The true meaning of toys?

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Penguin Books Image The Toy Makers

“A secret has been revealed, and I finally understand the meaning of toys, something my papa learnt long before me. When you are young, what you want out of toys is to feel grown up. You play with toys and cast yourself an adult, and imagine life the way it’s going to be.”

Yet, when you are grown, that changes; now, what you want out of toys is to feel young again. You want to be back there, in a place that did not hurt or harm you, in a pocket of time built out of memory and love. You want things in miniature, where they can be better understood: battles and houses, picnic baskets and sailing boats too.

Boyhood and adulthood – any toy maker worth his craft has to find a place to sit , somewhere between the two. It’s only in these borderlands that the very best toys are made.”

The Toymakers, a novel by Robert Dinsdale (Penguin, 2018), p. 256/7

My current reading  – half way through – is The Toymakers, a fantasy / magic realism book set in a magical winter toy shop in Edwardian London up to and into the First World War.

The book blurb aims for the Harry Potter market – “If There were a toy shop on Diagon Alley it would be the Toymakers” – and I can imagine the film makers who made the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts movies would enjoy recreating this world in CGI.

Here in the Emporium,  a refugee European Toymaker  Papa Jack and his two sons Emil and Kaspar Godman  compete in both love and Toys, including “The Long War” fought between brothers through their alive (clockwork?) handmade toy soldiers.

The  realism part of the magic realism steps up a pace when the First World War breaks out, Emporium staff join up, white feathers are handed out and at first, toy soldiers became the patriotic gift to give to small boys.

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But what would happen as the war ground on? I often  feel this looking at this WW1 era magazine scrap in my eclectic and chaotic collection

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/12/06/toys-from-the-scrapheap/

We all know what happened in reality to William Britain’s toy soldiers and their post war shift to more civilian Toys like farms, Wild West, gardens and railway figures.

Set at a time when H.G. Wells was writing Floor Games and Little Wars, those charming touchstones or portkeys to a vanished toy past, I would not be surprised if Mr. H.G. Wells turns up …

Links to  the Penguin books site featuring and extract and an interview with the author on the magic of toys and how the book came to be written.

https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/111/1113668/the-toymakers/9781785036354.html

https://www.penguin.co.uk/articles/2018/robert-dinsdale-magic-of-toys.html

and some reader reviews.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34846987-the-toymakers

I will post a fuller review when I have finished reading both this and rereading of Pauline Clarke’s 1960s book, the Bronte toy soldier inspired The Return of The Twelves.

And now for some simple wooden Christmas magic …

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Boom! Some new battered Toy Soldiers and cannon from my Christmas gifts. Magic!

Blogposted by Mark Man of TIN 6 January 2019.

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Little Wars Revisited 16th March 2019 54mm Gaming Day

March 16th 2019 – Little Wars Revisited 54mm Games Day, Woking. 

http://littlewarsrevisited.boards.net/thread/172/lwr-forum-2019-games-day?page=1

http://mikelewis.info/littlewars/?p=642

Some good looking games shown on people’s blogs last year – You can see pics of 2018 at Brian Carrick’s blog:

http://toysoldiercollecting.blogspot.com/2018/03/little-wars-revisited-54mm-in-woking.html

and at

https://wargaminggallimaufry.blogspot.com/2018/03/the-little-wars-revisited-54mm-day-in.html

Not sure if I will make it along but Mike Lewis the organiser mentioned promoting the event to 54mm gamers via our blogs. So here goes …

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN on  4 January 2019

New Gaming Year Irresolutions 2019

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Last January I set  out five  irresolute things that  I might or might not do in my gaming hobby for 2018.

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2018/01/01/tell-it-to-the-unicorns-new-gaming-year-irresolutions-2018/

I have achieved only a couple of these, becoming busy with new gaming and toy Soldier projects as is the way.

