I’m not buying, I hope they find the right homes. A mere photo reminder is enough for me.
However these two odd Etsy items reminded me of a colourful “dragon’s hoard” of vintage plastic in a ziplock bag turned up for a couple of pounds about five to ten years ago in a local collectibles shop at the seaside.
It is the sort of shop that had (or has) odd opening hours, most often shut when I visited, one that has been an erratic supply of lead and plastic figures for over twenty years. I hope each time I go that it is still there and that it is sometimes open. I hope it has survived Lockdown.
I have been taking stock of my old childhood Airfix figures recently and the odd small hoard or haul of others’ old Airfix that has come my way from time to time.
This mixed bag for a few pounds had a range of vintage Airfix that sold it to me straight away, maybe not for immediate use, but worth buying because you never know with erratic Airfix (ancient or modern) when you will see the like again.
and the Airfix AWI British Infantry both issued in 1971 in time for the bicentenary. They were scarce enough figures during my 70s childhood and remain unissued for years from the 1980s onwards. Oddly they never had an Airfix Playset of their own but Bellona produced a preformed Bunker Hill vacformed base if you could find one.
Coupled with some on these tricorne figures on the sprue in a recent gift from a railway modeller work colleague of a 60s / 70s tin of unwanted Airfix, I should have enough for some future Lace Punk / Lace Wars / Gulliver’s Travels style ImagiNation skirmishes.
Unpacking these random figures, they were mostly roughly painted and simply card based in units but unflocked.
Clearly they were a cast off part of a gamer’s collection, as they had handwritten Regiment labels on them. Whether they represent real regiments or ImagiNations ones, I find it hard to tell.
January 2021: I have now flocked and individually card based each soldier in each unit but not yet properly repainted them.
I wanted to photograph them as they were, when first seen as a ragtag of units.
I intend keeping the unit colours, just reprinting missing paint and adding flesh tones to faces and hands.
1. Shocking Pink Coated Tricorne Troops
I quite like the random brightness of unusual colour, perfect for ImagiNations. I’m not sure if they are intended to be real uniforms. Tricorne and Napoleonics are not really my area.
They obviously meant something to somebody once.
Figures painted by someone else are what Bob Cordery of Wargaming Miscellany blog calls OBEs – politely this means Other Beggars’ Efforts.
As mentioned I intend to keep the colourful unit paint schemes, just tidy the paint work up and finish individual rebasing as you see I have done here.
2. Purple Coated Tricorne Troops
These purple clad troops were a random mix of Airfix and other makers. I identified these on the ever useful Plastic Soldier Review website as Accurate / Imex / Revell American War of Independence British Redcoats
I like the retro style of the packaging from Schyllyng with on the back of the box the pen outline of the figures inside, a little like the early 1960s Airfix boxes.
I also like the slight overselling – “INCLUDES TWO ARMIES” – obviously serious defence cuts have happened. What they mean is includes two different colours of figures, in this case the traditional green and tan of some plastic army men figures sets.
Either box would make a good attractive mail order gift, one that I would happily have played with as a child, then have somewhere to put them back in the box afterwards.
The alternative packaging I have found for these figures over the last few years ranges from a flimsy plastic bag and header card of two different colours per bag …
… to the useful storage tubs of single colour figures occasionally found in Poundland UK.
Same figures, different colours, varying prices per figure, different packaging.
To me these are the modern cheap small plastic equivalent to the Airfix figures of our youth.
They are surprisingly versatile and at a penny or two each (prices are steadily creeping up) these anonymous and widely available ‘Made in China’ plastic figures can be cheaply and easily converted to a range of periods past and present – and future.
Several fantasy or sci fi gaming bloggers have used these same figures such as the Wargaming Pastor for his Death Zap future games.
Ross Macfarlane of the long-established Battle Game of the Month blog paid these figures and conversions a sort of dubious tribute when he described them as:
Hence my nickname for them of the “Penny Dreadfuls“, as this is what I once paid for each 100 figures for £1.
I have used them for many things from my Boy Scout rough conversions …
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.
This gave me the base colours – they were going to be painted in gloss toy soldier style using a mix of available Revell Acrylic Aquacolor gloss and matt, finished off with gloss spray varnish.
The figures after gloss Varnish but before the Steampunk copper highlights were added.
At this stage before Steampunk copper highlights were added, some of them could pass vaguely as WW2 or modern figures.
