Tatsuya’s work reminds me a little of the The Little People Project by British tiny people street artist Slinkachu. http://slinkachu.com
It also reminds me of all the blog comments from fellow gamers and scrap modellers who also look at a scrap household object, child’s toy, souvenir or aquarium ornament, and think what it might become. This is curiously what many of my June blogposts and people’s comment have been about.
Tipped off by some blogposts about the delights of the “Home Aquarium” section of pet stores and garden centres, I recently popped into a Pets at Home branch and spotted a 3 for 2 offer (buy 3 get cheapest free).
I didn’t tell the checkout lady the truth when she asked about my non-existent fish and tank, that these weren’t destined for underwater fish usage but for the gaming table or out in the garden / yarden for gaming.
This offer and their reasonable asking price (6 pieces of terrain for around £30) made affordable what I think are sometimes overpriced pieces of potential games terrain. I understand that it is not cheap to produce these if it has to be a certain type of safe resin and safe paint to protect the fish from chemical harm.
Some features like the old fishing boat seems Chinese or Japanese.
What I like about many of these generic buildings or features are their versatile uses. They could equally grace a garden game and stay out in the rain or appear on a games table.
With some imagination, the rope bridge could be a vital but damaged rail bridge with a narrow piece of rail track across it. It could be in Southeast Asian Jungle or the Amazon, Darkest Africa or the Wild West. It could be built in many time zones. It works across different scales or sizes of figures.
Similarly the tree houses could be on Fantasy or alien planets, or in Darkest Africa or Asia in a Colonial campaign.
All good Indiana Jones stuff.
A little bit of cutting and glueing work to put some balsa wood floors into the buildings should make them even more versatile. The cluttered temple floor might need some clearing or building up to be able put more figures inside.
Once again 15mm Peter Laing figures seems to suit these buildings quite well, as well as Airfix OO/HO.
I was quite intrigued setting up future game scenarios how helpfully camouflaged or painted the temple is for example when used with WW2 figures. I haven’t done matt grunge khaki camo painting for over twenty years but I found a few things in my surviving box of battered Airfix vehicles.
These were painted up in the early 1980s for Donald Featherstone WW2 rules (War Games 1962) and go quite well with these North Africa / Med / Middle East / Italy temple ruins. About time these had an airing on the games table with whatever I have left. WW2 Vehicle and camouflage scheme purists look away now!
With my small WW2 15mm Peter Laing force I can stage a few skirmishes. I have A few spare German WW1 steel helmet infantry to be painted up in Afrika Korps / desert camouflage to take on my WW2 British infantry.
These six aquarium buildings cost (after 3 for 2 discount) only around £30 in total but they offer lots of interesting possibilities for scenarios in many time periods and scales.
Ever since gazing into those childhood fish tanks, I have long had a bit of a fascination with the kitsch nature of aquarium ornaments. There is something suitably Gothic, melancholy, Romantic (and Bronteish), out of reach or abandoned about these drowned ruins and wrecks. In many cases it’s the plain surreal weirdness and lack of taste in some of the designs, they truly are the garden gnomes of the aquarium world in their “love them or hate them” colourful and kitsch nature.
I have had one aquarium piece for years, a ruined castle frontage which was free or unwanted from a bundle of aquarium stuff that someone brought into work. It has moved from house to house or garden to garden with me over many years.
I recall seeing the shapeless uniform and beret of a National Serviceman in the Duke of Cornwall Light Infantry Museum at Bodmin and on visits with my Dad to the National Army Museum in Chelsea.
Dad told me how itchy this battle dress was and how they used to soap the insides to reduce this itchiness. It’s true – having worn battle dress trousers for a re-enactment event a couple of years ago, scratchy they certainly are! Boots were softened and broken in by peeing in them, leaving it overnight. How fragrant they must have smelt.
My late Dad as a lowly private was pretty philosophical about his National Service, talking about it 25 to 30 years after the event. He understood that what they were doing by keeping you away from family, shouting at you, making you work or fail as a platoon, not wanting to be the weakest link etc. It was all about “breaking you down as a civilian” to build you up as a soldier who follows orders without question – he understood the cult psychology of training, which somehow made it easier.
