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.

More Prince August 54mm home cast sculpts #3

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More of the possible Prince August proposed 54mm alternative heads for new 54mm home cast figures – US Infantry pre/ post 1902.

Good to see that people have contributed suggestions back to Prince August including Anthony Jopson and also Ian Dury (hello Ian!) of the Peter Laing Collectors circle (on MeWe) and the Continental Wars Society.

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More sculpts can be seen at https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2019/10/02/prince-august-new-54mm-toy-soldier-sculpts-part-2/

Any suggestions for new heads to extend this range? Contact can be made via the Prince August website info@princeaugust.ie or contact page.

Portuguese infantry? Ladybird Leaders: Soldiers

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Or Preben Kannik, Military Uniforms of the World, eve of WW1 plates

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Blog posted by Mark, Man of TIN 4 October 2019.

New Prince August 54mm Homecast Toy Soldiers Planned

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Interesting new poses planned

Exciting news from Prince August e-newsletter is the range of new 54mm homecast toy soldiers to add to their existing successful homecast range https://shop.princeaugust.ie/54mm-traditional-toy-soldiers-moulds/

These are still in development and feedback is sought on heads and nations represented. The newsletter comes from info@princeaugust.ie or there is a comment form on their website.

Why not sign up for the newsletter which has details of promotions, discounts, sales and new moulds?

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 14 September 2019.

Prince August chess pawn toy soldiers

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The 54mm Alamo Chess Set pawns from Prince August –  ‘pewtered’ by applying then quickly  wiping off black paint before it dries. Small casting error on one of the rifle butts to repair.

 

A special  offer or ‘promotion of the month’ for March 2017 on the Prince August website led me to try these Alamo Chess set pawns at a reduced price, which I bought alongside their American Civil War and Napoleonic chess set pawn moulds.

http://shop.princeaugust.ie/chess-sets

These 54mm toy soldier chess pawn moulds in silicone rubber are available separately from buying the whole chess set moulds.

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An interesting selection of 54mm figures

These figures cast well and cleanly, using Prince August Model Metal,  aside from the occasional glitch on the Alamo American figure rifle butt which is easily repaired.

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Close up of the background and front of some of the  Alamo and American Civil War chess pawn figures Home cast from Prince August moulds.

By mixing the sets together, a varied Confederate or Union type Army or Militia can easily be created. I like the powder horns on the Alamo figures, and think that these could serve for figures from earlier periods than the Alamo.

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Close up of the Napoleonic moulds 54mm chess pawns alongside the Alamo Mexican infantry figure (Prince August).

These figures with different paint schemes will bulk out the ranks of any 54mm toy soldier army.

Officer figures are included only in the whole Chess Set of moulds, admittedly on a slightly raised base. These bases could of course be adapted or removed. Alternatively other suitable figures could be used.

Standard bearers should be easily created from the rifleman figure by adapting the musket into a flag standard.

These figures are of course great for “Imagi-nation” games with some alternative paint work.

Slender of build as these chess pawns are, I was concerned how they matched up to other 54mm castings. Some castings from home cast and vintage moulds seem closer to 50mm.

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Size match with 54mm Prince August chess pawn soldier Napoleonic British Infantry compared with (left to right) homecast red greatcoated infantry, Britain’s Napoleonic British, Prince August 54mm saluting Guards officer (my Man of TIN gravatar)  Herald Lifeguard, my Fimo Guards officer, Herald Guardsman. 

However in a quick line up with other manufacturers , they match these slighter figures and my previous castings from metal home cast moulds well enough.

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Prince August chess pawn soldier Imperial Guard Napoleonics prove a reasonable size match for other 54mm figures (left to right) Britain’s AA Patrol, Airfix Imperial Guard, Britain’s line infantry and Guards marching, Herald Lifeguards. 
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54mm American Civil War chess pawn Soldiers size match for other manufacturers including (left to right) my Fimo Union style Infantry, Herald confederate bugler, Britain’s Line Infantry (repainted). 

Perefect for parades, perfect for gaming – lots of possibilities.

Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN, March 2017.

Army Red and Blue home castings simply painted

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Twa  Bonny Lads – homecast Highlander firing, repainted Britain’s Highlander charging

 

Back around January the 25th (Burns Night) I tried out some new vintage metal home cast moulds including this Highlander firing.

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2017/01/25/burns-night-casting/

He got stuck in the mould, despite using release powder, but cleaned up nicely.

The face is not very detailed but he has a fine vintage toy soldier look. There is a distinctive casting line but not too much flash.

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The original Highlander home casting. 

There is not much fine detail in the mould, whatever type of casting metal is used.

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Simple paint scheme to suit a simple home cast figure. The Britain’s Highlander has a repaired rifle, again using the shaved cocktail stick method. 

I like this Highlander enough to want to cast more. A row of them firing would look a fine addition to any wargames table or garden skirmish, despite the casting line running across and obscuring any facial detail.

Another vintage metal  mould casting on the same day was this curious greatcoated steel helmet figure, a little in the small side at about 50mm.

