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:
Each year we have a new advent calendar, as part of our recent family Christmas traditions. Other families like Marvin at the Subterranean, sorry Suburban Militarism blog have their Army of Advent Christmas figures. You might have some odd Christmas traditions of your own!
This year’s advent calendar by Emily Sutton is a fabulous 3D Toy Theatre by Emily Sutton complete with stage and press out cardboard figures. She has previously done a tribute Pantomime print in Benjamin Pollock toy theatre style.
A stage? Victorian figures? I know a few talented toy figures (maybe even ex-soldiers) who seek such a venue.
It is an odd saying in our family that if someone has a peculiar or unusual talent or even embarrassing mishap that “if they could do that, they could have made a fortune on the variety stage”.
Alas those speciality acts and Variety stages are largely no more. The music halls have fallen silent, largely killed off by television and radio. Variety theatres, music hall and revues were the origin of many of the comic performers of the 1950s and 1960s that I admired on the radio and television whilst growing up, ranging from The Goons to Danny La Rue and Morecambe and Wise.
My beloved Muppets Show was set in a variety theatre with often desperate old time Vaudeville acts and hecklers. One of my first 45 rpm childhood records was The Muppets, Kermit and Miss Piggy singing Old time music hall – did anyone else find her a little disturbing in an undefined way?
A more serious tragic recitation by an acclaimed ‘Ac-tor’ of the proper ‘The-a-tre’
I like how Emily Sutton has captured the colourful “tuppence coloured penny plain” style of the old Victorian and Edwardian Toy Theatre sheets. I also notice how well the pink cheek dots of the old toy soldier figures works on the pit orchestra and audiences in the boxes.
This dapper old soldier with ‘tache could be a lively female impersonator like Vesta Tilley
“Aww, My Aching Feet!” A comedy musical number from Tweeny our “Maid of All Work”.
Figures are a mixture of plastic, my home cast Prince August metal, old lead hollowcast from various makers including newer metal figures from Asset Toy Soldiers, Tradition of London, Dorset Toy Soldiers.
Next post – some of the paper cut outs from my Suffra-fiti game tread the boards, with a little more on toy soldiers, early Wargamers and Toy Theatres (Theatres of War?)
RLS – “Penny Plain and Tuppence Coloured” famous essay on Toy Theatre –
Not all of my medical figures are accessible for the photograph, and one of the lead pre-war Johilco nurse figures needs some radical repair to replace a head in the next few weeks.
Another figure worthy of repair. Prewar issue Johilco nurse.
Happy Birthday NHS and thanks to all their staff, past and present.
Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN (or late 1960s NHS baby of TIN?), 5 July 2020
B.P.S Blog Post Script
As an NHS baby myself, I wondered who the first NHS baby was born on 5th July 1948? Named after the Minister of Health Aneurin Bevan, the answer is Aneira Thomas, who along with her sisters, went to work as an NHS nurse herself. Happy birthday Aneira!
“I feel passionate about the preservation of this fantastic service, which provides support from the cradle to the grave, for every person in Great Britain. It means equality for all. As Aneurin Bevan said, ‘The National Health Service will stay as long as there are folk to fight for it.’ The NHS is our jewel in the crown, and it’s our duty to not let it slip away.”
A clever way to display your Britain’s vintage lead farm, which I spotted at a recent West Country steam and countryside fair, full of steam traction, threshing machines and vintage tractors.
Rain flap on the gazebo at the front, anti-pilfer netting, caravan at the back.
A relaxing way to show your treasures.
I was flagging by the time I found this display to chat to the owner (who was no doubt having a cuppa in the back). I was also fending off roving Mad Hatters and White Rabbits on stilts at the time. Theatricals! But that’s another story …
This week I was presented with a little gift from my family who spotted him on a market stall in town. It was this lovely John Hill / Johillco tramp with red and white spotty handkerchief.
What could the tramp be in a gaming scenario?
Maybe the tramp is good cover for a spy, someone from out of town who can come and go, chat to all whilst begging a little bit of bread and some cheese and slowly gather information without being noticed.
The characters: BP Scoutmaster by Dorset Soldiers, Sherlock Holmes by Tradition and Boy Scout Vintage Britain’s 54mm hollowcast.
I was reminded of the tramp story mentioned in Scouting for Boys Part 1 and also by the final Sherlock Holmes story set in WW1, His Last Bow.
I was also reminded of Baden Powell’s book My Life As as Spy (1915) published during WW1 where he showed how he concealed maps within nature drawings of leaves, butterflies and moths when scouting the Balkans in the late Nineteenth Century. Download the book at: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/15715
BP BPS Blog Post Script
Maudlin Jack Tar and Ian Joppy Jopson commented on the tramp espionage angle and tramp signs: here is the tramp signs published in the 1908 Scouting for Boys and 1912 Girl Guide handbook How Girls Can Help to Build Up The Empire.
The Girl Guide version 1912 has the added safety warning for unchaperoned young lady Scouts: “Be cautious in asking the way. Passers-by will often tell you wrong, and if an enemy, they would purposefully mislead you.”
Designed as a universal language of scouting, mention is made of hostile and ‘Foreign Scouts’ or Guides were presumably other patrols from out of area rather than overseas ones.
The “I have gone home sign” (circle with a central dot) is touchingly inscribed or carved on the gravestone of Baden Powell (d.1941) and his wife Olave (died 1977/78) in Kenya.
Excellent article mentioned by Alan Gruber on the Spycyclist stories and rumours of the late 1930s attached to wandervogeling Hitler Youth (which took over ‘officially’ from prewar German scouting) visiting Britain on supposedly friendly visits to British scout groups. Surely some game scenarios there!