One day he was up on a charge. His crime? Having his back pocket undone, whilst lying down on rifle firing practice at targets. Why? Next time, he was told, it could be an undischarged round in your rifle when cleaning. Attention to detail.
This photo from the IWM’s National Service collection reminds me of this training story and of my Herald British Infantry figures.
It’s odd how some of these wartime or army sayings make it into family life including from someone my family their WW2 maxim that “Time spent on Reconnaissance is rarely wasted” (or “seldom wasted”).
Dad told me lots of stories of his National Service Days, but sadly I can’t remember them all now, as he died almost 20 years ago. He never wrote them down or recorded them.
Stories of navigation training and map reading, involving an army lorry drop off in the middle of nowhere, tasked to find your way home using a compass and map. Who would be home first? He seemed to enjoy this as a bit of a country lark.
Stories of sleepwalking squaddies found by civil or military police wandering naked in the centre of Aldershot, having climbed over a barbed wire fence to get out of camp unobserved – the sentries on duty that evening got a rocket for that one.
Guarding the gatehouse and camp armoury against arms theft (by the 1950s IRA?) Cycling back from leave, Dad said that you could wake the sentries up by holding your bike pump out and rattling it along the camp railings so that it sounded like a machine gun. That put the wind up the sentries!
Being in a technical trade (REME), Dad reckoned he could still strip down and reassemble a Bren Gun with his eyes closed in a remarkably short time of a few minutes. One day in the mid 1990s I saw a Bren Gun still crated, greased but deactivated. I was tempted for a few moments to buy it as an unusual retirement present. Similarly he could rattle off his National Service number many years later.
Wise words from my Dad’s National Service days
Wearing boots all the time will apparently give you weak ankles.
“Get a trade or a certificate so you have something to fall back on”, said this former REME Craftsman.
He seemed to spend a lot of his National Service time fixing the electrics of tanks and lorries – it made him very practical around the house, competent with tools and DIY, something that didn’t get passed on to his cack-handed son. He was also pretty keen if any of were thinking of joining the forces to make sure we got a trade certificate for civilian life so we had something to help us bridge life into civilian work. This was probably from his experience of his working generation of former WW2 and National Service conscripts.
As my Dad was called up in the last few years of National Service in Britain and he said that they didn’t really know what to do with them all. He spent as a result a lot of time (once technically proficient at his trade) cycle racing for the British Army and doing the Isle of Man cycle TT, training and racing to the point of boredom for his former much-loved sport. Moral of this lesson, he said: “Never make you hobby your job!”
The endless 1970s sitcoms reliving the war from Dad’s Army to It Ain’t Half Hot Mum, along with National Service RAF comedy Get Some In!, all of these brought back his National Service memories. The early Carry On Sergeant film (1958) and Private’s Progress (1956) also brought back similar memories to be shared.
The youngest photo I have of my Dad is his REME platoon passing out photo, signed by all on the back, along with his discharge papers releasing him as a National Service / Territorial Army Reservist a year or two after his National Service ended.
There are many other interesting books about National Service including:
Brasso, Blanco and Bull by Tony Thorne
730 Days Until Demob! National Service and the Post-1945 British Army by Keith Miller, 2003 (which accompanied the National Army Museum exhibition?)
Shire Books short histories: National Service by Peter Doyle and Paul Evans.
Bring Back National Service?
I have met many older work colleagues about whom you could sometimes tell that they had done their National Service in the 1950s and 1960s. Others you would never have guessed that they once passed muster and the scrutiny of a drill sergeant.
Some told you about it; some indeed thought me a bit scruffy and that I could be much improved by a spell of National Service or time at Sandhurst to smarten both me and my ideas up.
Some had had National Service colleagues injured or killed during overseas National Service. 395 National Servicemen were killed between 1945 and 1963 on active service.
Stranger still, some of my overseas student colleagues during my college days many years later were only a year or two older than me but had done national service and active service in their home countries ranging from the Middle East to southern Africa. They didn’t talk much about it. They were generally happy it was over.
“Demob happy” is still a National Service phrase that gets used 50 / 60 years later by many at work about holiday leave or moving on to a new job. Likewise “Demob Suit” for something a little garish or very old fashioned or “Civvies” as well for your non-work clothes.
In a future part of this National Service Remembered blog post, I’ll show some of the Herald figures that Dad and I used in our under the table floor wars or gardens wars (based on other postwar National Service era 1950s troops).
