Home casting figures – functional repairs and old toy soldier DNA

Useful tools of the repair trade – pin vice and file – to repair a miscast musket.

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.

Second casting session a few days ago – a few missing musket tips, heads and bows to repair.

On the repair tray where missing musket tips are replaced, heads swapped and bows repaired …

The perfect casting, the half cast musket and a masking tape, wire and glue repair.

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.

http://tradgardland.blogspot.com/search/label/Afrika

http://tradgardland.blogspot.com/search/label/Lurland

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).

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/05/27/typecasting/

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!

Inspired?

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

https://shop.princeaugust.ie

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.

54mm Repurposed Space Figures

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Defenders of the Launch  Pad
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Attack of the Abutilons! Very odd poundstore thin tall plastic clone figure makes a good space invader (40 to 54mm)

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.

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In a garden-axy far far away … Strange slaty granite planet with alien plant forms and breathable atmosphere.

Just the ticket for a 1970s Airfix boy derailed by Star Wars and American 1970s Star Wars spin off sci-fi series …

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A bit of a stylish Flash Gordon / Dan Dare 1930s / 1950s Sci Fi thing going on here.

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Tim Mee Galaxy Laser Quest Space Officer and three metal troopers.

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.

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http://www.thortrains.net/toysoldierart/colors3.htm

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:

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Two of my 32mm space conversions of a Pound Store Plastic figure.

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.

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2017/11/05/poundland-space-marines-platoon-on-parade/

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2018/01/28/little-green-men-pound-store-plastic-space-warriors/

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More of my blue colour uniform scheme space figure 32mm Pound Store Plastic Figures. Haven’t we seen that pose before and bigger?

You can see the 32mm Pound Store Plastic basis of the 40-50mm Pound Store pirate clone figure above:

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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.

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Kev Robertson’s space creations … 35mm Eureka space figures

https://dwarfenrealm.blogspot.com/2019/06/spaceguard-new-35mm-scratch-models.html

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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

Close Little Wars Raging Across The Duchy of Tradgardland

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Screenshot. Image copyright: Alan Gruber / Duchy of Tradgardaland

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

Pound Store and Homecast Boy Scouts on the Painting Table

Not reliable casting weather to cast a few more  scouts to complete the Duchy of Tradgardland’s patrol

https://tradgardland.blogspot.com/2019/05/scouts-for-wide-games.html

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

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All twenty Shiny Toy Soldiers Little Britons 42mm Range LBB30 Boy Scouts on the painting table – four of them are now full skirted Girl Scouts! Still fiddly faces and gloss varnish to do.

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.

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A three part resin bicycle gifted to my scouts from Alan at the Duchy of Tradgardland. Two paper clip – Sass and Belle bicycle paper clips – male and female bicycles for comparison.
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Toot toot! One of my homecast 60mm scout buglers  painted up and released (like the Duchy of Tradgardland’s versions) into the big outdoors.

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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.

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Two of my Pound Land “Penny Dreadful” figures converted into quick cheap scout figures. Still some painting to finish.

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.”

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2017/11/26/pound-store-plastic-colonial-infantry-on-the-painting-table/

I have quickly paint-bashed these two 32mm examples up to see how this might go.  The Wargaming Pastor’s clever suggestion does work!

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The original ‘penny dreadful’ pound store figures and first paint draft of pound store Boy Scouts. A simple hole punched card rim  or page reinforcer trimmed to size makes the bush hat.

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.

https://www.sanddmodels.co.uk/products_43_figures.htm

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.

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OF203 Scoutmaster next to one of my painted 42mm Little Britons range scouts and OF204 Boy Scout with pole. OF238 and OF239 form the trek cart crew.

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 Wide Game Design Ideas

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Unfinished paint scheme for LBB30 Boy Scout from the Shiny Toy Soldiers ‘Little Britons’ 42mm range from Spencer Smith Miniatures. Gloss toy soldier finish.

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.

