Britain’s Deetail Conversions – Guards?

Thanks to a gift of broken and surplus figures from Alan ‘Tradgardland‘ Gruber, I had five damaged or oddly painted Britain’s Deetail Guardsmen to play with.

Some of them already had some bright and colourful but playworn repainted uniforms. I have sensitively repainted some of the more scuffed paintwork to keep these colourful ImagiNations and Ruritanian uniforms.

A rear view of the repainted and varnished figures

This is how the figures arrived from Alan Gruber. Many are already repaired as you can see at

Such wild paint or uniform schemes (OBEs or Other Beggars’ Efforts) deserve to be preserved and enhanced. The blue and yellow ones have a colourful Scandinavian or a Swiss Guard inspired feel.

Up close, the two red coats along side each other goes to show how easily Britain’s Deetail could have made more traditional Line Infantry with spiked Home Service helmets rather than more modern Guards.

The rifle needed to be modified or repaired with ammunition clips removed to make it more old fashioned. The metal base and feet lugs were missing so feet were drilled, wire pins inserted and fixed through and underneath a card base.

These will be robust enough figures for Little Wars style 54mm games.

Original Britain’s Deetail (left) and my Line Infantry repaired conversion.

The Line Infantry style conversion was done simply by repairing the rifle and removing the original head. The new spiked infantry helmeted head was a spare one in the bits box that I had cast from the Prince August 54mm Traditional Toy Soldier Homecasting set.

A hand pin vice drill was used to drill a hole in neck and head and joined by short piece of wire and superglue.

A quick gloss spray Varnish added to the toy soldier look. A pink cheek dot is still required.

As more such broken Britain’s Deetail figures turn up, I now have several ImagiNations type uniform schemes to add to.

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 11 August 2020

10 thoughts on “Britain’s Deetail Conversions – Guards?”

  1. I really like what you have done with these figures. You have remained faithful to the paint jobs but added your own touches. Splendid effort, well done! I know they will fight well for you as you have lavished attention upon them.


  2. Thanks Alan. Both you and James at Quantrills Toy Soldiers blog suggested that they would be interesting to convert and they were – just the swap with Prince August heads has done the trick.
    As I acquire more damaged Guardsmen I can add to these fanciful units.
    Your recent donation of figures more than makes up for the pandemic meaning there are no Steam Fairs, no trips to the junk shop or charity shop to find job lots. (Thank heavens for EBay job lots in the past.)


  3. Wouldn’t it be interesting to find out the back story to those brightly coloured uniforms?!
    Great restoration work Mark.


  4. They look terrific. As for the Swiss Guard style that IS interesting. I remember seeing an artist’s rendition in a uniform book on world uniforms which showed a Swiss Guard abandoning his halberd to grab a sub machine gun from an umbrella stand! So you could even have such weird uniforms with modern weapons. Even SF weapons in retro style if so inclined! Another option could have been to have a Renaissance style head, such as Spanish helmet. You could use him from 19th century to modern times.


    1. Thanks James. I thought the Swiss Guard the oddest, especially with the original two tone bearskin. I have also seen that uniform plate and heard the hidden machine gun story with small weapons such as an Uzi submachine gun.
      I had the homecast Prince August heads to hand from past casting sessions and have kept the spare Heads or bearskins for future repairs.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I also try to keep the original paint schemes as much as possible when repairing and repainting old toy soldiers. The soldier has a history of his own, and you have to preserve his character! The only exception I make is if the current top paint layer is an obvious bad repaint on top of the original.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As you say, the soldier has a history or prehistory of its own before you (and may have a history after us but let’s not think about that one). When I bought two Peter Laing 15mm armies painted by the late Stuart Asquith, he charmingly formally assigned them over to fight for me as their new general.

      I think it is good to incorporate and keep the original paint ‘DNA’ if you can, at the very least to overpaint it, so that like an old house wall it still has its layers of old paper and paint. Hopefully it has absorbed its gaming memories of heroism, retreat, victory and defeat.
      On this same whimsical basis that the paint somehow absorbs all this history, I usually play the right-ish period sort of music when painting figures.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Been working on some figures today . I have left the original paint, touched up areas with the same colour and added new colour to bare plastic. I like to keep the original where possible as it tells the history of the figure. All is sealed for posterity with coats of pva. Where the original colour , say for the scabbard is not “authentic “ I will repaint in that colour rather than imposing my ideas on the toy soldier.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Instead of being “guided by the science”, it is quite fun to be guided by the colour scheme. In my toy soldier collection I have lots of lovely and disastrous examples of repaints or overpaints that unknown children or dads have done, which I have subsequently acquired or collected in job lots. Those that I have kept I have generally treasured for that individual, if not unique look.

      Hmm. This would be a good blog post for the future, showing some of the ones I have kept because they are quite quirky alongside examples of the ‘proper’ job original ones.

      Liked by 1 person

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