Bronte Imagi-nations Maps

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Branwell Bronte’s Map of Glass Town (British Library / Museum)

I am still slowly piecing together the complex history of four sibling’s imaginary lands and islands.

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Glass Town Federation with Angria added by Christine Alexander – really a map of West Africa. Map from

Christine Alexander the Bronte scholar has imaginatively sketched in where the kingdom of Angria should be, seen here in close up:IMG_3226

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Informative Key to Christine Alexander’s enhanced map of Angria and Glass Town from her Oxford University Press edition of the The Brontes: Tales of Glass Town, Angria and Gondal (OUP 2010)

There is no map by the Bronte family for the  Gondal sagas, set partly  on Gondal, a fictional island in the North Pacific which seems to be based largely on Yorkshire. So I drew a rough outline one.more detail will be required for when I set some skirmish gaming scenarios there.

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My Map of Gondal. Rough sketch from my notebook of a map of the Four Kingdoms of Gondal, using a Yorkshire map and the colonial habit of adding ‘New’ to familiar place names back home.

So that is where the map is roughly based on the four North, East,  South and West Ridings of Yorkshire.

The Bronte sagas are rather lush and overblown, a bit Gothic and tediously muddled in parts. After all it is their Juvenilia. Some of their adult novels have survived better (Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre etc) with their Byronic brooding charcters, mad wives from slave islands in the attic, gothic houses, etc. All quite difficult to take seriously though. At least Jane Austen took the mickey in Northanger Abbey out of the fashion for Gothic novels and the products of a fevered girlish or literary imagination.

I have changed my view of Jane Austen and the Brontes since reading more about the historic events and Georgian / Regency social background in Jenny Uglow’s In These Times that I mentioned in a recent blogpost https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2017/02/02/in-these-times/

I like the fact that it was a box of wooden soldiers that kick started the Bronte sagas.

Often seen as early science fiction or RPG material, a paracosm or alternate world, if the Bronte family had been born at the end of 19th Century and played with tin or lead soldiers then I’m sure it would have been more Floor Games and Little Wars … like another famous science fiction author, H.G. Wells.

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Arise Angria! The Rising Sun banner of Angria.

There is a charm in the Mad Geography of inventing tropical pacific or African coastlines and islands but making them all moodily, ruggedly, mistily like the wild Yorkshire landscape that the girls knew.

In the next week or so I hope to post a potted history of each of the Bronte’s Imagi-nations. 

I find the Bronte juvenile sagas and poems hard going because they were never published in their lifetimes,  never edited and probably never meant to be read outside the family. Lots of events and character detail is implied, not stated or written down. The tiny books were split up and sold off by dealers. Usually scholars look at them for clues to the origin of their published novels and characters.

For the Gondal and  Gaaldine sagas, the prose stories by Emily and Anne seem to have vanished and only really Emily’s poems to and from different characters remain. I think the longest surviving sister Charlotte may have destroyed the most Gothic / romantic sections with multiple partners, affairs and children out of wedlock parts of them.

Gondal is set on a North Pacific island of four kingdoms. The other island Created by Emily and Anne Bronte is Gaaldine. Gaaldine is a South Pacific island or islands of six kingdoms, settled and interfered with by the ruling families, royalists and revolutionaries of Gondal, and presumably the original natives. I have not yet drawn the Gaaldine map.

For the GlassTown and Angria saga more prose remains, based loosely on a map of West Africa but with European offshore islands and Regency / Naplenoic era heroes.  I have been skim reading some of the prose surviving sections for geographical clues to places to enrich the map, jumble of characters etc.

Troubled brother Branwell Bronte had more violent revolutionary and military storylines, often ones that had to be altered or revised by his sister Charlotte when he killed off characters whilst the sisters were away at work or school. Emily and Anne got fed up and invented Gondal and Gaaldine as their own kingdoms.

I like the Prisoner of Zenda type Ruritanian or even Fredonian aspects of the sagas.

Confused?

If it all gets too complex I will fast forward the nations through to the mid to late Nineteenth century when the established characters have largely died off or been deposed.

Lots of Royalists and revolutionaries abound, as befits the Bronte family growing up in the immediate aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars and new European nations forming and being fractured by revolutionary times throughout their lifetime. These  were the times the Bronte family were born into and wrote through and into the late 1840s.

