My converted bundle of medieval knights turned Cornish rabble or Elizabethan ‘Muster’, watching the coast for Armada Spaniards, finally have some more well equipped back up in the form of the Trained Bands. ￼
Rough and Ready Cornish Boys … the West Country Muster, converted from cheap plastic knights
High on the Cornish cliff tops, these pikemen run through their pike drill.
I wanted to give them a shiny toy soldier style gloss varnish look, with simple paint style a little like Britain’s Deetail, had they ever made ECW figures like the lovely old Herald plastic figures. I have painted pink cheek dots and traditional toy soldier faces but kept the rest of the detail minimal.
I chose dark and light blue coats and sashes or plumes as blue was a very common colour for the Elizabethan Muster and Trained Bands. My Spanish Fury and Conquistadors are in black and red. Fifty years later, dark blue would also work for dual use of these figures for English Civil War skirmishes.
The plastic pikes supplied by Call to Arms were good and long but far too wonky. Although good spears and pikes for smaller scales can be made from plastic yard brush hairs, I compromised a little on height and went for 100mm steel pikes for my 54mm figures. I can’t remember who in the UK that I ordered these pikes from before Christmas. The MDF tuppenny bases came from WarBases.
So these pikes are not the full 16 to 18 feet in scale, three times the size of my figures, but they are large enough for my purposes.
According to the Cromwell Museum:
“At the beginning of the war many pikemen were equipped with armour, usually a back and breastplate and often thigh plates or ‘tassets’. As it was quite cumbersome, this was rapidly abandoned, and for much of the war most pikemen would have little more than a helmet to protect them.
They were armed with a short sword for hand-to-hand fighting, and a pike, a spear 16 to 18 feet (4.7 – 5.5 metres) in length, made of ash with an iron spear head.”
In a future figure post I shall feature the musketeers and command staff that go with these figures, just a few of these figure left on the painting table. Again they have dual use of Armada era late Elizabethan Muster / Trained Band and English Civil War skirmish.
Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN on Pound Store Plastic Warriors, 18th January 2021
Childishly delighted to discover that Airfix are rereleasing six of its classic 1:32 54mm plastic WW2 infantry and paratroop sets for Germany, Britain and America – the toys of my childhood available again – preorder Summer 2021
Classic figures – 64p each or 14 for £9.00 – preorder for Summer 2021.
Pound Store and cheap playset copies of Airfix figures
Now we can play again a fun and fascinating toy shop or pound store plastic warrior sort of game called “Spot The Airfix Original Figure!”
Interesting to have the original figures available again – many of the poses of German or American Infantry and British Paratroops are commonly found pirated, copied and cloned for Pound Store and seaside plastic toy soldier play sets.
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 …
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.
I discovered bizarrely that one set of such tracks would suit one of my LCCs and make it a tracked landing craft (like a US Buffalo). That’s for another day.
Landing Craft aside, I kept the rhomboid shape that Alan mentioned by pushing the Carton ends out at the front and steeply in at the rear. Staples held these shapes roughly in place.
I thought the central turret would come from a handy tin, but all the ones I found were too wide. Instead I found a spare lid and plastic jar.
The tools for the job … staplers, Sharpies, corrugated card and milk cartons.
Old sprues from Pound Store mini tanks and coffee stirrers add instant scrap texture
The sprues I thought might suggest steam tubes or steel plating?
The Milk Carton pouring hole created the tank commander’s cupola.
The gun barrel was a pen lid. Additional armament is a front machine gun.
The bit that was most fiddly but fun was making the tank track wheels. I could have bought a set of brass gears and cogs from some of the many jewellery, crafting and even Hornby site. However keeping with the scrap modelling and scratch built feel, I found I had a few spare “cogs” and “gears” from not putting the friction motors and wheels in Pound Store mini tank kits (which is yet another blogpost).
Add to these some tiny buttons as the smaller road wheels and you have a quirky set of tracks, gears and wheels.
The buttons, big and small, came from a charity shop £1 bag of old buttons (retrieved from unsellable clothes?) that in the past has provided button ‘shields’ for conversions.
The most useful buttons were ones with straight holes as they made very good concealed front and side viewing slits for safe firing and viewing.
A small hatch below the turret allows the turret crew, gunners and drivers to enter and escape.
Rear view of the copper and brass steam exhausts – note the signal flag.
One day I might work on individual tank track plates, but not yet. I might coat the cardboard tracks with PVA.
This Land Ship could work with a range of figures, from Victorian Redcoats right the way through Steampunk into Sci-fi.
All that remains now is to choose a name for this Landship – Any ideas? We’ve had a few family suggestions already.
All Land Ship name suggestions in the comments box, thanks!
Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN 28 / 29 August 2020.
I do like metal flats but find them a little on the expensive side.
