Portable Wargames on Holiday

The Airfix NCO Guardsman at the back on white card is one of my veteran bravest troops!

What are your favourite veteran figures?

What’s your most favourite bedside games reading?

What games basics do your take on your travels?

Preparing for British wet weather and time inside ‘holed up’ on a recent trip away on holiday, I packed a tiny fishing tackle box full of old Airfix figures.

Not so much a tackle box, more my “Just in case”.


On a rainy day  I created a simple A3 hex gameboard out of paper, using one Heroscape hex tile as a template, waterproof illustrators pens and washed it over watercolour paint. Materials came from family holiday “art supplies”. The A3 board was masking or magic taped to scrap cardboard. It can be rolled up in a tube or flat-packed in a suitcase for future use.


Several other impassible objects (marsh, bridge and barricade of coffee stirrers etc) were made using available scrap and cardboard but proved frustratingly prone to warping. Mounted on stouter mounting board, they may prove useful in future again.

Scenarios were based around invading ‘Redcoats‘ (Airfix vintage 1959 Guards Colour Party) being repulsed by ‘Settlers‘. These settlers were a motley group of  Airfix  vintage 1961 Cowboys and one lone Airfix Indian ‘Scout’, 1962 Airfix Confederate Infantry and a lone 1961 Airfix Civilian.

As well as ‘running Cowboys with rifles’, there were ‘Cowboys with pistols’ as settler group leaders or officer figures.

Many of these individual figures I have had since childhood. If painted, their paint is now flaking and some  are becoming  fragile plastic with age but they are familiar and fun figures anyway.

The stout lone civilian’s role changed from ‘Settler leader’ in one game  to ‘person for redcoats to rescue’ in  different scenarios.


Other natural materials (stones, moss, twig logs) were found in the surrounding garden and forest as befits my hex version of Donald Featherstone’s Close Wars appendix to his 1962 book War Games. I often take this basic book with me as very familiar holiday reading.



Look out for my separate blog posts about my hex version of these rules, Close Little Wars.

Donald Featherstone, War Games (published 1962 Stanley Paul)

What are your favourite veteran figures?

What’s your most favourite bedside games reading?

What games basics do your take on your travels?

I’d love to hear from blog readers / followers / visitors via our comments page.

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


More Redcoat Toy Soldier inspiration

Must try this! Repainted Herald Guardsman in Danish blue  (photo reproduced from the Wargames Hermit blog).

To inspire my home cast and pound store figure painting, I look at toy soldiers in my own collection and others online. What would the simple, standard, mass production figures of the past be like, to inspire my paint upcycling of my pound store warriors?

Here are today’s toy soldier inspiration photos.

1. This repainted Britain’s Herald guardsman (above) is a lovely idea from a long running US Wargames blog with a passion similar to mine for hex games, solo games and Peter Laing figures: http://wargamehermit.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/distracted-once-again.html

Instantly you can have two nations, two sides (red and blue) needed for gaming from the same batch, pound store bag or figure mould. Must try this with my guardsman casting mould and vintage  Airfix guards colour party OO/HO figures.

Fry made? (1915-22) or home cast machine gunner in unlikely guardsman red (from the Sanderson family into my Man of TIN collection)

2. The red coated machine gunners in the Sanderson collection came from a lady selling her father’s 1920s small childhood collection of very simple, often gilt finish figures and cannons. They all have a much loved and well used patina and Miss Sanderson was very pleased that they are being kept together and treasured.

Basic paint version on a Britain’s infantry officer alongside a modern William Britain’s Fort Henry Guard mascot handler. (Photo / Collection: Man of TIN)

3. Basic quick past paint finish versus modern deluxe painting on these Britain’s figures.

Colour ideas sketched from an unidentified figure from a James Opie Toy Soldiers book. (Sketch: Man of TIN)

4. I keep sketchbooks of possible colour schemes for pound store or home cast figures from figures seen online, in museums of toy soldier books. Could a pound store cowboy or confederate become  a redcoat?

Attractive red coat figure (which could be made or painted from a WW2 tin hat pound store infantryman) from ‘somewhere’ on the extensive  Milihistriot website by the Sheil family in the USA.

5. Pinterest and Google image search throws up interesting images like this ‘Little Wars’ style spirited redcoat charging, found on the extensive web archives on the Milihistriot website. Could a pound store WW2 soldier become a redcoat?

Happy gaming!

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


Poundstore Palm Trees

Today’s visual inspiration on our Cakes of Death DIY figures and gaming blog theme strand are these Tiger.com high street stores palm trees.



Why pay expensive hobby prices for palm trees, when you can get all these for a pound?


What to do with a dozen or so pink flamingoes?

How many pink flamingo paint stirrers do you need?

Alternatively decorate a model lawn with them.

Or even better for a gaming blog with DIY figures made from silicon cake mould figures and Polymer Clay Fimo, why not create some handy edible desert islands?


Or why not create a Donald Featherstone tribute display? Our gaming hero Donald Featherstone (1918 – 2013) shares his name (and a Wikipiedua disambiguation redirect thingy)  with Don Featherstone, U.S. designer of the pink garden flamingo ornament (1936  – 2015).

Man of TIN’s tribute to both men called Donald Featherstone! 

