Unfortunately we had already eaten the rest of the packet of these ‘speculoos‘ or Spekulatius spicy Christmas ginger biscuits by this time, delicious seasonal picture biscuits which are:
“traditionally baked for consumption on or just before St Nicholas’ Day in the Netherlands (5 December), Belgium and Luxembourg (6 December) and around Christmas in Germany and Austria.” https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speculaas
Unfortunately we had already eaten the rest of the packet of these ‘spekulaties’ spicy Christmas ginger biscuits by the time I found this odd one.
I coated this biscuit with several coats of PVA, having thoroughly dried it out first on the heater.
I then painted this Revell Aquacolor Acrylic stone grey and mounted this into a wooden block, painted grey.
From High Priest to Princess / Queen in a few easy steps …
One of the challenges of toy soldiers made for modellers and not gamers is the “too many chiefs” problem.
The Chintoys 54mm Mixtecs and Zapotecs featured on my last post have several high profile, high ranking priests, warlords and officer figures with battle flags in each bag of 8 figures, not the rank and file “lumpen proletariat” of the PBI (poor bloody infantry) that you actually want.
It’s like having a Wellington or Napoleon on every sprue of Napoleonic figures or a free Hitler or Stalin on every WW2 German or Russian infantry one.
The Chintoys Mixtecs and Zapotecs are closely modelled on Angus McBride’s colourful plates in the Osprey book of Aztecs, Mixtec and Zapotec Armies.
So the solution to three Oracular High Priests is to paint one like the colour plate, keep one spare for a Celtic or Native Shaman in future and promote the third to a Mixtec Queen.
This striking Queen figure is shown in the colour plate but sadly not included in the Chintoys set.
The priest face and mask is not very feminine, nor are the massive sinewy muscly arms and giant hands but this priestly left arm and hand is transcribed from her Queen pose to the Priest in the Chintoys figures.
Cheap architect / railway civilian figure in hard plastic became the head donor
The challenge to behead or deface required sprue cutters and scalpel. A square of the priest’s face and jaw mask was removed and kept for further statue / carved pillar use.
I removed the head of the female civilian railway passenger (not often you get to type that sentence) from this figure in hard plastic.
The challenge was to trim and shave in small slivers with a scalpel the back of the female head down to a squarish face plate to fit onto the faceless priest – and not slice your fingers off at the same time.
The priest needed to have the face platform further trimmed back into the head.
Once I had the female face down to as thin as possible without damaging the front and the slot on the priest suitably trimmed back, I used a small hand drill to pin the new female face in place and superglued to secure it.
A colourful turban and hair was created to fill the edge gaps using kitchen towel and PVA glue.
The Princess / Queen figure had her arm in a different position holding an obsidian tipped spear rather than the blue stone club or war hammer in the Priests hand. I trimmed the arm off with sprue cutters, reangled with drill and pun and the shoulder gap filled with tissue paper / kitchen towel.
The muscly arm was slightly trimmed down to make it more feminine.
The war hammer was removed and the hand drilled to take a spear or staff. The obsidian blade tip was made with masking tape, the pompom was made from a shaved plastic flag or banner pompom section from another figure.
Her giant left hand still needs trimming or obscuring, possibly with bloodied cloth of a sacrifice?
Now with added Britain’s Zoo plastic Eagle …
A valuable and regal addition to my semi fictional ImagiNations ManoTINcas tribe.
For further information on each figure in the Angus McBride illustration, here are the plate notes by John Pohl the author (below).
From this I took the idea of her painted face, although I did mine on copper, not yellow pigment.
The turban around the hair intwined with coloured cloth and the obsidian blade were two other features that I took from this description and painting.
Along with the furious Spaniards / Conquistadors shown in my recent blog post, Alan Gruber of the Duchy of Tradgardland blog had kindly gifted me some opponents and forest fighters in the form of these 54mm Chintoys Mixtecs and Zapotecs from a unfinished project of his.
Alan thought they would enjoy protecting my Bold Frontiers tree forests.
As you can see from comparing the cover illustration by Angus McBride, some of the Chintoys figures are sculpted fairly faithfully close in appearance to the Osprey illustrations. Chintoys also make separate boxes of eight figures of Aztec and Mayan warriors (available online).
The original Jagaur and Eagle styled warriors both have great animal head dress – here are my Gull Warriors, stylish and stylised figures that look like carvings or Codex drawings.
Rather than be too specific to a historic period of the slightly confusing Mixtec and Zapotec enemies and allies of the Aztecs, I thought I would adapt the paint scheme slightly to form a new tribal opponents of the Spanish Conquistadors, the not so well known allied South and Central American tribes of the ManoTINcas and the ManoTINtacs led by their Priests and their Empress Queen Thatzyerlottal.
