Howdy! The Fabulous Flying Gruber Brothers needed a leader of their Gang, so they kept it in the family.
Meet Al – some say Big Bad Al, some say Heap Good Al.
Some say that he is the Father of the Gruber boys, others that he is their Cousin, Uncle or Older Brother. Some wisely choose not to say anything.
Some say that Al may in fact be Twins, just never seen together in the same place.
Those that have opinions on the matter and keep their mouths closed generally live longer lives out on these Wilde frontiers and borders and may even get to die in bed of old age.
In the wilds of the Wyrd Wilde West, anything could be a fact or true.
Big Bad Al or Heap Good Al? It depends who’s asking and who’s paying.
Whether they are protecting the Bank with their firepower or relieving it of some of that tiresome shiny metal, it’s a matter of opinion – it all depends on who is asking and who is paying (usually the most but they like to pick and choose their work).
The Fabulous Flying Gruber Brothers Abe, Zeke and Frank can be seen here in their repaired state:
The Armies in Plastic figures Rogers Ranger’s kindly gifted to me by Alan Tradgardland Gruber are seen here after unpacking. They are now painted or repainted, gloss varnished and awaiting final shiny metal work before they set off to explore my mighty fine Bold Frontiers forest trees.
TSAF Recon Mission Report, somewhere in the twin mists of The Great River and the 1930s:
The TSAF (Toy Soldier Air Force) is continuing and widening its search of the Yarden Forests of South Generica for any traces of missing explorer Colonel Bob “Jumbo” Fazackerly.
The skilled TSAF Pilots and their Observers / Navigators in their newly delivered Hybrid twin seater single engine monoplanes are scouring a wider and wider area around the upper reaches of the Great River, the Colonel’s last known position.
Colonel Fazackerley, a seasoned veteran of many a past military campaign, was last seen several months ago heading off “Up River” into the South Generican forests and mountains. Some say the Colonel was in search of inscriptions and artefacts in a rumoured lost cave temple of a lost ancient Generican tribe etc. etc.
Others mention that it is also known that descendants of these ‘lost’ tribes are not always friendly to outsiders. Rumours of unrest amongst these Yarden and Great River tribes have also reached the Colonial Governor, one of the many sons of Sir Sidney Ruff-Diamond.
The exact nature of the Colonel’s Mission or Expedition has not been disclosed by the Governor.
How I made Colonel Fazackerley
Colonel Bob started life amongst the ranks of Johillco Line Infantry (shown right below).
At some point during his previous life or military career he lost his head and his rifle, as well as his left arm.
When he arrived amongst a job lot of Broken Britain’s and other damaged hollowcast lead toy soldiers that I am repairing, he barely had any paint left either.
I repainted his scarlet jacket and blue trousers with Gloss Acrylics but then had other ideas.
The Colonel was reborn from my Bits Box, Frankenstein style, thanks to a spare Dorset Soldiers head, and a homecast officer’s sword arm from the Prince August 54mm Traditional Toy Soldier set.
I could have repaired or restored him, as I have done with other similar broken Johillco figures, back to his original Line Infantry firing role.
However something about the look of the stub of the broken rifle reminded me of a chunky automatic American style revolver. This suggested an officer, so next it was finding the right individual sort of hat.
Johillco 54mm figures are a little heftier than the more slender Britain’s figures, so can more easily take the Prince August 54mm cast arms and head. I tried various heads. Eventually I settled on a Dorset Soldiers head with slouch or bush hat from my Bits Box.
This still left the problem of the missing left arm.
Rather than making a new one from a wire “arm-ature” wrapped in masking tape and a Fimo polymer clay hand, I rummaged through my Bits Box again and found a spare Prince August officer’s right sword arm from a past casting session.
Snipping and filing this sword arm at the elbow to match the left arm stump, it was simply attached by drilling stump and arm with a fine 1mm drill bit to insert a short wire stub which joined the two, secured by superglue.
This gives the look of a sword or long machete for slicing through jungle creepers and stylishly seeing off any hostile natives or fierce animals.
A shaved cocktail stick glued on made a simple scabbard.
A spare Dorset Soldiers backpack made a knapsack.
All that remains to make or find to equip the Colonel for campaigning is a suitable water bottle and pistol holster.
Leather knee boots and Sam Browne type belt / knapsack strap were simply painted on.
His shiny new shooter was painted in silver.
This Dorset head had no cast moustache, so I added a painted one and pink cheek dots to keep that old toy soldier look to the face. A coat of Gloss varnish over the Matt Acrylic Khaki suggested a more vintage toy soldier look too.
What I wanted to achieve was a simple, old-fashioned toy soldier factory paint scheme, nothing too fussy or realistic, more toy soldier or Tintin cartoon.
The Natives are (not always) Friendly …
I have spent several weeks repairing and repainting broken Britain’s and other 54mm hollowcast figures to form some suitable native tribes and troops for future garden, yarden and tabletop skirmish games. Spears and weapons were often missing, sometimes bases, legs and arms.
