After 2016… (III)

Visits: 642

After taking a peek at the Outro of my book I guess it is time to say that 6mm won. The decade or so that I toyed with Playmobils is gone forever, mind, it was FUN and no dealing (well a bit) with paints and rigid figures (lead toy soldiers have a definite “position” and you can not change it) was a novelty for me -of course I could not resist painting some extra details on them- but what was really amusing was to dissemble them and do other figures exchanging parts- that way you could get the soldiers Playmobil never produced (even if they produced the parts!).

The more convoluted and complicated conversions/customizacions I ever did with Playmobils. Now in the Armies of my grandchildren!

So, the movements Up & Down in scale after a deep crisis with my beloved for years 25/28mm ended with an exclusive dedication to 6mm. I sold or gave as gifts to my grandchildren the vast majority of Playmobils and kept some for good old times sake. Currently in my office Cabinets there are only the Trooping of the Colour set, and the complete 7th Cavalry at the Little Big Horn (1/5 aprox scale)

Baccus 6mm has won the contest without doubt and it is a scale I am really satisfied with for wargaming purposes. Gone are the days of detail obsession, fear of derision at doing something wrong on the painting scheme (never painted “eyes” on my 25mm), the ever present search of the perfect set of rules, and other aspects that were nagging me as the lack of room to maneuver, the always secure flanks, the difficulty to present the tail of an Army, Lines of Communication and so on. There were intelligent tricks to represent all this on the tabletop in the larger scales… but got fed up with them in the end: dice to see if that flanking troops arrive!; dice to see in which place of the table!; take a chance card! etc. It was becoming Monopoly.

Maybe I should have explained earlier that for me not all the fun comes from winning a wargame, not anymore, it is equally interesting the disposition of forces in a marching Column, its movements, the scouting ahead and the flanks and rear, and the correct orders and ways to attack or pin down and flank an enemy position that a battle head to head so many times done in 25/28mm. I can move troops in 6mm! Suddenly couriers and vedettes have a meaning, where the troops “are placed” also, and moving them around is a serious business I enjoy. This of course is mainly done in small Colonial periods aka Punitive expeditions in the NW Frontier, Desert warfare in North Africa with the XIXth Corps (French you know), Tamai affairs (Osman Digna), Custer’s Battalion movements (an interesting mystery), Doomed Charges of Cavalry (or not), they all have the BONUS of space in my old tabletop. Of course that not exclude big battles as in the ACW period but are today less of an obsession and not the only target.

So, to sum up and end this post 2016 actualization:

1) I have a nice -for me- 54mm traditional New Toy Soldier Collection on display and add items to its themes very very slowly and carefully!… It is real interesting when I find a firm as Replicametalsoldiers&models (Andrew Stevenson) who can do “special things” on demand. No change of main themes in the offing, but toying of with my own version of A GENTLEMAN’S WAR with 54mm… will keep you posted about that (a 2020 project).

2) Playmobils are in my past. But I still skirmish or parade them when my grandchildren are in the mood… not often enough.

Naval battles no more…

3) 6mm is my actual passion, I keep saying to myself: This is the last order… this is the last parcel to the painters… I have to write down some really good rules for 6mm just in case my brother turns up unexpectedly and we have a game like in the good old days… only reason why I built those ACW Rebels!.

4) The old Boardgames of my childhood have new figures (METAURO has Baccus 6mm), and Little Big Horn has kept the only 25/28mm figures I own today a mix of Dixon’s for the 7th and Old Tradition of London for the Native Americans… Nowadays waiting for the release of the Hostiles by Baccus to get even another possible way to game the LBH outside the limits of the old boardgame. Incidentally I must mention that I have over one hundred books about the LBH alone… quite obsessive about it! And even a couple of Hex based Boardgames like my brother enjoys!

And I hope that makes clear what I am up to at the beginning of 2020!, finally decided to build a 54mm force to “play with” NOT a cabinet display unit… jus a FUN purpose game. Blame Mr. Howard Whitehouse book “A GENTLEMAN’S WAR”.

