Toy Soldiers on a Plate

 

IMG_2127
The whole plate with my toy soldier  parade design

On a rainy day on a recent seaside holiday, various members of my family booked in for a ‘paint your own ceramics’ workshop for a couple of hours including tea and cake.

As the only man there that afternoon amongst assorted female holidaymakers of all ages, I declined the more  floral patterns and the seaside inspired designs to design and paint  my very own ceramic toy soldier parade on a plate.  

IMG_2128
Upside down soldiers the right way up …

Thinking of those wonderful Herald plastic toy soldier guardsmen or the Britain’s hollowcast lead bands and parades, the Airfix Guards Colour Party set amongst others, I sketched these figures freehand out on an unfired ceramic plate in pencil.

I wanted a 1950s / 1960s nursery tea set ceramics feel, so kept the design nice and loose.

 

IMG_2131
Setting a swinging pace to the plate this cheery bandleader or drum major.

What was so different from painting real toy soldiers with acrylic or enamel model paints, matt or gloss, is that ceramic paints are a different colour (almost pastel and chalky) from how they appear on ceramics when fired.

With ceramic paints you have no strong idea how the design will look when finished, other than the helpful colour range plates to look at when choosing paints. These have the final fired colour and paint name marked on, which  gives you some idea which ceramic red paint is closest to a Guardsman’s scarlet jacket for example.

The eventual fired richness of colour and coverage were not always in places (such as deep blue trousers) what I had envisaged or was used to from a model paint tin but I was still very happy with my first attempt.

Several days later, the collection and reveal of the fired plate was quite exciting, wondering –  Had it survived firing? Would it look alright?

 

IMG_2132
Angria Arise!  The scarlet red banner of the rising sun that I designed for the Bronte Imagi-Nation country of Angria. This makes them an Angrian Guards Regiment Band.

The original light touch pencil sketch marks are burnt off in firing, which makes outlining the fine detail difficult on faces for example. You cant see where you have outlined in paint and what is pencil. None of yer fine finicky model paint brushes here either!

As well as painted detail, you can scratch lines into the ceramic paint to create  the shiny white dot of well polished black boots or a line of braid, then picked out with yellow paint.

Two to three hours of design and paint, tea and cake, quickly  shoot by, so you have to restrict the complexity of your design to what can be finished in the time. This is why I kept the toy fort sketchy in outline.

IMG_2129
Trumpet and drum for the marching rhythm.

The whole circular parade on a plate design started with this rushing private soldier, who has either  just slipped or is rushing to catch up the others. He has earned a suitable glare from a stern looking Sergeant Major.

 

IMG_2133
Keep up there now! Steady on parade …

 

The toy soldier plate will eventually be framed and hung above my work desk at home as part of my toy soldier collection.

I enjoyed the experience very much. I hope one day to do another session and paint a toy soldier design on a different object such as a mug to store my paintbrushes and pencils in.

I must admit to a new found respect for the skill of painted ceramics and even transfer prints like the Cath Kidston guardsman range of mugs and everyday items https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/06/13/cath-kidston-guardsmen/

 

Many thanks to Clair Roberts at the Kitchen Front http://www.thekitchenfront.co.uk/creative-skill-workshops-bude/

Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN blog, Inglorious 12th August 2017

 

 

 

Advertisements

National Service Days # 1

image
Britain’s Herald plastic soldier National Serviceman and metal Britain’s grey sentry box. (Photo / figure: Man of TIN)

Happy Father’s Day!

My Family History in Toy Soldiers Part 2.

Part 1 for Father’s Day 2016 covered my Dad and RAF Grandad’s War wartime experiences through a Britain’s RAF Firefighter figure. https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/07/20/fathers-day-raf-firefighter/

Part 2 – This Herald Infantryman figures reminds me of my late father’s many tales about his National Service days.

image

I love all the details of kit (helmet, pouches etc.) required on parade. All these would be wearily familiar to the 1950s  and 1960s National Serviceman like my father.

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

I recall seeing the shapeless uniform and beret of a National Serviceman in the Duke of Cornwall Light Infantry Museum at Bodmin and on visits with my Dad to the National Army Museum in Chelsea.

