I bought a Scottish Croft for only £1

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After a cool early morning stroll through my nearest local village I walked past a fundraising car boot sale. I was tempted to start a small Sylvanian Army by equipping small furry clothed creatures with shields, swords and spears (Redwall style) but kindly left them all to be discovered with delight by a  local child.

Instead I bought a Scottish Croft for a Pound.

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Thankfully I don’t now have to upsticks and move Northwards to embrace the Good Life of Self Sufficiency anytime soon, only to find both the off-grid smallholding novelty and the delusion wear out quickly. Then write a book about it.

Or maybe not – because it is a very very tiny Croft House and a very small piece of land. It also comes with a tiny flock of sheep built in!

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Instead I moved in some suitably tiny tenants into this little resin Lilliput Lane building – some of my vintage 15mm Peter Laing 1715 or 45 Rising figures. I’m not too sure if they are happy about the sheep or the related Highland Clearances that will follow in the next century.

These 15mm Peter Laing highlanders that I bought as a youngster are here:
https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/11/04/more-peter-laing-scots/
https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/10/24/all-about-the-base-about-the-base/

Those precious few Peter Laing sheep have a lot to answer for! Posted when I thought only had one surviving 15mm sheep: https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/06/29/peter-laing-sheep/

Crofting, Clearances, Sheep or People?
The Highland Clearances (or  the “eviction of the Gaels”) were the forced evictions of many tenants in the Scottish Highlands and Islands, mostly in the period 1750 to 1860.

“After the initial swift and bloodthirsty retribution for the Jacobite rebellions, laws were instigated to prevent any further groundswell of support for the previous monarchs. In 1747 ‘The Act of Proscription’ was passed. Clan tartan had become popular during the Jacobite years and this was outlawed under this new act, as were bagpipes and the teaching of Gaelic. The Act was a direct attack on the Highland culture and way of life, and attempted to eradicate it from a modern and Hanoverian-loyal Scotland.”

So says:
https://www.historic-uk.com/HistoryUK/HistoryofScotland/The-Highland-Clearances/

The article continues:  “It was not only Highland culture that disappeared over this period but also the Highlanders themselves, for the most prosaic of reasons: money. It was deduced by those landowners on whose lands the clans lived and worked, that sheep were exponentially more financially productive than people. The wool trade had begun to boom and there was literally more value in sheep than people. So, what followed was an organized and intentional removal of the population from the area. In 1747, another Act was passed, the ‘Heritable Jurisdictions Act’, which stated that anyone who did not submit to English rule automatically forfeited their land: bend the knee or surrender your birthright …”

The hundred or so years between 1750 and 1860 saw the bulk of the Highland Clearances, forced eviction from farms or a move into alternative Crofting tenancies. For many, it led to eventual forced emigration to avoid famine and failed industries like kelp farming. It is still an emotive area of many people’s family histories scattered around the world. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Highland_Clearances

So a Scottish Croft for only an English Pound has a lot of complex and partisan economic, social, colonial and military history lurking behind it.

With such big spending, I could have posted this blog post on Pound Store Plastic Warriors.

Two other wargames blogs on a 1:72 Jacobite theme

Rod’s interesting Airfix conversions https://rodwargaming.wordpress.com

Tony Kitchen at Tin Soldiering On http://tonystoysoldiers.blogspot.com/search/label/The%2045

For more of my Lilliput Lane buildings of this sadly vanished uk manufacturer: https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2017/06/11/lilliput-lane-buildings-for-15mm-figures/

Now back to researching those early Scouting handbooks and Wide Games scenarios. Scottish Scouts were allowed to wear kilts.

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Image source: Pinterest

Blog posted by Mark Man of
TiN on 28 July 2019

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Rosemary Sutcliff Birth Centenary December 2020

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About 18 months ago I re-read Rosemary Sutcliff’s first book The Eagle of The Ninth for the first time since childhood. I also had strong memories of this Roman adventure story set beyond Hadrian’s  Wall in Scotland from the late 1970s BBC Children’s / Family TV serial version.

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I was reminded of this book by Alan Gruber the Duchy of Tradgardland blog’s latest SPQR related Roman scenario   http://tradgardland.blogspot.com/2019/07/warriors-looked-out-awaiting-arrival-of.html

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A brief biography …

How the book was written or inspired:

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C. Walter Hodges’ illustrations

A suitably mountainous pine tree background with some of my Toyway 54mm Romans.

