Menhirs on the cheap at Much Flocking on the Henge

Some super cheap wargaming and scrap modelling using an old roll on deodorant – a handy ‘how to’ guide posted or crossposted from my Pound Store Plastic Warriors blog by Mark Man of TIN

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2020/11/25/menhirs-on-the-cheap-at-much-flocking-on-the-henge/

Big Bad Al or Heap Good Al? You decide.

Howdy! The Fabulous Flying Gruber Brothers needed a leader of their Gang, so they kept it in the family.

Meet Al – some say Big Bad Al, some say Heap Good Al.

Some say that he is the Father of the Gruber boys, others that he is their Cousin, Uncle or Older Brother. Some wisely choose not to say anything.

Some say that Al may in fact be Twins, just never seen together in the same place.

Those that have opinions on the matter and keep their mouths closed generally live longer lives out on these Wilde frontiers and borders and may even get to die in bed of old age.

In the wilds of the Wyrd Wilde West, anything could be a fact or true.

Timpo Bank and Timpo unpainted cowboy reunited … love those bright Timpo colours.

Big Bad Al or Heap Good Al? It depends who’s asking and who’s paying.

Whether they are protecting the Bank with their firepower or relieving it of some of that tiresome shiny metal, it’s a matter of opinion – it all depends on who is asking and who is paying (usually the most but they like to pick and choose their work).

The Gruber Family Door Knocker …

The Fabulous Flying Gruber Brothers Abe, Zeke and Frank can be seen here in their repaired state:

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2020/07/25/the-fabulous-flying-gruber-boys-are-back-in-town/

The Armies in Plastic figures Rogers Ranger’s kindly gifted to me by Alan Tradgardland Gruber are seen here after unpacking. They are now painted or repainted, gloss varnished and awaiting final shiny metal work before they set off to explore my mighty fine Bold Frontiers forest trees.

A wider, more historically accurate and more diverse range of cowboys can be seen here from my blog post in 2019: https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2019/08/16/black-cowboys-time-tunnels-earworms-and-the-old-town-road/

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 29/30 July 2020.

Book Nooks and Book Ends from BBC News

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BBC website “book nook” image of work by Konstantin Borisov 

An enchanting little story, of book nooks, an idea that could well grace a military or fantasy modeller’s book shelves? Lots of examples of these on Pinterest. Lots more pictures and links at this BBC article including Harry Potter style Diagon Alley type streets between books:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-trending-50840434

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Freudian dream analysts look away now …

This is a different idea from the Railway Modeller book ends that I featured on my Sidetracked blog:

https://sidetracked2017blog.wordpress.com/2017/07/29/tunnel-bookends/

Book Nooks and Book Ends – an interesting modelling idea to keep an eye on.

Trenches, tunnels, streets … lots of modelling ideas here.

I wonder what the fantasy gamer or modeller, the military or aircraft modellers etc would make of these novelty book nooks or book ends?

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 20 July 2020

Patch the Dog patched up and a Fort MacGuffin Update

Concerned readers will be pleased to know that Patch the dog, heroic hound and defender of his mistress Kate MacGuffin in the recent skirmish with the Forest Indians, is making a steady recovery.

Patch the Dog (Tradition of London Street scenes model) alongside Wendal aluminium ponies

Here Patch is pictured inside the Fort with his relieved mistress, the daughter of the Commanding office of the Forest Fort, receiving a treat from Captain Snortt.

Herbal remedies from the Fort’s new garden are part of his recovery plan.

Captain Snortt has been torn off a strip (thankfully not literally) by her father, Major MacGuffin, for getting them both lost whilst collecting herbs for the Fort’s herb garden and medicine chest.

There will be no such jaunts unaccompanied without a full patrol of Redcoats for the foreseeable future!

Patch has been awarded a fine engraved metal dog tag in lieu of the Gondal Star medal for his brave defence of Kate MacGuffin. Bravo, brave dog!

A Tour of the Forest Fort, North Gondal, Northern Pacific, 1870s

Let us take you on a tour of the small confines of the Forest Fort and Trading Post. Fort MacGuffin is the hub of several smaller defensive outposts in the area, developed and fortified by Major MacGuffin from an old Trading Post.

The timber for the Fort was all cut locally, much to the chagrin of the normally peaceful Forest Indians in what they regard as their sacred forests.

An Eagle’s Eye view of the Fort layout.

Inside the Fort, Kate MacGuffin has replanted the herb patch and added some floral colour. No doubt these are flowering medicinal plants of the area.

