BMC Plastic Army Women Update No. 3 September 2019

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A quick update from his most recent newsletter https://bmctoys.com/blogs/news/bmc-toys-plastic-army-women-project-update-3 on how Jeff Imel and his BMC Plastic Army Women Project is coming along, with tweaking of more realistic hairstyles under the GI style helmet and consideration of first and future poses.

It sounds like the first four female poses might be available in the US by “Christmas 2020”.

Hopefully they will be available in the U.K. without too heavy international shipping costs.

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The Good Guys and The Bad Guys?
Fascinating to watch the American News Channel interviews with Jeff Imel of BMC in his workshop and the young American girl who wrote to him about “why no Plastic Army Women?”, as she shows at home off her collection of plastic figures including the “bad guys” led by a skeleton and the “good guys”.

Thinking of Mitchell and Webb in their famous “Are We The Baddies?” WW2 sketch, this is what many of our historical and fantasy games so often boil down to – the good guys versus the bad guys (if you take sides, that is).

This is some part of the spirit of simple gaming that I aim to recover in my hobby. I’m sure H.G. Wells would approve of these ground-level plastic Little Wars, which he described as “a game for boys from twelve years of age to one hundred and fifty and for that more intelligent sort of girl who likes boys’ games and books”. Plastic Army Women would of course add an extra dimension to this Wellsian Floor Games mix.

Back to the figure designs:

It is fascinating to see the female figures evolving through the concept drawing into the early sculpt stage, shown here in these BMC copyright drawings (screenshots from the BMC website and email newsletters).
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After showcasing the revised female officer figure, Jeff Imel says in his latest email:
“I discussed the next figure, possible other poses, and worked out some details and timelines. The next figure will be standing and firing a rifle. This is a pose that I’m always told there aren’t enough of in sets and is always in demand when setting up a living room battlefield. This next figure will likely be a little less of an hourglass figure than the prototype. We’re going to try to have some different body types, faces and hair in the set instead of all the figures being identical characters. Speaking of weapons, I’m leaning towards an M14 for the rifles. I’m not aiming for 100% historical accuracy with this set, but I think the M14 will look good, and matches the uniform period well. The next figure will likely be prone firing a rifle, and I’m thinking of adding a scope and bipod to the M14 make her more of a sniper.”

I like the level he is approaching this as the best poses for the “living room battlefield” unlike some of the weird and useless poses from Airfix, Timpo and other plastic Army Men manufacturers.

Jeff says on his newsletter / email:

“Please continue to let me know your thoughts. I am behind on answering messages and comments, but I’ve read, and appreciate, all of them. I’ve heard all the requests for pre-orders and suggestions for specialty poses like radio operator and medic loud and clear (over). I’m considering a crowdfunding campaign in November as a way to take pre-orders and expand the figure selection.”

Here’s a link to the full update on the BMC Toys blog that is full of photos and recent news stories: https://bmctoys.com/blogs/news/bmc-toys-plastic-army-women-project-update-3

Sign up for the newsletter via the BMC website to keep informed of what is happening with this interesting BMC Plastic Army Women project. It adds more figures to the “believable female Miniatures” debates over #FEMbruary, Annie at Bad Squiddo’s quest for believable female gaming miniatures.

All screenshot images copyrighted from the BMC website.

Blog posted by Mark, Man of TIN, September 2019.

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Fantasy Plastic Warriors

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Not exactly Pound Store Plastic Fantasy Warriors  but a job lot picked up cheaply on EBay.
These figures are not to my knowledge usually sold in the UK so often have hefty shipping. There are multiple copies of each figure, which will allow flexible painting.

There are several female or androgynous figures in this set that might or might not  qualify as Pound Store Plastic Warriors blog contribution for #FEMbruary.

#FEMbruary is the online painting  challenge to find (and eventually paint) believable female gaming figures; some of these figures are almost heading  down the “chain mail bikini fantasy” road, depending how much bare flesh you choose to paint. https://leadballoony.com/2019/01/31/more-scumbos-and-the-fembruary-challenge/

Size: average 50-54mm except the dwarf / troll mid 40mms

Maker: ? Plastic. Base marked P2162-P1 China

Identified by James at Quantrills Toy Soldiers blog  as True Legends figures pictured here http://fantasytoysoldiers.blogspot.com/2014/09/toy-major-true-legends-mythical.html

I have  six types of these generic fantasy figures, plus the picture explains where a spare dragon and two trees came from.

1. The Sorceress, Princess, Queen Enchantress with ice cream staff

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2. The Screaming  Sorceress Enchantress Crone with Club  and Skull belt

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3. The Hunky Male (or Female?) Archer

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4.  The Hunky Male Conan type Barbarian swordsman with flowing locks and armoured loincloth

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5. The Angry Dwarf or Giant Troll depending on scale

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6. The Slinky Female Warrior with double swords

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Shades of crop top Tomb Raider here … would suit Ninjas.

A useful 50-54mm set, especially with some duplicates to paint up for different periods.