For old Napoleonic good times sake let me recommend to you those imprescindible books by HEIMDAL… The French Line Infantry is due in May 2020. Still wondering if I will indulge on the period again… OMG!.

Foot Imperial Guard.
Horse Imperial Guard.

Collecting Toy Soldiers (I)

Visits: 1166

The “big” cabinet under the stairs where the main theme -not quite original- is displayed. The Household Division units by shelves. Some of them have been converted (lancers become sword troops) and some sold (Regimental Bands Mounted not in State Dress) to add specials and vignettes of the Trooping of the Colour ceremony (The Queen’s Birthday Parade). Middle of June every year.

The complete REPLICA METAL SOLDIERS&MODELS collection (khakhi), it was collected during 2020 but the last parcel arrived in 2021. Maiwand/Kandahar . Absolutely fantastic old Britains style but brand new. Andrew Stevens did such a great job following sparse instructions… Cabinet a bit crowded but a delighted collector!

Close up to show the Guides Cavalry in the third rank…
Tradition of London Royal West Kent set complemented with some DUCAL made to order -aka RSM at the center back and the Band not included in the pic- , and even some “conversions” by me as the Ensigns with the Colours and the Pioneers.

For a Blog who deals on Toy Soldiers or has the burden of the topic attached from the very beginning I have waited enough to do a post on the subject. You see, at least for me, ALL of them are Toy Soldiers. But there is a firm distinction of what is considered a “classic” Toy Soldier -and we are talking Antiques here- a bit snobbish and pricey if you please… “New Toy Soldiers” is an even more puzzling definition which I am going to explain too and for once I will not write a lot myself, all has been written to perfection by others… I began collecting 54mm Toy Soldiers -I should have said New Toy Soldiers as you will see- as everybody else who does. I like them. Bring back memories of a happy childhood when I did parades of soldiers on the floor following the counsels of my maternal grandad. They were my favorite toys and that’s that. When visiting London as an adult I couldn’t resist visiting the shops of “Tradition of London” and “Under two Flags” and started buying some red boxes as a result. It probably all started because when quite young my parents come back from London with an spectacular gift, a set of Britain’s with Coldstream Guards on a big box with two trays inside -superposed- ColdstreamGuards Band, Guards Marching, Guards at the present, Officers, Ensigns with Colours etc. Later on I even bought the books who described all those goodies and even finally knew the reference number of the set.

Well, as I have said, I am not a collector of Antiques, neither Britain’s, Mignot, Lucotte, Heyde or the like, I do not particularly see the point of “flats” even if some are beautiful pieces themselves, and I firmly stayed with my times and the “new” products available then.

Top of the big cabinet where the Household Cavalry are with some personalities.
Lower part of the Cabinet. Some specials and the RHA. You can see the Welsh Guards on top.

In fact you only need to read the books about it by the specialist James Opie. For me the unavoidable volume is Collecting Toy Soldiers, he has written a lot of books on Britains, one of them the real “BIBLE” (The Great Book of Britain’s: 100 Years of Britains’ Toy Soldiers, 1893-1993) -bought it in Hamley’s myself numbered edition and all- but of course there is no point for me in all that because I do not collect Britain’s, but if you do, get Opie’s books, really top stuff. Much more interesting for me was the book by solo wargamer legend Stuart Asquith The Collector’s Guide to New Toy Soldiers, a 1991 book -got a dedicated copie- who funnily enough deals with the new brands and manufacturers from 1973 onwards -post hollow cast Britain’s- that by now are “new classics” because in those nearly fifty years have ceased to exist or are much more less preeminent nowadays. Let’s mention DUCAL or FORT-DUCAL (Jack and Thelma Duke who become long distance “friends”), Tradition of London, Dorset Soldiers (Giles Brown times), Marlborough, and some other minor interests of mine.

I first collected whatever took my fancy… but then in following years I rectified, concentrated by themes and sold items (strange been FFL) to make place for others. Those I sold. Dorset Soldiers.
All the Queen’s men small 54mm. Also sold. Beautiful but not relation to my main interests.
Only the RCMP remains in my collection (now two shelves because I bought more of them) and the marching constables have been modified with a gun at the slope idem as the Colour Party. The Denmark Royal Guard I sold with deep regret as the Band was done specially for me by Giles Brown from Dorset Soldiers using kits from Tradition and recast instruments. The Greys above also had to go because of lack of space.

