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.

OBE repaint figures #1


imageOBE figures are what Wargaming Miscellany blog author Bob Cordery calls “Other Bugger’s Efforts”, being figures painted by others that you have acquired and their credit shouldn’t be claimed by yourself.

This bunch of six repurposed or repainted Airfix WW1 British Infantry picked up in a £1 mixed bag of bashed painted OO/HO Airfix figures from a favourite second hand shop in Cornwall. (This shop  is only occasionally open when I visit, being that sort of shop, a big like the erratic supply / production of Airfix figures themselves).

Dissecting this “Airfix owl pellet”, the mixed remains of someone else’s spare or unwanted figures, I found these interesting troops.


I like their blue and red “Imagi-Nations” sort of uniform and look forward to painting them some reinforcements.


These give me some paint inspiration for Schneider home cast metal figures:


imageWatch this space!

Posted by Mr MIN, Man of TIN.

Small World Domination

Inspired by a gift a few years ago of some Prince August moulds:


Today the playroom … Tomorrow the (small) world

This is a quick sketch for an anonymous “secret squirrel” type postcard competition / exhibition run through an art gallery a few years ago,inspired by the website http://www.postsecret.com

Oh well, the secret’s out. Plans for (small) world domination unmasked.

Quick, time to keep building and casting as fast as I can!

Home Casting 

If you want to take part in this arms (legs head and body) race, head to the traditional 54mm toy soldier multipart  moulds at http://shop.princeaugust.ie/54mm-traditional-toy-soldiers-moulds/

The great joy of these home casting ‘mix and match’ is the creation of figures – soldiers and civilians of all nations – in box sets and parades that never existed in the heyday of lead figures, before they vanished in favour of safer, unbreakable (and often now crumbling) plastic from the 1960s onwards.

Of these, in future blogposts, I’ll feature some of the stranger ones from the bands, parades, civilians and soldiers of all my ‘imagi-nations’.

The other creative way to acquire the figures of your wilder “Imagi-nations” was through conversion (plenty of collecting toy figures books in the library or out of print online for this topic) or repaint.

The toy soldier version of a car respray, some of the odd figures found online or in junkshops in my collection are childish repaints or very slop happy repaint jobs in whatever colours were available for whatever figures were required for play or parades. Again a future subject for blogposts …

My Man of TIN Gravatar, blog icon, a Guardsman saluting, made years ago as a brooch gift from Prince August 54mm multi part traditional toy soldier mould. (Photo / figure: Man of TIN) 

Favourite gaming figures #1

Much repainted veteran  Airfix Jungle / Australian adventurer.

Do you have a favourite gaming figure?

One of mine is this Airfix 1:32 54mm Australian WW2 officer – or as I often used him in childhood, as a garden jungle adventurer?

He made a passable Indiana Jones (yet produced several years before the film!)

This was a great figure also available in the tinier OO/HO 1:72 – 1:76 20mm scale.


This one figure creates ideas for lots of scenarios.

Generally the Airfix Australian and Ghurka figures in 1:32 or 1:72 scale prove great adaptable ‘jungle adventure’ explorers or troops, even if you exclude the ‘modern’ machine guns etc. to add a more 19th century / early 20th century feel.


In the smaller scale, add some of the adventurer and natives figures from the tiny Airfix Tarzan set (reissued by Hat c.2001/3 as Jungle Adventure). Throw in repainted Airfix Indians as ‘Jungle Warriors’ and you have the figures for an excellent jungle Close Little Wars scenario. Poundstore cowboys and natives can also be used in the larger figure scales.


The Airfix Jungle Outpost occasionally available in 1:32 or smaller scale is a great addition to Garden Wargames or Close Little Wars game.

Alternatively the resin fish tank drowned temples from your local garden centre and aquarium store are also great fun. http://www.airfix.com/uk-en/shop/dioramas-buildings/dioramas-airfield-sets/bamboo-house-1-32.html

Raid the DVD cabinet for Indiana Jones and other B movie Jungle inspiration.

Get out into those flowerbeds with the larger figures and explore!

Happy Gaming!

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

Cath Kidston Guardsmen

imageimageAn unlikely source of gaming inspiration on the high street – not my usual pound stores or hobby stores – but a trip to the usually flowery Cath Kidston shops or online store.

