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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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?
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.
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.
Cocktail sticks cut and shaved into shape make good simple repairs for broken rifles, once glued into place and painted.
Some of the natives in this batch needed extensive rearming, new shields and rebasing with new feet.
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.
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.
Sometimes the balance of figures is not quite right, as in the charging Tommy in the steel hat. One to rebase again!
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.
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.
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.
More pictures of my newly painted and based Northern and Southern / Blue and Grey infantry on my next blog post.
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!
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 …
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 realign 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:
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:
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:
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
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.
“It’s all about the base, about the base, no trouble”
If only all decisions or mistakes about basing or rebasing figures were so edible.
Cake seems to feature quite heavily on this gaming blog, whether it’s making your own “Cakes of Death” figures from silicon cake decoration moulds to creating palm tree islands from cake and palm tree cocktail sticks.
Previously on Man of (cake)TIN’s blog:
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
So today’s toy soldier / cake / gaming “mash up” is this natty cardboard cake topper guardsman and matching guardsman cake wrapper combo.
Sadly I can’t recall the origins of either of these cakey guards items; if I do recall the manufacturers, I’ll add it to the blog here.
(With apologies to Meghan Trainor)
Blogposted by Mr MIN, Man of (cake)TIN, July 2016.
Retail Design Worldwebsite / newsletter is an unusual read for a gamer (it informs part of my day job) but it has pages of VM (Visual Merchandising) inspirations inspired by exhibitions, shop windows and other unusual objects.
In the same way, I’m sure each gamer has their own scrap box, postcard, Pinterest board, DVD and bookshelf inspirations for their current games.
Here are some inspirations and scenarios I’ve come across whilst developing Donald Featherstone’s simplest two page rules Close Wars (Appendix 2) of his 1962 War Games, my favourite gaming book.
A keen Colonial gamer, Featherstone was focussed here on “the type of fighting that happens between small numbers of men in forests, such as in the French and Indian Wars of the late eighteenth century in America” (page 149).
My version has morphed over years into what I call “Close Little Wars“, “Bish Bash Bush” or “Bish Bash Am-Bush“, mash-up simple rules inspired by hex games, H.G. Wells, garden wargames, skirmish games and a passion for cheap plastic or glossy toy soldiers.
Scenarios of natives versus troops:
A recent Christmas book token was swiftly transformed into five Osprey books, all with Close Little Wars applications. In no particular order:
Teutoberg Forest AD 9: The Destruction of Varus and His Legions by Michael McNally Osprey Camapign 228
Close Little Wars scenarios for Airfix Romans meeting Airfix Ancient Britons. Or maybe my Cakes of Death inspired ‘Ancient Warrior’ figure?
2. Fort William Henry 1755-57: A Battle, Two Sieges and Bloody Massacre by Ian Castle, Osprey Campaign 260
3. Tomahawk and Musket: French and Indian Raids in the Ohio Valley 1758 by Rene Chartrand, Osprey Raid series no. 27
Slightly later in the eighteenth century, the Revolutionary Wars in North America provide another Close Little Wars type scenario:
4. The Swamp Fox: Francis Marion’s Campaign in the Carolinas 1780 by David R. Higgins, Osprey Raid Series no. 42.
On another continent or island, New Zealand:
5. The New Zealand Wars 1820-72 by Ian Knight, Osprey Men at Arms series No. 487
The New Zealand Wars of Pa forts and Pakeha European troops versus successful Maori natives was a period I first read about in a series of articles in Miniature Wargames (issues 27 to 29 August to October 1985) brought home for the history articles by my Dad. Andy Callan also published a short set of Maori Wars rules in Military Modelling in 1983; I never got the hang of them from the tattered magazine I bought from our school library but they had great pictures of Peter Laing figures attacking a twig stockade on shaggy deep pile carpet terrain!
Each of these Osprey books temptingly has a back page full of Related Titles on www.ospreypublishing.com Tempting but expensive. There’s always second hand, EBay or the library ….
Figures for Close Little Wars
1. 40mm HE figures Holgar Eriksonn figures from Prince August sourced home casting moulds – Cowboys and Indians, Seven Years War / 18th Century figures.
2. 30mm Spencer Smith Miniatures of American Civil War / Wild West / Eighteenth Century / American War Of Independence – first bought in plastic, still available in metal and many designed by Holger Eriksonn!
I will post a separate blog post on using these charming simple Spencer Smith 30mm figures for Little Close Wars.
3. Vintage Airfix
Ancient Britons and Romans, Washington’s Army, British Grenadiers, Cowboys, Wagon Train, Indians, Union Infantry, Confederate Infantry, American Civil War Artillery, Napoleonic troops, Airfix Gurkhas or Australian Infantry, Japanese Infantry.
Many other plastic 1:72 figures are now available for almost any period – I still have some Esci Colonial Infantry, Zulus and ‘Muslim Warriors’ from the 1980s and the Atlantic ancient Romans, Greeks, Egyptians and fabulous Wild West series with everything from teepee camps, gold mining camps, Buffaloes. All useful for scenarios of Close Little Wars.
But vintage Airfix, big and little, crumbling as some now vintage ones now, unless if you have the recently reissued Hat or Airfix, remain for me the standard figures for conversion or play.
Pound Store Warrior Knight
Pound Store Warrior Knight
4. Pound Store plastic Cowboys, Indians, civilians, ‘ancient Warriors’ Romans and Knights. Usually in 54 mm scale.
Little Close Wars Terrain – not seeing the Wood for the Trees:
Donald Featherstone raided his Southampton garden for his early gaming materials:
“Trees can be purchased in plastic that look very real and are quite cheap. They can also be made from loofah sponge or from plastic dyed green and stuck onto pieces of twig, or there is style of lichen moss available that makes wonderful trees. When Wargames started in the writer’s house, trees were made plentifully from pine-cones dyed green and fixed to the table with a daub of plasticine. ” Donald Featherstone, War Games, 1962, page 41.
Featherstone’s Close Wars appendix terrain list is pure garden, park and woodland finds, a proper Nature Table.
If not blessed with a suitable garden source, there is an Australian company Bold Frontiers who make a range of trees to complement its Armies in Plastic forest rangers and other figures http://www.boldfrontiers.com.au
We started with books to inspire interesting figure game scenarios, so let’s end this post with another interesting link on the Bold Frontiers website. As scenarios go, they have an interesting reading list for boys (and girls?) of all ages:
I admire their slogans and ethos for a new generation of younger gamers, effectively saying to parents buy these for your kids as “the Great Alternative to Digital Games“. Bold Frontiers claim that “Boys can STRETCH their Imaginations and live the Adventure” (Boys? What about girls, including H.G. Wells’ “more Intelligent sort of Girl who likes Boys’ Games and Books“.
They subtitle their Bold Frontiers site with a slogan close to my garden / gaming heart: “Bring the great outdoors, indoors!”
So get offscreen, grab a bag of poundstore figures, raid the garden and get gaming!