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:
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?
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.