It took several weeks, even a month or two before any reader comments appeared. I presume I saw some views and reader stats, otherwise this could be very dispiriting for a fledgeling blogger.
Part of the pleasure of blogging is the many comments, emails and even conversations in person that the Man of TIN blog has led to over the last five years.
Donald Featherstone’s quote from my favourite Wargames rules book since childhood War Games (1962) has served well to summarise my approach to “Toy soldiers, gaming, Imagi-Nations” as my Blog strapline says:
“There is a great deal of satisfaction in making one’s own armies, either in their entirety or by conversions.” (Page 21)
“Part of the fun of being a war gamer lies in the making of one’s own soldiers as distinct from purchasing figures of different sizes obtainable from makers in various parts of the world.” (Page 18, War Games)
Although I had been involved in regular blogging for work projects since 2008 and also buying toy soldiers online on EBay since 2008, it took another eight years to develop my first toy soldier blog.
By the time that I started Man of TIN blog in 2016, some veteran gamers such as Bob Cordery (2008), Alan Gruber Duchy of Tradgardland (2007) and the Emperor vs Elector blog group (2009 or earlier?) had been blogging for almost a decade.
Without Whom – thanks!
Although my blog is essentially a personal scrapbook, journal or Work in Progress diary made public , my blogaversary is also an opportunity to thank my loyal, passing and occasional blog readers and comment writers. Thanks gentlemen and ladies for your kind words and challenges.
My Spin-off and Sister Blogs
As well as establishing separate pages within Man of Tin blog for H.G. Wells’ Little Wars, Bronte ImagiNations, Roman 15mm games and Scouting Wide Games (now itself a spin off blog), there are now several sister or spin off blogs from which to crosspost.
Fairly quickly my Man of TIN blog had spin off blogs for different materials and to spread the megabyte heavy photo content across several WordPress Free 3GBs.
And Man of TIN Blog Two, established in 2020 for when Man of TIN blog 1 is (very nearly) full of its Free 3GB WordPress limit, which will be within the next few months / this year? Man of TIN blog will then continue its weekly blog life there.
I don’t check blog stats often or have a page / view counter thing, likewise across on my sister blogs. So far by w.c. May 24th 2021, a surprising 157,000 views by 78,000 people have stumbled across my Man of TIN blog and hopefully been distracted from something useful if only for a few moments.
A small number of readers return on a regular basis. If you are one of them, thank you!
Why Wednesday evening is a popular reading time, I have no idea – Hump Day at work? Halfway through the week, dreaming of the weekend hobby? I’ve no idea why 29 May 2018 was a two thousand+ views day either.
The next five years 2021-2026?
I wonder where the next five years of blogging will take me and the other bloggers I regularly read?
Forward towards 3D printing and computer assisted gaming (touted since the Wargames Manual 1982/3)? Maybe.
Backwards or retro to Old School, 60s Airfix nostalgia, back of a postcard rules, flats and hollowcasts? Much more likely.
Forward Men! Going forward and back, back, back … for the future!
5th Blogaversary post by Mark Man of TIN, 25 May 2021
Spotted this ad online last January 2019 and screenshotted it as an interesting future idea of a Fimo polymer clay smart looking Guards regiment of snowmen? Sadly by the end of 2019 staff on South Western Railway are on strike.
Fantasy snow warriors and violent gingerbread men already exist as can be seen in this seasonal post at Rabbitsin My Basement blog
GAmerica, America … no this is not a post about the Women’s World Cup.
To celebrate the 4th of July, here is a short blog post on the Marx Boy Scouts Of America figures. Of which I have exactly – one. No idea why I have it, it’s just part of the family collection.
Researching early Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts for my Wide Games on the tabletop, I frequently come across references to the American branch of the scouting family. They developed in different ways in a different culture than how scouting and guiding happened in Britain.
After 40+ years I have finally painted a fragile survivor in my family / childhood collection, what I discovered to be a Marx 54mm to 60mm Plastic Scout. He used to hang out with the Cowboys in my childhood games, his fragile scout hatchet long gone.
This fragile old figure needs a final coat of gloss acrylic, to get that toy soldier look, then final varnishing. There are some good details to pick out such as a torch or rope loop on the belt.
I could drill through the hand and insert a Boy Scout staff or stave but I think he is probably too fragile for this. Part of one foot and the base have already gone.
I often wonder how we acquired just a single American plastic scout figure. I never remember any others as a child.
Coming from a scouting family, he might have been bought by or given to my cub master Dad. He might also have come from a 1960s / 1970s job lot of odd plastic figures that my late Dad bought for us all (c. Very Early 1970s) from a neighbouring family when their boys were grown up and beyond such childish things. (This stage thankfully hasn’t happened to me or many of my blog readers yet).
Here is a glimpse of the gorgeous tin club house, a tiny part of a large and interesting Marx website. Looking through this website, I realised that I have or had no other Marx figures in my childhood toy collection. This makes the single Marx Boy Scout more of a mystery!
I don’t have many female miniatures or toy soldiers. The Queen, the odd nurse or land girl, a few female pioneers or Wild West Civilians. None of them are quite like the scantily clad Phoenix Phollies Figures (Phigures?) that lurked expensively in the back pages of Military Modelling magazine in the Eighties, near the latest Peter Laing adverts. You could (and I did) buy a small 15mm Peter Laing army for the cost of one of those female (or male fantasy) figures.
Marvin of the Suburban Militarism Blog sometimes features femalesoldiers including recently Serbian WW1 women soldiers
Maybe #FEMbruary this year is extra special because it is the 100th anniversary of The Representation of the People Act on 6 February 1918 / 2018.
This enfranchised or gave the vote for the first time British women over 30 who qualified as property owners etc and British men over 21. To match the men without property who could vote, the women’s vote would finally be widened to all women over 21 in 1928. About blooming time!
Women partly earned this long-fought-for right because of their contribution to the war effort in WW1 stepping into many professions that had previously been denied them as men were called up.
How could you conscript and sacrifice the lives of large numbers of working men in the name of democracy, when these men without property didn’t have the vote back home?
A surprisingly large number of women died on the Home Front in munitions, air raids and overseas on active service through enemy action and disease.
This is the focus of the WW100 commemoration this year with the First World War Centenary Partnership and the Imperial War Museum.
#FEMbruary, Women, fantasy and gaming?
The Fantasy gaming world has more female gamers than the historical gaming / wargaming community. There are a few female Wargames bloggers such as Tamsin P. , “That mythical beast – a female Wargamer!”of the Wargaming Girl blog http://wargaminggirl.blogspot.co.uk
and also Victoria Dickinson at Vicky’s Crazy Wargames World blog with lots of unusual fantasy / historical gaming (Wormingrad? Fabulous Fimo fantasy figures?) http://crazywargames.blogspot.co.uk
Gaming has also had (in the past?) some fairly unrepresentative or oversexualised female miniature figures, something that is being challenged by the ‘Dice Bag Lady’ Annie Norman who runs Bad Squiddo games.http://badsquiddogames.com
Annie produces some interesting WW2 Russian women soldiers, British Land Girls and Women’s Home Guard figures, but in 28mm, unfortunately not one of my current gaming scales.
“The number one aim for Bad Squiddo Games is to create and supply the miniatures that would have made the hobby far far better for my 10 year old self. To welcome more young girls and women into wargaming and miniature painting, as well as providing diverse options to the entire gaming community. And yeah – cool toys!” Bad Squiddo website
What can Man of TIN do to mark #FEMbruary and the WoMan of TIN?
At a risk of distorting my New Gaming Year Unresolutions 2018
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!
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.
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).