This was a welcome recent gift from a family member, a £1 gift bag picked up from a British Heart Foundation charity shop.
Let’s look at the figures and bits in more detail:
There were some interesting 50mm cowboys that I don’t recognise (top row) , alongside China copies of Airfix cowboys. It was thought by the gift giver that they might possibly convert into Boy Scouts?
I would be curious to know which maker made the two top row cowboy poses.
The Indians or Native Americans appear mostly 50mm versions, possibly based on Airfix or Britain’s Deetail Indian poses.
They make fairly good generic tribesmen with swords, rifles, spears and shields. These weapons could be removed or converted as needed.
A small amount of repair is required in places as these figures are a bit bashed and well playworn.
Interesting as the figures were, the best parts of this pound were the accessories.
These are versatile accessories such as a cooking pot on a tripod over a log fire, an animal leather skin stretched out and the slightly more Native American weapons and shield tripod or wooden frame.
Mixed in were a few common plastic bushes and some interesting plastic trees that look like copies of older metal or lead trees.
The log fires are handy, they could be used in any age (or scout camp).
The third pole with a hole near the top is a bit flimsy or easily breakable but works for the weapons stand or pot hanger. A long thin dowel or cocktail stick could stand in for this flimsy pole to make up the spare accessory tripods.
A good find as buying these accessories new or vintage in metal would be reasonably expensive.
Many of the trees, figures and accessories have flimsy or minimal basing, so could do with a suitable mdf sort of base.
As befits the scraps from someone else’s toybox, there is also a stray fence or gate panel and steering part of a wagon. All useful for the bits box!
So there you are, a pound donated to a worthwhile charity, a welcome gift and some helpful recycling of vintage non-SUP (single use plastic).
This charity shop find of a couple of dozen bashed figures came to me as a gift from family.
I imagine they are the ragtag odd mixed bag of someone’s small army. Enough to make two small army squads of red-brown / tan versus everyone else?
They are obviously battle scarred and playworn veterans!
I found these figures interesting as they are mostly copies of Airfix and Matchbox figures. As they have slowly being copied (in Hong Kong / China?) over the last forty plus years, they have slowly shrunk and changed into different figures.
Not a maker’s mark among them either.
Airfix Eighth Army figures are 40mm – 50mm
In the same mixed parcel was other Matchbox copies and a couple of small but slightly larger Airfix copies, shown next to the smaller cousin. I have included the sole probably genuine Airfix figure, the 54mm German submachine-gunner figure for scale.
These bashed and limbless Matchbox copies were around in seaside pound shops c.2007 and still seem to emerge from time to time, getting thinner and more brittle (hence the missing limbs?)
These limbs and weapons might need a little repairing.
These white copies of Airfix German Infantry are slowly changing into squat Generic Infantry. The distinctive “coal scuttle” stalheim helmet is changing, becoming oddly more British or American.
The lying down figure who used to feed the Light Machine Gun is now a distinct figure in its own right, the magazine box in the right hand for the LMG has morphed into a very strange object in its own right.
The officer figure is getting shorter and squatter but still full of character!
Some nice modern American troops and Officer, one or two a bit bashed.
These look like TimMee / BMC / Toy Story sort of stuff. I like the baggy clothes and helmet covers.
The other figures are a curiously mixed bunch of figures and sizes, again with the 54mm Airfix German for size comparison.
Some Matchbox American Infantry copies in two different sizes and colours, and a few of those modern US Infantry / Rambo types.
Lining them up in height order from 54mm Airfix at the right shows how they have shrunk and thinned down over the years of copying.
Last but not least, one of those handy Khaki figures that could be a modern desert warrior, Special Forces / SWAT team or space marine.
Nothing much new in the online Pound stores this year? 2020/21
What with ongoing Covid restrictions I have only been into pound stores a couple of times on the high street only for ‘target: toy section’ for a minute or two.
And visits to charity shops, jumble, steam fairs, junk markets? None.
