Paint it Red or Paint it Black?

Anyone else play period themed music whilst they paint? I often play themed music whilst I’m painting Toy Soldiers, usually music from the period

Today’s first painting day of the year saw me listening to a mixture of 90s Skate Punk and Spanish Armada music.

A curious mix, I hear you say?

but then I was was basing Vat 19 Skateboarders for my Skrafiti project – so Avril Lavigne’s Sk8tr Boi is good for 90s uniform colours, sorry skater baggy clothes from the late 90s …

First job, start basing the old AJ ‘s Toyboarder’s skateboarder figures (still available from Vat 19) on mdf tuppeny bases as they are forever falling over. Background peeg decal is a freebie with my last Bronte order from Annie Norman at Bad Squiddo, which reminded me of large urban graffiti murals … now to watch those skate punk videos for uniform colour scheme details, unless there’s a handy Osprey on SkatePunk?

For painting Spanish Armada era 54mm figures from Chintoys? Spanish Armada period music for my Arma-Dad’s Army Project, listening to the Saydisc recordings 1588: Music from the Spanish Armada on original instruments by the York Waits.

Arma-Dad’s Army project summary page: https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/arma-dads-army-elizabethan-home-guard-1580s-1590s-operacion-leon-marino/

The red Tudor beret of the kneeling figure has a elite fierce special forces / Guevara revolutionary look. Good Queen Bess and Ralegh undercoated and glimpsed at the back by essential reading matter. A few Hingfat pirate figures have joined in as Spanish sailors.

Paint it Black or paint it Red?

Two black and red colour related songs kept popping into my head about the a-historical cartoon choice of colours for my Spanish Fury reinforcements:

“… I raise my flags, don my clothes / It’s a revolution, I suppose/
We’ll paint it red to fit right in” from Radioactive by Imagine Dragons, 2010s

Or Paint it Black – Rolling Stones from 1966

Why red and black? The Spanish Armada Osprey book title shows a good range of uniform colours, with no one dominant or exclusive national colour for Spanish or British Elizabethan era troops. Both sides had a white flag with a red cross. The St George + Cross for Britain, the saltire type X Cross for Spain. How confusing!

My growing muster of Elizabethan conversions and (right) ECW trained band figures in blue!

By the 1580s/90s various shades of Blue was quite common for English troops (green and white in earlier Tudor times), so my muster and trained band are in work clothes and military green and blue shades.

Black and Red: My previous or first set of Spanish Conquistadors from Chintoys https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2020/10/30/the-spanish-fury/

Inspiration for the black and red came from some vintage figures:

These two Elizabethan Monarch Cherilea 1960s figures have blazing torches. Watch out Cornish towns! Sold – These three lovely vintage figures joined my forces last Christmas 2020.

I really liked these fragile Cherilea figures with their black, red and silver colour scheme with leather brown.

This was it, dark colours, the black and red diabolical colours of flames! I have painted them as fearsome as Tudor Propaganda and the Cornish might have seen or talked about these Spanish ‘devils‘ who fired Cornish seaside towns and churches in 1595.

Before I run into BLM (Black Lives Matter) and Woke history issues / problems, the Spanish raids of 1595 really did happen …

Caption/ image source: https://bradleybasement.wordpress.com/comedy/dads-army/a-soldiers-farewell-tv/

But I have also realised that this whole Arma-Dad’s Army scenario is another long period-costume cheese dream of one Captain George “Napoleon” Mainwaring or a fever dream for Private Frank “Nudgeof” Pike (Stupid Boy!) in the Warmington Home Guard. Thus, this Arma-Dad’s Army Project also links with my Look Duck and Varnish Home Guard Gaming.

That’s two or three ticks on my New Gaming Year Irresolutions 2022 already ..

Phew, useful a-historical “but it was all a strange dream” ethical get-out clause!

So that’s what’s in my ears and on the painting table to start the New Year …

How are all your New Gaming Year’s Resolutions going?

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN 2 / 3 January 2022.

*****

B.P.S. Blog Post Script

The much covered sons “Radioactive” by US band Imagine Dragons has a suitably bizarre pop music video with illegal betting on a muppet style gladiatorial contest where kapok and fur literally flies – but don’t worry, justice is served in the end https://youtu.be/ktvTqknDobU

The “Radioactive” video all reminded me somewhere between Pokemon and the plush fur and toy soldier Fuzzy Heroes rules reviewed on Board Games Geek. As a fan of simple games rules I have not tried these yet but there is an interesting write-up on Fuzzy Heroes and role playing games with kids at Wired / Geekdad:http://www.wired.com/geekdad/2008/11/roleplaying-wit/

As I mentioned “Radioactive” is a much covered song, ranging from the genre morphing musical Time Machine of Postmodern Jukebox , the more acoustic covers of Radioactive by the Gardiner Sisters and First to Eleven.

What will 2022 bring?

Anyone else made any foolish unachievable resolutions for this year’s gaming?

Battling Bronte Sisters (Bad Squiddo 28mm Little Wolves Amazons) meet 25mm Prince August Homecast cavemen boggarts. As close as I will get to Silver Bayonet?

