Saturday 7 November 2020

Highlanders, Cherilea and Replicants toy soldiers

Some time ago I thought it would be a good idea to start a Jacobite collection, I gathered together what figures I had to hand and started painting but somewhere along the line the project just ran out of steam. Since then they've been sitting in a display case amongst my other C18th armies, until last week when the need to free up space meant they had to find a new home.  while they were out I thought I'd take a few pics, and here they are:

There's not a lot to be said about them, they're a mix of Cherilea and Replicants Highlanders, nothing unusual and no conversions, just simple basing. 

The Cherilea chaps are a good bit bigger than Replicants something like 60mm versus 54mm to even things up I put the former on thin steel washers and the latter on poker chips which have the same diameter but are nice and thick to give the replicants a bit more height.

I painted them wearing the Macdonald of Clanranald tartan, or at least my interpretation of it!  I had some trepidation about painting the tartan but sticking to toy soldier style it was quite easy and overall they were quite fun to paint.

The background buildings are odds and ends of ceramic tea light candle holders and such ornaments picked up cheap at car boot sales, they're not to scale but work well enough.

I think some of the poses could be used for other periods and scenarios, perhaps late medieval towards renaissance?

I do like that red lion standard, it adds quite a splash of colour to the line up.

I'm not sure I'll ever get the momentum back for this project, it was fun but there are too many other projects vying for my time.  I'd like to be more focused and methodical in my approach to collecting toy soldiers, but lets face it the time for that is long passed!

Monday 26 October 2020

A Crimean One Hour Wargame.

 A few  weeks ago we decided to hold an impromptu socially distanced game before the Powers that Be extended the lockdown to prohibit meetings of more than one household again.  These are strange times. The 2 metre wide table and a few other simple measures ensured that proper social distancing was observed, it's not difficult when there's a will and common sense prevails.  

Scenario One, Pitched Battle, was selected from OHW and toys suitable to the Crimean War were quickly garnered together.  The scenario called for a minimal terrain, the British drew units of infantry, skirmishers and cavalry while the Russians were favoured with infantry, cavalry and artillery!  Here's how it went:

Without any artillery the Brits had little option other than to pitch straight into the attack before the Russian guns ground them down.  "Into the Valley etc. etc."

Threatened on the flank, the Cossacks charge home but are bounced off by the doughty Dragoons of the Heavy Brigade, an immediate counter attack sees the Cossacks dispersed and routed.

Russian regular Infantry and Rifles wheel about to enfilade the advancing British line, they deliver a devastating volley that shatters a Regiment on the English right.

The thin red line holds and delivers it's own volley, both sides are now taking punishment and the British skirmishers have been brushed aside.  Here the British deploy their long range measuring tape.

The Battle began to pivot as the British faltered on their left but made gains on the right, at this point honours were even and it was still anybody's game.

Having seen off the Cossacks the redoubtable Dragoons followed through and rode down a Regiment of Infantry, only to flounder beneath the Russian guns on the ridge.  The withering Russian fire now began to tell and the British attack ground to a halt.  

The game lasted 8 moves, probably the quickest we've played, usually we go the full 15 rounds, but at least we got a game in, it was good to see toy soldiers back on the table and who knows when the next game will be?

Friday 23 October 2020

Blogger what are you doing with our pictures?

 Has anyone noticed how some of the blog links listed in the column on the right show pictures while others don't?  Before the recent update the links would all have shown the first picture from every post (except those hosted by Wordpress).  It's not unique to this blog it seems to be affecting all the blogs I follow, I'm sure it must be something to do with settings but does anyone know what we need to do to get all the pictures back?

Tuesday 6 October 2020

Ancient Gauls made by CBG Mignot

 A recent ebay extravagance, they're not the sort of thing I collect really, and they all have some damage but then again they are nice early toy soldiers made by the classic French manufacturer CBG Mignot (Cuperly, Blondel and Gerbeau).  I don't know what I'm going to do with them but for 99p my trigger finger was itching uncontrollably, and it would be unforgiveable not to give a good home to these strays.

Ancient Gauls made by CGB Mignot

Solid metal and 54mm tall, the first two may have held spears, which would be easy enough to repair with a spot of solder although, of course, I'm never likely to find original Mignot parts.  The first figure shows the sword, cast separately and soldered to the body.  The middle one is posed to give a clear view of the shield, which is made of thin pressed tin, this design was used for the Ancient as well as Middle Eastern ranges where they came brightly painted, as opposed to being left in the flat metal as here.

Saturday 26 September 2020

Not Quite Victorious Army

 But I'm sure they will be when they eventually get onto the table for a game!

