May 25th 2017 my 1st Blogaversary!

 

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Marche ou Creve! Peter Laing 15mm French Foreign Legion advancing (F651) around old dead tree hexes, relics from former gardens. Initially the sand was too damp and did not take well to PVA first time around so will need to be redone. Heroscape hexes.

Happy Blogavesary to Me! Happy Blogaversary to You! 

May 25th 2016 was my the date of my first Man of TIN blogpost, all about Pound Store Warriors.

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/05/25/pound-store-wars/

A few months later Pound Store Plastic Warriors was created in 6th September 2016 as a separate sister blogsite https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com 

It seems much more than a year.

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.

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Lone Warrior in the pine woods – 15mm Peter Laing Boer advancing rifle at trail (F622) moving through my freshly flocked and fixed “impassable” forest hexagons.

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.

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Before …  fir trees hastily tacked on to a hex. Ashantee archer warriors attack Angrian infantry and dragoons.

What have I enjoyed about Blogging?

Blogging is  like an online wargaming club or 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.

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Mountaineering and fighting in the pine forests, feather in cap, 15mm Peter Laing Italian Alpini Infantry advancing warily (F722?) from his First World War range.

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!

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Repair and repaint back to box fresh and shiny for these Homecast and Hollowcast figures.

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!

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Pound Store Plastic Warriors given the glossy toy soldier treatment, May 2016.

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!

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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!

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Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN, 25 May 2017 my first Blogaversary! Huzzah!

 

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Of Semaphore and Signal Towers

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From Clementine box to fortified signal tower ….

I have posted two new posts on my sister blog Pound Store Plastic Warriors,  all about the fun of making this semaphore signal tower for coast, mountain or desert from available scrap, a suitable toy soldier type fortified building for 30 mm to 54mm figure games.

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2017/05/17/scratchbuilt-desert-or-coastal-signal-tower/

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Some of my Peter Laing 15mm British colonial troops and heliograph. 

Some of the design ideas came from researching the fascinating history of flag and flash, semaphore and heliograph, which forms the subject of  my second post here:

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2017/05/17/by-heliograph-and-semaphore/

Blog posted by Mark, Man of TIN, May 2017.

 

Fimo Figure Failure Fun

Brian Carrick, blog author of the brilliant Collecting Plastic Soldiers blog, http://toysoldiercollecting.blogspot.co.uk  wondered whether the Prince August 54mm chess toy soldier pawn figures that I featured this week would work in Fimo polymer clay.

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2017/03/17/prince-august-chess-pawn-toy-soldiers/

Would this work in Fimo, Brian wondered?  Would it be both cheaper and lighter?

I said I would Have a Fimo Go! (If you are reading this in America or elsewhere, Fimo is the equivalent to Sculpey Polymer Clay).

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I wasn’t expecting much and was sadly proved right. Using a block of slightly old red Fimo, I rolled out, softened or warmed this through the hand rolling and then an appropriate size chunk inserted into one half of the mould.

I chose the simplest of the Prince August chess set moulds that I used this week  – the Alamo American Infantry pawn figure.

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Fimo Figure Fail?

Putting the the second half of the mould on and squeezing them together, on removing the figure, it was clear that it had only partly worked. The face and front moulding was mostly there, the hat not quite.

The back was missing the lovely detail of knapsack and powder horn.

There was some detail but lots of spare Fimo flash  to trim in the form of a big moulding line.

With more care this could be lessened if the amount of Fimo were reduced.

With care a knapsack could be added which I have done to add 3D roundness to other flatbacked 54mm Fimo figures.

Rather than build up the figure with detail, I baked it at 110 degrees for 30 minutes then trimmed of any spare Fimo and the mould line with a scalpel.

With a bit of paint, a bit of trimming and a bit of detail added to an already baked figure (you can rebake and add to  Fimo like this), a passable figure could be made. The hat could be built up or trimmed to a battered kepi.

However if you have the ability to cast as intended in metal, this is surprisingly simple and fast.

Brian Carrick wondered how they compare in terms of weight. The Prince August chess pawn figure weighs in at just under an ounce of metal, the Fimo figure with twopence base for stability, about 5 grms (most of which is the tuppence coin!)