*

It’s that time of the year when New Year’s Resolutions are optimistically made … but maybe not in this house.

My New Gaming Year’s Irresolutions for 2021 were kept deliberately vague …

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2020/12/31/new-gaming-year-irresolutions-2021/

but even then my vaguest plans for New Gaming Year NGY 2021 often went awry, mostly due to COVID.

The local village Spring Flower and Craft show 2021 never happened so no #FEMBruary figures from Bad Squiddo painted as planned but I did paint some later in the year – The Battling Bronte sisters.

Thanks to Covid levels, I never made it to the Woking 2021 54mm Little Wars Revisited Games Day when it finally happened. Covid dependent of course, but hopefully I might make it in 2022 with my Boy Scouts and snowball fighters who need more gaming time https://littlewarsrevisited.boards.net/thread/847/woking-games-saturday-march-correct.

My local history research project talk on WW2 in my local area (as a fundraiser) was postponed by COVID from autumn 2021 to late May 2022.

I think the NGY Irresolutions 2020 will still stand after a year or two interrupted but who knows what might happen in 2022?

New Gaming Year’s Irresolutions 2022

In no particular order

1. Cataloguing Peter Laing 15mm figures as part of celebrating the 50th anniversary of the now out-of-production Peter Laing figures, possibly the first 15mm figures when they launched in October 1972.

https://collectingpeterlaing15mmfigures.wordpress.com

As well as cataloguing what I have over the next ten months, fellow members of the Peter Laing collectors circle on MeWe have been helping me identify figures and supplying photos of figures I don’t have. Then there’s painting and basing more of my unpainted Laing figure stash and getting in some more 15mm skirmish games?

Peter Laing 15mm Chasseurs d’Alpins (WW1 Range) complete with walking sticks!

2. England or Cornwall invaded – Variations on Operation Sealion / Leon Marino

Still playing around with skirmish ideas as part of my Look Duck and Varnish Blog ongoing Operation Sealion Home Guard games, but also found out more about the WW1 ‘Gorgeous Wrecks’ or Volunteer Training Corps, good for future VTC Wide Games and Victorian / Edwardian / WW1 era ‘what if’ games.

Arma-Dads Army! 1590s Home Guard Elizabethan Muster of conversions and ECW figures against the Spanish Fury, Chintoys Conquistadors and pound store Pirates …

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/arma-dads-army-elizabethan-home-guard-1580s-1590s-operacion-leon-marino/

3. More Close Little Wars forest skirmishes and Close Little Space Wars Games in 54mm … I didn’t get a backyard garden galaxy game in this year.

My lovely Bold Frontiers cardboard trees didn’t get enough of an outing in 2021…

Two Britain’s Ltd. broken Scots charging – a favourite pose – with part repaired rifles, two more figures from the Waifs and Strays group of figures 2021 – “Waifs and Strays” sounds like it should be a Victorian Regimental nickname.

4. I look forward to some more enjoyable tinkering with 54mm repairs of broken lead figures to add to various units. Over the years I have been stashing away battered and broken figures from various donations – cowboys, Indians, redcoats, Scots and Khaki figures – along with the odd intriguing figure bought online.

Arrived last year and put away for Christmas – some very heavy, solid lead and fairly paint distressed Terraton 54mm-ish German semiflats to repair and rebase. Indians, redcoats, trees and farm animals …

5. What else might happen?

Weather permitting maybe will even get some more home casting done outdoors?

Pound Store Plastic figures, Early War Miniatures 1940 Range (for Svenmarck invaded!) and vintage Airfix OOHO figures to restore or rebase for some skirmish games.

More time for Bronte ImagiNations?

My Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Snowball Games need attention!

My skateboarders could do with painting!

Not going to run out of fun things to do …

What are your New Gaming Year plans?

I hope that your gaming plans for 2022 go agreeably awry as well.

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, NYE 31 December 2021 / 1st January 2022

Charity Shop find of Airfix and Matchbox copies slowly morphing into others

The curious pleasure of watching familiar Airfix and Matchbox figures slowly change and shrink slightly over time into Generic Infantry.

Crossposted from my Pound Store Plastic Warriors Blog

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2021/12/12/charity-shop-find-of-slowly-morphing-shrinking-copies-of-airfix-and-matchbox-figures/

Booster Bleurrgh? Try Timpo Figures and Yorkshire Folklore.

Unlike many in the world I am fortunate enough, being of “the Airfix generation” and clinically vulnerable, to have had my third Covid ‘booster’ jab on Friday. Thanks NHS.

**** Pre-emptive note: Any Anti Vaxxers or conspiracy theorists who are upset reading this first paragraph, please note that I am not debating this topic on my hobby blog or for that matter, politics or religion either. Enjoy the toys instead. Thank you.****

Knowing that I might feel a bit rough, as indeed I have done with the common side effects of aches, tiredness and headaches, I planned a quiet weekend with two good books to see me through.

The Timpo Model Toys (A to Z of TIMPO) 4th edition 2020 by Michael Maughan

This was a family gift, as I ‘look after’ the family “hand-me-down” collection of Timpo 54mm / 1:32 figures.