Some of these figures are ordinary warriors but too many of them for gaming are priests, officers and nobles, so I have tried through conversion to create a mixed skirmish force of more ordinary warriors.
I have created a more uniform tribal look by restricting myself to simple red stripes on the white maxtlatl loin cloth worn by most of the Warriors.
Alan had sent me several bags of these eight Mixtec figures so I had several of some of the Officer poses with spears and their battle flags strapped to their backs.
With a small skirmish force, I did not want too many officers and priests, so I cut down some of these feather banners to make more fighting men. I kept the feather crests and attached these by drilling, pinning and gluing this to the top of the head.
Many of the warriors are armed with the widely used South American Macahuitl wooden sword or club with obsidian volcanic glass blades:
Variations existed of this bladed weapon in the form of a obsidian bladed spear, the tepoztopilli.
Bowmen or Archers used arrows tipped with copper or obsidianvolcanic glass.
Some of the kneeling red clad figures withatlatlspear throwers shown on the Osprey cover were so stylishly modelled in such a stylised way that I thought they might become statues in a jungle temple. These were undercoated in stone grey paint.
This stylised statue look is not so surprising. Much of what we know of Aztec / Inca / Mayan life is from post Spanish conquest Codex drawings and carvings at their city sites.
However, being short of troops, I briefly considered if they could be stone warrior statues that might come to life when the Spaniards raided their temple. They remind me heavily of the Inca type figures in Tintin Prisoners of The Sun and Rascar Capac in Tintin The Seven Crystal Ballshttps://tintin.fandom.com/wiki/Rascar_Capac
Eventually on the same “too many chiefs, not enough Indians” logic, these stone warriors were reanimated with gloss paint treatment as live warriors – the original figures are Zapotec warlords with arrow thrower.
I have used bright Revell Aquacolor gloss acrylics, to try and match the more colourful aspects of feather crests and shields, as they are shown in the Osprey Aztec, Mixtec and Zapotec book and the Osprey Men at Arms 101 The Conquistadores volume , also with Angus McBride illustrations which also colourfully covers Aztecs, Mayans and Incas.
I wanted to keep my gloss paint, gloss varnish shiny toy soldier look for these unusual figures, including the stylised toy soldier face with a copper cheek dot in place of pink to match the darker skin tones (Revell Aquacolor Acrylic Mud Brown Gloss).
If Britain’s had made Mixtecs and Zapotecs, Aztecs, Incas and Mayans, I hope they would have come out of the factory looking this shiny and colourful.
The most striking figure in the Osprey Aztec, Mixtec and Zapotec Armies book is the Mixtec Oracular priest – sadly they didn’t make the Mixtec queen, so a duplicate priest figure had some cosmetic surgery. Literally a face lift!
I shall feature on a separate blog post how this spare Mixtec priest figure was changed into a Mixtec queen. I still need to work on ‘her’ overlarge left hand.
As mentioned, I have not painted these figures exactly as they are shown in the Osprey books. I have kept the shields simple with uniform yellow and purple round edge patterns.
As well as the colour plates in the Osprey books, I was also guided by the bold colours in one of my childhood library books (pictured below). I like the strong colours such as the bright green quetzal feather plume headdresses.
My first encounter with these exotic warriors was in Warriors and Weapons of Ancient Times by Nils Saxdorph. The short lived Peter Laing 15mm range of Aztec, Inca and Maya warriors came out a little too late for me in the 1980s to invest in this unknown period. Whilst they might all have been on the National Curriculum primary school world history from the early 1990s onwards, reduced to just the Mayans since 2014, we didn’t cover these ancient cultures when I was at school in the 1970s and 80s.
At some point soon these Meso-American Stone Age warriors with obsidian tipped blades will encounter these fierce Spanish Conquistadors with their crossbows, arquebus, war dogs and cavalry …
I like it when figures ranges overlap and have a dual use, it reduces the cost, time, painting and storage needed for skirmish games. It keeps it more in the spirit of my ‘Pound Store Plastic Warriors’ blog.
The Armada seamen will be converted and painted up from China made cheap seaside pirates, so whilst Chintoys are not cheap Pound Store figures, many of the other plastic figures will be Pound Store or cheap seaside plastic toy figures.
Wearing my Imagi-Nations hat (you can imagine yourself what this might look like) these fierce warriors can stand in for Central and South Generican tribal warriors in my Bronte juvenilia inspired renaming of the world. Meso-Generican then …
I hope you have enjoyed seeing these fascinating colourful figures as much as I enjoyed painting and converting them. Thanks again to Alan Gruber for sending them my way.
