Scrap modelling a SteamPunk Tank

His and Her Majesty’s esteemed shipwrights and steam boiler makers have used all the available materials including scrap to make His and Her Majesty’s first Land Ship.

I blame Mr. Alan Gruber of the Duchy of Tradgardland blog.

If he hadn’t mentioned in the comments about building a tank for my WW2 tanker inspired Steampunk infantry, I probably wouldn’t have got around to it. Thanks Alan.

So ‘corrugated card tracks’? This made a connection with some Lockdown grocery packaging in my scrapbox.

I didn’t go for the WW1 Rhomboid tank with tracks top and bottom, I went more for the more interbellum type Sno-Cat tank track.

The body of the tank was going to be another trusty milk carton. Some readers might remember the LCC Landing Craft Carton of 2019.

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2019/07/21/milk-carton-creation-no-1-cheap-landing-craft/

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2019/11/02/landing-craft-carton-two-more-how-to-photo/https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2019/11/02/landing-craft-carton-two-more-how-to-photo/

I discovered bizarrely that one set of such tracks would suit one of my LCCs and make it a tracked landing craft (like a US Buffalo). That’s for another day.

Landing Craft aside, I kept the rhomboid shape that Alan mentioned by pushing the Carton ends out at the front and steeply in at the rear. Staples held these shapes roughly in place.

The basic tank shape and turret hole

I thought the central turret would come from a handy tin, but all the ones I found were too wide. Instead I found a spare lid and plastic jar.

The tools for the job … staplers, Sharpies, corrugated card and milk cartons.

There is a lot of space inside the Carton that could be used in other designs.

Old sprues from Pound Store mini tanks and coffee stirrers add instant scrap texture

The sprues I thought might suggest steam tubes or steel plating?

The Milk Carton pouring hole created the tank commander’s cupola.

The gun barrel was a pen lid. Additional armament is a front machine gun.

The bit that was most fiddly but fun was making the tank track wheels. I could have bought a set of brass gears and cogs from some of the many jewellery, crafting and even Hornby site. However keeping with the scrap modelling and scratch built feel, I found I had a few spare “cogs” and “gears” from not putting the friction motors and wheels in Pound Store mini tank kits (which is yet another blogpost).

Add to these some tiny buttons as the smaller road wheels and you have a quirky set of tracks, gears and wheels.

I like the scrap toy nature of these button wheels …

The buttons, big and small, came from a charity shop £1 bag of old buttons (retrieved from unsellable clothes?) that in the past has provided button ‘shields’ for conversions.

Copper painted button wheels and button viewing slits on escape doors.

The most useful buttons were ones with straight holes as they made very good concealed front and side viewing slits for safe firing and viewing.

A small hatch below the turret allows the turret crew, gunners and drivers to enter and escape.

Cupola open and cut down tank commander figure
The steampunk infantry sit between engines and turret. A step over the track links allows safe deployment of infantry without hitting the tracks.

Rear view of the copper and brass steam exhausts – note the signal flag.

One day I might work on individual tank track plates, but not yet. I might coat the cardboard tracks with PVA.

This Land Ship could work with a range of figures, from Victorian Redcoats right the way through Steampunk into Sci-fi.

All that remains now is to choose a name for this Landship – Any ideas? We’ve had a few family suggestions already.

All Land Ship name suggestions in the comments box, thanks!

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN 28 / 29 August 2020.

Steampunk Pound Store Plastic Warriors or WW2 Tankers?

Readers of the Pound Store Plastic Warrior might recognise the penny or tuppenny dreadful plastic tat from pound stores and seaside shops that make up our blog header.

Looking at a group of these 45 – 50 mm figures, I picked out the figure pose carrying a rifle (second from right) as a possible space figure.

I had intended to do a larger version of my 32mm Pound Store Flash Gordon inspired space marines and opponents which you can read about at

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2018/01/28/little-green-men-pound-store-plastic-space-warriors/

32 mm pound store “1930s futuristic” space marines and orange suited enemies

I thought some bright Flash Gordon or Dan Dare type spacemen in 1950s cowboy type colours and toy soldier style would be the thing.

Which is of course why they ended up as steampunked French tank crew in leather jackets.

