Saturday 30 January 2016

FLW Part 3

I finished off my little unit, based on a picture of the 43rd Westminster Rifle Vounteers. I use 8 figures, including an officer, as a unit, because this is the number in one of Dorset Figures boxes, which I'm using as storage. (Also, if I ever need to, I'll be able to sell them off as a boxed set!).

 These are the last of my unpainted Fort Henry Guard castings, and I've spent the week rooting around the web trying to find a new source.

There's a chap in Canada has unpainted marching figures. An order has gone in for 8 figures to make up another unit, and I have some figures coming from 'Brigadier' in Australia for another. I'm trying to track down my original supplier (Pat Campbell of Replica Models) from about 12 years ago but he may have given up, though I notice a dealer on e-bay has a considerable number of painted sets under that label on offer. A message has gone out to him. I also contacted the Toy Soldier and Model Figure Magazine in case they had any contact details.

The other thing I tried was getting in touch with Giles Brown, of Dorset Soldiers to see if he had anything similar in his list. Giles has offered to make a mould for me if I'm unsuccesful elsewhere.

I have a modern 'Britains' Fort Henry figure, but it's not a patch on the old one, as the strapping detail is now all painted on in very thin lines, while the old one has it sculpted on.


While digging for more figures, at the back of my cupboard I found this little chap, who has to be MrsJs favourite from my collection. He's 'The Collector' by Luigi Taoti, an Italian maker who used to come to the London Toy Soldier Show. I haven't been for years, and find I'm very much out of touch with makers, dealers etc., so really must get this year.

More progress reports next week.

Sunday 24 January 2016

FLW Project part 2

Following on from last weeks update, I thought I'd share this weeks results.

As you remember, I had made a mould and was waiting for it to set. By Tuesday it had done, and I was able to clean it up before trying it out. As usual, with a new mould, it took a few tries to warm it up, I had to cut a few air passages, but the final results were not encouraging. The figure itself came out reasonable enough, although it lost some detail; the back pack held its definition, but the loose arm holding the rifle came out as an amorphous blob, with missing sections and no discernbable detail. Ah well, back to the drawing board.

What I have been doing for the last couple of days is looking into alternative ways of achieving my object. I've been studying various websites covering toy soldiers and suppliers of  castings and spare parts (such as Dorset, Langley, London Bridge, etc.) with a view to fabricating my wants through the use of mixing bodies, arms and heads, along with a little judicious use of milliput, to  end up with unique figures. I now need to order up an assortment of these bits, and make enquiries of the makers before I carry on.

While doing this search I used these two books as reference. The Andrew Rose book has every page well illustrated with historic toy soldiers, and is ideal for identifying appropriate original figures for
conversion, and then finding them from manufacturers. 
The 'New Toy Soldiers' guide came out in the early 1990's and listed some 109 (I think) makers of these models, though a search through the net shows that not many of them are still active. I wonder what happened to all those moulds?
This little chap appeared on e-bay recently, and was listed as 'Civil War Confederate Tradition Dorset Trophy Britains. I recognised him, but couldn't place him, thinking he was from the 'Great Britain and the Empire' range, and found his photo in the above guide to the new ranges. He is actually a 1st New South Wales Rifle Volunteer of 1861, from the Australian manufacturer Brigadier. He fits well with my plans, is now in my possession, and stands proudly in my cabinet . He has something slightly 'Gabby Hayes' about him.

Anyway, that's this weeks report. I will have something to show next week, but they are still on the painting bench..


Sunday 17 January 2016

FLW Update

I blame Mr Kinch and his recent blog posts concerning the eyes on toy soldiers! This week I have been spending the evenings catching up with my 54mm Funny Little Wars troops, and preparing a little something for 'taking things forward' (I had a boss who used that as her buzzword). So here's a little update on the current situation.

Originally I had intended 4 cavalry units of six men and on officer, 4 infantry units of eight men and an officer, and 6 artillery batteries of one gun and limber plus crew of four per gun, with, finally, a support unit of 1 wagon, four men and an officer. There were to be the standard number of staff officers as well.

At the moment I have two cavalry units and three infantry units. The artillery is complete, with half being Royal Horse Artillery (Langley castings) and the other half, recently completed, being based on a picture of the 3rd London Rifle Volunteers that appeared in ' The Blandford Encyclopedia of Infantry Uniforms, Book 2', with the Gatling gun being replaced with a field piece.

These again are Langley castings, but I've taken the opportunity to base the kneeling figures for stability. They are superglued to 2p pieces and the surface of the coin flooded with pva glue to hide the engraving. These figures have the eye painted as a line (eyebrow) and black dot.

The other style of eye painting I use is a blue dot. This can be seen in the following picture.


Next, I have a query you may be able to help with. At a swapmeet recently I managed to obtain a few figures from a rummage box. The left hand one is stamped 'Tradition', the two on the right are 'Britains', but the other one, with the corded jacket and feather hat is a mystery. I don't recall seeing anything like this before, but a reference to the above book gives an illustration of a similar figure labelled as a 32nd Middlesex Rifle Volunteers of 1860.

Can anyone identify a maker? Or perhaps it's a conversion. The nearest I can come is a Swedish Guard in the Dorset range.


Finally a little hint of something yet to come, and what I've been doing this week

For the next couple of days I'm keeping my fingers crossed while the mould cures. Then, if all goes well I can start on some conversion work and provide some different Rifle Volunteer figures. This should keep the rest of the year occupied on this particular project. Army 'Grey' has been revitalised.

Saturday 9 January 2016

The Year to Come

I notice other bloggers are posting their hopes and desires for 2016, so thought I'd do the same. Mainly a desire to finish previously started projects, with the occassional introduction of something new. One thing I do want to do is a weekly entry on here, rather than the hit and miss efforts to date. So each Saturday I will try review progress.

