Happy Christmas 2018 from the Man of TIN

 

I hope you have enjoyed the last 24 days chaotically themed or eclectic blog posts as the Man of TIN Advent Calendar.

From your likes and comments, it seems that many of you have enjoyed the varied nature of these December posts and thank you for taking the time to leave these comments, I really enjoy reading them.

This is my other Advent Calendar, part of the beautiful traditional Toy Shop Advent Calendar that we have been opening at home this Christmas, designed by talented modern British artist Emily Sutton. http://www.emillustrates.com

You can see the whole thing at

http://www.art-angels.co.uk/prod/toy-shop

I photographed the two panels which feature toy soldiers, another one of a long running theme of traditional toy soldier blog posts.

The tiny pictures by Emily behind hidden numbered doors or windows were equally whimsical and charming, such as the dolls house interior of the dolls house (at No. 8).

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Giving away no secrets, this tipsy bunch of toy soldiers popped up behind another window. So maybe that’s why Toy soldiers have their traditional red cheeks?

Blog posted by Mark for the  Man of TIN blog on Christmas Day 2018. Happy Christmas!

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Man of TIN Advent Calendar Day 21 – Retro Rotadraw Soldiers Set

This was a gift earlier this year and one Rotadraw set that I would dearly have loved as a child, in place of the mishmash of random Disney characters that we had instead.

Does anyone else remember Rotadraw? The ‘Magic’ of the Magic Rotadraw discs was drawing in the numbered slot then turning the dial, held in place on a card drawing board with a drawing pin. You usually had no idea what each numbered bit did in the overall picture, hidden as it was by the coloured plastic. At the end you lifted the disc off and – as if by magic – a completed drawing appeared.

This secondhand set had only the discs but had the attractive box showing not only what the Rotadraw discs would produce, but also what our haircuts and clothes were like back in the 1970s. American sets were also called Rondographs.

Officer, advancing rifleman and artilleryman with sponge. Stylish!

Drawing them onto a scene was always difficult as you couldn’t always tell where the figure would be under the disc. The alternative was to colour in the outline figures, cut them out and stick them onto a backscene.

Another challenge was reversing the figures. It could be done on thin paper or by marking all the numbers on the back of the disc! Fiddly …

As you can see in the picture, you can see the drawing pin hole and the 12 o’clock mark that helps you turn the Rotadraw disc dial numbers to the very same top mark.

Simple magic and possible to make paper or card soldiers to stick potentially onto thin wood.

Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN, Advent Calendar Day 21 on 21 December 2018.

Man of TIN Advent Calendar Day 3 – Vintage 1980s Polish Toy Soldier Airfix clones on Etsy

Man of TIN Advent Calendar Day 3 – Looking up “Toy Soldiers” on the Etsy website is an easy way to lose several hours of an evening (and hopefully not lose or spend too much money).

The Etsy prices are generally not cheap (it is a retro, vintage, crafty, antique sellers platform site) but you do see some fascinating metal and plastic Toy Soldier figures from all over the world including Eastern Europe and America.

Perfect for online “window shopping”.

Shipping sometimes obviously adds prohibitively to costs from outside the U.K.

Disclaimer: Man of TIN cannot be held responsible for the loss of your time or hard earned cash from mentioning toy soldiers and Etsy. Searching for ‘toy soldiers’ on Etsy also occasionally brings up ‘adult’ material / figures.

I have bought from Etsy several times from UK and overseas sellers with no problems.

One set that caught my eye but I didn’t buy (no longer available – ships from Bulgaria http://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/RETROne?ref=si_shop ) are these interestingly blue uniformed versions of the Airfix 1:32 British paratroopers with very thick bases – Eastern European clones or copies?

I took a screen shot of these for my toy soldier scrapbook, so that now when they are sold and gone from Etsy, I still have the memory. All good reference and research.

Are these Airfix copies from Eastern Europe or an interesting paint job?
I’m thinking James Bond super villain defence of secret base forces …
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Close up shot of Polish made  Airfix paratrooper clones from Etsy supplier  RetrOne 2018
Interesting Imagi-Nations colour scheme for these Airfix British paras?
I hope whoever bought them enjoys them.
I hope that all who see them on this blog or browsing on Etsy enjoy the looking!
Blogposted by Mark Man of TIN, Advent Calendar Day 3, Monday 3rd December 2019. 