In the usual way, this vague plan of colourful space figures went awry as I searched through Pinterest for Steampunk and VSF (Victorian Science Fiction).

Researching images on Pinterest – French WW2 tank crew, re-enactors and steampunk cosplay

Highly influential in my eventual ImagiNations colour scheme were the stylish uniforms of French tank crew and despatch riders.

Source unknown: French tank crew with the very futuristic rear end of a WW2 French tank

There are some very nice 1/35 Alpine Miniature figures tank Crew in their Brown leather jackets, tan trousers and Flying style helmets c. 1939/40.

https://www.squadron.com/SPECIAL-ORDER-1-35-Alpine-Miniature-WW2-French-Tan-p/lp35198.htm

This gave me the base colours – they were going to be painted in gloss toy soldier style using a mix of available Revell Acrylic Aquacolor gloss and matt, finished off with gloss spray varnish.

The figures after gloss Varnish but before the Steampunk copper highlights were added.

At this stage before Steampunk copper highlights were added, some of them could pass vaguely as WW2 or modern figures.

I wanted them to keep that 1930s to 1950s shiny gloss hollowcast look including the pink cheek dot traditional toy soldier face, as if they had just been taken out of their red box.

Once the copper or brass highlights were added, picking up cloned and distorted webbing details, this looked more like power cables for their brass steam or laser weaponry, breathing gear or comms equipment. Nothing too specific …

Grey basing rather than green was chosen for the plain toy soldier style tuppenny base, reflective more of an urban setting or even steel plate metal, maybe even the decking of airships and space craft.

An Officer and An NCO figure (with dark blue tanker beret) can be seen amongst them

I was surprised at how practically well these two tone figures fitted into the landscape, despite the shiny Steampunk bits and gloss Varnish.

Add in some suitably weird Pound Store / playset type Chinese made plastic tat Steampunk Artillery

The closest I could do to the French tankers and the futuristic back of their tank photo here …

Quel petrolier!” or A rough French translation for Lardy tank rules fans of their mischievously named ruleset “What a Tanker!”

… was a rough reconstruction of this historic photograph using the backside view of my lovely cap firing action friction based US tinplate tank (Thunderbolt USA 4U, unknown maker)

So there you go, you start off intending to make Flash Gordon space marines and end up with French tanker inspired Steampunk activity.

Proof that all you need is some time, paint, distraction, a few tangents and you can make something smart out of these unloved overlooked cloned and distorted Pound Store type figures.

For my simple 54mm Donald Featherstone inspired sci-fi rules Close Little Space Wars

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/09/25/close-little-space-wars/

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/09/25/in-a-garden-far-far-away/

For more futuristic sci-fi toy soldier figure fun https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2020/05/04/international-star-wars-day-may-the-fourth-be-with-you/

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN

Modern Flats and Toys for a Pound online pound store soldiers

I do like metal flats but find them a little on the expensive side.

I just found an exciting new range of 40mm flats or semi flats of ultra modern and Sci-fi figures such as this well armed soldier:

A. Stylish and spirited ultra modern metal flat sci-fi or special forces trooper?
A great Flash Gordon or Star Wars rebel pilot? Interesting semi-flat figure.

But could I afford to buy a skirmish force or two of metal flats? They can cost several pounds or euros each. That could be an expensive proposition for even a small skirmish force. Then there’s usually negotiating websites in German, shipping from Germany / Europe etc.

Some of these figures have a charming simple retro feel such as this advancing modern WW2 semiflat figure.

Or maybe …

B. I just found a new range of plastic semi flat toy soldier figures from an online pound Store, priced about £1 for 80 to 90 mixed figures.

Perception test: Which is it? Expensive metal flat or Pound Store Plastic?

When it’s metal and officially ‘flat’ from a recognised manufacturer, it is it an object or figure of higher value?

When it’s a penny dreadful distorted plastic figure from an online Pound store, worth about a penny, some people might see disposable plastic tat. Is it of lower value?

The answer?

Being the guttersnipe, pocket-money, neighbourhood trash puppy that still I am, finding an online pound store during Lockdown was irresistible.

Toys for a Pound? I’m in.

https://toysforapound.com/products/special-forces-soldiers-mini-army-figures?_pos=1&_sid=44ef637cc&_ss=r

There are plenty of what some call ‘plastic tat’ or ‘plastic trash’ figures out there for sale on the internet. They are what many of the next generation of gamers will or may cut their teeth on.