I'm hoping to restart my 54mm forces, and have the idea of using some Fort Henry castings in my pile as the basis for some generic infantrymen. This means getting back into mould making (a-la Prince August) and drop casting. These will only be for my use, so quality doesn't have to be brilliant, just good (I hate the 'that'll do' school of thought, even if I do use it myself occassionaly).

I heave a couple of large boxes in the loft containing some "All The Queen's Men" figures of Derek Cross, from the 1990s, which have never been displayed. These include the charge of the Scots Greys at Waterloo, Marshal Ney and the Retreat from Moscow among others. I shall be sending these off for auction sometime. James Opie has a post at a new auction house and I'll be getting in touch.

My 28mm Humperstein forces of the 1800s are growing slowly. This will continue at a steady rate.

I'm hoping to get a readers pass for the British Library and spend a day or so in London researching the Hobbies Naval Wargame I mentioned in 2014. All other enquiries so far have met with a dead end.

There are still a couple of working model boats to finish off. HMS Devastation, at 24inches long, and a harbour launch (Dean's Marine kit) at about 18 inches long; and the model railway will continue to grow. Track laying to start as soon as it is comfortable to work in the shed.

How much of this will happen is anybodys guess. I'll keep you updated. In the meantime, have fun in your own individual ways, and keep me entertained as you usually do.

Friday 1 January 2016

Another Old Wargame

As promised recently, here is the second article from an old Hobbies magazine. This one is dated February 5th, 1916, issue number 1060, and is shared with permission of the current owners of Hobbies Ltd. I've written it out exactly as published, with the original illustrations.


This is a game for two players. The board is a sheet of thick cardboard, measuring 12in. long 8 in. wide, a rugged coast line forming the divisional line. The land portion is diversified with hills, roads, forts, etc., as marked in Fig.1.

The lettering is fully explained on the ocean space, which may be studded with small islands. Several accessories are needed, and these can be fashioned from old ordinary bottle corks, a razor blade coming in handy as a cutting implement.

The fort F, Fig.2, consists of a whole cork with a piece of very thin card wrapped round, slightly overlapping, and glued in position. Then, after cutting the top edge and marking a window, the fort is glued upon a circular card base. Two of these will be sufficient.

The gun G requires a three-quarter length of cork, a recess wide enough and deep enough to take a black lead pencil easily being cut about the middle. A tube 2 1/2in. long, made by wrapping a 5in. length of notepaper round the penciland pasting or gumming the surface during the operation, is fixed within the recess, as shown in the plan and elevation. Four of these should be made. A bridge B is merely two half-circles of cork at the end of a cardboard plank. Three will be enough. A town T just for the sake of having a removable object, is simply a circle of cork about 3/8in. thick. Five towns are required.

As will be noticed, the fort, the gun, the bridge, and the town are all fitted with a short thin flagstaff, and this is a very neccessary addition, as numerous flags of two different colours - twenty-four of each - must be made to slip on and off these uprights. After selecting the colours, cut strips of the chosen paper 4in. long, 1/8in. wide, and wrap them one by one round a knitting needle to form a tube, leaving a short length of about 1in. as shown at E, the tube portion being held in shape by gum or thin glue.

So much for the military; now for the navy. A primitive cruiser as C, Fig.3, is obtained from a third length of cork cut in two, the nose of the craft being shaped as shown by plan and elevation, while a short mast is added to take a paper flag when needed. Make four of this pattern.

For the battle ship B the sides of a whole cork are first removed, the remainder to then cut lengthways in two, and each half can be shaped at the bow as shown, two masts being afterwards inserted. Again, make four and also four submarines S. Cut a cork into four sections, slice away fore and aft, point both ends, and let a short mast occupy the centre.

Islands I., three of them, are the same as towns with half circles of cork on top. Each accessory should be enamelled some distinctive colour, the finished appearance more than paying for the time devoted to the task. A bag, stocking-shaped, will be required to hold a number of counters or pieces of cardboard bearing the words: "Town taken", "town lost", "cruiser taken", "cruiser lost", "hill taken", "hill lost", and so on; a pair for each object, and an equal number of blanks.

The two players are provided with the stock of different coloured flags. Each in turn dips into the bag. When a blank is drawn nothing happens, and the opposing player is entitled to dip. Anything gained he puts his colour on and places it upon the board. If a hill or any other permanent mark, the coloured removable flag is laid directly over the position. Anything lost must be removed from the board; if however, nothing of corresponding nature to that mentuioned on the slip is held by the drawer, his opponent puts one of his own colours on the board. Should it happen that the selected slip either gives or takes away when everything of that particular kind is already used, then the selector must dip into the bag until a definite result is reached. Every slip is returned to the bag immediately, so that a full supply is always in the bag. Before starting the game a certain number of draws for each player should be agreed upon, and the player then showing most colours on the board wins the game.

A cardboard box for holding the board and pieces can be cut and made from one sheet of medium thick card, as shown in Fig.4. Make the box portion A a little larger than the playing board, say 12 1/2in. by 8 1/2in., the sides S 1 1/2in. deep, and the lid portion B slightly larger than the box A as shown. Score all dotted lines with the point of a pocket-knife, bend downwards, and the diagonal corners will close as at C; then the pointed pieces can be bent and glued against the sides at D, making a strong corner. The ends of the hinge-line E should be cut trough to where the dotted portion begins, a strip of linen over the bend adds to the durability, and a coat of enamel gives a respectable finish.


So there you have it. I wonder if such articles appeared in other magazines of the era? This game seems easily adaptable to the use of miniatures instead of pieces of cork, though I'm not sure the lack of movement appeals I'm sure that simple rules could be devised, while the board could become a small card table.