You could also work out cost in terms of an ounce of Prince August metal versus a small lump of Fimo.

Fimo Figure Fun Or Fail?

In the first months of Man of TIN blog, I featured several Fimo soldier figure experiments including using simple silicon Cake Dec mould Soldiers (my Cakes of Death battalions) and fun  Fimo freestyle or freesculpt figures.

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/05/27/more-diy-gaming-figure-making/

This was one of my first Fimo failures, as I reinforced the body around a cocktail stick which led to cracking. I had not learnt that you can bake, add detail and rebake etc.

Over cooking at the wrong temperature was another Fimo failure and gives off not nice fumes and the figures distort badly.

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Arise Angria! The Rising Sun banner of the Bronte kingdom of Angria.

This battered and cracked figure eventually found a role, painted up initially as some kind of Confederate standard bearer, he now carries the newly designed  flag of Angria, one of the imaginary kingdoms created by the young Bronte sisters.

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The way we wore – this is how the figure first looked on the blog back in May 2016 after a little tinkering. (I don’t use  Green Stuff / Milliput in my house as some of my household are allergic to it).

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Unpainted, cracked – Fimo failure or a bit of fun?

Fimo failure but fun!

Blogposted  by Mark, Man of TIN, March 2017.

 

The Old Toy Soldier Remount Department

There are old soldiers and there are bold soldiers, but there are no old, bold soldiers, as the saying goes.

I always feel a bit sad seeing the lead graveyard of damaged toy soldiers that is sometimes EBay.

Repairing horses or cavalry is very tricky. Infantry are less tricky, if you are not too fussy, although many companies like Dorset Soldiers will do a fine job for you but at a cost. Recast heads and arms are available from several companies.

There is surprisingly little information on the Internet about repairing old broken lead soldiers.

I have been working my way through some of the casualties that have turned up in job lots of vintage toy soldiers to give them some gaming life again. I’m not one for a soldering iron or even Milliput / Green Stuff. This is not family friendly for us to use in our house as we have allergies to this Green Stuff in the family.

What else could I use to repair these damaged warriors?

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Three fantastic Johillco (left) and Britain’s rifle brigade (?) and Zouave figures charging or running at trail, all well worth repairing.

What puts toy soldiers literally back on their feet in our house is Fimo or Sculpy polymer clay.

Crude, but using the traditional matchstick or cocktail stick into the hollow of the damaged legs, it is possible to make a custom made ‘prosthetic’ Fimo base to support the balance or weight of the damaged figure.

30 minutes baking later and once cool, the figure can be glued back into position on its Fimo base. Two pence pieces make good weighty support bases.

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Not sure of maker (Taylor and Barrett?) but with a repaired gun and new feet/ base, this interesting figure is ready for action after a future repaint. 

Overly chunky Fimo supports can be disguised if flocked or Fimo / Sculpy remains slightly shaveable with a scalpel after baking.

Once these bases are painted and the feet painted in, they should look slightly less clumsy but at least they are sturdy and live to fight again! With a few new arms bought in and a bit of repainting where needed, they should look almost shiny and new, certainly enough for the odd tabletop or garden skirmish.

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Johillco line infantry left, Britain’s metal and plastic Herald kneeling, Airfix Japanese and postwar Crescent British Infantry –  a range of plastic and lead figures from different makers and historical periods rearmed very simply with shaved cocktail sticks. Back into action soon with a little repaint.

Cocktail sticks cut and shaved into shape make good simple repairs for broken rifles, once glued into place and painted.

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Two damaged Zulus, on left a Reka / Crescent Prewar Zulu, the other Johillco (missing shield and arm as well as foot!

Some of the natives in this batch needed extensive rearming, new shields and rebasing with new feet.

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Two repaired Natives joined by some of my recently repainted Second grade Britain’s Zulu figures.

These natives are part of a slowly growing force of natives, one I have  repainted from bashed and damaged Zulu figures in job lots, ready for skirmish gaming.

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This delightful Britains drummer boy needed a new hand and drumstick. The plastic figure is a plastic Guards band figure with a new Fimo helmet to trim  to match a strange joblot  bunch of marine bandsmen with hats carved out of busbies!

One or two figures still need to have Fimo hands added like this Grenade thrower or hands / gloves shaved down into size like this drummer boy.