This paucity and Covid drought of penny dreadfuls and plastic tat has been relieved partly by some kind donationsfrom blog readers of old unwanted Airfix figures, some great samples of Hing Fat 54mm figures from Peter Evans and also from strategic reserves laid down in the past.
These strategic reserves are laid down according to my Pound Store Plastic Warrior wise hoarding maxims –
1. “Buy them when you see them, they’re sometimes only around for a short while”
2. “They’re only a pound”.
3. “You may not need them now, but in the future …”
2020/21 saw a couple of games using Pound Store plastics ranging from snowballing fights of Yukigassen in August …
To an RLS “Land of Counterpane” game in April on an old squared blanket …
Some curious Pound Store conversions, padding out the more expensive Chintoys plastics or old lead …
October 2020 onwards: My Arma-Dad’s Army Elizabethan muster or militia Home Guard 1588 1595 slowly builds using Pound Store knights
This of course having Spanish Fury Conquistadors and Armada troops means Aztec types are a natural match or extension (Peter Laing style ‘dual use figures’ )
With found cheap scenery from scrap … inscribed stones, temple steps, obelisks …
The Super Cheap Wargaming group on Facebook has been good for such affordable scrap terrain ideas as well.
Sometimes my Pound Store Plastic Warriors posts crossposted material or projects from my Man of TIN blog (main blog) or linked to these including:
Fembraury – The new BMC Plastic Army Women becoming Women’s Revolutionary Army of Parazuellia, part of the 1960s Morecambe and Wise comedy film The Magnificent Two whose other government and rebel troops will be padded out with Pound Store GI copies …
January 2021 – Scrap modelling Edwardian style with E Nesbit’s Wings and the Child on the building of Magic Cities
and January also involved archive history research to identify more about H.G. Wells’ connections, family and friends involved in playing his Floor Games and Little Wars c. 1911-13. Well our Pound Store Plastic Warriors strapline is “Little Wars on A Budget”.
Who knows where 2021 and 2022 will lead us?
Thanks for reading and following.
Blog posted on my Fifth Blogaversary 13 September 2021
These pound store figures are either small copies of the Airfix 1/32 US Infantry or those familiar poses which were scaled down by Airfix themselves to make up part of the newer version mid to late 1970s Version 2 US Marines (still available at Airfix.com or stockists)
Although I researched the women who saw this happening, it appears to be mostly Edwardian men who would happily be found stretched out on Wells’ lawn or nursery floor, firing spring loaded cannon at lead toy soldiers. This sometimes, according to the tongue-in-cheek Wells, brought “disdain” from lady visitors who did not see the imaginative play going on at floor or garden level.
Some gamers of players with toy soldiers would say that not much has changed 100 years later if middle aged men are glimpsed crawling round their floor or garden in pursuit of toy soldiers. Or worse still, their front garden …
Gardens and floors seem a natural home for toy soldiers.
Ever since I was a small boy in the early 1970s, I have left toy soldier figures in the garden “on Patrol”, usually a three man Patrol Post or Observation Post OP tucked away in a flower bed or safe area, safely away from being dug up, trampled or mown down.
Each three man Patrol had the following usual figures:
One officer or someone with binoculars, armed
One radio man, armed (usually a bit of a scarcity per box in early Airfix or Matchbox)
One rifleman, SMG or LMG infantryman for Patrol protection
These were usually unpainted plastic 54mm figures. Sometimes these would be WW2 troops, sometimes Cowboys or Civil War figures (despite the lack of radios) and occasionally even knights.
Each of these 3 Man teams (in threes, like Lighthouse Keepers) had a way to communicate with each other or raise the alarm, some firepower to defend themselves and their OP and enough men to have at least one sleeping whilst others were on watch.
My late Dad took a slightly dim view if I left the same figures out on Patrol, neglected for weeks or months. It made sense. More regular changeovers of personnel kept the garden and these Patrol Posts tidier.