Collecting 54mm traditional Toy Soldier gloss figures -not to be confused with 54mm Military Modeling figures- become an habit, and finally even purposefully build cabinets where made to show them at home… not playing stuff anymore I fear… and even less for kids.

Always enjoyed The Trooping of the Colour and The Changing of the Guard ceremonies or pageantry. I even mixed manufacturers once… by now all are Ducal.

It was not a straightforward process!, I bought sets that later I did sell to “make place” and finally concentrated in some themes dear to me and now is a fairly steady collection not subject to sudden whims or extreme changes of direction anymore. But from time to time I add a piece or two, always filling gaps you know…

As a picture is worth a thousand words hereby see what I mean.

DUCAL band of the Royal West Kent made to order purposefully.
Tel el Kebir set.
Cavalry by DUCAL and Mountain Guns by Tradition of London.
Last but not least theme on my collection French Foreign Legion by DORSET SOLDIERS, its former owner Giles Brown was really helpful.
Two models added in 2018 thanks to a gentleman contacted in Facebook. painted by me.
General Wolseley, Replicametalsoldiers Andrew, 2019 addition.
Same as above but French General. XIXth Corps d’Afrique.

Collecting Toy Soldiers (II)

Visits: 277

ReplicaMetalSoldiersAndrew 54mm Chasseurs d’Afrique.

Not that it is very easy this days to find what you need or want, so the core of this post is just to praise the excellent comms and service provided by Replica Metal Soldiers Andrew.

Here they are in its proper place with its officer and in reserve. Changed the colors of some pom-poms.

Andrew Stevens is a one man band and has a full daytime job and of course a family… so do not expect him to be FAST! (not shouting it is just emphasis)… but oh boy!… well worth the wait.

For those asking themselves about the officer I already had that one. They mix very well with the scale of Britain’s (of course) and particularly ok with Dorset Soldiers.

This is a part of my hobby I do not indulge a lot anymore due to lack of space in the cabinets… but I manage to squeeze in something now and then.

Got 6mm Baccus Chasseurs d’Afrique and Spahis -thanks to Igor (now retired) who suggested the proxies for the later-

That is an “old” view of one of the cabinets… contents much changed by now!


The final Collection of The Household Division in 54mm + some extras.

Some specials from DORSET SOLDIERS.

Collecting Toy Soldiers (III)

Visits: 278

The last Eleven of the Berkshires at Maiwand 54mm Replicametalsoldiers Andrew.

Updated December 2020.

It required time, but they are in the cabinet at last. I did found Andrew Stevens line of Traditional Toy Soldiers in FaceBook, his trade mark is REPLICAMETALSOLDIERS. They are quite Britain’s style but brand new, meaning no Antiquarian prices (or “oldies” look). I can recommend his products because I am really satisfied. I always wanted a range like that and he really adapts himself to your need (in fact so well that another order is on the way I fear!).

At arrival and unboxing, boxes are a delight on its own.
The whole order sorted out together.
The “hole”. You get a “hole” by cramming up the rest…
Fixing a hole.
Actually I needed two shelves which will be completed with the current order. Finally the RCMP emigrated to the Household Division Cabinet to make place. All Colonials now here.
The Colonel.

It was a long wait but worth the time, as usual I could not stop there and passed another order for some odds and ends and some Corps of Guides units (after a while I added Gurkhas and Highlanders too!). THAT would hopefully stop my collecting in 54mm for a while… if you do not count 5 SPAHIS I am asking for at Dorset Soldiers on the 1st of September.

It must be puzzling for some of the readers that I collect in 54mm and wargame mainly (when I do) in 6mm… but that is that.

After years waiting for them the officer of Spahis will get troops to command!, the parcel with 5 SPAHIS is on the post. I was very late on deciding to add them to my collection (after all at some point of their history they rebelled and killed their French Officer’s… similar to the Indian Mutiny but other times and reasons…)… a colourful outfit no doubt about it… but mainly because Henri de Beaujolais was an officer of Spahis… you must be careful with what you read when very young… Dorset Soldiers under a new management after Giles Brown retired.

