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.
My fierce but motley playbashed bunch of Britain’s natives have been slowly collected together over several months from job-lot, damaged, scrap or for repair lead hollowcast figures bought mostly through EBay. Such damaged figures have little value to collectors. So it doesn’t really matter if I repaint or repurpose them.
I bought some Humbrol Gloss Brown Number 10 and used this only very briefly on a couple of figures before I got fed up of the fumes … not very family friendly! Next time I will paint with these enamel paints outdoors or with doors and all the windows open.
The end gloss results look promising already, even before gloss varnish, and suitably toy soldier like.
Shield designs aside, a suitable weapon such as a spear needs to be added to the hand. I have tried filing and adding a wire spear but on first attempt it did not stick.
These chunky Zulu figures are second grade Britain’s figures that were sold in A Series sets or singly. The fragile knobkerry on each of these figures is usually found broken, the original is shown in Andrew Rose’s excellent The Collector’s Guide to Toy Soldiers (Salamander 1985/97).
Andrew Rose’s book also shows various arm versions of the Britain’s classic running Zulus of Africa Set 147, 1906 to 1959 and another version of the set into the final Britain’s lead year of 1966.
Handy to see these more slender Zulu figures as shortly before Christmas I bought a Britain’s Zulus “jigsaw puzzle” in the form of a job-lot of bashed legs, bodies and bases. This should keep me busy fixing throughout the year. Recast Britain’s type arms with spears or even rifles from firms like Dorset Soldiers http://www.dorsetmodelsoldiers.com
Interestingly these loincloths on these jigsaw Zulus seem to have been painted by their owners in stripes and spots for a more tribal animal skin look.
Britain’s used to indicate ‘native’ or ‘non-uniform’ troops by using at random three basic colours of yellow, red and blue for clothing – “The loincloths were painted in three different colour schemes, as Britain’s always did for native troops or irregulars who might not be expected to wear uniform.” (Page 107, Britain’s Toy Soldiers 1893 -1932 by James Opie, published by Victor Gollancz, London, 1985)
Not sure whether to preserve (if I can) the strange ‘Black and White Minstrel’ style extraordinary face painting on some of these Britain’s Zulus.
Not sure yet what to do with the shield designs as I don’t really intend these to be Zulus, rather more Generican Natives or Ashantee tribes.
In the Bronte juvenilia of Glasstown and Angria, these tribes are the savage Ashantees.
The Bronte family juvenilia stories feature various tribal forces such as generic ‘Arabs’ or also Ashantee warriors, for their map of their Glasstown Confederacy and Angria ‘Imagi-Nations’ was based on West Africa, the natives based on early 19th Century journals and prints (pictured in the blogpost shown below)
The Ashantees are led against Angria by the fictional Quashia Quamina Kashna, son of the equally exotically named King Sai Too Too Quamina.
Quashia was adopted as a baby by the Bronte’s fictional Duke Of Wellington and a rivalry grows up between Quashia and his stepbrother Zamorna, Wellesley’s eldest son who becomes King Of Angria.
Quashia and several Western characters successively invade Angria including Branwell Bronte’s fictional alter ego ‘Northangerland’, Ardrah (who opposes the creation of Angria by Zamorna) and MacTerrorglen.
Confused? So am I, still slowly figuring out the complex and intricate Game of Thrones style cast of characters and events created over many years by the young Bronte sisters and their brother Branwell. If it proves too difficult to create scenarios, I may keep the places but fast forward the Bronte “Imagi-Nations” a few decades clear of the Bronte’s main fictional characters that populate their Gondal, Angria and Glasstown sagas.
Stranger than fiction?
This fictional story of Quashia is not that dissimilar to true stories of how native princes were assimilated, educated or westernised such as Alamayu, the son of Theodore, King of Abyssinia (buried in 1879 at Windsor Castle Chapel and commemorated on a plaque by Queen Victoria). Alamayu was captured in the Magdala Campaign of 1867-68.
