Happy Christmas to all my Man of TIN Blog readers

Happy Christmas to all my Man of TIN blog readers – wishing you many shiny toys!

Image: From a lovely old 1978 British Royal Mail stamp set of Christmas customs (see below), the 13p stamp postcard is in my 1580s – 1590s / 1940 “Arma-Dads Army” Elizabethan Sealion project scrapbook. New summary blog page for this project here:


During my childhood, my late dad as a lifelong stamp collector used to buy me the postcard versions and sometimes the highly educational presentation packs or first day covers, which had insert pages all about the stamp topic. Stamp collecting and model railways are two of the family hobbies in the blood (in a malarial or genetic way) that I am resisting from lack of time, storage, space and money.

Happy Christmas to all my readers & fellow bloggers from Mark Man of TIN!

Happy Christmas from the whole Man of TIN family of spin off blogs:

Man of TIN blog two – all set up ready for when I fill up and run out of my free 3GB WordPress Man of TIN blog site sometime in early 2022.

Pound Store Plastic Warriors Blog – including tabletop snowball fight fun!


Scouting Wide Games for the Tabletop – also with festive snowball fight fun!

Look Duck and Varnish – my occasional Home Guard and Sealion gaming blog

Sidetracked2017 – where model railways meet toy soldiers and wargaming

Warrior and Pacific Magazine 1901 one-off handwritten children’s magazine 1901

Collecting Peter Laing 15mm figures – cataloguing my collection of these figures ahead of their 50th anniversary In October 1972

Enjoy your family and festive time.

Who knows what Christmas and the New Year will bring? Keep safe and well, here’s wishing you happiness and health, if not wealth. Whatever happens, we have our marvellous hobby to enrich our lives and deplete the coffers.

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, Christmas Eve, 24 December 2021

This set was designed in 1978 by British artist and book illustrator Faith Jacques (1923–1997) who had an interesting wartime career as a WREN (Women’s Royal Navy Service):

“She was posted to Oxford where she was stationed in the New Bodleian Library. Her duties included control of a filing department containing over a million photographs, holiday snaps included, of Germany and Occupied Europe, with particular attention given to pictures of coastlines and village approaches.Wikipedia source.

The 13p (most expensive) stamp design was the 16th Century carollers singing the Boars Head Carol.

In the Teeth of the Enemy: Christmas Cracker Scrap Terrain

Unusual shelter for 2/3 of my 28mm Russian army from Bad Squiddo’s WW2 Women range

Enjoy recycling your Christmas cracker scrap this year!

Crossposted from my Pound Store Plastic Warriors blog by Mark Man of TIN 23 December 2020:


Mysterious Jungle Carvings of South America?

Strange Carvings Amid the Jungle Ruins … uncovered by my favourite 1970s 54mm Airfix figure, WW2 Australian Officer, produced before the Indiana Jones films.

There is an unusually festive source for these strange and mysterious stone carvings in the South American jungles – a cheap terrain idea, crossposted from my sister blog Pound Store Plastic Warriors:


What does a Mixtec Oracular Priest make of these tribal carvings? Chintoys 54mm Mixtecs

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN 7 December 2020

“You could make a fortune on the Variety Stage!” Toy Soldiers and Advent Calendar Toy Theatre

Six press out characters, Harlequin, Pierrot, Columbine, the Fairy, Toby Dog and sailor Boy

Each year we have a new advent calendar, as part of our recent family Christmas traditions. Other families like Marvin at the Subterranean, sorry Suburban Militarism blog have their Army of Advent Christmas figures. You might have some odd Christmas traditions of your own!

Our 2018 advent calendar from Art Angels designed by the fabulous British illustrator Emily Sutton was a fabulous toy shop.

This year’s advent calendar by Emily Sutton is a fabulous 3D Toy Theatre by Emily Sutton complete with stage and press out cardboard figures. She has previously done a tribute Pantomime print in Benjamin Pollock toy theatre style.

A stage? Victorian figures? I know a few talented toy figures (maybe even ex-soldiers) who seek such a venue.

Lawe and Awder, The Two Singing Bobbies, “Always on The Beat” … (my Prince August Home Casts)

It is an odd saying in our family that if someone has a peculiar or unusual talent or even embarrassing mishap that “if they could do that, they could have made a fortune on the variety stage”.

Alas those speciality acts and Variety stages are largely no more. The music halls have fallen silent, largely killed off by television and radio. Variety theatres, music hall and revues were the origin of many of the comic performers of the 1950s and 1960s that I admired on the radio and television whilst growing up, ranging from The Goons to Danny La Rue and Morecambe and Wise.

