The proudest part of the Thyer Brigadian uniforms is the brass cavalry style plumed dragoon helmets which are often copied by Fire Brigades worldwide. Interestingly these Volunteer Militia troops are also the Volunteer Fire Brigade in their various towns and villages (hence the variations in uniforms), making sure that their native Alpine wooden houses and mountain forests do not catch fire. A fireman’s axe is carried on fire duty and state occasions.
They display the Thyer Brigadia Volunteer Firemen’s flag of blazing red orb symbol on a yellow background, a flag proudly made by some of their wives and mothers.
Shiny Toy Soldier style faces with the pink cheek dot fit complete the look
Alan Gruber suggested that they should have some ‘wheels’ in the form of a Fire Engine. In the absence of an old fire engine (I’m sure I have the reissued 1/32 Airfix unmade kit one stowed somewhere) I made do with a 1940 Ford 1:32 scale fire truck (obviously imported from America). The uniform has obviously not changed by the 1940s.
I shall have to track down a suitable Dalmatian fire dog to accompany them on parade.
This gives me another unit / outlet for broken figures, once I have ordered some further arms and heads from Dorset in future.
Some battered hollowcast Britain’s from job lots that are long overdue for repair.
They are due to lose their battered Redcoats and acquire new heads, new arms and handsome navy blue jackets. I shall keep the navy blue trousers and red trouser stripe.
I have some Dorset Soldiers recast arms and spare firemen’s heads so this seemed a good chance to create some 54mm shiny toy soldier versions of my scrap 15mm Thyer Brigadia Militia and Volunteer FireFighters.
They will eventually look like armed Victorian Firemen in their shiny brass helmets.
Combined Militia and Fire Brigade, now where have I seen that before?
These are part of my ImagiNations Forgotten Minor States (FMS) in MittelMittel Europe pictured and described here in the mid to late 19th Century
Thanks to a gift of broken and surplus figures from Alan ‘Tradgardland‘ Gruber, I had five damaged or oddly painted Britain’s Deetail Guardsmen to play with.
Some of them already had some bright and colourful but playworn repainted uniforms. I have sensitively repainted some of the more scuffed paintwork to keep these colourful ImagiNations and Ruritanian uniforms.
Such wild paint or uniform schemes (OBEs or Other Beggars’ Efforts) deserve to be preserved and enhanced. The blue and yellow ones have a colourful Scandinavian or a Swiss Guard inspired feel.
Up close, the two red coats along side each other goes to show how easily Britain’s Deetail could have made more traditional Line Infantry with spiked Home Service helmets rather than more modern Guards.
The rifle needed to be modified or repaired with ammunition clips removed to make it more old fashioned. The metal base and feet lugs were missing so feet were drilled, wire pins inserted and fixed through and underneath a card base.
These will be robust enough figures for Little Wars style 54mm games.
The Line Infantry style conversion was done simply by repairing the rifle and removing the original head. The new spiked infantry helmeted head was a spare one in the bits box that I had cast from the Prince August 54mm Traditional Toy Soldier Homecasting set.
A hand pin vice drill was used to drill a hole in neck and head and joined by short piece of wire and superglue.
A quick gloss spray Varnish added to the toy soldier look. A pink cheek dot is still required.
As more such broken Britain’s Deetail figures turn up, I now have several ImagiNations type uniform schemes to add to.
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.
We wear no medals on our breasts for gallant battles won;
No pension-bureau offers us reward for service done.
Yet no one of Napoleon’s, nor one of Caeser’s host,
Has made himself a record such as event I can boast.
Toy soldiers must work harder than real troops, you see;
A march of fifty thousand miles is nothing much to me.
I lost a leg at Marathon, an arm at Monterey,
Was left for dead at Gettysburg – all on the self same day.
And now that I’m forgotten and no longer fit to roam,
I wish some kindly boy would found a poor Toy Soldier’s Home.
Having read this poem on Tony’s website, I was curious to find out more about the poem and some of the references.
This poem was first published in December 1897 in St. Nicholas: An Illustrated Magazine for Young Folks Magazine Volume 25, No. 2, a fact mentioned in the footnotes or endnote section of the book Sing Not War: The Lives of Union and Confederate Veterans in Gilded Age America by James Alan Marten, 2011. This makes it sort of sad toy related Christmas poem. The original can be seen here: https://archive.org/stream/stnicholasserial251dodg/stnicholasserial251dodg#page/120/mode/1up
I like the HG Wells’ Little Wars style illustrations.
Along with Gettysburg being mentioned, it suggests the poet was American?
I found this short poem strangely quite moving, wistful and resonant: “Was left for dead at Gettysburg – all on the self same day.”
I often wonder what battles my bashed and broken figures (collected for repair from various people and online auction sites) have had in their old days. How did they lose that leg, arm, head or rifle?
