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!).
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.
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.
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!
As with your real life -I know we all have one!- experience modifies the approach. Many people have uttered the nonsense sentence: “I wish I was twenty-something again”, it is understandable… but I must add please let me take with me all that I have learned!, and that is valid both for your real life and your miniature fictional one.
Not going to bother you much with reminiscences but let me say that if I could go back in time I would have gone Heroics&Ros in the seventies, but with big bases as POLEMOS suggests, my mistake back then was to try to base them in twos or threes… what a mess it was! If the idea of basing Regiments or Brigades in a single base had occurred to me I would have enjoyed my games much more and saved a lot of cash!. Many projects I had in mind could have been done easily and simultaneously… All of this is of course an anachronism and wishful thinking. On those days, not so much today, I was obsessed to conform to the rules, and THE RULES (popular at the time!), how to play with them model soldiers without a decent set of Rules!. An Orthodox view was a necessity to me in those days…
Well, if you have read some of this Posts or my previous adventures in the Baccus Forum, you know I collect Toy Soldiers in 54mm, I buy, I sell (not much nowadays), I found new interests, I change direction, whatever, but this is a cabinet display affair… “decoration” perish the thought!… they are decorative but the collection in itself is a way of gaming too… a Post someday will be done. But my main interest since a child was playing at war -aka wargames- and if a bit chivalrous the better, I loved gaudy uniforms and commanders leading from the front. I firmly put the stop or limit at 1900 for obvious reasons to me (Boer women and children concentration camps is a no go zone for me… and I know the Spaniards did it in Cuba before too!). My brother is a WWII nerd and I can accept that without problem but no thank you the XXth or XXIth century are not for me. But let’s go to the point, what did I learn in all those years?… not much I can hear you say… but one or two things are probably useful. See if it helps:
Plan ahead. In a way I tried hard to do it but mistakes did occur nevertheless. You will have to choose a period (or several); Scale (or several even if that means multiplying gear&scenery), I am a firm believer in sticking to a scale no matter what.
Choosing a period is a matter of taste and affinity, it helps a lot that a good or several ranges of minis do exist to begin with. At that point the Napoleonic trap is already looming on the horizon. If ever a mini is overproduced and available readily is a grognard of Napoleon’s Imperial Guard… Manufacturers know it and it is their bread&butter… anybody in the hobby, those who remain in it -and those who have tried and gone to do other things- have bought an Imperial Guardsman with Bonnet a Poil. Enough of that… of course I did it too! Go for a period (or several).
Sticking to a Scale has the immense BONUS of not duplicating scenery, terrain, and equipment!… how many wagons, pontoon trains, tents, buildings, tress and what not are you going to get if you go for several scales? Specially if you are a solo wargamer -in the back of beyond as me- for those with Club facilities the matter is quite different.
With the same stands you can play Free Kriegspiel or in a grid. Do what you like. I particularly hate metric rulers and the notion of measuring things on the tabletop… -probably a consequence of my profession in real life- and “counting stores” every half hour. Removing casualties is another thing to avoid in my experience.
If megalomaniac, meaning you go for it BIG in scope even in the smaller scales, consider the multipurpose units, a simple exchange of the Command&Colours stand and you have a double or triple unit, but that is a useful concept only if you have planned that ahead. In the Napoleonic period it was useful, but I am talking 25mm here.
I will have to edit heavily this Post once I remember other useful things, but for the sake of it I have given you food for thought.
Now, this could possibly go under “Collecting Toy Soldiers” or even “Conversions” alone… a post I deleted once… and going to use in part to show what I mean for conversions.
Life is not perfect sometimes (we all learn to live with that), and mistakes or omissions appear in your collecting hobby. For example on my last order to Andrew (REPLICA METAL SOLDIERS&MODELS 54mm) I did not specify that I wanted my 92nd Highlanders pipers 1878 with pith helmet (Khaki)… to my surprise they come with a different headgear… a bit out of place when campaigning in Afghanistan… but not historically imposible… anyway after much thinking about it I have decided to change those heads. Andrew did loyally commented that they were (and are) one-piece castings, so the process would be “cutting off” and drilling a new hole on the neck to acomodate the new head (painted and supplied by Andrew) which of course implies the use of special tools I did buy long time ago for doing the same thing in 25/28 mm scale. Finally I did NOT convert those I love them as they are!
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.
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.
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?.
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…
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).
Yesterday, and the day before, I included some pics of the French Foreign Legion in my post, well, let’s go through with it, I am a fan of this elite corps since I read the novel –Beau Geste– when a child, in fact I read the whole trilogy -which is not a trilogy- Beau Geste – Beau Sabreur – Beau Ideal (connoisseurs know there are two more books about the Geste brothers Good Gestes and Spanish Maine*). Ever since I have not resisted the impulse to buy minis related to it and that’s that. Whatever my main wargame interest or collector fancy, there are always FFL soldiers in it. *The Desert Heritage in the USA.
