Sunday, 16 February 2020

TAG Cossacks

I'm about to embark on a new project which involves painting up a load of Cossacks, happily there are lots of figures available thanks to the current Russian manufacturer Engineer Basevitch who has included several in his many excellent and unusual sets.  The problem is that I want them to be a generic unit that can be used from 1800 through to 1930, so what colour do I paint the tunics?  When in doubt I always look at what the toy manufacturers have done in the past, not always historically accurate, but good enough for me and with that in mind I dug out my old composition Cossacks made by TAG.

The figures I'll be painting are all wearing the distinctive cherkesska tunic with sown in cartridge pockets like these above.  The first two figures here are TAG and I assumed the third one was too when I bought it, but when I put them all together I see it's very different, obviously shorter with finer detail and made from white plaster, it's very TAG in style so it could be a later improved line of production but I'm just speculating here.

I've never been entirely sure what this thing hanging on their back is meant to be but I assume it's meant to be a traditional bashlik hood.  I'm not sure this exercise is helping with my uniform colour quandry!

While I had the Cossacks out I thought I might as well photograph the rest of my TAG figures,  These are curious creatures, made in England after WW2, but beyond that nobody seems to know much about them or who made them, the only clue being the large "dogtag" they wear tied around the neck which proclaims them to be "A TAG Educational Toy".  From left above are 2 Royal Armoured Corps, a paratrooper and an infantryman.  I've always been curious, on what basis TAG could claim these to be educational?

Mostly they're made from a green/grey composition material very similar to Milliput which put me in mind of the gunk people used back in the old days to repair the rusted patches and rotted wheel arches on their car.  Other materials such as plaster are also used.  I think the MP in white helmet is just an ordinary infantryman who has been embellished by a previous owner, I'm not the culprit on this occasion but I have to admit to ruining many a good toy soldier with dodgy painting in my schooldays.  The center figure is a British Military Police "Redcap" (factory painted) followed by two rather robust Guardsmen.

The reverse side of the "dogtag" gives unit information.  I wouldn't normally bother showing a back view but on this occasion I was quite taken with the detailing of the parachute harness and sten gun slung on the MP, it shows a modicum of research and modelling on what are otherwise very crude toys.  I've never consciously collected TAG figures, I don't really like them and I'm not even sure how I came to have these.  I guess you just acquire the odd figure here and there then before you know it a collection has quietly crept up on you.

6 comments:

  1. Interesting figures. It is a puzzle sometimes as to why and how various figures came to haunt my cupboard.

    I'll lobby for red cossacks. Very traditional. Though Black is as well. White if just wearing the blouse of course.

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    1. Thanks Ross, red is a strong contender. I'm beginning to think I may have to make two units, an earlier one in red and a later one in grey/green.

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  2. I have three units of 12 each of AIP. The tunic colours I employed were, black, dark blue and purple. I looked up the colour references and a very large range of colours is available.

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    1. Thanks James, in my 1870's Russian army I have a mounted Cossack in black and a small unit in dark blue, purple might be a stretch too far for my current paintbox.

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  3. When it comes to Cossacks, I always think of the classic Timpo red! White and black seem to be popular colors with old tin flats. As far as the TAG figures being educational, I have to agree. When I taught the younger students they would read history texts with color pictures and be bored for the most part. But when I brought in toy soldiers that matched with the text, they really took an interest! As we all know, there is something magical about toy soldiers! When they held them and examined them closely, they were so excited and I feel that they learned a great deal. The Reamsa Aztecs and Conquistadors were especially appreciated by my students and they added a great deal to the lessons!

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    1. I can see how the Aztecs and Conquistadors would add to the lesson, they are quite exotic. And you've reminded me that when I was in primary school a teacher made a sand tray diorama of an Arab encampment with tents, palm trees and Cherilea Arabs on camels, I thought it was magical and spent ages staring at it. So many thanks for stirring that long lost memory.

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