A simple scrap kitchen towel for a headscarf transforms one of Steve Weston’s 54mm plastic Mexican peasants into a spirited serving girl, scolding Goodwife or feisty fender-off of invaders from medieval to Tudor times through to the English and American Civil Wars and the Wild West onwards.
This is another figure for my slowly developing 54mm figure and pound store conversions towards a raggle-taggle Arma-Dad’s Army militia muster and civilians to fend off the Spanish Fury of Armada invaders of the southwest coast in the 1590s.
And the title?
Crossposted from my Pound Store Plastic Warriors blog – read the more fully illustrated blog post here:
The new BMC Plastic Army Women have arrived from America – the first Kickstarter I have ever backed. A snowball fight breaks out at Camp Benjamin on the parade and assault course amongst the new female recruits, watched by their officers on the rope bridge …
Crossposted with other snowball fight links and rules (including by Alan Gruber) posted by Mark Man of TIN on his Pound Store Plastic Warriors blog, 26/27 December 2020
I notice on the Tank Museum webshop some intriguing wooden tank model kits used in their half term “make and take” activities – a WW1 British Tank (Mark IV) and a WW2 Churchill tank.
I had no real idea from the website of their size but I thought they looked jolly robust, so ordered them in support of the Tank Museum.
Like many museums, galleries and charities, it has a had a tough year of restricted income. It has an incredible collection to support and with its tanks and ‘tanker’ stories is an active part of our national Remembrance.
Tempatation: Comes with 10% offer leaflet for sales between Christmas between Christmas and the 31 January 2020.
Quickly assembling them (they have easy dowel construction) to check scale and size, they seem to suit 54mm – 60 mm figures. They are remarkably only £6 each (plus postage).
Compared to the time, effort and skill required to make these in a workshop at home that I don’t have with tools I don’t have, these seem a very good deal to me. A fun kind of charitable giving!
Please note: Last postage dates from the Museum guaranteed in time for Christmas delivery are soon in the next three or four days.
Now these wooden tanks are going back into the family present cupboard for Christmas or a future birthday gift for me.
North Gondal forests, 1870s – a supply column, deep in the forest, approach a stream
Ahead of the supply column, few yards over the old bridge, a large dead tree had fallen over the road, neatly blocking it.
Suspicious? Old dead trees fall over, and they had had heavy rain storms recently. The old plank bridge wasn’t looking in too good shape either. Must have happened overnight. The Forest Fort foot patrols should have noticed this damage and made good a repair.
They would need to proceed cautiously. Steady there! The weekly supply waggon for the Forest Fort (Fort McGuffin) tipped precariously over and backwards as it crossed the old wooden bridge over the stream.
The Redcoat troops of the Yestershire Regiment heard the sound as one of the wheels skewed off at an odd angle. Barrels and boxes tipped out onto the rough forest road and stream. Some of the bridge had washed away … or maybe the rope and timbers had been hacked away?
Assessing the damage to the wheel, Captain Snortt of the Yestershires, the officer in charge of the supply column, quickly sent the wagon horse and rider ahead to summon reinforcements and a repair team from the Forest Fort (Fort McGuffin).
As the horse and rider disappeared up the forest road, Snort sent his small column of seven redcoats to fan out and protect the cart whilst one of the Army Service Corps men Private Fuller tried to fix the axle and wheel.
The scattered barrels and boxes were stacked to make temporary cover positions.
They wedged the damaged axle on a haybale that they had been carrying for the horse.
Snortt knew that the Forests this far North had eyes everywhere. The local Native Indians were increasingly hostile, they did not enjoy their sacred hunting grounds being carved up by roads and forts, loggers and the land claims of settlers.
To add to his problems, the column included a rare civilian passenger, Kate the youngest daughter of Major McGuffin, the Fort Commander, who was travelling to visit her father. A fine hostage and bargaining chip she would make, if the Indians captured her.
Luckily for Snortt, young Kate was used to frontier life and quickly unpacked a pistol from the baggage, loaded it and watched the surrounding forest. There were spare rifles in the wagon if needed.
The Indian Scouts who were scattered around hunting through the forest return to their chiefs. They bring news. “The wagon is broken on the bridge.”
“The horse has gone to the fort.”
“Several redcoats have stayed to protect the wagon.”
“There are supplies and a passenger for the Fort.”
Meanwhile back at the bridge, the Redcoats of the Yestershires heard drums. The low sound of a native signal drum in the distance. Snortt was not sure how far away. Drums talking across the forest trees. Someone may have seen their difficulty and was even now summoning the local hunting parties.
Damn that bridge! Damn that wheel.