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December 2020 is Rosemary Sutcliff’s birth centenary. There are several interesting blogs about her including sporadic ones by Anthony Lawton, her godson and literary executor:

https://therosemarysutcliffarchive.wordpress.com

Oxford University Press have a few,  sadly very few,  of her most popular titles in print:

https://global.oup.com/education/content/children/authors/rosemary-sutcliff/?region=uk

Rosemary Sutcliff  has a good extensive Wikipedia entry with links

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosemary_Sutcliff

Blue Remembered website has several years of blog posts  up to 2017 written by Sandra Garside-Neville and Sarah Cuthbertson, two fans of her work http://blueremembered.blogspot.com

https://sutcliff.fandom.com/wiki/Sutcliff_Wiki

http://www.historicalnovels.info/Rosemary-Sutcliff.html

Hang on a minute, I ask myself, weren’t you working on Scouting Wide Games?

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Suggested reading for Boy Scouts for imaginative Wide Games personas  -Wide Games 1931

This is not a million miles from my Scouting Wide Games as some of the recommended imaginative historical reading for  “The Cloak of Romance” section of Scouting Wide Games includes authors that Sutcliff’s admired.  Rosemary Sutcliff also liked Kipling’s historical romance Puck of Pook’s Hill.

The historicalnovels.info webpage mentions:

“Sutcliff felt a particular affinity with Rudyard Kipling. His work, especially his collected stories Puck of Pook’s Hill, aroused her interest in the way a conquered land can become “heart-home” to its conquerors, as seen in The Eagle of the Ninth and epitomised by Kipling’s poem “The Roman Centurion’s Song”. 

I think Rosemary Sutcliff’s work and Henry Treece books have probably inspired the odd Wide Game Scouting scenario.

One great fun 54mm Roman Wargames website to explore is By Toutatis! or Romans Go Home by Allan Tidmarsh channels Asterix http://romansgohome.blogspot.com

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For the last 18 months I have had a Roman “Close Wars” Skirmish idea focussed on troops vs natives nicknamed Full Metal Hic Jacet

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/full-metal-hic-jacet/

Other equally spurious projects have got in the way a bit.

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Teutoburg Forest AD 9 (Osprey) was one example of an Eagle of the Ninth style disaster.

The  Marcus Didius Falco detective series set in Ancient Rome  has similar disbanded and destroyed legions. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcus_Didius_Falco

To end …

Some more gratuitous pictures of Peter Laing Romans (painted by Stuart Asquith!)

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Peter Laing 15mm catalogue extract

So there you are, another cheerfully rambling blog post about toy soldiers and books.

Blog posted by Mark, Man of TIN on 16/17 July 2019.

Restored corner of the house that is my Hex Boards of Joy

For a few months I have not done much gaming to write up.

Not since a short Mountie Skirmish in late November 2018 last year https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2018/11/30/mountie-ambush-game-15mm/

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.

54mm superheroes and tiny blocky Minecraft figures

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?

15mm Peter Laing figures for a different scale

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.

Set up for 42mm range STS Little Britons Scouts (Boy and Girl) …

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.

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2019/05/19/pound-store-plastic-boy-scout-32mm-conversions/

32mm Pound Store Scout conversions & the original penny plastic figures

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.

http://tradgardland.blogspot.com/2019/05/scouts-for-wide-games.html

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.

My flap-down desk with cardboard screen keeping paper contents and books safe from paint.

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.

My Crafting “Cockpit”: Phoenix 43 Trek Cart kit & washed-out Cath Kidston pink Guards mug

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.

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2018/01/15/the-domestic-modelling-joys-of-the-roll-top-desk/

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!

The Review of Lancashire Rifle Volunteers in Knowsley Park. Illustration for The Illustrated London News, 15 September 1860.

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!

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 9 June 2019.

Wellington’s 250th Birthday Playlist BBC Radio 4 Extra

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Peter Laing 15mm Wellington and British cavalry

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Wellington’s 250th birthday celebrated today 1st May by the quirky radio programme on “Wellington’s  Playlist”, his music choices  – catch it on repeat and BBC I-player  / BBC Sounds https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03m3j6w

Farewell Google +, ByeBye Google Plus, Hello MeWe

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Welcome to the new Peter Laing community on Me We, home to many Google+ refugees https://mewe.com/join/peterlaingfigures

Farewell Google+ Peter Laing pages (2017-2019).

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2017/09/06/peter-laing-15mm-google-community-page/

Hello MeWe.

Thanks to Ian Dury.

There will no doubt be more gaming and figure related MeWe groups https://mewe.com/join/aminiaturesgroupaboutwargamesandtoysoldiers

Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN on April 1st / 2nd, 2019.

