Home casting figures – functional repairs and old toy soldier DNA

Useful tools of the repair trade – pin vice and file – to repair a miscast musket.

Miscastings or half castings that are not too bad do not always go straight back in the ladle.

To avoid fumes and mess, I restrict my casting to days outside in warmer weather with no threat of rain; hot metal and moisture make an explosive mix.

As a result casting days (or days when I have time and feel like casting) are infrequent enough that I save the 90+ % figures that are ‘nearly all there’. I can then do some simple repairs on missing musket tips and other fiddly bits. Even missing heads can be swapped …

“Where’s your head at?” Missing a head, why not try swopping one with a Pound Store figure?

Such repairs that I make are usually fairly simple ones, such as drilling out a miscast musket to insert a short piece of wire.

Second casting session a few days ago – a few missing musket tips, heads and bows to repair.

On the repair tray where missing musket tips are replaced, heads swapped and bows repaired …

The perfect casting, the half cast musket and a masking tape, wire and glue repair.

Old Toy Soldier DNA

You might notice from photos that I often drill, file and repair over sheets of white A4 paper, which I have folded into four and unfolded again to make a cross shaped crease.

This is because I keep the metal filings, drilling ‘swarf’ and trimmings from old Hollowcast figure repair, roughing up the base when rebasing or cleaning up home castings.

From time to time during repairs, I carefully slightly fold the crease-crossed A4 page and slide the metal filings and trimmings into a small lidded pot.

Why do I keep this toy soldier ‘magic dust’ mixed together in a small pot of this “old toy soldier DNA“?

It not only keeps the workbench of my roll-top desk clean but it also means that I can then add a minute pinch of this unique and special mixture from time to time to the casting ladle when home casting.

Each new shiny casting might then have inside it a tiny nano-percentage of an old Britain’s hollowcast casting or old flat tin figure.

Each shiny new casting then might have a small part of all the accumulated bravery, courage and adventure from the countless battles that the old damaged hollowcast veterans (from various makers and owners) have been through over the last hundred years or more.

Reinforcements for Tradgardland, Lurland or Afrika?

A small number of these unpainted Schneider castings of pith helmeted Colonial figures and fierce Natives will soon be heading towards Alan Gruber at the Duchy of Tradgardland blog as reinforcements for his interesting Lurland and Ost Afrika campaigns.

http://tradgardland.blogspot.com/search/label/Afrika

http://tradgardland.blogspot.com/search/label/Lurland

Alan has sent me some interesting spare figures and heads to keep me busy throughout Lockdown, so this is a small thin flat thank you heading to the Duchy of Tradgardland Post Office.

Fight well my tiny men, you have the brave DNA of old toy soldiers in you!

Previously on Man of TIN …

Here is one of the first blog posts that I wrote back in 2016 “type casting”. My WordPress avatar / host page @26soldiersoftin is still named after these famous “26 soldiers of Lead” of Gutenberg (or whoever first said this quote).

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/05/27/typecasting/

We finish with a fine picture of a dapper, almost Duke of Edinburgh looking Donald Featherstone, casting away on the kitchen stove in his cheerily enthusiastic 1960s book Tackle Model Soldiers This Way.

“In the author’s house, everyone slaves over a hot stove”. Note the plate drying rack and safety equipment of a shirt and tie. An inspiration to us all!

Inspired?

If you want to have a go at casting, these companies sell new moulds and casting equipment:

Prince August (Ireland / UK/ EU) do some great starter sets at their website

https://shop.princeaugust.ie

or their official eBay shop mouldsandminis https://www.ebay.co.uk/str/mouldsandminiatures?_trksid=p2047675.l2563

Berlinner Zinnfiguren (Germany / EU) https://www.zinnfigur.com/en/Casting/

In America, Rich at Dunken has now acquired several old manufacturers’ collections of moulds https://www.dunken.com

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 17/18 April 2021.

10 thoughts on “Home casting figures – functional repairs and old toy soldier DNA”

  1. Interesting post , like Don I too have resorted to casting over the kitchen stove (carefully) as my old gas camping stove has finally packed in . Cheers Tony

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    1. We have a glass induction hob, so this is probably a non-starter for casting. As a result I bought several years ago the single plate cooker from Prince August. It is light and works well enough for me outdoors using an outdoor extension cable. It is already mucky with the odd metal splash etc.
      I haven’t tried the solder pots yet that Prince August make / sell.

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  2. Interesting post Mark. I really like the metal dust idea, reminds me of those starter doughs that people use in cooking and keep going for years. I am interested to see how you mend rifle barrels. I have tried different ways but not drilling out. I have cut the whole barrel off and replaced it with metal rod or a cocktail stick.
    I look forward to to hearing these new recruits marching up the drive , their boots crunching on the gravel.
    Your post will make me view metal debris in a much more positive way. I am paranoid about it getting into someone’s eye or hand/foot and find drilling metal stressful. I think it relates to reading posters on x Ray dept hospital walls warning about mri scans etc .

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    1. We had one of those friendship cakes starter doughs, a few years back which was nicknamed on the photocopied instructions ‘Herman the German’. Not sure why.

      Enjoy your new recruits. I find the drilling out method works as well as cocktail sticks etc but is a longer lasting join. Most of the repaired muskets or rifles on the troops that I sent up have been painted silver – they are functional but not pretty – but included a couple of unpainted ones.
      In terms of metal bits or dust, I try and work on my roll top desk bench, wash hands / wear gloves if needed, keep room ventilated: I also have a rechargeable car mini Hoover to hand.
      However have just purchased a tiny desktop vice (£6 Modelscene or Modelcraft) as I kept drilling my fingers with the pin vice hand drill! We will save the cost in plasters alone.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thats about the same system for myself. Why waste potential new figures made from scrap metal. My budget is very tight so had to think it out. Picked up in an antique shop a load of old Britains railings, the castings were often broken and never smooth. They make great replacement rifles, the flash implying rifle-detail or woodwork, if that makes sense. I always drill into a thicker part of the figure and superglue, no value in having a flimsy repair.
    Michael

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    1. I try to write the sort of blog posts I want to read on other’ blogs – answering all those sort of questions. How did they do that? Where did they find that? What did it cost? What make and scale are the figures? Etc etc.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Interesting, thanks. Having inserted the wire into the stunted rifles, I guess you’ve got the barrel of the gun. Do you leave it as is, or add something to represent the stock underneath?

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    1. If it works, when you wrap the wire with masking tape to thicken it to the width of the rest of the rifle, this can give the impression of a stock.
      I have tried glueing or taping a second wire or cocktail stick underneath the wire, which sometimes works as the stock / forestock wooden part of the rifle below the barrel. Equally sometimes you have to build up a butt with masking tape.

      Liked by 2 people

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