It looked to Snortt now that the fallen tree and the storm damaged bridge may not have been such natural events after all.
Meanwhile amongst the trees, the Indian Braves gathered with their spears and hunting rifles. Their tribal chief Old Wooden Legs spoke to the dancing Medicine Man who was blessing their hunt and ordered the drums be silenced. The Summoning was over.
“Let us harry the Redcoats and their wagons to remind them this is Our Land. There may be much of value in the Wagons – firesticks, metal bees* (bullets) and other important supplies for the Forest Fort, a Fort made from the timbers of our sacred trees.”
“Let us use the shadow and cover of these trees to approach the wagon and take something back in return for what these Redcoat devils have done to our forests. Civilians may prove good hostages. If the Redcoats attack or resist, we will use force to defend our forest.”
* The native Gondal Forest Indian name for bullets, “metal bees that sting death”.
Thus the die is set for a confrontation. In part 2 (or chapter 2?) of this small skirmish solo game I shall set out the terrain map, troop dispositions, aims and victory conditions.
Figures, Terrain and used.
Close Wars rules requires a cluttered terrain. Rather than clutter up the kitchen table with a 54mm Close Wars game and have to move it for meals, I wanted to leave this set up to play over several days squeezed in next to my desk and painting table.
I put sheets of felt over my usual portable hex boards for a change, using some chunky bound old volumes for hills. I used strips of felt for added streams and paths, exploiting the dips added some slate chips and chunks from the garden, some twigs and railway modelling bushes.
The damaged bridge was quickly made from a raft of coffee stirrers, superglued and ‘painted’ with felt tips. The bridge provides a “pinch point” between hills and stream for the wagon.
Hopefully it all keeps some of that improvised terrain spirit of our childhood games, of H. G. Wells’ Little Wars and early Donald Featherstone War Games 1962 (the book from which the two page ‘Close Wars’ rules appendix came).
The only large sheet of felt in the house when I was a child, a beautiful thick dark green, was the heat protector under the table cloth for our family dining table, so borrowing this or the dining table itself (above or below) meant toy soldier games had to fit in and finish around family mealtimes.
For a few moments I considered this as a garden game, but with creaky knees and changeable weather, I decided against this. The trees I use for pop-up 54mm games would not like being left outside.
The forest trees are beautiful preformed preprinted thick card ones from Bold Frontiers Australia, a recent gift to aid my Close Little Wars forest games. The three tree sets bring a real pop-up 3D picture book feel to this forest landscape.
The scenario of ‘Wheel Meet Again’, the broken wagon to defend in hostile territory is loosely based on one by the late Stuart Asquith that I used as a memorial game last November. Add a dash of Last of The Mohicans.
Gondal is a borrowed ImagiNation, one of the four kingdoms on a North Pacific ‘Tropical Yorkshire’ island created in the 1830s and 1840s by the Bronte family as youngsters. Other Bronte versions of ‘Tropical Yorkshire’ include Glass Town and Angria (roughly West Africa), whilst Gaaldine is Tropical Yorkshire on two South Pacific islands. Gondal is similar to my ImagiNations continents of North, Central and South Generica, roughly equivalent to the historical Americas.
I don’t have any French Indian War / Revolutionary War bicorne figures or redcoats in 54mm at the moment. The BMC 54mm ones are in a box patiently awaiting painting, a year on from Christmas 2019. Instead my 42mm Pound Store Redcoats have stepped in and borrowed the scout trek cart. This overloaded wagon is pulled by a flat cavalryman who disappears to take news to the Forest Fort, Fort McGuffin.
A few smaller Britains hollow-cast figures were added in. The Fort Commander’s daughter is a plastic seaside pirate girl with concealed pistol behind her back, her faithful hound from the old Tradition of London Victorian street figures.
Barrels are buttons from the local craft shop, hay from Britain’s farm series, the baggage from the old Herald cowboy raft.
I do have a host of repaired, tuppenny based hollow-cast 50 to 54mm Indians that I have repainted over the last two years. I have generally chosen the non Britain’s Indian figures as they tend to be a little smaller in the mid 40s to 50mm size.
When no one makes cheap 54mm plastic scouts, what can you do but convert some of the cheapest rackety cloned and distorted toy soldiers into Boy and Girl Scouts? Some of this worked well. Read more at:
There were seven types of Broken Britain’s infantry in the group kindly donated by John Forman, variously missing feet and bases and all missing rifles.
1. Britain’s Guardsmen firing – six classic figures with broken rifles – not sure which Guards Regiment, as they were play-bashed enough to have no obvious plume colours.
2. Britain’s Line Infantry (spiked helmet in black home service with black facings firing rifle – Royal Irish Regiment set 156, wearing gaiters – 1 figure.