Vintage Pound Store Transport and Plastic Space Warriors

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Vintage transport for equally vintage Airfix WW1 20mm figures …works well with 15mm

Cross posted from my Pound Store Plastic Warriors blog, some more great little vintage plastic tat

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2019/03/28/vintage-pound-store-transport/

and in a back garden galaxy far far away

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Tim Mee Galaxy Laser Team Space Patrol

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2019/03/23/tim-mee-galaxy-laser-team-figures

Plastic joy! (In part, thanks to the Duke of Tradgardland).

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN on 29 March 2019.

Peter Laing 15mm and Airfix 54mm German Paratroops

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Close up on the baggy, chunky but slight detail on Peter Laing 15mm WW2 German Infantry that could be dual use for paratroops.

I am currently painting up some 15mm Peter Laing WW2 German Infantry into dual 1940/41 use as German paratroops.

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Batch painting underway on these Peter Laing 15mm German Infantry / paratroops.

The beauty of these first 15mm figures is that Peter Laing deliberately made them with slight and muted detail so that they could be easily converted by paint or file to other figures. These will be gloss paint or gloss varnish when finished.

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“Detail is kept muted so there is no overscale effect … detail in the figure depends on the amount that is put in the painting ”  – Peter Laing catalogue introduction

These 15mm WW2 German rifleman infantry figures have a bagginess of trouser about them that suits paratroop jump suits.  Rifles were also quite widespread issue to paratroops, not all were carrying submachine guns.

A quick uniform check out of the ‘best’ uniform book of my childhood (Preben Kannik’s Military Uniforms of the World in Colour) shows that such grey dual use figures are possible.

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This is what I still think 1940 Germans in WW2 look  like … thanks to Preben Kannik.

The Andrew Mollo Uniforms of WW2 book (1970s Blandford), familiar from the childhood branch library, had these slightly grainier, grittier, more photo-realist illustrations.

Home Guard manuals of the time in my collection had interesting uniform plates – this book by John Brophy 1940.

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Home Guard manual by John Brophy c. 1940 – uniform plate. “The author of this handbook has a ‘hunch’ that adolescent enemy agents may be dropped in the uniforms of Boy Scouts or Sea Scouts”
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German Parachutists as shown on WW2 British Ministry of Information posters c. 1940/41 – note the camouflaged helmet cover.

This interesting ‘spot on sight’ enemy uniforms poster No. 1 shows a camo helmet cover, otherwise a grey uniform, worth bearing in mind when painting. This poster can be found at: https://arts.st-andrews.ac.uk/events/0611/presentations/Teaching%20website/images4/uniforms1.html

I’m not sure I fancy painting 15mm camouflage jackets or helmets in such detail as below on my Airfix figures or as Tim did in his excellent Tim’s Tanks Peter Laing 15mm WW2 Blog post.

http://timstanks.blogspot.com/2015/07/peter-laing-15mm-miniatures.html

My previous paratroop camo painting experience was on a much bigger scale, about thirty plus years ago, tackling the camo from the Airfix packaging onto their then-newish 54mm German paratroop figures.

I have recently rebased, renovated and gloss varnished these 1980s Airfix paint jobs for new use.

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A bit bashed, rebased but still looking good …

I first painted these German Airfix Paratrooper figures in the early 1980s and they have hung around since then, getting increasingly bashed. I kept them as I quite liked the camouflage effects I achieved then with Airfix / Humbrol enamels.

I must have been following the Airfix painting guide on the box backs or catalogues a5 the time, so checked this online.

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As originally painted (in Matt?) I wanted to get a little of the old gloss toy soldier style at a time when I had no lead hollowcast painted 54mm figures to base them on. I must have been reading old toy soldier books in the library.

Three things were needed to  refresh them for modern 54mm Skirmish gaming use.

1. A quick spruce up of the faces in old toy soldier style (pink cheek dots, the lot) matches the original old toy soldier style paint from the 1980s.

2. I have rebased them on tuppenny bases to add some weight.

3. A coat of (gloss acrylic) spray varnish to seal them for play.

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I have a few more unpainted ones lying around from job lots that I hope to paint in a similar toy soldier gloss style to match these figures. Then off to the “Operation Back  Garden or Garten” this summer using Don’s parachute “confetti” paper shapes tipped out of a box or toy plane method of simulating airdrops?

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My local childhood branch library copy of Wargaming Airborne Operations … now mine!

My reference book for such past figure games was the curiously patchy 1977 Wargaming Airborne Operations by Donald Featherstone, still available in reprint from the History of Wargaming Project. http://www.wargaming.co/recreation/details/dfairborne.htm

Now I need to finish these Laing paratroop figures and get working on the Home Guard rifle platoon to see them off …

Remember – be on your guard – “adolescent enemy agents may be dropped in the uniforms of Boy Scouts or Sea Scouts.”

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Blog posted by Mark, Man of TIN on the 24th March  2019.