Good news from Imperial Miniatures / Dorset Toy Soldiers – their quirky rereleased 54mm Space Range
Blog crossposted by Mark Man Of TIN, 11 March 2023
Toy soldiers, gaming, Imagi-Nations
Good news from Imperial Miniatures / Dorset Toy Soldiers – their quirky rereleased 54mm Space Range
Blog crossposted by Mark Man Of TIN, 11 March 2023
The original few King’s Guard figures are based on unusual paint conversions of Airfix AWI British Grenadiers.
These were found as a handful of figures in a small hoard of random old Airfix figures from a local collectibles shop plastic bag over ten years ago.
This is how they arrived …
As they were when I emptied the random joblot bag … before paint retouching and rebasing. The officer is a conversion from an ACW officer.
The dozen or so original King’s Guard figures (both blue facings and a few green facings) needed bulking up in numbers to be any kind of effective unit on the gaming tabletop for a skirmish game.
Bottom left, a useful handful of British Grenadiers from Alan. The French Artillery are now painted up https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2021/06/13/wades-toy-soldier-artillery-from-vintage-airfix-ooho-french-artillery-imaginations/
Fortunately, some Airfix ‘turncoats and mercenaries’ arrived from Alan at the Duchy of Tradgardland blog as Army surplus to current Tradgardland projects.
These Grenadier figures from Alan have been painted up to join or blend in with the battered original paint scheme.
Underneath on the Warbases penny MDF bases, I have inscribed with Steadtler fine liner CD/DVD permanent marker pens their origin and individual number.
DofT means Duchy of Tradgardland origin, along with other ‘bag originals’ marked as DH for another origin or KG (for King’s Guard).
Placeholder simple red flag for the King’s Guard, as red as those striking britches!
Reversed colour facings for the drummer.
Inscribing ID numbers and origin initials on the bases means that I can
It also fits in well with Featherstone’s personalised wargaming chapter of his Solo Wargaming.
I have kept the paintwork on any ‘new’ figures or any refreshed paint style very simple to match the original figures. No washes, no outlining straps and cross belts, and also no varnish (yet).
These early 1971 Airfix AWI figures have a surprising amount of detail to choose to paint or not to paint such as pigtails, powder horns, straps, turn backs, facings and buttons. Plastic Soldier Review are not so impressed by these vintage 1971 figures: http://www.plasticsoldierreview.com/Review.aspx?id=43
I wonder if one day the original painter of these “King’s Guard” figures will spot these figures online and recognise their handwriting and their handiwork?
Future vintage Airfix plans
There are several more colourful but undermanned ImagiNations units from the original plastic bag hoard who need reinforcements –
Recently Ian M. Dury my fellow Peter Laing collector posted the remains of a surplus box each of Airfix British Grenadiers and Washington’s Army to add to the colourful Rainbow ImagiNations figures. Thanks Ian. Ironically they will probably delay some Peter Laing figures on their journey across the painting table.
Naturally these are now marked up on the bases as ID, ready for future painting, along with a handful from Tony Adams (TA) and about half a box from former colleague Ken (KA) of Washington’s Army figures.
Washington’s Army from the early 1970s still on the sprue from my former colleague Ken. Thanks Ken.
I wonder – If Airfix rereleased them, would I buy many more? Do I have enough already for my small skirmish forces?
Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN 5 July 2021
Updated July 2021 with Figure paint conversion pictures
A small colourful consignment of turncoats and mercenary troops, previously serving with the Duchy of Tradgardland, have been posted to new service here with various ImagiNations.
These familiar and classic Airfix OOHO figures from the 1970s will be perfect to bulk up the small numbers of the various colourful and random RainBow ImagiNations units featured on my Pound Store Plastic Warrior blog last week:
In red on the left, you can see a handful of Airfix AWI British Grenadiers and Washington’s Army figures.
July 2021 Update: the Tricornes have now become black and gold
July 2021 update: The Grenadiers have become reinforcements for the Kings Guard
In the centre, mostly French Napoleonic Artillery figures, gun and limber pieces and a medley of other figures.
July 2021 Update: the French Artillery have become blue and gold
I like the French Artillery firelock figures at the bottom centre with musket perched casually over the shoulder whilst marching or shuffling along.
