FEMbruary 2019 Work in Progress

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After black acrylic primer, blocking in colour begins with light olive and flesh – very animated 28mm Annie Norman’s Bad Squiddo figures Women of WW2 Russian Command.

Over the weekend as FEMbruary 2019 begins, I have undercoated my two sets of believable female miniatures by Annie Norman at Bad Squiddo.

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2019/01/31/fembruary-2019-and-new-bad-squiddo-figures-arrive/

I started to block out basic colours onto each set. Finding the right green / khaki shade for Soviet troops should be interesting. They will most likely be gloss finished.

I noticed when comparing the Land Girls set this year with those painted last year that I used mostly  Revell Aquacolor Gloss Acrylics.  I usually now paint in toy soldier style, rather than the more realistic “grungy” khaki and brown wash of modern Wargames figures and “Military Modelling”. A matter of personal taste.

Gloss or not Gloss? Even the wider range of  Matt colours can be glossed at the end with Varnish.

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Last year’s FEMbruary Land Girls at Rest on the left, this year’s work in progress are  Land Girls at Work with bag of spuds on the right. The hay stook on the left is the cut off broom head from a Steve Weston Mexican peasant woman, converted into a Suffragette last year.

Gloss or not gloss?

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2018 FEMbruary Land Girl figures painted in gloss – not quite finished yet.

One new #FEMbruary / #MARCH challenge that has come up – Will I be able to get both sets of Land Girls finished and box framed ready for the craft section of my local Spring Flower Show in mid March?

It fits the local agricultural / flower show theme. Many Land Girls worked or trained on local farms in  my semi-rural Southwest area of Britain during WW1 and WW2.

It strikes a blow for “boy-craft” in an otherwise mostly female craft section.

Hopefully I can finish  this project on time to a suitable standard (my own!)

Last year I didn’t think my Suffragette conversions were quite ready or suitable for the same event, even though it was the Right to Vote centenary and we had had active suffragette campaign in my home area.

Already Marvin at Suburban Militarism has finished his FEMbruary project, a fine set of 54mm WREN Royal Navy female figures, who turned out to be made in his very own home town!
https://suburbanmilitarism.wordpress.com/2019/02/03/fembruary-a-la-mode/

Meanwhile reading my FEMbruary challenge read – The Unwomanly Face of War, an oral history of Russian women in WW2 – is proving surprisingly interesting and challenging subject matter. Grim in many places, not for the faint hearted but certainly a history that needed to be recorded (written 1985, updated 2017) before this generation of women  passed away.

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Bad Squiddo figures: https://badsquiddogames.com/shop#!/Bad-Squiddo-Miniatures/c/20887901/offset=0&sort=addedTimeDesc

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 4 February 2019

Man of TIN Advent Calendar Day 16 – Death to the Invader! sing those female warriors

Left over from last #FEMbruary, which was a month of beleivable female miniature painting posts, are these female soldiers in Gilbert and Sullivan’s light comic operetta Princess Ida.

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“Princess Ida, or Castle Adamant” opened on 5 January 1884 at the Savoy Theatre and ran for 246 performances. It is the only three act Gilbert and Sullivan Opera and the only one with dialogue in blank verse. This is because Gilbert based his libretto on his earlier play The Princess which, in turn, he described as “a perversion” of Tennyson’s poem of the same name.

It was produced between Iolanthe and The Mikado when its creators were at the height of their powers. The score is Sullivan at his best, and some people consider that Gilbert’s libretto contains some of his fun

Prince Hilarion had been married in babyhood to Princess Ida, daughter of King Gama. The Princess, however, has set up a college for women from which all men are barred. Hilarion and his friends infiltrate the castle and ultimately the men, led by Hilarion’s father, King Hildebrand, stage a full-scale invasion. Ida is abandoned by her women and finally surrenders to Hilarion. (GS Archive web source)

Source / copyright: G S Archive website for the lyrics and vintage photographs.

2018 is the hundredth anniversary of the first women gaining the vote in Britain and 2018 is also the year that the military in Britain opened to women the last few gender restricted jobs on frontline duties including special forces roles.

The original stage costumes from 1926 below, looked at close up, are quite gloriously Flash Gordon.

Women soldiers in the 1926 production of Princess Ida (GSArchive website)

What a joke in 1884 to some Victorian men, that women would ever attend university, get a degree or serve in the military, all on equal grounds.

http://gsarchive.net/princess_ida/webop/pi_21.html

There are plenty of modern versions on YouTube to track down and enjoy of this stirring song, popular for obvious reasons with female university students!

Manchester University G&S Society MUGS

https://youtu.be/TqmhukcBXyY

A wide range of female soldier stage costumes are improvised at low cost for this number in different YouTube videos. Some Imagi-Nations and uniforms ideas  there then.