Timpo Desert Fort pictures

Using my blog as a scrapbook (kind of what Pinterest was invented for), here are a couple of cheeky screen shots from an online auction site of the Timpo Desert Fort.

Never had this fort or knew it existed. However I still have my childhood Timpo Arabs and Foreign Legion, some of them in need of repair from brittle joints.

I have been slowly collecting the odd beaten up Timpo cowboy buildings for 54mm games.

There are lots more Timpo buildings at this site for some Timpo Nostalgia:

http://www.spanglefish.com/hallmarkstoysoldiers/index.asp?pageid=169845

Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN, 29 August 2018.

The Remount Department # 1 – Army Blue

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Army Blue troops after repair and repaint  –   Johillco buglers, Herald Guardsman kneeling firing on Fimo base and a modern Home cast mould version of Guardsman en garden alongside an original hollowcast version. 
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Emerging shiny from the box, a set that never existed – Army Blue troops

Here are more of the damaged and paint bashed play-worn scrap or repair figures to join Army Blue (as H.G. Wells would call them).

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These are Imagi-Nations paint schemes, channeling mixed uniform influences of American Civil War Union infantry, Danish Guards and late 19th Century Belgian, Prussian and Danish Infantry.

Some of the Blue Danish Guard inspiration came from John Patriquin of the Wargame Hermit blog, which I have successfully used on past Airfix HO/OO Guards figures. http://wargamehermit.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/distracted-once-again.html

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/06/06/more-redcoat-toy-soldier-inspiration/

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/06/19/airfix-british-redcoat-infantry-1960/

 

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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.

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From the back  – The simple white belts,  equipment and cross belts show up more than practical black and gives a proper toy soldier look.

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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.

http://wargamingmiscellany.blogspot.co.uk/2010/01/single-figure-bases-cheap-bases.html

Figures still need their final coats of varnish and any final details.

I wanted to get a shiny factory  first-grade  everyday paint look, not overpainted with fine details, to look as if they might once  have appeared from a toy soldier factory.

Failing to find an acrylic Gloss flesh, the faces were a Matt Flesh Revell acrylic mixed with some of their Fiery Red  Gloss and some Revell Clear Gloss. The Matt Flesh in itself is too pale.

Eyes and moustaches were put in with cocktail sticks. Other fine line details such as chin straps and cross belts were put on using the fine points of cocktail sticks as well.

The Before Photos

The original state of some of these figures can be seen in the following ‘Before’ photo, before restoration, repair and repaint.

Rather than strip them back to bare metal, I gave each figure a quick wipe over to remove ancient play-dirt and dust and then used several layers of Revell Gloss Acrylic for depth of colour.

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Part of my Christmas horde of figures to repaint and repair. Some require new heads and arms to be ordered.

Some of the unusual colour schemes such as the green bonnet and kilt legs and red coat Highlander will stay as they are, for future reference.

Some of the half finished figures can be seen on a previous blogpost:

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/11/18/the-old-toy-soldier-remount-department/

More rescues and remounts from the Lead Graveyard …

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Damaged and second grade paint quality figures from my Christmas horde – some will appear in the Army Red blogpost.
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Emerging Shiny from a Toy Soldier Box Set that never existed – as shiny as the day they were first made – Army Blue troops.

A sneaky peek at some of their shiny renewed Redcoat opposition saved for another blogpost:

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I really like the Army Red White inspiration over at the Tradgardland  blog: Guaaards!

http://armyredwhite.blogspot.co.uk/2016/03/guaaarrdds.html

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

Civilian figures # 1: the Zoo

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Trying to find interesting 54mm civilian figures is always a challenge. Apart from an unusual set ordered online from China, it usually involves looking out for figures with playsets or vehicles.

An expensive way to acquire a few figures!

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Parading Through The Zoo

It was always frustrating as a child to have a zoo or farm or a parade set out but no visitors  to watch; it usually resulted in lots of troops endlessly parading with their bands through the model zoo  (H.G. Wells Floor Games style)  along with assorted military staff feeding the animals, selling tickets etc.

Zoo animals were an important and long running part of any lead or plastic figure series, from Britain’s onwards.

To be fair, military bands and other forms of entertainment and display from balloon rides and fetes to fireworks to lifeboat launches were not unknown in the Victorian zoo such as Bristol Zoo. A bandstand was an everyday part of parks, seaside promenades, botanic gardens and often zoos.

