Charbens US Army Men

An attractive paint scheme (if poor face painting) for a Charbens G I American infantryman figure of hollow-cast lead.

This colour scheme would work well in gloss acrylic on pound store plastic figures.

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This figure in my collection is one half of a stretcher party, Charbens figure set No. 210.

 

They are notedly similar in style and paintscheme to Timpo lead hollow-cast GI figures of the 1950s.

Some of the other Charbens GI figures in my collection appear to have been simply repainted (by their original owners?)

Made of hollow-cast lead, they have an animation to them that you could see followed through into plastic figures like Airfix, Timpo, Crescent and Lone Star / Harvey. The lack of bases to the kneeling figure or minimal bases on the Grenade Thrower are ways of saving expensive metal and similar in this way  to the American ‘pod foot’ dime store figures.

Their modern plastic pound store warrior equivalents often have similar minimal plastic saving bases, making them cheap but annoying if they keep falling over!

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Charbens American GI soldier No. 200 repainted 
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Charbens American GI soldier Mine Detector No. 209
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Charbens American GI figures Grenade Thrower No. 200, Mine Detector no. 209 and Kneeling Firing No. 203 (Photo / figures: Man of TIN Collection)

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These repainted figures with few colours are not unlike some of the postwar paint colour reductions by figure manufacturers. To keep production costs down, an increasingly smaller palette of colours was used by many figure manufacturers. Some figure painters were paid according to / by the number of colours per hundred figures completed.

Reference numbers are to the Charbens figure list in Norman Joplin’s The Great Book of Hollow-Cast Figures (New Cavendish, 1993/99) which shows this range on page 77 / plate 143.

All these figures are postwar hollowcast lead figures produced by Charbens (London, 1920-66) from 1945 to 1960s when lead figures were phased out in favour of plastic.

The Charbens name came from brothers Charles and Benjamin Reid who set up their own hollowcast business in the early 1920s, one of them having previously worked for William Britain.

Blog posted by Mr MIN, Man of TIN, July 2016.

 

Reverse Colours Khaki Redcoats # 1

 

As well as the odd redcoat repaint of dull khaki figures, some figure manufacturers did the opposite and painted their ceremonial or redcoat figures khaki.

This interesting khaki Scotsman figure joined my collection as a Father’s Day gift. It has a damaged base but was with several Johillco khaki figures.

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Left is the base of Johillco Khaki British soldier, right the damaged base of my khaki Scotsman. Figures: Man of TIN collection.

Several of these khaki redcoat figures are featured in the interesting “Unknown or Unidentified Manufacturers” section of Norman Joplin’s beautiful Great Book of Hollowcast Figures.

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Sketch book of possible Khaki highlanders – I think mine is a Charbens Khaki highlander. Figure / sketches: Man of TIN

Maybe this was wartime expediency, converting a parade or ceremonial range into utility khaki for topical or patriotic appeal?

Maybe this was a childish or parent overpaint?

Interestingly Norman Joplin notes of toy soldier manufacturers that: “Khaki was sometimes repainted with red or blue when Khaki uniforms fell from favour” (page 95, The Great Book of Hollowcast).

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Ladybird Leaders first information books No. 16 Soldiers with text by John West and illustrations by Frank Humphris (1975),  another of my bashed childhood information sources.

When Khaki replaced Red

Khaki came into use during Victorian Colonial Wars; the redcoats last were regularly worn by British troops in 1885 at the Battle of Gennis in the Sudan Campaign.

Insert your own reference to Corporal Jones in Dad’s Army here in his old red coat, fixed bayonets and “they do not like it up ’em!” Several companies now make redcoat and khaki figures of Corporal Jones.

The factual basis of Corporal Jones’ character in his redcoat and khaki days is set out here:  https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lance_Corporal_Jones

A fascinating illustrated article on the development and decline of the Redcoat uniform in Britain and its ceremonial survival worldwide can be found here:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_coat_(British_Army_and_Royal_Marines)

Another good example of hobby learning: how technology of cloth, dye and weapon along with politics, geography, climate and (social) history are all to be found in the now deemed slightly odd but still pleasurable hobby of painting toy soldiers!

The two Boer wars were probably the turning point in tactics and uniforms, developing a trend for clothing matching the battlefield and climate that had unifficailly been going on in India and across Empire since the early Nineteenth century.

It was the end of black powder and smoky battlefields, an age of more individual fighting, snipers and improved rifles, not to mention binoculars, balloons and aeroplanes; all these made bright colourful uniforms too conspicuous. The French poilu soldiers in their red and blue, almost Napoleonic French flag uniforms learned this the hard way in the first years of World War One. The age of drab camouflage colours and in the toy world  “green army men” had arrived.

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The drab but interesting final page of Ladybird Leaders No. 16 Soldiers, 1975,  illustration by Frank Humphris. Interestingly  the Germans are not pictured in this book from about 1870 onwards.

Repainting the drab green toy soldiers in bright colours has been my mild reverse protest against the age of drabness ever since:

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Figure Painting / photo: Man of Tin
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Pound store warriors: Figure painting / photo: Man of TIN.

Other people’s repaint efforts now in my collection: https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/06/16/obe-repaint-figures-1/

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Airfix 1960 Infantry Combat Group  repainted as Victorian redcoat British Infantry (figure painting / photo Man of TIN)

Including my  Trumpton / Camberwick Green Pippin Fort inspired redcoat repaint of Pound Store figures and Airfix Japanese infantry:

RIP Gordon Murray, inventor of Trumpton, Chigley and Camberwick Green.

Happy hobby learning, painting, collecting and gaming to you all!

Posted by Mr MIN, Man of TIN, 30 June 2016.