Southampton University version 2003

https://youtu.be/OA-wlnNObRs

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Following up Ross MacFarlane’s Battle Game of The Month reprint of an article about French Wargames during WW2, in the same series is an interesting article by Jon Peterson about the First Female Gamers (who weren’t called Bronte) https://medium.com/@increment/the-first-female-gamers-c784fbe3ff37

Blogposted by Mark Man of TIN as Advent Calendar Day 16, 16th December 2018

“That more intelligent sort of girl who likes boys’ games and books”

 

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Nice field gun! I wonder if this Mademoiselle Strategie was “that sort of intelligent girl” that H.G. Wells had in mind who would enjoy playing his Little Wars ? Xavier Sager  postcard, “Strategy” c. or pre WW1.

 

“Little Wars: a game for boys from twelve years of age to one hundred and fifty and for that more intelligent sort of girl who likes boys’ games and books” is the long and unusual title of H.G. Wells famous book that started modern war gaming back in 1913.

H.G. Wells had an eye for intelligent girls or ladies, such as Amber Reeves, a pioneering feminist Socialist student at Cambridge University  https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amber_Reeves with whom Wells had a child outside marriage in 1909. Wells called Amber  “Dusa”, a shortened form of his pet name (!) for her of Medusa.

Wells proved himself to be more than just the father of modern war gaming!

The years before Floor Games (1911), an account of floor games with his two sons,   led onto the “Sandgate Cannonade” of Little Wars (1913) were certainly busy ones for Wells, personally and professionally.

I wonder if this Xavier Sager designed Strategie / Strategy postcard girl  is “the sort of intelligent girl who likes boys games and books” that Wells had in mind? It’s certainly a nice field gun shooting at what looks like tiny men or toy soldiers.

I came across this curious “Little Wars” style postcard online attached to a completely unrelated foreign language medical website about heart disease.

I was puzzled – Any reason why it was on a medical website?

It’s an interesting little card from somewhere in the early 1900s through to WW1. Look carefully and you will see that the ammunition for her toy gun is hearts!

What Strategy is it that she proposes?

Why the Gulliver Lilliputian style differences in size between giant lady and puny male victims?

Are these her tiny fallen lovers?

Is she a Femme Fatale figure? A Dusa or mythical fate spinner, a fatal woman?

What of the tiny fallen or wounded figures on the floor, including one in uniform, cursing or crying out? He must have a very revealing view of  Mademoiselle “Strategie”.

What would the spirited Amber Reeves make of it all?

Strategy was produced as a comic or satirical postcard by Xavier Sager.  Sager was a European  postcard artist whom I had not heard of before but a quick internet search reveals him to have been most prolific.

However  little appears online or in print about Sager’s life. Xavier Sager may have been born in Austria in 1870 or 1881 and died in the USA in 1930. He mostly illustrated Paris life in the first few years of the 1900s. You can see many of his designs here and on Pinterest:

https://aboutcards.blogspot.com/2006/12/xavier-sager-belle-epoch-postcard.html

http://perso.wanadoo.es/xsager/_marcs-eng.htm

French website: http://wilfrid-sager.blogg.org

Sager’s image reminds me of this curious Gibson Girls comic drawing by American artist Charles Dana Gibson entitled “The Weaker Sex” (1903).

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Caption this for female Wargamers or modellers?!? Sager’s images reminds me of this curious 1903 Gibson Girls drawing by American artist Charles Dana Gibson entitled “The Weaker Sex” (Wikipedia image source public domain)

Xavier Sager reputedly produced over 3000 designs of what in America would later be called pin ups, nose cone art  and far more relaxed and revealing than the fashionable Gibson Girls of America at the time.

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Howard Chandler Christy WW1 poster
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Howard Chandler Christy WW1 US poster

These Sager postcards are much more similar in cheeky style to the Howard Chandler Christy girls of WW1 American forces recruiting.

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Lots of “military terms” or puns illustrated on postcards by Xavier Sager c. France WW1. As the old saying goes, Time spent in Reconnaissance is seldom wasted!

Many of the military ones seem focussed on cheeky, erotic or patriotic subjects such as flags, national songs, uniforms and female company for Allied soldiers including the Americans after their 1917 entry into WW1. They must have sold like hot cakes or donuts to the American doughboys.

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Bersaglieri, part of a Sager postcard series on Allied national flags and uniforms  WW1. A similar female Bersaglieri postcard by Sager exists.

This post is for Marvin, a talented painter of WW1 miniatures!

These  images sit interestingly alongside the fantastical and unrealistic images of women or girl soldiers that Marvin of the Suburban Militarism blog has been researching, alongside the real female soldiers and support services https://suburbanmilitarism.wordpress.com/2017/04/26/girl-soldier/

There are plenty of Xavier Sager’s collectable vintage postcard images for sale online or viewable on Pinterest, if you want to look up his work any further, along with websites below.

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 26 August 2018

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Mademoiselle Strategie with her ammunition of hearts may well be the female version of the man collecting a Jar of Hearts (conquests, hopefully, not real human organs) in Christina Perri’s recent song Jar of Hearts, better heard in the remix of the  time travelling Postmodern Jukebox, court musicians to the Duke of Tradgardland. Enjoy!

https://youtu.be/G_4Qf2yV0KQ

 

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?

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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.