Recalled To The Colours – 54mm metal detectorist’s toy soldier finds restored to fighting condition

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How these figures looked once I cleaned them of the earth and mud, much  as they were found over many years by a metal detectorist.

A week or two ago I shared photos of how my inexpensive purchase of a metal detectorist’s finds of battered old toy soldiers were cleaning and shaping up. https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2018/05/07/more-dumb-soldiers-in-the-garden-the-clean-up-operation-begins/

Alongside repairing some other Broken Britain’s figures, I have been painting and restoring these wrecked figures to gaming and playable condition  or fighting fitness.

The aim is to give them the kind of glossy toy soldier factory painting bench finish that they might once have enjoyed.

Ahoy Sailors Ahoy!

A small Royal Navy Landing party restored from earth battered bodies.

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The Britain’s sailor figures as they cleaned up, still with blue paint, alongside a complete example in my collection. The other torso with swagger stick is possibly  Crescent Models?

Two bashed sailor bodies required a lot of restoration, although some of their original  blue paint remained. These Britain’s sailors were once proud part of either the prewar Royal Navy Reserve set 151 or the second grade paint set Royal Navy Bluejackets Set 49N, an attractive simple fixed arm figure like one I have in my collection.

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Sailors and Guardsman  Repairing or restoring legs with matchstick and cocktail stick wrapped round and round in masking tape, then sealed with paint.

Legs were repaired or restored  with matchstick and cocktail sticks,  wrapped round and round with masking tape, then sealed with paint.

The sailor figures  had no base and feet remaining. Fimo bases were made, fired and  painted to match my other Britain’s figures which are mounted on 2p pieces.

A 1mm hole was drilled through the shoulder where the rifle is broken off to insert some 1mm metal to rebuild a barrel. This was thickened to rifle size again by winding a small width of masking tape around it.

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Two restored sailors alongside my original Britain’s sailor figure for reference.

Two sailor’s heads with different hats were found in my bits box,  both recasts from Dorset Soldiers, and the neck  and sailor scarf area built up on each one to take these heads.

These figure repairs need to be stout and strong as they will once again be in tabletop  action or campaigning in the garden, H.G. Wells’ Little Wars style, albeit without firing real projectiles at them.

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I do not use Milliput due to a family allergy,  instead I use the masking tape, matchstick and Fimo (polymer clay) method of repair. I also do not yet know how to solder such small figures.

The pink or red cheek dot on the faces is a useful gloss paint toy soldier style trick. Nothing very Military Modelling or realistic about this type of face.

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I worked on the swagger stick torso figure and made this figure out of him, using a peaked cap Prince August 54mm Toy Soldier head that I had previously cast in one of their traditional toy soldier moulds.

He got one of the disembodied pair of legs with puttees, along with a separate wooden leg. This (Crescent Models?) figure’s  body is curiously rather short in the arms!

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Guards! Guards!

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Comparing these two metal detectorist’s finds with original Britain’s  Guards figures in my collection.

These Guardsmen needed both leg and rifle repairs.

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Guardsmen on the left, preaparing new Fimo feet and bases to fit a 2p coin base. On the right are two more Broken Britain’s figures from John Forman, Khaki Infantry  on guard in Steel helmet and Boer War Gloucester Regiment in Khaki firing set 119. I will feature these two groups in future blogposts.

Two of the broken figures were clearly Britain’s Guardsmen marching and firing.

After preparing new legs as required, replacement bases were made from Fimo (polymer clay). Metal replacement bases can be bought for some footless damaged Britain’s figures from companies such as Dorset Soldiers or GBE Toy Soldiers. As these are being repaired back to gaming or  fighting condition, rather than restored to red box display condition, I thought Fimo and tuppeny mounted bases like my other restorations were suitable, as well as cheaper and to hand.

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A temporary spare original head whilst I wait for a recast one to arrive.

Until some suitable recast Guardsman heads arrive, I am showing these figures with a spare loose fusilier or guards busby head.

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Restored Britain’s Marching Guardsman with repaired wooden matchstick right leg, new feet and base and new rifle. The head is a temporary spare original head from my bits box. 

As these old soldiers are special, restored to life and recalled to the colours, I have given several of them suitable status with various stripes as Corporals and Sergeants / NCOs.

My favourite figure of this bunch so far is one of the most wrecked figures whom, with the addition of a Dorset recast bare head and moustache, I have made into a brave bare-headed Battling Sergeant.

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This bareheaded “on guard” pose reminds me of Victorian Battle paintings.  I have painted this brave fellow with the yellow facings (colour and cuffs) of the Buffs (East Kent Regiment), one of the popular Britain’s Toy Soldier Line Infantry Regiments.

