**** Delayed post from late May / early June 2021 ***** shelfie photo *****
I had to go into town for a medical appointment on a quiet day at the end of May 2021. With a few minutes to spare, feeling more Covid secure after two jabs, and masked up, I checked out my local poundstores for the first time in over a year.
In Wilko there were no Lego compatible blocks, block ‘pick and mix’ and no toys to be seen. Maybe nothing until Christmas …
However Poundland, wonderful Poundland, had these “penny dreadfuls” (as some unkindly call them) back on sale at a penny each in bags but tubs as before.
Check the shop label: 100PCS – £1 – 1.00p each
That is affordable gaming – and two colours / forces per bag!
As a pound store trash puppy (not a trash panda – that’s a raccoon), I keep an eye out for the changing packaging of the sort of pocket money cheap toy soldiers I collect and convert on this – the Pound Store Plastic Warriors blog.
With non essential retail closed during Lockdown, I keep an eye out online.
Battle Squadron were the branding c. 2016-2019 before Poundland stocked the same figures repackaged as ” Cyber Combat Alien Defence Force”.
This battle sandpit illustration seems to have been redone from the Poundland runs or buckets of such troops, ones that I bought in early 2017 before the old pound coins were called in. Poundland cleverly continuing to take the old coins for longer than most.
I like the green flag with white line outline star. Each pack inside through appears to have one or two flags of the WW2 and postwar super powers – usually Germany, America, Britain, sometimes Russia. Oddly not China!
As a child I would have been a bit miffed with the depiction of typical plastic playset helicopters, tanks, walls etc on the packaging but then finding only figures and a flag inside.
Toy Buyer beware – not quite requiring the Trades Descriptions Act but always a little annoying. Was there ever a “Serving Suggestions” type get-out clause – “does not contain sand, walls or helicopter or nuts”?
On a practical play note the figure tub or stiff plastic ziplock pouch is a handy container for a child to keep these figures safe in, not as leaky as the old Airfix cardboard boxes.
A simpler header card version can also be found online (screenshot from EBay March 2021), packaged in the easily tearable plastic bag. Usual “elite forces” type illustration in an otherwise quite plain harder card. 100 such figures now
Available online on eBay but also for £2 plus P&P from Bovington Tank Museum
I like the Bovington Tank Museum online shop description of these figures which adds value to what others might see as disposable plastic: ” A classic toy … A timeless collection of figurines perfect for playtime. Each soldier comes equipped with his own battlefield kit and is moulded onto a solid base to stop them falling over in the middle of all the action.”
A reassuringly complete description that is, “classic … timeless … “each with his own battlefield kit”, like buying 100 tiny Action Men for £2, who don’t fall over and lose their “kit”.
Why I like toy soldier packaging
The 1960s and 1970s colourful cardboard header and Hong Kong contents are becoming more collectible and kitsch – eBay and Etsy are good place to go window shopping and take digital “shelfies” screenshots for reference. *
These header illustrations are the poor cousins of the Airfix kit or figure box illustrations but with a certain rough excitement to them, promising to show you the inside contents of your head and your play world to which these clone Hong Kong copies are a cheap portal.
After Blue Planet II on TV, plastic is becomingly increasingly demonised from an environmental point of view as cheap and therefore throwaway disposable. We are rightly told that we now need to reduce, recycle and revalue our use of plastic.
We had no such public awareness about SUP (Single Use Plastic) when I was a child, although it all had to pass the non ‘single use plastic’ throwaway / ignorable, easily breakable, five second wonder toy test. Toys had to have proper “Play Value!”, as my Mum and Dad would say to guide me away from the more transient, flimsy, seasonal topical breakable trash of the toy shop.
These cherished plastics from the 1970s are still on display at home and sometimes appear in battle on my Tabletop, handled carefully now as some of the plastics are getting a little brittle. Indeed this makes them MUP Multiple Use Plastic or LUP Use Plastic.
At least for now, this brittleness is not such a worry with the freshly moulded, rough and tumble ‘play tough’ pound store plastics of today’s sandpit and Floor Games.
Maybe this is a side effect of growing up in the late Sixties or Early Seventies without colour TV and few colour picture books in infancy?
* “Shelfies” are reference pictures you take in a store if you are not buying everything you see.
I am amateurishly straying into the more organised serious plastic collecting, packaging and referencing territory of Hugh Walter’s Small Scale World and the Plastic Warrior magazine team. Writ the collection larger, you become Robert Opie of the Packaging Museum and his wonderful Scrapbooks, showcasing by decade and era his fascinating collection of ephemera. Robert Opie is the brother of the toy soldier collector and author James Opie, son of the folklore and playground rhyme collectors Iona and Peter Opie.