Original paint from DORSET.

Well, BTW excellent packaging, boxes, DHL, terms and time elapsed from command until arrival… everything went without a hitch. Customer satisfied. Will buy again from Dorset Soldiers.

Officer Royal Corps of Guides 54mm REPLICA METAL MODEL SOLDIERS
Raj Indian battery.
Simply great!
This one is dedicated to Nigel Price.(Because he is a retired officer of Gurkhas)
Queen’s Own Royal Corps of Guides 54mm.
Last but not least the Gordons in Afghanistan (Kandahar).

The two pics above are from a megaset titled NAVAL BRIGADE, for once it is not mine at all (sadly… lol)… but could not resist posting the pics on the blog. That shows that collecting 54mm toy soldiers is alive and kicking. Andrew REPLICA Metal Model Soldiers. Someone must be very happy with this set!

ZINDERNEUF

Visits: 187

Not all of the restrictions of the pandemic are a boring thing, in fact it has given me time to do things I have done on my mind for several years and never materialized because of lack of time and sheer laziness. The normal live I live keep postponing those things ad infinitum.

To begin at the beginning, I have always had a set of building bricks called EXIN CASTILLOS, it was a wonderful Spanish toy of the sixties, I played with them and build castles, so did my children when young because I purchased sets for them (nowadays have done so with my grandchildren too), one day of “cleaning up” at home I rescued the discarded sets of mine&my children from the list of things to throw away, put them in a box and stored them in my (then) office waiting for better days.

Fort Zinderneuf, a lonely outpost in the Saharian South manned by the FFL, if you have read P.C.Wren or seen the films not much explanations required. 54mm Dorset Figures.
Detail of ramparts and interior.

In the meantime my collection of Dorset Soldiers (thanks again to Giles Brown) was slowly growing up and the French Foreign Legion in action poses (mainly) occupied three shelves of one of the cabinets in Pal. So, one day I took the box from my office, cleaned the plastic pieces with soap&water and produced a mini ZINDERNEUF in 54mm to play with my Dorset Soldiers set. On another trip I had brought to Pal my camera/tripod etc.

Here you have the full set of pieces, I did not use the circular one’s neither the too Dark Ages bits for ZINDERNEUF, but I always sort them out before “building”

This is the result: a solo game I play against “time”, will the arabs kill all the defenders of the fort before help from Tokotu arrives? Will “Beau” and “John” survive as long as in the novel?.

Quickly built… nearly exhausting the supply of rectangular pieces.

By the way, if you considere the BEAU GESTE trilogy (in fact five books and some extra short stories!) too old fashioned for you, you simply pass…

View from the back.
Lateral view.

Now, that was fun!, it has been years since I did a model with those blocks!, it’s like riding a bycicle… you never forget those tricks with the bricks.

I have done it in 6mm (still in my Baccus collection), 28mm (To The Redoubt… sold), 54mm (Dorset Soldiers) and in 75mm with Playmobils (now in the collections of my grandchildren).

Leven Fort, Baccus proxies all done by REVEILLE.
When I did it in 28mm.TO THE REDOUBT minis…
Major de Beaujolais column arrives from Tokotu…
John and Digby desert after jumping the wall… End Game.

Trooping the Colour

Visits: 239

With DUCAL 54mm traditional Toy Soldiers on the floor. Now my knees would not like it!
Going back The Mall (well… the floor) at that time there were still some Dorset and Britain’s… not anymore, sold them and substituted them by Ducal’s. The massed Bands looked quite impressive!

It has always been considered the summit of pageantry, at least in the UK, not for the sheer numbers involved but for the Tradition of it. There are other military parades around the world but Bearskins?, Red Tunics?, The Massed Bands?… I could go on and on… I even applied once for tickets but no luck at all -very difficult to organize living far away- so DVD’s of it have taking the place. I once watched in the Mall with my eldest son on a visit to London and saw them come and go from Horse Guards Parade.

