A simple scrap kitchen towel for a headscarf transforms one of Steve Weston’s 54mm plastic Mexican peasants into a spirited serving girl, scolding Goodwife or feisty fender-off of invaders from medieval to Tudor times through to the English and American Civil Wars and the Wild West onwards.
This is another figure for my slowly developing 54mm figure and pound store conversions towards a raggle-taggle Arma-Dad’s Army militia muster and civilians to fend off the Spanish Fury of Armada invaders of the southwest coast in the 1590s.
And the title?
Crossposted from my Pound Store Plastic Warriors blog – read the more fully illustrated blog post here:
I also looked at press images of “Rosies” (one of the nicknames for US women war workers) and a similar Norman Rockwell 1943 magazine cover.
I restrained myself from trying to do the polka dot head piece or the lapel badge, even in 54mm. Gloss acrylic paint , gloss varnish and pink cheek dots give this figure an old fashioned toy soldier feel.
I wanted her to look like she had been made by William Britain’s Ltd during the war, albeit unlikely as Britain’s Ltd was turned over to munitions production after 1941 .
Next up, almost done on the painting table – the BMC Plastic Army Women – painted for FEMbruary – including another version of Rosie.
Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 15 FEMbruary 2021
Blog Post Script B.P.S.
Thanks to Alex at the Lead Balloony blog for setting up the FEMbruary challenge of painting believable female Miniatures and gaming minis.
“These ladies form a nice segue into another topic – that of my now-annual ‘Fembruary Challenge’! It’s a simple affair, just paint & post one or more female miniatures from your piles-of-shame, in the name of fair representation within the hobby. Just link back to this post, or ping me directly & I’ll grab a pic and include your entry in the final round-up in early March (usually by International Women’s Day, 8th of March)
Given that this is intended as an encouragement to think about inclusion in the hobby then it makes sense if your entries are kick-ass ladies, and not the product of some socially awkward mini-sculptor’s sexy fantasies… Anything dodgy & I’ll omit it from the round-up, otherwise, have at it! I usually pick my favourite of the bunch – no prizes I’m afraid, but a boatload of kudos to you as an official Fembruary Winner!”
Crossposted from my Pound Store Plastic Warriors blog – a wash and brush up for the new 54mm BMC Plastic Army Women figures, prior to the FEMbruary believable female figure painting challenge (started by Alex at Lead Balloony)
The new BMC Plastic Army Women have arrived from America – the first Kickstarter I have ever backed. A snowball fight breaks out at Camp Benjamin on the parade and assault course amongst the new female recruits, watched by their officers on the rope bridge …
Crossposted with other snowball fight links and rules (including by Alan Gruber) posted by Mark Man of TIN on his Pound Store Plastic Warriors blog, 26/27 December 2020
A couple of broken metal figures have found a brand new life as Girl Scouts.
These conversions fit well with my slow reading ‘research’ for my Scout Wide Games tabletop project, poring through the earliest Scouting for Boys books and Girl Scout equivalent, How Girls Can Help the Empire: The Handbook for Girl Guides.
The Victorian or Edwardian sailor suited boy might have come from the ‘bits and bobs’ box at Tradition of London (their old Shepherd Market shop). He had broken off at the ankles.
The archer was a small broken gilt figure minus its head.
The sailor boy was fixed by drilling holes in both feet and ankles with a fine pin vice or hand drill. Small pins of wire joined body and feet together, secured with superglue.
Something about that cheeky face said that this could be a Girl Scout recruit, rather than an Edwardian Boy Scout. I quickly made a tissue paper skirt fixed with clear PVA glue.
I was quite curious to see how these figure conversions would be enhanced (or not) by paint. I wanted an old-fashioned toy soldier look to the faces, along with a final spray of gloss varnish.
And the scout mistress or archer? He started life as a man, then when I came across him, he had no head. A quick rummage in the spares box found a spare pound store figure about the right size. Off with his head!