My beloved Muppets Show was set in a variety theatre with often desperate old time Vaudeville acts and hecklers. One of my first 45 rpm childhood records was The Muppets, Kermit and Miss Piggy singing Old time music hall – did anyone else find her a little disturbing in an undefined way?

The cheerful comic song of the old flower girl “Who’ll look at my lovely bloomers?”

A more serious tragic recitation by an acclaimed ‘Ac-tor’ of the proper ‘The-a-tre’

I like how Emily Sutton has captured the colourful “tuppence coloured penny plain” style of the old Victorian and Edwardian Toy Theatre sheets. I also notice how well the pink cheek dots of the old toy soldier figures works on the pit orchestra and audiences in the boxes.

This dapper old soldier with ‘tache could be a lively female impersonator like Vesta Tilley

Street Songs of Old London Town:The Musical Muffin Man, Lucky Sweep and Blind Fiddler.

The “Fan Mail” sketch from Fred the Singing Postman and Fanny our Variety Comedienne

William Shaxbeard’s dream of a magnificent theatre of the future …

The ‘skin’ role – Urson Wells our fine dancing & singing ‘bear’, musicians and Fido the singing dog …must be hot in that bear costume (new Tradition of London and old hollowcast figures)

A fine Military Band to lift the spirits! Mostly plastics of various makers
Man of TIN salutes and sings a fine patriotic song! (My home cast Prince August ‘avatar’ )
Man of TIN with small Guards Marching Band: my shiny painted Lone Star / Harvey plastics
“The Relief Of Mafeking” a patriotic song by the “Three Jingo-ling Johnnies
A jaunty Scottish musical number from Mac on the Pipes
Whistling Bob Nobbler, the Genial Gentleman of the Road and his comedy patter

“Aww, My Aching Feet!” A comedy musical number from Tweeny our “Maid of All Work”.

Figures are a mixture of plastic, my home cast Prince August metal, old lead hollowcast from various makers including newer metal figures from Asset Toy Soldiers, Tradition of London, Dorset Toy Soldiers.

Next post – some of the paper cut outs from my Suffra-fiti game tread the boards, with a little more on toy soldiers, early Wargamers and Toy Theatres (Theatres of War?)

RLS – “Penny Plain and Tuppence Coloured” famous essay on Toy Theatre –


Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, December 2020

Happy Christmas from the Man of TIN!

A very Happy Christmas from the Man of TIN blog. 

A very Happy Christmas and Happy Blogmas from the Man of TIN blog!

I have really enjoyed seeing all the Christmas greetings and parades on different blog sites for toy soldiers and wargames.

So begins my first blogging Christmas, or Blogmas,  a new Christmas Tradition for the Man of TIN blog –  the Christmas parade or photo.

The Christmas photo cast 

I always like to know what or whose figures are shown in photos, it’s a great way to discover new ranges or ideas for figures that you already have.

Figures are all 54mm and come from a wide range of sources.

There are two 54mm Prince August castings that I made or home-cast using their Trdaitional Toy Soldier moulds to make the Policeman and saluting Guardsman (our Man of TIN gravatar). Both were originally made by me as family gifts as brooches with brooch backs.

The lady with an armful of presents is an odd resin ready painted Christmas village figure from The Christmas Shop open all year round in Bath.

The bowler hatted man is Dr. Watson, bought as an unpainted casting from Tradition of London. The dog is from the Tradition Victorian streets range.

The children are from the beautifully painted metal Imperial Productions of New Zealand ‘Town and Around’ Range Set no. 29 Letter to Santa (girl and postbox) and Set No. 35 Yuletide (children with presents and wreath for the door). The postman came from the same shop, the friendly team at the Guards Model Soldier Centre in London at the Guards Museum near Buckingham Palace.

I can’t remember where the lovely street and house scene is from, probably the Guards Model Soldier Centre as they have a whole street display of them in their parade cabinets.

A light dusting for a few moments scatter from a flour shaker and a quick grinding of salt for shiny snowy … then swept away after the photo. A white felt background behind the house.

I tried out various lighting options including battery led candles, then played around with in Apple /Mac/ IPad photo editing programmes.

Black and white street snowy scene. 

I had some fun playing around with LED battery candle light but this made the photo very grainy.

Candle lit Street  scene at night. Is that Moriarty lurking to the left? Help is at hand in the foreground …
The same scene rendered into blurry Victorian photograph or newspaper print. Sherlock Holmes has crept into the foreground, another Tradition figure. 

Sherlock and Moriarty, bought as unpainted Tradition castings, have snuck in …

A very Happy Blogmas and Happy Christmas. I look forward to another year, a  New Year of reading a wide range of  toy soldier and gaming blogs, writing new blogpost, receiving comments  and all the chat.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by and read and commented on Man of TIN blog and our sister site of Pound Store Plastic Warriors.

