The 50th anniversary of 15mm figures and of Peter Laing figures is mentioned in November 2022 edition of The 15 Mill, an interesting eclectic and free online magazine (e-zine?) celebrating 15mm gaming run by Martin Goddard of Peter Pig 15mm Miniatures.
Our “stop press” two and half page mention or article was put together as the November / Christmas edition was going to press from emails between Martin Goddard, Peter Laing collector Ian M.Dury and myself.
The November 1972 advert in Military Modelling that launched 15mm scale and Peter Laing figures.
All The 15 Mill back issues are freely available including no. 4 November 2019 featuring Peter Laing WW1 figures from the ABC Gamers blog.
After its recent Flames of War popularity, 15mm seems to be on a bit of a backfoot or backburner at the moment with the increasing dominance of 28mm as current standard alongside a quirky ‘free for all’ diversity of manufacturers’ scales from 2mm, 6mm, 12mm, 18mm, 30mm, 42mm and all stations in between (rarely an odd number like 15!)
One of the oddest Peter Laing adverts so far wasDecember 1973 typed advert (above) about the benefits of 15mm and the first six figure series or ranges totalling 100s of items that Peter Laing produced in his first year!
“Ifshe* (the little woman – Mum – the Wife – the Girl Friend – or the better half!) complains that your army or collection is taking up too much room (or you are spending too much money) then Peter Laing’s figures could be the answer …”
By Christmas 1973, interest was growing in the new smaller scales of 15mm and 5 or 6mm. Minifigs has also by then launched a 15mm and 5mm Range.
In December 1973 I was still literally cutting my teeth at “Floor Games” level on larger plastic Airfix figures. Ten years later c. 1982/83 I would be buying my first Peter Laing ECW figures with my pocket money and paper round earnings.
This cataloguing and celebrating my Peter Laing figures (all now sadly out of production) is one of my ongoing 2022 projects and New Gaming Year’s Irresolutions, counting down towards the 50th anniversary of the first figures in October / November 2022.
Why do this? Pertly it’s because Peter Laing never produced an illustrated catalogue before the range vanished in the late 80s / early 90s when he retired. Now the moulds have sadly vanished.
Fellow Peter Laing collectors from the MeWe Peter Laing collectors circle have already started to contribute photos of figures or ranges I don’t have and sometimes figures I have never seen.
My local history research project talk on WW2 in my local area (as a fundraiser) was postponed by COVID from autumn 2021 to late May 2022.
I think the NGY Irresolutions 2020 will still stand after a year or two interrupted but who knows what might happen in 2022?
New Gaming Year’s Irresolutions 2022
In no particular order
1. Cataloguing Peter Laing 15mm figures as part of celebrating the 50th anniversary of the now out-of-production Peter Laing figures, possibly the first 15mm figures when they launched in October 1972.
As well as cataloguing what I have over the next ten months, fellow members of the Peter Laing collectors circle on MeWe have been helping me identify figures and supplying photos of figures I don’t have. Then there’s painting and basing more of my unpainted Laing figure stash and getting in some more 15mm skirmish games?
Peter Laing 15mm Chasseurs d’Alpins (WW1 Range) complete with walking sticks!
2. England or Cornwall invaded – Variations on Operation Sealion / Leon Marino
Still playing around with skirmish ideas as part of my Look Duck and Varnish Blog ongoing Operation Sealion Home Guard games, but also found out more about the WW1 ‘Gorgeous Wrecks’ or Volunteer Training Corps, good for futureVTC Wide Gamesand Victorian / Edwardian / WW1 era ‘what if’ games.
Arma-Dads Army! 1590s Home Guard Elizabethan Muster of conversions and ECW figures against the Spanish Fury, Chintoys Conquistadors and pound store Pirates …
Two Britain’s Ltd. broken Scots charging – a favourite pose – with part repaired rifles, two more figures from the Waifs and Strays group of figures 2021 – “Waifs and Strays” sounds like it should be a Victorian Regimental nickname.
