This was an unfortunate misreading of a toy collectors price guide 2019 magazine article about Warlord Games entitled “Dawn of the Lead”, a snappy title which actually makes little sense in view of their mostly plastic output. It may refer to the ‘Lead Belt’ of miniature figure makers in Nottingham. This Lead Belt was not much evident when I lived and worked there for a few months in the early 90s.
‘Lawn of the Dead’ would of course be much better as a title of a Garden Wargames post. It sounds like the aftermath of an H.G. Wells type Little Wars battle.
‘Lawn of the Dead’, obviously based on the zombie spoof comedy movie Shawn of the Dead, has been used as a title for a short film, World Of Warcraft online game scenario, Plants versus Zombies video games adventure, weird gnome producers and so on. Google it and see.
‘Lawn of the Dead’ for me conjures up visions of a Wellsian toy soldier battlefield in the grassy garden with figures strewn around after the fighting.
Not as good a pun though as Alan at the Duchy of Tradgardland’s blog who once had a blog or short lived web page called By The Sward Divided, on outdoor gaming. A good pun on the 1980s BBC TV drama series set during the English Civil War, By The Sword Divided.
Most of my creative misreadings come about because my eyesight is not brilliant, having been born with a lazy eye, so that everything is normally a little blurry, text especially, without the glasses I wear for driving or watching TV.
Other creative misreadings that I have been foolish enough to mention out loud include:
The Vanishing Shop (of John Preston?) in place of the Furnishing Shop (of John Preston?). “On the run, need to disappear? If you can find us, we can help.”
Ironically this real shop has now itself gone. Mysterious.
Elephant Milk instead of Peninsula Milk largely due to the SW peninsula map of Devon and Cornwall, which kind of looks like an elephant head in profile. We were following this milk tanker near Paignton Zoo and it kind of made weird sense at the time.
‘Man with Large Hands’ (followed by phone contact number) instead of the correct reading ‘Man with Large Van’.
During Covid Lockdown, glancing at a BBC Online news headline that I was sure said “The number of ghosts allowed at a wedding or funeral has been increased” – this makes no sense really, how would you police this anyway?
The Ladybird Book of Disappointing Mammals (“that one’s a bit rubbish, all it does is sleep …it’s not deadly at all”), rather than the more accurate and educational Disappearing Mammals.
Sometimes real life is a little duller than the creative misreading.
Anyone else suffer from this affliction, the eyesight version of predictive text on your phone? Anyone else have a favourite misreading?
Feel free to share it in the comments section.
Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 29 / 30 July 2021
B.P.S. Blog Post Script
If you came seeking Garden Wargames, do not be disappointed, read our past blog posts:
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.
In between planning airplane conversions, I have been repairing Broken Britain’s hollowcast 54mm Indians and casting more Prince August 40mm Cowboys and Indians ready for some garden skirmish games soon.
So adding a Western train set isn’t so surprising …
Vintage 54mm Pound Store Plastic Cowboys and Indians fight over the cargo and caboose of my new Wilko Western Express train.
A snip of a plastic battery operated railway set at £10. Read more at:
I stayed in the shade of the trees surrounding our garden during the very hot and sunny Father’s Day weekend. We raided several starter Heroscape packs for hex tile and figures for a knockabout duelling game in the garden using versions of the Lunge, Cut and Stop Thrust duelling rules.
Even the garden table cloth or white spotty oilcloth wanted to join in as a sort of hex sea between the hex islands.
I’m not what many would call a fantasy gamer, despite my historical Imagi-Nations and the occasional 54mm Space based garden game. These Heroscape figures came prepainted with the very useful Heroscape plastic Hex tile ‘make your own 3D gameboard’ terrain system. So it seemed a shame not to use them occasionally.
Heroscape games system
If you’re not familiar with the Heroscape game and figures by MB / Hasbro, available secondhand online, visit the following sites
The starter or master sets I had bought second-hand provided several interesting warrior groups:
Mech type robots – Zettian Guards (not shown in photographs)
Samurai type figures – Izumi Samurai
Elite Airborne figures
Government type agents – Krav Maga agents
Viking type fantasy Ancient warriors
Marro scary aliens
Very soon as I and other family members chose Heroscape warrior squads to take each other on in individual duelling or melee bouts, we switched from the slower cards (Parry and Lunge, Stop-Thrust and Cut system) to the quicker d6 version suggested by Kaptain Kobold.
The games proved short and brutal, mostly involving fast melee, using the Kaptain Kobold modification or d6 dice version of Gerard De Gre’s Lunge Cut and Stop Thrust rules for melee or duelling.
1-2 Hit on Attacker (lose one point)
3 – Both Hit (lose one point each)
4 – Both Miss
5-6 Hit on Defender (lose one point)
To simplify the rules, speed and even things up between the different Heroscape tribes or clans, we declared all figures or weapons equal in melee and no ranged weapons. In that way a Mech Robot could be defeated by a Samurai or Viking.
