Anne Bronte Bronte200 born 17 January 1820

Portrait of Anne by her brother Branwell Bronte. Public Domain

Happy Birthday Anne Bronte! Co-Creator of Gondal!

Today is Anne Bronte’s 200th Birthday, one of the co-creators of the Juvenilia works of ImagiNations that have inspired many of my recent games.

From her Wikipedia entry:

“Reading fed the children’s imagination. Their creativity soared after their father presented Branwell with a set of toy soldiers in June 1826. They gave the soldiers names and developed their characters, which they called the “Twelves”. This led to the creation of an imaginary world: the African kingdom of “Angria” which was illustrated with maps and watercolour renderings. The children devised plots about the inhabitants of Angria and its capital city, “Glass Town”, later called Verdopolis.”

“The fantasy worlds and kingdoms gradually, acquired the characteristics of the real world — sovereigns, armies, heroes, outlaws, fugitives, inns, schools and publishers. The characters and lands created by the children had newspapers, magazines and chronicles which were written in extremely tiny books, with writing so small it was difficult to read without a magnifying glass. These creations and writings were an apprenticeship for their later, literary talents.”

“Around 1831, when Anne was eleven, she and Emily broke away from Charlotte and Branwell to create and develop their own fantasy world, “Gondal“. Anne was particularly close to Emily especially after Charlotte’s departure for Roe Head School, in January 1831.”

My fictional map or geography of Gondal, based on Yorkshire.

Gondal, her co-creation with Emily, is set in the North Pacific and is the usual Bronte ImagiNations mix of lush verdant mountains and moors of “Tropical Yorkshire”.

When I checked what else was in the North Pacific, the list of countries I found seems to have forgotten to include Gondal so I have helpfully added this in.

Happy 200th Birthday Anne!

Blogposted by Mark Man of TIN 17th January 2020

“Weirdos and Misfits with odd skills” Wanted – No. 10, LRDG, SOE, Commandos, GCHQ and Bletchley Park

Dominic Cummings, some Tory Brexit politico adviser, in his blog set out a Churchillian request for hiring people to make No. 10 and the Civil Service (and his Brexit / post Brexit team) much less ” public school bluffers” and “Oxbridge English graduates”, more “misfits and weirdos“.

He writes: “We want to hire an unusual set of people with different skills and backgrounds to work in Downing Street with the best officials, some as spads (special advisers to ministers) and perhaps some as officials. If you are already an official and you read this blog and think you fit one of these categories, get in touch.” He says the categories he wants to recruit are:

  • Data scientists and software developers
  • Economists
  • Policy experts
  • Project managers
  • Communication experts
  • Junior researchers – “one of whom will also be my personal assistant”

Send your CV to Mr Cummings if you think this applies to you. You may only last a week, in our “hired and you’re fired” modern world, as instant dismissal is threatened, in which case you will no doubt be known as a “Cummings and Goings.”

Well intentioned and headline grabbing as it may be, the whole “weirdos and misfits” thing is a gift to cartoonists and satirists.

Oddly Mr. Cummings forgot to mention on his list: wargamers and “board game geeks”.

Not so long ago, top secret GCHQ was publicly looking for a more diverse modern workforce of “spooks” and “spies wanted

I am reminded of Churchill’s wartime request to “leave no stone unturned” to recruit the right people to staff Bletchley Park and SOE. Part of GCHQ’s ancestry, Bletchley recruited a strange team of debutantes, crossword puzzle champions, Post Office engineers, mathematicians, linguists and graduate oddities to break German cyphers.

Too busy to read? Just watch the cinema shorthand, myth-making movie versions of such an eccentric cast of characters: Robert Harris’ Enigma and the Imitation Game.

After meeting Alan Turing and his other eccentric colleagues at Bletchley Park, Winston Churchill reportedly said to MI6’s Stewart Menzies, “I know I told you to leave no stone unturned to find the necessary staff, but I didn’t mean you to take me so literally.”

Extraordinary jobs require unusual people. Polar explorer Ernest Shackleton would agree!

Which is why my mind straight way turned to SOE, inspired by Churchill “to set Europe ablaze”, Bletchley Park, inventive backroom boffins, the Commandos and the scruffy but tough and talented Long Range Desert Group. All the cast of Mr Churchill’s Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare as they were termed in a recent book title.

St Nazaire? See the inspiring terrain with the promise of vintage Airfix Commandos


Such people and characters in small teams are perfect for small scale gaming scenarios.

Weirdos and Misfits wanted? Small teams of characters (figures) who can see what is going on in this gridded aerial reconnaissance photo and improvise a plan when it is not what it seems …

What can you see?


As pointed out in my comment to the vintage Airfix inspired Tradgardmastre himself,

“Sketch map in preparation by Desert Air Force Intelligence Officers, ready to brief some scouting parties of LRDG (D) – D For Demolition.

This is a mixed bag made up of various disruptive elements from the Royal Angrian Defence Force from West Africa (Bronte ImagiNations), some men of the Yestershire Regiment (Man of TIN Imaginations), various other upper class desert traveller, novelist and travel writer misfits, and some Royal Engineers and Commandos in training.

Two tooled up long range fast Desert Jeeps called “Ragtag” and “Bobtail” (Pound Store finest) being prepared.”

Vintage 1960s Airfix LMG teams and modern China plastic tat playset jeeps.