Many of these Herald figures look posed just like the photos from a 1955 British Army infantry training manual that I have, which no doubt formed the content of my Dad’s rifle training.
Then there’s the story of the sadness or joy of a closing suburban toy shop in the Eighties to boost my childhood Herald plastic soldier armed forces …
Happy Father’s Day!
When the Falklands were invaded, my Dad jumped out of bed convinced like much of the Nation that these Islands were somewhere off the coast of Scotland and probably wondering not only why Argentina was invading Northern Scotland but also if 20 years on he would be recalled as a Reservist for Home Defence. Now where’s that National Service / Territorial Army Discharge Certificate …
Posted by Mr MIN, Man of TIN, on Father’s Day, June 18th 2017.
More lovely Plastic pound store inspiration or more seaside plastic tat?
A useful collection of Combat Mission 80 Soldiers plastic Airfix copies per bag, some now so long copied, cloned, shrunken and ‘degraded’ that they have acquired a slender toy soldier charm of their own.
Crossposted from my sister blog Pound Store Plastic Warriors – Little Wars on a Budget.
It has been a brilliant first year. Having the blog, especially for a solo gamer, encourages you to finish stuff off, get it photographed and written up to share with others.
It’s an online diary, bullet journal, declaration of intent or New Gaming Year’s resolutions in public. It’s my reading journal, book and figure review column.
For example, having posted and photographed about my Bronte inspired skirmish in Angria this weekend, I noticed that these faded old plastic fir trees worked well enough centred on a hex (albeit attached with white tack). I have had these bashed old trees since childhood. So this week I “F and B’d” them – Flocked and Based – them.
They should continue to work well for my Close Little Wars forest skirmish rules based on Donald Featherstone’s two page appendix to his 1962 book War Games.
What have I enjoyed about Blogging?
Blogging is like an online wargaming clubor convention and a free gaming magazine, available more than monthly. I check some ‘portal’ and my blogroll sites quite often daily. In fact, my irregular consumption of gaming magazines has dropped even further. I find now when I flick through the magazines in W.H. Smith’s, that I can find much of this inspiration and advice online.
I wonder if blogging this year has taken up valuable time for gaming?
Possibly not, as I think becoming part of the blogging community as a reader or a blogger encourages you to try new things, learn new tips or rediscover old figures. It also encourages you to go completely off at a bizarre tangent like a war games butterfly in search of the new, colourful or shiny. Whoops!
Thanks to all who have stopped by and read my blog in its first year, taken time to “like” a post or have written a positive comment. I’ve really enjoyed replying, whether it has been chatting to fellow Peter Laing figure collectors, Donald Featherstone rules enthusiasts, getting tips on repairing old bashed Britain’s 54mm toy soldiers or being in contact with people who wrote inspiring articles in the games magazines of my childhood. An enduring hobby indeed!
Thanks to all those who have signed up as followers or posted a link to my blog on their sites. It is really appreciated – I can see this works in the “referrer” blog stats. Cheers!
I don’t put much store by checking blog stats regularly but for my 125 blog posts in 365 days (blimey! that’s almost one post every three days on average), over four thousand readers have stopped by once or more, leading to almost eleven thousand views from 75 different countries. Most of my blog readers are from the UK and the USA but there are also regular readers from Ireland, Canada, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, (Flanders) France and Spain. (“Over the hills and far away …”)
My occasional “little sister” blog to this one, Pound Store Plastic Warriors since September 2016 has itself attracted over 400 readers, and 1000 views.
So to James, John, Ian, Bob, Alan, Ross, Tony, Jon and many other readers … thanks!
Here’s another year of homecast or homemade figures, solo gaming, toy soldier repair, pound store plastics, portable game boards, flocking and basing, bizarre tangents, Donald Featherstone, vintage Airfix, Peter Laing figures and making the most of the stock in hand.
Here’s to some fine weather for back garden games and skirmishes in the sandpit.
Here’s to another year puzzling out the fictional Imagi-Nations of the Brontes!
Maybe I should have had a First Blogaversary cake made? Topped of course with homemade Fimo Polymer Clay “cakes of death” cake decoration mould soldiers. Huzzah!
Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN, 25 May 2017 my first Blogaversary! Huzzah!