Each character had 5 life or combat points (recorded on a dice next to them during combat) and could also only move 2 hexes, halved if moving uphill or through water.
The surviving or winning duellist gained an extra life or combat point when the other rival character was killed off. It quickly got fast, fatal and furious!
My FBI X-Files team didn’t last long against the grim-faced Alien Marro figures. Warrior Mech Zettian Guards fought Izumi Samurai and fantasy Vikings, then Elite Airborne figures.
This was also the first outing for some new aquarium ornament resin scenery picked up in a handy 3 for 2 ornaments sale at Pets at Home. A battered rope bridge, a jungle temple, two Ewok style tree houses with lush jungle foliage, a Greek or Roman ruined temple and a Chinese or Japanese fishing boat. All variously suitable for 15 to 40mm size figures.
I didn’t tell the checkout lady the truth when she asked about my non-existent fish and tank, that these weren’t destined or bought for underwater fish usage but for the gaming table or out in the garden / yarden for gaming! More on these in a future post.
This proved a short fast knockabout game of the islands suitable for both young and old in the family.
The recent nearly but not quite named ‘Storm Doris’ did minor damage in my garden overnight a day or two ago, flipping off the tied on and weighted-down lid of my improvised “sand table”.
This ‘sand table’ was flooded with rainwater and a topped with a thin sheet of ice this morning.
Quite surreal, as this was how it was otherwise left at the end of a game.
The sculpted sand terrain had smoothed away underwater. Eerily many of the troops were standing or lying still where they had last fought.
In reality the ‘sand table’ is a bright blue plastic family sand pit filled with fine play sand but it does service for garden games for all ages of family.
Revealed frozen underwater was the end of a last summer ‘pound store plastic warriors’ sand pit game, literally frozen in time.
I had forgotten to put this game away months ago, just tied the lid on and weighted it with stones. The weather has not been great in the UK for outdoor garden gaming over the last few winter months.
Unpainted, these simple pound store troops about 25-30 mm high in three different ‘national colours’ looked surprisingly good underwater, especially this silver cluster.
I have never built a proper sand table Donald Featherstone style, having heard or read of several near disasters with the weight of sand indoors and the sand’s ability to get everywhere – “can be rather messy, as sand does not always keep its proper place on the table” as Donald Featherstone points out.
Gaming in the sand pit was always a good garden standby in childhood, mostly using a rough pile of builders sand in the garden / yard left over from an extension. Growing up with dogs, the sand pit did not thankfully become a litter tray for the neighbourhood cats.
Figures occasionally vanished, sometimes to resurface during later completely different period games. Some were never seen again. By now the entombed 1970s Airfix plastic will have crumbled to dust if that childhood sand pile is still there.
The Sheil website has ‘sand pit’ rules for those who want to try this in an undrowned sand pit (with well attached roof).
Planet: Yarden / Location: in a galaxy far afar away (but strangely, just round the corner of my house)
Scenario: A captured red hat enemy staff officer of the Imperious Forces (usually the bad guys) has revealed the whereabouts of the secret Imperious Space Base on Planet Yarden.
He is interrogated with mind control by tiny General Yodel.
Rebellious or Revolutionary Commando Troops from many nations and planets led by the tiny General Yodel and feisty Princess Layla are heading there to destroy this base.
Its giant super laser cannon is capable of destroying entire planets / space ships / etc, yardeh yardeh yardeh …
Any similarity to the characters and plots of well known space films by George Lucas and Disney are entirely coincidental or in your own mind.
Meanwhile on Planet Yarden, the Rebellious or Revolutionary Troops head towards the Imperious base with their star crawler packed with Space TNT.
The secret Imperious base is protected by watchtowers and a smaller guard base.
Luckily the Rebellious or Revolutionary troops have a secret weapon, a heavy space ballista mounted on a space ship.
In Turn 1, whilst most of the figures are out of weapons range, the Rebellious troops land a direct hit with a space rock on several of the (Cylonic looking) Imperious Troops behind rocky barricades, guarding the smaller space cannon.
In Turn 2, Captain Lush and several of his Rebellious laser sword warriors are killed in a melee with Imperious Troopers.
Turn 3 – The giant space cannon of Imperious Trooper Base lands a direct hit on the Rebellious Space Freighter and destroys the space Ballista and its crew. A dice throw sorts out if it is repairable; it isn’t, cutting off the Rebellious chances on escape by ship.
Fortunately in Turn 3, the crew of the Rebellious Space Crawler packed with Space TNT roll the right d6 number: 4,5,6 to blow up on this move. The smaller guard base is breached, killing several Imperious troopers. The Rebellious crew bale out and head towards the larger base.
