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.

Pound Store 42mm Spy?

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The figure is sold as HP24 Jacob Kowalski from the Harry Potter prequel movies Fantastic Beasts and How to Find Them …

During a supermarket stroll past the film and DVD  tie-in sections, I spotted amongst the superhero, space and fantasy figures this interesting 40mm-ish metal figure of Jacob Kowalski from Fantastic Beasts.  Interesting movie, well worth seeing, sequel due soon.

Perfect figure for a civilian, a spiv, a spy or escaped POW?

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A suspicious character found on the wired off British coastline c. 1940. Irregular Minitures 42mm British Tommies. Wire from notebook spine.

This Kowalski civilian  figure put put me in mind of some of the stylish 1940 photos and game scenarios set up by Allan Tidmarsh on his various blogs.

http://dorset1940.blogspot.com

http://ww2tanksalot.blogspot.com/2017/

Kowalski  works well with an affordable  joblot of painted, based and play-bashed Irregular Miniatures 42mm metal Tommies. I bought these to accompany a future pound store Home Guard / Operation Sealion  1940 invasion game, bulked out by plastic pound store China clone Germans.  Attractive Irregular Miniatures German Paratroops but £2 each. http://www.irregularminiatures.co.uk/42mmRanges/42mmWorldWar2.htm#British

How would he match my 42mm-ish pound store figures?

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Poundstore unpainted 40 – 42 mm Plastic Infantry, lovely  old Wilko Heroes charging figure on the left. China clone German 42mm on right. 
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The Usual Suspect … 40 to 45mm
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Arrested by more of my  Blue Army (Tintin-esque Imagi-Nations) pound store c. 42mm figures.
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Prince August ‘large’ 40mm Homecast Cowboy, the Kowalski figure  and old bashed Railway figure alongside junk shop find of a bashed 1911 Ford Model T Yesteryear car.
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1911 Ford Model T being repainted in khaki as an army vehicle or staff car. Irregular Miniature 42mm British Tommies.
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As the Man from the Ministry investigating ration violations … from our previous blogpost https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2018/09/02/pound-store-42mm-farm

 

Dickensian Economics?

Although the Jacob Kowalski figure was not in a pound store (cost £1.97), this and the trashed Yesteryear Ford Model T (£4 junk shop / market stall)  were offset by finding two pots of lolly sticks for 10p each (garden centre sale). These  usually retail in pound and craft stores at £1 to £1.99.

A saving of almost £4 on lolly sticks, which are useful building materials and lolly sticks to attach figures for handling during  painting. Two useful plastic storage pots too!

Result? Happiness.

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10p bargains!

Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN on Pound Store Plastic Warriors, 2 September 2018.

 

Wilko Wild Western Express

Vintage 54mm Pound Store Plastic Cowboys and Indians fight over the cargo and caboose of my new Wilko Western Express train.

A snip of a plastic battery operated railway set at £10. Read more at:

https://sidetracked2017blog.wordpress.com/2018/07/14/the-wild-wilko-western-express/

How do Schildkrot 40mm figures measure up?

 

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Prince August 40mm homecast Cowboy and Indian either side of a slender 40mm  Schildkrot infantryman. On the right a cheap plastic 42mm pound store infantryman.

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Chatting to 42mm collector CT on my blog comments page, CT is exploring whether to use Schildkrot 40mm figures and how semi-flat they are.

By chance I have only one attractive Schildkrot figure and mould in my collection.

https://www.zinnfigur.com/en/Casting/Moulds/Schildkroet-oxid/

They are attractive figures, what I call semi-round or semi-flat and slender in stature compared to my 40mm semiround Prince August Holger Eriksonn mould Cowboys and Indians.

 

 

Compared to other 40 to 42  mm figures in my collection, they appear slender but the Schildkrot figures are an attractive but historically limited figure range. Fine for Little  Wars or Imagi-Nations type troops.

In my next blog post I will show my cheap plastic pound store 42mm figures compared to my few 42mm Irregular Miniatures metal figures.

Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN on his Pound Store Plastic Warriors blog, 19 September 2018.

Scratchbuilt Desert or Coastal Signal Tower

One of my recent boycraft or mancraft projects has been creating some kind of toy soldier style fortified tower out of this old Christmas clementines box, suitable for a range of scales of figures and scenarios.

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Suggestive window shapes …. salvaged wooden toy blocks … coffee stirrers …
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The original finest Christmas Clementines  (box) …

The box had a  wooden jointing that reminded me of recent mdf wargaming or fantasy gaming building.

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Its wooden lid is used for something else, but where it slotted into the box corners made these interesting Alamo type firing slits.

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This box base jointing reminds me of recent wargames or model buildings …

Add to this useful box a papier-mâché castle tower from Hobbycraft …. https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2017/05/02/hobbycraft-castle-tower/

and you have the germ of an interesting gaming building or terrain idea.

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Hobbycraft Papier-mâché Castle tower painted white acrylic. Prince August 40mm Cowboys.

Putting the tower together with the clementine box desert fort was something coincidentally suggested by Brian Carrick of the Collecting Toy Soldiers blog.

“Good idea for the Tesco clementines box, I still have one of those saved from Christmas, it seemed too useful to just throw away! It would work well with your new tower in the middle, like a North West Frontier hill fort.”

