Thursday 26 March 2020

How they made Tin Flat toy soldiers

The recent post featuring some Tin Flat toy soldiers drew some interest so continuing the theme I thought I'd throw in this short Italian clip from 1937 showing them being made in Austria.  I quite liked this one because it goes through the whole process from drawing the design to engraving the mould, casting, cleaning up, painting and displaying in dioramas.  For anyone who already casts lead toy soldiers, there won't be anything new here but it's always fun to see a piece of old film, and the music's quite jolly too!


Tuesday 24 March 2020

Plastic Warrior Show 2020 - Postponed

The following press release was issued from Plastic Warrior magazine today:

"In light of the current situation and the government ban on meetings, we are unable to hold the PW Show in May. We intend to postpone the show until later in the year, at our usual venue, The Winning Post, ideally in the autumn.
Please keep checking our blog for further updates:
We will post a new date as soon as it is confirmed.
Please post this on your own websites or blogs, and ask everyone to pass the word."

The Show was due to be held on 16th May, so with half of Europe on lockdown and borders closed it's not really any great surprise, there is a link to the Plastic Warrior blog in the column on the right and the new show date will be published there as soon as it has been agreed.

7YW Prussian assault pioneers

Some time back, a 7 Years War siege game we were planning called for an assault on a breach in the walls of a fortified city, so I bodged up these figures for it.

All these conversions started life as 54mm plastic toy soldiers of the American Revolution made by Louis MARX.  The figure on the left was advancing with musket at the ready, on the right he was stabbing down, their muskets have been trimmed away and hats carved off, to be replaced with spare mitre caps from the HaT 7YW Prussian infantry set, then its just a case of assembling and pinning the ladder (a spare form the TIMPO Fort Apache set) to them, their hands have also been built up a bit with milliput.

The sappers with axes are the same two MARX poses used for the ladder carriers, again they've had their muskets trimmed away and headgear replaced with HaT spares, the axes are from the TIMPO Vikings and the leather aprons are cut from cartridge paper stiffened with PVA.  The chap throwing grenade is the British officer from the same American Revolution series, his cane has been cut away and a grenade made from milliput, the fuses are made from old fashioned fuse wire (can you still get that?).

We all have to get our ideas from somewhere and the inspiration for these conversions came from a book illustrating old German Tin Flats, these conversions were previously shown in an article I did for Plastic Warrior magazine but I didn't get to show where the idea came from.

The book is Soldaten des Rokoko by Waldemar Piecha, published in 1982 (ISBN 3-423--02874-2), it contains 72 prints like these, each depicting different Regiments and formations of the Prussian army.  It's a great resource for uniform info and every figure illustrated is unique so it's a goldmine for ideas.  

Tin Flats were relatively cheap and easy to manufacture, the designs were drawn and then engraved into slate, so the mould making process is relatively quick and inexpensive.  Designs were often copied from antiquity as well as period art sources which gives them a sense of the times they depict.  The collecting potential for Flats is enormous, covering every historical period, they are very well documented and books on Flats are by far the largest section of my toy soldier library,  yet they are a section of the hobby that has been virtually bypassed by the world outside of Germany.

Sunday 22 March 2020

What happened to these ships?

The Royal Navy can float a Battleship anywhere...….and they have some very nice toys!

I really want one of these!

Here the Royal Navy are launching model Battleships into the fountains that surround Nelson's Column in London's Trafalgar Square (see the lions in the background), so I'm guessing that it might be a fundraising or morale building event for Trafalgar Day.  From the cut of the uniforms, the bulk of the ships and the omnibus in the background it possibly dates from about 1910-20 but it could be earlier, what do you think?

I'm not sure where I found this picture, probably the Illustrated London News or something like that, as I've been collecting hoarding articles and cuttings of anything relating to toy soldiers and wargaming for the past 50 years.  Now I'm not the tidiest or most organised of people, so to say that this hoard is a bit of a mess would be something of an understatement, but in these times of self exile I need something else to do beyond painting toy soldiers and so a big sort out is called for.  This clipping is already fading into oblivion and so I felt it behove me to sharpen it up and preserve it in ether before it's gone forever.

It may just be me, but it feels like there's been a marked slowdown in postings on the blogosphere lately, almost certainly due to the unprecedented upheaval hitting all our lives. Shows and group gatherings are being cancelled right left and centre so there is much less news to be reported, and people's routines have been turned upside down.  I feel I should be doing my bit by posting more, but apart from being disorganised I am also fundamentally lazy so you can expect to see more cheap posts like this in the future!

Tuesday 10 March 2020

The Romanians are coming!

Plans are afoot for a wargame set in the Crimea during WW2 using 54mm plastic toy soldiers, it's a way off yet but it will still need a bit of preparation.  Fortunately the game will require little in the way of air and armour units, but it will require some Romanian infantry and I can't think of any firm that made such troops, therefore some sort of bodge is called for.

 Taking the Osprey book as my source for uniforms I trawled through the mountain of junk figures I keep for such purposes and came up with several bags of these Hugonnet figures.  I bought them for a few francs a bag in a supermarket, on a booze cruise to Calais forty years ago, and they have been languishing in the back of a cupboard ever since waiting for me to come up with a use for them.  I've included the header card from the bag which shows the Hugonnet/Feral logo quite nicely in the bottom right corner.

The Romanian uniform comprised a full length jacket and short gaiters, so we're okay on that score, Mountain Rifle Regiments wore a large floppy beret, so that's good too.  Only problem is with the regular infantry units who wore a variety of helmets including the French "Adrian" and Dutch models, I have some metal heads in Adrian helmets so could do a few quick swops for a bit of variation but the current helmets are fairly indistinct so I may just leave them as they are.

Here are all the poses, Hugonnet were notorious for making piracies of other firms figures, mostly Starlux but also Cofalu and Cherilea.  The first three figures in the top row are copies of Starlux and the rest are all copies of Cofalu modern French army toy soldiers.

Moulded in green and tan these are very much the French equivalent of "Army Men" cheap toys in plastic, colour coded to provide two distinct armies.  They are crude, anatomically challenged and badly moulded, many carrying the deformity of being injected into an overheated mould.  But for all that I have a certain fondness for them, the poses are very dynamic and I've always felt they had potential, I just never figured out what that might be.  Well, we'll see.....