4. I look forward to some more enjoyable tinkering with 54mm repairs of broken lead figures to add to various units. Over the years I have been stashing away battered and broken figures from various donations – cowboys, Indians, redcoats, Scots and Khaki figures – along with the odd intriguing figure bought online.
Arrived last year and put away for Christmas – some very heavy, solid lead and fairly paint distressed Terraton 54mm-ish German semiflats to repair and rebase. Indians, redcoats, trees and farm animals …
5. What else might happen?
Weather permitting maybe will even get some more home casting done outdoors?
Pound Store Plastic figures, Early War Miniatures 1940 Range (for Svenmarck invaded!) and vintage Airfix OOHO figures to restore or rebase for some skirmish games.
This month I have spotted online and bought several new units of OOP (out of production) Peter Laing 15mm figures from his WW1 range.
I am quite pleased to have spotted them on eBay as they were vaguely or wrongly listed as “Minifigs / Other 15mm”.
Bird watchers talk about recognising the different “jizz” of similar looking SBJs (Small Brown Job) birds. Certain figure manufacturers have a typical or distinctive look and Peter Laing is one of those.
Originals were carved by hand from thick plasticard in the 1970s and 1980s in the days before ‘green stuff’. Peter Laing figures also have certain slenderness, deliberate under-detailing and a limited number of familiar Laing poses – advancing, firing, walking Officer with pistol – that make them more easily recognised.
As these figures are just about to vanish into the Christmas present cupboard for the next four months, I thought I would share these pictures with you.
Peter Laing 15mm WW1 (700s) with early pickelhaube spiked helmet
F0712 German Infantry Marching
F0713 German Infantry Firing
F0714 German Officer Marching
F0715 German Machine Gun and Gunner
F0716 German Machine Gun Loader
As well as German infantry, there were French WW1 Infantry
F0720 French Chasseur D’Alpin advancing
F0709 French Officer Marching
There was an interesting suggestion from Ian Dury fellow Laing collector who runs the Peter Laing page on the MeWe community forum (which replaced the Google + Community Peter Laing page) that, with walking stick removed, these figures make excellent 19th century Carlist Infantry (obviously an oversight by Peter Laing?)
F0708 French Infantry Advancing
F0707 French Infantry Firing Officer Marching
The light blue French gunners, infantry and officers could pass as Austrians at a pinch.
Ian Dury (in his comments below) identified the artillery riders for me as
M0704 French Hussar with Lance removed.
A0706 French Gunner kneeling.
A0707 French Gunner kneeling with shell.
A0708 French 75mm field gun
If I have misidentified any Laing figures, cavalry or guns Ian Dury and the Peter Laing MeWe collectors group will happily always put me right – find us on
I have no great desire to run any WW1 historical game scenarios, instead I look at these troops as Bronte ImagiNations fodder for Ruritanian conflicts and border skirmishes.
Hopefully I might have painted some more of my WW1 Peter Laing unpainted figures to join these painted ones in time for the 50th Anniversary next autumn 2022 of the first Peter Laing figures being advertised and sold next October / November 1972, possibly the first ever 15mm gaming figures.
I was surprised, whilst painting Airfix Paratroops and re-reading Donald Featherstone’s Wargaming Airborne Operations (1977) to find a rare mention of Peter Laing’s “growing range of 15mm metal figures of World War Two infantry“.
This Peter Laing WW2 range never grew very big, not much bigger than that listed above.
This is a bit of a surprise as these mid 1970s figures must have been some of the first 15mm WW2 figures. 25 to 30 years later, 15mm WW2 Flames of War figure and vehicles were all the rage.
Part of this “growing range” was probably the dual-use steel helmeted infantry, guns, wagons and others items from Peter’s extensive British, French and German WW1 range.
I use these figures interchangeably for WW1/WW2, as with Peter Laing’s deliberate under-detailing, the figures are easily converted by paint or file to other periods.
Some further Peter Laing WW2 German Infantry figures to be used as Paratroops and British Infantry / Home Guard have been stuck on my painting table for months, ready for a ‘Sealion’ type skirmish. Airfix figures keep just jumping that queue and getting in the way!
