Patch the Dog patched up and a Fort MacGuffin Update

Concerned readers will be pleased to know that Patch the dog, heroic hound and defender of his mistress Kate MacGuffin in the recent skirmish with the Forest Indians, is making a steady recovery.

Patch the Dog (Tradition of London Street scenes model) alongside Wendal aluminium ponies

Here Patch is pictured inside the Fort with his relieved mistress, the daughter of the Commanding office of the Forest Fort, receiving a treat from Captain Snortt.

Herbal remedies from the Fort’s new garden are part of his recovery plan.

Captain Snortt has been torn off a strip (thankfully not literally) by her father, Major MacGuffin, for getting them both lost whilst collecting herbs for the Fort’s herb garden and medicine chest.

There will be no such jaunts unaccompanied without a full patrol of Redcoats for the foreseeable future!

Patch has been awarded a fine engraved metal dog tag in lieu of the Gondal Star medal for his brave defence of Kate MacGuffin. Bravo, brave dog!

A Tour of the Forest Fort, North Gondal, Northern Pacific, 1870s

Let us take you on a tour of the small confines of the Forest Fort and Trading Post. Fort MacGuffin is the hub of several smaller defensive outposts in the area, developed and fortified by Major MacGuffin from an old Trading Post.

The timber for the Fort was all cut locally, much to the chagrin of the normally peaceful Forest Indians in what they regard as their sacred forests.

An Eagle’s Eye view of the Fort layout.

Inside the Fort, Kate MacGuffin has replanted the herb patch and added some floral colour. No doubt these are flowering medicinal plants of the area.

A small well of spring wate, separate from the moat, is topped with an attractive well.

The Fort’s small stock of timber and firewood is running low. Redcoats will have to set off into the surrounding forests to collect wood and even occasionally fell more trees.

On the other side of the small Fort and trading post, Captain Snortt checks recent Fort supplies.

A planked drawbridge in two removable sections crosses the small moat.

A small artillery piece protects the gate. (Toy soldier collectors might wish to know it began life as a novelty seaside pencil sharpener)

Rounding up the Fort livestock and patrolling the walls keeps the Redcoats busy.

Several goats, chickens and geese are kept for fresh eggs and milk (not mentioning meat in siege situations). These are now the charge of Kate MacGuffin, along with the Herb Patch inside the Fort and small veg gardens in the surrounds of the forest.

Redcoats are deputed to exercise the Regimental goats and protect them from the Forest Indians. They sometimes slip their halters and wander off into the Forest.

Freshwater fish are stocked in the moat in case of encirclement. Bored redcoats can fish from the ramparts as needed. Dynamite fishing also secures a ready catch in times of trouble, ready to be salted down or eaten fresh.

They await a travelling signwriter to spruce up their temporary sign by the Fort’s ‘Jack of all trades’ ASC Private Fuller.

In addition to the recent difficulties between the Forest Indians and the Redcoats of the Fort, worrying news has reached MacGuffin that some illegal loggers and miners have been seen neat the old boarded up mines.

Rumours of gold and limitless forest timber from time to time tempt roving bands of Outlanders and failed Settlers into the Forest, stirring up ill feeling and conflict with the native Forest Indians on their hunting grounds. MacGuffin is there as part of a Redcoat force to keep the peace and watch the borders and coasts of Gondal with the other surrounding kingdoms.

From childhood onwards, setting up Forts like these, they have had to have some logic to their structure, contents, exploitable weaknesses and other possible story lines.

A Small Fort Apache from Tiger Toys

The Fort was a gift from within the family, a find in a charity shop near where the Fort was made by Tiger Toys of Petersfield, Hampshire. The accompanying Timpo Swoppet figures or copies were sold through eBay but when I heard about the Fort, I expressed an interest and it arrived last Christmas.

For Fort enthusiasts, it is a Tiger Toys Fort Apache No. T550.

Tiger Toys, made in England, “Part of Growing Up” in the 1960s apparently.

An attractive flag and 7 Swoppet type (copies) of Cowboys and Indians (included?) can be seen.

Fort Apache – 45 shillings, so bought predecimal (pre 1971) for Graham, the original owner …

“Dear Graham, your Birthday Fort is in good hands, albeit with new defenders.”

I would quite happily collect Toy Forts and Castles, if I had the space to store or display them, which sadly I haven’t.

This isn’t the cowboy fort I grew up with, which was slightly different with a watch tower in the corner but hopefully Graham loved his Fort as much as I did ours. It too had internal preprinted buildings. Our 1950s / 1960s family wooden Cowboy Fort did not survive several generations of children and damp, reportedly its rather simple inexpensive wooden pieces went ‘beyond repair’. Sadly no photos of this Fort survive. Luckily the family Toy Castle of the same vintage is still in good condition at home.

The base folded in half, hinged like the doors with thick gummed taper or paper

What I liked about this is its fold-away flatpack construction, including a fold in half base. Our childhood Cowboy Fort base and walls were permanently fixed, so more awkwardly big to store.

The walls slot easily together. Only the tape holding the doors and the horse hitching rail post needs some repair. The flag had also vanished.

Woodworkers and makers of model Forts might find these construction shots of interest:

For those who care about such things, the wall sections are 16 inches long and 5 inches high. The building is 15 inches long and 3.5 inches high. The board unfolded is 18 inches wide by 18 inches (9 inches when folded).

Who were Tiger Toys?

