Toy Soldiers is an intriguing and funny little film, only six minutes long, made in Canada in 1999 (based around a toy soldier poem or anecdote by Al Rae), all about a young Al’s desire to own a certain rare cereal box toy soldier Teutonic Knight to complete his collection.
Synopsis – “A young boy, desperate to complete his set of toy soldiers, betrays a friend to get what he wants.” Creative team – Writer/producer: Catherine May Director: Jackie May
The figures are familiar Timpo figures, displayed on egg box plinths
Union American Civil War, Waterloo British, Indian Chief, Arab Warrior, Confederate Civil War, American War of Independnce British, Eighth Army, Waterloo Scots Piper, Waterloo Prussian …
and to complete the set the long sought Teutonic Knight who lived at the top of a Lego stand at the house of Brian, young Al’s rival collector who has a complete set.
These Timpo figures were familiar figures from my 1970s childhood, bought in Action Packs and recently reissued by Toyway (now shut).
Glasgow born poet writer and film actor Al Rae (who narrates the film and plays himself as an adult) now lives in Canada and is now known as Lara Rae, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lara_Rae “Lara Rae (born 1963 in Glasgow, Scotlan), formerly known as Al Rae, is a Canadian comedian, best known as the longtime artistic director of the Winnipeg Comedy Festival and as a performer on the CBC Radio One comedy series The Debaters…”
Hing Fat 54mm Samples group 3: The next instalment of painted Hing Fat 54mm plastic sample figures are these WW2 Italian infantry.
You may have read in my previous posts on WW2 French Infantry and WW2 Russian Infantry about how these arrived as a Lockdown gift from Peter Evans. These are spare sample figures – Peter imports these China Made figures and regularly sells sets of Hing Fat figures on his eBay shop figsculpt.
The whole unpainted Italian set in bright green plastic (!) can be seen on Peter’s eBay shop here:
Image: Figsculpt EBay site with permission.
I compared these Italian figures to the Airfix WW2 Italian Infantry which I painted in OOHO and 1:32 scale back around 1980. The latter larger figures are quite the collectors’ item now, due to a short production run.
Something about the gloves and jacket suggested snow clothing, so I checked out a suitable WW2 figure (albeit an Alpini?) Funcken’s Arms and Uniforms 18th Century to the Present Day – see further below.
The boots or legging on these Italian figures range from puttees to leather knee leggings. I like the contrast of the curious green grey leather of Italian equipment with the white snow jacket.
Hing Fat figures are toy soldiers, not military models. They are sometimes criticised for their over large weapons but these would survive vigorous play unlikesome more fragile figures.
One of the other figures has the curious soft fez headgear worn by blackshirts. Again in various uniform books, these are shown in Italian grey or desert khaki, so I opted for a desert khaki figure for contrast.
These fez figures would make some interesting Spanish Civil War conversions.
Finally the figure that look most like the Airfix poses, the lying down crawling whilst throwing a grenade action pose. I have amounted him on an MDF bases so you can see home more clearly and he can stand.
What took a while to track down before posting here were my Airfix Italian Infantry figures, not much used since they were painted c. 1980 / early 80s. I remember these coming out, a brand new set of Airfix figures, an exciting event worth saving the pocket money for.
Here to finish off are some comparison shots of Hing Fat and the nearest equivalent Airfix figures:
So an interesting set, worth a few sets acquiring for games or conversions.
Next week’s sample will be … a surprise. (I haven’t decided yet.)
Meanwhile check out the Hing Fat range on Peter Evans Figsculpt eBay site.
One of Steve Weston’s versatile Mexican peasants figures in a Tudor head-cloth
For those of you who wonder where the Arma-Dad’s Army 1590s Elizabethan Home Guard Project is going, here is my next addition to the Cornish Muster and townsfolk who oppose the Spanish Fury of the raids along the West Country coast.
‘Battling Aggie’ is a versatile Steve Weston Toy Co. Mexican peasant woman, easily adapted with a tissue paper or kitchen towel head scarf into a handy medieval and Tudor through the English and American Civil Wars to the Wild West.