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NGY 2018 Irresolution One – Carry on Converting

January was all this on Poundland’s penny dreadful figures https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2018/01/28/pound-store-plastic-figure-conversions-and-comparisons/

Success! Lots of this happened and figure repair on Broken Britains took over mid year.

NGY 2018 Irresolution Two – More solo short small skirmish games

Very few of these, as my games table was usually covered in Broken Britains but some enjoyable games such as:

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2018/02/25/pound-store-colonial-skirmish-parts-1-and-2/

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2018/11/30/mountie-ambush-game-15mm/

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NGY 2018 Irresolution Three – Paint More Peter Laings

Apart from Deutsche Afrika Korps paint conversions, a handful of Mounties was all the Peter Laings I managed to paint.

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2018/02/24/peter-laing-15mm-ww2-dak-desert-africa-korps/

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2018/11/25/peter-laing-15mm-mounties-on-the-painting-table-rcmp/

I did even less or next to nothing about the next two.

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Pax Romana? A quiet year for my Peter Laing 15mm Roman Command Group (painted by Stuart Asquith!)

NGY 2018 Irresolution Four – Full Metal Hic Jacet – Whoops! did nothing this year.

NGY 2018 Irresolution Five – Return to Planet Back Yarden – I seemed to spend all year enjoyably preparing for a 42mm or 54mm Garden Skirmish that never properly happened.

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Repairs and repainted 54mm figures with the intrepid Colonel Fazackerley

As I mentioned “It should be fun to look back in a year’s time to find out what shiny distractions cropped up during the New Gaming and Painting Year of 2018”. So what happened and how did 2018 go so  enjoyably awry? 

January 2018 – more pound store conversions (see Irresolutions 1) –  on target so far

#FEMbruary 2018 – I didn’t expect this challenge of painting and collecting believable female models ranging  from Bad Squiddo Land Girls to Suffragette Conversions from Airfix footballers https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2018/02/18/fembruary-2018-progress-so-far/

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March 2018 – #MARCHing bands continued #FEMbruary activities – way off target already

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2018/03/31/marching-for-votes-for-women/

More centenaries in 2018 (WW1, Votes for Women)  included two very different toy soldier folk such as Spike  Milligan (April 17th) and Donald Featherstone, who would have been 100 on 20 March 2018.

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2018/03/03/featherstone100-donald-featherstone-centenary-20-march-2018/

In March and April 2018, some unusual WW1 anniversary themes that were “Not On The Western Front” started to creep in, ranging from Portuguese and Bulgarian infantry to later in the year Belgian Cycle troops.

I could blame Marvin over at Suburban Militarism for much of this distraction.

https://suburbanmilitarism.wordpress.com 

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May 2018 saw the gift arrival of some Broken Britain’s from John Forman, which set off a spate of 54mm figure repair including someone’s toy soldier metal detecting finds.

This repair bench activity continued throughout June, building up repaired and repainted  54mm Skirmish natives such as American Indians and Zulus.

July and August 2018 saw a switch to 54mm aircrew and aircraft conversions. A lot of this was focussed on preparing for garden games that never happened this year.

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2018/07/26/tsaf-aircraft-repaint-part-1/

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2018/08/12/tsaf-new-flying-banshee-biplane/

and a quick return to (almost) #FEMbruaryish female figure repairs and reprints, thanks to The Duchy of Tradgardland.

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2018/08/01/the-duchess-of-wellingtons-own/

August 2018 saw a brief dip of the toe in the waters of naval wargaming thanks to some eraser ships – maybe something to come back to in 2019?

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2018/08/23/featherstone-and-co-naval-war-games/

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August 2018 – I reached the heady heights of 50 blog followers. What I most enjoy about this is that many of them are regular readers who take the time to comment on the blog posts.

And from the 51st follower, I learnt another new little history nugget, one of several  this year.

