A clever way to display your Britain’s vintage lead farm, which I spotted at a recent West Country steam and countryside fair, full of steam traction, threshing machines and vintage tractors.
Rain flap on the gazebo at the front, anti-pilfer netting, caravan at the back.
A relaxing way to show your treasures.
I was flagging by the time I found this display to chat to the owner (who was no doubt having a cuppa in the back). I was also fending off roving Mad Hatters and White Rabbits on stilts at the time. Theatricals! But that’s another story …
This week I was presented with a little gift from my family who spotted him on a market stall in town. It was this lovely John Hill / Johillco tramp with red and white spotty handkerchief.
What could the tramp be in a gaming scenario?
Maybe the tramp is good cover for a spy, someone from out of town who can come and go, chat to all whilst begging a little bit of bread and some cheese and slowly gather information without being noticed.
The characters: BP Scoutmaster by Dorset Soldiers, Sherlock Holmes by Tradition and Boy Scout Vintage Britain’s 54mm hollowcast.
I was reminded of the tramp story mentioned in Scouting for Boys Part 1 and also by the final Sherlock Holmes story set in WW1, His Last Bow.
I was also reminded of Baden Powell’s book My Life As as Spy (1915) published during WW1 where he showed how he concealed maps within nature drawings of leaves, butterflies and moths when scouting the Balkans in the late Nineteenth Century. Download the book at: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/15715
BP BPS Blog Post Script
Maudlin Jack Tar and Ian Joppy Jopson commented on the tramp espionage angle and tramp signs: here is the tramp signs published in the 1908 Scouting for Boys and 1912 Girl Guide handbook How Girls Can Help to Build Up The Empire.
The Girl Guide version 1912 has the added safety warning for unchaperoned young lady Scouts: “Be cautious in asking the way. Passers-by will often tell you wrong, and if an enemy, they would purposefully mislead you.”
Designed as a universal language of scouting, mention is made of hostile and ‘Foreign Scouts’ or Guides were presumably other patrols from out of area rather than overseas ones.
The “I have gone home sign” (circle with a central dot) is touchingly inscribed or carved on the gravestone of Baden Powell (d.1941) and his wife Olave (died 1977/78) in Kenya.
Excellent article mentioned by Alan Gruber on the Spycyclist stories and rumours of the late 1930s attached to wandervogeling Hitler Youth (which took over ‘officially’ from prewar German scouting) visiting Britain on supposedly friendly visits to British scout groups. Surely some game scenarios there!
One of the delights of slowly unpacking presents after Christmas is to look in these wreckage and repair boxes. I bought these cheaply online over the least few months to store away, bought as part of my Christmas present in advance, paid for using my Christmas gift money.
Box No. 1 contained some interesting zoo animals, lots of cowboys and cavalry along with some battered foot figures.
Box No. 2 contained an equally eclectic mixture of damaged and destroyed figures to be repaired and converted. None have reached the stage of melting down.
Box No. 3 contained another eclectic mix of makers and figures from cowboys to redcoats.
Box No. 3 had an interesting mix of much less damaged figures. I photographed these fast against fading natural light.
Box No. 4 – a shoebox of delight – still remains to be explored and photographed.
It is always a delight to explore these joblot boxes and work out what to repair first.
Some ragtag motley regiments may be possible, once repaired and repainted where necessary, figures made suitable again for garden or floor games in the spirit of H.G. Wells.
Using some wonderful illustrated toy soldier books by Norman Joplin, Andrew Rose and James Opie, I should be able to work out who made some of the less familiar figures. This gives me clues towards whether to repair, restore or convert.
Another order for Dorset Soldiers spare arms and heads may be due later in the year, once my current batch of Broken Britain’s figure repairs from 2018 are finally off the repair bench.
Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN January 2019.
2018 blogposts on Broken Britains and broken lead toy soldiers include:
Man of TIN Advent Calendar Day 4 – Check these out!
Some more broken lead hollow cast figures that need repair. Despite miss8ng feet, spears and bases, two of these still have great originalcheckedshirt or checkpatternpainting as fresh as the day they were painted back in the 1950s and early 1960s.
New bases, new feet and a new spear created (in place of a fragile knobkerry or club). Ready for battle on the gaming table again!
If you want to know how I did some of these basic simple figure repairs, you can read many of my blogposts on the topic going back throughout 2018. Enjoy!
Blogposted by Mark Man of TIN on Advent Calendar Day 4, Tuesday 4th December 2018
Rainy day last weekend, so a chance to do some more 54mm figure repairs.
These figures are not intended to be fine restorations but were bought as a job lot of bashed up, broken figures to be restored to stout enough condition for future gaming use in the garden or on the tabletop.
