Two slow burner female figures that have been stalled on the Painting Table but finally finished for #FEMbruary 2022, that celebration of the believable female figure in our modelling and gaming collections.
#FEMbruary 2022 figure No. 1 this month featured an introduction to #FEMbruary and this skater girl,
#FEMbruary 2022 figure No. 2 – The Generic Empress or Queen
You can glimpse the Empress / Queen in black undercoat on my painting table at the back of this picture and the Ladybird book inspiration for the costume colours.
On the New Year rule of “painting what I have in hand”, I used this joblot-acquired or gifted figure of an Empress figure that could be “Queen Elizabeth The First” but is more likely to be Catherine the Great in 54-60mm brown plastic.
With this impressive Sceptre, she could also be a Queen or Empress of Syldavia in King Ottakar’s Sceptre in the Tintin books, bearing the pelican sceptre.
With impressive enough ‘man boob’ armour, I though it might convert easily enough into a Cate Blanchett type Galadriel or Queen Elizabeth at Tilbury type figure.
Literally a Copper Top, as I used my favourite bright gloss acrylics for the shiny toy soldier look from Revell Aquacolor of Orange and copper highlights!
A tissue paper and PVA skirt was added as no self-respecting queen would show off her legs in such martial manly attire!
The visual inspiration was Cate Blanchett’s Tilbury speech from her Elizabeth The Golden Age film. Trailer / clip on YouTube here.
I was also imagining her with a bow, rather than sword, as it also has the classical Amazon overtones or huntress iconography of Diana and Artemis.
Anyway its all just more classical and Tudorbethan Imagi-National propaganda for my Arma-Dad’s Army project! I love this Holy Grail / Monty Python-esque type muster of troops on the clifftops, again useful for Armada era uniform details.
Some screenshots from the Trailer / clip for uniform and colour reference.
My final #FEMbruary female figure (No. 4) will be out of this world … watch this space! (Two clues there).
Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 23/24 #FEMbruary 2022
I have finished the last gloss varnish of the 54mm new BMC Plastic Army Womenin the guise of the Women’s Revolutionary Army of Parazuellia in time for FEMBruary’s end.
Gloss varnish finish for khaki and olive drab figures is a matter of taste. I wanted to achieve that gloss shiny toy soldier look, complete with cheek dots as if Britain’s or other hollowcast figure makers had carried on production past the early Sixties. Gloss varnish also protects the paintwork from the rough and tumble of the garden or the game table.
As these are Revolutionary forces from the Parazuellian ImagiNation of Central or South America, I am using darker than normal skin tones for these women. Usually when I paint darker skin tones, I use a gold or copper cheek dot, rather than flesh pink. Cheek dots add toy soldier style and some definition or highlights to the face.
I photographed them first on a white background outdoors.
The Women’s Revolutionary Army medical team with added Airfix multipose rifles or pistols.
Some shots taken outside show the wider range of random olive drab, khaki and green grey uniforms of these Revolutionary forces, along with the Red scarf. All paints are matt or gloss Revell Aquacolor Acrylic with Humbrol gloss spray varnish.
BMC team added a loose hair braid on this figure
Nicely modelled prone sniper, could also be converted into an LMG with Multipose Bren Gun
The uniform painting colour scheme is based on the film costume designs of Anna Duse (1908-1992) in The Magnificent Two film.
Some further uniform close ups from the RareFilm screengrab – tan uniforms are those of the President’s of Governmnet forces. Green are the revolutionary figures.
Amonongst my favourite Saturday films as a child was this 1967 Morecambe and Wise oddity, the last of their three films The Magnificent Two, set in the fictional (?South American? Mexican?) Republic of ParaZuellia.
Taking its title from the popular Magnificent Seven film (1960), you get a good flavour of this odd cowboy western town / war movie meets Carry On style comedy mash up in the short official Rank Film 1967 trailer here:
As the trailer boldly claims, the film is “A Saga of Fear. A Drama of Courage. the Time is Now. The Place – Campo Grande, Parazuellia, flashpoint of a troubled continent.“
The synopsis or plot of the film
Mid 1960s: Two British Action Men travelling salesmen [Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise] arrive in Campo Grande in the (Central or South American?) country of Parazuellia to sell their goods.
During the train journey Eric accidentally opens a train door leading to the accidental death of the returning British educated Fernando Torres, the son of an assassinated Revolutionary president and figurehead of a revolutionary movement, and a government secret policeman who is trying to arrest him.
Upon arrival by train in the city of Campo Grande, Eric is mistaken by the revolutionaries for Torres. When they discover the death of the real Torres, they pay Eric and Ernie to maintain Eric’s impersonation of Torres to lead a revolution to oust the unpopular dictator President Dias.
However once the revolution is successful, Eric gains an inflated opinion of himself, promises lots of unaffordable reforms to the people and has to be “assassinated” by his own side in a myriad of absurd further comic plot twists and turns and betrayals.
Aided by chief of the women’s army General Carla (Margit Said), once he is “dead” Eric rescues the President’s young children (who were due to be executed by the revolutionaries). Morecambe and Wise then try to flee the country.
Having delivered the President’s children to the President’s secret hideout, a military museum in the forest on the site of a great Parazuellian victory in the past, they are then warned by Revolutionary Captain Juanita Negra (Isobel Black) that a mobile armoured column of the revolutionaries led by the shady General Carrillo (Virgilio Texera) have followed them.