It is a great little book, akin to the Airfix OOHO reference books, and fully colour illustrated. This will help greatly in putting our surviving collection back together as close as I can manage – right legs, heads, torsos, horses etc. – with a slight nod towards Timpo purism!

Available through Amazon (Amazon Createspace online publishing) at a very reasonable £26.

The book has the cheerful feel of a Plastic Warrior magazine series of articles, which is what it originally developed from. Fourth edition – this is obviously an ongoing labour of love for the writer Michael Maughan.

The book covers only the ‘swoppet’ style plastic Timpo range, not the solid Action Pack boxed figures or original metal hollowcasts.

Seeing the illustrations of packaging, buildings and the railway stuff was a rare treat, and this book ultimately saves me from bankruptcy having to track down, buy and store this stuff!

The Timpo Silver Dollar Saloon: Front and back book cover, based on a 1970s Timpo catalogue image.

I didn’t buy many Timpo ‘swoppet’ type figures myself, except the Vikings and a few WW2 figures (probably in the Toyway packaging). Most came down to me through the family toy box, a motley collection of knights, romans, Mexicans and Wild West figures alongside a few solid Action Pack figures.

Usually the weapons were missing, losable parts being one of the things that I disliked about Timpo and Britain’s Deetail, especially when gaming in the garden.

No Timpo purist as a child (or now), all of these figures were mixed together in my skirmish games alongside a happy medley of 60s plastics, Airfix and my own Britain’s Deetail figures. I played with what we had. Our few Timpo figures, both solid and swoppet, provided some great character figures.

Timpo, like Airfix, sadly crashed out c. 1980 in the Great British toy company apocalypse of the early Eighties, so supplies of much of the fun stuff (waggons, railways, buildings) was not around for me to buy. This ‘boom and bust’ supply drought or even complete wipeout of toy ranges still affects my approach to collecting gaming figures today – buy them when you see them, even if you have to store them away in the ‘next Christmas’ cupboard!

The Timpo wagons etc. looked really good alongside hollowcast and early plastic figures in F.E. Perry’s Second Book of Wargaming which I bought in the late 1970s / early 1980s. Oddly I didn’t find the First Book (of Wargaming) to make it all make sense until a few years ago, a gap of almost forty years.

Looking through, I don’t recall seeing many of the short lived 1970s Timpo ranges at all in toy shops, even if I had the pocket money.

This fascinating A to Z of Timpo book by Michael Maughan showed me what I had missed. It’s a little like having a book of beasts or birds which became extinct within living memory. Well worth buying.

Timpo rarity value?

About ten to fifteen years ago whilst sorting our family 1960s-70s toy collection, we sold off a small handful of some spare Timpo bodies and bits that did not make up whole figures. We were astonished when one torso went for £20 to £30 on eBay, obviously we had a rare-ish colour variation without knowing.

Not missed – from a purely gaming point of view, who cares about the rarity of colour combinations?

My second book to curl up with this weekend:

The Folklore of Yorkshire by Kai Roberts (The History Press 2013)

This book is a lucky survivor of Storm Arwin blowing open our parcels box and soaking the contents. There’s wuthering for you!

Fortunately a shiny book cover and the very soggy Blackwells cardboard eco packaging took the brunt of the water and protected the contents.

https://www.thehistorypress.co.uk/publication/folklore-of-yorkshire/9780752485799/

I bought this as part of developing the Battling Bronte Sisters skirmish duels or possible RPG Games wit’ Boggarts and the like.

My Bad Squiddo Bronte figures conversions and Prince August boggart home cast (cavemen) https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2021/11/21/battling-bronte-sisters-and-branwell-conversions-from-bad-squiddo-little-wolves-figures-wip/

Lots of interesting gaming ideas and Yorkshire folklore characters from:

  • witchery and cunning wise women
  • black dogs and other such beasts
  • screaming skulls,
  • giants (or the Devil) relocating large boulders and landscapes,
  • secret tunnels,
  • holy wells and water lore,
  • Robin Hood (!),
  • buried treasure,
  • fairish, fairy, elves, hobs and boggarts,

as well as the calendar yearly or ritual year (of wassail, mummers etc.) and a chapter on protection charms and talismans.

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/gaming-the-bronte-family-imaginations-of-glasstown-angria-gondal-and-gaaldine/

Haworth gets the odd mention, the Brontes very few.

What struck me was the overlap in English folklore from my ancestral Cornish folklore and the Yorkshire versions. The fairish, fairy, changeling or elf stories were very similar. This was of interest to me because the Bronte sisters (and brother Branwell) had a Cornish mother and aunt.

Admittedly some overlap in folklore was by direct migration – the ‘ghostly shift’ tales of Yorkshire miners were similar to those of the Cornish hard rock miners with their tales of mine spirits (known as “Knockers”). Skilled Cornish miners were recruited to other mining districts in Britain or they emigrated further afield, especially when times were hard.

Anyway an interesting book on Yorkshire folklore that joins the Cornish folklore and Bronte books on my book shelf.

Beyond the Booster bleurrgh?