Posted by Mark, Man of TIN blog, Christmas Eve 2016.

Nutcracker Toy Soldiers


Great toy soldier ideas and colour scheme from this special Nutcracker in our family collection (Photo / figure: Man of TIN)


A Very Happy Christmas to all my readers, gamers and blog friends.

Gaming to me has always been a little bit like The Nutcracker story.

There seem to be lots of Nutcracker Soldiers around as a Christmas decoration theme this year.

I’m not very knowledgeable about ballet, nevertheless the idea of toys coming to life (at midnight naturally) has long had an appeal to me and many other children and adults.

The fact (or facet of the imagination) that some toys are likely to be bad, jealous, malevolent makes for a more interesting story, just as in the Steadfast Toy Soldier. An instant Enemy! Instant villains, instant bad guys.

The Nutcracker features the basics of narrative and gaming – good and bad, overcoming evil. Colourful uniforms, childlike toys. Return to the nursery etc. and the basic plot of Toy Story.

1,2,3, 4 – I declare a Toy War!

I like the creative tangents and incidental hobby learning stuff whilst surfing the Internet – all more inspiration for gaming scenarios, historical background and uniform paint schemes.

Will this be 2017 project – a Nutcracker army made out of Fimo?  Moulds sourced from Etsy.

There are stacks of Pinterest and Wikimedia images of The Nutcracker, the toy soldiers and other characters. Well worth a search through for some bling uniform Imagi-Nations inspiration.

Decorative Nutcrackers give some great Imagi-Nations uniform ideas  (Wikimedia source: Raul654)

The Tchaikovsky ballet, once of the  Tzarist Russian era, is now an American snowy Christmas classic with many adaptations from Duke Ellington jazz to cartoons.

The ballet is itself adapted from E.T.A. Hoffmann’s story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, by way of Alexander Dumas’ adapted story ‘The Nutcracker’.


Hoffman was an interesting Prussian character and story teller living in the upheaval of Napoleonic Europe, writing in the Romantic or Gothic vein of the Bronte sisters but with the folk tale influence of Hans Christian Andersen. Andersen also wrote and lived during wartime, namely the Danish wars of 1864 and the mid 19th Century. He is quoted in the book that inspired the Danish TV series  1864.


Plots and scenarios

The idea of Nutcracker toy soldiers defeating the evil mouse king and his troops throws up some interesting fantastic / fantasy gaming scenarios.

Silvered metal finish inexpensive Nutcracker charm Soldiers are available as charms or pendants in batches on EBay or Etsy. Silicone food moulds of  The Nutcracker are also available for Fimo toy soldier production.

Maybe a horde of mice warriors is required? I’m sure many fantasy  manufacturers make them such as Eureka Miniatures Warrior Mice in 28mm alongside their Toy Town Soldier range http://www.fighting15sshop.co.uk/warrior-mice-769-c.asp

There are some mice and rat related fantasy games out there such as Mice and Mystics   http://www.lead-adventure.de/index.php?topic=62241.0

A seven-headed mouse king, now there would be a figure …

The Nutcracker Plot or Storyline

The grandfather clock begins to chime … Mice begin to come out from beneath the floor boards, including the seven-headed Mouse King.

The dolls in the toy cabinet come alive and begin to move, the nutcracker taking command and leading them into battle after putting Marie’s ribbon on as a token.

The battle goes to the dolls at first, but they are eventually overwhelmed by the mice.

Marie, seeing the nutcracker about to be taken prisoner, takes off her slipper and throws it at the Mouse King, then faints into the toy cabinet’s glass door, cutting her arm badly.

(Plot summary, Hoffmann’s Nutcracker story – Wikipedia)

Slipper artillery, now there’s another thing …

Check out Youtubè sections ballet or cartoon versions (about 25-30mins in) of  The Nutcracker’s ‘battle with the mice’ and you’ll variously see innovative cheese artillery, mousetraps, Christmas present terrain or scenery, toy forts, cavalry, cannons,  the lot,  performed by dance companies big and small all over the world. Tchaikovsky’s music here reminds me greatly of his martial 1812 Overture, beloved of many wargamers.

A more detailed plot outline can be found in the article about Hoffmann’s original story  can be found at https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Nutcracker_and_the_Mouse_King

The idea of toy parades and music, of toys coming to life can be found in many cultures:

Parade of the Wooden Soldiers music cover (Wikipedia source).

The secret midnight life of toy soldiers  is also well caught here:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Parade_of_the_Tin_Soldiers including this great Crackly Russian version of this familiar music:


Happy painting and gaming (at midnight, naturally!)

Blogposted by Mr. MIN, Man of TIN, Christmas / December 2016.

Happy Christmas!