For some time now I've been building up a generic Chinese army, I'm not sure why and I can't remember how it started, perhaps I just like the colours.  And the flags, the flags are great.  Anyway, there is no grand plan, I just bang out another unit every now and then when an idea comes to me, it's quite therapeutic, doing something different.  Here's what I've got so far:

When I call them generic what I have in mind is that they will be used as an opposition in a Colonial scenario or possibly in the "Back of Beyond" or even at a stretch against Samurai.

These irregulars in black pyjamas and red bandanas are based on the Vietnamese Pavilion Noirs, mostly made from Hing Fat and other pirate figures, some have been given shields from wooden disks, others have Chinese heads (from Dorset Model Soldiers) just to give a bit of variety.

The flag has been cut out using pinking shears to give it a scalloped edge.  The inscription means something but I can't remember what, hopefully nothing rude.

Imperial Infantry, Artillery and Cavalry in the centre, irregular horse on the flank.

The matchlock men are more Hing Fat pirates, their tunics extended with plasticene, otherwise just a paint job.  The spearmen are medieval knights, made in China, which are currently available everywhere, and very useful they are too.  For a more Quing period look they've been given plumes on their helmets and replacement spears from metal rod with tassels added.

The cannon started life as a table cigarette lighter, it looked sufficiently gaudy for the job and just need a spruce of paint.  The crew have been given Mandarin hat heads (Dorset Models again).

The Imperial Cavalry started life and Italieri Mongols, the flags I found on the internet and just played around with them in Publisher.

The irregular Cavalry are the remains of the Italieri Mongols padded out with some Huns made in Spain by Jecsan.

More of the irregular Cavalry.

Tuesday 15 September 2020

Battle of Britain Day - 80 Years on

September 15th is Battle of Britain Day, each year it is a commemoration of  the large scale aerial battle that took place over England in 1940.  We don't celebrate it but perhaps we should do something, today is the 80th anniversary and I doubt if it will get a mention in the media.

I've lived all my life in London and I love the place, growing up in the 1950's and 60's we played in the derelict bombsites left by the Blitz, all the adults had lived through the war and recalled their memories, good and bad, we grew up with the war still all around us.  

Anyway this isn't a post about any of that, this is a post about sculpture. At the Victoria Embankment on the River Thames there is a memorial to commemorate all the people, military and civilian who took part in the Battle, and I think it's a stunning piece of work.  So what's this got to do with toy soldiers?  Well for me toy soldiers are very much about sculpting, and as I get older I see them increasingly as pieces of art, I appreciate their design and the technology that made them, but enough of this claptrap because I also still play with them.

So for those who may never get to see the real thing here are the pictures of the Battle of Britain Memorial in London.

Wednesday 26 August 2020

Robert the Bruce in the Tower of London

 Over on facebook someone on the "Friends who like Plastic Warrior" group was asking about the plastic figures made by John Niblett & Co (Modelmakers) Ltd that used to be on sale at the Tower of London.  I have a couple of them so I put a picture up on the group, they're such nice models I thought I'd post it up here too.

Robert the Bruce is based on the 1964 statue at Bannockburn by Charles Pilkington Jackson, the rider is a little over 54mm and I think it was originally sold with an unpainted gilt finish.  I bought this back in the 1980's as part of a collection, sold at Phillips Auctioneers, which had belonged to a chap who'd been a serious student of heraldry.   His collection had been broken up into several lots, most of which were high end metal models, but there was also a big box of plastic odds and ends that nobody was interested in, so I went for it. The box contained lots of conversions which he'd made himself, based on historical figures and all painted in the correct livery, so I'm guessing that he painted up this model of the Bruce.  Helpfully he put a little hand written sticker on the bottom of each base to say who the model was of.

The second model is the suit of armour of King Henry VIII which I seem to recall had been on display at the Tower, it stands about 80mm high and is missing a pikestaff but otherwise is in original condition.  I know there was at least one more model in the series, a mounted knight in Gothic armour but there may have been more, anyone know of any others?  John Niblett is of course best known for his work on the 1:72nd scale figures for Airfix but he worked on a freelance basis for several manufacturers as well as producing these and his own range of very fine wargame figures.

As mentioned above, I have recently joined facebook, which is a sure omen that it will shortly collapse, if my past history for joining such groups is anything to go by!  In the meantime I'm enjoying touching base with many old names from the collecting world who don't necessarily bother to follow the blogging world.  My only beef with FB is that the photos don't blow up very large and I'm very much a pictures person, also you have to trawl through reams of stuff if you ever want to refer back to them.  For these reasons I will probably post pictures here and on FB, I hope that won't become too annoying?

Friday 21 August 2020

Eurofigurines, Figuren and Zinnlaube

 In the past few weeks these three magazines have arrived through the post, here are some more details:

I was particularly pleased with this issue as it opens with an article on TRIUMF a Belgian manufacturer of composition figures which I'd never heard of but they are the same figures as we had in England made by TAG, which I covered back in February HERE  The really useful thing is that this article includes a catalogue listing of all the figures they produced.