A mixture of Broken Britain’s and Johillco Zulus, Crescent and Britain’s Indians have so far joined the North and South Generican native tribes defending their hard-won territories against various civilising (for which read aggressive) Colonial Imperialists of many nations.
Rifles or spears were repaired or added with wire and masking tape.
These natives will give Colonel Fazackerley and friends something to watch over the shoulder for. I shall show more of these rearmed and repainted colourful tribes in the coming weeks.
A Man of Many Missions
When he is not lost in the Generican forests and mountains of my Yarden, Colonel Bob can relive the glories of his youth out and about on campaign with a variety of field forces from the Bore War (sorry, Boer War) to the North West Frontier, Boxer Rebellion, Burma, the old West and WW1 East Africa, a military family career stretching back and far and wide to his relatives fighting in the American Civil War (but on which side is not fully known). Did he ever tell you
Danger follows him where others fear to tread …
Look out Fazackerley, they’re behind you!
He is rumoured to have disappeared and spent some time in his youth soldiering in the ranks of the French Foreign Legion.
Fazackerley is a man who has served in many forces on many expeditions and missions under many Aliases, thanks no doubt to his gift for getting by in many languages.
Not all the Natives are Unfriendly …
Soon all will be ready for the forests, mountains and rocky plains of the back garden, Yarden or cluttered Close Wars terrain of the tabletop.
Thanks to the quickly passed plastic craze of Moshi Monsters, I have now acquired two interesting hybrid fighter bombers. Perfect for any Imagi-Nations Air forces.
They weresourced through my family for free or a few pounds online. They are roughly suitable for 54mm or 1:32 figures, arguably the only true scale for H.G. Wells Big “Little Wars”.
These planes are hybrids, garishly coloured with their pink countershading (female Super Moshi Poppet character) and orange paint scheme (Male cat Super Moshi character Katzuma). I recognise bits of different WW2 aircraft moshed, morphed or mashed together to make this generic hybrid.
I especially like the orange bulbous nosed “Shark Teeth” fighter, originally belonging to SuperMoshi Katsuma.
I looked through a cheap modern reprint of another old childhood branch library Blandford favourite, Fighters 1939-1945 by Kenneth Munson, tosee if I could find the Moshi Monster plane’s forebears.
Grumman Hellcat? Tomahawk with the shark teeth motif? Bulbous Brewster Buffalo, one of my odder childhood aircraft models?
My naval grandfather may have recognised the type. He served on various Royal Navy aircraft carriers during the Pacific / SE Asia naval campaigns including the Kamikaze raids on carriers.
His photo album shows similar carrier based planes but with fold up wings to stow neatly above and below decks.
I would be surprised if you recognised the pilot of the orange aircraft but you might have seen part of him on the blog a few months back amongst the metal detectorist’s toy soldier finds.
Here is how he looks now with a charming Dorset Soldiers recast Pilot head. A hint of Dastardly and Muttly here? Maybe a bullet-holed flying scarf might be required.
Here is how he appeared amongst the toy soldier finds:
The Johillco running pilots in civilian or technician white flying overalls and also khaki flight suits will eventually be joined by some ground crew. Somewhere I have a mould to homecast more RAF Regiment ground crew and also a Britain’s WAAF amongst others to add to the Toy Soldier Air Force at some point.
Army Red and Army Blue will get one plane each, after some removal of some stickers (the shark teeth, eye and katsuma stickers will stay!) There will also be some paint adjustments to their desert orange or desert pink camouflage schemes, such as lighter bellies as part of aircraft countershading.
Interestingly these navy and aircrew figures link into both sides of my family with a Naval grandfather who served on aircraft carriers and an RAF ground crew Grandfather, both of whom had passed away before I was born.
Not quite sure how these aircraft will fit into the 54mm outdoor or indoor games. Defending the airbase will be one scenario. I currently have no rules for aircraft, but I’m sure F.E. Perry’s First and Second Book of Wargaming and Featherstone’s Air Wargames Books may have some clues. Not quite sure what sort of ground spike or stand will be needed yet for a mix of garden and floor / tabletop use.
Little Air Wars?
If I encounter another Moshi aeroplane at good price, the next one gets turned into a “string bag” Biplane, even more suitable for H.G. Wells Edwardian / WW1 era Little Wars. He missed including military biplanes in Little Wars by a few years.
Meanwhile the Aerial Menace of my floor and garden is added to by my favourite (toy) pilot of all time – well worth watching the recent Peanuts movie for the dogfight scenes against the Red Baron.
Some great 1983 packaging too!
Chocks Away! Bandits at 5 o’clock! Tally Ho! Blam blam blam etc.
and finally … here is the original Super Moshi March music video on YouTube.An
Another lucky bid online for a few pounds brought this haul of battered and colourful American Indians.
I wanted to pick up a cheap and colourful opponent for my Redcoats or Bluecoat Troops, a wily native ally to match my Zulus.
A few broken spears and rifles are no problem to fix.
These rifle, bow and spear toting native warriors should prove great for garden and tabletop games once repaired and mounted on tuppenny bases. They are almost perfect for Donald Featherstone’s simple Close Wars skirmish rules (in his appendix to his War Games 1962).
