Miscastings or half castings that are not too bad do not always go straight back in the ladle.
To avoid fumes and mess, I restrict my casting to days outside in warmer weather with no threat of rain; hot metal and moisture make an explosive mix.
As a result casting days (or days when I have time and feel like casting) are infrequent enough that I save the 90+ % figures that are ‘nearly all there’. I can then do some simple repairs on missing musket tips and other fiddly bits. Even missing heads can be swapped …
“Where’s your head at?” Missing a head, why not try swopping one with a Pound Store figure?
Such repairs that I make are usually fairly simple ones, such as drilling out a miscast musket to insert a short piece of wire.
On the repair tray where missing musket tips are replaced, heads swapped and bows repaired …
Old Toy Soldier DNA
You might notice from photos that I often drill, file and repair over sheets of white A4 paper, which I have folded into four and unfolded again to make a cross shaped crease.
This is because I keep the metal filings, drilling ‘swarf’ and trimmings from old Hollowcast figure repair, roughing up the base when rebasing or cleaning up home castings.
From time to time during repairs, I carefully slightly fold the crease-crossed A4 page and slide the metal filings and trimmings into a small lidded pot.
Why do I keep this toy soldier ‘magic dust’ mixed together in a small pot of this “old toy soldier DNA“?
It not only keeps the workbench of my roll-top desk clean but it also means that I can then add a minute pinch of this unique and special mixture from time to time to the casting ladle when home casting.
Each new shiny casting might then have inside it a tiny nano-percentage of an old Britain’s hollowcast casting or old flat tin figure.
Each shiny new casting then might have a small part of all the accumulated bravery, courage and adventure from the countless battles that the old damaged hollowcast veterans (from various makers and owners) have been through over the last hundred years or more.
Reinforcements for Tradgardland, Lurland or Afrika?
A small number of these unpainted Schneider castings of pith helmeted Colonial figures and fierce Natives will soon be heading towards Alan Gruber at the Duchy of Tradgardland blog as reinforcements for his interesting Lurland and Ost Afrika campaigns.
Alan has sent me some interesting spare figures and heads to keep me busy throughout Lockdown, so this is a small thin flat thank you heading to the Duchy of Tradgardland Post Office.
Fight well my tiny men, you have the brave DNA of old toy soldiers in you!
Previously on Man of TIN …
Here is one of the first blog posts that I wrote back in 2016 “type casting”. My WordPress avatar / host page @26soldiersoftin is still named after these famous “26 soldiers of Lead” of Gutenberg (or whoever first said this quote).
We finish with a fine picture of a dapper, almost Duke of Edinburgh looking Donald Featherstone, casting away on the kitchen stove in his cheerily enthusiastic 1960s book Tackle Model Soldiers This Way.
“In the author’s house, everyone slaves over a hot stove”. Note the plate drying rack and safety equipment of a shirt and tie. An inspiration to us all!
If you want to have a go at casting, these companies sell new moulds and casting equipment:
Prince August (Ireland / UK/ EU) do some great starter sets at their website
On the back of a David and Charles catalogue flyer for the book, someone has noted some proofreading errors and some photo reversal mistakes. Written by Richard Tennant?
Alongside the Featherstone signature are some pencilled notes that I take to be Richard Tennant’s corrections. The pencil handwriting appears different from Featherstone’s signature and dedication. It exactly matches the handwriting in Miniature Minions’ blogpost about Tennant’s figures and research notebook.
Reading the MiniatureMinions blog post, there is much mention of the Peninsular War and even a mention of this windmill made by George Erik.
See the fly leaf pencil note about the “model illustrated on page 197 custom made by G.Erik photographed with own figures” – written by Richard Tennant
The Peninsular War appears to be a particular interest of both Tennant and Featherstone; I recall reading some of Donald Featherstone’s later articles about the battlefields in modelling or gaming magazines in the 1980s.
Featherstone’s Complete Wargaming has been reissued in a revised and corrected paperback version by John Curry of the History of Wargaming Project, working to correct some of these original printing and photographic errors.
