Hello I'm Mark Mr MIN, Man of TIN. Based in S.W. Britain, I'm a lifelong collector of "tiny men" and old toy soldiers, whether tin, lead or childhood vintage 1960s and 1970s plastic figures.
I randomly collect all scales and periods and "imagi-nations" as well as lead civilians, farm and zoo animals. I enjoy the paint possibilities of cheap poundstore plastic figures as much as the patina of vintage metal figures.
Befuddled by the maths of complex boardgames and wargames, I prefer the small scale skirmish simplicity of very early Donald Featherstone rules.
To relax, I usually play solo games, often using hex boards. Gaming takes second place to making or convert my own gaming figures from polymer clay (Fimo), home-cast metal figures of many scales or plastic paint conversions. I also collect and game with vintage Peter Laing 15mm metal figures, wishing like many others that I had bought more in the 1980s ...
They look as smart and shiny as the day they were first painted and would have proved a joy to a small boy or girl somewhere when the box was opened and they were seen strung into the card liner, ready for action!
Battle damaged and with playworn paint, who knows where and what heroic adventures these lead figures have had in the past with their original owners and down through the generations to Scott?
Scott’s website or blog header is a colourful VSF scene with some great steampunk tanks.
Scott’s blog Circa Games is a varied and interesting read ranging from westerns to VSF, wooden figures … oh, and designing and building your own games shack out the back. A games shed that has to deal with both snow and termites, as casually mentioned in http://www.circagames.com/wordpress/onward-and-backward/
As a man who struggles to make even model buildings of plastic, card and balsa wood, I have “to take off my wargames hat” to Scott for this amazing bit of carpentry. (P.S. Before anyone asks, sadly I do not own or wear a special wargames hat.)
There are more of these old lead figures on Scott’s painting table to look forward to.
Add to that the VSF resource pages and the Triggernometry (Old West) one, there is lots to read and refer too here!
Blog posted by Mark, hatless Man of TIN, 17 June 2019.
Although the last few months of blogging have been Scout Wide Games based, I think my Dad would have approved of this year’s family gifts.
This year the wonderful addition to my toy armoury was two handmade warships which I saw and liked in a vintage shop months ago, a small hollow-cast raiding force (a complete surprise, as a raiding force should be!) and an ACW book that I had put aside in case my family weren’t sure what to get.
Mannie Gentile recently posted a blogpost on the Golden Book of the American Civil War
So Mannie is responsible for me buying a cheap secondhand paperback of this interesting book that launched the hobbies and careers of hundreds of Civil War enthusiasts and historians.
This book is richly illustrated and includes some fabulous battlefield “bird’s eye view” maps whose detail I would have found fascinating as a child.
The toy hollowcast soldiers are a treat – a surprise gift from my family found all together in a local vintage shop that they “hoped were all right”.
Any vintage lead soldiers are all right in my eyes!
I was interested to see the kneeling American infantryman as he appears quite similar in style to a trio of (solid lead home cast?) soldiers sent to me by Alan as reservists from his Duchy of Tradgardland forces. The kneeling green Crescent trooper has a knee ‘flange’ to give him more stability.
The three Duchy of Tradgardland reservists have acquired new blue uniforms for a mission in a galaxy far far away. They have an odd space look to them with their helmet and rifle. They are now acquiring blue uniforms and white or silver boots, helmets and weapons to come. They should soon have a 30s / 50s space ‘thing’ going on to match some of the Tim Mee Galaxy Laser Team and Airfix Space Warriors.
The two fine handmade boats have some battle damage that needs sympathetic repair. They deserve a blog post of their own as they are repaired and researched, along with their paperwork. They came from what can be a “grey port” at times of naval vessels in for refit.
Are they accurate handmade models or spirited imaginative examples of “modern warships” with guns and rockets? It will be interesting to find out.
Blogposted by Mark Man of TIN, Father’s Day 16 June 2019.
Following up my post about Jen B’s version of Featherstone’s Close Wars Rules, fellow games blogger Stealth contacted me to say that he had been playing around with his own variant of Donald Featherstone’s simple Close Wars rules.
These were first published in Don’s appendix to War Games (1962) and Stealth had been looking at my variants Close Little Wars.
Stealth’s rules have a slight D & D influence or feel (see his other blogs) in that carrying or capturing crates forms part of the victory conditions, scoring and scenarios. Interesting idea for ambushing a supply column etc.
I hope you find something of rules variants interest here. I enjoy seeing how people adapt and tinker, go back to basics and then elaborate a bit more.
Jen’s Normandy 75th Anniversary Game in her library. (Image: Jen B.)
I wish my local Library had looked a bit more like this photo by Jen when I was a child. (What was going on in the inside of my head looked like this!) My lovely local library was a busy but quiet place, a great free source of classic wargames titles, uniform references and history books but not a relaxed place to try out games or crafts.
American gaming librarian Jen B has been literally playing around with the very simple Featherstone Close Wars rules that I often use.
These were first printed as a two page appendix to Donald Featherstone’s War Games, 1962.
Jen has been experimenting with them for a range of historical periods, encouraging young gamers into (historical) figure gaming in her library workplace.
Classic 54mm Airborne versus Panzer Grenadiers? The figures pictured are those much pirated or cloned (therefore easily affordable) Matchbox American Infantry and a mix of Airfix and Matchbox Germans often found for sale in Pound Store, dollar store or bargain buckets. Perfect pocket money stuff!
Jen doesn’t have a blog of her own (yet) but left this comment on one of my blog posts: “I ran another WWII skirmish at work today, this time with rules influenced by Close Wars, with simpler measuring.”
Movement: One pencil length.
– Pistol: One pencil length/one shot.