Dad told me how itchy this battle dress was and how they used to soap the insides to reduce this itchiness. It’s true – having worn battle dress trousers for a re-enactment event a couple of years ago, scratchy they certainly are! Boots were softened and broken in by peeing in them, leaving it overnight. How fragrant they must have smelt.

My late Dad as a lowly private was pretty philosophical about his National Service,  talking about it 25 to 30 years after the event. He understood that what they were doing by keeping you away from family, shouting at you, making you work or fail as a platoon, not wanting to be the weakest link etc. It was all about “breaking you down as a civilian” to build you up as a soldier who follows orders without question – he understood the cult psychology of training, which somehow made it easier.

One day he was up on a charge. His crime? Having his back pocket undone, whilst lying down on rifle firing practice at targets. Why? Next time, he was told, it could be an undischarged round in your rifle when cleaning. Attention to detail.

This photo from the IWM’s National Service collection reminds me of this training story and of my Herald British Infantry figures.

http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205212572

It’s odd how some of these wartime or army sayings make it into family life including from someone  my family their WW2 maxim that “Time spent on Reconnaissance is rarely wasted” (or “seldom wasted”).

Dad told me lots  of stories of his National Service Days, but sadly I can’t remember them all now, as he died almost 20 years ago. He never wrote them down or recorded them.

Stories of navigation training  and map reading, involving  an army lorry drop off in the middle of nowhere, tasked to find your way home using a compass and map. Who would be home first? He seemed to enjoy this as a bit of a country lark.

Stories of sleepwalking squaddies found by civil or military police wandering naked in the centre of Aldershot, having climbed over a barbed wire fence to get out of camp unobserved – the sentries on duty that evening got a rocket for that one.

Guarding the gatehouse and camp armoury against arms theft (by the 1950s IRA?)  Cycling back from leave, Dad said that you could wake the sentries up by holding your bike pump out and rattling it along the camp railings so that it sounded like a machine gun. That put the wind up the sentries!

Being in a technical trade (REME), Dad reckoned he could still strip down and reassemble a Bren Gun with his eyes closed in a remarkably short time of a few minutes. One day in the mid 1990s I saw a Bren Gun still crated, greased but deactivated. I was tempted for a few moments to buy it as an unusual retirement present. Similarly he could rattle off his National Service number many years later.

Wise words from my Dad’s National Service days 

Wearing boots all the time will apparently give you weak ankles.

“Get a trade or a certificate so you have something to fall back on”, said this former REME Craftsman.

He seemed to spend a lot of his National Service time fixing the electrics of  tanks and lorries – it made him very practical around the house, competent with tools and DIY, something that didn’t get passed on to his cack-handed son. He was also pretty keen if any of were thinking of joining the forces to make sure we got a trade certificate for civilian life so we had something to help us bridge life into civilian work. This was probably from his experience of his working generation of former WW2 and National Service conscripts.

As my Dad was called up in the last few years of National Service in Britain and he said that they didn’t really know what to do with them all. He spent as a result a lot of time (once technically proficient at his trade) cycle racing for the British Army and doing the Isle of Man cycle TT, training and racing to the point of boredom for his former much-loved sport. Moral of this lesson, he said: “Never make you hobby your job!

The endless 1970s sitcoms reliving the war from Dad’s Army to It Ain’t Half Hot Mum, along with National Service RAF comedy Get Some In!,  all of these brought back his National Service memories. The early Carry On Sergeant film  (1958) and Private’s Progress (1956) also brought back similar memories to be shared.

The youngest photo I have of my Dad is his REME platoon passing out photo, signed by all on the back, along with his discharge papers releasing him as a National Service / Territorial Army  Reservist a year or two after his National Service ended.

There are many other  interesting books about National Service including:

Brasso, Blanco and Bull by Tony Thorne

730 Days Until Demob! National Service and the Post-1945 British Army by Keith Miller,  2003 (which accompanied the National Army Museum exhibition?)

Shire Books short histories: National Service by Peter Doyle and Paul Evans.

Bring Back National Service?

I have met many older work colleagues about whom you could sometimes tell that they had done their National Service in the 1950s and 1960s. Others you would never have guessed that they once passed muster and the scrutiny of a drill sergeant.

Some told you about it; some indeed thought me a bit scruffy and that I could be much improved by a spell of National Service or time at Sandhurst to smarten both me and my ideas up.

Some had had National Service colleagues injured or killed during overseas National Service. 395 National Servicemen were killed between 1945 and 1963 on active service.

Stranger still,  some of my overseas student colleagues during my college days many years later were only a year or two older than me but had done national service and active service in their home countries ranging from the Middle East to southern Africa. They didn’t talk much about it. They were generally happy it was over.

“Demob happy” is still a National Service phrase that gets used 50 / 60 years later by many at work  about holiday leave or moving on to a new job. Likewise “Demob Suit” for something a little garish or very old fashioned or “Civvies” as well for your non-work clothes.

image
Grenade!  (Left) What my Dad used to look like during National Service training? (Right) – What his officers looked like. Disco dancing Herald British infantry officer.

 

In a future part of this National Service Remembered blog post, I’ll show some of the  Herald figures that Dad and I used in our under the table floor wars or gardens wars (based on other postwar National Service era 1950s troops).

Many of these Herald figures look posed just like the  photos from a 1955 British Army infantry training manual that I have, which no doubt formed the content  of my Dad’s rifle training.

Then there’s the story of  the sadness or joy of a closing suburban toy shop in the Eighties to boost my childhood Herald plastic soldier armed forces …

Happy Father’s Day!

Postscript 1982

When the Falklands were invaded, my Dad jumped out of bed convinced like much of the Nation that these Islands were somewhere off the coast of Scotland and probably wondering not only why Argentina was invading Northern Scotland but also if 20 years on he would be recalled as a Reservist for Home Defence. Now where’s that National Service / Territorial Army Discharge Certificate …

Posted by Mr MIN, Man of TIN, on Father’s Day,  June 18th 2017.

The Remount Department # 1 – Army Blue

IMG_1474
Army Blue troops after repair and repaint  –   Johillco buglers, Herald Guardsman kneeling firing on Fimo base and a modern Home cast mould version of Guardsman en garden alongside an original hollowcast version. 
IMG_1476
Emerging shiny from the box, a set that never existed – Army Blue troops

Here are more of the damaged and paint bashed play-worn scrap or repair figures to join Army Blue (as H.G. Wells would call them).

IMG_1471

These are Imagi-Nations paint schemes, channeling mixed uniform influences of American Civil War Union infantry, Danish Guards and late 19th Century Belgian, Prussian and Danish Infantry.

Some of the Blue Danish Guard inspiration came from John Patriquin of the Wargame Hermit blog, which I have successfully used on past Airfix HO/OO Guards figures. http://wargamehermit.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/distracted-once-again.html

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/06/06/more-redcoat-toy-soldier-inspiration/

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/06/19/airfix-british-redcoat-infantry-1960/

 

IMG_1472

Close up you might notice a range of Army Blue troop types.

Above: The first two were once Britain’s Redcoat Guards marching with rifles at slope, followed by  two Britain’s Redcoat Line infantry, a Fimo base repair to a damaged footless US Marines figure, (Home cast?  type) Officer with pistol and one of my recent Home cast infantry.

IMG_1475

From the back  – The simple white belts,  equipment and cross belts show up more than practical black and gives a proper toy soldier look.

IMG_1473

Basing and Painting 

A variety of basing can be seen, experimenting with bases for these soldiers to be part of future Close Little Wars skirmish games on the games table or in the summer garden.

Four of them are based on 2p coins, although I am still experimenting with the best adhesive. Wood Glue might not be strong enough. Whilst it was still wet and white, I mixed in some flock to see how this worked. Flock basing is not very traditional toy soldier but then the two pence bases are practical, suitably light but weighty enough, inexpensive and more importantly, to hand.

http://wargamingmiscellany.blogspot.co.uk/2010/01/single-figure-bases-cheap-bases.html

Figures still need their final coats of varnish and any final details.