There is an element of truth to the poem – before you could afford to buy or had available every figure / period ever, in the old days when your few figures stood in for everything, green were generally the good guys, grey and all else the enemy. (The power of Imagi-nations?) One figure could indeed fight Gettysburg, Marathon and Monterey all on the same day or at least the same weekend.
“And now that I’m forgotten and no longer fit to roam …”
At last a pointless vocation! All those broken Britain’s figures under repair – I’m turning into a poor Old Toy Soldier’s Home.
I hear the cry “Lead Medic! Lead Medic!” and come running. A call goes out for a Lead Vet to fix a missing horse leg. Farewell dear friend? No shooting if injured for these noble old animals in my Remount Department.
Hopefully Tony might catch the old Toy Soldier Home bug and start repairing bashed and broken vintage figures.
The Good Soldier Svjek 23 November 2018 at 08:40
Have noticed lots of broken figures on Ebay and having seen your good work on repairing them I’m tempted to have a go myself .
MIN ManofTin 23 November 2018 at 12:35
Huzzah! Go on and do so, Tony. Restore their battered dignity … and give them a new lease of gaming life. I’m not damaging my supply options – there are more than enough battered figures on EBay for everyone. If you do, I look forward to seeing them feature on your blog.
Here are a couple more of my current leadveterans from various makers in need of minimal repair help, just a broken rifle to mend for each one.
A small pin vice drill to drill the rifle holes to insert some stiff wire, thickened out with masking tape should do the trick. Stout enough for gaming again.
Some may need repainting, others have enough original paint that there is no need to disturb their bashed and playworn “veteran” patina.
All on the road to recovery, ready for for some 54mm skirmish games next year.
A few of my figure related blogposts ranging from early experiments with cocktail stick rifles and heavy Fimo bases (now debased and re-repaired or upgraded) to more delicate pin vice drilled wire, masking tape and super glue repairs:
I loved making these unusual buildings over several weeks, using scrap materials.
An old, long dead Roberts digital radio with wooden frame and stylish fabric print has been upcycled into several wooden 54mm buildings.
Brick ruin walls were provided with air drying Das terracotta clay. This took a week or two to dry!
I wanted to create buildings that could serve a number of uses in a desert scenario or European Countryside on tabletop or garden games.
I wasn’t sure how best to paint these with Acrylics, so went for a ‘Blend’, inspired by two old stalwart childhood favourites, the Airfix Desert Outpost and the ruined house European strongpoint.
My Airfix Painting Inspiration?
After a non-descript base paint colour of sandy Afrikabraun and brown Acrylic to suggest a sand or mud floor, I used a mixture of white and offwhite Acrylic for the whitewashed walls, followed by a dry brush of brown to weather the walls to a more ruinous state. Several coats of white / offwhite were required.
Lolly sticks, cocktail sticks and wooden coffee stirrers provided the ruined window frames. Pushing a couple of ragged holes through the clay walls suggests that the building has been damaged by shell fire or the walls loopholed by troops.
I still have the smaller clay building to paint, which has been based on another oddly shaped wooden internal section of the old radio.
Coastal Gun Emplacement?
Looking at the other part of the old digital radio, once I had removed the electrics / electronics, the shape suggested some kind of camouflaged bunker.
I was inspired by some of the simple wooden Hugar style buildings made in the 1930s for Britain’s. Paul Brookes has written a recent Illustrated History of Hugar, available via Amazon.
The metal front speaker grille that would form the bunker roof would be fine on a sci fi bunker. It didn’t look right on a 1930s/40s one, so was replaced by cardboard covered in some of the fabric pattern removed from the radio back before the back was used as the larger terracotta house base.
Other internal bits of wood from the radio suggested two gun platforms.
I had no plyboard left and had already used the radio base for the larger house ruin, so I substituted stiff cardboard for a base. I tend to use whatever I have to hand, just to get on with the job whilst in the mood.
Amongst job lots of Broken Britain’s figures had been a couple of damaged old Britain’s AA guns without their trailer bases. I had been saving three of these guns for wooden gunboats but two seem to serve well enough here as requisitioned or improvised coastal guns.
A scratch team of repaired Broken Britain’s and other hollowcast lead Khaki gunners and Infantry give the right feel.
These steel helmeted Khaki infantry mounted on tuppenny bases are Britain’s East Kent Regiment on Guard, all broken figures gifted to me by John Forman rather than being scrapped, all of which needed base and rifle repairs.
I’m not sure who the textile designer was for the textiles on this limited edition (but dead) Roberts digital radio c. 2004/5, but I think the strong blotch camouflage colours are reminiscent of experimental wartime camouflage schemes.
For a bit of barbed wire, the metal spines of old notebooks come in handy.
On a scrap hound basis, I also have the old radio aerial for mounting model aircraft at different heights, once a suitable wooden base turns up. Waste not …
Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN, 13/14th October 2018.