Work in Progress
Like several of these figures, these two Cherilea Assyrian looking ‘Saracens’ originally had wide thin bases which would not fit onto a twopenny (2p) base. So it gave me a chance using a strong wire leg to have some quite active, almost balletic battle poses.
Where needed, a Fimo polymer clay base on the metal 2p was made for each figure and baked hard still on the 2p base. The figure was secured to the base when its wire or wooden leg was then glued into place.
I discovered looking up the Cherilea ‘Saracen’ figures that they have some opposition amongst the figures to be mended – an English Archer.
The ‘Robin Hood’ English archer figure again was too wide for the 2p base but for balance, I gave him anatomically too long a leg that touched the ground. I may have to shorten this and put a small gravel rock under his foot. A spare Dorset head was attached, as in keeping as the spares box would manage.
To outer Space
The Hilco / Cherilea spaceman was missing a head and leg, as well as a broken space rifle weapon. A Dorset Soldiers recast of a Britain’s style infantry recast head was the most spacey head I had in my spares box. The astro-mech leg you might recognise from the plastic skeleton’s musical horn standard thingy.
The Hilco Cherilea space figure as mended has some balance problems. Finding pictures of original figures online gave me an idea of what instrument or weapon was being carried – in this case, a sort of space rifle.
A simple podfoot base for his other foot may be required. The Dorset Soldiers head could work as it is, as a robotic face or metal face mask. Alternatively it could have a flesh coloured or green alien skin face.
From the Arctic to the Air Force?
The Timpo Eskimo or Arctic Explorer turned WW1 pilot figure in warm sheepskin clothes has worked well. I have inserted a map or flight docs in his hand, a nice touch that I have seen on another hollowcast pilot figure.
The other Indian or tribal figures have shaped up nicely. Where possible I have kept the original paintwork.
A simple metallic copper paint skin tone covers the masking tape repairs well enough. All that is needed now on many figures are some spear tips from plastic scrap or Fimo polymer clay.
The Crescent Indians with rifles had crush body damage, so I filled gaps by hot glue gun for any large holes and then glued masking tape over these areas.
On one Crescent Indian, I covered some crush damage holes by adding a thick loincloth of several layers of masking tape over the leggings. A few layers of paint should cover the joins.
The largeish Harvey Indian was completely broken in half, so I hot glue-gunned both halves together for a secure join.
I have photographed these figures as they are slowly being repaired, just to keep a record.
I will post pictures of the finished figures when painted and varnished. I look forward to doing the fine details points of faces etc.
A rainy day last weekend, so perfect for getting on with these figure repairs.
Blog posted by Mark, Man of TIN, 22 September 2018.
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.
Two fabulous vintage Johillco (1939 era) Running Pilot hollowcast figures, one in Khaki, the other in civilian white pilot or technicians overalls run to “Poppet” their waiting Hybrid Corsair / Hellcat / Buffalo.
I have now tracked down for a fiver a third Moshi Monster aeroplane. This one will be converted in time to a string bag biplane. Up Up and Away!
Another lucky bid online for a few pounds brought this haul of battered and colourful American Indians.
I wanted to pick up a cheap and colourful opponent for my Redcoats or Bluecoat Troops, a wily native ally to match my Zulus.
A few broken spears and rifles are no problem to fix.
These rifle, bow and spear toting native warriors should prove great for garden and tabletop games once repaired and mounted on tuppenny bases. They are almost perfect for Donald Featherstone’s simple Close Wars skirmish rules (in his appendix to his War Games 1962).
More correctly these figure should be known today as Native Americans, First Nations or First Peoples but the ones you can see here are pure Imagi-Nations, wily natives straight out of Hollywood B Movies and Wild West TV shows.
Nicely animated crawling Braves sneaking up on an unwary opponent!
I get the feeling that some manufacturers might have quite enjoyed sculpting the animated poses and bright colours after producing regiment after regiment of increasingly khaki figures.
I’m sure after World War 1 these Indians also fitted a need to get away from the reality and aftermath of modern war off and away to the lawless and heroic but imaginary frontiers of the ‘Wild Wild West’, so popular in its many formats in fiction, cinema and Buffalo Bill shows.
Two of the T and B (Taylor and Barrett) figures were a bit smaller scale, around 40mm. They blend quite well with the 40mm Holger Erickson Prince August Homecast moulds.
Taylor and Barrett Indians can be seen alongside my home cast and based 40mm Prince August figures.
ID of figures based on figure markings and Norman Joplin’s wonderful The Great Book of Hollowcast Figures.
The surviving paintwork suggested that two of the Highlanders were Khaki colonials, the other two were a Redcoat Highlander lying firing made by Johillco and a headless Redcoat torso.