Trying this out, it was a tight squeeze to rebuild the balsa walkways around the tower base but it struck me that this could be some kind of defendable lighthouse, watchtower or semaphore station.

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19th Century semaphore station (http://www.portsdown-tunnels.org.uk/ancient_sites/telegraph_p2.html)

 

Having researched what semaphore stations would look like in the late 18th and early 19th century, I set about making a working semaphore using available wood and tools.

I don’t have a workshop, so balsa wood, coffee stirrers and craft knives are the extent of my woodworking tools.

Everything was roughed out and moved around in a ‘dry run’ before paint, wood stain and wood glue was used to finish off and fix things in place.

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Pound Land’s finest unpainted 30mm plastic figures … some of the box base holes were covered over with coffee stirrer ‘bricks’.

I wanted to make it suitable for a range of sizes from 30mm pound store plastic figures to 40mm homecast metal figures, even 54mm to soldiers at a push.

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40mm mostly homecast figures: The front gate section.

It proved quite difficult to photograph, being quite tall!

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54mm figures including a salute from my Gravatar Man of TIN figure!

The 54mm figures are a little on the big side but I wanted to make this in the toylike spirit of a simple toy fort such as I had as a child.

Despite the toylike simplicity, I also wanted it to have some kind of logic and extensive play possibilities. It needed to work as a design that could be worked and defended.

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Barricades on the (non-opening) gates made of coffee stirrers and a sandpaper base. 40mm Prince August cowboy figures. A little more whitewashing fatigue duties are required from the garrison to keep the tower ship-shape.

The central tower needed to be self sufficient, so has a well or water supply inside the tower (with lid).

Coffee stirrers stuck with UHU or superglue were cut and trimmed with craft knife and sharp scissors, roughly shaded then shaded or painted with a very thin coat of  Ronseal light oak wood stain.

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Guarding the water supply. The simple glass paper or sandpaper floor gives a quick gravel, desert or coastal sand floor feel whilst covering holes in the box floor.
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Hatch on the roof to repair the semaphore. Shutters on the light House or signal  tower.

A small hatch on the roof allows the defenders or signal crew to reach the roof to repair the semaphore.

Shutters mean that the lighthouse tower can be secured against enemy fire or the weather. They are (non-opening) shutters made from coffee stirrers, stained with light oak wood stain. One set of shutters is not glued to the wall, so that a LED battery tea candle light can be added into the top tower to develop the signal light or lighthouse scenario.

The chimneys let out heat from the lighthouse or signal light tower and lower living parts of the tower (toy soldiers need to cook and keep warm). The chimneys  were found in my spare parts box, originally kept to make thatched huts for 1/300 figures, are snap-off screw bits from fixing a couple of new toilet seats at home!

Smoke signals are another possibility using these signal fire chimneys.

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Naval Brigade Fimo / polymer clay hand-made 30mm figures.
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30mm type semi-flat British infantry Victorian homecast figures.

I wanted the signal tower to have different scenarios or functions, such as a coastal signal tower or one in the North West Frontier mountains, Wild West borders or French Foreign Legion desert.

I also wanted the tower to pass for anything between late 18th Century throughout 19th century and beyond and even into a future steampunk, VSF sci-fi scenario. This could then work with a range of periods, nationalities, scales of figures and Imagi-Nations.

Early British Semaphore stations  often had two watchers with telescopes, one looking in each direction to look towards the next beacon or semaphore / signal tower. Other staff would take down the codes or change the semaphore indicator boards with ropes and cables (not modelled).

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Coastal watchers – 54mm metal (on the left, recent Britains naval officer)

A defendable coastal signal tower would have its main door facing away from the sea, to make it more easily supplied and defended from the landward side. Beware foreign navies, marines, smugglers and pirates!

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Mocking up a coastal scenario, as a coastal signal tower manned and defended by a garrison of mostly Britain’s lead or metal toy soldier  naval crew.

I roughed out this tower as a coastal setting with the wall side showing, the slit window (originally a handle) shuttered against the sea, wind and attack from the sea edge.

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Inside the fort showing the seaward side window with removable shutters. One of the supporting blocks to the walkways has been sanded down, stained and ink-lined to suggest a storage locker.

Apart from some further white painting of certain areas inside the box, a few storage locker doors to complement the corner squares, this is almost complete for the time being.

I also need a flagpost or two.

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Not the sort of painter required to keep the signal tower whitewashed inside and out … 54mm Dorset Soldiers casting, part painted.

I enjoyed making this so much, I might make another one to create a small chain of them across the garden for summer games as needed. I will then be able to pass messages very slowly one letter or number at a time across the back garden wilderness or planet.

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In fact I could make and remake lots of versions of this, camouflaged lighthouse or radio stations, brassy steampunk versions, Roman lighthouses … but time, lack of clementines boxes  and space will not at present permit this.

I also have to work out a suitable toy soldier Popham type code book for my design of double semaphore indicator boards, using either letter or number combinations linked to key words in the code book.

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Telegraph Detachment, Post Office Rifles “Egypt  1882”. (1932 Cigarette card from the Royal Signals website https://royal-signals.org.uk/Datasheets/Telegraph.php)

Popham code books? Indicator boards? The next blog post to immediately follow is all about the semaphore and heliograph that I have  researched to make this coastal or desert signal tower.

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2017/05/17/by-heliograph-and-semaphore/

Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN 17 May 2017.