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This Sergeant  matches two of the Buffs “on guard” figures amongst the Broken Britains figures recently given to me by John Forman, whose broken rifles I  have repaired.

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Compared to what he was a few weeks ago, he’s looking quite handsome! I like the fact that his painted red coat is still showing even after years in the soil and now sits within his new red gloss Acrylic painted tunic.

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A new pair of legs and new rifle repaired.

Next task – watch this space

Amongst the next figure challenges from amongst the metal detectorist’s finds are these fine kilted colonial Highlanders by Britain’s and John Hill Co. (Johillco).

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New legs, arms and heads needed for these three damaged Highlanders.

I would love to know their previous history, past battles and how these battered toy soldier figures ended up in the earth to be found by metal detectorists decades later.

Great fun, I am really enjoying this quiet, slow and colourful restoration work.

Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN, 20 May 2018.

 

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Broken Britain’s Cavalry Back on Fimo Hooves

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Huzzah! A tiny patriotic Victorian crowd celebrating Royal Weddings, Empire Day and so on – 15mm Peter Laing Late Victorian Parade Range  Civilians. 
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54mm Broken Britain’s Cavalry as they were on arrival …

A tiny Royal Wedding cavalry escort  …

In a previous post I wrote about beginning repairs on some 54mm Broken Britain’s figures kindly donated by toy soldier collector John Forman.

First I repaired the two Khaki Yeomanry Cavalry by pinning hooves back onto legs and repairing a missing leg with a wire armature and masking tape leg.

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2018/05/03/the-remount-section-gets-a-visit-from-the-lead-vet/

I have now stoutly repaired the other Household Cavalry Life Guard horse, which was missing a lower leg and two hooves, so could not stand up.

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Drilling into the missing lower leg, again a 1mm thick wire was inserted at the right sort of angle. Masking tape was then wound round in strips and glued as I went.

Finally Fimo polymer clay (Sculpey in the USA) was moulded to make stout, stable and secure hooves for the three legs.

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Three hooves and the back left leg now repaired. Reins need repainting red.

Once baked for half an hour in the oven, I fixed each of these Fimo  hooves on with superglue. It is still possible to carve Fimo after firing or baking, so I trimmed these slightly to keep them stable but bring out a slightly more slender hoof shape. Not too slender though as they need to be stout enough for use in tabletop or garden gaming, H.G. Wells Little Wars style.

Further Acrylic Gloss paint seals and hides  the joins.

These horses will then sit well on a thin balsa base each for stability whilst gaming.

Once a recast arm has arrived from Dorset Soldiers next week (they emailed to say they had had production delays), I will finish repainting the Life Guard. This looked like it had been overpainted long ago but thankfully the original face is in good condition.

The fourth horse, a Life Guard officer’s rearing horse, needs a recast arm and head but at least the tail repair was simple using Fimo, then repainted gloss black. I also repaired a missing Zulu foot with Fimo while I was about it as well.

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Work is underway on repairing the jigsaw of limbs that are some Broken Britain’s Zulus  that I bought last year, along with some broken rifles  of John Forman’s Broken Britain’s Infantry donation and also of the metal detectorist’s finds that were in a pretty bashed and buried condition when I bought them.

More posts on Broken 54mm figures as they are completed.

Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN on Royal Wedding Day 19 May 2018

 

Airfix WW2 Kits and WW1 Figures limited reissues 2018

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Screenshot, not an active link.

Look them up at http://www.Airfix.com shop section Vintage Classics 

https://www.airfix.com/uk-en/shop.html

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Limited edition May 2018 Announcement and currently on Pre-order:

The 1:76 / 20mm Airfix WW1 figures and WW1 British Tank are back, along with a selection of classic WW2 tanks, lorries and guns. There are also a few classic ship models.

A limited few 1:76 OO/HO WW2 figures are already on sale.

All good classic figures and kits for WW2, WW1 games and Conversions for  Wargames.

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Screenshot of classic kits and figures

Grab them while you can.

Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN on 14 May 2018.

Fixing Broken Britain(s) Part 1 – Three Charging Highlanders head out for a coffee

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Recently toy soldier collector John Forman very kindly sent me a small box of “Broken Britain’s” from his family collection which were otherwise going for scrap.

Some had lost heads, bases, hooves, rifles and arms from being played with by John and his father before him, these were the battered toy soldier veterans of  battles going back from the 1960s into the 1930s.

Three Charging Highlanders 

One such casualty amongst John’s Broken Britain’s figures was this charging Highlander. He had come off his base and had previously also lost his head.

