Bearskin cake warriors


This is the Internet sourced silicon cake or sugar craft mould for our soldier bear. Several styles are available online from different suppliers.


The finished bear guardsman or life guard with simple Fimo base added. Figure / Photo: Man of TIN.

More Cakes of Death silicon cake mould and sugar craft inspired gaming ideas.

This figure was made as a birthday gift for a family member who collects bears, having  previously liked some traditional style Toy soldier Prince August figures made for another birthday.

Figures from these commercially produced silicon sugar craft or cake decoration moulds (available from several internet suppliers) are about 65 to 70 cm high / 2 – 3 inches high.

These Fimo bear figures are painted in Revell Gloss Acrylics for that toy soldier look.

All I need now are several dozen of these in contrasting colours and a bear battle may commence for command of the toy box / honey supply, whatever …


Perfect for parades or unusual gaming scenarios.

Glow in the dark gaming …

One of the first polymer clay / Fimo bear figures I made was using white Fimo – or what I thought was white Fimo from a multicolour gift set. What it turned out to be at nighttime was glow in the dark Fimo.


Maybe a challenge – glow in the dark figures gaming – or maybe not.

The sound of the ghostly pipes and a glowing figure at night. Should scare the enemy!

Glowing ghostly Scots piper bear in polymer clay (with the lights off).  Photo / figure: Man of TIN.

Posted by Man of TIN, June 2016.

Spencer Smith Figures for Close Little Wars



As good and simply cast and sculpted on the back as on the front, right down to the raccoon skin tailed hat and knapsacks. (Photo: Man 0f TIN)

Peter Johnstone still sells the Spencer Smith Miniatures range of figures from the 1960s.

They prove interesting and charming toy soldier figures for my favourite rules /  Close Little Wars scenarios based on Donald Featherstone’s Close Wars two page appendix to his 1962 book War Games.


You may recognise them from the example American Civil War battle photographed for his  books.



As well as these white metal figures (as yet unpainted) I also have some 30 year old original hard plastic 30mm American Civil War Union troops. For some reason I never bought any opposition, no doubt distracted by another project.




These packs of Spencer Smith plastic figures seemed a very good deal at the time. The figures are still available individually in metal.



I was especially pleased to recognise these figures in the first Donald Featherstone book War Games (1962) in the Horse and Musket rules for the American Civil War.

Using Featherstone’s appendix 2 in this book to form the Close Little Wars rules I use on the table or in the garden (without a hex scape grid ), there is little role for many if  any massed Cavalry in the cluttered terrain.

However here are some fine US or Union Cavalry, again showing their age since schoolboy painting 30 years ago.




I really like the size, animation and simplicity of these figures. Few of the other SSM figures have survived in my collection, apart from unpainted metal samples, yet  the 18th century figures would work equally well against his small range of natives for French and Indian Wars of the 1750s or American War of Independence in the 1770s.

There is an excellent gallery on his website showing many of these 18th Century figures, including some contributed by Miniature Wargames editor Henry Hyde:

Blog posted by Man of TIN, June 2016.





DIY display for Pound Store figures


A quick and easy teleport station for a space figure game?

imageOr a simple display tube for your prize pound store painted specimens?


These tubes come with poundstore figure selections, although unusually the Fire Crew Wilko one has a moulded helmet on the ‘base’ or lid .

I like these great space graphics from this Wilko “glow in the dark” solar system (£3) – this was the tube and lid I cut down to make the display tube after assembling the solar system.


Airfix British Redcoat Infantry 1960

Trying out different colour schemes:  Airfix Guards Colour Party repaints escort the Governor General’s Daughter (originally / promoted  from the  Airfix Waggon Train) Photo/ figure paints: Man of TIN. 

Amongst the proliferation of so many plastic gaming figures today , I sometimes  wonder what would have happened if the gaming clock was a reset to 1962, the year of first publication of Donald Featherstone’s War Games book.

Imagine, Groundhog Day style, that all you had available (going back in an “it’s 1962 again” time loop) were conversions of these figures:

  • Airfix  S1 Guards band 1959
  • Airfix S2 Guards Colour party 1959
  • Airfix S3 Combat Infantry Group 1960
  • Airfix S4 Farm Stock 1960
  • Airfix S5 WW2 German Infantry 1960
  • Airfix S6 Civilians 1960
  • Airfix S7 Cowboys 1961
  • Airfix S8 Indians 1961

Donald Featherstone in his WW2 example game used Airfix figures and tank kits, featuring Set S3 Combat Infantry and Set S5 WW2 German Infantry. These gave me much pleasure as a gaming child as they were the same as figures that I recognised and had in our family collection.

By 1962 when Donald Featherstone’s War Games went to press and was published, the following lovely Airfix sets were issued, expanding the conversion possibilities:

  • Airfix S9 8th Army 1962
  • Airfix S10 Foreign Legion 1962
  • Airfix S11 Afrika Korps 1962
  • Airfix S12 American Civil War Union Infantry 1962
  • Airfix S13 American Civil War Confederate Infantry 1962
  • Airfix S14 American Civil War Artillery 1962
  • Airfix S15 Wagon Train 1962
Some simple ideas on wargaming with the available figures 0f the time in this much thumbed (Ex-library) copy of Donald Featherstone’s Tackle Model Soldiers This Way, written in 1963. 

So circa 1960-62, what were the paint and conversion possibilities available to gamers then or vintage gamers today?



From sketch book to first draft painting or repaint, I’m happy with the results so far with these Victorian British redcoat paint conversions of Airfix 1960 Infantry Combat Group:


Still a few final details to add to these figures, along with some natives or opposition.


The opposition could be these blue coated Danish style guardsmen, still unfinished in fine detailing.


I hope the late Donald Featherstone would have liked these simple redcoat figures c. Airfix 1960/2.