Usually in my childhood garden, a small stone base was made for the Patrol Posts with flat stone or slate walls, roof and floor base. Small palisades of wood or twig log piles completed the defence. Some kind of plastic stores box was usually included of “food” and “ammunition” such as Britain’s farm sacks or Airfix sandbags.
Inside the house up in my room would be the HQ team, such as the little travel box three man Patrol that I take away on holiday and travels – to keep in touch by radio with ‘home’ and teams in the field.
It’s odd but I still find that keeping the three man Patrol out there provides a calming link back to my childhood games, my late Dad’s vanished flower garden and our shared playful interest in toy soldiers.
I liked the Borrowers scale thing, the threat of giant garden wildlife like snails and other minibeasts, the military birdwatching. RLS’ poem The Dumb Soldier captures this well – see also later for a brief quote from the poem:
The OP has changed from this safari / zoo animal walkway tower to an odd little house that I picked up about 15 years ago in a pet shop. Italian plastic, originally designed as a rodent hamster type house, sadly I have not seen them since. The label says Casetta per Criceti or a Hamster house (see B.P.S. Blog Post Script)
I liked it straightaway for its white walls and pantile roof. Instant Mexican cowboy town or Mediterranean village hut.
This pet shop where I found this house was a few doors away from a now closed independent pound store where I bought lots of pound store plastic soldier figure packs (Cowboys, Indians copies of Airfix with wagons, pirates, those 60s divers and sea creatures). Another pound store full of plastic tat, vanished and sadly missed …
I have always liked my Patrol or OP posts to have a certain kind of internal logic to them, otherwise they are just useless and silly. So as part of this, the pantiled roof house OP has a rigging type plastic ladder to the roof.
The boat at the foot of the cliff is their Patrol transport in and out of the situation and route of resupply, if not by air. A rope ladder links the house plateau with the river below. Supplies are winched up on ropes and stored in the house. It all makes its own kind of (non)sense.
The blue cowboy in my retiring three man Patrol in the pictures is one such Airfix clone, the blue speedboat in pictures below from a divers underwater play set kit. You got a lot more plastic tat for your pound 15 years ago.
The retiring Patrol after weeks to months in the field (in winter I forget don’t change figures as regularly) are a mix of figures, (what I now know are) some pirate cloned playset Tim Mee USA infantry, * the BMC clone US marine radio man and the blue Airfix clone cowboy. All expendable beach, garden or sandpit plastic figures.
Now in 2021, expendable plastic army men based on cloned Tim Mee, Airfix and BMC figures are being replaced by –
Having used up all these spare Multipose weapons, I noticed that there is a handy rifle on the trusty old Britains Herald Cowboy raft cargo boxes. That then is the weapon for the radiowoman – my internal logic says that is so.
A supply barrel (old barrel bead or button) is glued to slate to stop it blowing away. These stores will be packed away into the house whilst this new Patrol gets settled in.
The Patrol house OP has a handy removable red tile roof, but no closing doors or window – so I will assume that there are internal door and shutters. I like the ability to poke a toy soldier rifle out of the window. The house itself is expendable but this one has withstood many frosts and storms (sometimes the roof blows off in very bad weather!)
The Patrol house OP is a pale imitation of those excellent Timpo Wild West plastic buildings of our childhood that now go for such extortionate sums on eBay, even with the working closing doors missing. Timpo buildings would now be too old, brittle and valuable to be left outside in all weathers anyway.
At some point these patrols may mingle and we may have a mixed Co-Ed Patrol, out in the wilderness for weeks and months on end. For now, we will have single sex patrols.
Who knows what they will see, night and day in the wilds of the Yarden or Garden. We might need to alter RLS’ The Dumb Soldier slightly:
“She has lived, a little thing,
In the grassy woods of spring;
Done, if she could tell me true,
Just as I should like to do.