I love this pose and pick these figures up at reasonable price if I ever see them. In addition to these three new repaired ones, I have about ten to fifteen Highlanders  of this pose  in various regiments to repair to make a small mixed unit.

In some cases I was repairing previous repairs, such as the  traditional head repair of sticking the head onto a matchstick and glueing in place. This repair from many years before needed resticking.

Using a fine 1mm drill bit and hand drill (or pin vice) bought from Prince August, I drilled into the Highlander’s leg and inserted a short piece of 1mm stiff garden wire. If you run out, paper clip wire will do as well.

Drilling through the ankle right through to the base, it was then easy to fit leg to base, secured with a tiny drop of superglue.

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The wire pin securing the leg to to the drilled foot or base on this attractive running  Highlander.

To secure the weak ankle join into place, as these figures will be fighting tabletop or garden battles again, at the risk of slightly thicker looking ankles, I wrapped a thin bandage of masking tape around the glued and pinned ankle.  A thin smear of superglue supports and seals the join. This masking tape ‘sock’ can later be painted in an off-white to match the other of the white spats or gaiters, worn over black shoes. The red tops to the white spats are tartan red socks

Two other Highlanders in John’s scrap pile had intact bases but broken rifles.

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Moustaches on these Black Watch faces suggest they are prewar / pre 1940 figures.

Out came the 1mm drill again  and I drilled behind the rifle and hand into the body to secure a long piece of wire to make a new rifle barrel.

Alternatively you can clip or file the rifle back to the hand and drill carefully into this hand to anchor your wire rifle barrel, but there was enough rifle here on these two Highlanders not to want to lose this original  section.

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Wrapping a small piece of masking tape tightly round and round the barrel bulks out the 1mm wire to the desired rifle thickness and also gives a rough base for painting. I usually put a very thin line of superglue on the wire first to secure the first fold / wrap and then to seal the final fold. This stops the masking tape unravelling later on.

Looking at the surviving paintwork, some of the Highlanders seem to have an all gold or bronze painted rifle. I continued this colour scheme but painted an undercoat of black on first before putting on the top  coat of  gold or bronze.

I usually use Revell Aquacolor  Gloss Acrylic paint  (the square tubs) as they are low odour, dry fast and any brushes wash out easily enough, especially with a spot of washing up liquid. Unlike enamels, I find a second coat of Acrylic is usually required for good deep colour. They colour mix well enough and can be thinned with water.  My current mixing palettes are plastic milk bottle tops.

The paint condition is playworn but reasonably good, with an attractive patina of past battles,  so apart from painting the feather bonnets and hackles again, as this is where a figure is usually picked up, I have left them much as they arrived.

Which Highlanders are which Highland Regiment?

The repaired broken ankled figure with yellow cuffs or facings is an Argyll and Sutherland Highlander, Britain’s Set 15 produced in this style from 1903 onwards. The dark green kilt has light green stripes, according to Andrew Rose in his excellent book The Collector’s Guide to Toy Soldiers.

Our broken example has yellow facings on collar and cuffs and red kilt stripes, suggesting a Seaforth Highlander (James Opie, Britain’s Toy Soldiers 1893-1932).

The Black Watch have black cuffs or facings, a red hackle or plume in their bonnets and dark green kilts with black hatching or stripes.

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Three Charging Highlanders of the Composite (Camp Coffee) Highland Brigade restored, rearmed and returned to fighting fitness on their tuppeny bases. Ready for action, Ready Aye Ready! *

However to get them battle ready, I based them on tupenny (2p)  pieces. British 1p and 2p coins minted after 1992 are also slightly magnetic, handy if you use magnetic strip in your basing trays, travel or storage boxes.  I attached the figure base to the coin with hot glue gun adhesive. The tuppeny base gives good stability during a game, storage and transport.

To cover the coin colour, I painted any coin metal that was still showing in several thick coats of chrome or sap green acrylic to near match the original Britain’s green base paint. A simple bright green base easily gives that old toy soldier look as the pink cheek dot on a toy soldier face. The faces on these figures had survived well and were quite ruddy cheeked. Being pre-war  figure, they had the dapper dignity of a moustache painted on before Britain’s stopped this on routine figures postwar.

The repairs may not be pretty on parade but they are designed to be robust enough for handling in war games as H.G. Wells and Britain’s  intended.

More Broken Britain’s to be featured in future blogposts.