3. Britain’s Line Infantry (spiked helmet white foreign service) with yellow facings on guard with rifle – Worcester Regiment set 18 c. 1930, wearing gaiters – 1 figure.
4. Britain’s East Kent Regiment on Guard, The Buffs Set 16 – yellow facings, second version with square base, on Guard. Produced 1910 – 1930, wearing gaiters – 2 figures.
5. Britain’s East Kent Regiment on Guard, service dress set 326a produced postwar in Steel Helmets (my “boys to entertain you”, above) – 5 figures.
6. Gloucester Regiment (Boer War) firing, produced 1901 to 1941 – 3 figures
7. The 3 charging Highlanders seen in a previous blog post
East Kent Regiment in Khaki Service Dress
They have rifles missing as well as feet or base missing, so replacement bases are required, easily made from Fimo polymer clay to suit tuppeny 2p coin bases.
The rifle repairs are more fiddly, requiring drilling a hole with a 1mm pin vice or hand drill into the broken section. If this is a stubby section of broken rifle this is quite tricky, whereas it is much easier to drill into the hand section where it grips the rifle, which has a greater thickness of lead.
So finally how did the ENSA “boys to entertain you” turn out in the end?
And for a suitable ear worm … the theme song to It Ain’t Half Hot Mum. Whilst the services / Seventies humour might have dated and the Indian characters would be handled differently today, as a child and still today, to me Windsor Davies is every bit the archetypal comic Sergeant Major to his “Lovely Boys”.
Blogposted by Mark Man of TIN on Advent Calendar Day 10, 10th December 2018.
I loved making these unusual buildings over several weeks, using scrap materials.
An old, long dead Roberts digital radio with wooden frame and stylish fabric print has been upcycled into several wooden 54mm buildings.
Brick ruin walls were provided with air drying Das terracotta clay. This took a week or two to dry!
I wanted to create buildings that could serve a number of uses in a desert scenario or European Countryside on tabletop or garden games.
I wasn’t sure how best to paint these with Acrylics, so went for a ‘Blend’, inspired by two old stalwart childhood favourites, the Airfix Desert Outpost and the ruined house European strongpoint.
My Airfix Painting Inspiration?
After a non-descript base paint colour of sandy Afrikabraun and brown Acrylic to suggest a sand or mud floor, I used a mixture of white and offwhite Acrylic for the whitewashed walls, followed by a dry brush of brown to weather the walls to a more ruinous state. Several coats of white / offwhite were required.
Lolly sticks, cocktail sticks and wooden coffee stirrers provided the ruined window frames. Pushing a couple of ragged holes through the clay walls suggests that the building has been damaged by shell fire or the walls loopholed by troops.
I still have the smaller clay building to paint, which has been based on another oddly shaped wooden internal section of the old radio.
Coastal Gun Emplacement?
Looking at the other part of the old digital radio, once I had removed the electrics / electronics, the shape suggested some kind of camouflaged bunker.
I was inspired by some of the simple wooden Hugar style buildings made in the 1930s for Britain’s. Paul Brookes has written a recent Illustrated History of Hugar, available via Amazon.
The metal front speaker grille that would form the bunker roof would be fine on a sci fi bunker. It didn’t look right on a 1930s/40s one, so was replaced by cardboard covered in some of the fabric pattern removed from the radio back before the back was used as the larger terracotta house base.
Other internal bits of wood from the radio suggested two gun platforms.
I had no plyboard left and had already used the radio base for the larger house ruin, so I substituted stiff cardboard for a base. I tend to use whatever I have to hand, just to get on with the job whilst in the mood.
Amongst job lots of Broken Britain’s figures had been a couple of damaged old Britain’s AA guns without their trailer bases. I had been saving three of these guns for wooden gunboats but two seem to serve well enough here as requisitioned or improvised coastal guns.
A scratch team of repaired Broken Britain’s and other hollowcast lead Khaki gunners and Infantry give the right feel.
These steel helmeted Khaki infantry mounted on tuppenny bases are Britain’s East Kent Regiment on Guard, all broken figures gifted to me by John Forman rather than being scrapped, all of which needed base and rifle repairs.
I’m not sure who the textile designer was for the textiles on this limited edition (but dead) Roberts digital radio c. 2004/5, but I think the strong blotch camouflage colours are reminiscent of experimental wartime camouflage schemes.
For a bit of barbed wire, the metal spines of old notebooks come in handy.
On a scrap hound basis, I also have the old radio aerial for mounting model aircraft at different heights, once a suitable wooden base turns up. Waste not …
Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN, 13/14th October 2018.