Spanish Invaders – go home! Don’t look round, Don Pedro …
The original pirate or clone Matchbox figures and the Bush hat conversions. I shall paint in the desert / jungle cravat …
These Matchbox 8th Army copies were amongst some of the unlovely but cheap plastic, increasing distorted mouldings that I bought from now vanished local pound stores around 2005/6.
I am intrigued by the way that as figures are copied, they change slowly into the suggestion of different figures. Great for conversion potential?
These sandpit pound store knock offs of long unavailable Matchbox figures have continued to evolve or de-evolve with less and less detail into even thinner shadows of themselves.
‘Original’ unaltered pound store copies and my Bush hat conversions …
The bush hat conversions are made using a hole punched circle of card trimmed down to size and attached by PVA or UHU glue. These early crude attempts do have a unfortunate fashionable Edwardian ladies’ bonnet look.
Once varnished or sealed, they could be useful for sandpit games or garden gaming, as well as on the tabletop.
They may not be lovely copies but ..
Over the years, many of my original Airfix and Matchbox 1:32 figures have not survived various house moves and downsizing into adulthood, so these copies were a good way in 2005/6 to bulk up available gaming and conversion figures for a cheerful pound a bag.
There are cheapish, (not quite) pocket money alternatives out there again now, ranging from Hing Fat 54mm to reissued late 2021 Airfix (£9 a box for 14 figures or 65p each!)
Again, these are painted in simple or traditional toy soldier style in Revell Aquacolor Acrylics. These will then receive the shiny toy soldier gloss varnish treatment, which also protects them during handling.
How many kilted bagpipe Eighth Army figures do you need?
54mm Matchbox copy figures 2021?
If you search around online, you will find these Matchbox copies of four colour, four different nations Matchbox copies of German, Japanese, American and Eighth Army Infantry in its various incarnations or tubs. The Americans are widely available as reprints.
How many kilted bagpipe Eighth Army figures do you need?
These are attractive figures that remind me of Airfix and Matchbox, which I would happily have bought and played with as a child and that work well today.
I have painted these with glossy shiny toy soldier style with pink cheek dots but I have yet to gloss varnish these. These were painted using Revell Aquacolor Acrylics. My gloss spray varnish supplies nursed through Lockdown have finally run out.
Some lively Russian figures and a curiously posed rifleman, shooting from high up or aiming low.
I like the range of costume and headgear, as well as the one with shovel tucked into a belt, protecting the back? Armour plating?
Size comparison with 1:32 Airfix Russians that I painted and gloss varnished when I was a child.
One of my 45 year old Airfix Russians had a crumbling base and missing SMG barrel end, so this has been repaired with wire and a new MDF base. He lives to fight again alongside the new Hing Fat recruits.
Curiously the old Airfix 1:32 Russians are not currently in the Airfix winter 2021 rerelease / preorder. Previous releases are around secondhand online.
Hing Fat figures are a new brand to me – I wasn’t very familiar with Hing Fat figures other than the versatile pirates, which Brian Carrick turned into Chinese figures or a fantastic Maratha Indian army. I’m not quite sure if the seaside shop pirates I have bought are real Hing Fat ones or pirated clone pirates. There must be some irony there?
Sample Figures 1. WW2 French Hing Fat 54mm plastic figures
Sample French WW1 / WW2 figure No. 1
In the parcel were samples from a variety of figure ranges from Knights and AWI to WW2. The hard plastic figures are usually in a base colour relating to where they fought or their base uniform colour. They would withstand fairly rigorous play handling by children (and ageing garden gamers).
I thought I would start with the most unusual, which are the Hing Fat WW2 (or at a push WW1) French infantry in light blue plastic.
At first sight I thought this Poilu poses was pantographed up from the familiar OO/HO WW1 French Infantry by Airfix.
The full range of twelve poses of Hing Fat French WW2 figures can be seen here on Peter’s Figsculpt eBay site:
They wear greatcoats (the capote), puttees and the Adrian helmet without backpacks.
Paint notes: Revell AquaColor Acrylic – Horizon Blue uniform and helmet light blue gloss 361-50, for other equipment paint colours see paint notes figure 3 (bayonet fighter) below. Gloss varnish acrylic spray for that traditional simple shiny toy soldier finish.