That distinctive Featherstone signature – in pink felt tip.
As well as Richard Tennant, I have come across another of Featherstone’s early circle, one who is still blogging:
Rod’s Wargaming is by another still blogging member of this early wargames conference / community, Rod MacArthur has on his website some great pictures of 1960s Airfix conversions that sometimes involved Featherstone’s mould making help:
Insertion points for different units of the raiding forces were chosen by dice throw from 5 possible routes (see map below) before the game started.
The desert commando forces and two desert jeep trucks Ragtag and Bobtail enter the area from the old airstrip (insertion point 4). The Yestershire Infantry to appear along the rail bridge in foreground (insertion point 5).
Briefing Map, Raid Aims and named personnel set out here:
What the Allied raiding forces do not know is how many NAK forces are stationed in the Station Halt building or that on Turn 7 (decided by 2d6) these troops are on standby, ready to be replaced by fresh incoming troops by train. They also do not know that Meyer, an ADC or adjutant to General Von Rimmel is visiting the Special Operations Section (tented area) for a status report.
What the NAKforces do not know is that they are about to be rudely awakened early one morning by a Commando raid. Only a few sentries and gun teams are posted, a few Aircrew busy at work …
First contact Turn 1
Allied elements appear on the board as darkness fades and dawn breaks in the North African desert.
“As the sun rose beyond on the desert hills, Schutzen Wache on sentry duty spotted a flurry of faded khaki rushing across the railway tracks along the bridge … he raised his rifle and fired some warning shots into the air. Achtung! Alarm! Alarm!”
Whilst the Commandos rapidly and silently capture two Aircrew / Groundcrew without alarm being raised, the sentry Sch. Wache by the Railway bridge does raise the alarm on seeing the Yestershire rifles crossing (d6 thrown to decide if alarm raised) with several rapid shots in the air.
The railway bridge proved a narrow pinchpoint for deploying Yestershire troops – a bunched target.
Private Hunt lobbed a grenade at the sentry but missed, as did the rifle fire of Mulvaney, Mahoney and Sgt Brittle.
Clumped together by the bridge, Privates Mahoney, Hunt and Sgt Brittle were all quickly caught in the LMG fire of the Halftrack (which is part trackless and under repair). Some of the first unlucky casualties of this desert raid.
The Desert Commandos rush the airfield to silence the air crew and armoured car.
Very quickly the Commando rifle fire and the LMGs on Ragtag and Bobtail, the two desert “jeep trucks” silences the two crew of the Armoured Car.
The PAK gun crew on cemetery ridge managed to knock out Ragtag killing its two crew Ptes. Marrion and Foster. Fortunately the demolition charges and explosives did not explode close to Bobtail, the other Jeep Truck.
First major disaster – Ragtag the Jeep Truck is hit by the Antitank Gun and its crew killed.
The NordAfrika Korps garrison was inside the station halt, awaiting relief by train (2d6 thrown to check: train will arrive with replacement troops on Turn 7). They rapidly deployed to the roof, their fire brings down Commando Private Hemingway who is heading down the flank of the station building.
Meyer, the visiting ADC / Adjutant to General Von Rimmel and air crew sheltered inside the barricaded station halt. A small group of NAK troops led by Haupt. (Captain) Fuchs set out to defend the airstrip.
The PAK gun engaged Bobtail the second Jeep Truck and knocked it out for two moves.
Private Grant of the Yestershires guns down the Half Track crewman, although sinister grey uniformed Klang takes over the LMG on the Half-track.
The view from the other Antitank gun dug in on the Hills above the railway halt
From this hill, the Antitank gun engages a group of Commandos at maximum range and kills Private Young and Scruby.
Gefreiter Weigmann was shot by Commando raid leader “Popsy”
Allied and NAK Casualties from melee and rifle fire from the station building roof.
The PAK gun engages the Yestershire HMG crew and wipes it out, killing the crew (Curry, Stonefeather, Blease).