1. “You could use other figures to represent the scouts as they perceive themselves.
So in a pirate wide game use pirate figures or medieval, use Robin Hood ones.
It is a conceit also to allow to use any figures for those who don’t have model scouts.” 
2. Encounter tables for bulls, angry policemen etc
3. Weather tables too, effects on  morale, more dangerous to run etc.
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.
4. Morale, how the scouts are feeling and can they be bothered to continue in terms of fed up, bad weather,  skint knees, losing game etc.
5. First aid for minor injuries. Chance of minor injuries when jumping,cycling, going through nettles,brambles etc. affects desire to continue.
6. Small possibility of twisted ankles, broken legs. Obviously affects movement and distracts fellow scouts from the wide games by needing to go and get help.
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.
Alan Gruber goes on to mention even more ‘fantastic’ ideas:
“Years ago I helped occasionally with a friend’s Brownie pack by doing things like being a guest at their hostess badge tea party and with Thinking Day. The leader and girls often sent me a thank you card. They often featured Margaret Tarrant paintings of Brownies with wee folklore figures such as faeries etc. They were charming.”
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.
You can  see this Margaret Tarrant artwork here on this Guiding website https://owl-and-toadstool.blogspot.com/2014/12/margaret-tarrant-girl-guide-artwork.html
“In the Wide Games book there is mention of Puck of Pook’s Hill as a background for games.”
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 suggests: “What about taking things a step further and having real mythological creatures interacting with the scouts?  All foreign scouts could have their own creatures like Tomten for Danish scouts etc.”
There are excellent illustrated  Tomten and Gnome picture books available translated into English.
With both our initial thoughts both being that each Scout could have a Role Playing Game Style ratings card for his or her abilities, experiences, success or failures, then introducing suitably national Fantastic Beasts makes sense. Hogwarts territory, this.  Girl Scoutes or Boy Scoutes versus Zombies, anyone?

Alan also wrote: “I like the comment on page 40 of the Wide games book

“In  playing these games it should be remembered that they improve very much on the second and third trial, as minor rules have often to be introduced to suit local circumstances.” Same applies to us who write Wargame rules…”
This is much my style of gaming: If in doubt, invent a dice roll!
Lots of interesting ideas from Alan.
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I have been busy painting and casting today, as I continue to read through Wide Games, along with a reprint of the 1908 Scouting for Boys and the colour reprint of the Ogden Scouting series 5 sets of Cigarette Cards.
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By chance in my small collection of old metal moulds for home-casting, I have these two stiff semi flat Scout figures who are about 54 to 60 mm tall. The fragile plastic figure is a curious “odd one out” from my childhood, one of the US Marx series Boy Scout, missing his hatchet.

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Paint schemes ideas in a glimpse of this fascinating reprinted Ogden’s Cigarette card Scouting series (there is some irony in that Baden Powell warned against the health effects of smoking).
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Baden Powell’s scouts have a little knapsack and blanket roll or coat, worth adding to some figures with Fimo Polymer Clay?

 

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.

The Duchess of Wellington’s Own …

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Almost finished paint jobs on these shapely WTC figures of the Duchess of Wellington’s Own. Broken rifles repaired but  needs  a trouser stripe etc along the mould line.

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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.

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Two WTC figures on the left have now left the ranks of the Duchy of Tradgardland and headed south …

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.

Almost finished, the Duchess of Wellington’s Own (from old WTC figures).

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.

Three WTC figures in my collection and two new ones (right) from the Duchy of Tradgardland.
A few WTC Figures in Andrew Rose’s Collecting Toy Soldiers
Twelve known types of WTC figures identified in Norman Joplin, The Great Book of Hollowcast Figures. Ones I will be keeping an eye out for …
A brief history of WTC in the Norman Joplin book. B and T used the Waterloo infantry mould  (shown eighth from left above) in the 1950s.
WTC figures repackaged for Chaterhouse shown in Norman Joplin, the Great Book of Hollowcast Figures.
A Small Boys Delight or Cheap Target Practice and Cannon Fodder? as shown in Andrew Rose’s Collecting Toy Soldiers.

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!

https://suburbanmilitarism.wordpress.com/2017/04/26/girl-soldier/

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  

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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?

Deliciously fragrant.