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2018/08/06/black-birding-and-the-reverse-underground-railroad/

Other such 2018 discovery of history nuggets to inspire scenarios include:

https://sidetracked2017blog.wordpress.com/2018/09/18/the-faked-railway-explosion-that-led-to-war-the-manchurian-or-mukden-incident-china-18-september-1931/

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2018/12/09/man-of-tin-advent-calendar-day-9-the-russians-are-coming-1873-new-zealand-hoax/

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2018/10/01/auckland-invaded-1873/

September 2018 – more repairs and 54mm conversions, along with an outbreak of skeletons on my other blog Pound Store Plastic Warriors

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2018/09/08/skeletons-sir-farsunds-of-em/

October 2018 was distraction by scratch buildings

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2018/10/14/from-old-digital-radio-to-54mm-houses-and-coastal-gun-emplacement/

November 2018 saw the passing of Thor Sheil and Stan Lee, more coastal forts and a looming commando theme for 2019?

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2018/11/30/kaskowiski-1873-inspired-scenario/

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December 2018 was an Advent Calendar madness of blogposts every day on very varied topics, a good way to finish off part drafted blog posts accumulated over several years. Everything from punk rock singer Toy Soldier collectors to Victorian toy soldier scraps!

So what next for 2019?

Several Irresolutions from 2018 to carry forward and possibly ignore.

NGY 2018 / 2019 Irresolution One – Carry on Converting (and repairing). I have a whole desk full of these hollowcast casualties to keep me busy …

NGY 2018/19  Irresolution Two – More solo short small skirmish games

NGY 2018/19 Irresolution Three – Paint More Peter Laings

Linked to

NGY 2018/19  Irresolution Four – Full Metal Hic Jacet – if I can find my Ancients Skirmish Mojo.

NGY 2018/ 19 Irresolution Five – Return to Planet Back Yarden – those 54mm space figures won’t paint themselves, you know!

Not forgetting all those American Civil War / Colonial / War of Independence figures who need finishing off and basing to fight skirmishes in the garden and tabletop against those Broken Britain’s Zulus and American Indians. All inspired by Wells’  Little Wars and Featherstone’s Close Wars rules.  All of these duel purpose figures with a Bronte inspired ImagiNations twist of Angria Gondal and Glasstown, if real world, button-counting / ethical history proves too awkward. The Brontes! Arise Angria!

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Donald Featherstone’s Wargaming Airborne Operations (my childhood copy) and John Curry History of Wargaming Project at the recently published Commando follow up has lots of distractions to answer for!

Chuck in some likely shiny distractions such as conversions for Secret Project SFStrange Fruit Wars, some commando raid inspired skirmishes, lots more blogging and a bit of hot metal pouring (homecasting), who knows how the year will go?

I look forward again to reading everyone else’s foolishly optimistic Irresolutions and all your New Year of Gaming and Painting adventures.

It’s all for the love of Toy Soldiers!

Happy New Year!

Don’t forget – further distraction  from your own resolute tasks exists at my other occasional toy soldier and gaming related blogs

Sidetracked https://sidetracked2017blog.wordpress.com

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Pound Store Plastic Warriors https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com

And our Year reviews https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2019/01/01/colour-schemes-for-imagi-nations-uniforms/

Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN / Pound Store Plastic Warriors blogs, 31st December 2018 / 1st January 2019.

The Brontes!

 

Christmas Parade by the Guards Band

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Not quite 11 pipers or 12 drummers this year but a good turn out by the plastic Guards Band.  A Wendal stowaway civilian farmer watches the Parade.
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Spot the odd recent Timpo remakes, recently painted in gloss acrylic.

The Christmas Parade this year is mostly the old Lone Star / Harvey series (the stocky ones with the squareish bases) in various states of original and repaint  or their TIMPO recasts in fresh glossy acrylic.

No Scots or Irish  pipers this year (save that for Hogmanay!) and this is as many as could fit on our mantelpiece with tinsels and lights mixed in. Plenty of bandsman left in the box for another Christmas parade.