Matchstick legs were inserted into the body through the leg holes and then shaved to a more round shape with a scalpel. Masking tape was then wound round to thicken the leg up to a suitable width.
Suitable heads were mostly found in my homecast 54mm Prince August spares box.
Luckily with two of the figures, the Johillco lying firing Highlander and the Khaki Britain’s standing firing figure, I had battered original figures with which to compare the headless, legless torsos.
The Highlanders had puggrees or wound strips of cloth around their pith helmets, so these were simply added with several fine thin strips of masking tape. The same technique was used to build up the sock strips on the legs.
A puggaree, puggree, puggry or puggary (from a Hindi word ) is a strip of cloth wound around the upper portion of a hat or helmet, particularly a pith helmet, and falling down behind to act as a shade for the back of the neck.
Fimo polymer clay feet were required to finish off the legs, modelled on a Britains Khaki firing British infantryman with feet pointing outwards.
One of the Khaki Highlanders lying firing acquired a WW2 tin hat and arm with binoculars, both recast spares from Dorset Soldiers. An added pistol in a holster from Airfix Multipose spares should suggest an officer’s side arm. A spare right arm had to be built up with wire and masking tape.
The standing firing Highlander also needed a small hole drilled into the missing arm stump with 0.9mm hand drill, a wire arm or armature added (secured with superglue) and built up with masking tape. Glue and paint stiffened and secured the masking tape, stopping it from unravelling.
This figure was easier to do because of the lucky fact that I had a battered Britain’s original Khaki Highlander standing firing figure in my collection to compare it with. This standing firing original figure also needed repair of a broken rifle, so I did that as well.
The looser repaired arms lack the neat slender precision of the original Britain’s limbs but provide character one-off figures. The repaired figures here remind me a little of the looser limbed but spirited poses of Heyde of Germany and Lucotte or Mignot figures of France.
Milliput might be easier for sculpting but I cannot use this due to a family / household allergy, so I used what I safely had to hand. I could have ordered and waited for further Dorset Soldier recast Britain’s heads, but impatiently used what Dorset heads or Prince August heads I had in my spares box, even though Prince August 54mm figure heads are a little bigger and heftier than Britain’s original or recast ones. It adds to the toy soldierness of the figures anyhow.
The final non Highland figure was the redcoated torso.
This was the trickiest figure, the Redcoated torso, as I was not sure who the maker was or what the original figure looked like. It had the chunky, slightly oversized look of an early Britain’s Fusilier but having no other fusiliers in my armies, I chose instead found a suitable Prince August line infantry spiked helmet. This would more closely match my other line infantry figures. The legs and base were easy enough to make out of matchsticks, masking tape and the usual Fimo feet and base to fit a tuppeny base for stability.
The right arm was half missing, so I drilled a small hole to insert a bent wire armature that would be both an arm and shouldered rifle all in one piece. Not the usual rifle position for marching or sloping arms, but it kind of works.
A few more useful finishing touches – NCO stripes, maybe some medals – should complete this tiny lead Frankenstein figure.
A satisfying few evenings’ work, mixed in with other figure repair work in progress on more Broken Britain’s, some more Zulus etc to feature in future blog posts.
Hopefully these once lost and battered figures are as bright and proud, as fighting fit as the day they were cast, painted and bought home from a toy shop in a red box. As shiny again as they once were before their curious fate to be bashed, buried and eventually found again over many years by a metal detectorist called Frank in the Southeast of England.
I have based them on tuppeny pieces and made them stout repairs to arms, legs and rifles, stocky rather than thin and elegant, as these figures will eventually will fight once more in gardens and on tabletops. Huzzah!
You might also be interested in my previous blog posts over the last few weeks about other toy soldier repairs.
Just two more tricky figures left from the figure part of the original haul, the headless driver figure who will become a pilot and a half a body figure in longcoat and gauntlets – possibly originally a pilot?
Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN on 11 January 2018.
Close up you might notice a range of Army Blue troop types.
Above: The first two were once Britain’s Redcoat Guards marching with rifles at slope, followed by two Britain’s Redcoat Line infantry, a Fimo base repair to a damaged footless US Marines figure, (Home cast? type) Officer with pistol and one of my recent Home cast infantry.
From the back – The simple white belts, equipment and cross belts show up more than practical black and gives a proper toy soldier look.
Basing and Painting
A variety of basing can be seen, experimenting with bases for these soldiers to be part of future Close Little Wars skirmish games on the games table or in the summer garden.
Four of them are based on 2p coins, although I am still experimenting with the best adhesive. Wood Glue might not be strong enough. Whilst it was still wet and white, I mixed in some flock to see how this worked. Flock basing is not very traditional toy soldier but then the two pence bases are practical, suitably light but weighty enough, inexpensive and more importantly, to hand.