Preben Kannik’s Military Uniforms of the World, my childhood branch library standard features this Belgian Infantry Officer in Khaki 1940.
Painted khaki rather than ‘les bleuets’ of the Great War, these Adrian helmeted French infantry could pass as Belgian as well as French Infantry. Maybe even WW1 Italians?
If you were not too fussy, many of these rifle wielding poilus and the officer and bugler could be used for WW1 French or late WW1 Belgians.
Similarly, if you were a 54mm wargamer not looking too closely at buttons, webbing and equipment, these would work for a range of other nations in WW1 and WW2 who adopted the greatcoat and Adrian helmet, as suggested below looking at a few uniform books.
My trusty Preben Kannik, Military Uniforms of The World suggests Belgian and French in WW2, wearing khaki greatcoats and Adrian helmets.
My battered Funcken WW2 Uniforms part IV volume suggest Free French Infantry WW2 and an interesting colonial French Moroccan Riflemen in Uniform in WW2 Part IV (see figure 3 below with bayonet)
Funcken WW2 part III has Norwegian forces in their Norway 1935 Pattern Helmet which looks a little like an Adrian Helmet. There is also a Navy blue great-coated French Navy sailors in Landing Rig. I don’t have Funcken WW2 Uniforms parts 1 and 2 yet.
The Funcken 18th Century to the Present Day volume shows “les bleuets” from WW1 and khaki Belgians in late WWI, along with khaki French and Belgians in WW2.
Let’s look at the other two sample figures, No. 2 and 3:
This almost war memorial poilu statue 54mm figure has a large Bren type LMG, probably the FM 24/29 French LMG (in service from 1924-60s and beyond. I cannot find information about a French stick grenade from WW2.
FM 24/29 type Light Machine Gun
The third sample figure was in the act of bayonet fighting.
My painted version of this 54mm figure in shiny gloss toy soldier style portrays this bayonet warrior as a French Colonial Moroccan Infantryman in Khaki overcoat:
French Colonial Moroccan Infantryman in Khaki overcoat WW1 / WW2 – Paint Notes – painted using Revell AqauColor Acrylic paints – Olive Green silk matt 361-36 for the uniform greatcoat and helmet, Mud brown gloss 361-80 for boots and leather equipment, Leather brown matt 361-84 for wooden rifle parts, Dark Earth matt 361-82 for face and Copper paint cheek dot. Gloss spray varnish finish.
Further Uniform Possibilities?
The two volumes of The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Uniforms of WWI and its WWII companion volume suggest various troops wearing the Adrian Helmet:
Various figure suggestions including the Polish Legion, Russian Civil War and various other conflicts including French Foreign Legion in khaki.
Belgium 1940 – khaki Infantry greatcoat and helmet with Belgian lion badge for officers, men and support troops.
France 1940 – khaki French greatcoat and Adrian helmeted colonial infantry such as African Tirailleurs Senegales and Zouaves (when not wearing a fez)
Some (Free) French Infantry were still wearing the Adrian helmet in 1944-45 with US or British uniform.
Polish lancers in 1939 in khaki, shown without greatcoats.
These figures could represent the unsavoury figures in dark blue uniform and Adrian helmet of the Vichy France (Gardes Republicaines Mobiles) paramilitary police so feared by the Resistance. They are shown in tunics without greatcoats.
The French WW2 soldiers are shown in my trusty childhood Ladybird Leaders book of Soldiers, illustrated by Frank Humphris:
I hope you have enjoyed this taster glimpse of these sample figures which I enjoyed painting. I think a box or two of these poilus might be on my Christmas list.
As you can see, some Hing Fat WW2 figures seem to echo Matchbox WW2 figure poses.
Size or scale wise as 54mm / 1:32 figures go, here are three of the Hing Fat WW2 sample figures against my ‘standard’ figures of Britain’s 54mm hollowcast and Airfix plastic 1:32.
Nest sample figures: Three Hing Fat WW2 Russian sample figures
B.P.S. Blog Post Script
These WW1 / WW2 French Infantry reminded me of the tantalising glimpse in a late 70s / early 80s Airfix catalogue that promised 1:32 WW1 British Infantry in soft caps, based on the OO/HO ones. Sadly, this never happened and was never again mentioned. Did I dream this one?