In return, 2/Lt Hyde shoots with his pistol at Sch. Richter on the roof.
Lt. Bath, Cpl Ridley and RE Appleby recrew the Yestershire HMG.
LCpl Mitton is hit by fire from the rooftop NAK troops.
The fight around the oil tanks. Success for the NordAfrika Korps? Maitland may be gone but his time fuse remains!
Three Commandos (Ptes. Steinbeck, Gammage, Dickinson) felled by grenade from above as they try to break in to the Station Halt.
Demolition expert Pte Maitland is shot before he can lay any further charges.
In a deadly melee phase Pte Grant, Pte Faulkner and Capt Young and NAK Sch. Junge and Schroeder are killed.
Jeep Truck Bobtail is back in action, heading down the railway track towards the station. Its LMG hit Sch. Vogel on the station roof.
The Yestershire HMG crew brought down the troublesome PAK crew Sch. Beck and Roth at last.
Train arrives with NAK reinforcements
Bobtail the Jeep Truck turns sharply and retreats down the track away from the train and all its reinforcements.
NordAfrika Korps – Reinforcements detrain in Turn 8
Meanwhile Sch. (Pte) Huber in melee and with rifle fire brings down Commando after Commando including the raid leader “Popsy” before Huber himself is brought down.
With Raid leader “Popsy” dead and Allied numbers dwindling in the face of fresh NAK reinforcements, it is clearly time to leave. Hopefully soon explosive charges will wreck the area.
Abandoning the heavy HMG, RE Pte Appleby, Corporal Ridley and 2/Lt Bath head to the bridge to hitch a ride out of the area on the Jeep Truck Bobtail, along with Ptes. Wallingford and Mulvaney.
Before they climb on board Bobtail the Jeep Truck, it is hit at long range by the NAK Antitank gun on the hill. Bobtail is destroyed, its gunner and driver Ptes. Gough and Smith are killed. Disaster – but at least their remaining mines and explosives do not explode, injuring the remaining Allied troops.
Elsewhere across the airfield, Commando radioman ‘Sparky’ Sissons calls for the far off retrieval teams to meet him at the pre-arranged desert rendezvous point. He quickly leaves with Ptes. Shepperd and Learoyd. Their two captured enemy Aircrew held for interrogation are tied up and gagged but left behind, alive.
As the last of the Yestershires and the Commandos disappear off on foot the way they came …
Boom! The first of the oil tanks goes up in flames.
Private Maitland is avenged.
At this point the Allied survivors melt away into the desert on foot. The explosion of the first tank sends the surviving NordAfrika Korps troops diving to the ground to avoid the flames and showers of stones and metal debris as one after another oil tanks explodes, damaging the track and the engine of the train.
The old biplane is toppled over, made further unserviceable. Warehouses and stores are damaged.
Despite the heavy losses, this first desert Commando raid achieved suitable disruption.
Boom! The retreating Allies see more smoke and hear several more explosions as they head quickly off into the desert heat as the sun gets higher in the sky. Time to find their rendezvous points.
Boom! The Yestershires have their packs of supplies, water and ammunition handy. The small commando group are not personally so well supplied until they reach prearranged supply dumps.
They will hopefully regroup and head home to base to be debriefed. However the Commandos failed to bring any prisoners back for interrogation or to discover the activities of the NAK Special Duties Unit. What was going on in the tent for example? What was Meyer, the ADC to General Rimmel, inspecting?
(Above) Allied Survivors of the Raid on Wadi Yu Min – a few Commandos and some Yestershire Regiment escape into the desert. Yestershire Regiment 2/Sub Lieutenant ‘Tubby’ Bath RNVR , Corporal Ridley, Privates Mulvaney, Wallingford and Shepperd. Commando Radioman Signaller ‘Sparky’ Sissons, Pte Learoyd and Mine detecting RE Private Appleby
Playing solo, this game / scenario worked well enough.
The cluttered terrain amongst the oil tanks and aeroplane made shooting difficult for both sides.