More correctly these figure should be known today as Native Americans, First Nations or First Peoples but the ones you can see here are pure Imagi-Nations, wily natives straight out of Hollywood B Movies and Wild West TV shows.
Nicely animated crawling Braves sneaking up on an unwary opponent!
I get the feeling that some manufacturers might have quite enjoyed sculpting the animated poses and bright colours after producing regiment after regiment of increasingly khaki figures.
I’m sure after World War 1 these Indians also fitted a need to get away from the reality and aftermath of modern war off and away to the lawless and heroic but imaginary frontiers of the ‘Wild Wild West’, so popular in its many formats in fiction, cinema and Buffalo Bill shows.
Two of the T and B (Taylor and Barrett) figures were a bit smaller scale, around 40mm. They blend quite well with the 40mm Holger Erickson Prince August Homecast moulds.
Taylor and Barrett Indians can be seen alongside my home cast and based 40mm Prince August figures.
ID of figures based on figure markings and Norman Joplin’s wonderful The Great Book of Hollowcast Figures.
The surviving paintwork suggested that two of the Highlanders were Khaki colonials, the other two were a Redcoat Highlander lying firing made by Johillco and a headless Redcoat torso.
Matchstick legs were inserted into the body through the leg holes and then shaved to a more round shape with a scalpel. Masking tape was then wound round to thicken the leg up to a suitable width.
Suitable heads were mostly found in my homecast 54mm Prince August spares box.
Luckily with two of the figures, the Johillco lying firing Highlander and the Khaki Britain’s standing firing figure, I had battered original figures with which to compare the headless, legless torsos.
The Highlanders had puggrees or wound strips of cloth around their pith helmets, so these were simply added with several fine thin strips of masking tape. The same technique was used to build up the sock strips on the legs.
A puggaree, puggree, puggry or puggary (from a Hindi word ) is a strip of cloth wound around the upper portion of a hat or helmet, particularly a pith helmet, and falling down behind to act as a shade for the back of the neck.
Fimo polymer clay feet were required to finish off the legs, modelled on a Britains Khaki firing British infantryman with feet pointing outwards.
One of the Khaki Highlanders lying firing acquired a WW2 tin hat and arm with binoculars, both recast spares from Dorset Soldiers. An added pistol in a holster from Airfix Multipose spares should suggest an officer’s side arm. A spare right arm had to be built up with wire and masking tape.
The standing firing Highlander also needed a small hole drilled into the missing arm stump with 0.9mm hand drill, a wire arm or armature added (secured with superglue) and built up with masking tape. Glue and paint stiffened and secured the masking tape, stopping it from unravelling.
This figure was easier to do because of the lucky fact that I had a battered Britain’s original Khaki Highlander standing firing figure in my collection to compare it with. This standing firing original figure also needed repair of a broken rifle, so I did that as well.
The looser repaired arms lack the neat slender precision of the original Britain’s limbs but provide character one-off figures. The repaired figures here remind me a little of the looser limbed but spirited poses of Heyde of Germany and Lucotte or Mignot figures of France.
Milliput might be easier for sculpting but I cannot use this due to a family / household allergy, so I used what I safely had to hand. I could have ordered and waited for further Dorset Soldier recast Britain’s heads, but impatiently used what Dorset heads or Prince August heads I had in my spares box, even though Prince August 54mm figure heads are a little bigger and heftier than Britain’s original or recast ones. It adds to the toy soldierness of the figures anyhow.
The final non Highland figure was the redcoated torso.
This was the trickiest figure, the Redcoated torso, as I was not sure who the maker was or what the original figure looked like. It had the chunky, slightly oversized look of an early Britain’s Fusilier but having no other fusiliers in my armies, I chose instead found a suitable Prince August line infantry spiked helmet. This would more closely match my other line infantry figures. The legs and base were easy enough to make out of matchsticks, masking tape and the usual Fimo feet and base to fit a tuppeny base for stability.
The right arm was half missing, so I drilled a small hole to insert a bent wire armature that would be both an arm and shouldered rifle all in one piece. Not the usual rifle position for marching or sloping arms, but it kind of works.
A few more useful finishing touches – NCO stripes, maybe some medals – should complete this tiny lead Frankenstein figure.
A satisfying few evenings’ work, mixed in with other figure repair work in progress on more Broken Britain’s, some more Zulus etc to feature in future blog posts.
Hopefully these once lost and battered figures are as bright and proud, as fighting fit as the day they were cast, painted and bought home from a toy shop in a red box. As shiny again as they once were before their curious fate to be bashed, buried and eventually found again over many years by a metal detectorist called Frank in the Southeast of England.
I have based them on tuppeny pieces and made them stout repairs to arms, legs and rifles, stocky rather than thin and elegant, as these figures will eventually will fight once more in gardens and on tabletops. Huzzah!
You might also be interested in my previous blog posts over the last few weeks about other toy soldier repairs.
Just two more tricky figures left from the figure part of the original haul, the headless driver figure who will become a pilot and a half a body figure in longcoat and gauntlets – possibly originally a pilot?
Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN on 11 January 2018.