I wanted them to keep that 1930s to 1950s shiny gloss hollowcast look including the pink cheek dot traditional toy soldier face, as if they had just been taken out of their red box.
Once the copper or brass highlights were added, picking up cloned and distorted webbing details, this looked more like power cables for their brass steam or laser weaponry, breathing gear or comms equipment. Nothing too specific …
Grey basing rather than green was chosen for the plain toy soldier style tuppenny base, reflective more of an urban setting or even steel plate metal, maybe even the decking of airships and space craft.
I was surprised at how practically well these two tone figures fitted into the landscape, despite the shiny Steampunk bits and gloss Varnish.
Add in some suitably weird Pound Store / playset type Chinese made plastic tat Steampunk Artillery
The closest I could do to the French tankers and the futuristic back of their tank photo here …
“Quel petrolier!” or A rough French translation for Lardy tank rules fans of their mischievously named ruleset “What a Tanker!”
… was a rough reconstruction of this historic photograph using the backside view of my lovely cap firing action friction based US tinplate tank (Thunderbolt USA 4U, unknown maker)
So there you go, you start off intending to make Flash Gordon space marines and end up with French tanker inspired Steampunk activity.
Proof that all you need is some time, paint, distraction, a few tangents and you can make something smart out of these unloved overlooked cloned and distorted Pound Store type figures.
For my simple 54mm Donald Featherstone inspired sci-fi rules Close Little Space Wars
2018 started with the disappearance of the old UK pound coin, traded in at Poundland for more ‘penny dreadful’ toy soldier tubs. These steadily decreased from 100 figures (32mm-ish) for £1 to 80 figures, 70 figures and then gone in my local stores for now… Poundland Defence Cuts!
First rule of Pound Store Plastic Warriors: Buy ’em when you see ’em! They won’t be there next week / month / year / visit.
Above top – from early 2018 – an unfinished blog post photo of a raremismould amongst these cheap Poundland penny-ish figures, destined for elite sub machine gun and Commando beret use. No mismould left behind!
December was an Advent Calendar of tiny blogposts using up unfinished drafts and 12ish days of Twixmas into the New Year. Time for some …
Pound Store Plastic Warriors has a few of its own unfinishedblogposts including this one about my uniform sketches for a retro toy soldier look for cheap plastic modern figures. A kind of Postmodern Jukebox approach for plastic tat?
One of the challenges of painting up Imagi-Nations from a motley combination of pound store plastic warriors, homecast and repaired hollowcast metal figures is a coherent uniform scheme that can unify the diverse figures into different armies or groups.
Occasionally as an Airfix child I dream of the restrictive but comforting safe joys of real historical uniforms and their painting guides – and then do my own thing anyway!
In the spirit of H.G. Wells in Little Wars, I started with Army Red and Army Blue.
Reference note: I drew these sketches in 2017/18 before discovering the much more ‘official status’ of the Funny Little Wars army lists and colours.
Not the famous book about the Zulu Wars and a ritual after battle but the next stage of my Poundland Mission accomplished.
Having acquired four new tubs of Poundland’s finest 36mm figures with my last four old round pound coins, like most plastic figures, it pays back in time and paint later to give them a quick detergent wash and scrub.
This gets rid of any mould releasant grease or spray that may be on these plastic figures, even though they are a harder plastic than the Airfix figures, which also suggested a quick wash and a gentle scrub / brush in detergent before painting.
The Drying of the Spears
Hence the rituals of Washing of the Spears, and the Drying of the Spears, the next stages in preparing these odd “penny dreadful” figures for conversion into Generican native warriors.
Will they be Zulu-like ? Will they be desert warriors like my last trial set?
Hmm …What sort of hostile Imagi-Natives?
North and South Generica have a wide range of habitats and associated hostile tribes, as does North and South Farica, all my own Imagi-Nations. These will add to the young Bronte family’s North and South Pacific Imagi-Nations of Gondal (N) and Gaaldine (S) along with the West African based kingdoms or colonies of Glasstown and Angria, slowly being explored on my Man of TIN blog.
Will they be warlike Jumblies with heads of green and hands of blue and a fundamentally flawed navy and amphibious capability? I’m reading a biography of Edward Lear at the moment as a bit of melancholic yet still lighter relief from the intense dark Victorian Gothic of the Brontes.
Far and few, far and few,
Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
And they went to sea in a Sieve …