Previous Bronte inspired Gaming blog posts  https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2017/02/17/ashantees-or-zulus-reborn/

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/06/12/the-brontes-games-scenarios/

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2017/01/04/brontes-waterloo-soldiers/

Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN, March 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.

 

Prince August chess pawn toy soldiers

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The 54mm Alamo Chess Set pawns from Prince August –  ‘pewtered’ by applying then quickly  wiping off black paint before it dries. Small casting error on one of the rifle butts to repair.

 

A special  offer or ‘promotion of the month’ for March 2017 on the Prince August website led me to try these Alamo Chess set pawns at a reduced price, which I bought alongside their American Civil War and Napoleonic chess set pawn moulds.

http://shop.princeaugust.ie/chess-sets

These 54mm toy soldier chess pawn moulds in silicone rubber are available separately from buying the whole chess set moulds.

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An interesting selection of 54mm figures

These figures cast well and cleanly, using Prince August Model Metal,  aside from the occasional glitch on the Alamo American figure rifle butt which is easily repaired.

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Close up of the background and front of some of the  Alamo and American Civil War chess pawn figures Home cast from Prince August moulds.

By mixing the sets together, a varied Confederate or Union type Army or Militia can easily be created. I like the powder horns on the Alamo figures, and think that these could serve for figures from earlier periods than the Alamo.

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Close up of the Napoleonic moulds 54mm chess pawns alongside the Alamo Mexican infantry figure (Prince August).

These figures with different paint schemes will bulk out the ranks of any 54mm toy soldier army.

Officer figures are included only in the whole Chess Set of moulds, admittedly on a slightly raised base. These bases could of course be adapted or removed. Alternatively other suitable figures could be used.

Standard bearers should be easily created from the rifleman figure by adapting the musket into a flag standard.

These figures are of course great for “Imagi-nation” games with some alternative paint work.

Slender of build as these chess pawns are, I was concerned how they matched up to other 54mm castings. Some castings from home cast and vintage moulds seem closer to 50mm.

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Size match with 54mm Prince August chess pawn soldier Napoleonic British Infantry compared with (left to right) homecast red greatcoated infantry, Britain’s Napoleonic British, Prince August 54mm saluting Guards officer (my Man of TIN gravatar)  Herald Lifeguard, my Fimo Guards officer, Herald Guardsman. 

However in a quick line up with other manufacturers , they match these slighter figures and my previous castings from metal home cast moulds well enough.

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Prince August chess pawn soldier Imperial Guard Napoleonics prove a reasonable size match for other 54mm figures (left to right) Britain’s AA Patrol, Airfix Imperial Guard, Britain’s line infantry and Guards marching, Herald Lifeguards. 
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54mm American Civil War chess pawn Soldiers size match for other manufacturers including (left to right) my Fimo Union style Infantry, Herald confederate bugler, Britain’s Line Infantry (repainted). 

Perefect for parades, perfect for gaming – lots of possibilities.

Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN, March 2017.

Army Red and Blue home castings simply painted

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Twa  Bonny Lads – homecast Highlander firing, repainted Britain’s Highlander charging

 

Back around January the 25th (Burns Night) I tried out some new vintage metal home cast moulds including this Highlander firing.

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2017/01/25/burns-night-casting/

He got stuck in the mould, despite using release powder, but cleaned up nicely.

The face is not very detailed but he has a fine vintage toy soldier look. There is a distinctive casting line but not too much flash.

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The original Highlander home casting. 

There is not much fine detail in the mould, whatever type of casting metal is used.

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Simple paint scheme to suit a simple home cast figure. The Britain’s Highlander has a repaired rifle, again using the shaved cocktail stick method. 

I like this Highlander enough to want to cast more. A row of them firing would look a fine addition to any wargames table or garden skirmish, despite the casting line running across and obscuring any facial detail.

Another vintage metal  mould casting on the same day was this curious greatcoated steel helmet figure, a little in the small side at about 50mm.

Again this was a figure with some casting problems (hollows in the chest or backpack) but with lots of conversion potential, especially if heads were exchanged. There was more flash than you would expect from a modern home cast silicon figure, requiring a bit of filing. The rifle also failed to fill out on one or two castings.