On the right, French Napoleonic Imperial Guard.
There was also half a dozen Airfix horses and bases (not shown).
They are all such useful generic shako, bearskin and Tricorne figures for “Horse and Musket” era ImagiNations.
As you can imagine, I will probably not be painting or using them as they were intended. Some of the later shako figures may do well with the post Napoleonic Mid 19th century Bronte family ImagiNations of Gondal, Glasstown and Angria.
I will mount gun crews and skirmish infantry as individually based figures.
Thanks to Alan Gruber of the Duchy of Tradgardland for this kind gesture. The finished figures will feature on this blog in time.
Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 27 May 2021,
updated 5 July 2021 with phinished phigure photographs.
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
or their official eBay shop mouldsandminis https://www.ebay.co.uk/str/mouldsandminiatures?_trksid=p2047675.l2563
Berlinner Zinnfiguren (Germany / EU) https://www.zinnfigur.com/en/Casting/
In America, Rich at Dunken has now acquired several old manufacturers’ collections of moulds https://www.dunken.com
Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 17/18 April 2021.
I was lucky enough earlier this week to catch up in person with Alan The Tradgardmastre of the noble Duchy of Tradgardland on his Ducal travels. We met for a cup of coffee in a beer and coffee tavern which is also a bookshop full of fashionable and political reading material. This sounds suitably Eighteenth Century for the Duke and the Duchy! Sadly it was too hot to wear a tricorne.
The Duke is a jolly nice chap, as you would expect from his blog (we were discussing A Very British Civil War at the time). We chatted variously about gaming, Toy Soldiers, interwar History, Scout Wide Games, the events overlap of gaming and re-enactors, the joy of simple rules and finished off talking about blogging and its many positive aspects such as the unusual openness about men’s mental health.
Unfortunately due to heavy traffic (too many stage coaches, ox waggons and sedan chairs on the road) I didn’t get a chance to make it home en route to pick up any ‘minis’ to show Alan such tiny delights as my new Phoenix 43 Scout trek cart or these space rangers to see if he recognised them. At least without ‘minis’ on the table, we were spared the curious, pitying or withering looks of onlooking drinkers and customers.
Once Upon A Time in a Garden-axy Far Far Away …
In return for home-casting some metal Scout figures, Alan the Tradgardmastre of the Duchy of Tradgardland blog sent me via the Duchy Post Office last month some American Tim Mee plastic space figures and some odd homecast and lead figures.
Looking at the post war GI or paratroop figures, I thought the unusual rifle and round helmet might make for some good space figures.
Just the ticket for a 1970s Airfix boy derailed by Star Wars and American 1970s Star Wars spin off sci-fi series …
A bit of a stylish Flash Gordon / Dan Dare 1930s / 1950s Sci Fi thing going on here.
The heads on the kneeling metal figures look like they have possibly been swapped or repaired.
A grey painted tuppenny 2p base gives the kneeling or plastic figures some stability; grey I thought is more spaceship like, metallic and neutral than the traditional sap green or bright emerald green of many old toy soldiers. I wanted to keep that shiny gloss 1950s Dan Dare space figure / toy soldier look though.
Equally an army of these could be expendable minions for one of those James Bond style private armies guarding the inevitable secret base. I can see a link to the blue uniformed Polish Airfix Para clones featured from Etsy in my Christmas 2018 posts. https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2018/12/03/man-of-tin-advent-calendar-day-3-vintage-1980s-polish-toy-soldier-airfix-clones-on-etsy/
I can see an influence of the late Thor Sheil’s Homecast army men ‘Toy Soldier Art’: Berlin Greys and Air Police.
Anyway these three one-off 54mm figures from Alan might give me the colour scheme for my ongoing 54mm space figure project, one that has worked in smaller Pound Store Plastic 32mm scale:
You can have too much of Khaki Grunge. I like the chance to use some unusual bright colours from my collection of gloss acrylics – orange, sky blue, purple, gold, silver, red. I’m sure the Flash Gordon 1980 movie with the Queen soundtrack might have something to do with my space uniform bolder colour schemes.