Several years later, many of the conversion ideas of his and others featured in his book Military Modelling were made easier by production of WW1 figures, the American War of Independence figures and the Waterloo range.

Colonial redcoats could by 1966 be made from Airfix WW1 German Infantry:


These are part-painted, first draft Victorian Redcoats formed from some spare  Airfix WW1 German Infantry, a suggestion made in books at the time.

Unfinished / Rough first draft repaint into  Airfix British redcoats or steampunk VSF Victorian British infantry? Some more brass and silver required for steampunk! (Figures / photo: Man of TIN.)

And if these redcoats on land required any naval back up, Airfix Cowboys could make a passable Royal Naval landing party …


turning these Cowboys (top right) from American Civil War infantry conversions into Victorian sailors something like these Fimo cake mould conversions sailors.


More paint conversions and retro / vintage Airfix c. 1962 to share with you in future blogposts.

Back, back, back into the past in our Airfix time machine …

Happy gaming!

Posted by Man of TIN, June 2016.

The Prince’s Quest board game


Another interesting junk shop find, this book of reprinted Six Edwardian and Victorian Board Games compiled by Olivia Bristol.

One of the interesting games is called The Prince’s Quest, a ‘fairy race game’ with plenty of random setbacks, depending where you land, access to secret paths and a starting mechanism of rolling a d6 to find which path you set out on.


One of the drawbacks of the reproduced game (which originally covered three game panels) is the tiny spaces to put game counters on.

Marcia Malia’s comment below suggests that her original game board is quite small, like the reproduction.

Peter Laing metal 15mm colonial figures serve as game counter pieces. Photo / figures: Man of TIN.

One solution is to use 15mm Peter Laing figures on simple small bases – I grabbed the nearest figures to hand but should probably have chosen Peter Laing 15mm Knights to match the theme.

It is perfectly dice led as board games go with absolutely no skill element at all, just the luck of dice,  so perfect for solo gaming if you fancy controlling two figures and rolling two dice yourself!

Interesting game and several other techno / scifi almost comedy steampunk games of diving for treasure and an airship inspired A Trip to Mars, beautifully colour reproduced.

Well worth tracking down a copy.

Posted by Mr. MIN, Man of TIN.



A Curious Figurehead


imageAnother strange bargain purchase (this time in a ships and seaside store about ten years ago) was this battered ship’s figurehead model in a curious uniform.


About 60mm or 6 inches high, the figure was attached to a nautical anchor sort of clothes hook for wall mounting. The bargain as broken figure (rifle is damaged) is made of resin or plastic. It caught my eye, despite the gaudy toy soldier style painting because of its unusual uniform.

Having read Tod  Buk-Swienty’s book 1864 about the Danish Prussian War and Battle of Dybbol that inspired the recent Scandi TV series, the uniform looks similar to the Danish uniform. It certainly looks mid Nineteenth century.

However, another possibility are the many and varied dapper Rifle Volunteer uniforms in Britain from the 1860s and 1870s onwards, units formed, extravagantly uniformed and drilled  as an early form of Territorial Army against numinous threats to Britain from ‘Foreign Powers’.

This was the strange Victorian period of the Palmerston Forts against a supposed new Napoleonic French threat to Britain.

All very ripe scenarios for What If? gaming.

Any positive ID of this ship’s figurehead model appreciated.

Toy Soldier Spa Treatments?


Plastic toy soldier figures (from Airfix to pound store figures) made in soft slightly flexible polythene frequently arrive still covered in traces of a chemical mould releasing agent that stops the plastic sticking to the mould. It also unfortunately stops paint sticking easily to plastic.

Before painting up in toy soldier glossy style, a little preparation and washing is required of these useful pound store figures. (Figures / photograph: Man of TIN)

So before you start undercoating with paint (usually black, white or the base / core colour) picking out even simple details in flesh, silver or black, a quick wash is required.

Airfix RAF Personnel 1973 Blue Box back panel – I still love these simple line drawings of the figures inside, as much as the front cover ‘Box Art’ (from the Collection of Man of TIN) 

Looing back ( I never noticed or did this as a child) even vintage Airfix from its earliest blue box  days advised that “to ensure a clean painting surface, it is advisable to wash with detergent before painting.”

Exciting and lively box art (and handy uniform painting guide) on the Airfix Blue Box 1973 HO OO scale RAF Personnel front box cover art (from the collection of Man of TIN) 

So a washing of the spears and rifles, of warriors and their  weapons is required.

  1. First a quick squirt of washing up liquid into a washing up bowl of warm water to degrease your figures, followed by a gentle soapy scrub of handfuls of figures with a soft washing up brush.

2. I usually use a kitchen drying rack to pile up and drain figures. Check that no escapees can go down the plug hole.

3. Pop the still  slightly soapy figures into fresh cold water, then use a kitchen sieve or strainer to scoop the figures  out.

4. Again a drying rack will help then pop them onto a tea towel  spread them around and leave them to dry slowly for several hours.

Second plunge to get the soap suds off! 

A bit of a surreal swimming lesson or amphibious landing to look at.

Oddly some colours of the same figures (like the mini red ones here) float whilst the same figures in green or silver don’t.


This amounts to pampering and spa treatment of tiny plastic soldiers!

Drying off on a tea towel before packing away or painting. 

Raking through and spreading out the figures has a lovely almost shellfish sound, indeed the whole process feels like a bizarre cooking lesson.

You now have shiny, smart and clean figures ready for painting, ready to attack and defend and express your imagination and character.

The range of  Poundland smaller figures can be seen on this previous blogpost:

There are plenty of other plastic and pound store warriors, gaming ideas and budget gaming ideas featured throughout this  blog. Enjoy!

Feel free to share ideas and leave comments via the comments page.

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