So to make a clean sweep of this particular topic I will give you today the pics that shows my love for it -Legio Patria Nostra- a very particular elite mercenary unit which incidentally serves under the French Flag of Madame la Republique.
I have had Rubber India 54mm soldiers, 25mm Minifigs proxies, 28mm To The Redoubt, 54mm Dorset Soldiers, never got the Airfix box because I did not found it in the shops when visiting England, 54mm Military Modelling stuff from Andrea Miniatures, and I had to build them in GodsOwnScale (6mm) using proxies (see other posts), and of course customized Playmobils!
Too many pics probably… but this takes out of the way a personal passion (mania) which would have appeared recurrently on the blog. This is it and we forget about the FFL. Curiously enough I did my own compulsory military service in Spain in the (then) Spanish Sahara… so I know a bit about the desert myself. Always have tried that my sons and grandsons did not get the chance to repeat such a silly ordeal… and I still like P.C.Wren.
I did start with two Regiments of the French Foreign Legion -how not- afterwards come a Regiment of Chasseurs d’Afrique (Cavalry)… but was at a loss on how to get the Spahis until Igor suggested an obscure pack of WWI Irregular Arab Cavalry!… well, I ordered, organized and modified a bit!, sent to the painters (MERSEY WARGAMES aka Greg), and at the same time asked for Zouaves (European troops) and Turcos (Native troops).
The parcel arrived today. See pic. -There are also some ACW stands that would be the subject of another post).
I did remake the officers of Spahis with POSKA markers -they deliver paint- and added white lines to the burnous and a black line on the headgear. Not much to do with Turcos and Zouaves… slight retouching and adding flags.
I guess the pics are quite self explanatory. There are some special measure stands for skirmishers, rallying squares for both Turcos and Zouaves… and the rest are ACW.
Thought it would be interesting for other colonial wargamers of the late XIXth Century in North Africa. In other posts I have showed the FFL and the Chasseurs d’Afrique. See below.
200 years… and still present in our collective memory for what it was… a genius (with faults and virtues) and I personally think quite ahead of its time. Nobody seriously studies Napoleon without noticing that it was not exclusively Napoleon fighting offensive wars (mainly) but defending France against old monarchies coalitions because of the ideas (seen as dangerous) of the French Revolution (which has also controversy attached). Of course having a military background (after all he was an Artillery Officer) and following the European tradition that Clausewitz will formulate a posteriori he went to war frequently enough (understatement) as it was the custom in Europe, nowadays he is still remembered for his Civil Code (nearly 200 years of life) and abolishing feudal privileges. He also reinstated slavery in the Caribbean Sea (to his shame). He was not perfect but had a great brain and “je ne sais quoi”.
This post has really a lot of pics!
Napoleonic wargaming was my passion for almost thirty years, in 25mm because I was stupid enough to do not choose 15mm in the first place (minis in the late seventies had no such vast offer and traders… even if MINIFIGS did 15mm too!) so MINIFIGS 25mm (after all I was coming down from 54mm) I went I and no regrets, was quite happy with my collection who also extended to other periods and wars (I though it would be very difficult to paint such small figures in 15mm because of the lavish uniforms of the napoleonic wars!).
Was interested for many years (obsessed is a better description) with the battle of Waterloo, could the Emperor have won? In context and after years of reading about it, I arrived at the conclusion that it was a NO WIN – NO WIN situation, it would have been 1813 all over again… with Austrians and Russians and what not invading France which was exhausted… and that’s that.
Have some pics of my years indulging in that particular wargamers fetish.
After a deep crisis with 25mm wargaming I sold them all. After some years toying with Playmobil (75mm) conversions and quite classical 54mm toy soldier collecting I went back to wargaming but in 6mm this time! (see the other Posts). Cheers
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.
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.
Today we had lots of snow in Andorra, so my grandsons did not went to school (as on the Calvin&Hobbes comic strip). Then we went to my old office (on the first floor) and we played or toyed a bit with Playmobils.
They’re changing guard at Buckingham Palace – Christopher Robin went down with Alice. Alice is marrying one of the guard. “A soldier’s life is terrible hard,” Says Alice.
They’re changing guard at Buckingham Palace – Christopher Robin went down with Alice. We looked for the Queen, but she never came. “Well, God take care of her, all the same,” Says Alice.
We had a great time, because afterwards I gave them the EXIN CASTLES box full of bricks/things to play… and each one of them did their own thing… bits of castles everywhere now…
After a bit of time has passed… I do not really know who was entertaining who…
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.
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.
I explained it all quite in detail in my book but it is a lot easier to include pics in a blog.