General view.
H.M.The Queen and Personalities… very difficult to put everyone in just one pic!

Her Majesty’s Queen Elizabeth II Official Birthday Parade… but otherwise known as Trooping the Colour. Usually it is done the second Saturday of June -plus rehearsals the two Saturdays before that- It has always been a favorite of mine, so, let’s have some pics. Not much more text needed today I guess.

With Playmobils is a lot of fun.
The British Royal Guardsman is perhaps one of the most successful models of Playmobil. It comes with a silly rifle with no grip, so I prefer older models. Do not search for the cavalry those are Customized.
The final Band… it took a long time to find “instruments”… specially the Tubas.
The Royal Horse Artillery Mounted Troop… quite a nightmare to do.
The real thing… 99% DUCAL and some Tradition of London.

Playmobil “variations”

Visits: 555

The Royal North Surrey of THE FOUR FEATHERS fame (1939 movie). Quite difficult to get the parts!. Legs from one standard figure, torso with stickers -as the arms- resin helmets with stickers… and what not! Sold them too.
To understand the process of customization, this is the basic figure that permitted building the Royal North Surrey, the color of the arms and torso matched the legs of the Spanish Conquistador, use the correct stickers (I asked that color RAL) and the rest is mechanical.
Guards Pioneers
The Line about to Wheel…
Full caption…
Household Cavalry
Detail
Stored in the Cabinet to play another day…
Queen Elizabeth the Second… and personalities…

I could not resist doing some Highlanders too.

I am afraid the Goldberg are much better! specially those by Gould. But joking aside I did dedicate a whole chapter of my book to those plastic german chaps. They can be customized quite easily once you learn how.

And that is entertaining, specially if you are affected by the syndrome “I’ve been there, done that, got the T-shirt”. There used to be the middle age crisis -I do not know what middle age is nowadays- at 39 I bought a New Model LOTUS ELAN two seater (front traction) if you know what I mean… Happy marriage does not need a divorce! As I said before let’s put joking aside.

Basically a Click as they are known is a plastic chasis with a head plug that holds all the other parts together. Quite simple concept. But a small engineering feat. They were originally very crude and toys for kids. They evolved. From what I call the third generation onwards they began to interest me. I started buying them for my grandchildren -who already got them never fear- and stocked a few because they were too young by far. Then one thing lead to another IT WAS FUN!… anything that fits the formula TOY SOLDIER + FUN = ENTERTAINMENT in my life. So, there I was, first I learned to disassemble them -YouTube is full of tutorials -https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Y8KYaO-83o-, and Wikipedia will tell you the full story of Playmobil- and the “creation” of new soldiers, or to be fair, NON existing ranges was extremely funny.

Age of Reason clash!… Fictional Armies now in the hands of my grandchildren. The “tricorne” period is where the availability of parts is better in the markets.

After an intermittent span of ten years since I bought the first one and finally lost interest and got back to wargaming -6mm- and collecting -54mm toy soldiers- I went through many periods, I customized a lot, gifts to grandchildren were made, and complicated conversions were even sold! I have the tendency to sell the parts that does not interest me anymore to raise funds for new ventures, that way I have a real budget -more or less- I always spend more than I cash back but it helps!

So I did the ACW -and then sold the collection because it was too real brother against brother- I did Ancients (sold), I did British Colonials including Highlanders! (sold), I did the 7th at the LBH (still in my hands but for sale), I did the Household troops I already had in 54mm Traditional Toy Soldiers -quite a recurrent job- I did the Charge of the Light Brigade in the Crimea (sold). I did the Spanish and French Foreign Legion outfits (both sold). I bought Ships -customized them- now in the navies of my grandchildren. And I probably forget the Ivory Patrol and a lot of other minor subjects that were also sold. It was real FUN.

Two versions of ACW General Custer.
The whole 7th at the LBH… many customs.

I explained it all quite in detail in my book but it is a lot easier to include pics in a blog.

Highlanders… that is not easy!… you need special kits…(for the kilts).
The whole Zulu set…also sold!
Somehow I collected a lot of Mounties in 75mm too…

Thought I add some more pics…

The last eleven at Maiwand…