The Commandos and Yestershire Regiment suffered consistently from a series of poor dice rolls throughout on Melee and Firing. No Featherstone Savings Throws in this game. They were given no extra modifiers in Melee or Firing for being Commando troops, opposing tough NordAfrika Korps troops.
Despite the first NAK Armoured Car crew being quickly knocked out, the two anti tank guns on the hill and the half-track LMG quickly did damage to the commando transport and troop numbers. Lots of lucky dice throws. Dealing with these high up entrenched gun positions created many problems for the raiders.
Naming characters does positively change the way you view this game and would be even more effective with a smaller number of troops. Playing both sides with a larger number of characters, it is harder to become attached or show favouritism to any one particular figure.
The element of silent surprise at the beginning needs to be worked on and developed.
In future raids I would include more explosives trained troops, as well as assign rifles and SMGs to those typical ‘useless’ Airfix non-combatant figures without firepower such as the grenade throwers, knife men, observers with only binoculars and gun crew etc.
I used Featherstone based simple WW2 rules from War Games and its Close Wars appendix but with scaled down firing ranges to suit my hexes:
Available forces for the reconnaissance and demolition mission: see below
LRDG – Briefing: Raid or Mission Aims
a) investigate increased enemy activity at the railway halt and old desert airstrip at the old oil prospecting camp, Wadi-Yu-Min.
b) put out of use any military or transport equipment, railway, bridges as appropriate
c) destroy stores
D) remove any interesting weaponry and documents of interest to Intelligence Officers, including captured service personnel for internment and interrogation.
‘Ragtag’ and ‘Bobtail’, two LRDG (D) modified desert extended jeep type trucks with additional external fuel tanks, stowage and demolition equipment – 2 LRDG (D) man crews with LMG Bren Guns, pistols and rifle plus spotter / spare armed with pistol.
Being more small truck than jeep, several commandos can be carried by each ‘jeep truck’.
Note: Numbers with names are not their ages!
Ragtag’s crew of 2 – driver and LMG gunner Desert Commando Privates Foster (35) and Marrion (34) and Spotter Pte Sheppard (32)
Bobtail’s crew of 2 – driver and LMG gunner Desert Commando Privates Gough (36) and Smith (37)
Desert Commando Section 1 LRDG – D
Officer Commanding Captain Younger (14) with pistol and commando knife
Photo caption: Three plucky Desert Commandos pictured with HMG Section gunner Privates Curry (38) and Stonefeather (39) and spotter Lance Cpl. Blease (7) and LRDG-D Truck LMG teams.
20 Desert Commandos under two Officers (Hyde and Younger), commanding 9 rifles and 4 SMGs from various regiments and the Royal Angrian Defence Force (West Africa) and technical teams.
Insertion points 1-5 for each team to be advised (chosen by d6).
Recon and Demolition Mission Reminders
Yestershire Regiment to be inserted close by truck and carrier, (off table) arriving into the area on foot. They will be carrying water, rations and ammunition in their packs.
Commando teams will be carrying no packs. Ragtag, Bobtail and the truck logistics teams carry extra explosives and detonators. They have also established several caches of survival supplies nearby with map refs to ensure that commando teams can escape on foot as needed.
A radioman signaller is present to keep links back to base teams for rescue and retrieval at prearranged points in the surrounding desert.
Reminders: Civilian casualties are to be avoided or minimised.
Local people may be present along with unarmed railway staff.
No blame for the raid should attributable to the local population by the enemy. Where possible, ‘Dummy’ maps and equipment to be deliberately left behind.
Enemy prisoners and technicians are to be disarmed, taken captive where possible and escorted back to base for interrogation.
John Curry noted in the reprint edition of Donald Featherstone’s Advanced Wargames that the list of names in the ‘Personalised Wargaming’ chapter included the names of various 1960s wargame opponents, illustrators and figure manufacturers – Russell Gammage of Rose Miniatures, Neville (Minifigs) Dickinson, Illustrator R.J. Marrion, Jack Scruby, Brigadier Peter Young, Roy Belmont-Maitland (Tradition) etc.
