From Black Prince Knight to Elizabethan “Arma-Dad’s Army” Muster or Militia 54mm plastic conversion

Before, during and after conversion from Plastic knight to Elizabethan rabble

After reading my last post, Alan Gruber of the Duchy of Tradgardland asked for a “how it was done” blog post on how to downgrade a cheap plastic 54mm knight or man at arms into a Spanish Armada era Elizabethan armed rabble known as the ‘Muster’. This was a Tudor version of the Militia or WW2 Home Guard.

Here’s some I made earlier: four Elizabethan rabble converted from this original figure type.

So I took some photos of this downgrade or upgrade when next converting one of these cheap plastic knights or men at arms with its medieval Black Prince type helmet, coronet and heraldic tabard.

Step 1: Off with the helmet point and coronet

Step Two – use scalpel and file to remove detail

Use the file point to tough over any medieval detail such as the plate armour, chain mail around the neck, posh knife belt and heraldic devices on the tabard.

The file point is also useful for roughing up what was chain mail and the neck section of the helmet into long hair.

Step Three – Masking tape trousers or breeches

The strips of masking tape rough measured by eye and cut to size below the knee. Several layers of masking tape needed to bulk out these breeches or trousers. This is not Tudor fashion, the effect you want to achieve is rough working clothes.

Any further plate armour and chainmail detail can be lightly removed by scalpel.

Step Four – More Masking tape

Add masking tape strips to thicken out arms where you have removed armour plate. Cut V shape strips to make a tailored breast plate, secured with a thin dot of super glue. The masking tape roughed up with the file point …

Step Five – Undercoat to blend all together

Step Six – Paint in shiny toy soldier acrylics

Although shiny toy soldier style paint is used including the pink cheek dots, the look of the clothes should be far from parade ground and not ‘uniform’ with the other already completed figures.

On the painting stand …
The finished article next to the original figure

Shiny silver paint is used for toy soldier style simplicity. In reality, the scrapyard of armour and helmets that the Elizabethan Muster wore especially in more remote rural and coastal areas were probably already old fashioned and burnished up from their slightly rusty state. The Trained Bands were probably mostly better equipped than the Muster.

Hidden underneath his left hand is a partly concealed dagger in a scabbard, only a small part of the hilt of this knife is visible, hence the reason for the leather belt.

You could if wanted vary the spear to a pole arm or other agricultural looking tool. Whatever pointy stick you choose, “Remember – they don’t like it up ’em!”

I may do another one of these standing figure poses as an archer and one as visiting journalist, playwright, ballad writer and travelling player young Bill Shaxbeard. Somebody has to write up these epic struggles in doggerel, verse and prose!

Step Seven – Gloss spray varnish and base as required.

As regards paints, unless otherwise stated, I use Revell Acrylic Aquacolor, mostly the limited colours of their gloss range but also some of their matt acrylics as well. The light spray of gloss varnish should blend these together.

Spray varnished – shiny on parade, if not smart

Some of the brighter colours like the 361-52 Blue gloss looked a little too bright and too much like another of the figures with his blue coat or cassock. Some gloss black was mixed in.

These are not uniforms nor posh Tudor court clothes from portraits, they are everyday working clothes.

The 361-31 Fiery Red gloss of the woollen or cloth hat was also slightly darkened down with some Blue and Black, partly as I am using blue as the overall English bluecoat colour and red for the Spaniards.

The skin tone for my Spaniards and English troops is not the Matt Flesh 361-35 but the 361-35 AfrikaBraun matt. It gives a more old fashioned toy soldier look or tone to the skin. I used Humbrol enamel gloss Pink 200 for the cheek dot.

The leather shoe, hair and spear colour brown is the darker 361-84 Leather Brown Matt and lighter brown leather belt 361-80 Mud Brown gloss.

The green base is Pebeo Studio Acrylic tube 60 Opaque Chrome Green Hue.

So here is another finished member of my Tudorbethan coastwatch, the Beacon Boys, my late Elizabethan Amar-Dad’s Army, ready to ‘Muster’ against any Spanish invasion.

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 15 October 2020

B.P.S. Blog Post Script

The Knights packaging to my set – with pictures of the horses and cavalry available in other sets

This type of cheap plastic knight can be found online worldwide as part of a bag of black and silver six poses knight set from many dealers such as https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/60PCS-Black-Silver-Medieval-Knights-Warriors-Kids-Toy-Soldiers-Figure-Models-Set-/124188406402

Author: 26soldiersoftin

Hello I'm Mark Mr MIN, Man of TIN. Based in S.W. Britain, I'm a lifelong collector of "tiny men" and old toy soldiers, whether tin, lead or childhood vintage 1960s and 1970s plastic figures. I randomly collect all scales and periods and "imagi-nations" as well as lead civilians, farm and zoo animals. I enjoy the paint possibilities of cheap poundstore plastic figures as much as the patina of vintage metal figures. Befuddled by the maths of complex boardgames and wargames, I prefer the small scale skirmish simplicity of very early Donald Featherstone rules. To relax, I usually play solo games, often using hex boards. Gaming takes second place to making or convert my own gaming figures from polymer clay (Fimo), home-cast metal figures of many scales or plastic paint conversions. I also collect and game with vintage Peter Laing 15mm metal figures, wishing like many others that I had bought more in the 1980s ...

10 thoughts on “From Black Prince Knight to Elizabethan “Arma-Dad’s Army” Muster or Militia 54mm plastic conversion”

    1. I have added the packaging on the blog postscript – I only found the foot soldiers, not the cavalry. Unfortunately I cannot remember where and when I bought these knights, as it was a few years ago.

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  1. Great to see the process and the finished figures. I am tempted to have a wee go myself with what I have, I use masking tape to repair arms etc but have tried it for breeks yet.

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    1. Glad you like the post and process breakdown. The knights were simply “what I have” due to a lack of (affordable) Elizabethan Armada figures. Some lovely Model ones in metal but costly and usually character figures. I look forward to seeing what you might produce in the future.

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  2. I did my own medieval conversions of those figures. I like what you have done. That set is quite strange as every figure, including bowmen is based on The Black Prince. The mounted figures have a weird lance/axe hybrid. Their horses are puny so I replaced them with bigger ones.

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    1. I find the Black Prince helmets rather odd. Otherwise quite spirited figures in animated poses if you were a child with your toy castle. I may use the foot Lance handled poleaxe to replace the spear on another Muster figure. Not handled the horses – they look lively but too small.

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  3. Some successful conversions there! For me, there is something very nostalgic about creating your own collection, it brings back memories of using a limited range of 20mm Airfix figures in the 1970s. By the way, I know you have issues with using milliput, but have you tried the old alternative of plasticine with a coating of superglue, then paint and varnish. It worked for me until moving over to milliput, and fine for typical handling.
    Michael

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