Booster Bleurrgh? Try Timpo Figures and Yorkshire Folklore.

Unlike many in the world I am fortunate enough, being of “the Airfix generation” and clinically vulnerable, to have had my third Covid ‘booster’ jab on Friday. Thanks NHS.

**** Pre-emptive note: Any Anti Vaxxers or conspiracy theorists who are upset reading this first paragraph, please note that I am not debating this topic on my hobby blog or for that matter, politics or religion either. Enjoy the toys instead. Thank you.****

Knowing that I might feel a bit rough, as indeed I have done with the common side effects of aches, tiredness and headaches, I planned a quiet weekend with two good books to see me through.

The Timpo Model Toys (A to Z of TIMPO) 4th edition 2020 by Michael Maughan

This was a family gift, as I ‘look after’ the family “hand-me-down” collection of Timpo 54mm / 1:32 figures.

It is a great little book, akin to the Airfix OOHO reference books, and fully colour illustrated. This will help greatly in putting our surviving collection back together as close as I can manage – right legs, heads, torsos, horses etc. – with a slight nod towards Timpo purism!

Available through Amazon (Amazon Createspace online publishing) at a very reasonable £26.

The book has the cheerful feel of a Plastic Warrior magazine series of articles, which is what it originally developed from. Fourth edition – this is obviously an ongoing labour of love for the writer Michael Maughan.

The book covers only the ‘swoppet’ style plastic Timpo range, not the solid Action Pack boxed figures or original metal hollowcasts.

Seeing the illustrations of packaging, buildings and the railway stuff was a rare treat, and this book ultimately saves me from bankruptcy having to track down, buy and store this stuff!

The Timpo Silver Dollar Saloon: Front and back book cover, based on a 1970s Timpo catalogue image.

I didn’t buy many Timpo ‘swoppet’ type figures myself, except the Vikings and a few WW2 figures (probably in the Toyway packaging). Most came down to me through the family toy box, a motley collection of knights, romans, Mexicans and Wild West figures alongside a few solid Action Pack figures.

Usually the weapons were missing, losable parts being one of the things that I disliked about Timpo and Britain’s Deetail, especially when gaming in the garden.

No Timpo purist as a child (or now), all of these figures were mixed together in my skirmish games alongside a happy medley of 60s plastics, Airfix and my own Britain’s Deetail figures. I played with what we had. Our few Timpo figures, both solid and swoppet, provided some great character figures.

Timpo, like Airfix, sadly crashed out c. 1980 in the Great British toy company apocalypse of the early Eighties, so supplies of much of the fun stuff (waggons, railways, buildings) was not around for me to buy. This ‘boom and bust’ supply drought or even complete wipeout of toy ranges still affects my approach to collecting gaming figures today – buy them when you see them, even if you have to store them away in the ‘next Christmas’ cupboard!

The Timpo wagons etc. looked really good alongside hollowcast and early plastic figures in F.E. Perry’s Second Book of Wargaming which I bought in the late 1970s / early 1980s. Oddly I didn’t find the First Book (of Wargaming) to make it all make sense until a few years ago, a gap of almost forty years.

Looking through, I don’t recall seeing many of the short lived 1970s Timpo ranges at all in toy shops, even if I had the pocket money.

This fascinating A to Z of Timpo book by Michael Maughan showed me what I had missed. It’s a little like having a book of beasts or birds which became extinct within living memory. Well worth buying.

Timpo rarity value?

About ten to fifteen years ago whilst sorting our family 1960s-70s toy collection, we sold off a small handful of some spare Timpo bodies and bits that did not make up whole figures. We were astonished when one torso went for £20 to £30 on eBay, obviously we had a rare-ish colour variation without knowing.

Not missed – from a purely gaming point of view, who cares about the rarity of colour combinations?

My second book to curl up with this weekend:

The Folklore of Yorkshire by Kai Roberts (The History Press 2013)

This book is a lucky survivor of Storm Arwin blowing open our parcels box and soaking the contents. There’s wuthering for you!

Fortunately a shiny book cover and the very soggy Blackwells cardboard eco packaging took the brunt of the water and protected the contents.

I bought this as part of developing the Battling Bronte Sisters skirmish duels or possible RPG Games wit’ Boggarts and the like.

My Bad Squiddo Bronte figures conversions and Prince August boggart home cast (cavemen)

Lots of interesting gaming ideas and Yorkshire folklore characters from:

  • witchery and cunning wise women
  • black dogs and other such beasts
  • screaming skulls,
  • giants (or the Devil) relocating large boulders and landscapes,
  • secret tunnels,
  • holy wells and water lore,
  • Robin Hood (!),
  • buried treasure,
  • fairish, fairy, elves, hobs and boggarts,

as well as the calendar yearly or ritual year (of wassail, mummers etc.) and a chapter on protection charms and talismans.