I can see these suiting Duelling games, Space games … another set for the painting table, but maybe not this #FEMbruary.

Any clue as to maker welcome.

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN on Pound Store Plastic Warriors, 24 February 2019

Pound Store 42mm farm

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Simple and attractive  box art

Found this on my travels in a National Trust gift shop for the not strictly pound store price of £4.50 (but hey it’s for charity). Pound store bizarreness and  quality though!

It is available online too https://shop.nationaltrust.org.uk

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What you get squeezed remarkably into one small box 

I look at these play sets part with the eyes of the child I once was and part with the slightly more adult eyes of the gamer and figure converter.

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The National Trust shop product shot on their shop website. 

The calves are small enough to be cows in a smaller railway or gaming scale.

The piglets are pleasingly stocky and wild boar like (lunch for Obelix and Asterix).

The rabbits (?!?)  are just plain bizarre. The chickens and ducks repainted are good for farm vignettes.

The wobbly fencing would make good corrugated iron panels at smaller scales.

What I find most fascinating are the cloned farm figures which are in that indeterminate 40 to almost 50mm sizing. They are in slightly soft plastic, rather than hard and brittle.

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Figures to scale. A surprisingly buxom wench (left). The Winston Churchill /  farmer is equipped with pipe, whip or crooked stick and shotgun, proper “get off my laaand!” stuff. 

 

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How the mini farm set fits with 42mm figures (Irregular Miniatures WW2 British tommies). Armed Inspection by the Ministry of Ag, looking for illegal hidden  pigs? Saving the Nation’s Bacon!

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Throw in a slightly battered vintage car and you change the character of the farmer –  a  junk shop find of Ford Model T Yesteryear model  in the process of being repainted khaki to a staff car. 
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It all packs back inside the building and into the box – neat! Great as a child for holidays.

I think the figures will repaint well enough for civilian figures, as will the outhouse repainted to a small distressed farm outhouse. It is a clone of Britain’s Plastic small farm buildings that I still have.

Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN, 2 September 2018

The Mini Farm set is manufactured by www.keycraft.eu, an interesting low cost plastic toy trade retailer with lots of business retail insights on their website. The Sceince of Impulse Buys? Note:  Trade only.

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The Science of Impulse Buying – Who could fall for impulse buys of such low cost, brightly packaged toys? 
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Keycraft import the usual suspects – repackaged copy Matchbox US infantry clones (with no enemy) sold by several outlets including book shops.

 

 

Colonial Amazons: Women Soldiers of Dahomey and Siam

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Women warriors of Dahomey from a Victorian print

Looking for #FEMbruary inspiration, I found in my scrapbook an old Victorian photograph of the King of Siam’s ornate bodyguard. I wanted to know more about these exotically costumed figures.

Looking around for more information I found more inspiration for my possible Pound store figure conversions to celebrate  #Fembruary and female figure in our collection https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2018/02/09/fembruary-hobby-challenge-conversions/

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From my scrapbook,  Victorian  photograph by  John Thomson of the King of Siam’s female bodyguards in Bangkok.

I found a fascinating article by Mike Dash on the King of Dahomey’s female bodyguard  that also mentioned the King of Siam’s female bodyguard:

https://mikedashhistory.com/2011/09/23/amazons-the-king-of-dahomeys-all-woman-army/

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Dahomey is now known as Benin and these were the “only female soldiers in the world who then routinely served as combat troops.”

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As Mike Dash writes “Dahomey’s female troops were not the only martial women of their time. There were at least a few contemporary examples of successful warrior queens, the best-known of whom was probably Nzinga of Matamba, one of the most important figures in 17th-century Angola—a ruler who fought the Portuguese, quaffed the blood of sacrificial victims, and kept a harem of 60 male concubines, whom she dressed in women’s clothes.”

Other Warrior Queens?

There are several websites linked to African Warrior Queens. The Kingdom of Fon had female Regiments in the 19th Century https://uncensoredopinion.co.za/african-queens-series-ahosi-female-military-regiment/

https://uncensoredopinion.co.za/african-queens-series-queen-amina-zazzau-west-african-warrior-queen/

https://uncensoredopinion.co.za/african-queens-series-queen-iyoba-idia-world-renowned-warrior-queen-first-queen-ancient-benin-kingdom-nigeria/

With so many different types of female Warrior, a Generic female warrior troop is probably the best response to the FEMbruary challenge using Pound Store Plastic figures.

But what about the Siam Warrior Women? 

“Nor were female guards unknown; in the mid-19th century, King Mongkut of Siam (the same monarch memorably portrayed in quite a different light by Yul Brynner in The King and I) employed a bodyguard of 400 women.”

“But Mongkut’s guards performed a ceremonial function, and the king could never bear to send them off to war.”

Dahomey Amazons in Action

Mike Dash made the distinction between these ceremonial female troops and the Dahomey warriors.