Me? I just find the colourful packaging and hyperbolic language and illustrations of passing interest.
I like the retro style of the packaging from Schyllyng with on the back of the box the pen outline of the figures inside, a little like the early 1960s Airfix boxes.
I also like the slight overselling – “INCLUDES TWO ARMIES” – obviously serious defence cuts have happened. What they mean is includes two different colours of figures, in this case the traditional green and tan of some plastic army men figures sets.
Either box would make a good attractive mail order gift, one that I would happily have played with as a child, then have somewhere to put them back in the box afterwards.
The alternative packaging I have found for these figures over the last few years ranges from a flimsy plastic bag and header card of two different colours per bag …
… to the useful storage tubs of single colour figures occasionally found in Poundland UK.
Same figures, different colours, varying prices per figure, different packaging.
To me these are the modern cheap small plastic equivalent to the Airfix figures of our youth.
They are surprisingly versatile and at a penny or two each (prices are steadily creeping up) these anonymous and widely available ‘Made in China’ plastic figures can be cheaply and easily converted to a range of periods past and present – and future.
Several fantasy or sci fi gaming bloggers have used these same figures such as the Wargaming Pastor for his Death Zap future games.
Ross Macfarlane of the long-established Battle Game of the Month blog paid these figures and conversions a sort of dubious tribute when he described them as:
Hence my nickname for them of the “Penny Dreadfuls“, as this is what I once paid for each 100 figures for £1.
I have used them for many things from my Boy Scout rough conversions …
A quickly converted chess board and some Wilko Heroes pound store ‘paintzooka’ soldiers
Sometimes you struggle to find a use for all those ‘useless’ toy soldier poses you get too many of.
Bazooka man. Mine detector man. Flamethrower man. You know the ones. The ones you can’t usually properly use, as nobody can use too many of these heavy weapons poses. The ones they sometimes seem to manage to cram too many of into the average pound store bag or playset of toy soldier figures. Not mentioning lying down man, clubbing with rifle man etc.
I have been exploring over the last year or two some non-lethal games, non-fighting or non-lethal strategy games where no one gets hurt or ever dies. These range from Scouting Wide Games, snowball fights rules and Home Guard training games. Such games would be good for public participation or library gaming without the militaristic connotations that put some parents off toy soldier games or wargames.
I have noticed an interesting cross over between wargames, board games, and video games. YouTube has a series of lectures by the now retired American academic and board game collector George Phillies on board wargames design for video game design students.
There is an interesting crossover into other pop culture aspects, where a video game becomes a film (Tomb Raider, Assassins Creed, Angry Birds movies).
Sometimes a video game becomes a physical toy and game (Angry Birds again), books, a collectible card game or short lived plastic figure range (Fortnite etc). which prove useful for sci-fi figure gaming minis (see The Works store in the U.K.).
I thought about turning this video game into another form whilst playing on the family games console the Nintendo ‘paint warfare’ classic Splatoon. (This is almost as much fun as Nintendo Mario mini game Splatarazzi but that’s another story …)
Splatoon is a very successful video game that has now spawned a series of games, Splatoon 2 etc. It can be played solo or as a four game multiplayer game.
The object of the game Splatoon is to cover as much of the area with your paint colour. You can hit opponents to slow them down. You can hit enemy players to knock them out of the game temporarily, once they have lost all their health and life points, sending them back to their spawn point or baseline.
Different weapons have more paint coverage.
Movement and Firing
So for our figure poses the following suggestions (rules draft 1.0):
A (flamethrower) paint-thrower squirts 2 whole squares straight ahead or diagonally.
A mortar fires a paint bomb 3 or more squares away.
The mine detector paint roller covers just the one square that it moves into.
The paint-zooka fires at a single square two squares ahead.
Additional figure: A grenade Man could be throwing paint bombs into the face of the critics and paying gallery public, oh no, sorry, that’s modern art and art history.
Ammo refill as many times as you like. There are only 64 double sided squares to put on the same number of squares on your chessboard.
Figures move one square at a time and can fire on that turn. Fire can be forwards, backwards, diagonal, straight.
Exception: climbing hill or obstacle, you only move that turn – no firing.
Like chess, each side moves one figure each turn. IGOYUGO.
Splatoon the video game is a fast moving shooter / shootemup (paintemup?) with time limits. Solo or several players, setting a short Wellsian time limit to move one figure (or more if you decide) per turn should capture this feel.
A square that has previously been painted can be easily repainted by the opposition. Just turn over the square to the opposite colour.
A time limit or turn limit can be used to see who finally covers most squares in their paint colour in the time – victory!
Too many on each side in this tryout?
What you need
A chess board, hex board or other gridded surface.