She has seen the starry hours
And the springing of the flowers;
And the fairy things that pass
In the forests of the grass.
In the silence she has heard
Talking bee and ladybird,
And the butterfly has flown
O’er her as she lay alone.”
Alone? Well, maybe not, as there are three highly trained and well equipped Plastic Army women out there anyway, but you may be alone on watch.
The travelling Box HQ three man team remain the same indoors and should now be in radio contact with the new three woman Patrol.
“Come in, Garden Patrol … come in, Garden Patrol.”
The retiring three man Patrol team await a debrief on their return, before a wash and brush up and some well earned leave.
Anyone else have any strange toy soldier superstitions or strange family traditions to do with their toy soldiers?
Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN on 13 March 2021
B.P.S. Blog Post Script
Below – some Casetta per Criceti or Hamster House examples online 2021, but not my exact pantile roofed example.
Hamster or mouse houses in wood or plastic – search around, there are some interesting small house examples online. Hamster or small rodent houses are a source of some possible garden wargames houses or cottages. They may prove an alternative to the converted bird box or the useful aquarium ornaments, something to look out for whilst browsing the pet store ?
Childishly delighted to discover that Airfix are rereleasing six of its classic 1:32 54mm plastic WW2 infantry and paratroop sets for Germany, Britain and America – the toys of my childhood available again – preorder Summer 2021
Classic figures – 64p each or 14 for £9.00 – preorder for Summer 2021.
Pound Store and cheap playset copies of Airfix figures
Now we can play again a fun and fascinating toy shop or pound store plastic warrior sort of game called “Spot The Airfix Original Figure!”
Interesting to have the original figures available again – many of the poses of German or American Infantry and British Paratroops are commonly found pirated, copied and cloned for Pound Store and seaside plastic toy soldier play sets.
Interesting blog post by Scotia Albion about a recent series of YouTube videos by Tom a young wargamer talking about budget ways for a young gamer of getting into historical wargames (as well as Sci-fi and D&D). For example:
Popped in with my Christmas parcel from our upcountry family in 2019 was this lovely £1 bag of plastic soldiers and tanks.
They are the remnants of a playset style bag from a charity shop, picked up pre-Lockdown in late 2019. They were popped in alongside our Christmas presents as padding or packing in the Christmas parcel before posting. Who needs bubble wrap?
Please note: These were photographed in the poor light of Winter 2019 / 2020. I don’t think I posted these then for some reason.
Larger copies of familiar Airfix figures in two colours
Figures seen here in size order compared to the size of an original 54mm Airfix WW2 British Infantryman.
Again the slight size difference in the same bag of the same poses is interesting … two different factories? Two different mould tools?
Arriving without a header card, a bit of web research and toyshop browsing reveals that these Airfix figure and tank copies are HTI figures, made in China.
Similar bags are still available July 2020 in toy shops, post offices and seaside stores or from online suppliers such as here at Amazon, including with good copies of the Airfix pre-assembled OOHO Centurion tank.
I think that’s enough publicity for buying these here from Amazon (July 2020) for one post.
Buy them where you see them and certainly support your local toy shop.
Just seeing the wonky mixed scale content of these playsets so attractively photographed gives me simple childhood joy.
I really like the running infantryman figure, it originated as the advancing Airfix German infantry man with rifle but in the process of copying over forty to fifty years has become more generic, simpler and smaller. It now has more of a traditional toy soldier look, especailly if painted up in gloss toy soldier paint style.
I can never have enough of these running plastic toy soldier figures!
The smaller running rifleman or standing rifleman is just under 38-40mm from base to the top of his helmet (or if you measure to the eyes about 35-36mm)
The larger running rifleman is about 42mm from base to top of helmet, 38mm to the eyeliner, which is the usual size that I have encountered these before on these smaller figures. Quite a size drop from the 54mm Airfix originals.
This brings these broadly into line with 40mm Prince August figures for example.
Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, January / July 2020.
