These badges or insignia look like YWCA (Blue Triangle League?) badges for these organisers and officers – photo from the The Work Of Coloured Women by Jane Olcott 1919. These uniforms are businesslike and very similar to British women’s police constable or Women’s Royal Navy uniforms in WW1.
(African American?) Camp Fire Girls under canvas “Camping in Old Kentucky”.
Another view of the YWCA Reserves photo c.1919, the YWCA version of Camp Fire Girls?
YWCA Reserves? Camp Fire Girls activities like Scouting and Guiding could be adopted in part or whole within other existing youth programmes.
The activity looks quite odd – I’m not entirely sure if this is rope callisthenics with individual ropes, long group ropes or staff drill.
In this photograph, you can see an interesting range of variations of uniform of the Middy Top and neck tie, as well as knickerbocker / bloomers or skirt and white Keds type sport shoes. In an old black and white old photograph, it’s difficult to tell details.
They are not ‘uniform’ from skin tone and hair style to clothing.
Some have no neckties. One girl (far right) has an off white or khaki Middy Top.
Some have white Keds type sport shoes and white socks.
Some have full knee skirts, others have bloomers or knickerbockers.
Interesting that none of these African-American girls in any photos are wearing hats. Some have head bands and big white ribbons, obscuring the faces of those behind.
You can see more on African American Camp Fire Girls and YWCA Blue Triangle League uniforms and activities at my previous post:
My Battling Bronte Sisters (and Branwell!) are almost done, painted and based. Photographing them close up always throws up a few area to finish.
When they are not role playing their heroic parts in their juvenilia ImagiNations of Glass Town, Angria, Gaaldine and Gondal, they are all of course battling with the Dark Forces of Yarkshire folklore.
What started out as two packs of Bad Squiddo ‘Little Wolves’ (youngsters or child sized figures in Annie Norman’s 28mm Amazon Range) have been subtly converted to capture some of the make-believe of children at play.
I thought that they could be painted both as dressed as children role playing games and as heroic figures tackling Dark folkloric forces of Yarkshire.
Distinguishing the sisters is usually done by hair colour, especially in films.
I referred to the famous Bronte portrait by Branwell (centre, who later painted himself out) as well as the recent BBC drama To Walk Invisible for my colour palette.
Reddish hair – Anne – painted in grey with red sash
Brown hair – Emily – painted with longer skirt and green tunic, red belt
Black hair – Charlotte – painted with blue dress and red sash
Clothes – I kept the colour scheme quite dark coloured, sober and practical for parsons’ daughters in wet damp Tropical Yorkshire, even through early Victorians were often more colourful than our image of sober Late Victorians.
Image: Isabel Greenberg’s Glass Town. She uses the same hair colour system.
All paints were Matt Revell Aquacolor Acrylics, starting with a Matt black undercoat.
Faces – in keeping with the overall drab Matt colours of their clothes, boots or clogs etc, I avoided my usual bright gloss colours and toy soldier faces with pink cheek dots etc. Instead I chose a subtle mouth or lip colour ( a trace of carmine red) and a darker flesh using Revell Afrikabraun (or desert brown) instead of flesh.
To add that grungy, muddy feel of children out on the moors or getting mucky playing around the Parsonage, I used a brown shade or wash of Citadel Agrax Earthshade on flesh, faces and folds.
The Branwell ‘problem’
The two packs I bought from Annie Norman at Bad Squiddo were all female.
As I failed to find any suitable 28mm boy figures, I set about converting one of the girl figures into a red haired brother Branwell boy figure.
Filing down an excess of plaited hair, I covered the rest of the luscious plaited locks with an old hooded travelling cape (it were wet, dark and cold up on those moors) made of tissue paper and PVA.
I considered adding breeches or trousers with tissue paper and PVA but thought that Branwell as a boy was the only one in Victorian times who could get away with bare legs and ankles. The parson’s three surviving daughters probably could not.
Branwell’s poems show a familiarity with the classical and heroic epic, so I painted him bare legged, just wearing his ankle boots. His trouser legs are probably rolled up and he is wearing an old smock to look like a classical hero with tunic and cape. All make-believe or possibly real, playing around with that dual use notion.
Branwell (left) and Charlotte (right). Branwell’s cloak hood needs defining by shadow.
Basing is onto 1 penny MDF bases from Warbases, with PVA used to fix a rough mix of grassy flock and fine Cornish beach sand to suggest the moors. Appropriate enough as the Bronte children’s mother was born and grew up in Penzance, not far from the source beach in Cornwall.