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This Johillco grenade thrower may well become a standard bearer, possibly  repainted for Imagi-Nations but keeeping the simple face.

Sometimes the balance of figures is not quite right, as in the charging Tommy in the steel hat. One to rebase again!

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Well worth the effort of rebasing / repairing feet to bring these Johillco bugler and lovely Britain’s artilleryman back into action. More work is required on rebasing the charging Tommy with steel helmet.

Really pleased to have found a simple method of repairing of rebasing damaged figures. I will post some updated figures when these damaged figures are repainted or finished.

Posted by Mark, Man of TIN blog, 18 November 2016.

Peter Laing 15mm blog photographer

Following up my “favourite Peter Laing figure?” Blogpost,  I asked knowledgeable enthusiast  Ian Dury about 15mm Peter Laing figures  whether Peter Laing had ever made a 15mm photographer figure, knowing how much Ian and others liked his Victorian Parade Range.

As far as Ian was aware, Peter Laing hadn’t made such a figure, so the natural thing to do was a quick conversion.

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Peter Laing tiny 15mm photographer conversion with Northern infantry in the background beyond the bridge. (Photograph / figures/ Man of TIN)

A colonial British infantry heliograph operator in pith or foreign service helmet  (A605) made a good basic figure for a photographer with his tripod. The addition of a tiny black plastic Qixel cube or square bead roughed in for the clunky camera or early cine film apparatus. Until I find a smaller cube, it’ll do.

I let this tiny ‘blogs of war’ photographer loose on the my portable game board  ‘battlefield’ of an impending North / South skirmish to take the combatant’s pictures. I think some time travel will be required if he is to document other such skirmishes.

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Our tiny 15mm Peter Laing blog photographer focuses in on Southern troops (F3009) advancing, led by a scratch-built Fimo polymer clay standard bearer with his home spun Southern flag. (Pictures / figures: Man of TIN)
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Our tiny photographer captures this image of Butternut Southern infantry (F3010) heading into action. The famous Peter Lang sheep can be seen in the background near the Northern infantry.  (Photograph: Man of TIN blog staff photographer)

 

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And again in colour …

More pictures of my newly painted and based Northern and Southern / Blue and Grey infantry on my next blog post.

Posted by Mr MIN, Man of TIN, August 2016.

 

Cakes of Death Guardsman

 

 

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1970s cake decoration plastic Drum Major (photo / figure: Man of TIN)

This 30mm white plastic cake decoration guardsman was around when I was a child, whether  I hope a left over ‘treasure’  from a family birthday cake or maybe just part of a random jumble sale bag.

I can’t recall his origin but this Drum Major  was too big to fit with my other figures, so I kept him aside in my odds box.

The idea of a parade or band of these marching over a cake seemed highly appealing.

I always loved the decorated cakes on display in our local bakery window. Beyond the reach of most ordinary families in the 70s and 80s,  who did you know who had a ‘boughten’ birthday cake from a shop? I recall staring for many years at the same  pale green and white line iced football match cake with players and goals. Clever but by then very very stale!

It was also fascinating to rummage through the boxes and boxes of cake decorations in bakers or stationers, but they were pretty expensive for such cheap and badly painted plastic. Seemingly the boxes always seemed far too full of wedding cake figures or ballerinas, rather than useful, convertible figures for gaming.

Sadly I have yet to find an online museum of vintage cake decorations to find out more about this Guards Drum Major.

Fimo / Polymer Clay and Resin figures online now seem to have replaced these cake decoration selections in shops. Some of these offer creative possibilities!

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/06/22/bearskin-cake-of-death-warriors/

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/05/27/back-to-basics-toy-soldiers/

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/05/27/more-diy-gaming-figure-making/

The silicon cake decoration moulds around online now prove pretty handy for a range of gaming figures or tokens – from guardsmen to nativity shepherds and cowboys and Indians, lots of polymer clay and gaming play possibilities.   If you like your figures on the cartoon, game token or ‘toy soldier’ side …

Defend the Cake Tin!

Posted by Mr MIN, Man of TIN, July 2016

 

Tintin and Imagi-Nations Games

 

imageOne of the things I like about Tintin are the interesting ‘Euro’ nations and enemies that Belgian author and illustrator Herge created as foils for his intrepid young reporter detective Tintin.