Again this was a figure with some casting problems (hollows in the chest or backpack) but with lots of conversion potential, especially if heads were exchanged. There was more flash than you would expect from a modern home cast silicon figure, requiring a bit of filing. The rifle also failed to fill out on one or two castings.

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2017/02/03/more-homecasting/

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The Homecast steel helmeted guardsman. 
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Army Red and Army Blue paint options of this Home cast figure. 

The steel helmet is oddly cast enough that it could with little filing be turned into a bush hat, or a head swap or replacement arranged.

Superb as the Prince August 54mm multipose 54mm traditional toy soldier range are (choose the head, body and arms you want)   I also like the simplicity of a single figure mould sometimes.

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The slightly hollow pack in one  and chest on the other can be seen here. 

A useful and versatile figure to cast more of, and one that suits a simple gloss toy soldier paint scheme. I imagine he was intended to be painted khaki.

Not sure of the Home cast manufacturer.

Blogposted by Mark, MIN Man of TIN blog, March 2017.

 

More Homecasting

Getting back into casting my own figures in metal, rather than Fimo / Sculpey Polymer Clay, after a break of several years is proving interesting.

It hasn’t all gone to plan. Moulds, especially metal vintage ones not used for a while, need to be “run in”. Warming the moulds gently helps the metal flow too.

Moulding disasters get put straight back into the melting pot or melting spoon.

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Schneider Settlers and Indians – Back into the melting spoon together …
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Rough, but useable 54mm castings from old metal moulds in need of a bit of trimming and filing. Faces are a bit blank. 
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An attractive WW1 / early WW2 British infantryman marching, c. 54mm height

 

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Rough raw castings of Prince August 40mm Cowboys and Indians designed by Holger Erikkson

Lovely to know that these ‘HE’ or Holger Ericksson figures (cast from moulds sold by Prince August) are still popular many years after they were first carved by Holger Ericsson (1899-1988) as shown here http://www.tabletoptalk.com/?p=572

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Schneider type moulds for 30 to 40mm flat 19th century British infantry.
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Straight out of the mould, clipped but not filed yet – 40mm PA5 modern 1950s infantry marching (Holger Eriksson / Prince August moulds).

Lots of filing and trimming awaits … and lots of imagi-nations skirmish game ideas.

Casting using the vintage metal casting moulds is definitely trickier than the silicone rubber moulds, but a few tricks picked up from the toy soldier forums  such as warming the moulds first does help with the metal flow.

Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN blog, January 2017

Burns Night casting

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Stuck in the mould …
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The figure released at last.

Today – it’s Burns Night, Rabby Burns Birthday. Here is my Highland tribute to Burns , once a former volunteer or militia man of the Napoleonic invasion scare.

http://scottishmilitary.blogspot.co.uk/2009/07/robert-burns-and-royal-dumfries.html

Robert Burns received a full military funeral in 1796 as a member of the Royal Dumfries Volunteers.

Casting my Burns Night Highlander

I spent part of a day off home-casting metal toy soldiers like this 54mm Highlander, something I haven’t done for several years.

Some eBay finds of vintage metal toy soldier moulds you ‘buy blind’ and aren’t too sure what you’re getting. This was one such mould. Not yet sure of the manufacturer.

Sometimes the moulds have been over cleaned purely for show, apparently like some people collect and display vintage butter pats or cake tins. Sometimes they are cracked, damaged or overworn.

The only glitch was the casting getting stuck for a while, not prised out until very cool, so maybe some mould release powder next time.

This figure is not highly detailed but has minimal flash and a lovely vintage  ‘Toy Soldier’ feel to it.

I look forward to making many more and getting them painted up for 54mm games this year. More photos of other moulds and castings to come soon.

Happy Burns Night (or Happy Birthday) if you are celebrating the occasion.

One of Burns’ Napoleonic wartime poems …

Does Haughty Gaul Invasion Threat? 

(The Dumfries Volunteers) by Robert Burns

Does haughty Gaul invasion threat?
Then let the louns beware, Sir!
There’s wooden walls upon our seas,
And volunteers on shore, Sir!
The Nith shall run to Corsincon,
And Criffel sink in Solway,
Ere we permit a Foreign Foe
On British ground to rally!
We’ll ne’er permit a Foreign Foe
On British ground to rally!

O let us not, like snarling curs,
In wrangling be divided,

Till, slap! come in an inco loun,
And wi’ a rung decide it!
Be Britain still to Britain true,

Amang oursels united!
For never but by British hands
Maun British wrangs be righted!
No! never but by British hands
Shall British wrangs be righted!

The Kettle o’ the Kirk and State,
Perhaps a clout may fail in’t;
But deil a foreign tinkler loun
Shall ever ca’a nail in’t.
Our father’s blude the Kettle bought,
And wha wad dare to spoil it;
By Heav’ns! the sacrilegious dog
Shall fuel be to boil it!
By Heav’ns! the sacrilegious dog
Shall fuel be to boil it!