Normal ‘gaming butterfly’ blogging service will hopefully soon be resumed, booster bleurgh over. Hobby blogging is usually interrupted or slowed as it is each year at this time by the dark winter nights, festive preparations and working for a living.

I will now return to my year long project of cataloguing my Peter Laing 15mm collection ahead of the 50th anniversary of this 15mm pioneer next October 2022.

That is all …

My repaint and repair of Bad Al outside the Timpo bank … great little buildings.

Previously on Man of TIN blog, some TIMPO related posts:

Wild West buildings and cowboys (see above)

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2020/07/30/big-bad-al-or-heap-good-al-you-decide/

Desert Fort packaging (online auction image) https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2018/08/29/timpo-desert-fort-pictures/

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2021/09/20/timpo-figures-in-toy-soldiers-short-1999-film/

http://www.spanglefish.com/hallmarkstoysoldiers/index.asp?pageid=169845

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN on 28 November 2021

“Girls of the better sort, and by a few rare and gifted women …”

These words struck me whilst rereading Little Wars as being a lesser noticed quote than the oft quoted title and subtitle:

Little Wars (A Game for Boys from twelve years of age to one hundred and fifty and for that more intelligent sort of girl who likes boys’ games and books) by H.G. Wells.

How had I not noticed these words?

“LITTLE WARS” is the game of kings—for players in an inferior social position. It can be played by boys of every age from twelve to one hundred and fifty—and even later if the limbs remain sufficiently supple — by girls of the better sort, and by a few rare and gifted women.”

“And in all ages a certain barbaric warfare has been waged with soldiers of tin and lead and wood, with the weapons of the wild, with the catapult, the elastic circular garter, the peashooter, the rubber ball, and such-like appliances—a mere setting up and knocking down of men. Tin murder. The advance of civilisation has swept such rude contests altogether from the playroom. We know them no more….”

Chapter 1 of Little Wars by H.G. Wells

https://www.gutenberg.org/files/3691/3691-h/3691-h.ht

There in a few jovial lines by Wells you have glimpses of the inequalities of the Late Victorian, Edwardian or pre-WW1 Class system, unenfranchised labour and gender of those of ‘an inferior social position’ to Kings, Empire and ‘Civilisation’.

Peter Dennis’ superb colourful artwork for this Paper Boys Little Wars volumes but where are the better sort of girls?

I have yet to find any historical evidence of who these “rare and gifted women” who played Little Wars may have been, if in fact they really existed.

Maybe they were Wells’ hopeful prediction for the future, that there would be female gamers one day in the future?

Wells was intelligent and interested enough in the lives of women (no snickering at the back!) to have understood maybe a little more than most men of the time the frustrations and restrictions of Victorian and Edwardian women’s lives and aspirations, ones that would be briefly brought to light by women’s work in the First World War.

Cropped close up on the Girl Scouts attending the Crystal Place rally 4 September 1909 – a much reproduced photo

But which ‘sort’ of girl? I am reminded of the ‘girls of the better sort‘ of early pioneering Edwardian Girl Scouts that spontaneously and enthusiastically set up their own scout patrols in response to Baden Powell’s Scouting for Boys publications, before they were reorganised into the slightly more passive and socially acceptable Girl Guides. but that’s another story …

John Ramage Sinclair’s spirited line illustrations in Floor Games of the dread destructive sweeping up of play.

I have researched or uncovered a little of the hidden biography or family history behind Wells’ servants in my blog post: https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2021/03/07/the-dread-broom-and-the-swish-of-skirts-jessie-allen-brooks-part-of-the-h-g-wells-household-floor-games-and-little-wars/

The lives of his wives and female friends are much better known: https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2021/01/21/the-invisible-men-and-women-behind-h-g-wells-little-wars-and-floor-games/

That was the turn of this year’s blog posts back in December January and FEMbruary.

Why go back to this? I was taken back afresh to the Little Wars text source by a recent link to one of my blog posts on my New Machiavelli H.G. Wells post.

The link to my blogpost was from an interesting article by Cynthia Chung on the Rising Tide Foundation website, exploring Wells, science, sci-fi apocalypse fictions and game theory:

https://risingtidefoundation.net/2021/10/30/the-sleep-of-reason-produces-monsters/

Women and Class in H.G. Wells’ The New Machiavelli 1911 – more swish of skirts!

I find Wells’ playful tones sometimes difficult to pin down. Here you have Wells writing as a boy character and father at a play room view level:

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2021/01/15/h-g-wells-the-new-machiavelli-1911-toy-soldiers-floor-games-and-little-wars/

Important to remember that this is not autobiography, this is not H.G. Wells speaking as himself, it is the words of the fictional main narrator Dick recalling childhood.

Note: I have put notable or interesting servant, class and gender words in bold:

“I find this empire of the floor much more vivid and detailed in my memory now than many of the owners of the skirts and legs and boots that went gingerly across its territories.

Occasionally, alas! they stooped to scrub, abolishing in one universal destruction the slow growth of whole days of civilised development. I still remember the hatred and disgust of these catastrophes.