Hopefully gritty and northern enough? Until I can go up on the moor and gather some proper Yarkshire grit and dirt.
Battling the Bronte Sisters
These figures are great for duelling games using simple ‘parry and lunge’ (Gerard de Gre) dice or card rules from Donald Featherstone’s Solo Wargaming.
A quick trip into town on dull family business was enlivened by popping into several charity shops (sadly no plastic tat, but a mass of obscure WW2 aircraft, mostly foreign 1/72 kits in one – resisted) and The Works.
The Works had a tiny selection of a few Nano Metal Figures, mostly Harry Potter / Fantastic Beasts and Halo SciFi, but at good prices – 2 for £3.00.
As a result they should roughly fit with my 40mm figures to 42mm figures. They do slightly tower over my Pound Store Plastic Warriors penny dreadful conversions, which are roughly 32mm. There is only a slight size and build difference between the adults and child / pupil figures in the Harry Potter series.
The shiny colours are not a problem as I like old toy soldier Gloss paint styles. It was the choice of colours that needed work on them to blend them in better as multipurpose civilians. Blue and silver trench coats were quickly repainted in dull khaki, a little more ordinary civilian or secret agent. A green Toy Soldier style base quickly altered the feel of the figures.
The original Nano figures can be seen here with their packaging, colours and a range of other figures for size comparison. I flagrantly ignored the instruction on the reverse “Caution: Heavy metal collectible figure – not meant to be played with as action figure”
These figures are diecast metal. Whilst I found that I could drill a hole without difficulty through Ron Weasley’s hand to take a Scout stave, I could not easily clip or cut the generously sized bases any smaller.
I thought that ‘Ron’ might somehow make a useful Scout Wide Games figure, alongside the two civilians. With the “Cloak of Romance” mentioned in the 1930s Wide Games scouting scenarios book , Alan ‘Tradgardland’ Gruber suggested that we could adopt or re-use any available figures that the Boy Scouts are imagining themselves into being – pirates, smugglers, natives, cowboys, Indians, settlers etc.
As well as as cheaper books, The Works also has a craft section of paints and crafting materials, small wooden boxes etc. I found this set of Scrabble style thin wooden tiles designed for crafting and scrapbooking. With the sticky backing dot removed, they could make quick and easy figure bases for 15 mm figures. 4 pence each a base. This would make an alternative to penny bases for 20 – 40mm figures or an alternative to cutting out squares of scrap mounting board, which is how I usually mount my Peter Laings.
Alongside the 32mm pound store plastic figure conversions of space figures, the Halo female figure of ‘Cortana’ is slightly taller at 41mm. But in space and sci-fi, different races and cyborgs etc will vary in size. Just watch Star Wars cantina scenes.
Meanwhile back in the post Edwardian years before WW1 …
Travelling back to a different time and different world, I have finished reading through ‘How Girls can Help to Build Up The Empire – The Handbook for Girl Guides’, c. 1912, the second of my original Scouting texts that I have read as part of the scouting Wide Games Project. The paperback reprint American adapatations or versions of both books are on order.
Whilst H.G. Wells was working on Floor Games and Little Wars, Robert Baden Powell’s sister Agnes was busily adapting his bestselling Scouting for Boys for an eager new audience.
This book is a fascinating period piece, along with Baden Powell’s 1908 Scouting For Boys, with lots of useful details to include early BP Girl Scouts and then the BP Girl Guides in the scouting Wide Games tabletop simulations. However from 1912 the new BP Girl Guides were discouraged from or not officially allowed to ‘romp’ or train alongside the Boy Scouts.
No fraternisation? This might have to be ignored in many circumstances on my table top simulation / gaming version. I will have to trust them to behave. Scout’s or Guide’s “Honour” is an important concept to bring into the gaming set up.
More on these fascinating books in future blog posts. The Phoenix 43 Scout Trek Cart group is almost finished too.
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.
TSAF Recon Mission Report, somewhere in the twin mists of The Great River and the 1930s:
The TSAF (Toy Soldier Air Force) is continuing and widening its search of the Yarden Forests of South Generica for any traces of missing explorer Colonel Bob “Jumbo” Fazackerly.
The skilled TSAF Pilots and their Observers / Navigators in their newly delivered Hybrid twin seater single engine monoplanes are scouring a wider and wider area around the upper reaches of the Great River, the Colonel’s last known position.