The wretch that would a tyrant own,
And the wretch, his true-born brother,
Who would set the Mob aboon the Throne,
May they be damn’d together!
Who will not sing “God save the King,”
Shall hang as high’s the steeple;
But while we sing “God save the King,”
We’ll ne’er forget The People!
But while we sing “God save the King,”
We’ll ne’er forget The People!

Two ways of reading the last verse of  this supposedly patriotic poem!

A painting of Burns in his volunteer uniform by Scots military artist Douglas N. Anderson (who works for Osprey) can be found here http://halifaxburnsclub.org/Militia_Fletcher.html

For more about the Napoleonic era Volunteers in Britain https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Volunteer_Corps

Posted by Mark, Man of TIN blog, 25 January 2017.

Home cast antique and gilt paint finishes

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A very long time ago as a child I was bought a jumble job lot  of toy soldiers, mostly plastic but amongst them was this trio of metal soldiers.

I painted their hats, coats and boots but never finished them. I had no idea what they were, who made them or what to do with them as they were 40mm tall, bigger or smaller than my other figures. So no real use or match. On their base I could just make out the letters HE which meant nothing to me at the time.

Fast forward to ten years ago: poking around a craft shop on a trip to Cornwall, I discovered a tiny cache of Prince August moulds for making traditional toy soldiers which I bought straight away.

I had seen as a child intriguing adverts for this company in modelling magazines but the dangers of hot metal and shortage of pocket money as a child  meant that I never bought any.

Looking through the Prince August  online catalogue, I recognised these strange random trio of figures, their designer’s name HE (Holgar Eriksonn) and sent off for some PA moulds to find out at long last how they worked. And to give this three man patrol  some company  to pick on of their own size.

http://shop.princeaugust.ie/h-e-40mm-scale-military-moulds/

I found these figures are Prince August PA17 Musketeer, PA23 Musketeer standing and PA24 kneeling.

Playing around with paint finishes

There are many possible finishes for these shiny Prince August castings.

One suggestion is pewtering, an idea from their cast your own chess sets ‘antique finish’. Black acrylic paint is painted over the figures, then fairly quickly wiped off with a cloth or kitchen roll before fully dry.

Another alternative is the simple gilt or gold paint finish.

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I tried out the gilt finish on another home casting, an American sailor drumming,  from a metal mould of a different much older (American?) manufacturer.

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The older type of metal home cast moulds (usually German or American origin) have much more flash and casting lines, requiring more time and filing to clean up than a modern rubber Prince August mould.

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Another gilt finish home cast Schneider mould figure in my collection with mould half.

 

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This is a 1910-20s gilt finish early British lead toy soldier in my collection (Photo / Figure: Man of TIN)

Sometimes I find stray home cast  figures in junk shops and online lots that are quite crude, often overpriced such as this cowboy type figure from another metal mould (in this cast in quite soft and bendy lead).

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They have a simple charm and many conversion or paint possibilities.

I have now tracked down a three figure (Schneider?) mould No. 56 of this cowboy and two Indian figures to produce more. At some point worth casting enough for a Close Little Wars home cast skirmish of settlers versus natives maybe?

Plastic Postscript 

This “fake pewter” or “antiquing”  technique can also be tried with some success on silver plastic figures from pound stores.

Compared to the original plastic figure:

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Posted by Mr MIN, Man of TIN, June 2016.

Small World Domination

Inspired by a gift a few years ago of some Prince August moulds:

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Today the playroom … Tomorrow the (small) world

This is a quick sketch for an anonymous “secret squirrel” type postcard competition / exhibition run through an art gallery a few years ago,inspired by the website http://www.postsecret.com

Oh well, the secret’s out. Plans for (small) world domination unmasked.

Quick, time to keep building and casting as fast as I can!

Home Casting 

If you want to take part in this arms (legs head and body) race, head to the traditional 54mm toy soldier multipart  moulds at http://shop.princeaugust.ie/54mm-traditional-toy-soldiers-moulds/

The great joy of these home casting ‘mix and match’ is the creation of figures – soldiers and civilians of all nations – in box sets and parades that never existed in the heyday of lead figures, before they vanished in favour of safer, unbreakable (and often now crumbling) plastic from the 1960s onwards.

Of these, in future blogposts, I’ll feature some of the stranger ones from the bands, parades, civilians and soldiers of all my ‘imagi-nations’.

The other creative way to acquire the figures of your wilder “Imagi-nations” was through conversion (plenty of collecting toy figures books in the library or out of print online for this topic) or repaint.

The toy soldier version of a car respray, some of the odd figures found online or in junkshops in my collection are childish repaints or very slop happy repaint jobs in whatever colours were available for whatever figures were required for play or parades. Again a future subject for blogposts …

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My Man of TIN Gravatar, blog icon, a Guardsman saluting, made years ago as a brooch gift from Prince August 54mm multi part traditional toy soldier mould. (Photo / figure: Man of TIN)