Haworth gets the odd mention, the Brontes very few.

What struck me was the overlap in English folklore from my ancestral Cornish folklore and the Yorkshire versions. The fairish, fairy, changeling or elf stories were very similar. This was of interest to me because the Bronte sisters (and brother Branwell) had a Cornish mother and aunt.

Admittedly some overlap in folklore was by direct migration – the ‘ghostly shift’ tales of Yorkshire miners were similar to those of the Cornish hard rock miners with their tales of mine spirits (known as “Knockers”). Skilled Cornish miners were recruited to other mining districts in Britain or they emigrated further afield, especially when times were hard.

Anyway an interesting book on Yorkshire folklore that joins the Cornish folklore and Bronte books on my book shelf.

Beyond the Booster bleurrgh?

Normal ‘gaming butterfly’ blogging service will hopefully soon be resumed, booster bleurgh over. Hobby blogging is usually interrupted or slowed as it is each year at this time by the dark winter nights, festive preparations and working for a living.

I will now return to my year long project of cataloguing my Peter Laing 15mm collection ahead of the 50th anniversary of this 15mm pioneer next October 2022.

That is all …

My repaint and repair of Bad Al outside the Timpo bank … great little buildings.

Previously on Man of TIN blog, some TIMPO related posts:

Wild West buildings and cowboys (see above)

Desert Fort packaging (online auction image)

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN on 28 November 2021

13 thoughts on “Booster Bleurrgh? Try Timpo Figures and Yorkshire Folklore.”

  1. Went through a spell of ‘Cowboys & Indians’ back in the early 70’s using some Western Skirmish rules and had quite a few of these figures , sadly all lost in the mists of wargaming time .


  2. Very true re 1950’s hollowcast cowboys, l have got them for reasonable or cheap prices on eBay . Excellent choice of reading btw.


    1. Yes they seem like bandsman figures out of fashion with gamers and collectors. Redcoats firing and marching for Little Wars are more pricey, useful and collectable.
      Maybe it’s because Cowboys and Indians, common enough when I was a kid but rarely now seen on mainstream TV or cinema, is today seen as playing at, trivialising, even glamourising the Wild West or the Frontier and Pony Wars as the racial genocide and suffering of the First Nations …


  3. I never could warm to the Timpo multipose figures – most of the combinations of torsos & legs just didn’t look right! But I do remember an absolutely massive display in Woolworth’s just before they went bust that almost converted me. Their range was truly impressive, esp. if you include the accessories, vehicles, buildings, etc etc.


  4. I found them fiddly too. Timpo and any swoppets are an acquired taste and not something that I personally would necessarily consciously collect as an adult collector, but I played with whatever figures we had.
    The wagons, Wild West buildings etc were all useful, especially outdoors.


  5. Growing up, my cousin had the red and blue Revolutionary war figures.
    I was so jealous.
    I never had them, they remained in toy soldier lore, even today.


  6. My Britains were the good guys and Timpo were the bad guys in my games . I mixed them up across periods ( so the good guys were awi and ACW swoppets ) and the bad guys an alliance of Indians,cowboys and Mexican swoppets.
    Didn’t have that many medievals apart from Herald ,Kellogg and various lone star etc picked up with pocket money on an individual basis over years.


  7. Hi Mark, In the 70s I had about eight Timpo crusaders, six knights, and fifteen ACW soldiers/cowboys. To be honest, i preferred other makes. So it really is a shock how keen Timpo collectors are now, and the auction wins on Ebay are often similar to good condition Britains! I have a feeling there is a strong ‘German’ contingent of collectors, which may have influenced their value. I picked up a box of figures which included a Timpo wagon, selling it on at a ‘polite’ price it still covered my costs for what I wanted in the original box. Still, each to his own, and I must admit the Crusaders in bulk do look good on the games table.


    1. As you say, there is now a very healthy collectors market (including for some reason in Germany?)

      My family cheerfully reckon that given a couple of decades ‘we’ will all have died off and without the childhood nostalgia, the whole toy soldier market will plummet. Probably to stop me investing in mint boxed sets of unplayable stringed in figures … give me bashed up playworn figures for conversion like yours any day.

      My Timpo were mostly all passed down from the family, apart from a few WW2 figures I bought. I found them a bit fiddly and topply based compared to Airfix and Timpo action pack solid figures. They did provide great character figures though.

      The cowboy buildings were my favourite.


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