One glimpse of a running or advancing figure with rifle in the packet was enough to sell it to me.

Sadly despite “quantity having a quality of its own”, they are not in many people’s eyes generally a pretty bunch but to me they have both potential and play value.

They are the Airfix figures for the kids of today, cheap and easily available, here today, gone tomorrow, but obviously lacking the historical range and individual figure quality. If you could find them, Airfix ranges forever going in and out of production.

They vary in size from 35mm to an average of 40/41mm. Looked at sideways, some are almost the modern flats.

Some of these figures painted silver could easily pass as metal flats costing many times the penny price.

Could I as a child in the past learn to love them? I’m sure I could. Especially with a lick of paint.

£1 a month pocket money saved up back in the late 70s or a poundnote in a birthday card would get you a whole Star Wars Action Figure. Not sure what the Airfix box of figures cost was in those days. Not sure what average pocket money per month is today but these are Pound Store and pocket money affordable.

Could I as an adult build them into my gaming life with a few tweaks? I surely could.

Seeing Airfix figures in use or simply converted to other periods in wargames books and the occasional magazine had a major influence on me as a young child or teenage gamer of limited means. If Airfix were good enough for Donald Featherstone and others like Terry Wise (add in also Brian Carrick and FE Perry in 54mm) from time to time, they must be alright for me. Grown ups who write books and magazine articles use them. This legitimised my young gaming efforts in a way that expensive metal figures out of my reach and league didn’t.

Here I must give a Pound Store shout out to the Wargaming Pastor Death Zap blog posts for his various sci-fi units made up of Penny Dreadful Pound Land figures. https://thedeathzap.wordpress.com/2019/05/18/simple-satisfying-games/

To be fair, they are 80 to 90 figures for a Pound. What do you expect? They are (to some eyes) pretty much what Ross MacFarlane called my PoundLand bucket all stars back in 2017, “the crudest cheapest plastic toy soldiers I have ever seen”. I happily nicknamed these figures in his honour my “Penny Dreadfuls”, even though as someone quickly predicted you only get 50 figures for a Pound Land tub now. Tuppenny Dreadfuls then!

The kind of comment that makes my Pound Store toy soldier day happy and complete. Thanks Ross!

They are exactly what the packaging says – SPECIAL FORCE – WINNER – WORLD PEACE MILITARY EQUIPMENT – SUPER SYSTEM – METAL SLUG – as is the handy resealable ziplock badge with camo packaging and modern vehicles, tanks and troops shown. MADE IN CHINA. Definitely modern.

Helicopters, modern troops, tanks graphics amongst the camo patterns.

The figures match the graphics. They are clones of WW2 / modern / Post WW2 / Gulf War type figures. They come about 8 poses in several different colours, helpful if you are a child for different units, not just green and tan.

I have notice of late that not only are Pound Store Plastic figures generally getting smaller than 54mm but also thinner, flatter and more contorted, obviously saving Plastic but thankfully not at the expense of the plastic base. They stand up quite well.

Eight poses, my running rifleman the smallest of the lot at 35mm

Five colours – green, red, blue, tan, black – I was rather taken with the light blue ones for a change!

Perfect for party bags at a Pound each.

Good tip: Party bags or “party favors” are often good search terms for bulk plastic toy soldiers online or in shops and supermarkets.

If you need the tanks, lorries, jeeps, sandbags and other stuff, you can easily find this kit in other ‘playsets’ that you find online, albeit sometimes in a bizarre range of sizes within the same bag.

Maybe it is right that we should showcase in our magazines, blogs and exhibitions the very best of the figure maker’s art. Maybe we should also sometimes include these Pound Store figures, simply or elaborately painted and based and in use to show, as the Wargaming Pastor says, that the fun and educational social activity that is our hobby of wargaming is “affordable for all.”

Hopefully Pound Store Plastic Warriors as a Blog has done a little of this for the aspiring young and old gamer of limited budget at the happy plastic tat end of the toy soldier scene.

What will these figures become? What exciting games and Tabletop adventures will they take part in? Watch this space.

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 16 August 2020.