This carried right through at Manchester’s Belle Vue Zoo from Victorian times into the 1950s, they staged elaborate military and historical tableaux through both world wars with a local cast of hundreds. Their theatrical stock of obsolete muskets were borrowed by the early Home Guard units locally in 1940.

http://manchesterhistory.net/bellevue/fireworks.html

Military mascots often ended up in zoos during after both World Wars  (including Winnie the Pooh at London Zoo) and an informal naval zoo existed, at Whale Island, this was a little uninspiring as a regular play or garden scenario.  http://www.europeana.eu/portal/en/record/2024904/photography_ProvidedCHO_TopFoto_co_uk_EU044495.htmlEven

Today, Edinburgh Zoo has a penguin called Nils Olaf  “commissioned” into the Norwegian Royal Guard and occasionally visited and paraded  by his fellow (human) comrades in their magnificent full dress uniform.

The Zoo and Wartime Morale

I have 1939 ‘propaganda’ press pictures of servicemen enjoying elephant rides at Belle Vue Zoo Manchester. This was sort of true of many British Zoos in wartime – there were  special rates for servicemen (and lady friends) in uniform, entertainments in WW1 for injured servicemen.

In the first few weeks of being closed to the public on ARP grounds in September 1939, London Zoo made arrangements for servicemen to walk round for the animals to look at. ‘The Zoo’ also made their canteen over to the RAF as the big houses around became RAF Regent’s Park full of training aircrew.

Britain’s and other lead toy soldier manufacturers made plenty of civilians and farm workers in the more pacifist aftermath of WW1. Plastic manufacturers haven’t widely followed suit and painted railway figures in this 54mm /1:32 scale are often quite expensive.

 

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Hong Kong farm girl, China made farm labourer and the real thing – Britain’s / Herald Farm Girl.

 

Failing the mounting of a full scale military parade through your zoo, Wild West town etc. all day and everyday,  some normal civilians are useful for floor games, sandpit games or  wargames.

F.E. Perry in his quirky First Book of War Games and Second Book of War Games often featured civilian or town settings alongside his wargames scenario / photographs.

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The 54mm female figure from the left is from the c. 2007 zoo vehicle  playset, whilst the “Marilyn” stylish 1950s unfinished painted figure is from recent Chinese plastics online purchase of civilians. (Photo / figures: Man of TIN)

These  feature sets  came from a zoo gift shop with two zebra striped jeeps handy for conversion, some brilliant wooden watch towers and rope ways (of which more anon), a couple of odd sized animals and these interesting modern civilians. Similar figures are made for dinosaur playsets.

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Something vaguely unsettling about this boy child in his simple factory paintwork. Useful photographer figure though!

Something similar to the girl child in the photos has recently been repainted and reused in a Slinkachu type way on the front cover of an art photography book about the recent group of artists / photographers playing with scale for satiric, unsettling or comic effect.

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Microworlds contains some slightly disturbing dystopian or to some tasteless items from a range of photographers.

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Another candidate to be my Man of TIN blog photographer? (from a 2007 zoo vehicle playset)

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More plastics including civilians are featured on my Pound Store Plastic Warriors sister blogsite –

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2016/09/07/pound-store-plastic-warriors-previous-blog-links/

Police and firefighters are now available sometimes in pound store tubes, suitable for conversion.

Back in the 1980s there were Britain’s Deetail nurses, doctors and  construction workers, not forgetting the Britain’s farm workers ranging from lead to Herald plastic and a modern farm worker range still around in toy shops or online today.

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/tag/plastic-police-figures/

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/05/31/more-poundstore-warriors/

In future blogposts I will feature more civilian figures to be used for game scenarios from the Chinese made sets available online  to the useful USA manufactured  Toob “heritage” plastic figures roughly in 54mm, also purchased online.

Steve Weston’s Plastic Warrior website also feature an excellent set of Mexican Wild West civilians or peasants.

http://plasticsoldiers.co.uk/index.php/manufacturer/weston-toy-co/

Posted by Mr MIN, Man of TIN, January 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

Nutcracker Toy Soldiers

 

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Great toy soldier ideas and colour scheme from this special Nutcracker in our family collection (Photo / figure: Man of TIN)

 

A Very Happy Christmas to all my readers, gamers and blog friends.

Gaming to me has always been a little bit like The Nutcracker story.

There seem to be lots of Nutcracker Soldiers around as a Christmas decoration theme this year.

I’m not very knowledgeable about ballet, nevertheless the idea of toys coming to life (at midnight naturally) has long had an appeal to me and many other children and adults.

The fact (or facet of the imagination) that some toys are likely to be bad, jealous, malevolent makes for a more interesting story, just as in the Steadfast Toy Soldier. An instant Enemy! Instant villains, instant bad guys.

The Nutcracker features the basics of narrative and gaming – good and bad, overcoming evil. Colourful uniforms, childlike toys. Return to the nursery etc. and the basic plot of Toy Story.

1,2,3, 4 – I declare a Toy War!

I like the creative tangents and incidental hobby learning stuff whilst surfing the Internet – all more inspiration for gaming scenarios, historical background and uniform paint schemes.

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Will this be 2017 project – a Nutcracker army made out of Fimo?  Moulds sourced from Etsy.

There are stacks of Pinterest and Wikimedia images of The Nutcracker, the toy soldiers and other characters. Well worth a search through for some bling uniform Imagi-Nations inspiration.

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Decorative Nutcrackers give some great Imagi-Nations uniform ideas  (Wikimedia source: Raul654)

The Tchaikovsky ballet, once of the  Tzarist Russian era, is now an American snowy Christmas classic with many adaptations from Duke Ellington jazz to cartoons.

The ballet is itself adapted from E.T.A. Hoffmann’s story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, by way of Alexander Dumas’ adapted story ‘The Nutcracker’.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/E._T._A._Hoffmann

Hoffman was an interesting Prussian character and story teller living in the upheaval of Napoleonic Europe, writing in the Romantic or Gothic vein of the Bronte sisters but with the folk tale influence of Hans Christian Andersen. Andersen also wrote and lived during wartime, namely the Danish wars of 1864 and the mid 19th Century. He is quoted in the book that inspired the Danish TV series  1864.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Nutcracker

Plots and scenarios

The idea of Nutcracker toy soldiers defeating the evil mouse king and his troops throws up some interesting fantastic / fantasy gaming scenarios.

Silvered metal finish inexpensive Nutcracker charm Soldiers are available as charms or pendants in batches on EBay or Etsy. Silicone food moulds of  The Nutcracker are also available for Fimo toy soldier production.

Maybe a horde of mice warriors is required? I’m sure many fantasy  manufacturers make them such as Eureka Miniatures Warrior Mice in 28mm alongside their Toy Town Soldier range http://www.fighting15sshop.co.uk/warrior-mice-769-c.asp

There are some mice and rat related fantasy games out there such as Mice and Mystics   http://www.lead-adventure.de/index.php?topic=62241.0

A seven-headed mouse king, now there would be a figure …

The Nutcracker Plot or Storyline

The grandfather clock begins to chime … Mice begin to come out from beneath the floor boards, including the seven-headed Mouse King.

The dolls in the toy cabinet come alive and begin to move, the nutcracker taking command and leading them into battle after putting Marie’s ribbon on as a token.

The battle goes to the dolls at first, but they are eventually overwhelmed by the mice.

Marie, seeing the nutcracker about to be taken prisoner, takes off her slipper and throws it at the Mouse King, then faints into the toy cabinet’s glass door, cutting her arm badly.

(Plot summary, Hoffmann’s Nutcracker story – Wikipedia)

Slipper artillery, now there’s another thing …

Check out Youtubè sections ballet or cartoon versions (about 25-30mins in) of  The Nutcracker’s ‘battle with the mice’ and you’ll variously see innovative cheese artillery, mousetraps, Christmas present terrain or scenery, toy forts, cavalry, cannons,  the lot,  performed by dance companies big and small all over the world. Tchaikovsky’s music here reminds me greatly of his martial 1812 Overture, beloved of many wargamers.

A more detailed plot outline can be found in the article about Hoffmann’s original story  can be found at https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Nutcracker_and_the_Mouse_King

The idea of toy parades and music, of toys coming to life can be found in many cultures:

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Parade of the Wooden Soldiers music cover (Wikipedia source).

The secret midnight life of toy soldiers  is also well caught here:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Parade_of_the_Tin_Soldiers including this great Crackly Russian version of this familiar music:

http://www.russian-records.com/details.php?image_id=7971

Happy painting and gaming (at midnight, naturally!)

Blogposted by Mr. MIN, Man of TIN, Christmas / December 2016.

Happy Christmas!