You also get a possible glimpse of Featherstone’s bookshelf of rugged literary tastes. Several others appear to be novelists or writers – Chandler, Faulkner, Hemingway. Others include ‘The Soldiers Three’ or ‘Three Musketeers’ characters in Rudyard Kipling’s tales of army life in India during the Raj, one of Featherstone’s colonial gamingn interests, Kipling’s alter ego Ortheris, Learoyd and Mulvaney.
After introducing Learoyd and Mulvaney, when asked who the third musketeer was, Kipling reputedly said Ortheris (‘the Author is’).
Other bloggers who commented on my Personalised Wargaming blog post created their character names lists using the names of actors, politicians and war leaders (“See here, Private Johnson!” – insert name of …), film characters and ingeniously, villains from acquaintances (with names scrambled).
The ‘Saints’ Southampton FC teams of the mid to late 1950s to early 60s would be another such useful or appropriate Donald Featherstone inspired list of names to collate and choose from, as he was their team physiotherapist and wrote several books on sports, work and dance injuries.
The Blue Hills Boys … all named in the game, reports and write ups.
“You, Vot ist your Name?” “Don’t tell him, Pike!”
When I ran out of names from the Featherstone list in Advanced Wargaming and Skirmish Wargaming, especially for the many Schutzen (Riflemen) privates commanded by General Von Rimmel in the NordAfrika Korps, I turned to Wikipedia’s common German surname list and the WW2 / modern rank lists for translations
I have marked all the bases with the English ranks. For Schutzen (Sch) read Private etc. If needed, many of the Germanic names have an English equivalent, if you were using the NordAfrika Korpsfor other non German / non WW2 ImagiNations games.
Private Scruby? Private Young? Private Marrion?
John Curry noticed that Featherstone’s names in his “Personalised Wargaming” chapter were friends, wargamers, illustrators, and figure manufacturers from the 1950s and 1960s.
I wonder if Sergeant Featherstone was putting Brigadier Peter Young in his place a little jokily by only having a Private Young amongst the named characters in his ‘Personalised Wargaming’ chapter?
“Her Privates We” – some of Featherstone’s named figures in Advanced Wargaming.
And Don Featherstone himself? Not on his own list but I do have of course on my extended names list and now on an Airfix figure the name of one Sergeant Stonefeather!
I wonder what experience any of you have had of ‘personalised‘ wargaming? Did it add to your gaming or detract from it?
Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 9/10 January 2020.
Following up my post about Jen B’s version of Featherstone’s Close Wars Rules, fellow games blogger Stealth contacted me to say that he had been playing around with his own variant of Donald Featherstone’s simple Close Wars rules.
These were first published in Don’s appendix to War Games (1962) and Stealth had been looking at my variants Close Little Wars.
Stealth’s rules have a slight D & D influence or feel (see his other blogs) in that carrying or capturing crates forms part of the victory conditions, scoring and scenarios. Interesting idea for ambushing a supply column etc.
I hope you find something of rules variants interest here. I enjoy seeing how people adapt and tinker, go back to basics and then elaborate a bit more.
This used copy (in better condition than I expected) cost only a few poundsfrom Better World Books, an Abe Books Internet supplier of ex-library stock whose profits go to literacy and library projects worldwide. What’s not to like?
I never borrowed this Featherstone title from my local library, it was always out on loan.
Some supposedly simple ‘back of postcard rules’ by different gamers that Featherstone starts with.
No obvious simple (solo) convoy game rules but should be some interesting ideas. Add Bob Cordery’s book and ideas as well, it should promise to be an interesting few months puzzling out some rules for protecting my eraser ship convoy from the Wolf Pack.
MARCH is my excuse to photograph my MARCHing figures and MARCHing bands in my collection so these are a small tribute to Don, the sort of Britain’s figures that he would have seen in his inspiration – H.G. Wells’ Little Wars.
Donald Featherstone (1918 – 2013) would have been 100 years old today.