Like Noah I was given warnings. Did I disregard them, coarse red hands would descend, plucking garrisons from fortresses and sailors from ships, jumbling them up in their wrong boxes, clumsily so that their rifles and swords were broken, sweeping the splendid curves of the Imperial Road into heaps of ruins, casting the jungle growth of Zululand into the fire.

Well, Master Dick,” the voice of this cosmic calamity would say, “you ought to have put them away last night. No! I can’t wait until you’ve sailed them all away in ships. I got my work to do, and do it I will.”

And in no time all my continents and lands were swirling water and swiping strokes of house-flannel.

That was the worst of my giant visitants, but my mother too, dear lady, was something of a terror to this microcosm. She wore spring-sided boots, a kind of boot now vanished, I believe, from the world, with dull bodies and shiny toes, and a silk dress with flounces that were very destructive to the more hazardous viaducts of the Imperial Road.

She was always, I seem to remember, fetching me; fetching me for a meal, fetching me for a walk or, detestable absurdity! fetching me for a wash and brush up, and she never seemed to understand anything whatever of the political Systems across which she came to me.

Also she forbade all toys on Sundays except the bricks for church-building and the soldiers for church parade, or a Scriptural use of the remains of the Noah’s Ark mixed up with a wooden Swiss dairy farm …

My mother did not understand my games, but my father did …”

Quoted from H.G. Wells, The New Machiavelli, 1911

Again this is Wells’ main narrator character Dick speaking, not Wells directly himself.

Men can be destructive too! Illustration in Floor Games.

Apocalyptic destruction happens not just in sci-fi War of the Worlds but also in the playroom.

Little Wars and Floor Games have a more autobiographical feel, mixed with Wells’ multiple personas as the eternal boy, Good Uncle, understanding parent (or father), comic writer and social satirist. There is an echo of giants and tiny men from Gulliver’s Travels. There is the social scientist or science teacher Wells with his “Microcosm”.

Both books are such a rich and interesting read.

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 30/31 October 2021

B.P.S. Blog Post Script

Interesting to compare Wellsian Floor Games with those of his acquaintance and contemporary author Edith Nesbit or E. Nesbit who I was posting about last Janaury:

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2021/01/30/i-never-thought-of-building-magic-cities-till-the-indian-soldiers-came/

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2021/01/22/and-girls-did-play-too-e-nesbits-version-of-h-g-wells-floor-games-wings-and-the-child-1911/

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2021/01/24/the-poor-childs-city-e-nesbit-on-teachers-schools-and-making-magic-cities-in-wings-and-the-child-1913/

Repairing toy soldiers – Repairs begin on the Waifs and Strays rifles #1

Repairs have begun on the first of the ‘waifs and strays’ toy soldiers, the khaki figures with broken rifles.

Read more at my overflow / progression blog site, Man of TIN Blog Two:

https://manoftinblogtwo.wordpress.com/2021/10/15/repairs-begin-on-the-waifs-and-strays-rifles-1/

More about where this curious mix of battered and broken cowboys, injuns, khaki infantry and redcoats came from in my previous post:

https://manoftinblogtwo.wordpress.com/2021/10/09/repairing-vintage-toy-soldiers-1-waifs-and-strays/

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 15 October 2021

Repairing Broken Toy Soldiers # 1 Waifs and Strays

A post about Repairing Broken Britain’s, Crescent and toy soldiers from other makers including these battered Hanks and Sutton Zulus, c.1912

54mm Khaki Infantry, Cowboys and Injuns, redcoats and home cast flats with an interesting back story, all needing repair. One of my winter projects …

See more toy soldier pictures here:

https://manoftinblogtwo.wordpress.com/2021/10/09/repairing-vintage-toy-soldiers-1-waifs-and-strays/

Posted on my Man of TIN Blog Two site, set up ready for when I reach my free 3GB capacity on my original Man of TIN blog WordPress.com here.

Jacklex Birthday Mexicans?

Well I missed Jack Alexander’s birthday in one way (he turned 92 on 22 August just over a week ago) but in other ways, he was much remembered on my painting table at the time.

Belated – Happy Birthday Jack – from the many gamers who enjoy your figures.

The first dozen of my 20mm Jacklex Mexicans, ones that arrived in their sawdust filled red box for a birthday or Christmas a year or so ago, have slowly been inching along the paint queue until being finished today (bar the toy soldier style gloss varnish).

So that’s my birthday parade for Jack Alexander their designer …

Image source 2019: http://jacklex.blogspot.com/2019/08/happy-90th-birthday.html

Sadly twelve months ago in August 2020, Alan Cook, the blogging one of the three ABC wargamers (from the initials of Jack Alexander, Bob Black and Alan Cook) passed away.

The late Stuart Asquith was also involved in their games as well.

Sad news, as I have enjoyed reading their ABC gamers’ exploits on their blog over the past five years or so.

Happier news that the new Jacklex owner Mark Lodge has taken over figure production since 2019.

He has also carried on the Jacklex side of the Jacklex blogspot such as http://jacklex.blogspot.com/2021/03/an-old-school-tale.html

Jack Alexander was first introduced to wargaming and figure productions by reading Donald Featherstone’s 1962 book War Games, the same book that later inspired my first childhood ‘war games’ and continues to inspire my games today.

