Steadfast Soldiers of Tin #1


A lost post draft from June 2016, in my first month of Man of TIN blog: I have several copies of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Steadfast Tin Soldier“, which was originally published close (1838) to the Brontes imagi-nations writing of the Angria and Gondal stories, also inspired by a box of toy soldiers.

The illustrations and story sections in some illustrated Andersen editions are darker and more troubling than others. A quick Google or Pinterest search on images throws up dozens of different illustrations for the Steadfast Tin Soldier.

There is more about Andersen’s disturbing or inspiring tale of ‘steadfastness’, interpretations of its psychology and its many variations from Balanchine ballet to punk songs on the Wikipedia entry for the story:

On his birthday, a boy receives a set of 25 toy soldiers and arrays them on a table top. One soldier stands on a single leg, having been the last one cast from an old tin spoon.

Nearby, the soldier spies a paper ballerina with a spangle on her sash. She too is standing on one leg and the soldier falls in love. That night, a goblin among the toys in the form of a Jack in the box angrily warns the soldier to take his eyes off the ballerina, but the soldier ignores him.

The next day, the soldier falls from a windowsill (presumably the work of the goblin) and lands in the street. Two boys find the soldier, place him in a paper boat, and set him sailing in the gutter … (Wikipedia summary)

Rene Cloke’s illustrations for the Steadfast Tin Soldier.

25 Soldiers of lead (or tin), so nearly our blog title!

Rene Cloke illustration.

Surely there is the opportunity for further adventures or alternative endings rather than what usually happens. Is this the making of a board game, a figure game, a new story?

The usual ending goes:

… the boat and its passenger wash into a storm drain, where a rat demands the soldier pay a toll. Sailing on, the boat is washed into a canal, where the tin soldier is swallowed by a fish.

When the fish is caught and cut open, the tin soldier finds himself once again on the table top before the ballerina. Inexplicably, the boy throws the tin soldier into the fire.

A wind blows the ballerina into the fire with him; she is consumed at once but her spangle remains. The tin soldier melts into the shape of a heart. (Wikipedia plot summary)

Prince August do a superb little home metal casting starter set based around the Steadfast Tin Soldier:

A very Danish Life guard design for the Steadfast Toy Soldier (Image source: Prince August home casting website.)

Metal and wooden toy soldier inspiration from the Steadfast Tin Soldier:

Dorset Soldiers’ Toy Town soldier casting (photo / painted by Man of TIN)
Wooden Toy Soldier Guardsmen and policemen from London Wooden toy building  sets (Collection: Man of TIN)
Pound store pirate copy of German infantryman painted up in Toy Soldier gloss paints. (Painted / photo: Man of TIN)
Charming toy soldier drummer boy brooch alongside wooden London guardsmen toy soldiers. (Collection: Man of TIN)

These steadfast toy soldier figure styles can be achieved by imaginative gloss paint schemes, such as these Pippin Fort Trumpton inspired figures using spare 54mm Airfix Japanese infantry.

Steadfast Tin Soldiers or plastic Airfix Japanese Infantry? (Painted / photo: Man of TIN)
Salute the Steadfast Tin Soldier! This one of my Prince August 54mm home cast guardsman was created as a rather heavy brooch gift with suitable backing clip. This is also My Man of TIN / 26 Soldiers of Tin profile picture / Gravatar. (Painted/ photo: Man of TIN)

Posted by Mr. MIN, Man of TIN, June 2016.

2 thoughts on “Steadfast Soldiers of Tin #1”

  1. Frosty again here so enjoying the warmth radiating from some excellent Tin soldiers. I particularly like the Airfix Japanese who paint up really well indeed and definitely look the part, much to my surprise. My other favourite is the broach which is a charming figure.
    With Germany a stones thrown away l wonder how prevalent was the homecasting scene in Denmark in the nineteenth century? I know it was big in Germany but as for Denmark I don’t think very much.
    Alternate endings , different stories and perhaps the story transported to today, all sound intriguing. A game definitely would work…


  2. The Pippin Fort boys Airfix Japanese are such versatile figures, one of the closest I had as a child to Hollowcast Little Wars figures apart from a few Herald Guardsmen.

    Painted with their white cross belts they have that Danish Guards toy soldier look. Many of my Japanese 1:32 and OOHO ended up serving in the ACW as Confederates and Federals esp in the late 70s (when such OOHO figures were scarce.)

    Having a (by then late) naval grandfather who had served in the war against Japan, I felt a little uncomfortable gaming the Japanese as Japanese in backgarden jungle wars. Oddly.

    I have a Dunken / Castings USA single figure mould each of the marching Japanese, Australian and German Paratroops (bought when Airfix 1:32 had vanished again) so I can produce more including with Dorset head swaps without buying whole boxes or job lots of figures.

    The Steadfast Tin Soldier tale has the feeling of a ‘quest’ game, of trials and tribulations, an RPG, so one which can be altered and added to – somehow, not sure how yet.

    I have been reading through my Toy Soldier books re your early German / Danish homecasting Flats questions – they seem mostly about the commercial production of flats. Would the International Flat Figure Society website have a forum for such interesting questions?


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