Turn 4 – A desperate fight takes place on the entrance ladders and drawbridge of the larger Imperious Space Base.
Turn 5 – Meanwhile some Imperial troopers threaten to capture General Yodel and Space Princess Layla and free the Imperious Staff Officer. However Layla grabs a space blaster rifle and Yodel uses his Mind Force (two d6 compared to 1d6 in the melee) to fight off the Imperious Troopers.
Turn 6 – A dice is thrown for when Rebellious troops might continue to attack and take over the base or withdraw into the forests.
Similarly the Imperious Base Commander dices to see when the base goes into lockdown.
The main Imperious base being in lockdown, its smaller base destroyed by the exploding Rebellious half-truck , their own Rebellious space freighter ship irreparably damaged – it’s time for General Yodel and Layla to escape into the forests and undergrowth of Yarden. Time to fight another day …
Figures, Vehicles and Buildings
The 54mm / 1:32 scale figures were a real mix, cobbled quickly together for this game, so many are unpainted. If I had waited to paint figures and vehicles or scratch build a space base etc, the weather may well have turned and I would not have got this solo outdoor game in.
Sterne the Imperious Base Commander and Staff Officer prisoner are Lone Star Afrika Korps. Colourful 1960s spacemen man the smaller space cannon.
Pound store figures in khaki form the bulk of the Imperious troops, commanded by Imperial Empire Star Wars officers. Airfix 1981 Space Warriors and Star Wars Command figures (from Pound stores / Wilko) form the rest of the Rebellious troops, led by a zoo ranger as Princess Layla. Pound store police formed some dark blue space marines.
The space freighter ship is a lucky ‘handmade’ wooden ship find from the 1960s, topped by another junk shop find of a plastic ballista (Timpo?) This had to be strapped on to fire properly.
The smaller laser cannon is really a spring loaded metal cannon from the 1920s, it had a good range of about 2 feet of more firing cotton buds / Q tips.
The buildings are an Airfix Strongpoint Bridge watchtower (off show in photos) and a small roofless ‘pet house’ to hold the Imperious Staff Officer prisoner.
The main space and guard bases are the black plastic delivery bases of those PC / computer server boxes, obtained spare as packaging from a local workplace. The plastic space domes are seed incubator tops from the garden centre. The deadly large space gun is a Tiger.com £1 periscope.
Rules and Playtesting
The Close Little Star Wars version of Close Wars were scaled up for the Yarden / Garden and 54mm figures.
Buildings such as the bases seemed too impregnable, without firing the Q Tip weapons.
Any umpire type command decisions (playing solo) were solved by creating special d6 dice throws such as Is the freighter reparable? Will the Rebellious troops withdraw? Will the Imperious base and big gun withdraw into lockdown? When will the TNT in the half track blow up the Guard base?
Many of the troops only had close quarter weapons such as laser pistols or laser swords, meaning they could only be used up close or in melee phase.
The Airfix space Warriors with the disc / boomerang thing were used as Laser Space Grenadiers. Range of 12″, throw 4 to 6 to hit home. Throw d6 to see how many troops are hit.
Luckiest Shot? The Space Ballista worked well firing in trials at first chunky dice (too heavy) and second, pea gravel. This took out several of the ‘Battlestar Galactica’ type Cylon figures from the Airfix Space Warriors set who were safely behind barriers serving with the Imperious forces. Ironic to be using plastic figure pound store rocky outcrops outdoors in the Yarden.
I hope H.G. Wells would approve of this stellar mash-up …
Great fun, possibly the last garden game maybe of the year as it gets colder and wetter going into autumn.
To try to separate the joy of ‘Pound Store Plastic Warriors’ from the other gaming content on the Man of Tin blog, I set up in early September a sister blog site for this material in future, subtitled “Little Wars on a Budget“:
One of mine is this Airfix 1:32 54mm Australian WW2 officer – or as I often used him in childhood, as a garden jungle adventurer?
He made a passable Indiana Jones (yet produced several years before the film!)
This was a great figure also available in the tinier OO/HO 1:72 – 1:76 20mm scale.
This one figure creates ideas for lots of scenarios.
Generally the Airfix Australian and Ghurka figures in 1:32 or 1:72 scale prove great adaptable ‘jungle adventure’ explorers or troops, even if you exclude the ‘modern’ machine guns etc. to add a more 19th century / early 20th century feel.
In the smaller scale, add some of the adventurer and natives figures from the tiny Airfix Tarzan set (reissued by Hat c.2001/3 as Jungle Adventure). Throw in repainted Airfix Indians as ‘Jungle Warriors’ and you have the figures for an excellent jungle Close Little Wars scenario. Poundstore cowboys and natives can also be used in the larger figure scales.