Sunday, 12 May 2019

Well that's all done for another year!

Yesterday was the thirtysomethingth Plastic Warrior Show in London, I forget which number we're up to, a sure sign of ageing), here are a few of the things I took a shine to:

A tongue in cheek diorama made by Dan Morgan shows the archaeological discovery of  ancient Replicants figures in the South Downs of England.  The archaeologists are all converted from Replicants wild west figures.

The Plastic Warrior Show has become the traditional showcase chosen by Replicants to launch their latest range, this year they have produced a set of Texas Rangers.  Not the sharpest photo, sorry about that.

It's not all plastic at PW (although it is mostly), here a nice selection of Elastolin and others composition, I thought the bears were awesome.

One of the nicest forts I've seen in a long while, this one hand built by the seller, if only I had the room for it..............

I love these early plastic aircraft, especially the twin engine bombers, I'm tempted to start collecting them but you have to draw the line somewhere........don't you?

Some serious hardware here, lovely old German tinplate from the 1930's, the AA truck and jeep in the centre are by Tippco, I didn't dare to turn over any of the price tags!

More from the same table, the panzer in foreground was made by GAMA, I don't recognise the large gun at the back but it looks to be like 1960's manufacture.

A typical table top at the show, an organised confusion of plastic figures, this table belonged to one of the German collectors.  Last year we had wondered what effect Brexit would would have on the attendance of dealers from Continental Europe, happily they all booked their tables way before Brexit was postponed, which bodes well for the future, it seems the lure of toy soldiers far outweighs a little inconvenience at customs.  The German guys were all staying overnight in Belgium so they could attend the Brussels Toy Soldier Show the next day......... and there was a spare seat for me if I wanted to go, was I tempted?  you bet I was.

A nice selection of rare and early English plastics, it continues to amaze me how much of this stuff there is out there.  We all acquire far more toys than we need or want and the PW show has always been primarily aimed at collectors who want to dispose of their surplus, this year the show was fully booked well in advance and there was a sizable waiting list in the event of any dropouts.  I find this very encouraging, it indicates an enthusiastic and resilient collectors community.

Sunday, 28 April 2019

It's surprising what turns up.

The recent mild weather in the South East (UK)  has ushered in the start of the Car Boot Sale season a little earlier than usual.  Our local one is held on a farm, so it's a good long walk in the early morning fresh air, and I like to go along as often as I can for the exercise.  Who am I kidding, I go along for the bacon rolls and to hunt toy soldiers!   It can be very hit or miss but  here's what I picked up this week and last:

A group of modern white metal figures made by Del Prado, the first one depicting Captain Souter of the 44th Regiment of Foot could have walked straight out of the Last Stand at Gandamak painting by William Barnes Wollen.  The remaining five are all types of the French Foreign Legion, this series was issued in France but not in the UK so they are harder to find here, I use them mostly for uniform research and at less than £2 each they had to come home with me.

I know nothing about old tin toys, except that I like them, and I do like to include them as set dressing in wargames.  The saloon car is about the rights size for 54mm toy soldiers while the Omnibus is a bit small but I think we'll get away with it, they both need a bit of cleaning up and straightening out but nothing too drastic.  I don't think there's any great age to them, they look like modern reproductions to me but for a couple of quid each they had to go in the bag.  Likewise the ceramic stable block which was made to take a tea light candle but will now illuminate my toy village.

Finally a hotch-potch of odds and ends that came in at about 50p each from various junk boxes.  The first three Britains/Herald Robin Hood figures are so damaged and scuffed that they will end up as conversion fodder.  The Evzone and horse from the Lone Star Lone Ranger figure will be passed on to someone else at the forthcoming Plastic Warrior Show next month.

The remaining two figures I'll keep, the chap in green is a Starlux character figure of Barberousse (Red beard) from the ORTF (Office de Radiodiffusion Television Francaise) TV series Richard Coeur de Lion.  The set was issued in the mid 1960's and included two foot figures each of Richard, Redbeard and Blondel and one mounted figure of Richard, they're quite hard to find.  The diminutive figure of Napoleon was made in France by MDM.  The palm tree is a modern white metal item.

The Plastic Warrior Show is being held on Saturday 11th May and further details can be found on the Plastic Warrior blog, link in the column to the left.  Good Hunting!

Sunday, 14 April 2019

An interlude while I do some 1:1 scale painting

This past week I've been up a ladder with a paint brush redecorating the hall and this has necessitated taking down the display of toy soldiers I have there.  The figures need to be individually removed and dusted so I took these photos to remind me where they go when I put the display back up, as I'd taken the pics I thought I might as well share them with you dear reader.

Discreetly camouflaged by several years of dust, the figures here are not any particular favourites just odds and ends that I've taken a shine to and picked up over time. Occasionally things get moved around but the order of display is largely governed by the size of each compartment.

I've always been very open about collecting toy soldiers and when I mention my interest to anyone they immediately assume that I mean lead guardsmen standing to attention in red tunics (and in fairness there are a few of those), so this little display is my way of showing the diversity of the subject.  Click on a picture to enlarge, there are no prizes for identifying what they are but it might give you a minute or two of fun, now where did I put that duster?

Sunday, 7 April 2019

Seen at the London Toy Soldier Show March 2019

The show in London last weekend seemed a little flat to me, but it was nice to meet old friends and I spent most of my money so that's what counts, here are a few of the things that took my fancy:

This little collection appealed to me, I really liked the tractor, it makes a change form horse drawn limbers and I'm sure it would be easy enough to bodge one out of some bits and pieces of tin and wood.

I have a descent sized Roman collection and I'm slowly building up the Gauls/Barbarians to go with them but the project has lost momentum so I took this pic to provide me with some inspiration, I think the figures are by King & Country.

I've just finished painting up 50 Vikings, Normans and Saxons but have another 100 or so to go, mine don't look as good as this so the pic gives me something to aim for.

These superb Conquistadors are from a range made by Morgan Miniatures, my current project is a TudorBethan mish mash of 16th Century types so I took this pic to give me some reference points.

I'm not mad about tanks and vehicles but I do quite like some of the quirky stuff produced in that period of development between the wars

My stash from the show was mostly modern production, here the two sets of Conquistadors from Chintoys, I currently have two sets on the paint table and these additions will be used for conversions.  In the middle a lone pikeman from Replicants, found in a junk box, and at the back a mounted Russian made Teutonic knight alongside William of Normandy by Del Prado, the latter is a bit large but I find their personality figures ideal for command groups and at the moment they are as cheap as chips for the quality.  

My only vintage purchases of the day, some Italian composition, I think made by Salpa but I need to check, they represent modern infantry which isn't really my thing but they were very cheap and I just liked the poses.

Rounding off, some Conte Normans on the right, to the left more of the unnamed Russian made Teutonic knights along with Seljuk Turks from the same manufacturer.  The knights vary in size from about 60mm (which is just about okay) up to 70mm, very nice sculpts but just too big for me so I will be passing some of them on at the forthcoming Plastic Warrior show on 11th May.

Friday, 22 March 2019

Woking Wargames Day 2019

Spending a whole day just enjoying yourself can be quite exhausting, but that's what the various members of the Little Wars Revisited group (and a few others) did last weekend at the LWR Forum 2019 Games Day in Woking.  The event boasted five games played using 54mm toy soldiers and here's a taster of how it went:

Eric Kemp put on a skirmish game using his own rules set in the Schleswig-Holstein War and featuring his rather superb conversions

If you want to refight an obscure period like this in 54mm you have to go with metal figures (expensive and heavy to transport) or plastic conversions (requiring skill and time to make) so skirmish games rather than big battles are the order of the day.  And this shows what a spectacle you can provide with just a 4'x4' table and about 20 figures a side.

Anthony Morton brought out his "Little Legions" Zulu war collection for the Battle of Isandlwana using "The Portable Wargame" rules by Bob Cordery.

The modular terrain blocks are made by Mike Lewis of Black Hat Miniatures (who organises the Woking Wargames Day) and provides an infinite variety of options for landscaping a battlefield, its also idea for grid based games like The Portable Wargame.

Mike Lewis, mentioned above, staged a 19th Century game using his own Little Wars Revisited range of metal figures using a draft version of  "A Gentleman's War" rules which are due to be published right about now by Howard Whitehouse.

Keen eyed readers will recognise this layout as the battle of Hook's Farm from H G Wells' "Little Wars" an ideal scenario as A Gentleman's War is played in much the same manner as Wells' rules.

As you can see here, smaller scale buildings work perfectly well with 54mm figures, well I think so anyway.

My own humble efforts using Britains Deetail and various other converted figures, 
the rule system was "Battle Cry" by Richard Borg and the scenario selected was The Battle of Falling Waters

The beauty of a system like Battle Cry for an event like this is that it's very quick and easy to pick up an understanding of the rules.  On this occasion my opponent was already well versed in the Ancients version of the game so had a feel for the order of the game and lead his Confederates to a resounding victory over my numerically superior Federals. 

Tim Rose offered us "A Very British Civil War" using his own rules the game is set during the 1937 Tithe Wars in East Anglia, never heard of them? me neither but Tim gave us a very interesting potted history on the background of them.

I played this game in the afternoon session and thoroughly enjoyed it, it's a true toy soldier game with each individual figure counted as using whatever armament he's been made with, be it a grenade, rifle or anti-tank weapon. It's all very 1930's and introduces lots of factions like Fascist Blackshorts, Foresters, Yeomanry, Territorials, Anglican League and Communist Militia.

Tim did an admirable job as umpire, controlling the chaos we were  making on the table and occasionally adding to it by feeding in unexpected reinforcements.  A fast free flowing game and great fun.

It is nice to get your toys out of the shoebox once in a while and play with them.