I cannot find a manufacturer for either figure. It looks on the original gilt figure as if one hand is carrying an arrow. This fine detail may need to be added.
Archery was certainly recommended as a sport for Guides by Robert Baden-Powell and his sister Agnes, who adapted her brother’s 1908 hand book Scouting for Boys into the 1912 handbook, How Girls Can Help To Build Up The Empire: The Handbook For Girl Guides. The ‘Girl Guiding’ handbook replaced this first book in 1918.
The Baden-Powells also recommended rifle shooting. Both boy and girl scouts could attain a Marksman badge for rifle shooting. There was also a section on self defence (jujitsu) as you never knew what you might encounter as a young woman at home or in the colonies on the frontiers of the Empire! Tigers, mad dogs, brigands, insurgents?
Research is slow but enjoyable, being a comparitive reading of this first 1912 Girl Scout or Guide handbook, alongside its predecessor Scouting For Boys. The sections are mixed up and in a different order. It is interesting to note what is kept in and suitable for guides, what is substituted as specifically for girls.
For instance, Baden Powell mentions in Scouting for Boys in a section on marksmanship: “The Boers are all good shots, and so are the Swiss. In both countries, the boys begin learning marksmanship at an early age by using crossbows…”, something suggested to Boy Scouts but not to Girl Scouts or Guides.
Being an accomplished marksman, after the lessons of the Boer War, was also seen by Baden Powell as a patriotic duty for men (‘citizen soldiers’) and good for home defence.
There is no obvious suggestion in either book that women should be armed ‘citizen soldiers’ in Britain, only in the frontiers of Empire for self defence of property and family.
Certain of the original Wide Games scenarios are included for girls; the book often mentions to save space ‘as in Scouting’, so the 1912 Guides book and the 1908 original Scouting book are designed to read together.
It’s World Book Day on March 7th and International Women’s Day on March 8th (so unofficially the end of this year’s painting and modelling challenge #FEMbruary 2019).
To mark these dates I thought that I would review this fascinating military oral history book about Russian women in WW2. It is possibly one of the freshest and most interesting military or social history books that I have read about WW2 for several years since The Taste of War: WW2 and the Battle for Food by Lizzie Collingham (2011).
One of the downsides of reading many WW2 books is having to (skim) read the same material over and over again in different books, which makes finding new material or insights all the more interesting.
The author Svetlana Alexievich interviewed many Russian servicewomen in the 1970s and 1980s about their war experiences in WW2. She used the same ‘polyphonic’ oral history approach in her other work such as Boys in Zinc (1991) about the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, which I have not yet read.
The Unwomanly Face of War was published first in Russian in 1985, then translated into English in Moscow in 1988. The book was rejected by several Russian publishers as ‘unsuitable’ history. When this book was first written and the oral histories recorded, Russia was still the old USSR then. Glasnost and Perestroika were still several years away.
Svetlana Alexievich returned to the subject of the book in the early 2002-2004 and added or restored more material, presumably as some forms of Soviet 1980s censorship had changed by then. This is what is featured in this recent translation published by Penguin in 2017 / 2018.
There are some updated or presumably new sections in the preface – “what the censors threw out”, “from a conversation with a censor” and “what I threw out” – that are interesting to read in light of this self censorship and official censorship of what is suitable national history.
Svetlana Alexievich won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2015 for her well curated “polyphonic” oral histories on Chernobyl, the Russian war in Afghanistan in the 1980s, the break up of the USSR, children in WW2 and this unusual book on Russian women at war in WW2.
WhyamIreading this book?
I began reading this book as part of my 2019 FEMbruary figure challenge to paint or celebrate your believable female gaming or model miniatures.
The recent 28mm Women of WW2 Bad Squiddo Miniatures range by Annie Norman had not only female soldiers, tank crews and snipers but also a command group of medics and radio operators, which I chose to paint. They are almost complete as of the end of #FEMbruary.