Colonel Fazackerley, a seasoned veteran of many a past military campaign, was last seen several months ago heading off “Up River” into the South Generican forests and mountains. Some say the Colonel was in search of inscriptions and artefacts in a rumoured lost cave temple of a lost ancient Generican tribe etc. etc.
Others mention that it is also known that descendants of these ‘lost’ tribes are not always friendly to outsiders. Rumours of unrest amongst these Yarden and Great River tribes have also reached the Colonial Governor, one of the many sons of Sir Sidney Ruff-Diamond.
The exact nature of the Colonel’s Mission or Expedition has not been disclosed by the Governor.
How I made Colonel Fazackerley
Colonel Bob started life amongst the ranks of Johillco Line Infantry (shown right below).
At some point during his previous life or military career he lost his head and his rifle, as well as his left arm.
When he arrived amongst a job lot of Broken Britain’s and other damaged hollowcast lead toy soldiers that I am repairing, he barely had any paint left either.
I repainted his scarlet jacket and blue trousers with Gloss Acrylics but then had other ideas.
The Colonel was reborn from my Bits Box, Frankenstein style, thanks to a spare Dorset Soldiers head, and a homecast officer’s sword arm from the Prince August 54mm Traditional Toy Soldier set.
I could have repaired or restored him, as I have done with other similar broken Johillco figures, back to his original Line Infantry firing role.
However something about the look of the stub of the broken rifle reminded me of a chunky automatic American style revolver. This suggested an officer, so next it was finding the right individual sort of hat.
Johillco 54mm figures are a little heftier than the more slender Britain’s figures, so can more easily take the Prince August 54mm cast arms and head. I tried various heads. Eventually I settled on a Dorset Soldiers head with slouch or bush hat from my Bits Box.
This still left the problem of the missing left arm.
Rather than making a new one from a wire “arm-ature” wrapped in masking tape and a Fimo polymer clay hand, I rummaged through my Bits Box again and found a spare Prince August officer’s right sword arm from a past casting session.
Snipping and filing this sword arm at the elbow to match the left arm stump, it was simply attached by drilling stump and arm with a fine 1mm drill bit to insert a short wire stub which joined the two, secured by superglue.
This gives the look of a sword or long machete for slicing through jungle creepers and stylishly seeing off any hostile natives or fierce animals.
A shaved cocktail stick glued on made a simple scabbard.
A spare Dorset Soldiers backpack made a knapsack.
All that remains to make or find to equip the Colonel for campaigning is a suitable water bottle and pistol holster.
Leather knee boots and Sam Browne type belt / knapsack strap were simply painted on.
His shiny new shooter was painted in silver.
This Dorset head had no cast moustache, so I added a painted one and pink cheek dots to keep that old toy soldier look to the face. A coat of Gloss varnish over the Matt Acrylic Khaki suggested a more vintage toy soldier look too.
What I wanted to achieve was a simple, old-fashioned toy soldier factory paint scheme, nothing too fussy or realistic, more toy soldier or Tintin cartoon.
The Natives are (not always) Friendly …
I have spent several weeks repairing and repainting broken Britain’s and other 54mm hollowcast figures to form some suitable native tribes and troops for future garden, yarden and tabletop skirmish games. Spears and weapons were often missing, sometimes bases, legs and arms.
A mixture of Broken Britain’s and Johillco Zulus, Crescent and Britain’s Indians have so far joined the North and South Generican native tribes defending their hard-won territories against various civilising (for which read aggressive) Colonial Imperialists of many nations.
Rifles or spears were repaired or added with wire and masking tape.
These natives will give Colonel Fazackerley and friends something to watch over the shoulder for. I shall show more of these rearmed and repainted colourful tribes in the coming weeks.
A Man of Many Missions
When he is not lost in the Generican forests and mountains of my Yarden, Colonel Bob can relive the glories of his youth out and about on campaign with a variety of field forces from the Bore War (sorry, Boer War) to the North West Frontier, Boxer Rebellion, Burma, the old West and WW1 East Africa, a military family career stretching back and far and wide to his relatives fighting in the American Civil War (but on which side is not fully known). Did he ever tell you
Danger follows him where others fear to tread …
Look out Fazackerley, they’re behind you!
He is rumoured to have disappeared and spent some time in his youth soldiering in the ranks of the French Foreign Legion.
Fazackerley is a man who has served in many forces on many expeditions and missions under many Aliases, thanks no doubt to his gift for getting by in many languages.
Not all the Natives are Unfriendly …
Soon all will be ready for the forests, mountains and rocky plains of the back garden, Yarden or cluttered Close Wars terrain of the tabletop.