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2017/02/03/more-homecasting/

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The Homecast steel helmeted guardsman. 
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Army Red and Army Blue paint options of this Home cast figure. 

The steel helmet is oddly cast enough that it could with little filing be turned into a bush hat, or a head swap or replacement arranged.

Superb as the Prince August 54mm multipose 54mm traditional toy soldier range are (choose the head, body and arms you want)   I also like the simplicity of a single figure mould sometimes.

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The slightly hollow pack in one  and chest on the other can be seen here. 

A useful and versatile figure to cast more of, and one that suits a simple gloss toy soldier paint scheme. I imagine he was intended to be painted khaki.

Not sure of the Home cast manufacturer.

Blogposted by Mark, MIN Man of TIN blog, March 2017.

 

The Remount Department # 1 – Army Blue

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Army Blue troops after repair and repaint  –   Johillco buglers, Herald Guardsman kneeling firing on Fimo base and a modern Home cast mould version of Guardsman en garden alongside an original hollowcast version. 
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Emerging shiny from the box, a set that never existed – Army Blue troops

Here are more of the damaged and paint bashed play-worn scrap or repair figures to join Army Blue (as H.G. Wells would call them).

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These are Imagi-Nations paint schemes, channeling mixed uniform influences of American Civil War Union infantry, Danish Guards and late 19th Century Belgian, Prussian and Danish Infantry.

Some of the Blue Danish Guard inspiration came from John Patriquin of the Wargame Hermit blog, which I have successfully used on past Airfix HO/OO Guards figures. http://wargamehermit.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/distracted-once-again.html

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/06/06/more-redcoat-toy-soldier-inspiration/

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/06/19/airfix-british-redcoat-infantry-1960/

 

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Close up you might notice a range of Army Blue troop types.

Above: The first two were once Britain’s Redcoat Guards marching with rifles at slope, followed by  two Britain’s Redcoat Line infantry, a Fimo base repair to a damaged footless US Marines figure, (Home cast?  type) Officer with pistol and one of my recent Home cast infantry.

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From the back  – The simple white belts,  equipment and cross belts show up more than practical black and gives a proper toy soldier look.

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Basing and Painting 

A variety of basing can be seen, experimenting with bases for these soldiers to be part of future Close Little Wars skirmish games on the games table or in the summer garden.

Four of them are based on 2p coins, although I am still experimenting with the best adhesive. Wood Glue might not be strong enough. Whilst it was still wet and white, I mixed in some flock to see how this worked. Flock basing is not very traditional toy soldier but then the two pence bases are practical, suitably light but weighty enough, inexpensive and more importantly, to hand.

http://wargamingmiscellany.blogspot.co.uk/2010/01/single-figure-bases-cheap-bases.html

Figures still need their final coats of varnish and any final details.

I wanted to get a shiny factory  first-grade  everyday paint look, not overpainted with fine details, to look as if they might once  have appeared from a toy soldier factory.

Failing to find an acrylic Gloss flesh, the faces were a Matt Flesh Revell acrylic mixed with some of their Fiery Red  Gloss and some Revell Clear Gloss. The Matt Flesh in itself is too pale.

Eyes and moustaches were put in with cocktail sticks. Other fine line details such as chin straps and cross belts were put on using the fine points of cocktail sticks as well.

The Before Photos

The original state of some of these figures can be seen in the following ‘Before’ photo, before restoration, repair and repaint.

Rather than strip them back to bare metal, I gave each figure a quick wipe over to remove ancient play-dirt and dust and then used several layers of Revell Gloss Acrylic for depth of colour.

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Part of my Christmas horde of figures to repaint and repair. Some require new heads and arms to be ordered.

Some of the unusual colour schemes such as the green bonnet and kilt legs and red coat Highlander will stay as they are, for future reference.

Some of the half finished figures can be seen on a previous blogpost:

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/11/18/the-old-toy-soldier-remount-department/

More rescues and remounts from the Lead Graveyard …

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Damaged and second grade paint quality figures from my Christmas horde – some will appear in the Army Red blogpost.
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Emerging Shiny from a Toy Soldier Box Set that never existed – as shiny as the day they were first made – Army Blue troops.

A sneaky peek at some of their shiny renewed Redcoat opposition saved for another blogpost:

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I really like the Army Red White inspiration over at the Tradgardland  blog: Guaaards!

http://armyredwhite.blogspot.co.uk/2016/03/guaaarrdds.html

Blogposted by Mark, MIN Man of TIN blog, March 2017.