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

Great uniforms amongst enemy troops, but as a child I couldn’t work out why the Police in Tintin for example of what I took to be a supposedly British / English setting for Captain Haddock of Marlinspike Hall looked so odd.

Had Herge (I wondered as a child) never been to Britain? Slowly as I got older I realised that Herge was drawing mostly European / Belgian settings and that the books are translated all over the world.

This  ‘Glocal’ World (both Global and Local) of Herge in translation has strange villains and fake euro Imagi-Nations such as Borduria in the Calculus Affair and the regime of the villainous Kurvi-Tasch with his strangely fascist moustache logo on his very Nazi looking generals, troops and 1950s looking tanks.

Even though Tintin goes back to the 1940s, to me his books are the ‘Funny Little Cold Wars’ of the 1950s and 1960s in graphic novel / comic strip version,  akin in style and feel to the early 1960s James Bond movies with the suave and stylish Sean Connery and his menacing enemies.

A range of plastic Tintin figures / key ring figures is available online in various sizes.

Great inspiration for some enemy troops as shown with generic enemy  “red troops” or “red guards” in my Back to Basics DIY figure making blogpost:

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/05/27/back-to-basics-toy-soldiers/

 

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Unfinished faceless hordes of red guards based on a 1950s US Barclay podfoot dime store lead figure representing ‘enemy troops’, defending the secret base of whatever enemy regime or Imagi-Nations you choose (photo/ figures: Man of TIN)

Tintin should prove equally good inspiration  for some paint conversions of Pound Store Warriors from modern / WW2 green / toy army men.

So why not make up your own Imagi-Nations, uniforms and all?

If Tintin is not your gaming thing, then there is of course Asterix and this fabulous wargaming Asterix and the Romans website http://romansgohome.blogspot.co.uk

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Fictional Enemy, Threat or Aggressor Troops  

Making up your own enemies, uniforms and all isn’t that far from the truth.

The Milihistriot Website (c/o Sheil family USA website) has an interesting section with coloured plates of threat, enemy or “aggressor” troops with adapted uniforms from military exercises:

 

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Green crested helmet enemy troops as just one example of some colourful training enemies from a 1964 MIlihistriot article soldiers of Never-Never Land by James Glazer,  based on US troop manuals. These are archived at: http://www.thortrains.com/online/aggressor1.htm

Examples of 30-101 / these US troop manuals can be seen at:

https://ia600302.us.archive.org/4/items/FM30-101/FM30-101.pdf

http://www.alternatewars.com/WW3/Trigons/FM30_101_1959.pdf

The fictional (Esperanto speaking!) aggressor troops had a white ensign or badge with black triangle.

http://www.thortrains.com/online/aggvehicles1.htm

These manuals have obviously inspired many of the imaginative paint finishes and uniforms on the Sheil range of vintage home cast Toy Soldier Art figures. More have been created on the same principle at their Spy Troops page: http://www.thortrains.com/online/spytroopies.htm

 

Herald infantry (like those from my family collection above) had ready made plastic ‘enemy’ troops made briefly in what the Sheils call ‘Berlin Gray’, http://www.thortrains.com/online/berlinggray.htm

http://www.thortrains.com/online/Berlin%20Grays%20%20and%20Spies.htm

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Atlantic 54mm plastic soldiers, a junk shop find. (Figures / photos: Man of TIN)

Back to Tintin and Imagi-Nations

The Tintin / Calculus Affair  Kurvi-Tasch troops also have a look of the strange Atlantic modern troop figures that occasionally and erratically  appeared in shops in the 1980s, featuring an odd sort of  Euro army appearance. They looked strangely foreign, even futuristic on occasion (not quite American, not British and not German). Only later did I discover that they are meant to be Italian / Euro troop types. Atlantic figures and their strange box art are well covered in the Airfix’s Competitors chapter of my much-thumbed copy of  Airfix’s Little Soldiers by Jean Christophe Carbonel (Histoire & Collections publishers, 2009). Some of the Atlantic figures were recently reissued by NEXUS.

Happy Imagi-Nations Gaming!

Posted by Man of TIN, June 2016.