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

From our Toy War Correspondent

Our blog photographer in action: Taking the portrait photographs for our Lost Legions:  Beachcombing feature.

Words on our ManofTin blog are of course typed by our tin hatted war correspondent, but first scribbled in his notebook by pencil.

I have always liked this workaday clerkish Airfix figure. Turn him around though and his Stengun may prove to be “mightier than the word.”


Photographs on this Man of Tin blog are of course all taken by this dandy fellow with the very latest equipment!

(Painted from a Tradition 54mm Matthew Brady casting by Man of TIN).


As a child, one of my treasured type of figures would be the rare radio man if luckily present in each toy soldier set.

These tiny radio figures would be able to form part of three man patrols (including a guard and an observer / someone with binoculars) regularly mounted and replaced  in the flower bed jungles and keeping  in constant radio contact with base / HQ (me!) Advance guards, forward observers and early warning all in one!

Getting the news back fast to Man of Tin blog HQ / Basecamp: officer and red coat radio telephone man both from pound store warriors (Painted: Man of TIN).

Man of TIN blog, brought to you in words and pictures by our brave and tiny toy war correspondents.

Posted on their behalf by Mr MIN, Man of TIN, June 2016.

Lost Legions 1: Fighting On The Beaches

Beachcombing is a great source of gaming scrap and natural materials for terrain (stones, driftwood, fishing line). Interesting textured bits of plastic. And cuttlefish, but that’s for the postscript.

Good beaches for Beachcombing  include Cornwall and the Scilly Isles.  Holywell Bay beach in Cornwall even has Lego washing up from a lost shipment but I have never found any. Lyme Regis in Dorset has ammonite fossils and Victorian and early 20th century scrap falling out of the cliffs onto its beach.

Beachcombing finds from Cornwall and Isles of Scilly – blue and white pottery, clay pipe fragments and the odd beach warrior!

A lovely beach cafe on the Isles of Scilly has a wall cabinet full of things found in the beach sand, including the bashed and still faintly  painted remains of lead soldiers lost before the 1960s.

Very rarely do I find figures. image.jpeg

Another plastic figure I found lost on a Cornish beach was another modern green army man.


The first figure had obviously been fighting on the beaches longer as he was quite sandworn.


As with the Scilly beaches’ battered and  lost lead legions, some child holidaying or visiting on a Cornish  beach must have mislaid these figures when demolishing or defending their sand castle.

Oddly,  despite sand castles and coasts to defend, I have yet to find plastic knights or pirate figures whilst Beachcombing.

In a future blogpost, I’ll talk more about sandpit rules that  you can find online, the odd sandpit or sand table disaster and  lost Airfix figures.

Postscript (and a warning?)

A goldsmith and Cornish jewellery maker I know and talked casting with used very dry cuttlefish for experiments in textured casting, his work inspired by natural forms.

I’m told by some that work on bringing the past alive to visitors on prehistoric coastal sites that simple jewellery moulds can be made in cuttlefish.

The goldsmith may have been using silver or other metals, very different from the Prince August model metal I am used to.

In thanks for the chat and the arrival of the jewellery commissioned, I sent him one of the early Prince August toy soldiers I’d made.

Hopefully it still stands guard over the precious metals in his Cornish studio.

The cuttlefish would have to be very, very dry as wet materials and molten metal tend to explode messily, as Donald Featherstone points out in his advice on making simple Plaster of Paris figure moulds in Wargames (1962) as does Iain Dickie in Wargaming on a Budget. They need to completely dry out first and have no trace of moisture left if you enjoy having your sight, a face or a kitchen left.


More on Lost Legions and that Cornish goldsmith in another post …

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


More Poundstore Warriors

image.jpgWilko (Wilkinsons) are an interesting if erratic source of cheap plastic gaming figures on the UK high street.  Grab them while you can!image Wilko do small £1 tubes of cowboys, Knights and rescue or emergency services. The sculpts of the Cowboys and Indians are the usual copies / pirates of Timpo and Airfix.

I like the simple graphic outlines of the available figure sets – one for the scrapbook when the tube is no more.

imageThe emergency figures look like they have  other possibilities. They are probably supposed to be modern US or European firefighters. They could be used for a range of Airforce ground crew  … or 1950s aliens or space figures?



More of the firefighters with digging tools could pass as Cornish miners or generic construction workers with ropes and hard hats. Definitely a pasty or two in that crib box they are carrying!



Mining engineers, pioneers with pick axe and crow bar for blasting out big rocks or constructing fortifications? (from Wilko Firefighters).


Police figures could be used for armed civilians, revolutionaries …


Such heavily armed police or security figures could be involved in a bank robbery scenario or a hostage or seige scenario. Lots of gaming and rescue scenarios here! Taking on Wild wild animals or rampaging monsters?

Other police figures in the set are less well armed but useful civilian figures, artillery crew etc;  other police and fire figures are around on eBay, often more heavily armed with more modern weapons.

There are 18 figures in this £1 pound tube, 9 red fire crew and 9 blue police figures.  (prices correct UK May / June  2016). They are usually only available in store, rather than online.


These could be used for Artillery figures, writing notes or airforce pilots, Dan Dare type space figures?

Not yet got my paintbrushes out yet on any of these but there are some definite civilian, futuristic or gaming figure possibilities.

Posted by Man of TIN, May 2016.