The figures were designed to be compatible with Airfix 20mm and fill gaps in the Airfix range.

The first Jacklex figures I ever saw would have been in the black and white photo pages of Featherstone books (probably the Colonials). They were fairly unobtainable at the time anyway, even if I could have afforded them on pocket money budget.

I first bought some Jacklex sample figures ACW, WW1, Americans to see if they really were compatible with Airfix figures, Christmas 2020 https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2019/11/08/a-jacklex-christmas-come-early/

I liked the samples enough to buy the Mexicans in 2020 to put away as a birthday or Christmas 2020 present.

Airfix made Cowboys, Indians, Waggon Train, 7th Cavalry and ACW figures but never made Mexicans. The sombreros almost look like or could also pass as Tom Mix ten gallon high cowboy hats.

20 Jacklex 20mm Mexican infantry, with officer and standard bearers, 1 machine gun and crew, 1 artillery crew. The start of a small skirmish force against initially Airfix WW1 American Infantry and a few Jacklex American Infantry samples?

All are based on Penny MDF Warbases – but how to paint them?

A Colour Scheme for my Mexicans?

The Jacklex site has some good painted examples of the Mexican figures on its website, ranging from cowboy colourful to desert dusty grunge.

My surviving Timpo and Britain’s Deetail Mexican figures from the 1970s – in 70s flared trousers?

Arriba! Arriba! Desperados!

Who could forget the fabulous Timpo or Britain’s Deetail Mexicans of our childhood? Great and colourful characters including their leader, the central cartoon two gun ‘Yosemite Sam’ figure, suitably battle worn or play worn.

Some of my favourite Britain’s 54mm figures are the old hollow-cast Mexican infantry, produced from 1914 to 1941. For colour schemes, I found the Rurales (Pride of Mexico) figures pictured on the Archive of the Christie’s auction website

The Mexicans are also featured in James Opie’s The Great Book Of Britain’s (below). I like the colour scheme but find that the neckerchiefs will need to be simplified to a red neck cloth.

Andrew Rose’s Toy Soldiers book (below) mentions other paint schemes.

Second grade painting – Officer in green jacket, the men in blue or red jackets – useful future uniform colour scheme?

James Opie in his Britain’s Toy Soldiers 1893-1932 mentions that these are “one of Britain’s most sought after sets.”

I have only two such 54mm hollow-cast figures in my collection, both only part painted so possibly ones sold off as unpainted castings or since paint stripped and repainted? However one of these is in the unusual blue jacket colourings .

My “Magnificent Two” (and only) Mexican Britain’s hollow-cast figures.

Front and back on these unpainted castings you can see the detail of collars, ties, waistcoats and cuffs on the original figures.

Putting these uniform ideas together and after consulting the trusty Ladybird Leaders: Soldiers, I decided to follow the attractive colour scheme used by Britain’s from 1914 to 1941. Grey trousers, brown jackets, red scarves or neckerchiefs, straw coloured sombrero.

More on Mexicans

Having already bought lots of his Mexican peasants, I am resisting the rest of the 54mm Mexicans range from Steve Weston on his Plastic Toy Soldiers website (or choppedmerc eBay sales site.)

I could of course paint the Jacklex Mexican figures in the white clothes of Mexicans seen in Hanna-Barbera Speedy Gonzalez cartoons (another influence from my childhood).

‘Mexicans’ tended to form the stereotypical or traditional bandit enemy in many western cowboy films, not surprising when most such movies are ‘Made in America‘ with its long history of border and territory disputes including the US Punitive Expedition to Mexico for which these Jacklex figure range was developed.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pancho_Villa_Expedition

The Britain’s hollow-cast figures were produced by 1914, obviously picking up on the Mexican Revolution events from 1910 onwards.

These sombrero figures remind me of the opening section at the Campo Grande train station of sombrero wearing revolutionaries with sub machine guns in the ImagiNations Latin or Central American country of Parazuellia in the Morecambe and Wise 1960s comedy film The Magnificent Two, (also with its villainous President Diaz!) As seen in the YouTube Trailer
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=NXOJBc_i_GE

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2021/03/05/the-magnificent-two-1967-imaginations-uniforms-the-womens-revolutionary-army-of-parazuellia/

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The ABC Gamers together forever in an image from their website – Alan left, Jack centre and Bob right – with an escort of my freshly painted Mexicans, designed by Jack himself!

B.P.S Blog Post Script

FMI – For My Information – (as source websites tend to vanish)

The Jacklex Story (edited from the Vintage Wargaming Figures Website)

An article in Meccano Magazine was the catalyst for the Jacklex range of 20mm figures.

In 1962 military-hobby enthusiast Jack Alexander, a local government work-study officer, was travelling up to London when a piece about Donald Featherstone’s new book “War Games” caught his eye. “I had a birthday coming up, “ he recalls, “And my wife and I were going to London to get me a present. So we got off the train and went straight up to Foyle’s and bought a copy of Don’s book”.

[Jack] Alexander was soon hooked. “The trouble was the period that interested me was the Franco-Prussian War and there were no figures for that, so I started to convert my own from Hinton Hunt and Rose”.