So there you go, that’s the Mixtapes …
Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN on this his Pound Store Plastic Warriors blog 27 November 2020.
It’s always the way that nobody quite makes the figures you want in cheap plastic 54mm …
Things have gone a bit 16th century here at Man of TIN Towers, thanks to the gift from Alan Duchy of Tradgardland Gruber of a handful of surplus 54mm Mixtec, Zapotecs and Conquistador figures (Chintoys). These are perfect for more Close Wars forest fighting amongst the forest trees. These figures are all steadily gaining bright shiny toy soldier gloss colours on the painting table.
Reading around the times I realised that a bunch of Conquistador Spanish could have several opponents, not least the Late Elizabethan Tudors.
The planned land invasions of the Spanish Armada of 1588 and the Spanish Raids on the West Country in the 1590s both had ‘skirmish’ potential of a relatively small handful of infantry or cavalry figures.
I have done a bit of quick reading around the Tudors, not least in a reprint of A.L. Rowse’s Tudor Cornwall (1941), written when Britain’s shores were again threatened by a different enemy. Rowse makes direct comparison of the late Tudor Cornish forces to the hastily improvised coastal defences and the squabbles and politics of the Home Guard, the WW2 equivalent to the ‘Muster’ and ‘Trained Bands’ in each County during the Spanish Armada invasion scares.
Could I put forth an Elizabethan equivalent of Captain Mainwaring’s platoon in Dad’s Army?
I must admit to some personal interest in this period and era as I can trace Cornish ancestry on one side of the family back to the West Penwith area of the Spanish Raids in the 1500s. Odd to think my farming ancestors may have seen the Armada ships and signal beacons along the Cornish coast, heard tell of the Spanish landings and town burnings of Paul, Nelwyn, Mousehole and Penzance or even mustered in motley defence of their local coastal towns.
54mm Late Elizabethan figures are quite scarce and often fairly expensive.
How best and cost effectively to put together an unfurnished or ill equipped Muster of Cornishmen to oppose these Spanish invaders?
My answer is to convert cheap plastic knights and medievals with paint, scalpel and masking tape. But what should they look like, wear and carry as weapons?
Unfortunately I know from a thread on the Little Wars Revisited 54mm forum that figures or spare recast heads with Tudor caps and Morions seem hard to find. Short of buying the Prince August Spanish Armada homecast chess set moulds, a little plastic conversion might be needed to make a poorly armed rabble.
Finding uniform information about ordinary Elizabethan Tudor soldiers, especially the local Muster, is a bit of a challenge. Only the better off commanders seem to have have left their portraits and images of their rich and fashionable clothes behind, not the ordinary West Country man.
Fortunately I did track down through EBay and second hand books shops the Osprey Elite book on the Spanish Armada and The Bluecoats: Clothing the Elizabethan Soldier 1572-1603 by David Evans. Along with a useful Academia / jstor article by John S. Nolan on The Muster of 1588, I was getting more of a picture of what ordinary Tudor levy and Muster troops would wear and what weapons they would carry.
During the Armada scare of 1588, bows and polearms were still carried by the Muster whereas the Trained Bands were more likely to carry pike and firearms such as an arquebus, caliver or early heavy musket.
By the 1590s Spanish Raids, fewer bows were evident in the national defence but then in the furthest poorest reaches of the West Country, bows and polearms would still have been around in good number. Training and weapons drill varied greatly across each county.
Many of the Levy troops to fight the wars in Ireland and the Muster and Trained Bands of the Armadas period seem to have been issued with blue Cassocks, tabards or coats. Some of them were in a lighter blue colour called Watchet Blue named after the town in Somerset. Most of the Muster would have worn their everyday working clothes and carried farming implements, much like the early Home Guard or LDV in WW2 parading before uniforms were issued.
Some of these medieval figures needed repair, changing a broken spear into a poleaxe for example using wire and plastic card. I want to give the impression that old equipment like a rusty old corselet breastplate or a metal skullcap has been dug out of cupboards and chests and hastily burnished up for the occasion.
A handful of English Civil War musketeers and Pikemen, drummers and standard bearers in my rummage box of figures should do double duty or dual use as the Trained Bands of the late Elizabethan era and also as ECW troops – only 50 years apart.
An interesting period of history and an intriguing Elizabethan Operation Sealion “what if” scenario of what if the Spanish had landed in force during the 1580s and 1590s.
Now a dozen or two more motley archers, men at arms and medieval types to convert from plastic still to see of those pesky Spaniards …