Without the original box, I would have no clue to manufacturer. Other Tiger Toy Forts that I have seen have small round Tiger Toys stickers or labels.

A brief history of Tiger Toys 1959 to 1971/78 is given on this Hilary Page Toys website

The Hilary Page Toys website about Kiddicraft designs of the 1930s – 1950s has a page on Tiger Toys but does not mention Forts.

Researching on the web, I found several past sales pictured on Worthpoint and PicClick post auction value sites showing Tiger Toys forts, including the larger or more complex Fort Sioux and my simpler Fort Apache.

The more complex Fort Sioux T55? has two (fixed or removable?) watch towers, ladder, loopholes walls and doors and what looks like a grander flag.

What looks like a Tiger Toys sticker on the roof. The building print seems to vary over years between models.

Past sales page shows Fort Sioux in detail including different building print detail with sentry

After Robert Hirst’s death in 1971, W. Graeme Lines of the famous Lines Bros (Brothers) family toy firm mentioned in a long Victoria and Albert Museum / Museum of Childhood interview talked about his short relationship with the Tiger Toys team of Petersfield until its closure in 1978.

Other interesting British toy companies including Airfix are mentioned in the interview listings https://www.vam.ac.uk/moc/british-toy-making-oral-histories/

Tiger Toys also appear to have made more Kiddicraft style bright colourful preschool toys.
An attractive Tiger Toys village in a box, a toy also made by Kiddicraft
https://catalogue.millsarchive.org/durford-abbas-mill-rogate?sort=alphabetic&listLimit=20

I must have driven past the turn-off to the old Tiger Toys home factory, several times en route to somewhere else, little knowing that this Durford Mill in Rogate (Petersfield, Hampshire) was the 60s birthplace of my new vintage Fort.

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 9 / 10 June 2020.

B.P.S. Blog Post Script

We end with an interesting video about the early designer of many of these preschool toys, Hilary Page of Kiddicraft from the Hilary Page Toys website, arguably the designer of the Lego brick (only patented in the UK). https://youtu.be/ClzySyzwi3k

20 thoughts on “Patch the Dog patched up and a Fort MacGuffin Update”

  1. Fort MacGuffin is a cracking fort and very well appointed. All of which takes me back to one I had in my childhood. It was made of something like very hard cardboard and was called Fort Peter, it’s name hand written over the front. It was my mother (and her brother’s) fort and I believe they called it Peter because they wanted it to sound as un-Indian as possible, something thought was highly amusing! Fort Peter was frequently pressed into service in arid North Africa and manned by men of the Foreign Legion. I wonder if my parent’s still have it in storage?

    Much relieved about Patch’s herbal recovery.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hopefully Fort Peter still exists. I too used my long vanished childhood Fort for all occasions – Foreign Legion vs. Desert Warriors, Romans, green versus grey, red versus blue … that is the illogical joy of childhood ImagiNations. My childhood brain did not notice the total lack of palm trees to make such things in the desert.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. A very well appointed fort which photographs excellently. The joints are fascinating as is the splendid ex pencil sharpener. I think it is in good hands with you and will serve you well. I am reminded of my plastic log fort which was all moulded brown plastic and only had the log shapes on the outside. It had a couple or maybe one tower and a building or two , My memory is surprisingly hazy on the details.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Fort Apache is an appropriate name for an Arizona fort. That’s the state flag – blue sky, red and yellow sunburst and copper star (for an important local resource). One skirmish wargame I’m hoping to run one day is the “battle” of Picacho Peak near my home town of Tucson, which was basically a gunfight between a dozen each of California and Texas cavalry. Easy enough, only I haven’t found both mounted and dismounted cavalry figures yet.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I thought the (missing) flag pictured must be real or based on a real one. The fort names seem fairly 1950s cowboy film random Indian tribe names – I think my childhood one might have been called Fort Laramie.

      An interesting local shoot out. Are you planning to have a mounted and a dismounted figure for each character? And dismounted horses?
      Will you have to have horse holders or will they be well trained like Hollywood horses to stay still in one place and come galloping over at a whistle like Roy Rogers and Trigger?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s the plan. Featherstone’s skirmish rules have rules for riding, mounting and dismounting, and when men dismount or are shot off their horses, the horse has to go scampering, terrified, through the fight. Up to the players whether they horse-hold, maybe different horses are more or less likely to flee.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. The regimental goats provide fresh milk and cheese for the troops, traders and passing settlers.
      The Forest Indians appear to be non-Dairy and unimpressed by such uddery stuff. Stealing the goats is a good way to annoy the Redcoats and encourage them to give up and go home.
      The regimental goats also keep the grass trimmed around the Fort for strategic purposes. Don’t tell the goats about the siege bit.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Very pleased Patch has recovered and is ready for more adventures. Life in a fort surrounded by Indians is well described in the book “The Fetterman Massacre” by Dee Brown. It might give some more ideas for future actions and adventures.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the book tip off. Although I am avoiding any obvious accurate recreation of the historical Wild West, as you say the book should be interesting for Fort life and scenarios set in my North Generica or Gondal Forests.

      Like

  5. I love toy forts, but that Kiddicraft village is something else – just the job for a ‘hold the bridge skirmish’. I must keep a look out for one. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Not sure how small the Kiddicraft / Tiger Toys village was / is in real life, it does look very attractive and highly “designy”. I had instead elements of the usual tiny German wooden village that people often use as village or house markers on Games tables.

      Like

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