And now Mancraft mending time  over for the day, it’s time for coffee …

Having a mixture of Highlanders that I don’t want to repaint over the original facings (colours, cuffs) and mixed tartans, I have merged them all (“Royal Regiment of Scotland” style) into one Composite (Camp Coffee) Highland Brigade, following the inspired lead  of Bob Cordery as he did did cleverly on his blog with his The Works sourced Cordery’s Composite Cavalry Brigade: 

http://wargamingmiscellany.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/corderys-composite-cavalry-corps-expands.html?m=0

Composite (Camp Coffee) Highland Brigade? 

* If you’re puzzled, Camp Coffee is not their Regimental Barracks, though it probably will become so. Camp Coffee is the Victorian liquid coffee essence, the one still with the Victorian style label Highlander and Indian seated drinking coffee together, although originally the Indian was a servant or batman. Their motto for this instant coffee and chicory blend? Ready, Aye  Ready!

According to Wikipedia, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camp_Coffee

“Legend has it that Camp Coffee was originally developed as a means of brewing coffee quickly for military purposes. The label is classical in tone, drawing on the romance of Empire. It includes a drawing of a Gordon Highlander (allegedly Major General Sir Hector MacDonald) and a Sikh soldier sitting together outside a tent, from which flies a flag bearing the drink’s slogan, “Ready Aye Ready“. That was also the motto of the Frontier Force Rifles of the old British Indian Army, and the Frontier Force Rifles, now part of the Pakistan Army, still use the motto. In this context, the Scots word “aye” has the meaning of “always” rather than “yes”, and indicates, in the case of the drink, that it is “Ready Always Ready” to be made.”

The label has changed much over the years:

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Robert Pool’s contribution to the BBC History of the World in 100 objects.

“The original label, by William Victor Wrigglesworth, depicted a Sikh servant waiting on a kilted Scots soldier. A later version of the label, introduced in the mid-20th century, removed the tray from the picture, and was seen as an attempt to avoid the connotation that the Sikh was a servant, although he was still shown waiting at attention while the Scottish soldier sipped his coffee.  The current version, introduced in 2006, depicts the Sikh as a soldier, now sitting beside his former boss, and with a cup and saucer of his own.” (Wikipedia)

http://brianedwardsmedia.co.nz/2010/11/the-short-but-fascinating-history-of-camp-coffee/

I rather like the new equality logo of both soldiers sharing a cup of tea together, and rather like the taste of Camp Coffee too! It has fuelled many happy hours of  painting, this Victorian convenience product of Field Campaigns in the old Empire days.

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The modern logo for Camp Coffee – still bright and colourful …

There is another form of equality at issue here as well, as the original Gordon Highlander depicted is said to be modelled on the interesting figure of Sir Hector Macdonald  or “Fighting Mac” –

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/this-britain/a-colonial-legacy-an-officer-and-an-icon-415634.html

And the Polish military connection to coffee and the Cappucino?

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2017/10/18/of-winged-hussars-and-cappucinos/

Look through previous recent blogposts for more Broken Britains and figure mending.

Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN 12 / 13 May 2018.

 

More Dumb Soldiers – The Clean Up Operation Begins

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The toy soldier secrets of the metal detectorist’s scrap pile revealed. Did you guess correctly?

Read and see more at my blogpost here:

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2018/05/07/more-dumb-soldiers-in-the-garden-the-clean-up-operation-begins/

Crossposted by Mark, Man of TIN from my other blog at https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com

More Dumb Soldiers Missing In Action

Robert Louis Stevenson wrote in A Child’s Garden of Verses about an old toy soldier buried away on watch in the garden in a poem entitled The Dumb Soldier.

I have featured this subject before on my Pound Store Plastic Warriors blog. https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2018/02/17/more-dumb-soldiers-in-the-garden/

Having lost soldiers in my childhood garden and found others on the beach recently, I am fascinated by these lost and found soldiers out on an “unending mission”.

Occasionally lost toy soldier figures turn up on online auction sites amongst the hoards and hordes of metal detecting trinket sites.

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I spotted this interesting collection from a metal detectorist called Frank in the Southeast of England on offer for a couple of pounds. I asked if they were from one hoard or toy mass battlefield burial but they were apparently collected over many years and many sites.

Whilst I wait for some recast arms to arrive from Dorset Soldiers for my current Broken Britains restoration projects, I have  been busy this bank holiday weekend in the sunny garden, gently cleaning these finds up prior to restoring what I can to fighting or parade fitness. The others will go in a display box.

I often wonder about the stories behind how such figures and toys came to be buried or discarded. Were they lost toys or were they discarded because they were broken in action or accident?

They once belonged to someone, probably a small boy. Did they lament their loss or hardly notice it?

Before I post pictures of the cleaned up figures, what familiar figures can you see in the online auction picture?

Hint You can see toy animals, soldiers and more. Enjoy!

Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN, Bank Holiday weekend 5/6 May 2018.

The Remount Section gets a visit from the Lead Vet

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I was lucky to be contacted through the Man of TIN blog comments by toy soldier collector John Forman who asked if I could use some Broken Britains from his collection. Otherwise I’m told they would probably end up in the bin!

I hate old toy soldiers being scrapped.

Not knowing what lead wreckage I might be letting myself in for, I said yes and a small box arrived a week or two later.

Inside were a dozen or so  play-bashed Britain’s lead soldiers and five cavalry from the 1930s to 40s that had belonged to John’s father as a boy. They were then played with by a young John in the 1960s. That’s how they got so battered and armless.

Many of the infantry had arms missing or broken bases and rifles. The cavalry  horses also had missing legs.

Time for a trip to the Lead Vet Department (or my work desk)

I started work on the two Khaki Yeomanry Cavalry Territorial Army figures (Britain’s Set  No. 159). Identified in the excellent photoguide The Collector’s  Guide to Toy Soldiers by Andrew Rose  (Salamander, 1997),  these were produced from 1908 to 1940.

A hole drilled carefully and slowly into the damaged horse leg allowed me to insert a small piece of wire to reattach a detached hoof. Superglue  instant adhesive helps set this quickly.

On a missing leg, a longer piece of wire inserted into a hole drilled into any remaining leg section gives a wire former or wire leg shape to take epoxy putty  (Greenstuff or  Milliput).

In my case, I opted for building up a new leg with masking tape. This can then be sealed and coloured with paint.  (Some of my family have allergies to Milliput).

If you have no suitable wire, a paper clip will do, bent and snipped to a suitable length.

A broken leg on a real cavalry horse would mean it would have to be swiftly shot. On the lead ones, it might mean the melting pot. Hopefully at the Lead Vet Surgery and Remount Department, they might be saved this fate.

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Been in the Wars, horse and rider – missing Sword arm, missing leg.
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Missing hoof reattached. Tail armature fixed. Rider’s neck repair visible.

If broken off,  the tail can be reattached in the same way with drilling and pinning.  I have put wire armatures in (or tailatures?) I can then create a (Fimo or Sculpey)  Polymer Clay or masking tape tail section and attach this. Alternatively,  Dorset Soldiers sell replacement tail castings.

One of the riders had a loose head, repaired in the traditional way with a matchstick. This needed to be reattached and secured with glue.

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The detached and damaged front right hoof reattached. Masking tape over the area hides the join.

The new  secret weapon of my life as the Lead Vet – a 1mm drill bit in a hand drill or pin vice, bought from Prince August.

The figures and repairs need to be robust enough to be used in gaming, both on the gaming table or in the garden. I may well put the cavalry onto bases to make them more robust.

New recast arms and heads have been ordered from Dorset Soldiers at  50p a new arm. Horse legs and tails can also be ordered. http://dorsetmodelsoldiers.com/casting.php

The repaint will depend on how badly worn each figure is. Where I can, I like to retain the original Britain’s or Johillco paint job, even if it is only preserving small details like the face. These particular horses will need a little paint patching up, the figures less so.

On very badly worn figures, I clean and overpaint  with Gloss acrylics to get that straight out of the box or factory look back again. I think it restores a little martial pride!

These men and horses will parade and maybe even fight again on my tabletop or in my garden.

Nothing wasted?

Even the tiny drill curlings and scrapings of lead swarf get saved up in a small pot. When I next do some home casting, I can add a little bit of Britain’s lead DNA to the metal mix for some new castings.  A touch of vintage … something old, something new etc.

Being lead figures, now wash your hands after drilling.

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The same pin technique on a Britain’s Zulu with broken leg and base. Note the saved lead swarf
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The pin vice drilling into the hand section of a Britains Guardsman to add a new wire rifle barrel. For a future blogpost, rearming the infantry with replacement weapons!

I shall feature the completed Remounts in a future blogpost, along with how I went about rebasing and repainting the more damaged Britain’s cavalry and veteran playworn infantry that John Forman sent.

A fellow Peter Laing collector Ian Dury has kindly sent me an article from an old Military Modelling article on repairing very badly broken Britain’s cavalry, which I shall feature in a future blogpost.

Two welcome gifts, repaid to the steadfast tin or lead soldiers by restoring them to playable condition. Huzzah!

Previously on the Remount Section on Man of TIN blog

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2017/03/12/the-remount-department-1-army-blue/

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

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2017/02/17/ashantees-or-zulus-reborn/

Blogposted by the “Lead Vet” or Mark, Man of TIN, 2 May 2018.