‘Soldiering On’ wargames poem by Elvis Mcgonagall 2007

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Elvis Macgonagall poem, Saturday Live Programme, Radio 4, 30 June 2007

A friend of mine who knows I collect Toy Soldiers passed me this Elvis McGonagall improvised performance poem about toy soldier collectors and wargamers.

I think I like the first four lines or maybe the fourth line best “(despite his creaky knees)”

Elvis McGonagall is a Scottish poet and stand-up comedian, notable for poetry slam performances and performance poems.

It came from the programme website of Saturday Live Radio 4 broadcast with Fi Glover, archived here

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/saturdaylive/saturdaylive_20070630.shtml

It mentions the outgoing PM Tony Blair in a hawkish connection and was obviously written around the time of Harry Pearson’s Achtung Schweinhund being published, as he is interviewed on the programme.

On some devices that run .ram files you can hear the archived Harry Pearson “Secret Lives” section interview that inspired the improvised / spontaneous poem and Elvis’ performance of this poem.

The Soldiering On poem is archived on the BBC radio Saturday Live website Elvis Mcgonagall poems for  30 June 2007

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/saturdaylive/elvismcgonagall.shtml

but haven’t found it anywhere else including on Elvis’ website  http://www.elvismcgonagall.co.uk

Enjoy!

Despite his creaky knees …

Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN blog.

 

Ashantees or Zulus Reborn

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A pile of Zulus and natives ready for the painting table …

Recently I have been experimenting with using Revell Gloss Acrylic paints as they are not as smelly as the Matt Humbrol or Airfix enamels that I used in the past.

Just one whiff of enamel paint brings back happy memories of childhood and teenage years busily painting in a tiny fume filled room.

A spot of gloss painting is a change from several post Christmas weeks of  “F and B”, Flocking and Basing (or rebasing)  vintage Airfix and Peter Laing figures.

I am finding  it difficult to get a dark brown gloss Revell acrylic for painting savage natives defending their tribal lands against imperialist  aggressors.

Whilst I have been doing this, several interesting batches of Zulus have popped up in wargames blogs.

Ross Macfarlane on his Battle Game of the Month blogpost has been busy these last few days battling with some impressive Zulus. http://gameofmonth.blogspot.co.uk/2017/02/the-published-portable-wargame-pt-3b.html

The Michigan Toy Soldier Company blog has also featured some impressive looking plastic 54mm Zulus from Expedition Force:

http://michtoy-from-the-front.blogspot.co.uk/2017/02/tom-starks-plastic-passions.html

My fierce but motley playbashed bunch of Britain’s natives have been slowly collected together over several months  from job-lot, damaged,  scrap or for repair lead hollowcast figures bought mostly through EBay. Such damaged figures  have little value to collectors. So it doesn’t really matter if I repaint or repurpose them.

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Original paint play bashed or palely repainted, ready for the brown gloss paint.

I bought some Humbrol Gloss  Brown Number  10 and used this only very briefly on a couple of figures before I got fed up of the fumes  … not very family friendly!  Next time I will paint with these enamel paints outdoors or with doors and all the windows open.

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The end gloss results look promising already, even before gloss varnish, and suitably toy soldier like.

Shield designs aside, a suitable weapon such as a spear needs to be added to the hand. I have tried filing and adding a wire spear but on first attempt it did not stick.

These chunky Zulu figures are second grade Britain’s figures that were sold in A Series sets or singly. The fragile  knobkerry on each of these figures is usually found broken, the original is shown in Andrew Rose’s excellent The Collector’s Guide to Toy Soldiers (Salamander 1985/97).

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Zulus with arms – Detail from Page 89 of Andrew Rose’s The Collector’s Guide to Toy Soldiers (Salamander, 1997)

Andrew Rose’s book also shows various arm versions of the Britain’s classic running Zulus of Africa Set 147, 1906 to 1959 and another version of the set into the final Britain’s lead year of 1966.