A small well of spring wate, separate from the moat, is topped with an attractive well.

The Fort’s small stock of timber and firewood is running low. Redcoats will have to set off into the surrounding forests to collect wood and even occasionally fell more trees.

On the other side of the small Fort and trading post, Captain Snortt checks recent Fort supplies.

A planked drawbridge in two removable sections crosses the small moat.

A small artillery piece protects the gate. (Toy soldier collectors might wish to know it began life as a novelty seaside pencil sharpener)

Rounding up the Fort livestock and patrolling the walls keeps the Redcoats busy.

Several goats, chickens and geese are kept for fresh eggs and milk (not mentioning meat in siege situations). These are now the charge of Kate MacGuffin, along with the Herb Patch inside the Fort and small veg gardens in the surrounds of the forest.

Redcoats are deputed to exercise the Regimental goats and protect them from the Forest Indians. They sometimes slip their halters and wander off into the Forest.

Freshwater fish are stocked in the moat in case of encirclement. Bored redcoats can fish from the ramparts as needed. Dynamite fishing also secures a ready catch in times of trouble, ready to be salted down or eaten fresh.

They await a travelling signwriter to spruce up their temporary sign by the Fort’s ‘Jack of all trades’ ASC Private Fuller.

In addition to the recent difficulties between the Forest Indians and the Redcoats of the Fort, worrying news has reached MacGuffin that some illegal loggers and miners have been seen neat the old boarded up mines.

Rumours of gold and limitless forest timber from time to time tempt roving bands of Outlanders and failed Settlers into the Forest, stirring up ill feeling and conflict with the native Forest Indians on their hunting grounds. MacGuffin is there as part of a Redcoat force to keep the peace and watch the borders and coasts of Gondal with the other surrounding kingdoms.

From childhood onwards, setting up Forts like these, they have had to have some logic to their structure, contents, exploitable weaknesses and other possible story lines.

A Small Fort Apache from Tiger Toys

The Fort was a gift from within the family, a find in a charity shop near where the Fort was made by Tiger Toys of Petersfield, Hampshire. The accompanying Timpo Swoppet figures or copies were sold through eBay but when I heard about the Fort, I expressed an interest and it arrived last Christmas.

For Fort enthusiasts, it is a Tiger Toys Fort Apache No. T550.

Tiger Toys, made in England, “Part of Growing Up” in the 1960s apparently.

An attractive flag and 7 Swoppet type (copies) of Cowboys and Indians (included?) can be seen.

Fort Apache – 45 shillings, so bought predecimal (pre 1971) for Graham, the original owner …

“Dear Graham, your Birthday Fort is in good hands, albeit with new defenders.”

I would quite happily collect Toy Forts and Castles, if I had the space to store or display them, which sadly I haven’t.

This isn’t the cowboy fort I grew up with, which was slightly different with a watch tower in the corner but hopefully Graham loved his Fort as much as I did ours. It too had internal preprinted buildings. Our 1950s / 1960s family wooden Cowboy Fort did not survive several generations of children and damp, reportedly its rather simple inexpensive wooden pieces went ‘beyond repair’. Sadly no photos of this Fort survive. Luckily the family Toy Castle of the same vintage is still in good condition at home.

The base folded in half, hinged like the doors with thick gummed taper or paper

What I liked about this is its fold-away flatpack construction, including a fold in half base. Our childhood Cowboy Fort base and walls were permanently fixed, so more awkwardly big to store.

The walls slot easily together. Only the tape holding the doors and the horse hitching rail post needs some repair. The flag had also vanished.

Woodworkers and makers of model Forts might find these construction shots of interest:

For those who care about such things, the wall sections are 16 inches long and 5 inches high. The building is 15 inches long and 3.5 inches high. The board unfolded is 18 inches wide by 18 inches (9 inches when folded).

Who were Tiger Toys?

Without the original box, I would have no clue to manufacturer. Other Tiger Toy Forts that I have seen have small round Tiger Toys stickers or labels.

A brief history of Tiger Toys 1959 to 1971/78 is given on this Hilary Page Toys website

The Hilary Page Toys website about Kiddicraft designs of the 1930s – 1950s has a page on Tiger Toys but does not mention Forts.

Researching on the web, I found several past sales pictured on Worthpoint and PicClick post auction value sites showing Tiger Toys forts, including the larger or more complex Fort Sioux and my simpler Fort Apache.