These two groups of generic Marine Infantry are loosely based on two different sources:
1) L & F Funcken, Uniforms of WW2 page showing German sailors in landing rig and grey steel helmets.
2) the Russian Navy Marine Infantry or ‘Black Devils’ as the Germans called them after their dark navy blue uniforms. Other equipment like packs and helmets were Russian Army Green.
A page from An Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Uniforms of World War Two
They were undercoated in a blue- black acrylic mix. Painting was kept very simple, the kind of painting you did with Airfix figure as a child in the 1970s. They usually already had the basic uniform colour plastic. Face, rifle, packs, boots and base painted.
Otherwise no wash, no fuss, just a green painted washer for a base. Simple.
These new dark blue figures can join in ImagiNations skirmishes with or alongside existing Verdan or Grizan troops.
Grizan versus Verdan forces can be seen in this Interwar border skirmish:
Four groups or units of figures so far – this still leaves me with over a hundred more green and grey basic figures for future projects and groups (albeit with a whole fiercesome unit which will be made up of bazooka men and officers waving pistols!)
This recent gift was (I think) bought last year from a seaside gift shop, part of the Combat Mission branding that we have featured elsewhere on this Pound Store Plastic Warriors site. However it can be found online for around £5 including delivery.
The tiny Airfix sized OOHO or 1:72-1:76 2cm type figures are clones or copies of two familiar Airfix figure sets of American Infantry (4 poses) and British Paratroops (2 poses).
They have muted details but are not too distorted with minimal flash and have good bases. Even without vehicles, these 200 odd figures would be 1p to 2.5p each.
Being a cheaper play set, both sides of German / Grey and American / Green troops use the same moulds / figures. Ditto the jeeps and tanks. They all make good enough generic WW2 / modern infantry and vehicles.
Green troops have a radar or searchlight jeep, along with a small multiple rocket launcher.
If you don’t want to use the flag-post mound for its intended purpose, it can become infantry cover.
Overall this is good (play) value, as you can buy these playsets online all in for about £5 and free delivery.
Given that you have 203 figures in my set, approximately four boxes of Airfix figures, this would cost you in the shops about £20. Add in the hard plastic tanks and jeeps similar to the Airfix ones from the 1970s, this £5 set proves good value to the young and not so young gamer.
Quantity has a Qualityall of its own, someone once said. “The phrase has been popular in the US defense community since the 1980s, sometimes acknowledging it as a US coinage, but often misattributing it to Clausewitz, Lenin, Stalin, and Brezhnev, but mostly to Stalin.” http://klangable.com/blog/quantity-has-a-quality-all-its-own/.
As poses go, we have a fair share of each of the poses but this leads us to having too many pistol waving (American Infantry) officers and too many (American Infantry) bazooka men. Obviously you can reuse pistol guy in other roles as vehicle crew etc. That saying, Airfix and other plastic figures have their fair share of useless diorama poses in each box.
One of the typical play set minus points for some is the weird period mix and oddities of scale. These are generic WW2 and postwar figures next to a WW2 type tank and WW2 or postwar type jeeps but the modern odd one out is the secret Stealth type jet.
If you are role-playing a pound store WW2 skirmish rerun of Germany versus Britain and America, this could be a prototype or experimental Me262 type variant jet fighter.
If you are role-playing Green versus Grey in your ImagiNations scenario, again it could be a top secret stealth fighter etc.
The German / American branding is fairly fluid, depending on which bag you get. Other versions of the same figures and vehicles can be found online with desert tan and green troops, marked by flags as Americans and British!
It is the sort of playset that I would have been happy to have bought with my pocket money as a child and even today as an adult gamer, I could enjoy this for what it is.
I might rebase the figures. I might remove the stickers and even add a lick of flesh paint, maybe some brown or black paint on boots and weapons. But I will enjoy them for what they are.
Blogposted by Mark Man of TIN on Pound Store Plastic Warriors, 23 June 2020.