I wanted to get a shiny factory  first-grade  everyday paint look, not overpainted with fine details, to look as if they might once  have appeared from a toy soldier factory.

Failing to find an acrylic Gloss flesh, the faces were a Matt Flesh Revell acrylic mixed with some of their Fiery Red  Gloss and some Revell Clear Gloss. The Matt Flesh in itself is too pale.

Eyes and moustaches were put in with cocktail sticks. Other fine line details such as chin straps and cross belts were put on using the fine points of cocktail sticks as well.

The Before Photos

The original state of some of these figures can be seen in the following ‘Before’ photo, before restoration, repair and repaint.

Rather than strip them back to bare metal, I gave each figure a quick wipe over to remove ancient play-dirt and dust and then used several layers of Revell Gloss Acrylic for depth of colour.

IMG_1445
Part of my Christmas horde of figures to repaint and repair. Some require new heads and arms to be ordered.

Some of the unusual colour schemes such as the green bonnet and kilt legs and red coat Highlander will stay as they are, for future reference.

Some of the half finished figures can be seen on a previous blogpost:

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/11/18/the-old-toy-soldier-remount-department/

More rescues and remounts from the Lead Graveyard …

IMG_1446
Damaged and second grade paint quality figures from my Christmas horde – some will appear in the Army Red blogpost.
IMG_1476
Emerging Shiny from a Toy Soldier Box Set that never existed – as shiny as the day they were first made – Army Blue troops.

A sneaky peek at some of their shiny renewed Redcoat opposition saved for another blogpost:

IMG_1470

I really like the Army Red White inspiration over at the Tradgardland  blog: Guaaards!

http://armyredwhite.blogspot.co.uk/2016/03/guaaarrdds.html

Blogposted by Mark, MIN Man of TIN blog, March 2017.

More Redcoat Toy Soldier inspiration

image
Must try this! Repainted Herald Guardsman in Danish blue  (photo reproduced from the Wargames Hermit blog).

To inspire my home cast and pound store figure painting, I look at toy soldiers in my own collection and others online. What would the simple, standard, mass production figures of the past be like, to inspire my paint upcycling of my pound store warriors?

Here are today’s toy soldier inspiration photos.

1. This repainted Britain’s Herald guardsman (above) is a lovely idea from a long running US Wargames blog with a passion similar to mine for hex games, solo games and Peter Laing figures: http://wargamehermit.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/distracted-once-again.html

Instantly you can have two nations, two sides (red and blue) needed for gaming from the same batch, pound store bag or figure mould. Must try this with my guardsman casting mould and vintage  Airfix guards colour party OO/HO figures.

image.jpeg
Fry made? (1915-22) or home cast machine gunner in unlikely guardsman red (from the Sanderson family into my Man of TIN collection)

2. The red coated machine gunners in the Sanderson collection came from a lady selling her father’s 1920s small childhood collection of very simple, often gilt finish figures and cannons. They all have a much loved and well used patina and Miss Sanderson was very pleased that they are being kept together and treasured.

image
Basic paint version on a Britain’s infantry officer alongside a modern William Britain’s Fort Henry Guard mascot handler. (Photo / Collection: Man of TIN)

3. Basic quick past paint finish versus modern deluxe painting on these Britain’s figures.

image.jpeg
Colour ideas sketched from an unidentified figure from a James Opie Toy Soldiers book. (Sketch: Man of TIN)

4. I keep sketchbooks of possible colour schemes for pound store or home cast figures from figures seen online, in museums of toy soldier books. Could a pound store cowboy or confederate become  a redcoat?

image
Attractive red coat figure (which could be made or painted from a WW2 tin hat pound store infantryman) from ‘somewhere’ on the extensive  Milihistriot website by the Sheil family in the USA.

5. Pinterest and Google image search throws up interesting images like this ‘Little Wars’ style spirited redcoat charging, found on the extensive web archives on the Milihistriot website. Could a pound store WW2 soldier become a redcoat?

Happy gaming!

Sign  up as blog follower for more toy soldier and gaming inspiration.

Use the contact or comment form to chat.

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