The more complex Fort Sioux T55? has two (fixed or removable?) watch towers, ladder, loopholes walls and doors and what looks like a grander flag.

What looks like a Tiger Toys sticker on the roof. The building print seems to vary over years between models.

Past sales page shows Fort Sioux in detail including different building print detail with sentry

After Robert Hirst’s death in 1971, W. Graeme Lines of the famous Lines Bros (Brothers) family toy firm mentioned in a long Victoria and Albert Museum / Museum of Childhood interview talked about his short relationship with the Tiger Toys team of Petersfield until its closure in 1978.

Other interesting British toy companies including Airfix are mentioned in the interview listings https://www.vam.ac.uk/moc/british-toy-making-oral-histories/

Tiger Toys also appear to have made more Kiddicraft style bright colourful preschool toys.
An attractive Tiger Toys village in a box, a toy also made by Kiddicraft
https://catalogue.millsarchive.org/durford-abbas-mill-rogate?sort=alphabetic&listLimit=20

I must have driven past the turn-off to the old Tiger Toys home factory, several times en route to somewhere else, little knowing that this Durford Mill in Rogate (Petersfield, Hampshire) was the 60s birthplace of my new vintage Fort.

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 9 / 10 June 2020.

B.P.S. Blog Post Script

We end with an interesting video about the early designer of many of these preschool toys, Hilary Page of Kiddicraft from the Hilary Page Toys website, arguably the designer of the Lego brick (only patented in the UK). https://youtu.be/ClzySyzwi3k

Making a Martello Tower from Scrap – Fort Crumble

To match a bunch of 15mm pirate and Redcoat preventive men from another random job lot of figures, I have added a coastal defence fort.

This is not the familiar Airfix WW2 one of my childhood but an original Napoleonic one – the Martello Tower.

I remember seeing these curious flowerpot coastal castles on childhood holidays to the south coast. I have a feeling I might have been inside one as well. We visited the Romney Hythe and Dymchurch area of Kent, the curious home of light railways, Dr. Syn, smuggling museums and marshes. All equally fascinating to a small child.

Martello Towers are the ultimate bucket and spade seaside sandcastle with a flag and a cannon on top.

If you are not familiar with them, there are several websites about them. Wikipedia has a wide range of information and a useful photo gallery from round the world on Martello Towers. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martello_tower

There is an entire dedicated website to Martello Towers, including ones that have been undermined by the sea revealing parts of their construction.

https://martellotowers.co.uk/armedforces covers the garrison of 24 men (cramped), Napoleonic era gun crews, Artillery Volunteers, Militia and “sea fencibles” (or ‘reformed’ smugglers).

There are in their 1990 English Heritage Martello Tower no. 24 booklet online here some wildly imaginative LacePunk / Steampunk original Napoleonic era prints of how the French might invade by raft, balloon and airship etc. – “typical shabby Nazi, sorry, Napoleonic tricks” as the 1805 version of Captain Mainwaring would say.

https://theromneymarsh.net/martello24guidebook

Cinque Ports Volunteers reenactors https://theromneymarsh.net/martello24#inside

Some smart Militia Volunteers, perfect for my scratch 15mm Napoleonic era garrisons of Forgotten Minor States.

Lots more at: https://theromneymarsh.net/martello24#inside

https://www.papershipwright.co.uk/product/south-coast-martello-tower/

Several manufacturers make resin or even Paper ones on the unusual Paper Shipwright website (which has free downloads of some things).

Some useful Martello Tower words for instant expertise: The roof gunnery platform floor is called a terreplein. The irony – a French word for a seaside castle cannon platform against Napoleon. Impressed?

Building your Crumble Pot Martello Towers

So where to start?

What first gave me the idea was a bit of scrap recycling from a recent sweet treat gift, some mini crumble puddings.

“First eat your puddings …”

Add in the plastic top to some lovely lunchtime Itsu noodles, the only unrecyclable bit but which also comes in handy for flocking trays.

So in Blue Peter style you need in suitable size or scale for your figures, in this case 15mm:

    Two plastic containers or flowerpot shapes, one cut down to sit inside the other to give the roof space.
    A base or lid upturned to give extra height if needed
    A spare cannon such as this one from the Risk boardgame,
    Some lolly sticks for the gun pivot
    A drawing pin for the pivot
    Acrylic model paint to coat the plastic
    Scalpel or sharp scissors to cut out the roof hole and cut down the inner pot.

