I was fascinated by the discovery by Tony (of the interesting Tin Soldiering On blog) of this type of crude wartime or postwar hollowcast figure, the plastic pound store warriors of their day, buried in the garden of the house he grew up in whilst digging the garden
He is about 54mm (2″) scale, I’m not sure where he has come from, my parents moved into the house in about 1946 shortly after it was built and I have lived here all my life and can’t remember ever owning him as a child so he is a bit of a mystery, but he will stand guard on my painting tray from now on … it ties in with the age of the house which was built just after the war, my mother and father moved in on his demob in 1946 I think . Tony, Tin Soldiering On blog
First is a three page spread by British illustrator Hilda Boswell (1903 – 1976) in watercolours, from her illustrated version of a Child’s Garden of Verses, published in 1963. The first two pages are a double page spread, broken down to page by page to see more details. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hilda_Boswell
Archaeologists of the future might see this toy soldier burial as some kind of strange ritual practice. (In my experience anything Archaeologists do not understand is linked to strange ‘ritual’ practice).
Her “Dumb Soldier” looks much like the 1960s Herald Plastic Guardsman I grew up with, first introduced in the early 1950s as plastics steadily took over from lead figures for children. So this Herald figure could easily have been the model.
The other illustration in my collection is from the late Brian Wildsmith (1930-2016), a well-known British illustrator.
My late Dad as a wartime child was given some ‘lost’ metal figures including a coronation coach dredged up from his father’s employer’s garden pond, presumably unwanted by the previous, possibly careless child owners. Long lost again many years beforei was born, I often thought of these treasures whilst launching amphibious assaults across our garden pond and then sometimes having to root around in the pond bottom mud for the heavier casualties.
I lost plenty enough small Airfix figures in the pile of builders sand we called a sandpit. Digging one into the lawn, however good his trench or fire pit, would have led to pretty quick decapitation by 1970s hovermower.
I was amazed and pleased to see that Wildsmith’s 1960s illustrated version of A Child’s Garden of Verses is back / still in print (Blackwells, 2017). So you can own a copy too!
I tested these out today in the sunshine on a duel game in my ground level sand table (also known as the sandpit) using Gerard Du Gre’s Duelling rules Lunge, Cut and Stop Thrust reproduced in ‘Wargaming in Bed’ – my favourite simple ideas chapter of Donald Featherstone’s Solo Wargaming (recently reprinted by John Curry). More about these duelling games in another post.
I was delighted to see an article on Garden Wargaming by Conrad Kinch in the most recent edition of Miniature Wargames 408, April 2017 Issue. It was enough to persuade me to buy the magazine.
The lack of coverage of Garden Wargaming is one thing I have been thinking about over the past year, especially as it turns again towards warmer weather.
I really enjoyed the garden wargames in the last post (14 September 2016)
Many a plastic fellow was lost in the trenches of my garden in the 1960s,many of whom had come free in Kellogg’s packets.
We had two tiers to our back garden separated by steep steps flanked on each side by a rockery. The bottom tier was where the trenches lay. The plastic soldiers would sometimes ascend the rockery and get lost amongst the summer snow ( white cascading plant) covering much of the rockery.
Comment from Alan, Tradgardmastre blog
Alan wins my “Best Garden Wargames Pun 2017” award for registering a blog page name for future posts about Garden Wargames called “By the Sward Divided“.
In keeping with the pound store plastic theme, this award medal for Alan should be shiny gold plastic and inscribed “Made in China”.
If you don’t instantly get the pun, there was a colourful but clunky BBC TV drama produced in Britain in the 1980s called “By The Sword Divided” about the English Civil War. This was around the time (and possibly the reason why) I started collecting Peter Laing’s 15mm English Civil War figures.
We must all have those early memories of ‘Lost Legions’ in the garden rockery and sandpit.
You must also be of a certain age to remember the free plastic figures in cereal packets that Alan mentions. Most of my cereal box figures handed down by family members were red guards and bandsmen, still in use in my 54mm games.
Alan’s comments about trenches and lost figures also remind me of an interesting poem in The Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson, author of the Yallobelly Times (described in Stevenson At Play) and other gaming inspired bits of writing.
54mm-ish WW2 or post war lead hollow cast, discovered in Bristol by Dave Hough, now in my collection.
I am quite puzzled why there are so few “garden wargames” blogs or blogposts out there and posted a thread about this on Mike Lewis’ Little Wars Revisited 54mm figure gaming forum http://littlewarsrevisited.boards.net
Tell your neighbours, if you must, that it’s a disabled accessible model village. That covers the “shame or chutzpah?” issue of being overlooked or literally looked down on by the neighbours, raised in the garden wargames questions and answers on the 54mm forum Little Wars Revisited.