What makes the book unusual and fascinating is that it is skilfully curated directly from the words of the women themselves, presumably transcribed from tape recordings or letters. Their job roles go beyond the somewhat known – female snipers, the first female fighter pilots – and into the less well known but more stereotypically ‘feminine’ jobs. Surgeon. Nurse. Medical Assistants to infantry or Army Regiments – armed Combat Medics.
There were plenty of women who worked with or fought with the Partisans. Other women served on the front line as sappers, engineers, mechanics, radio and telegraph engineers.
Even more surprising were the oral histories from women proud of their patriotic service as Laundrywomen. Mobile bath units. Cooks. Bakers. You forget that someone had to clean and repair uniforms. Cook the bread. Boil the water for soldiers to have a hot bath.
These women are the equivalent to the unromantic duties of the ATS women in Britain who cooked, cleaned, baked and repaired for the war effort – but often in the war in Russia these jobs took women well into the combat zone and front line.
A quick scan through of the ranks listed after each woman’s name shows everything from Private and Partisan fighter through junior officers (“Lieutenant, Political Commissar of a Field Laundry Unit” was one of the most unusual) up to high ranking posts such as airforce officers and a rare, almost accidental female Naval Commander post!
The range of jobs listed by the interviewees is fascinating:
Factory Labour Front Worker
Partisan Underground Fighter / Liaison / Medic
Commander MG Platoon
Field Bath and Laundry Unit, Laundress
Construction Unit, Engineer / Sapper / Miner (land mines?)
Logistics / Driver / Traffic Controller
Postal Worker / Communications
Telegrapher / Telephone Operator
Nurse / Nurse Aide / Matron through to Surgeon
Paramedic and Private, Motorised infantry
(Front line) Medical Assistant to an Army Company or Cavalry Squadron
Airplane Mechanic / Car Mechanic
Pilot / Airforce Captain
Naval Fleet Commander
Some jobs I had never heard of such as an AerostatOperator – I had to look this up. Surprsingly such odd or old fashioned sounding jobs are still advertised today! An aerostat (from Greek aer (air) + statos (standing) via French) is a “lighter than air aircraft that gains its lift through the use of a buoyant gas. Aerostats include unpowered balloons and powered airships. Especially with airships, the gasbags are often protected by an outer envelope.” (Wikipedia)
Maybe these aerostat operators are the equivalent of the WAAF girls who handled Barrage Balloons in Britain. These Aerostat balloons were known as ‘Pigs’ not just because of their shape but also stubbornly annoying “temperament”. Such balloon girls were immortalised in paint by British war artist Laura Knight. https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/15503
The Unwomanly Face of War sadly has no such illustrations, aside from the striking cover image of Natalya Kravtsova, commander of the 46th Guards Air Regiment, well decorated ‘Hero of the Soviet Union’. It would have been interesting to have seen wartime photos of these women at work or when they were interviewed in the 1970s and 1980s. However I’m sure a trawl through Soviet wartime art would reveal many Laura Knight style, realist/ Soviet heroic style portrait paintings of Russian servicewomen. Pinterest has many ‘recoloured’ portrait photos of Russian servicewomen, decorated, famous or otherwise.
It is not a pleasant read in parts, dealing plainly with frontline combat, injury and also the atrocities inflicted on Russian civilians.
There is also however friendship, romance, patriotic pride, occasional humour, stoic self sacrifice, postwar denial and a relief at finally being able to tell or record these stories and experiences many years later.
The end of my FEMbruary challenge 2019?
I am not sure what use this book would be to wargamers or tabletop gamers who focus on the Eastern Front in WW2 or what they would make of this book.
As I have no intention of gaming the Eastern Front in 28mm, I bought these Bad Squiddo figures more for diorama or vignette purposes. They could potentially be converted to female troops of other nationalities.
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 comicEllamseries 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,