Handy to see these more slender Zulu figures as shortly  before Christmas I bought a Britain’s Zulus “jigsaw  puzzle” in the form of a  job-lot of bashed legs, bodies and bases. This should keep me busy fixing throughout the year. Recast Britain’s type arms with spears or even rifles from firms like Dorset Soldiers http://www.dorsetmodelsoldiers.com

or GBE Toy Soldiers spares will be handy here

 http://www.gbetoysoldiers.co.uk/sparescatalogue.html

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A Britain’s Zulu “jigsaw puzzle” ready for repair and repaint.

Interestingly these loincloths on these jigsaw Zulus seem to have been painted by their owners in stripes and spots for a more tribal animal skin look.

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Spotty or striped loincloths added by owners? on these Britain’s Zulus.

Britain’s used to indicate ‘native’ or ‘non-uniform’ troops by using at random three basic colours of yellow, red and blue for clothing  –  “The loincloths were painted in three different colour schemes,  as Britain’s always did for native troops or irregulars who might not be expected to wear uniform.” (Page 107, Britain’s Toy Soldiers 1893 -1932 by James Opie, published by Victor Gollancz, London, 1985)

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Rough repair and rebasing using polymer clay (Fimo / Sculpey) of a Britain’s running Zulu and (left)  Crescent Zulu A162, a former Reka product.

Not sure whether to preserve (if  I can) the strange ‘Black and White Minstrel’ style extraordinary face painting on some of these Britain’s Zulus.

Not sure yet what to do with the shield designs as I don’t really intend these  to be Zulus, rather more Generican Natives or Ashantee tribes.

Ashantees?

In the Bronte juvenilia of Glasstown and Angria, these tribes are the savage Ashantees.

The Bronte family juvenilia stories feature various tribal forces such as generic ‘Arabs’ or also Ashantee warriors, for their map of their Glasstown Confederacy and Angria ‘Imagi-Nations’ was based on West Africa, the natives based on early 19th Century journals and prints (pictured in the blogpost shown below)

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/06/12/the-brontes-games-scenarios/

The Ashantees are led against Angria by the fictional Quashia Quamina Kashna, son of the equally exotically named King Sai Too Too Quamina.

Quashia was adopted as a baby by the Bronte’s fictional Duke Of Wellington and a rivalry grows up between Quashia and his stepbrother Zamorna, Wellesley’s eldest son who becomes King Of Angria.

Quashia and several Western characters successively invade Angria including Branwell Bronte’s fictional alter ego  ‘Northangerland’, Ardrah (who opposes the creation of Angria by Zamorna) and MacTerrorglen.

Confused? So am I, still slowly figuring out the complex and intricate Game of Thrones style cast of characters and events created  over many years by the young Bronte sisters and their brother Branwell. If it proves too difficult to create scenarios, I may keep the places but fast forward the Bronte  “Imagi-Nations” a few decades clear of the Bronte’s main fictional characters that populate their  Gondal, Angria and Glasstown sagas.

Stranger than fiction?

This fictional story of Quashia is not that dissimilar to true stories of how native princes were assimilated, educated or westernised such as Alamayu, the son of Theodore, King of Abyssinia (buried in 1879 at Windsor Castle Chapel and commemorated on a plaque by Queen Victoria). Alamayu  was captured in the Magdala Campaign of 1867-68.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prince_Alemayehu   This  Wikipedia entry links to original Victorian photographs.

The Magdala campaign in what is now modern day Ethiopia is described in fascinating detail in Ian Hernon’s Britain’s Forgotten Wars: Colonial Campaigns of the Nineteenth Century  (Sutton, 2003), republished as  a compilation of a trilogy of Hernon’s books. You may have also read this as the first part of the trilogy previously published by Ian Hernon as ‘Massacre and Retribution’ (Sutton, 1998).

So the Bronte juvenile stories, albeit fictional, are not much stranger than some real life Nineteenth Century events.

The  Bronte family Gondal stories (devised by Emily and Anne) are based on North and South Pacific islands (mixed with a bit of Yorkshire for good measure!) so the islands of Gondal (North Pacific) and Gaaldine (South Pacific) no doubt have their own tribes.

Illustrations from the Ashanti Empire Wikipedia entry show left an Ashanti warrior and right one with a simple musket and powder horn.

Plenty of scope for many interesting scenarios. That’s why I’m keeping the figures “Generic” rather than “Zulu”.

Still lots of lovely repair and repainting work to do … I will post photos of the finished results.

Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN, February 2017