks and fugitive slaves from U.S. free states and slave states and transporting them into the Southern slave states for sale as slaves …
The Reverse Underground Railroad operated for 85 years, from 1780 to 1865.” Wikipedia article source
Solomon Northrup published Twelve Years A Slave in1853, a memoir of his kidnapping from New York and twelve years spent as a slave in Louisiana. This became the award-winning film, which I have not yet seen, nor yet read the book.
Some interesting alternative history and some sources of gaming scenarios, instead of Redcoats blasting away at rebellious natives, you can feature powerless or resisting islanders, a wicked blackbirding gang and the Royal Navy to the rescue, whether on this planet or on another VSF one!
Thanks Pat G!
Another interesting nugget of Colonial gaming history like the female warriors of Dahomey, featured on my blog in February: