One of the delights of slowly unpacking presents after Christmas is to look in these wreckage and repair boxes. I bought these cheaply online over the least few months to store away, bought as part of my Christmas present in advance, paid for using my Christmas gift money.
Box No. 1 contained some interesting zoo animals, lots of cowboys and cavalry along with some battered foot figures.
Box No. 2 contained an equally eclectic mixture of damaged and destroyed figures to be repaired and converted. None have reached the stage of melting down.
Box No. 3 contained another eclectic mix of makers and figures from cowboys to redcoats.
Box No. 3 had an interesting mix of much less damaged figures. I photographed these fast against fading natural light.
Box No. 4 – a shoebox of delight – still remains to be explored and photographed.
It is always a delight to explore these joblot boxes and work out what to repair first.
Some ragtag motley regiments may be possible, once repaired and repainted where necessary, figures made suitable again for garden or floor games in the spirit of H.G. Wells.
Using some wonderful illustrated toy soldier books by Norman Joplin, Andrew Rose and James Opie, I should be able to work out who made some of the less familiar figures. This gives me clues towards whether to repair, restore or convert.
Another order for Dorset Soldiers spare arms and heads may be due later in the year, once my current batch of Broken Britain’s figure repairs from 2018 are finally off the repair bench.
Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN January 2019.
2018 blogposts on Broken Britains and broken lead toy soldiers include:
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 spotted this Britain’s New Metal Guardsman in the first episode of the new Doctor Who series – and I claim my toy soldier Geek Points!
It appears briefly on a shot of the desk of Ryan, one of the new young companions to a new female Doctor Who (Jodie Whittaker). It stands next to a photo of his Granny, who is another important character in this first episode.
No plot spoilers for you but the presence of the toy soldier hasn’t yet altered the plot.
I haven’t watched Doctor Who for years and years, not properly since my childhood days of watching Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker.
Blog posted on 10th October 2018 – World Mental Health Day – by Mark, Man of TIN.
One of the unusual figure conversions or repairs that arrived in a jumble or joblot of figures about five to ten years ago was this lovely damaged Britain’s 54mm hollowcast lead Indian.
As you can see, he has lost his original legs and someone somewhere has carved him simple wooden legs. They have even carved a little buckskin fringe on the back of his leggings.
This is so beautifully and simply done that I will keep Old Wooden Legs as he is, with unpainted legs of wood. Hence his title “He Who Walks on Legs of Wood”, to give him a suitable Native American Indian warrior name.
All I have done is glued him to a tuppenny base so he can join in with future garden, floor or tabletop games. He deserves to be a veteran warrior, maybe even a Chief.
Without a base and maker’s name I was a little puzzled as to his original appearance until one day looking at Britain’s mounted Indians, I realised that he had obviously lost both his horse and his legs somehow. A veteran from Britain’s Mounted Indian Set 152.
Hopefully this lack of repainting shows him the same respect and value that he obviously once had to someone to be worthy of repair, a Brave warrior or Chief.
Naming the Braves
Choosing names for my growing 20 to 30+ skirmish warband of Broken Britain’s restored Braves (to write on the bottom of their tuppenny bases) will be a challenge. There are fantasy name generators online amongst all the Bond Girl Name Generators but it is good to know what the real Tribal names mean at https://www.warpaths2peacepipes.com/native-american-indian-names/
Another lucky bid online for a few pounds brought this haul of battered and colourful American Indians.
I wanted to pick up a cheap and colourful opponent for my Redcoats or Bluecoat Troops, a wily native ally to match my Zulus.
A few broken spears and rifles are no problem to fix.
These rifle, bow and spear toting native warriors should prove great for garden and tabletop games once repaired and mounted on tuppenny bases. They are almost perfect for Donald Featherstone’s simple Close Wars skirmish rules (in his appendix to his War Games 1962).
More correctly these figure should be known today as Native Americans, First Nations or First Peoples but the ones you can see here are pure Imagi-Nations, wily natives straight out of Hollywood B Movies and Wild West TV shows.
Nicely animated crawling Braves sneaking up on an unwary opponent!
I get the feeling that some manufacturers might have quite enjoyed sculpting the animated poses and bright colours after producing regiment after regiment of increasingly khaki figures.
I’m sure after World War 1 these Indians also fitted a need to get away from the reality and aftermath of modern war off and away to the lawless and heroic but imaginary frontiers of the ‘Wild Wild West’, so popular in its many formats in fiction, cinema and Buffalo Bill shows.
Two of the T and B (Taylor and Barrett) figures were a bit smaller scale, around 40mm. They blend quite well with the 40mm Holger Erickson Prince August Homecast moulds.
Taylor and Barrett Indians can be seen alongside my home cast and based 40mm Prince August figures.
ID of figures based on figure markings and Norman Joplin’s wonderful The Great Book of Hollowcast Figures.
Britain’s second grade Zulus have been on the fixing table today, having the fragile and missing knobkerry stub replaced with a spear. Each spear unusually started life as the the metal handle of an indoor firework sparkler!
Ten of these fine Zulu Warriors are awaiting a repaint. Some of the figures have the original rich brown skin colour, but others appear from what paint remains to have simply been painted black.
The reason for the difference may be their painting grade. The lower the paint grade, the less colours used. James Opie records this chunky Zulu figure in Britain’s Toy Soldiers 1893-1932 as “variously catalogued as 4R or 28C or with inferior third grade paint as 21P when sold singly between the wars.” James Opie in British Toy Soldiers 1893 to Present notes this chunky second grade set 22A figure as having been introduced in 1913.
Simple paint schemes for Britain meant restricting the non uniform or irregular troops such as natives or American Indians to three different colours, usually red, yellow or blue colours (Zulus) or red, green and blue (Arabs, Togoland warriors) for robes or loin cloths.
These classic slender Zulus have in their bashed surviving paintwork on loincloths some delightful colourful stripy and spotty loincloths, maybe designed to be exotic animal furs. Too good to overpaint!
The original Zulus figures can be seen on a post from February 2017
The jigsaw set of 12 Broken Britain’s 1906 – 1966 classic Zulus is now almost repaired and rearmed with Dorset Soldiers recast arms – watch this space.
These will go on to become “Generican or Farican natives” as opposition for the colonial invading Redcoats etc, and as such fit as Ashantee warriors into my Bronte juvenilia Imagi-Nations based games.
Repairing these fine but bashed Britain’s is my contribution to the Britain’s 125th Anniversary 1893 – 2018. Happy Anniversary to William Britain and his dynasty!
B.P.S Blog Post Script
As it’s Fathers Day on Sunday, this post is also dedicated to my late father whose lost wartime Britain’s lead figures and general love of Toy Soldiers, even the Airfix and plastic figures of my childhood, are probably the root of my interest in them. He would be pleased that I am still tinkering, drilling and painting such figures many years on. Thanks Dad!
The surviving paintwork suggested that two of the Highlanders were Khaki colonials, the other two were a Redcoat Highlander lying firing made by Johillco and a headless Redcoat torso.
Matchstick legs were inserted into the body through the leg holes and then shaved to a more round shape with a scalpel. Masking tape was then wound round to thicken the leg up to a suitable width.
Suitable heads were mostly found in my homecast 54mm Prince August spares box.
Luckily with two of the figures, the Johillco lying firing Highlander and the Khaki Britain’s standing firing figure, I had battered original figures with which to compare the headless, legless torsos.
The Highlanders had puggrees or wound strips of cloth around their pith helmets, so these were simply added with several fine thin strips of masking tape. The same technique was used to build up the sock strips on the legs.
A puggaree, puggree, puggry or puggary (from a Hindi word ) is a strip of cloth wound around the upper portion of a hat or helmet, particularly a pith helmet, and falling down behind to act as a shade for the back of the neck.
Fimo polymer clay feet were required to finish off the legs, modelled on a Britains Khaki firing British infantryman with feet pointing outwards.
One of the Khaki Highlanders lying firing acquired a WW2 tin hat and arm with binoculars, both recast spares from Dorset Soldiers. An added pistol in a holster from Airfix Multipose spares should suggest an officer’s side arm. A spare right arm had to be built up with wire and masking tape.
The standing firing Highlander also needed a small hole drilled into the missing arm stump with 0.9mm hand drill, a wire arm or armature added (secured with superglue) and built up with masking tape. Glue and paint stiffened and secured the masking tape, stopping it from unravelling.
This figure was easier to do because of the lucky fact that I had a battered Britain’s original Khaki Highlander standing firing figure in my collection to compare it with. This standing firing original figure also needed repair of a broken rifle, so I did that as well.
The looser repaired arms lack the neat slender precision of the original Britain’s limbs but provide character one-off figures. The repaired figures here remind me a little of the looser limbed but spirited poses of Heyde of Germany and Lucotte or Mignot figures of France.
Milliput might be easier for sculpting but I cannot use this due to a family / household allergy, so I used what I safely had to hand. I could have ordered and waited for further Dorset Soldier recast Britain’s heads, but impatiently used what Dorset heads or Prince August heads I had in my spares box, even though Prince August 54mm figure heads are a little bigger and heftier than Britain’s original or recast ones. It adds to the toy soldierness of the figures anyhow.
The final non Highland figure was the redcoated torso.
This was the trickiest figure, the Redcoated torso, as I was not sure who the maker was or what the original figure looked like. It had the chunky, slightly oversized look of an early Britain’s Fusilier but having no other fusiliers in my armies, I chose instead found a suitable Prince August line infantry spiked helmet. This would more closely match my other line infantry figures. The legs and base were easy enough to make out of matchsticks, masking tape and the usual Fimo feet and base to fit a tuppeny base for stability.
The right arm was half missing, so I drilled a small hole to insert a bent wire armature that would be both an arm and shouldered rifle all in one piece. Not the usual rifle position for marching or sloping arms, but it kind of works.