Other articles cover; Regiments of Saint Cyriens, 
Curiosities finds and photos, 
Washingtons Regiment by Elastolin, 
Elastolin water carriers, 
The Emperor and his Old Guard, 
Knights of the middle ages in aluminium by Krolyn of Denmark, 
Fox hunting figure sets, 
Pirates by Starlux and Cyrnos, 
Greek Hoplites by First Legion, 
Toy soldiers made in conjoint tin (part 4), 
Palmer (USA) Astronauts, 
and finally Arctic Explorers.

Opens with a report on the 2019 Nuremburg Toy Trade Fair, which seems to have a lot more of interest to toy soldier collectors and modellers than the London Toy Trade Fair does these days.  

It continues with; Italian Askaris of the Abyssinian War in composition, 
Wooden cut out figures of the German army made in 1930's in Czechoslovakia by Bata, 
Personality figures of the Czech President T G Masaryk, 
The composition figures of Durso (Belgian), 
The Three Musketeers, 
Wundertute (Lucky Bags) Landsknechts from Heinerle, 
Atlantic Longhorn cattle in 1:32, 
Lineol Zoo rarities, 
Timpo catalogues 1968 to 1979, 
Bricklayer made by Lisanto, 
The Siege of La Rochelle diorama, 
Latest Preiser catalogue, 
Timpo Toys Special Issue No. 3

This was previously the newsletter of the collectors group FAS "Freunde Alter Spielfiguren" but it has now become and independent journal, I don't know the reasons for the change of editorial team but wish them well.  Text is in German and English, and it's published roughly once a year, the theme for this issue is the 150th anniversary of the Franco Prussian War, articles include; 

Glasenapp's volunteer hussars at the Battle of Rotha 1762, 

Cinderella in tin and lead, 

Vignettes for the Death of General von Craushaar 1870, 

the search of Jager Tromm - Prussian Jagers in tin and lead, 

Civilian figure sets by Spenkuch, 

Prussian Staff before Paris 1870 by Haselbach/Rieche, 

British observation balloons in the Boer War, 

the Stewart Collection of toy soldiers at the Frazier History Museum in Kentucky

So all in all a lot of very varied articles to get through. 

Subscription details for all these magazines are on their websites so just give them a quick Google rather than have me bore you with the same old information time after time.

Wednesday 22 July 2020

Early Toy Soldier Newsreels

Continuing my romp through the YouTube archives, here are a few more finds that I think are worth more than just one look.  It always surprises me that however much you trawl through YouTube every now and again something new surfaces, which has probably been buried away there for years.

Model Soldier Club 1939
Now this is a bit of archive footage I haven't seen before, it's an early meeting of the British Model Soldier Society.  Among the luminaries I spotted Otto Gottstein (in the opening shot, sitting at the far end of the table smoking a cigarette, next to a chap with a pipe) he was President of the Society at the time and a great patron of the hobby.  Also I think I see a young Deryck Guyler (at about 22 seconds in) who was a keen member of the BMSS before going on to be one of the founding members of the Society of Ancients.  The clip includes a rather nice selection of model knights produced by Richard Courtenay.

Model Soldiers 1953
I have Detlef Heerbrand to thank for finding this clip and posting it on facebook (which I finally got around to joining this month - a sure sign that it's days are numbered).  It features Bill Carman who was Vice Chaiman of the BMSS at the time and was one of the first to manufacture model soldiers for the collector.  His figures are a bit basic by modern standards but I've always been a big fan of them so I was particularly pleased when this surfaced.

Toy Soldiers 1949
Archive footage shot inside the Britains factory showing the hand casting of hollowcast figures, through to cleaning the castings, painting and packing them.

Toy Soldiers 1965
This piece of footage has been doing the rounds for a while but given that it's dated 1965 it's interesting that the commentary points out the hollow cast figures shown are made strictly for adults as collectors items. Britains ceased hollow casting in 1966, the story that this was because of lead paint and child safety fears is an urban myth, the truth is they just weren't selling enough.  The second half of the film shows an injection moulding machine being loaded up with plastic pellets and states that production of plastics was in full swing for the juvenile toy market.

Model Soldier sale 1968
This newsreel covered the very first specialist auction of Toy Soldiers (in fact the first specialist auction of any toys), held by Knight, Frank and Rutley who were founded in 1896 as Valuers, Surveyors and Auctioneers, they are a well known Estate Agents (Realtors).  I didn't recognise any of the faces amongst the crowd here but the toy soldiers needed no introduction.

Friday 10 July 2020

Toy Soldiers of the Great War

An early birthday present to myself (because I'm worth it), "Les Petits Soldats de la Grande Guerre" has been out for while but I've only just come across it, the cover announces that it includes 800 toys of WW1 so I had to have it.