Cut a neater hole in the base than I did (wrong sort of jaggy plastic, didn’t want to try the candle / knife method to smoothly melt the edges). This gives you your roof opening.

Place this cut open base over the other pot and work out how much you need to cut off to give you the gunnery space and shelter for the Gun Teams. Pop a figure and the gun inside to get an idea of size.

Cut in stages or strips away at the bottom part of the inner pot until your figures and gun sit right inside. Like Lockdown haircuts, you can’t add it back once you’ve cut it off.

The swivel: The gun is on a raised up platform to give that 360 degree swivel. Measure the lolly stick from middle of the pot top / base. Insert drawing pin as pivot. Put through plastic top. Secure pin bit underneath with a piece of thick card or balsa.

Paint the outside of the tower with an undercoat of white or light grey. Don’t forget to paint the inside (pot base) of the tower roof gunnery platform before you start sticking these together.

Stick your gun onto a short piece(s) of lollystick to step it up step by step on the swivel piece until it can freely move around the rim of the tower.

Dry Run – Once you have tried all the finished bits and bobs together, then glue the cutdown pot onto the noodle lid, and add the top pot.

The stepped cannon is the last fiddly bit to add, the barrel poking above the battlements and freely pivoting.

Avoiding cutting out recessed windows and doors into jaggy plastic, I used thin card to make the door and window frames.

These doors and windows were on the landward side to protect them from ship attack. The seaward walls were slightly thicker brick walls to cope with attack from the sea.

An external ladder from the Airfix Commando set was added but could be made from card. The doorway platform and ladder were designed to be easily taken inside or demolished by the tower gun crew.

Cleverly the towers had a rainwater collection from the roof to basement water tank or internal well to survive sieges. Tucked away are musket racks inside, gunnery stores, shot lockers, ration stores. Officers quarters were small but separate from the men’s. It is part castle, part stone naval ship.

Martello Towers were built all around the world so I can feature them in some ImagiNations and Colonial games like the Forgotten Minor States.

What next for gaming scenarios with the Martello tower?

Add some sandy coloured felt and blue felt,

  • a lighthouse, quay, warehouses and scattering of wooden houses,
  • my random job lot 15mm pirates and tricorne men
  • a cheap plastic boat / ship (what is the difference anyway?) from a seaside toy shop pirates set stocked away for rainy days,

All this is surely a scratch recipe for a coastal / pirate / naval game of Close Little Pirate Wars! Pistols, cutlasses, cannons, blunderbusses, muskets …

This lovely Murray King postcard of Cornish Wreckers vs the Excise or Preventative Men gave me some uniform colour ideas. I have some random tricorne figures to paint up as Customs redcoats.

I mocked up a quick harbour scene with the Martello Tower in place, using a Tamiya stone paving baseplate.

I blame Gridbased wargaming for his St. Nazaire raid game last year https://gridbasedwargaming.blogspot.com/2020/01/st-nazaire-raid-game-report.html

I think you can see the influence of this St Nazaire harbour game in my simple dockyard buildings and warehouses using some crafty Christmas decoration presents:

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2020/02/01/to-the-lighthouse-more-christmas-gaming-crafty-surprises/

These ‘make your own Christmas decoration houses’ were easy to transform into flexible 15mm warehouses. Other blocks of wood were used to add storehouses.

Further Gaming Scenarios

After 1815, Martello Towers around the world were reoccupied as needed by troops, coastguard and preventive men throughout troubled times in the 19th and 20th century. Some were adapted as signal stations.

Others were reused in WW2 for coastwatch, observer Corps and effectively as pillboxes against German invasion.

So Captain Mainwaring lives on, he can again guard the coast of the Novelty Rock Emporium to the Pier at Warmington on Sea against seaborne and airborne German troops – disguised as nuns? – another “typical shabby Nazi trick”. Mainwaring really ought to have a Martello Tower to defend as well.

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2020/02/01/to-the-lighthouse-more-christmas-gaming-crafty-surprises/

Blogposted by Mark Man of TIN 29 April 2020

A few penny saving tips

Left over tiling spacer Xs turned into barricades, glued onto square bases. Long Matchsticks

32mm Pound store conversion figures man the barricades & stop two suspicious customers (Fantastic Beasts figures, The  Works £1 each )

Barricades with smaller cocktail sticks for 15mm scrap ACW figures painted up as generic rebels.
I haven’t yet tried or make D-Day beach obstructions with the tile spacer Xs. 

Sparkler wires reusable for spears, pikes, flagpoles etc

A few penny saving, time saving tips using scrap materials.