Some cheap useless poses of Pound Store Plastic Soldier figures
As many two colour reversible squares as you have in the game board. 64 for a chess board.
I made these squares by paper glueing two different colours together then drawing with pencil a grid of my chess board sized squares on one side of the paper only. When cutting these out, you can add several more two colour sided sheets of paper, if you are careful, speeding up the task.
Add some obstacles – this hill is made of a fence post cap with square grid of paper glued in to match the chessboard. Add a tree. Add a wall. The original Splatoon game is 3D urban industrial skate park territory.
Poundland 32mm paintzooka guys … one just climbed the hill, no firing allowed that turn.
To establish some more complexity, a wider range of poses and weapons of other Pound Store figures could be used.
You may have come across non-lethal paint balling. This is another possibility of hits on players, recorded in various ways such as plastic rings or washers over their weapon / head etc. In Splatoon the enemy or opposing side can be hit by paint and have to respawn on their baseline, wasting their painting time.
Paint Hits on Players
Paintzooka hit on nominated enemy target – Roll 5 or 6 to hit target / figure
Mortar paintbomb – roll 6 to hit at 2 to 3 places at nominated target / figure
Paint-thrower – roll 6 to hit at 2 squares distance at nominated target / figure
Paint roller – no offensive capability? (Mine detector figure)
Once several hits (2 or 3) have been received, the figure goes back to baseline and starts again.
Featherstone savings throws (d6 roll of 5,6 ‘not wounded’) can be added as you require for complexity.
Add in modifiers for being behind cover as you wish.
So there you are – Spl-Attaque, Spl-Attack, Spl-Attergy. Call it what you will. Some quick play draft game rules to play around with over the next couple of months to make a Featherstone simple game, he having frequently used the phrase that wargames are like a game of “chess with a thousand pieces” (and others would no doubt add, as many variations of the rules as there are players). Enjoy rules tinkering!
Blog posted by Mark Man of (paint) TIN, 29 – 30 June 2020. All riches from playing this game should be credited and copyrighted to Mark Man of TIN.
Why the name Splatoon anyway? “S-Platoon – The first casualty of Paint Wars is the Furniture …”?
References screenshots to Splatoon by Nintendo are not ‘unintendo’ to infringe their copyright or IP, purely for reference. Why not buy the original videogame?
Too likely to rain to do any homecasting in the garden so I headed to the coast. In a nearby seaside town I found no new seaside shop plastic soldiers but two charity shop ‘pound bags’ of random plastic toy horses.
When making my Pound Store conversions, Doug Shand in the comments asked about horses for making these cheap figures into cavalry. I tried casting some Prince August Holger Erikkson forty millimetre scale horses. A bit too big and wide. I scoured the internet for cheap horses but it was difficult to find any I judged from pictures to be the right scale.
I think the larger horses are closer in size to 28 to 30mm figures than my Pound Store 32mm-ish conversions, unless you want big troops or natives on small ponies.
I placed several Spencer Smith metal and plastic horses and infantry on or alongside the horses to see if they were suitable. Some figures like the AWI tricorne officer might work on horseback. However Spencer Smith already do perfectly good cavalry. I have few 28mm figures but put a WW2 Russian female officer from Bad Squiddo on horseback for comparison.
As with all toy horses, many of them have no base and do not stand up on their own. The smaller ones (smaller than most of the Airfix ones) may be slender OO railway modelling horses (and the solitary cow).
Farewell to the Horse?
The horse book (being partly based in Germany) should be interesting to read in relation to the email comments that Tony Adams at The Miniature Wood Screw Army has made to me about the Not Quite Mechanised state of the horse drawn German Army of WW2, compared to the more motorised transport of the armies of Britain, France and America. Amptly illustrated here on these online forums:
I spotted these lovelies in a seaside plastic gift shop whilst looking for plastic pirates and other plastic ‘tat’.
Into my Pound Store modelling brain leapt the thought – steampunk airship bodies? Silver and bronze and wood panelled?
Civil War Paddle Steamer bodies, reversed and given some planking at rear?
They wind up well and on a smooth wood floor just keep rumbling for a long time along like speedy WW1 era landships.
These will all need a jolly good wash before painting, so they may have some proper launching, sea trials and naval manoeuvres first (otherwise known as “putting them into the bathtub”). Just to clean them up you understand …
My steampunk brain started working overtime on the dirigible possibilities of wiring on a plastic bottle ‘gas barrage balloon’ and fixing the whole on a stand. Maybe Steampunk Submarines and Paddle steamers will be easier.
A bevy of WAAF style balloon handlers might be required for such dirigible beasts (they were not nicknamed ‘pigs’ by their WAAF crews just because of their shape). So far Bad Squiddo only does suitable crews in the form of WW2 Ack Ack searchlight Girls in 28mm, which may be a little small?
This whole airship business might be because I have just finished the second MortalEngines book by Philip Reeve and have the third one lined up.
Post apocalyptic / Futuristic ‘Municipal Darwinism’ (city eats city, town and suburbs). Steampunk with strong echoes of Jules Verne, H.G. Wells and Star Wars. Airships, mech troopers, predator cities on gigantic caterpillar tracks, submarine ice breakers … what’s not too like? (Did I mention Steampunk enough?)
It’s not a million pulp or steampunk miles away from the Edwardian to 1930s era Scout ‘Wide Game’ ideas over on my sister channel, the Man of TIN blog.
They will hopefully compliment my Flash Gordon style 1930s airship or starship troopers converted from Pound Store 32mm plastic figures
Distracting Cheap plastic joy! More tat for the painting table?
Blog posted by Mark, Man of TIN on 6 May 2019.
BPS – Blog Post Script
I have yet to see the much maligned Peter Jackson directed Mortal Engines movie, as I became too busy near Christmas to see it in the cinema. I will catch up with it on DVD soon. Watch the Trailer here: https://youtu.be/IRsFc2gguEg
Whilst picking up The Unincredibles ‘bootlego’ superheroes in Poundland this weekend, I spotted a sight for sore eyes.
A lone tub of the 32mm-ish PennyDreadful figures (as I call them after Ross Macfarlane said about them).
Ross MacFarlane of Battle Game of The Month blog described these cheerfully as “some of the crudest cheap plastic toy soldiers that I’ve ever seen but you have managed to rescue them and transform them into brave warriors!”
I had not seen these tubs in the pound store for months.
Forlornly, it was one stray tub of these Soldiers that must have been lurking at the back of a shelf, and sadly with a quarter less contents. When I first bought these it was 100 soldiers for £1. Now it is 70 soldiers for £1.
As somebody wisely commented on my blog, these are now not quite so Epic Battles. 30% less Epic.
I bought the tub anyway, for old times sake, as they will always come in useful.
The proportions of figures in each tub seems to vary quite widely too – this one seemed to have a high proportion of bazookas and machine gunners.
They could become great little figures with a bit of work.
Blogposted by Mark, easily pleased Man of TIN, on Pound Store Plastic Warriors, 12 February 2019.
What 1-48 means and how big are these figures?
1:48 is an exact scale, it means that the scaled models are 48 times smaller than the actual size of the real object.
It is sometimes referred to as quarter scale because a quarter inch represents one foot and is equivalent to the model trains 0 scale in USA (note that in the UK 0 Scale is more commonly 1/43.5 or 7mm to the foot and in the rest of Europe 0 Scale is 1:45 !).
Tamiya and other scale model makers offer a wide selection of military vehicle models and figures in this scale and there a number of ready to play die cast models available too. (1-48 Tactic website)
This is useful to know, even though I don’t think I have any 1:48 scale materials. There will be plenty of bashed ones online.
An average standing man in 1:48 scale is approximately 36mm tall, 1-48TACTIC figures are therefore fairly close in size to the commonly called 32mm (when measured to the eyes) or “heroic scale” wargame figures, but are more realistically proportioned. (1-48 Tactic website)
1/48 is 33.5mm to eye line, 36mm to scalp, equivalent to US O Gauge which is 0.25 inches to the foot and referred to as “quarter inch scale”. Popular for plastic aircraft kits (Tamiya). (Translated from a table on BLMA website)
Wikipedia suggests that https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/1:48_scale is also (close to) the scale of Lego Minifigures! I checked and the Lego figure looked a little bigger to the head top / scalp. “At this scale, 1/4 inch represents 1 foot. It is similar in size to 1:50 scale and 1:43 scale which are popular for diecast vehicles.” Quarter inch scale is mentioned again.
The Miniatures Page TMP website article on scale seems to agree that somewhere between 1:43 and 1:48 scale is about 35/36mm and also O Guage, This is useful to know if I need some railway components to my figure gaming. Unpainted O gauge or 1:48 civilians for railways sold en masse also offer conversion figure possibilities. http://theminiaturespage.com/ref/scales.html
Tamiya 1:48 kits have been mentioned several times and I checked their website. Figures appear about 36/37mm, so slightly taller than my Poundland plastic warriors (35/36mm) and obviously far more finely detailed. There are tanks, planes and a few useful battlefield accessories. http://www.tamiya.com/english/products/32512g_infantry/index.htm
Doll’s House scale 1:48
1:48 seems to be a dolls house size as well, with some rather fine and expensive accessories