Published in 2013 by Editions Glenat, A4 format, it has 256 pages illustrated in full colour throughout, ISBN 978-2-7234-0700-2.  Written in French only but light on text so not too challenging for anyone with with a smattering of the language and a grounding in the Great War.  The pic below gives an example of the layout and quality of the illustrations.  The cover price is 39 Euro, which I would say offers very good value for a book of this size and quality, I got my copy on ebay France, new and still in the cellophane wrapping for 19 Euro plus 9 Euro P&P from seller "Book77".  Bargain!

There are 12 chapters looking at different aspects of the war, into which the toys are conveniently slotted.  The cover gives little away and I half expected the book to include every type of toy from diecast vehicles to dolls and teddy bears, but fear not, apart from a chapter containing tinplate tanks and ships the rest is all toy soldiers.  

You can expect to see the perennial favourites from Britains, CGB Mignot, and Elastolin  but they don't dominate, it's packed with figures of every genre: paper, flats and semi flats, conjoint tin, wood, hollowcast and solid lead, composition and even a little plastic and modern white metal (but not much).  The more I flick through it the more I enjoy it, I reckon you will too.

Friday 3 July 2020

Britains, Airfix and Old School Wargaming - Pure Nostalgia!

Another lazy post here, these old British Pathe newsreels have been on YouTube for years and I'm sure everybody knows them well but I never tire of watching them, so I've put them up mostly for my own benefit.  

Toy Fair 1958
Nice footage of animated Trade Fair displays for Britains Swoppets and other Herald sets, "unbreakable" plastic toy soldiers were in the ascendancy in the British Toy Market in the late 1950's

Toy Fair 1968
Ten years later they are already old news and, in terms of the juvenile toy trade, heading into a long slow decline.  Interesting to see archive footage shot inside the Airfix factory here though.

Men Will Be Boys 1970.
Some great toys on show here, does anyone recognise the two chaps playing the wargame?  Come on, someone must know them, it was only 50 years ago!

For those who haven't heard, I am currently somewhat incapacitated, without access  to my toy soldiers or books, consequently my activity is reduced to writing posts like this and my ebay bill is going through the roof!

Thursday 11 June 2020

French made Matelots

I have always had a particular fondness for toy soldiers made in France, they produce them in every conceivable material, and while the sculpting isn't always the sharpest, the poses are always very imaginative.  Here are a few examples:

The first two above were made by Miniajouet, the first is an early figure made in rubber during the 1950's the second is later manufacture in hard plastic.  The third figure was made by JSF (Jouets Standard Francaise) and was originally made in hollowcast lead.

Two helmsmen from JSF and one from Miniajouet, all of the figures shown in this post were originally produced in both white and blue plastic.

The Naval officer with pistol is a first series plastic figure by Starlux, who originally made toy soldiers in a plaster composition material called "blanc de meudon" hence the rather chunky design.  A Naval Aviator made in rubber and a later plastic Captain with sextant from Miniajouet.

The Matelot dragging an anchor is from the same Miniajouet set as the others shown in this post, they were originally made in hollowcast by HR (Henri Roger) there are a few more in the set but I don't have them (yet).  The middle two are by Domage & Cie who sold aluminium figures under the trade name Aludo and plastics (acetate) as here under the name Acedo, the first figure with the bucket of water is a soft plastic copy.  The last chap is sitting on a pile of rope eating his dinner, he has lost the spoon which he should be holding in his right hand, made by JSF and from the same series as the others in this post.

If figures like these float your boat you can see lots more on the French 1/32 Plastic Toy Soldier Forum, there is a link to it in the header bar of this blog.  You have to register to join and the text is mostly in French but there are lots of pictures and it is by far and away the best resource on the internet for all types of old toy soldiers.

Monday 8 June 2020

A few pics from a past London Toy Soldier Show

A trawl through old stuff brought these photos of from the December 2018 London Toy Soldier Show to light.  To be honest I felt they were a bit too fuzzy and not interesting enough to post at the time but with the dearth of shows at present I thought I'd give them an airing.

Above and below are scenes from a King & Country VietNam diorama.

If WW2 in the Pacific floats your boat here are a few more diorama shots from King & Country

At the time of writing, the London Toy Soldier Show on 27th June has just been cancelled, so we keep our fingers crossed for the next one on 5th December.  The Herne Show run by Peter Bergner is scheduled for 5th July, Germany seems to be opening up slightly ahead of the rest of Europe.  The old Birmingham show, known as the Midlands Toy Soldier Show is moving to a new location in Stoke on Trent on 27th September.  Our local car boot fair is due to reopen next Sunday, so if nothing else I can look forward to a long early morning walk around a field in the countryside with a bacon sandwich and a cup of tea at the end of it.