My Fourth FEMBruary challenge: The lovely Land Army women from Annie Norman at Bad Squiddo Games have been on the painting table this weekend.
Some quick “pewtering” (a quick coat of paint and then wiped off before dry) brought out how much detail these figures have. It also usefully fills in some dark and shadowy places before the colour coat.
Rather then try and fail to emulate the superb matt realist painting on the packaging by Andrew Taylor, I thought I would use Gloss Acrylic (as I don’t have or normally use Matt paint anyway). I wanted a more gloss Toy Soldier style look which is a bit more difficult at 28mm, rather than at 54mm toy soldier size. Still some tidying up to do on the Land Girl figures including smoothing out the gloss / flesh Acrylic mix, which is a bit lumpy still.
I was trying to second guess what figures from Bad Squiddo Games that Marvin at Suburban Militarism would choose, having incidentally introduced me to FEMbruary. I chose Land Girls, he chose Catherine The Great
High kicking! Work has begun on FEMbruary No. 2 the Donald Featherstone suggested Airfix footballer to Wild West saloon girl conversion. First out comes the PVA and tissue paper to add some feminine attributes, hair and then flowing big flouncy showgirl dress.
At this early stage, the big hair still looks like a 70s footballer Kevin Keegan, albeit in a dress. Some more work required here! Once the frills, chokers, flounces and real tiny feathers are added, hopefully ‘she’ will look more like a 1880s saloon girl.
Pound Store Plastic Warriors FEMbruary challenge.
The Pound Store Plastic Warriors challenge to convert these Poundland 32-36mm plastic soldier figures into tribal African style Amazon female warriors is underway. These should be colourful, more red and yellow and bling, than the white robed male desert warriors that I have worked on recently.
To be fair, we started late, not on FEMbruary the First. There are still nine days left of the FEMbruary challenge 2018 and there are plenty of topics and figures left for FEMbruary 2019. There is always MOREFEMber too!
What might you do you for FEMbruary this year or 2019?
Blogposted by Mark Man of TIN, FEMBruary 18th 2018.
Trying to find interesting 54mm civilian figures is always a challenge. Apart from an unusual set ordered online from China, it usually involves looking out for figures with playsets or vehicles.
An expensive way to acquire a few figures!
Parading Through The Zoo
It was always frustrating as a child to have a zoo or farm or a parade set out but no visitors to watch; it usually resulted in lots of troops endlessly parading with their bands through the model zoo (H.G. Wells Floor Games style) along with assorted military staff feeding the animals, selling tickets etc.
Zoo animals were an important and long running part of any lead or plastic figure series, from Britain’s onwards.
To be fair, military bands and other forms of entertainment and display from balloon rides and fetes to fireworks to lifeboat launches were not unknown in the Victorian zoo such as Bristol Zoo. A bandstand was an everyday part of parks, seaside promenades, botanic gardens and often zoos.
This carried right through at Manchester’s Belle Vue Zoo from Victorian times into the 1950s, they staged elaborate military and historical tableaux through both world wars with a local cast of hundreds. Their theatrical stock of obsolete muskets were borrowed by the early Home Guard units locally in 1940.
Today, Edinburgh Zoo has a penguin called Nils Olaf “commissioned” into the Norwegian Royal Guard and occasionally visited and paraded by his fellow (human) comrades in their magnificent full dress uniform.
The Zoo and Wartime Morale
I have 1939 ‘propaganda’ press pictures of servicemen enjoying elephant rides at Belle Vue Zoo Manchester. This was sort of true of many British Zoos in wartime – there were special rates for servicemen (and lady friends) in uniform, entertainments in WW1 for injured servicemen.
In the first few weeks of being closed to the public on ARP grounds in September 1939, London Zoo made arrangements for servicemen to walk round for the animals to look at. ‘The Zoo’ also made their canteen over to the RAF as the big houses around became RAF Regent’s Park full of training aircrew.
Britain’s and other lead toy soldier manufacturers made plenty of civilians and farm workers in the more pacifist aftermath of WW1. Plastic manufacturers haven’t widely followed suit and painted railway figures in this 54mm /1:32 scale are often quite expensive.
Failing the mounting of a full scale military parade through your zoo, Wild West town etc. all day and everyday, some normal civilians are useful for floor games, sandpit games or wargames.
F.E. Perry in his quirky First Book of War Games and Second Book of War Games often featured civilian or town settings alongside his wargames scenario / photographs.
These feature sets came from a zoo gift shop with two zebra striped jeeps handy for conversion, some brilliant wooden watch towers and rope ways (of which more anon), a couple of odd sized animals and these interesting modern civilians. Similar figures are made for dinosaur playsets.
Something similar to the girl child in the photos has recently been repainted and reused in a Slinkachu type way on the front cover of an art photography book about the recent group of artists / photographers playing with scale for satiric, unsettling or comic effect.
Microworlds contains some slightly disturbing dystopian or to some tasteless items from a range of photographers.
More plastics including civilians are featured on my Pound Store Plastic Warriors sister blogsite –
Police and firefighters are now available sometimes in pound store tubes, suitable for conversion.
Back in the 1980s there were Britain’s Deetail nurses, doctors and construction workers, not forgetting the Britain’s farm workers ranging from lead to Herald plastic and a modern farm worker range still around in toy shops or online today.
In future blogposts I will feature more civilian figures to be used for game scenarios from the Chinese made sets available online to the useful USA manufactured Toob “heritage” plastic figures roughly in 54mm, also purchased online.
Steve Weston’s Plastic Warrior website also feature an excellent set of Mexican Wild West civilians or peasants.
To try to separate the joy of ‘Pound Store Plastic Warriors’ from the other gaming content on the Man of Tin blog, I set up in early September a sister blog site for this material in future, subtitled “Little Wars on a Budget“: