Tuesday 31 May 2011

A few more sailors

At top a pair of matelots scrub the decks in time honoured fashion, the one with bucket is a later soft plastic copy of a hollowcast figure by JSF (Jouets Standard Francaise) the chap with the broom is also French made by ACEDO, (Domage et Cie) who previously made aluminium figures under the name ALUDO.

Posing by the forward gun is an unknown French made naval officer with a landing party standing at the ready converted from Cherilea foreign legion with metal matelot heads from Dorset Toy Soldiers

Some sailors for the Tradgardmastare

Over on the Army Red/White and Others blog our friend AG has asked for ideas on building ships and crewing them for 54mm wargames. Many years ago I built a gunboat based on the SMS Iltis, I've put pictures of it on the Funnny Little Wars Yahoo Group site and the sailors I use to crew it are here. 

At the top are two conversions made from Airfix commandos, in the middle are WW2 Lone Star and at the bottom is a close up of the bridge with two copies of Starlux? which I think were made in Hong Kong and a conversion which I think is supposed to be of Churchill.

Wednesday 18 May 2011

HAC Open Day 2011

Last Wednesday Mrs C was flicking through her favourite blogs (like you do) and found this entry on Tired of London, tired of life

The Honourable Artillery Company is the oldest Regiment in the British Army and they were holding an open evening that day as a recruitment event but also to raise money for charity. This has now become an annual event and it is only on for 3 hours but entry is free and they certainly pack a lot into that short space of time. We arrived shortly after the doors had opened and there was already long queues at the food tents where free (donations gratefully acccepted) burgers, chinese noodles and mini pizzas were being served up, next to these was the beer tent. We did a circuit of the static displays, field hospital, survival equipment, ordnance vintage and modern but best of all was the Chinook, surrealy parked before the high rise offices of the City.

The programme opened with a display of exercises by the Kings Troop Royal Horse Artillery towing a 13lb gun, personally I never tire of watching them wheel those guns around.

Next up was a display by the Company of Pikemen and Musketeers who provide the escort to the coach of the Lord Mayor of London during his Annual Procession, while the Lady Mayoress' coach is escorted by the Light Cavalry, below.

The HAC is a Territorial (Reserve) Regiment of the the British Army which specialises in surveilance and target aquisition for the artillery, members of the Regiment have been mobilised for service in Iraq and Afghanistan. Next followed two displays by No. 2 squadron, the first was set during the Boer War and involved calling up the guns to support infantry ambushed by a Boer Kommando. The second was a similar scenario set in modern day Afghanistan. Both displays involved lots of explosions and much smoke, I love this kind of thing.

By now the dusk ws settling in and with all the smoke let off visibility was poor but we were reaching the finale of the event, the Band of the HAC came on wearing the uniforms of the Grenadier Guards, with whom they are affiiliated, followed by the take off of the Chinook from which there was to be a parachute drop.

The Chinook hovered above us for an age looking like a big dark malevolent bee.

The band struggled valiantly to be heard above the noise and wind from the Chinook rotors as it took off, a flare was set off on the ground (behind the band above) to guide the parachutist back to the field. Unfortunately the sky was so overcast, the ground shrouded in smoke and the wind so strong that the crowd held it's collective breath as we watched the parachutist carried away into the streets and office blocks of the surrounding district. Some time later the lone parachutist strode back into the arena, carrying his unfolded chute, to a rapturouse applause from the crowd.

Unknown drummer

Another find at last weekend's PW show was this 16th century? drummer, made in France but I'm not sure who the manufacturer was. He's lost 99% of his paint and there is always a temptation to repaint figures in this condition, I'm undecided on this course of action at present.

Tuesday 17 May 2011

A Bolshevik Tachanka

This horse drawn machine gun cart is part of an extensive set of semi flat plastic toy soldiers made in the old USSR to depict the Russian Civil War.

Monday 16 May 2011

In the begining.

This mounted trumpeter of the Household Cavalry was given to me in 1960, it may not have been the very first toy soldier I ever owned but it is certainly the one that has remained in my posession the longest. It was made in England by Wendal, it is aluminium and is 54mm scale. Aluminium figures were very popular in post-war France but never realy caught on elsewhere, the only exceptions I can think of are Krolyn of Denmark who made copies of Elastolin as well as some original designs in this material and Wendal who made copies of Quiralux figures. Quiralux were the market leaders in manufacturing aluminium toy soldiers in France.
Aluminium figures are made by slush casting a process whereby the master model is pressed into compacted damp sand, then removed and the molten aluminium is poured into the resulting cavity. To make a two part mould the sand is packed into two steel trays which are then "sandwiched" around the master model. When I was at school we used to do slush casting in metalwork lessons, no health and safety worries back then! The limitations of this casting process means that aluminium toy soldiers tend to be less animated and detailed as those made in other mediums, the material is also very brittle and I have yet to find a way of repairing a broken item.

Sunday 15 May 2011

PZG Napoleonic infantryman

This is the last of the collectable figures I picked up at last week's PW show, not a large haul considering the amount of esoteric stuff there to be had but the truth is that before very long I started to suffer from toy soldier overload and became incapable of rational thought. I had taken a shopping list to the show, mostly items I wanted for conversions to supplement the armies I'm building for the "Funny Little Wars" project but immediately abandoned that and bought us stuff tht was totally off list.

This figure was made in Poland, I presume by PZG (Polski Zwiacek Gluchych), the Polish Union for the Deaf, who ran workhops manufacturing all manner of things to raise money for deaf people. The organisation still exists today but no longer makes toy soldiers, this example is 54mm plastic. Collector Jim Lloyd is probably the leading exponent of PZG figures in Western Europe and has a website well worth looking at here.

Friday 13 May 2011

Conte ACW

These are two new(ish) figures of personalities from the American Civil War made in the USA recently by Conte (I say made in the USA because the commisioning company is American but on the base it clearly states that they were actually made in China, as most things are these days). I bought these with the intention of converting them to officers circa 1905 for my Funny Little Wars Russian wargames army. They are a tad large to go with the rest of the figures they are supposed to lead, being about 60mm scale but we might get away with it.

Wednesday 11 May 2011

Garde du Corps by the WHW

This figure of a Prussion Garde du Corps at attention was made for the WinterHilfsWerk (WHW) or Winter Relief Charity in germany in the late 1930's or early 1940's. The WHW made all sorts of items for sale to raise funds for the needy, including a few sets of toy soldiers. I've recently finished reading a novel (based on a true story) called "Alone in Berlin" in which the author, Hans Fallada is fairly scathing about the WHW suggesting that it was in fact just a front to line the pockets of senior Nazi party officials - well, he lived through those harrowing times and thankfully I did not so I'm inclined towards his opinion.

This figure is about 40mm size in plastic and semi flat, all of the WHW production is about this size or smaller, which perhaps reflects the limited capacity of the injection moulding machines of the time. Today these figures are sought after by a small number of toy soldier collectors but a much larger number of Nazi memorabilia collectors, this double whamy of demand tends to have a disproportionate effect in their price.

Tuesday 10 May 2011

Unknown machine gunner

For a prone laying pose this figure is nicely animated, it's 54mm scale in plastic, I don't know who made it but it was sold by a Belgian dealer at the PW show so I think it's safe to say it's either Belgian or French, on balance the style of it suggests the latter to me.

Since writing this post the figure has been shown on the French Plastique Soldat 1/32 forum and the consensus of opinion is that it was made in France by Colorado.

A Gentleman in Kharki

Based on the character in Kiplings poem The Absent-Minded Beggar I've been after this figure for a long time, they're not particularly hard to find but they are generally priced way beyond what I'm prepared to pay. There are two versions of the "Gentleman", the one here and another with rifle held across his waist at the ready. They were made circa 1902 which makes them probably the earliest plastic figures ever, although they were not made as toys for the juvenile trade but rather as ornaments for bottle stoppers. It's made from a hard rigid plastic often described as celluloid but I don't think this is correct as celluloid is paper thin, very fragile and wouldn't have stood up to much handling. The figure is hollow having been made in a blow mould - air under pressure is used to blow the plastic material into the mould and inflate it to fill the cavity where it sets hard on cooling and the mould is opened to release it, today this process is mostly used to make plastic bottles and containers. The vendor remarked "every collection should have one" and of course he is right, even though it's not strictly a toy soldier it is an iconic piece of contemporary (with the Boer war) folk art.

Sunday 8 May 2011

Seen at the Plastic Warrior Show 2011

Dealer Steve Weston unveiled the new Sudan Camel Corps by Armies in Plastic at the Plastic Warrior Show in London yesterday. There are two poses, a trooper with slung rifle and an officer with binoculars, the set also comes with two different bagage camels. Very useful.
I was a bit cream crackered when I got back from the show yesterday so left posting until Sunday morning, I've looked in all the usual places on the net for details of the AIP Camel Corps set but can't find any mention of it so I have to keep checking the pic I took to make sure I didn't imagine it! (I'm sure I didn't)

I managed to pick up a few unusual bits for myself yesterday and will try to put some pics up over the next few days now that I'm starting to get the hang of this blog thing. 

Seen at the Plastic Warrior Show

Peter Cole had two new sets of Replicants figures, four new medievals and three English poses for the Jacobite Rebellion, these last come with a choice of two heads, a tricorn and a grenadier mitre so you can effectively make six figures, the mitre heads could also be usefully used to convert Barzo French Indian War figures to give even greater variety to the firing line. These pics didn't come out too sharp, sorry about that.

Seen at the Plastic Warrior Show

Eric Kemp had a stand for Helmet Soldiers and displayed some of the great figures he makes to promote his kits.