The bizarre “Battle of Campo Grande” (as the trailer calls it) takes place and the few Presidential forces are bolstered by old cannons and by dummies from the military museum manning the battlements in true Beau Geste / Fort Zinderneuf style.
Captured by Carillo’s Revolutionary forces, Morecambe and Wise are rescued in the nick of time by General Carla, Capatin Juanita and the Women’s Revolutionary Army in an unexpected and not fully clothed tactical manoeuvre that befits a late 1960s British comedy in the style of the Carry On series …
This can be clearly seen on the trailer, various film posters including the one above and on IMDB.
This comically handled tactical manoeuvre, it could be argued, slightly undermines the film’s potentially late 60s feminist credentials.
My need for a colour scheme for these Revolutionary uniforms does not extend to the underwear, which for the record is camo khaki green, red or black in the revolutionary and national colours for the women. I’m not sure if the film dwells on that level of modelling information for all the characters beyond a white vest or khaki shirt and shorts from Eric and Ernie.
Somehow it’s quite abrupt ending parade not long after this Carry On moment is a curious mixture of Gilbert and Sullivan humour about ‘female troops’ (Princess Ida meets Castro’s Cuba) and “sisters doing it for themselves” 60s feminism.
Fifty years on from The Magnificent Two, we now live in a world where many armies worldwide have removed the bar or glass ceiling from allowing women into front line combat roles.
A more detailed, plot spoiler / synopsis from the BFI:
As a child what I most remember was the Action Men battle bit at the start (with some Britains 155 mm guns) and the larger Action Men joke of the Military Museum ‘Beau Geste’ dummies on the battlements trick. I liked watching Morecambe and Wise then, as harmlessly silly, and I still do.
Many people dismiss this and the trio of Morecambe and Wise cinema films from the Sixties as uneven and a box office flop.
I rather like the three Morecambe and Wise films in the way I prefer the early Sixties Bond movies to any of the others.
As one commentator or critic pointed out, it has a rather high body count for a comedy. It would be a proper blood and guts gritty western / War movie, if only Morecambe and Wise hadn’t blundered into it – therein is the joke.
Watching this again on DVD as an adult, I was intrigued by the fictional ImagiNations uniforms and equipment. The Parazuellian Presudentail forces of El Presidente Diaz (Martin Benson) wear American style sand coloured uniforms.
The ‘heroic’ Revolutionary forces of men and women wear American style Green uniforms, men with US green helmets and the women wearing British WW2 tin hats with a red revolutionary star on white circle badge.
Green and Tan 50s 60s US uniforms – what does this remind me of? This Magnificent Two film costume universe is like a large bag of cheap green and tan pound store play set figures and mismatched equipment writ large in its simple colour schemes. The film is a comic Little Wars of an American plastic playset of the 1960s.
An equally odd mix of equipment – British scout cars, trucks, American half tracks and jeeps, FN Armalite rifles, Vickers HMGs, Sten and Bren Guns – scraped together by the film company help to give the impression of the Government and Revolutionary forces using any equipment they can get their hands on.
Many of the lobby card images by The Rank Organisation are now copyright / licensed of Alamy, so I will not reproduce them here. The Rare Film photo montage gives a good flavour of the adapted uniforms.
The Film Set-tings
The station (based in a now vanished station from Longmoor Military Railway) and city set of Campo Grande can be seen on Reel Streets (set up by John Tunstill of the Soldiers Soldiers website – it’s a small world sometimes).
As ImagiNations go, Parazuellia is obviously a mix of Paraguay, Venezuela and an “-ia” ending. (Presumably there is another nearby country called Vene-guay-a?) A further fictional South American country is mentioned: Urapania, made up of Uruguay and Hispania?
I am reminded strongly of the South American ImagiNations in the Gran Chapo War in Tintin’s 1930s The Broken Ear, based on the real Gran Chaco War.
Anyway it’s an enjoyable Saturday afternoon slice of childhood comedy nostalgia with some interesting possibilities of gaming scenarios with pound store figures and the new BMC Plastic Army Women figures.
Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 4 March 2021
B.P.S. Blog Post Script
The New Zenda / Ruritania for film makers in the 1960s was obviously South American revolutionary ImagiNations. Recently there have been some blogposts about Viva Max! a 1969 Peter Ustinov fronted ‘comedy Mexican’ screwball film plot about Mexicans retaking the Alamo in 1969. See the trailer here as the IMDB article is sparse:
The Mexicans in Viva Max! wear very similar desert tan uniforms to the Presidential army of Parazeullia. Red Green And White national colours and thinly disguised Mexican type National and Presidential flags crop up in The Magnificent Two. (IMDB Notes them as a blooper.)
IMDB Website Quotes for The Magnificent Two
Ernie: We’ll never sell anything here. I don’t suppose anybody’s got two pesos to rub together.
So the BMC Plastic Army Women was my first Kickstarter which arrived in time for FEMbruary … but I also stocked up on an extra FEMbruary project just in case for this year (or next) – Bad Squiddo WWII Pigeoneers!
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.
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).
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.”
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.
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.
Dahomey is now known as Benin and these were the “only female soldiers in the world who then routinely served as combat troops.”
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.”
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.
From the Daily True Delta newspaper, New Orleans, USA, March 15, 1857
These details seem to tally with John Thomson’s photograph (below).
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.
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
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.
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.
Ross Macfarlane of The Battle Game of the Month blog wondered what my Pound Store version of my #FEMbruary challenge might be?
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.