Eleven Pipers piping popped up last Christmas

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2017/01/05/eleven-pipers-piping/

alongside twelve drummers drumming

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2017/01/06/twelve-drummers-drumming/

Mixed in you might spot the odd Crescent / Kellogg’s Guards bandsman, a couple of  aluminium Wendal Salvation Army bandsmen in peaked caps and even one hollow cast Guards Band figure.

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Our parade centrepiece is this three jolly guardsmen Christmas card illustrated by Clare Wilson for the Museums And Galleries collection. 

Our parade centrepiece is this three jolly guardsmen Christmas card illustrated by Clare Wilson for the Museums And Galleries collection. Some of my blog readers that I have been in postal contact with about toy soldiers might even have received one of these cards in the post!

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All watched over by a friendly giant robin redbreast  …
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All fifty eight bandsmen on Parade.

I hope you had a happy Toy solder filled Christmas ready for a happy Gaming New Year.

I will post some of my new toy soldier or gaming arrivals over the almost Twelve days of Christmas or  “Twixmas” as this next week or so are becoming known.

Blogposted by Mark Man of TIN on Boxing Day Twixmas 2018.

Man of TIN Advent Calendar Day 17 – Favourite Gaming Figure # 2

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Another favourite gaming character is this dynamic WW2 Desert British officer, his paintwork a little worse for wear. Veteran of many battles!

He could be leading an attack or part of an artillery crew.

This figure is 54mm / 1:32 scale, made by Crescent in plastic in the 1960s.

To repaint or not repaint?

Back in 2016 I posted my first favourite gaming figure which led to contact with plastic figure converter Doug Shand and his blog.

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/06/15/favourite-gaming-figures-1/

Here are some inspired and unusual Doug conversions:

http://dougssoldiers.blogspot.com/2012/08/dollar-store-thirty-years-war.html

http://dougssoldiers.blogspot.com/2013/03/more-thirty-years-war.html

Posted by Mr. MIN, Man of TIN, Advent Day 17, 17 December 2018.

Man of TIN Advent Day 15 – Hit the Beach, Tiger!

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A trip a few months ago to a Tiger store brought a few gaming related purchases, including these plastic beach boats. Painted grey they should make useful converted landing barges for 40 to 54mm figures including my Pound Store plastics.

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Once I have added some ledges of balsa for crew (mocked up here in cardboard), gunboat style  sandbag cover for the bridge tower and LC Letraset number letter decals, this should work well enough.

Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN for Advent Day 15, 15th December 2018

Advent Calendar Day 14 – Army Men Around the House with Gareth McGorman

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I subscribe to the Michigan Toy Soldier Company blog and amongst the product reviews is occasionally a funny or quirky post or blog link.

Back in August 2017 they placed a link to blogger Gareth McGorman and his model soldier versions of miniature artist Slinkachu.

 http://michtoy-from-the-front.blogspot.co.uk/2017/08/farleys-figurs-of-week-159-army-men.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed:+blogspot/wfMeu+(From+the+Front)

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Gareth’s work reminds me of what might have  happened if H. G. Wells’ Little Wars or Floor Games were happening in a modern house. It’s a WW2 Miniatures version of Toy Story with a dash of The Borrowers. I like visual jokes playing with scale. You also realise behind each quickly glanced at shot is hours and hours of model making.

Gareth’s work in 2016/17 can be found in various sites including

https://www.facebook.com/littlearmymen

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Gareth’s work can be found on Facebook but also on his WordPress blog

The  Facebook header picture of Tommies dug in, camouflaged with the dry earth, really captures the imaginative nature of childhood playing with toy soldiers, down at ground or floor level, out in the garden …

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Some of the recurring figures in Gareth’s work …

2016 posts http://armymenaroundthehouse.blogspot.co.uk

2017 posts https://armymenaroundthehouse.wordpress.com

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Enjoy! Now you know what the tiny men (and women) get up to when you are out of the house or not looking.

Remember – They were only following orders …

Blogposted by Mark Man of TIN on Advent Day 14, 14 December 2018.