You can see the 32mm Pound Store Plastic basis of the 40-50mm Pound Store pirate clone figure above:
Kev Robertson over in Australia, a long term sci-fi fan, has used his his past engineering skills to great effect on his latest blog post. As well as his own new series of 35mm space figures with a retro feel, he has been busy with scratch built sci-fi vehicles, walkers and mechs. Pure Pound Store Plastic Warrior blog scrap
build material this! Always an interesting blog to browse, Kev has blogged on various projects from sci-fi figures to railways.
At the moment I can’t comment on many people’s blog posts (obviously a settings thing) so I thought I would mention Kev’s whole blog site.
Blog posted by Mark, Man of TIN on 29 June 2019
Huzzah! Good looking Wellsian game by Alan the Tradgardmastre on a small gridded games board using Replica 54mm figures and accessories of old style hollow-cast Soldiers.
Because of some setting thing I can’t comment on Alan’s Tradgardland blog at the moment. Worth visiting as its good fun stuff.
Replica Model Soldiers can be found at https://www.replicametalsoldiers.co.uk
Close Little Wars Rules https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/06/09/close-little-wars-featherstones-simplest-rules/
Huzzah for the Duchy of Tradgardland, Huzzah for H.G. Wells’ Little Wars and Huzzah for Donald Featherstone, writer of the Close Wars rules!
Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, Close Wars enthusiast, 16 June 2019
Not reliable casting weather to cast a few more scouts to complete the Duchy of Tradgardland’s patrol
but a chance to get some more Scout painting done in between scribbling down more character card and Wide Games rules ideas. I have found a treasure trove of vintage scout manuals free here http://www.thedump.scoutscan.com/games.html
Alan as Chief Scout of the Duchy of Tradgardland Scouts has kindly sent my Boy Scouts the gift of a spare bicycle that he had in his Scout Troop stores.
I was hoping there was also a fun Pound Store Plastic alternative to buying or casting metal scout figures and the Wargaming Pastor had a good suggestion.
The Wargaming Pastor on Death Zap suggested that my floppy bush hatted Boer type figure conversions from Pound store tubs might convert well enough: “I’m tempted to collect a few scouts now, I’m wondering how easy it would be to modify some Airfix WW1 Americans or some of those Poundland chaps? Your Boer conversions would go a long way, then all I have to do is chop off the gun.”
I have quickly paint-bashed these two 32mm examples up to see how this might go. The Wargaming Pastor’s clever suggestion does work!
From pound store figures to more expensive pewter figures.
Looking for a Scout Trek or Treck Cart, before I started converting home cast gun carriages for their wheels, I came across the Phoenix 43 series by S&D / Phoenix which featured a trek cart, two separate scouts pushing and a Scoutmaster and Patrol Leader.
Designed for model railways, I bought a sample of each, not quite sure of size at the time. They are not cheap at around £3 each figure but they are beautifully and crisply cast. They also have very speedy delivery.
Fortunately they do match with my Little Britons 42mm boys and will form a few character pieces such as a Patrol Leader and a Scoutmaster. The Treck Cart should form an interesting scenario focus for Wide Games.
So there we are … my Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts now have wheels in the form of bicycles and a trek cart.
The 20 scouts are closer to completed painting, mainly just touch ups and faces before a gloss varnish to match the toy soldier style.
I have also spent £3 on a single metal scout and made one from a penny plastic figure.
Blogposted by Mark Man of TIN (1970s Cub Scout, Bronze Arrow, retired) on 19 May 2019.
Further thoughts from Alan Gruber, the Duchy of Tradgardland as we individually read our way through the 1933 booklet Wide Games by Gilcraft of the Scout Association, looking for useful tips for game scenarios.
Weather like snow and rain would also affect how easy it was to read tracks, leave tracks etc.Lots of other ideas here to affect character card number ratings or add chance and event cards.
I think this is an interesting idea for random chance cards or Umpire intervention. Most Boy Scouts and Scoutmasters would have some First Aid training; some Wide Games introduced instructions during the game with ‘casualties’ that would need treating and taking to collection points (where points would be given for their dressings).The HQ base or Red Cross / Ambulance Base was where Scouts also have to return if they lose a ‘wool life’ and temporarily have left the game.