Eventually Alexander’s efforts caught the eye of Bill Pearce, who ran The Garrison model soldier shop in Harrow, Middlesex …

Pearce put Alexander’s first models, the British Colonial Infantry into production in the summer of 1968.

“One day I went in to see Bill,” Alexander says, “and he said, “Have you got any more of those Jacklex figures?” I said, “Who are Jacklex?” He said, “It’s you, you idiot, you’re Jacklex!”

After half-a-dozen or so years The Garrison closed down … From then on Jacklex figures were sold through Arthur Cross’s Harrow Model Shop …

While the American Civil War figures – deliberately made to tie in with Airfix ACW – were always the best-selling of the various Jacklex ranges (which also included Foreign Legion, The Great War and – a prize for the most unusual choice, surely- The Russo-Japanese War), it was the Colonial selection that increased most rapidly …

In the late-1980s The Harrow Model Shop ran into difficulties finding anyone to cast the figures, which were made using hand-poured drop-moulds, a time consuming process.

As the remaining miniatures were gradually sold Jacklex faded away.

In 1993-4 Jacklex’s ACW range briefly re-surfaced with an advert and mention in Practical Wargamer (It is believed they were being cast by PW’s editor Stuart Asquith, a friend of Jack Alexander). There was a promise of the whole range being made available once more, but things soon went quiet again. A few of the 1993 ACW figures are around. They are distinguishable from earlier castings by the thick bases and poorer quality.

Peter Johnstone in 2002 took on the Jacklex figures as part of the Spencer Smith Miniatures Range.

Mark Lodge bought the moulds etc from Peter Johnstone of Spencer Smith Miniatures in 2019 – https://www.jacklexminiatures.com

Information edited from http://www.vintagewargamingfigures.info/rblack/jachist.htm

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As mentioned, Peter Johnstone in 2002 took on the Jacklex figures as part of the Spencer Smith Miniatures Range, and he still has this succinct summary of the Jacklex range on his website:

“In 1962 Jack Alexander, a local government work study officer, was travelling up to London and reading an article in Meccano Magazine about Donald Featherstone. Since it was his birthday, his wife took him to Foyles and bought him Don’s book War Games. Jack was hooked, and after early efforts working on some Franco-Prussian War figures, and following an introduction to the Garrison model shop in Harrow, Jack brought some British Colonial Infantry onto the market in the summer of 1968.”

“But the real business took off with Jack’s American Civil War range, which was designed to complement the HO/OO (20mm) Airfix range at the time. This quickly increased to include WWI, Foreign Legion, Boer War and the Egyptian/Sudan campaigns. What was particulary interesting was the extensive range of equipment to go alongside the figures.”

“Jack’s figures were sold through the Harrow Model Shop from the late 70s to the late 80s and then they went off the market, but a chance conversation between Peter Johnstone and Jack in 2002 led to Spencer Smith Miniatures taking on the moulds and production, leaving Jack to enjoy his wargaming in retirement. Slowly but surely, Peter is converting the old hand-cast moulds to centrifugal ones and greatly improving the finished product to do justice to these lovely little perfectly-scaled figures. All the ACW range are now up and running on the new moulds.”

Taken 2018 / 2021from http://www.spencersmithminiatures.co.uk/html/jacklex.html

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Read also https://jacklex.blogspot.com/2015/10/jack-at-86.html

“Back in the 60s when I started wargaming 20mm was king, mainly due to AIRFIX plastic figures. For the first time there were full ranges in inexpensive plastic like the ACW boxes. I could buy infantry for both sides, cavalry, artillery and civilians (cowboys and settlers).

Pioneering metal sculptors were producing their own 20mm figures and one of these was Jack Alexander – JACKLEX. Jack was interested in the 19th century and decided to make his figures compatible with AIRFIX.

He modelled his 20mm figures on toy figures from his childhood made by BRITAINS.

These BRITAINS were real toy soldiers, stylised and with little detail. Jack’s figures were similar, and with minimal detail – if you wanted more detail you painted it on.  Yet it was this very simplicity that gave them a charm of their own, a charm that has lasted from the sixties till today. Jack’s figures are still available and he is producing new figures for the wargames group he games with.

Back in the 60s Jack was asked for advice by Don Featherstone and features in one of his books. As well as figures he made artillery, wagons and various models.  He continues to do so. When he wanted artillery pieces for his Russo Japanese series he sculptured a 15 spoke wheel and scratch built the guns.

In the 70s most manufacturers abandoned 20mm and enlarged their figures into 25mm, but Jack stayed true to 20mm. He expanded his figures to feature a huge colonial range which included British, Boers, Pathans, sailors and assorted equipment including an artillery train pulled by elephants. Don Featherstone had got him started on naval modelling and as well as 20mm Victorian sailors he has since produced junks, Korean turtle ships, Victorian gunboats and pirate ships.” (2015)

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Two by Two into the Metal Airfix Ark: The Case of the Metal Box

A few of the surviving figures, as I empty out and sort my old Airfix figures.

How did your childhood toy soldier collection survive, if at all?

How did you preserve your collection of childhood figures or how did they survive? By luck? By accident?