A few more useful finishing touches – NCO stripes, maybe some medals – should complete this tiny lead Frankenstein figure.
A satisfying few evenings’ work, mixed in with other figure repair work in progress on more Broken Britain’s, some more Zulus etc to feature in future blog posts.
Hopefully these once lost and battered figures are as bright and proud, as fighting fit as the day they were cast, painted and bought home from a toy shop in a red box. As shiny again as they once were before their curious fate to be bashed, buried and eventually found again over many years by a metal detectorist called Frank in the Southeast of England.
I have based them on tuppeny pieces and made them stout repairs to arms, legs and rifles, stocky rather than thin and elegant, as these figures will eventually will fight once more in gardens and on tabletops. Huzzah!
You might also be interested in my previous blog posts over the last few weeks about other toy soldier repairs.
Just two more tricky figures left from the figure part of the original haul, the headless driver figure who will become a pilot and a half a body figure in longcoat and gauntlets – possibly originally a pilot?
Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN on 11 January 2018.
Alongside repairing some other Broken Britain’s figures, I have been painting and restoring these wrecked figures to gaming and playable condition or fighting fitness.
The aim is to give them the kind of glossy toy soldier factory painting bench finish that they might once have enjoyed.
Ahoy Sailors Ahoy!
A small Royal Navy Landing party restored from earth battered bodies.
Two bashed sailor bodies required a lot of restoration, although some of their original blue paint remained. These Britain’s sailors were once proud part of either the prewar Royal Navy Reserve set 151 or the second grade paint set Royal Navy Bluejackets Set 49N, an attractive simple fixed arm figure like one I have in my collection.
Legs were repaired or restored with matchstick and cocktail sticks, wrapped round and round with masking tape, then sealed with paint.
The sailor figures had no base and feet remaining. Fimo bases were made, fired and painted to match my other Britain’s figures which are mounted on 2p pieces.
A 1mm hole was drilled through the shoulder where the rifle is broken off to insert some 1mm metal to rebuild a barrel. This was thickened to rifle size again by winding a small width of masking tape around it.
Two sailor’s heads with different hats were found in my bits box, both recasts from Dorset Soldiers, and the neck and sailor scarf area built up on each one to take these heads.
These figure repairs need to be stout and strong as they will once again be in tabletop action or campaigning in the garden, H.G. Wells’ Little Wars style, albeit without firing real projectiles at them.
I do not use Milliput due to a family allergy, instead I use the masking tape, matchstick and Fimo (polymer clay) method of repair. I also do not yet know how to solder such small figures.
The pink or red cheek dot on the faces is a useful gloss paint toy soldier style trick. Nothing very Military Modelling or realistic about this type of face.
I worked on the swagger stick torso figure and made this figure out of him, using a peaked cap Prince August 54mm Toy Soldier head that I had previously cast in one of their traditional toy soldier moulds.
He got one of the disembodied pair of legs with puttees, along with a separate wooden leg. This (Crescent Models?) figure’s body is curiously rather short in the arms!
These Guardsmen needed both leg and rifle repairs.
Two of the broken figures were clearly Britain’s Guardsmen marching and firing.
After preparing new legs as required, replacementbases were made from Fimo (polymer clay). Metal replacement bases can be bought for some footless damaged Britain’s figures from companies such as Dorset Soldiers. As these are being repaired back to gaming or fighting condition, rather than restored to red box display condition, I thought Fimo and tuppeny mounted bases like my other restorations were suitable, as well as cheaper and to hand.
Until some suitable recast Guardsman heads arrive, I am showing these figures with a spare loose fusilier or guards busby head.
As these old soldiers are special, restored to life and recalled to the colours, I have given several of them suitable status with various stripes as Corporals and Sergeants / NCOs.
My favourite figure of this bunch so far is one of the most wrecked figures whom, with the addition of a Dorset recast bare head and moustache, I have made into a brave bare-headed Battling Sergeant.
This bareheaded “on guard” pose reminds me of Victorian Battle paintings. I have painted this brave fellow with the yellow facings (colour and cuffs) of the Buffs (East Kent Regiment), one of the popular Britain’s Toy Soldier Line Infantry Regiments.
This Sergeant matches two of the Buffs “on guard” figures amongst the Broken Britains figures recently given to me by John Forman, whose broken rifles I have repaired.
Compared to what he was a few weeks ago, he’s looking quite handsome! I like the fact that his painted red coat is still showing even after years in the soil and now sits within his new red gloss Acrylic painted tunic.
Next task – watch this space
Amongst the next figure challenges from amongst the metal detectorist’s finds are these fine kilted colonial Highlanders by Britain’s and John Hill Co. (Johillco).
I would love to know their previous history, past battles and how these battered toy soldier figures ended up in the earth to be found by metal detectorists decades later.
Great fun, I am really enjoying this quiet, slow and colourful restoration work.