World Thinking Day, formerly Thinking Day, is celebrated annually on 22 February by all Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. This was Baden Powell’s birthday, along with that of his wife Olave, one of the early Chief Guides. It is also celebrated by Scout and Guide organizations and some boy-oriented associations around the world.
Puck of Pook’s Hill is a fantasy book by Rudyard Kipling, published in 1906, containing a series of short historical fantasy stories set in different periods of English history.
Alan also wrote: “I like the comment on page 40 of the Wide games book
Wide Games or Weird Wyde Games rules – very much still Work in Progress.
20 Boy scout figures on the painting table, 2 patrols of 8, leaving four who will become Girl Scout figures with full skirts.
More on British Girl Scouts in a forthcoming blog post.
Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN (with comments from Alan Gruber, Duchy of Tradgardland) 5 May 2019.
I received an unexpected gift in the post this week from Alan the Tradgardmastre of the Duchy of Tradgardland
Four welcome new lead recruits to my Imaginations Army and Air Forces!
I had identified some slender leggy toy soldiers as short-lived WTC Wellington Toy Company figures amongst a batch of old lead figures that Alan was paint stripping.
I mentioned to Alan that I was working on some paint conversions of my few examples of these Wellington Toy Company figures into female troops.
Very kindly Alan sent me from Tradgardland these two extra paintstripped WTC figures to join my female rifle squad, along with two useful but battered GI mine detectorists by Charbens. Thanks Alan!
The footless one of the two Charbens GIs mine detectorists may well end up as aircraft ground crew as he looks like he is refuelling or oiling something.
Wellington Toy Company figures 1916-1923, Liverpool
In mixed batches of figures over several years I have picked up the odd leggy WTC figure, along with a cache of 6 dark green Rifle Brigade type Regiment ones from the 1920s/30s amongst some French Rivolet guns and gilt cavalry from a Miss Sanderson, selling her father’s boyhood collection to find it a safe home.
Not much is written about WTC figures but in my two most used reference books by Norman Joplin and Andrew Rose, both reference books very much worth the money, I found these few photographs.
The three types of WTC figures I have so far out of the Twelves known WTC are Rifle Brigade / Cameronians, Redcoat line infantry and Bluecoat Line Infantry …
They can be identified through their slender build, along with WTC marked on the untidy circular / oval base.
Andrew Rose suggests, when discussing Unity Toys and O.H. and Co (Oliver Harper) range of guns, that these WTC figures are also found as the Unity Series of Metal Soldiers Manufactured in London as a cheap range of target figures made for them by WTC. Cheap, they may have been to some, but they would have been to some small boy a great colourful delight.
Base marked WTC, seen here on one of the few legible bases in my collection.
The untidy semi circular puddle bases are marked WTC for Wellington Toy Company and a number, possibly 724. Other markings suggest Made in England Copyright.
The Duchess of Wellington’s Own?
I think these WTC soldiers are quite attractive figures, slender and surprisingly shapely fore and aft. They remind me of Suburban Militarism’s series of posts about female soldiers illustrated on postcards and prints including the comic Ellam series of haughty female Household Cavalry. As if women could be soldiers, the postcards joke!
Looking back through Marvin’s posts on Suburban Militarism, this female squad in their strange kept caps could have made a fine set of Flora Sandes type Serbian soldiers.
However Imaginations Army Blue they now are and Imaginations Army Blue they shall remain – with two new recruits …
Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN, 1st August(a) 2018 – the 1st Augustas sounds like a Lady Regiment too, albeit more European or Roman. Is it #FEMbruary already again?
B.P.S Blog Post Script
Unfortunately as with Prince August homecasts, the WTC noses are not always very distinctive until the moulds warm up or the metal just right. Such heads should usually go back in the melting pot. On cheap target figures, with simple quick factory paint jobs and little quality control, who would notice?
This does not make for the most attractive haughty ladies. So as well as the toy soldier pink cheek spot highlight, which maybe should have been a little redder, I have done the same pink paint highlight for a nose on some of the five figures so far. Leading to a variation on the old music hall joke,
My Lady Soldiers have got no noses.
How do they smell?