One reason that I can still play with some of my childhood family Airfix figures is this battered old flight case or engineer’s aluminium suitcase.

As far as I can remember the case was passed on to me by my late Dad. Having left home for college and work, the play things of my childhood were being packed up, sorted and some things reluctantly passed on.

Three of my surviving Airfix plastic preformed tanks, early 1980s painting. Figures “To Keep …”

The core of my Airfix OOHO and 1:32 figures survived in this suitcase, an Airfix toy soldier Ark.

It has lots of height so this was packed to the brim lid with bagged figures. This stout travel case has meant that this collection has survived several house moves since first leaving home.

Similarly the odd old 1970s battered biscuit tin has preserved a medley of such bagged childhood soldiers. Reopened, they have that familiar ‘plastic death’ chemical smell of ageing figures.

Two by Two …

I remember sitting at ‘home’ before the family final move from my childhood home in a sort of Noah’s Ark mode, sorting out who was to survive, who was to be set aside and who take their chances.

I chose one of each Airfix pose unpainted and some interesting painted ones from each Airfix set.

After that, any gaps were filled with more of my favourite veteran figures – all my 1:32 Airfix Italians, larger numbers of ImagiNations Japanese, my few Airfix Space Warriors and Airfix medieval Knights all survived, crammed in.

Some of the more useless mouths (boxed Airfix Modern Infantry, boxed 1980s Britain’s Super Deetail SAS / Marine / Paratroopers) that had no play history or emotional connection were set aside to sell on early eBay type sites.

I’m not sure what happened to most of the Matchbox 1:32 boxes of figures – probably mostly sold – but my few Atlantic OOHO and 1:32 figures survived.

Some of our 1960s and early 70s Airfix OOHO family figures were already brittle and beginning to crumble by then, so they were set aside during sorting and quickly sold, especially the scarce Waterloo ones. This was at a time when Airfix 1:32 and many of the OOHO figures had vanished again from the shops.

This core collection would survive, even when some of the surplus figures were sold.

This case was to put it fancifully my Seed Bank, my Lifeboat, my Ark or Gene Pool from which to rebuild my collection in future. A Touchstone or Portal …

Other Survivals

In early Lockdown, I have previously shown my 1980s blue box of varied and random spare figures. https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2020/04/13/unboxing-the-blue-box-of-1980s-gaming-figures-time-capsule-parts-1-to-3/

My small group of based 15mm Peter Laing ECW and medieval figures survived in a ‘carry case’ curious birthday present from the family, a converted 1970s/80s LP case with wooden trays, copied from an early 1980s Military Modelling or Miniature Wargames magazine. The wooden trays and figures have survived, the plastic and cardboard LP case has sadly not.

Having preserved a core of my collection in such a way, I am often fascinated by the odd mixed lots of other people’s plastic or hollowcast figures in an old tin that pop up on EBay. I have had such rusty old tins of mixed Airfix passed on to me by friends, workmates or fellow bloggers.

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2017/09/08/vintage-airfix-tin-hoard/

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2019/08/02/a-1960s-airfix-owl-pellet/

What I like about this metal box is that it has preserved early family ImagiNations sparse paintwork on figures with random selection of available matt and gloss Humbrol or Airfix paints.

Japanese figures with black hats and boots with red epaulettes?

It has also preserved samples of my own childhood and teenage efforts at Britain’s Deetail style or shiny toy soldier style painting on drab WW2 figures, minus the glossy varnish.

Another cardboard box in a loft held boxes of bits of 1970s and 1990s Airfix Playsets, tanks and figures crammed in – one to show another time.

Thankfully the communal family box of motley 1960s and 70s plastics, Herald and Britain’s knights, cowboys, indians, ceremonials and Guardsmen also survived in a box, along with a battered wooden Fort, having done play service for a time in the extended family.

Old plastic bags might not be the most recommended means of storage for plastic figures but it kept them all sorted until Really Useful Boxes came along and rebasing began.

Two by Two? Numbering the Airfix.

Having kept these figures safe, I am now number code labelling the bases of each of my surviving OO HO and 1:32 figures or rebasing them and labelling them before storing them in Really Useful Boxes.

One crammed metal case of bagged figures turns into a surprisingly large number of Really Useful Boxes and trays, not to be stored in the loft or garage to protect these ageing plastics from the extremes of heat. Some of them are now 50 to 60+ years old. Some of them are older than me!

Once done, I will know what I have got, what still sits on the sprue in my red box and blue box Airfix hoard and which are my original childhood figures. I am using a permanent marker Staedtler fineliner pen, the sort once used for marking DVDs CDRewriteables and CD-Roms. Remember them?

Have case, will travel again …

This metal case almost saw service again last March 2020, emptied out for the occasion, as it was how I planned to carry up by train to Woking a selection of my 54mm snowballing and Scouting Wide game figures and terrain for the Little Wars Revisited 54mm Games Day. The emerging Covid situation had other ideas on this occasion but maybe someday soon …

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2020/03/08/celebrating-international-womens-day-2020-but-sadly-im-not-taking-the-girl-scouts-to-woking-games-day-next-weekend/

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 7 May 2021