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 thewhole 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.
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 toOxford 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 andOccupied 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.
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!
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.
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?
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
“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 –
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.
I had some fun playing around with LED battery candle light but this made the photo very grainy.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.