She often has some unusual offerings in her “vintage boy” section from Cowboys to Steam Trains and London Guardsmen.


A batch of these A5 notebooks in the Cath Kidston sale last year proved perfect for jotting down blog notes, games design ideas,  recording my Little Close Wars game turns etc.

Her 2016 range guardsmen includes a colourful new A5 redesign of this notebook:


Her guardsmen design (2015) as you can see are a strange and charming toylike mix of Danish and British Guards regiments, from different periods (cross belts, modern rifles) but fun all the same.

As well as handy notebooks, Cath Kidston does pencil cases, stationery and two fabulous guardsmen mugs, both practical, useful and stylish.


A cup of tea, a perfect complement to your toy soldier section!

Figures in the photographs are original Britain’s guardsmen and my home cast Prince August guards officer saluting, both from my collection.

A batch of Cath Kidston guardsmen design postcards also provided some useful ideas for ‘Card Warriors’ for gaming – watch this space once I’ve finished with my scalpel and glue!

The current Cath Kidston range includes a London design “Guards and Friends” (2016) featuring selection of yeoman wardens, guardsmen and police.

Lovely graphics and design extends across her website:

The lovely guardsmen design extends across her website for the Queen’s 90th Birthday (and her online sale June 2016) 



Cath Kidston’s boys range reminds me of past birthday cards for boys which featured cars, motorbikes, steam trains, spitfires, sport and other such ‘boy things’.

More Cath Kidston inspiration from her past cowboy range alongside my colourful collection of vintage lead Cowboys will be featured in a future Man of TIN blogpost.

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



The Brontes Games scenarios

The Bronte family juvenilia as inspiration for exotic gaming scenarios.

Interesting 54mm Byronic or Bronteish figure picked up with other cavalrymen in The Works store for £1-£2.


The Brontes created for their characters ( the Twelve young men)  heroic scenarios that could be adapted for the gaming table.


Interesting scenarios for a range of small skirmishes can be found amongst the Bronte juvenilia stories such as this in Charlotte Bronte’s juvenile Two Romantic Tales.

Setting and terrain ideas to be sketched onto a gaming map:

A tropical island, unexplored, maybe a continent?

A. small natural harbour around ship under repair.

Travel through about two miles of the following terrain –

B. Cultivated grain fields, plantations of palm and almond trees

C. Olive trees groves

D. rice paddies / enclosures

Any of these (BCD) can be deemed impassable as required or require movement at half pace.

They can be random terrain scattered about or cluttered around a path.

Your characters: 12 named characters ( plus assorted ship’s crew if needed)

Your opponents: Twenty men ‘well armed’ – natives?

What happens next?

Here is the Bronte version of this Battle Narrative. Yours may end differently and be ‘game over’ for the adventurers.


The joy of gaming is that this story could have gone very differently. What if the natives won or captured some of the Twelve adventurers?

The characters in the Bronte juvenile stories are inspired by their imagination but also real people of the age.

imageOnce the characters were established, the following scenarios are set out for the Twelve Young Men:

The Bronte family’s knowledge of the tropical realms of the expanding British empire was through books, atlases and periodicals like Blackwood’s Magazine.

The Ashantees were no doubt generic natives or tribesmen, but Britain did fight the first Anglo Ashanti  war in west Africa (now Ghana) around 1824, news of which would have been in the Brinte’s reading matter. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anglo-Ashanti_wars


Whilst the real early Ashanti wars were fought over the slave trade and Britain’s abolition movement, one of the interests of gaming is to turn tables and see the Twelve Adventurers as imperialist invaders.

Thundering Cannon, naval Landing Parties, trumpets, war drums, wild wailing natives trying to repel the colonial invaders who man the walls in their city, burning fields, mountainous strongholds – this is the stuff of colonial gaming!

Exotic landscapes and terrain.

A releif party or news from England.

AW ‘Arthur Wellesley’ (based on the duke of Welkington, victor of Waterloo) as the Brontes had been born into the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars.

Figures needed for gaming this Bronte period could be culled from a mix of Napoleonic and early Victorian figures versus any available natives.

Lots of interesting ideas here to develop into games scenarios.

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

You can read more about the Brontes and their real and imaginary worlds at:


Blogposted by Mr MIN, Man of TIN.