“What made Dahomey’s women warriors unique was that they fought, and frequently died, for king and country. Even the most conservative estimates suggest that, in the course of just four major campaigns in the latter half of the 19th century, they lost at least 6,000 dead, and perhaps as many as 15,000. In their very last battles, against French troops equipped with vastly superior weaponry, about 1,500 women took the field, and only about 50 remained fit for active duty by the end.”

Who had heard of this one, The First Franco-Dahomean War“, certainly a new one to me, “which ensued in 1890, resulted in two major battles, one of which took place in heavy rain at dawn outside Cotonou, on the Bight of Benin”, quoted from Mike Dash’s article. This pitted French colonial troops against male and female Dahomey troops.

More pictures including coloured veteran postcards can be found at this website: http://solarey.net/dahomey-amazon-women-benin-west-africa/

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Veteran Amazon warriors from Dahomey – a coloured or tinted postcard giving some idea of colour scheme for clothing.

Further staged photographs and dramatic battle pictures can be seen here:

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Dahomey women and men warriors at  a French Exposition Exhibition c. 1911

http://www.africanamerica.org/topic/fon-people-benin-s-empire-builders-of-the-past-kingdom-of-dahomey-and-an-unrepentant-practitioners-of-voodoo-religion

 

So what of the King of Siam’s Female Bodyguard?

From the Daily True Delta newspaper, New Orleans, USA, March 15, 1857

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These details seem to tally with John Thomson’s photograph (below).

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The photograph came from torn out part of a magazine page in my scrapbook of a tiny picture by John Thomson, Victorian pioneer photographer. (Stephen White wrote the featured book on Thomson). Exotic, fantastic and ceremonial uniforms. Part of the Victorian and ongoing fascaination with the exotic and the Orient.

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Famously Mongkut the King of Siam offered elephants to the US President for use as heavy transport in the American civil War, featured in The King and I film

https://www.civilwar.org/learn/primary-sources/lincoln-rejects-king-siams-offer-elephants

The idea of these women duelling in front of the other splendidly dressed women soldiers clearly caught the attention of the American journalist for the Daily True Delta newspaper in 1857. This would fit with the Gerard De Gre / Bartitsu duelling rules that I featured last year.

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2017/04/28/more-duelling-inspiration-bartitsu/

Some of these ideas can be brought into creating a fictional women’s troop made from Pound Store Plastic Warrior Conversions. They would serve well for Bronte inspired Imagi-Nation troops in the Pacific or African realms that the Bronte family created as part of their Gondal, Angria and GlassTown sagas.

So as  part of my FEMbruary challenge on Pound Store Plastic Warriors blog, I will be attempting to turn this Poundland penny dreadful Plastic Warrior into a Generic Amazon warrior within the next few weeks? Tissue paper, PVA, Scalpel at the ready.

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2018/01/28/pound-store-plastic-warrior-conversions-and-comparisons/

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This pound store plastic figure has a suitable ‘hairstyle’ and with some tissue paper robes, which  should make a female Warrior with spear or sword. The breast pockets or pouches even add to the appearance of what Donald Featherstone coyly calls “feminine attributes.”

Blogposted by Mark Man of TIN blog on his Pound Store Plastic Warriors sister blog site, FEMbruary 15 2018

 

#FEMbruary challenge for Pound Store Plastic figure conversions?

 

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Pictured: Some interesting old metal female civilian figures to match my usual 32-36mm Pound Store Plastic soldiers, found in a job lot of figures, previously shown at  https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2017/11/15/a-good-size-match-for-my-36mm-poundland-warriors/

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A Westair metal WREN (WW1? WW2?) on first left.

My #FEMbruary challenge on Pound Store Plastic Warriors?

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2018/02/09/fembruary-hobby-challenge-conversions/

Ross Macfarlane of The Battle Game of the Month blog wondered what my Pound Store version of my #FEMbruary challenge might be?

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Interesting ideas – not sure what #FEMbruary Pound Store figure conversion I might attempt yet.

Looking back through this blog there are a fair number of female plastic figures ranging from pirates to space princesses, pioneer women and native Americans, zoo staff and visitors, to police officers.

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2016/09/06/first-blog-post/

What female gaming figures might you paint up or convert for #FEMbruary?

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One of Steve Weston’s plastic Mexican Civilians who may well become a suffragette this FEMbruary.

The FEMBruary challenge seems to have started at the Leadballoonery blog.

Blogposted by Mark Man of TIN on 9th FEMbruary 2018

Pound Store Pirate’s Moll

This is the excerpt for a placeholder post.

 

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This scary looking female comes in a set of cheap painted pirates often found in toy stores and seaside shops.

She comes with some interesting protection tucked away in her hands behind her!

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This female figure could be repainted in a variety of ways to suit different periods from  17th Century pirates to Wild West and even Gothic, fantasy, vampires, steampunk and Sci-Fi scenarios.

Civilian or female figures are often hard to find in pound store plastics.

I have repainted the base colour on her face as she had some strange gothic black eye paint in her factory original paint state.

Posted by Mr. MIN, Man of TIN, September 2016.