– SMG: 1/3
– Rifle: 2/1
– MG: 3/3, but may not move and fire.
Shots hit on 5+, 6 if target is in cover.
Close Combat (CC): Figures roll off. If tied, both figures retreat one pencil length.
Each side rolls once at end of turn – on a 6 a reinforcement figure appears.
Jen wrote “It worked surprisingly well, and the players were cheering every die roll.”
Cheering? In a library? Not what I remember from the enforced hush of my childhood libraries. This is a great reaction to hear about though, clearly the children were highly engaged and the rules are simplicity itself in materials, terrain, figures, a pencil or two and some ordinary d6 dice. Good entry level stuff!
You could easily go home with a photo copy of these rules and create this yourself as a child or family with available figures.
Featherstone envisaged these simple Close Wars rules as solving the challenge of natives versus troops in small scale skirmish gaming in cluttered terrain such as Colonial era or the French Indian Wars.
It would be easy enough to adapt these rules for drop-in library gaming use to simple Wild West skirmish gunfights, French and Indian Wars, the Revolutionary and the Civil War, all with suitably affordable or dollar store figures.
As my Pound Store Plastic Warriors strapline or motto says: Little Wars on a Budget
I hope that Jen gets to run more of these games and I’m sure every gamer wishes this venture well.
Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, regular library user and 70s Airfix child, 14 June 2019
Really this Blog post could have or should have gone on my Pound Store Plastic Warriors Blog in view of its affordable plastic figure theme, so I will crosspost a link on that site.
For a few months my gaming area and tabletop have been covered in broken Britain’s figures awaiting repair, Peter Laing 15mm figures awaiting paint, tools and useful bits of scrap for modelling.
I am as happy casting, repairing and painting figures as I am gaming with them, hence the quote on Man of TIN blog from Donald Featherstone:
The largest hex game board has hung on the wall being a former picture frame – a neat storage solution tucked away in the corner of a shared living room.
As part of the Scout Wide Games research and rules writing, I am not sure if my hex boards will be too small for the 42mm range Scout figures I have painted. Maybe I should have gone smaller, say OO/HO railway or my Pound Store figure conversions? Different size figures, different scale scenarios?
I have been playing around with scale from 54mm superheroes and tiny blocky Minecraft blind bag figures (Heroscape hexes have a 3D landscape Minecraft feel) down to 15mm Peter Laing figures, which give a bigger playing space.
Having a large enough landscape for the Wide Games scenarios is obviously harder with the larger Scout figures 42mm Shiny Toy Soldiers / Little Britons range (from Spencer Smith Miniatures), so the scale and ground space available may shape the scope of future scenarios.
My couple of quick paint conversions of Pound Store figures in a smaller scale may enlarge the territory available to my Scouting games – I can cheaply and quickly knock up a couple of patrols of these to try this out.
Part of the Wide Games appeal is that tabletop Wide Games could equally function as Garden games especially with the largest, simplest 60mm semi-flat Scouts – as pointed by Alan the Tradgardmastre of the Duchy Of Tradgardland Blog.
If only my ageing knees and back and the weather were up to it …
The rest of the space?
A column of Really Useful Boxes divides the playing space from the crafting space. More Really Useful Boxes and Shoe Boxes are stowed away below the gaming table and the chairs.
Acquiring job lots of broken toy soldiers to repair requires storage. The Peter Laing figures, both painted and awaiting paint, require storage. Scrap modelling materials, tools and paints require storage.
For the last few months, wriggling into the old crafting chair has felt like sliding into a narrow cockpit to focus down onto the hand tools, paintbrush and figures in front of me. It’s also meant that I had no gaming space. Shifting these about and restowing boxes has helped no end.
I understand more fully now the points about concentration and wellbeing made in the Models for Heroes videos. There is a mental craft zone that the world shrinks down to.
I am reminded of the ominous episode in Harry Pearson’s gaming memoir Achtung Schweinhund where Harry hears from his gaming best friend about an obsessive hoarder (stereotypically male, middle aged, single). This man’s decaying house is in danger of collapse from an Aladdin’s Cave of stored vintage unboxed figures, magazines and newspapers, yet eerily the paint table is immaculate and ordered. Harry and friend see a vision of their possible lonely futures.
The cutting board and painting space that forms my crafting area has now transferred to the right of the board onto a flap down modern bureau desk, rather than than the traditional modeller’s Roll Top type desk. It fits into the rest of the family without sitting in a room apart. It’s stuffed full of toy soldier things and research notes and books for other work-related projects, protected from paint splatters by a removable cardboard screen. Reorganising the contents means that everything should be able to fold back up out of sight.
The desk top “display” space itself could also do with a tidy up as it is currently piled with figures and books that I have worked on in the last year. Inspiration but it’s also a jumble of what has been inside my head recently.
Next to this sits a small bulging cupboard stuffed full with books, hollowcast figures and hoarded Airfix figures and kits from childhood onwards, again its top piled with this year’s projects. Again all of these could do with a sort through on another grey day.
More Really Useful storage boxes live in the garage for my metal casting kit, buildings, some other temperature proof gaming stuff and metal figures, whilst the indoor storage is reserved for the more vulnerable fragile vintage and childhood plastics figures and vehicles.
The painting above the desk is a recent acquisition, a framed Illustrated London News print of the Lancashire Rifle Volunteers parading at Knowsley Park. Britain’s Victorian Home Guard against another Napoleonic French invasion, and finely dressed at that. One for Marvin at Subterranean Militarism!
So there you are, restored –
an experimental games lab to try out Wide Games or gaming scenarios indoors,
an encouragement to paint and base those Peter Laings stuck in the lead limbo of the ‘work in progress’ painting box,
hopefully a little more presentable part of the Living Room if we have visitors to the house!