Who knows I might even have painted them all in time for the Peter Laing 50th anniversary 2022 next year.
Next autumn 2022 marks the 50th anniversary of the first 15 mm figures and the first Laing ranges being advertised for the first time in October / November 1972 Military Modelling magazine (starting with his Marlburian range).
Some of my original samples of 15mm Peter Laing WW2 ranges, bought and half painted c. 1983 (British, left and Germans, right)
I wish I had bought more Laing WW2 figures at the time but with limited pocket money funds and a good selection of Airfix WW2 figures, vehicles and scenery at the time, I focused my Laing purchases on periods and figures not covered by Airfix that Laing did such as the ECW.
The same “Airfix or Laing?” debate continues in my gaming and collecting to this day.
Pictures of Peter Laing WW2 figures on Tim’s Tanks blogpost
This simple WW2 range for platoon level action is highly praised for its balance on the Tim’s Tanks blogspot, which gave me my glimpse of the Americans for the first time (albeit doubled up as British Paratroops) :
Tim’s Tanks: “This range was ahead of its time and the figures surprisingly well thought through.”
“For each nationality (British, U.S. or German) there was a sidearm equipped officer figure, a SMG armed NCO, an infantryman advancing with rifle at high port, an LMG and No.2 and a Light Mortar and No.2.”
Lovely figures, perfect for the task”. (Tim’s Tanks Peter Laing WW2 themed blogpost)
Sadly, Peter Laing figures are no longer commercially made, whilst the moulds appear to have vanished after Peter Laing retired and sold the moulds to the late John Mitchell.
Your best chance of finding any Peter Laing figures is on eBay where – warning – not all ‘Peter Laing figures’ are Peter Laing, often they are early Minifigs. The strange Laing horses are often a clue Some ranges of these second-hand figures now command good prices!
There is a small and friendly Peter Laing collectors group set up by Ian Dury on the MeWe platform, a good place to flag up any Laing’s figures on sale, get figure IDs etc.
What do you see when you look at this polystyrene packaging?
Some may look at this as unrecyclable junk.
I look at it and see …
an adobe fort or compound, especially for tiny troops like my 15mm Peter Laing figures.
What do you see or would you make out of it?
Obviously some kind of walkway needs to be improvised inside around the high walls as a firing platform or raised walkway. This could easily be done with lolly sticks or coffee stirrers laid onto matchsticks or cocktail sticks projecting out of the walls, much in the style of the Airfix Foreign Legion Fort.
Similarly doors and repairs to the wall dips and ‘damage’ can be improvised with coffee stirrers and card.
A rough coat of acrylic off-white for the walls and a sandy base colour should not harm the polystyrene (some glues, sprays and paints can melt it).
One project for a rainy day when hands need to be kept busy.
Some 15mm Peter Laing figures for scale…
Around the time this arrived in the house (the family are now well trained to show me interesting packaging before it reaches the bin or recycling), I also bought a handful of Peter Laing 15mm figures from an online dealer. I spotted these Laings amongst several more lots of “Wild West Infantry” figures and cavalry that were confusingly labelled as (but definitely not) by Laing. Nice enough figures but not Laing ones.
For a few pounds I bought ten settlers or backwoodsmen and rarer still, what I take to be a pair of Peter Laing female settlers. They were all curiously mounted individually on metal squares. Even if they are not Laing females, they are a good enough match.
Sadly now Peter Laing figures (the original or first 15mm figures, launched almost fifty years ago in autumn 1972) are long out of production and the moulds vanished, so second hand or recasting is the only way to acquire them.
I have been collecting Peter Laing figures since about 1982 as a teenager when I began my first proper (i.e. metal) wargames army, spending pocket money and paper round earnings on his English Civil War range. He was a efficient and friendly chap to deal with, even with my tiny schoolboy orders. I still have and use these figures today.
Peter Laing figures have a small and loyal following, with a dedicated MeWe online group run by Ian Dury which has replaced the former Google+ community pages. Here we post pictures of our Laing figures and games, as well as highlighting any second hand Laing figures for sale online that we come across. All welcome!