So a quick bit of internet searching brought me to various LRDG websites, seeking the childhood memory of LRDG box lids of Tamiya and unavailable vintage Matchbox LRDG kits (oddly featured in January 2020 Airfix Model World).–130346

So preparing my teams, here are the vintage Airfix LRDG and 8th Army desert teams:

Vintage Airfix OO HO 8th Army (version 1) from my childhood collection and Tony Adams’ gift

Vintage Airfix 1960s Commandos and crawling woolly hatted (version 1) 8th Army
OMG! Vintage Airfix SMG, LMG and HMG teams – Airfix Commandos & 1960s 8th Army

Research and further inspiration:

LRDG Preservation Society (Research and Reenactment) website

Combined Ops Website

I’m doing Popski on the cheap with vintage Airfix, inspired by this article in Wargames Illustrated Infamous Squads issue November December 2019

Donald Featherstone ‘Wargaming Commando Operations’

Weirdos and Misfits – your country needs you!

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN on 3 January 2020

And finally for The Tradgardmastre on LRDG Buffs Film Club:

Happy New Year 2020 from Man of TIN


Surprise Christmas gift, a Timpo style US lead field telephone man and ‘Tommy’ cover.

“Hello? Hello?”

It’s 1st January 2020 now in the Blog date list and many best wishes to all my fellow bloggers and readers for the coming New Year and a new decade, the Twenty Twenties!

I wonder how different the world and the hobby will be in ten years time at the start of the Twenty Thirties?

Several hours in and not broken any 2020 gaming irresolutions yet:

“Roger, Over and Out!”


Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN on 1st January 2020, happy new decade!

Tales of Derring Do: inspiring books for Scouting Wide Games on the Tabletop

New figures, new reading including a great little Shire Library book on The Scouts.
British and Dutch East Indies Sea Scouts encounter hostile Natives …

Christmas Present 2019: Some inspiring reading and some Scout Patrol reinforcements from STS Little Britons 42mm via Spencer Smith Miniatures, over in my Scouting Wide Games blog site:

Hope that you got some good “new shiny” this Christmas, ready for the New Year.

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN (1970s Cub Scout, Bronze Arrow, Retired) on 27 December 2019

Man of TIN Blogvent Calendar Day 22: First Corps 28mm Boy Scouts VBCW figures


Some useful Boy Scout figures in 28mm from First Corps

I am really looking forwards to our 2020 game plans for Scouting Wide Games such as an outing at 54mm scale at the Woking 54mm games day

More about these scouting figures, rules and scenarios (working with Alan ‘Tradgardmastre’ Gruber of the Duchy of Tradgardland blog) can be found at:

A few of my painted STS Little Britons 42mm range LBB30 Boy Scouts figures

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN (Cub Scout, Bronze Arrow, Retired) 22 December 2019

Man of TIN Blogvent Calendar Day 16: Vintage Airfix Africa Korps 1962

Over the last few days I have been repairing, repainting and basing some 1962 vintage Airfix Afrika Korps that were in the package of 1960s Airfix that Tony Adams kindly sent me earlier this year.


Such 50+ year old (almost 60 year old) plastic figures are getting rather fragile now but I thought it better to paint them up and use them for gaming with care whilst still intact.

Before and after basing: Fragile enough 1960s figures that the stick grenade tops have fallen off.

Some of Tony’s originals are seen here in their 1960s paintwork by Tony.

As they arrived from Tony with cryptic base markings and helmet colours

As is usual with Airfix, some of the paint had flaked. I have tried to keep most of Tony’s original paintwork where I can, mostly repainting hats and rifles.

I tried a little bit of Citadel Agramax Earth wash or shade, but this didn’t do much for them, having such muted detail as early Airfix generally had. I could have painted in straps and equipment, but this was not only fiddly but mostly this was dust and khaki colour on khaki.

I thought the mix of old and new paint / uniform makes them look like veteran troops.

I also wanted to keep them slightly non-specific, as the ones in the Bergmutze soft caps had the look of a generic private army such as James Bond villains often had, especially the way Tony had painted them with dark or silver caps. I wanted to be able to use them in ImagiNations as desert forces or desert raiders. This is why in the first batch I have included no figures with the distinctive German helmets.

A Rommel looking figure besides a battered childhood Airfix halftrack.
Another battered old childhood Airfix model an armoured car from the desert reconnaissance set

In Jean Christophe Carbonel’s book Airfix’s Little Soldiers HO/OO 1959-2009, this set is listed as being introduced in 1962, the same year that Donald Featherstone’s War Games was published.

News of the only Airfix WW2 figures available in 1962/3

Mention is made in 1963 of these desert figures arriving in the wargaming chapter of Donald Featherstone’s Tackle Model Soldiers This Way here

The short-lived version 1 set (1962-1973) is unfavourably reviewed on Plastic Soldier Review

I have tried to keep simple paintwork as shown on the early Airfix boxes.

Eventually for opposition I will paint and base some of the version 1 Airfix Eighth Army figures that Tony Adams had in the parcel he sent me and some of my childhood / family original figures.

The 1973/4 update sculpts (version 2) of these desert troops are still available over 45 years later (2019) from Airfix stockists or online.

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 15/16 December 2019.

Man of TIN Blogvent Calendar Day 12: Soldiers of The Queen 1900

Soldiers of the Empress Queen – but only for another year as she died in 1901.

One of the pages in some original Boer War era magazines that I have.

Kipling-esque poem but not quite Kipling’s The Absent Minded Beggar or Hardy’s Drummer Hodge.


The Boer War is not widely Wargamed, partly due to the mobile nature of the conflict – mounted infantry, railways – and the long range rifle fire, as well as the static nature of sieges of Mafeking  and blockhouses.

I wonder if this era is not widely gamed partly because Britain lost the war but  it has some unpleasant elements such as Emily Hobhouse’s  campaigning / press exposure about the concentration camps for Boer Civilians?

There are some interesting challenges or lessons learnt the hard way for the military in the period shortly before the First World War.

There is an interesting Boer War gaming blog –

Blogvent posted by Mark Man of TIN, 12 December 2019