Through my blog contact or comments, Piotr Crass has asked me for help identifying this “old American civil war type figure”. It looks flat or semi flat to me and possibly homecast? If anyone can help Piotr or suggest good ID sites for him to contact, please contact piotrcrass who is @ or at gmail.com The figure can further be seen at imgur http://m.imgur.com/79fKXkX?r
On a trip to the local garden centre, I brought back something different from the usual seeds and plants (a sometime garden wargamer has to have some greenery).
It wasn’t unusual buildings, ruined bridges or temples etc from the cut price shelf of the Aquarium section.
It was this interesting book (a snip at £5, 2016 publishers price £16) called The Soldier by Chris McNab, spotted amongst the colouring books, Sudoku, celebrity biographies and paperback fictional murders and romance.
Last week I spotted the same book in branches of The Works in their History section for about the same price. I bought some of Cordery’s Composite Cavalry as they are known on Wargaming Miscellany instead, reduced to 50p each. There were still a lot of leftover Tiger saddlecloth officers (Murat?)
What caught my attention were the Uniform and Kit pages, such as the American War of Independence Grenadier below.
I wasn’t sure how the pics were done at first glance – were they photographs of re-enactors or fine illustrations? The illustrations (by Simon Smith and Matthew Vince) were enough to sell me the book, possibly even at full price.
However they were done, I liked the attention to small detail, explaining how the uniforms and kit worked. There are some interesting snippets or captions on the why as well as the what equipment soldiers carried where.
Written by Chris McNab, as ever it is sometimes difficult to find who did the editing and illustrations, usually buried away in the credits / end pages. Attractively illustrated with archive photographs, there are also examples of the work of some famous historical illustrators such as Don Troiani.
The figure or uniform illustrations reach the American War of Independence through to modern day Middle East conflicts as can be seen on the back cover.
at first glance through, I liked some of the more unusual choices amid the standard Waterloo British infantryman, Union troops etc.
Overall the book has the compact feel of one of those repackaged book compilations of expensive monthly partworks with hand-painted figures (probably the origin of Cordery’s Composite Budget Cavalry again at the Works again!)
Brian Carrick, blog author of the brilliant Collecting Plastic Soldiers blog, http://toysoldiercollecting.blogspot.co.uk wondered whether the Prince August 54mm chess toy soldier pawn figures that I featured this week would work in Fimo polymer clay.
Would this work in Fimo, Brian wondered? Would it be both cheaper and lighter?
I said I would Have a Fimo Go! (If you are reading this in America or elsewhere, Fimo is the equivalent to Sculpey Polymer Clay).
I wasn’t expecting much and was sadly proved right. Using a block of slightly old red Fimo, I rolled out, softened or warmed this through the hand rolling and then an appropriate size chunk inserted into one half of the mould.
I chose the simplest of the Prince August chess set moulds that I used this week – the Alamo American Infantry pawn figure.
Fimo Figure Fail?
Putting the the second half of the mould on and squeezing them together, on removing the figure, it was clear that it had only partly worked. The face and front moulding was mostly there, the hat not quite.
The back was missing the lovely detail of knapsack and powder horn.
There was some detail but lots of spare Fimo flash to trim in the form of a big moulding line.
With more care this could be lessened if the amount of Fimo were reduced.
With care a knapsack could be added which I have done to add 3D roundness to other flatbacked 54mm Fimo figures.
Rather than build up the figure with detail, I baked it at 110 degrees for 30 minutes then trimmed of any spare Fimo and the mould line with a scalpel.
With a bit of paint, a bit of trimming and a bit of detail added to an already baked figure (you can rebake and add to Fimo like this), a passable figure could be made. The hat could be built up or trimmed to a battered kepi.
However if you have the ability to cast as intended in metal, this is surprisingly simple and fast.
Brian Carrick wondered how they compare in terms of weight. The Prince August chess pawn figure weighs in at just under an ounce of metal, the Fimo figure with twopence base for stability, about 5 grms (most of which is the tuppence coin!)
You could also work out cost in terms of an ounce of Prince August metal versus a small lump of Fimo.
Fimo Figure Fun Or Fail?
In the first months of Man of TIN blog, I featured several Fimo soldier figure experiments including using simple silicon Cake Dec mould Soldiers (my Cakes of Death battalions) and fun Fimo freestyle or freesculpt figures.
This was one of my first Fimo failures, as I reinforced the body around a cocktail stick which led to cracking. I had not learnt that you can bake, add detail and rebake etc.
Over cooking at the wrong temperature was another Fimo failure and gives off not nice fumes and the figures distort badly.
This battered and cracked figure eventually found a role, painted up initially as some kind of Confederate standard bearer, he now carries the newly designed flag of Angria, one of the imaginary kingdoms created by the young Bronte sisters.
The way we wore – this is how the figure first looked on the blog back in May 2016 after a little tinkering. (I don’t use Green Stuff / Milliput in my house as some of my household are allergic to it).
A special offer or ‘promotion of the month’ for March 2017 on the Prince August website led me to try these Alamo Chess set pawns at a reduced price, which I bought alongside their American Civil War and Napoleonic chess set pawn moulds.
These 54mm toy soldier chess pawn moulds in silicone rubber are available separately from buying the whole chess set moulds.
These figures cast well and cleanly, using Prince August Model Metal, aside from the occasional glitch on the Alamo American figure rifle butt which is easily repaired.
By mixing the sets together, a varied Confederate or Union type Army or Militia can easily be created. I like the powder horns on the Alamo figures, and think that these could serve for figures from earlier periods than the Alamo.
These figures with different paint schemes will bulk out the ranks of any 54mm toy soldier army.
Officer figures are included only in the whole Chess Set of moulds, admittedly on a slightly raised base. These bases could of course be adapted or removed. Alternatively other suitable figures could be used.
Standard bearers should be easily created from the rifleman figure by adapting the musket into a flag standard.
These figures are of course great for “Imagi-nation” games with some alternative paint work.
Slender of build as these chess pawns are, I was concerned how they matched up to other 54mm castings. Some castings from home cast and vintage moulds seem closer to 50mm.
However in a quick line up with other manufacturers , they match these slighter figures and my previous castings from metal home cast moulds well enough.
Perefect for parades, perfect for gaming – lots of possibilities.
He got stuck in the mould, despite using release powder, but cleaned up nicely.
The face is not very detailed but he has a fine vintage toy soldier look. There is a distinctive casting line but not too much flash.
There is not much fine detail in the mould, whatever type of casting metal is used.
I like this Highlander enough to want to cast more. A row of them firing would look a fine addition to any wargames table or garden skirmish, despite the casting line running across and obscuring any facial detail.
Another vintage metal mould casting on the same day was this curious greatcoated steel helmet figure, a little in the small side at about 50mm.
Again this was a figure with some casting problems (hollows in the chest or backpack) but with lots of conversion potential, especially if heads were exchanged. There was more flash than you would expect from a modern home cast silicon figure, requiring a bit of filing. The rifle also failed to fill out on one or two castings.