The Magdala campaign in what is now modern day Ethiopia is described in fascinating detail in Ian Hernon’s Britain’s Forgotten Wars: Colonial Campaigns of the Nineteenth Century (Sutton, 2003), republished as a compilation of a trilogy of Hernon’s books. You may have also read this as the first part of the trilogy previously published by Ian Hernon as ‘Massacre and Retribution’ (Sutton, 1998).
So the Bronte juvenile stories, albeit fictional, are not much stranger than some real life Nineteenth Century events.
The Bronte family Gondal stories (devised by Emily and Anne) are based on North and South Pacific islands (mixed with a bit of Yorkshire for good measure!) so the islands of Gondal (North Pacific) and Gaaldine (South Pacific) no doubt have their own tribes.
Ashanti Chieftain c.1819 Wikipedia source
Ashanti warrior c. 1824 Wikipedia source
Illustrations from the Ashanti Empire Wikipedia entry show left an Ashanti warrior and right one with a simple musket and powder horn.
Plenty of scope for many interesting scenarios. That’s why I’m keeping the figures “Generic” rather than “Zulu”.
Still lots of lovely repair and repainting work to do … I will post photos of the finished results.
The writer is none other than George R. R. Martin, who wrote the Game Of Thrones series of books (which I have not seen or read yet). George collects toy lead and plastic knights and has had problems with lead rot.
“I have been known to paint a few figures from time to time, usually while “watching” television. (It’s odd how many TV shows don’t need to be seen to be understood). My skills are no match for any of the other painters whose figures are shown here, but I enjoy it … The marvelously detailed pewter castings (by Eduard Kasintzev of the Ukraine) surely deserved better paintwork than I was capable of giving them… but I am a lot better than I used to be, for what it’s worth.”
There are old soldiers and there are bold soldiers, but there are no old, bold soldiers, as the saying goes.
I always feel a bit sad seeing the lead graveyard of damaged toy soldiers that is sometimes EBay.
Repairing horses or cavalry is very tricky. Infantry are less tricky, if you are not too fussy, although many companies like Dorset Soldiers will do a fine job for you but at a cost. Recast heads and arms are available from several companies.
There is surprisingly little information on the Internet about repairing old broken lead soldiers.
I have been working my way through some of the casualties that have turned up in job lots of vintage toy soldiers to give them some gaming life again. I’m not one for a soldering iron or even Milliput / Green Stuff. This is not family friendly for us to use in our house as we have allergies to this Green Stuff in the family.
What else could I use to repair these damaged warriors?
What puts toy soldiers literally back on their feet in our house is Fimo or Sculpy polymer clay.
Crude, but using the traditional matchstick or cocktail stick into the hollow of the damaged legs, it is possible to make a custom made ‘prosthetic’ Fimo base to support the balance or weight of the damaged figure.
30 minutes baking later and once cool, the figure can be glued back into position on its Fimo base. Two pence pieces make good weighty support bases.
Overly chunky Fimo supports can be disguised if flocked or Fimo / Sculpy remains slightly shaveable with a scalpel after baking.
Once these bases are painted and the feet painted in, they should look slightly less clumsy but at least they are sturdy and live to fight again! With a few new arms bought in and a bit of repainting where needed, they should look almost shiny and new, certainly enough for the odd tabletop or garden skirmish.
Cocktail sticks cut and shaved into shape make good simple repairs for broken rifles, once glued into place and painted.
Some of the natives in this batch needed extensive rearming, new shields and rebasing with new feet.
These natives are part of a slowly growing force of natives, one I have repainted from bashed and damaged Zulu figures in job lots, ready for skirmish gaming.
One or two figures still need to have Fimo hands added like this Grenade thrower or hands / gloves shaved down into size like this drummer boy.
Sometimes the balance of figures is not quite right, as in the charging Tommy in the steel hat. One to rebase again!
Really pleased to have found a simple method of repairing of rebasing damaged figures. I will post some updated figures when these damaged figures are repainted or finished.
Posted by Mark, Man of TIN blog, 18 November 2016.