Concerned readers will be pleased to know that Patch the dog, heroic hound and defender of his mistress Kate MacGuffin in the recent skirmish with the Forest Indians, is making a steady recovery.
Here Patch is pictured inside the Fort with his relieved mistress, the daughter of the Commanding office of the Forest Fort, receiving a treat from Captain Snortt.
Herbal remedies from the Fort’s new garden are part of his recovery plan.
Captain Snortt has been torn off a strip (thankfully not literally) by her father, Major MacGuffin, for getting them both lost whilst collecting herbs for the Fort’s herb garden and medicine chest.
There will be no such jaunts unaccompanied without a full patrol of Redcoats for the foreseeable future!
Patch has been awarded a fine engraved metal dog tag in lieu of the Gondal Star medal for his brave defence of Kate MacGuffin. Bravo, brave dog!
A Tour of the Forest Fort, North Gondal, Northern Pacific, 1870s
Let us take you on a tour of the small confines of the Forest Fort and Trading Post. Fort MacGuffin is the hub of several smaller defensive outposts in the area, developed and fortified by Major MacGuffin from an old Trading Post.
The timber for the Fort was all cut locally, much to the chagrin of the normally peaceful Forest Indians in what they regard as their sacred forests.
Inside the Fort, Kate MacGuffin has replanted the herb patch and added some floral colour. No doubt these are flowering medicinal plants of the area.
A small well of spring wate, separate from the moat, is topped with an attractive well.
The Fort’s small stock of timber and firewood is running low. Redcoats will have to set off into the surrounding forests to collect wood and even occasionally fell more trees.
On the other side of the small Fort and trading post, Captain Snortt checks recent Fort supplies.
A planked drawbridge in two removable sections crosses the small moat.
A small artillery piece protects the gate. (Toy soldier collectors might wish to know it began life as a novelty seaside pencil sharpener)
Rounding up the Fort livestock and patrolling the walls keeps the Redcoats busy.
Several goats, chickens and geese are kept for fresh eggs and milk (not mentioning meat in siege situations). These are now the charge of Kate MacGuffin, along with the Herb Patch inside the Fort and small veg gardens in the surrounds of the forest.
Redcoats are deputed to exercise the Regimental goats and protect them from the Forest Indians. They sometimes slip their halters and wander off into the Forest.
Freshwater fish are stocked in the moat in case of encirclement. Bored redcoats can fish from the ramparts as needed. Dynamite fishing also secures a ready catch in times of trouble, ready to be salted down or eaten fresh.
They await a travelling signwriter to spruce up their temporary sign by the Fort’s ‘Jack of all trades’ ASC Private Fuller.
In addition to the recent difficulties between the Forest Indians and the Redcoats of the Fort, worrying news has reached MacGuffin that some illegal loggers and miners have been seen neat the old boarded up mines.
Rumours of gold and limitless forest timber from time to time tempt roving bands of Outlanders and failed Settlers into the Forest, stirring up ill feeling and conflict with the native Forest Indians on their hunting grounds. MacGuffin is there as part of a Redcoat force to keep the peace and watch the borders and coasts of Gondal with the other surrounding kingdoms.
From childhood onwards, setting up Forts like these, they have had to have some logic to their structure, contents, exploitable weaknesses and other possible story lines.
A Small Fort Apache from Tiger Toys
The Fort was a gift from within the family, a find in a charity shop near where the Fort was made by Tiger Toys of Petersfield, Hampshire. The accompanying Timpo Swoppet figures or copies were sold through eBay but when I heard about the Fort, I expressed an interest and it arrived last Christmas.
For Fort enthusiasts, it is a Tiger Toys Fort Apache No. T550.
Tiger Toys, made in England, “Part of Growing Up” in the 1960s apparently.
“Dear Graham, your Birthday Fort is in good hands, albeit with new defenders.”
I would quite happily collect Toy Forts and Castles, if I had the space to store or display them, which sadly I haven’t.
This isn’t the cowboy fort I grew up with, which was slightly different with a watch tower in the corner but hopefully Graham loved his Fort as much as I did ours. It too had internal preprinted buildings. Our 1950s / 1960s family wooden Cowboy Fort did not survive several generations of children and damp, reportedly its rather simple inexpensive wooden pieces went ‘beyond repair’. Sadly no photos of this Fort survive. Luckily the family Toy Castle of the same vintage is still in good condition at home.
What I liked about this is its fold-away flatpack construction, including a fold in half base. Our childhood Cowboy Fort base and walls were permanently fixed, so more awkwardly big to store.
The walls slot easily together. Only the tape holding the doors and the horse hitching rail post needs some repair. The flag had also vanished.
Woodworkers and makers of model Forts might find these construction shots of interest:
For those who care about such things, the wall sections are 16 inches long and 5 inches high. The building is 15 inches long and 3.5 inches high. The board unfolded is 18 inches wide by 18 inches (9 inches when folded).
Who were Tiger Toys?
Without the original box, I would have no clue to manufacturer. Other Tiger Toy Forts that I have seen have small round Tiger Toys stickers or labels.
A brief history of Tiger Toys 1959 to 1971/78 is given on this Hilary Page Toys website
The Hilary Page Toys website about Kiddicraft designs of the 1930s – 1950s has a page on Tiger Toys but does not mention Forts.
Researching on the web, I found several past sales pictured on Worthpoint and PicClick post auction value sites showing Tiger Toys forts, including the larger or more complex Fort Sioux and my simpler Fort Apache.
The more complex Fort Sioux T55? has two (fixed or removable?) watch towers, ladder, loopholes walls and doors and what looks like a grander flag.
After Robert Hirst’s death in 1971, W. Graeme Lines of the famous Lines Bros (Brothers) family toy firm mentioned in a long Victoria and Albert Museum / Museum of Childhood interview talked about his short relationship with the Tiger Toys team of Petersfield until its closure in 1978.
Other interesting British toy companies including Airfix are mentioned in the interview listings https://www.vam.ac.uk/moc/british-toy-making-oral-histories/
I must have driven past the turn-off to the old Tiger Toys home factory, several times en route to somewhere else, little knowing that this Durford Mill in Rogate (Petersfield, Hampshire) was the 60s birthplace of my new vintage Fort.
Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 9 / 10 June 2020.
B.P.S. Blog Post Script
We end with an interesting video about the early designer of many of these preschool toys, Hilary Page of Kiddicraft from the Hilary Page Toys website, arguably the designer of the Lego brick (only patented in the UK). https://youtu.be/ClzySyzwi3k