Do you have any favourite money or time saving tips to share?

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN 26 April 2020

At a Border Watchtower in one of the Forgotten Minor States

Keeping watch towards the disputed border, the Jagers of this watchtower scan the forest edges. These are the Jagers or border patrol for the Duchy of Reissenshein, that Forgotten Minor State of forest and mountains.

Forgotten Minor States – https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2020/04/19/scrap-napoleonics-ready-to-scrap-forgotten-minor-states/

Glued on, tucked away on the hex edge, some mountain rabbits
Roof made removable with a little card retaining frame inside. Notice boards made for inside.
15mm Peter Laing Jäger or Alpini figure, HO forest animals from Noch including fox with bird

Details of the two Noch sets including the Laser Cut Mini cardboard jagerstand

So much for getting a game in this morning, instead first I needed to build this old laser cut mini card kit from Noch.

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN 20 April 2020

An Old 15mm Farmhouse by Gallia

Gallia Farmhouse with Peter Laing 15mm figures ECW / 1715-45 range

Lockdown Sort Out: One of the long surviving and bashed buildings I have is a resin farmhouse from the 15mm of range in the 1980s by Gallia.

This is not as you can tell the original chimney. This was lost sometime in storage over the years. However I found a suitable replacement chimney in a job lot bag which kind of fits, badly, in a characterful way.

If it got anymore wonky, Trumpton Fire Brigade would have to be called to fix it.

1983 Battle for Wargamers – Wargames Manual (Ed. By Stuart Asquith) advert for Gallia range

This Farmhouse was the only resin building that I bought then as I relied like everyone else on old bashed Airfix railway buildings, Airfix Forts, surviving parts of the Waterloo Farmhouse and homemade cardboard ones. Surprisingly large numbers of my games were fought then around strategic targets such as railway stations!

I also bought and still use 15mm cardboard buildings by John Mitchell from Peter Laing.

Gallia resin buildings were expensive enough c.1982/83 to have been chosen as a present. When it arrived, the resin still had a strong chemical smell which has thankfully faded over the years. I never tried their figure ranges.

One downside I found with this resin building is the fixed roof, so that you cannot place figures inside.

1982/83 magazine advert and prices. I assume ruined buildings were a bit cheaper than whole ones?

Blogposted by Mark Man of TIN 15 April 2020

To the Lighthouse: More Christmas Gaming Crafty Surprises

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These were Christmas gifts, these “Made of Wood” craft products from a local craft store – in the varied shapes of a lighthouse, wooden pine trees and Christmas decoration houses.

The label suggests that they are made from a very fast growing timber called the Paulownia tree, widely farmed and forested in China / East Asia and now across America as the ‘new balsa’ because of its lightness and valued for its attractive grain.

A light green wash or woodstain should bring out best features of these toy like pine trees.

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Airfix OO HO and Peter Laing 15mm WW2 troops for scale comparison.
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Just one of the games scenarios that these wood block gifts suggest … Airfix commando raids

 There are some fantastic wooden buildings in this St Nazaire raid game that give an idea of how to make your own or use wooden buildings like these:

https://gridbasedwargaming.blogspot.com/2020/01/st-nazaire-raid-game-report.html

Some handy crafty pieces and ideas for future games.

Blog update from Lockdown April May 2020:

St. Nazaire raid inspiration went back a century or two – Lighthouse and houses now completed (April / May 2020) into part of a port for 15mm pirate raids.

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2020/04/28/making-a-martello-tower-from-scrap-fort-crumble/

Forest trees undercoated for Close Wars Forest Skirmishes

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2020/05/10/classic-close-wars-and-comic-book-soldiers-back-to-the-forest/

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 1 February 2020 / 15 May 2020 update.

Native Stilt House

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I picked up this curious little Asian stilt house today from a vintage shop. It is presumably a tourist souvenir from someone’s travels.

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The roof removed and repaired

With the roof off, figures can be placed inside which extends its use with gaming figures.

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32mm Poundland plastic figures converted to colonials

The roof could be reversed but it does look rather odd.

 

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Generic Natives defend the stilt house
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Boy Scouts from the STS Little Britons 42mm Range

A lucky find – not sure where in the world or which part of Asia it is from.

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN 24 January 2020

B.P.S. Blog Post Script

Further found jungle games buildings are these aquarium ornaments which I posted about back in 2017:

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2017/06/23/waterproof-garden-games-terrain/i