I just found an exciting new range of 40mm flats or semi flats of ultra modern and Sci-fi figures such as this well armed soldier:
But could I afford to buy a skirmish force or two of metal flats? They can cost several pounds or euros each. That could be an expensive proposition for even a small skirmish force. Then there’s usually negotiating websites in German, shipping from Germany / Europe etc.
Some of these figures have a charming simple retro feel such as this advancing modern WW2 semiflat figure.
Or maybe …
B. I just found a new range of plastic semi flat toy soldier figures from an online pound Store, priced about £1 for 80 to 90 mixed figures.
Perception test: Which is it? Expensive metal flat or Pound Store Plastic?
When it’s metal and officially ‘flat’ from a recognised manufacturer, it is it an object or figure of higher value?
When it’s a penny dreadful distorted plastic figure from an online Pound store, worth about a penny, some people might see disposable plastic tat. Is it of lower value?
Being the guttersnipe, pocket-money, neighbourhood trash puppy that still I am, finding an online pound store during Lockdown was irresistible.
There are plenty of what some call ‘plastic tat’ or ‘plastic trash’ figures out there for sale on the internet. They are what many of the next generation of gamers will or may cut their teeth on.
One glimpse of a running or advancing figure with rifle in the packet was enough to sell it to me.
Sadly despite “quantity having a quality of its own”, they are not in many people’s eyes generally a pretty bunch but to me they have both potential and play value.
They are the Airfix figures for the kids of today, cheap and easily available, here today, gone tomorrow, but obviously lacking the historical range and individual figure quality. If you could find them, Airfix ranges forever going in and out of production.
They vary in size from 35mm to an average of 40/41mm. Looked at sideways, some are almost the modern flats.
Some of these figures painted silver could easily pass as metal flats costing many times the penny price.
Could I as a child in the past learn to love them? I’m sure I could. Especially with a lick of paint.
£1 a month pocket money saved up back in the late 70s or a poundnote in a birthday card would get you a whole Star Wars Action Figure. Not sure what the Airfix box of figures cost was in those days. Not sure what average pocket money per month is today but these are Pound Store and pocket money affordable.
Could I as an adult build them into my gaming life with a few tweaks? I surely could.
Seeing Airfix figures in use or simply converted to other periods in wargames books and the occasional magazine had a major influence on me as a young child or teenage gamer of limited means. If Airfix were good enough for Donald Featherstone and others like Terry Wise (add in also Brian Carrick and FE Perry in 54mm) from time to time, they must be alright for me. Grown ups who write books and magazine articles use them. This legitimised my young gaming efforts in a way that expensive metal figures out of my reach and league didn’t.
To be fair, they are 80 to 90 figures for a Pound. What do you expect? They are (to some eyes) pretty much what Ross MacFarlane called my PoundLand bucket all stars back in 2017, “the crudest cheapest plastic toy soldiers I have ever seen”. I happily nicknamed these figures in his honour my “Penny Dreadfuls”, even though as someone quickly predicted you only get 50 figures for a Pound Land tub now. Tuppenny Dreadfuls then!
They are exactly what the packaging says – SPECIAL FORCE – WINNER – WORLD PEACE MILITARY EQUIPMENT – SUPER SYSTEM – METAL SLUG – as is the handy resealable ziplock badge with camo packaging and modern vehicles, tanks and troops shown. MADE IN CHINA. Definitely modern.
The figures match the graphics. They are clones of WW2 / modern / Post WW2 / Gulf War type figures. They come about 8 poses in several different colours, helpful if you are a child for different units, not just green and tan.
I have notice of late that not only are Pound Store Plastic figures generally getting smaller than 54mm but also thinner, flatter and more contorted, obviously saving Plastic but thankfully not at the expense of the plastic base. They stand up quite well.
Five colours – green, red, blue, tan, black – I was rather taken with the light blue ones for a change!
Perfect for party bags at a Pound each.
Good tip: Party bags or “party favors” are often good search terms for bulk plastic toy soldiers online or in shops and supermarkets.
If you need the tanks, lorries, jeeps, sandbags and other stuff, you can easily find this kit in other ‘playsets’ that you find online, albeit sometimes in a bizarre range of sizes within the same bag.
Maybe it is right that we should showcase in our magazines, blogs and exhibitions the very best of the figure maker’s art. Maybe we should also sometimes include these Pound Store figures, simply or elaborately painted and based and in use to show, as the Wargaming Pastor says, that the fun and educational social activity that is our hobby of wargaming is “affordable for all.”
Hopefully Pound Store Plastic Warriors as a Blog has done a little of this for the aspiring young and old gamer of limited budget at the happy plastic tat end of the toy soldier scene.
What will these figures become? What exciting games and Tabletop adventures will they take part in? Watch this space.
This recent gift was (I think) bought last year from a seaside gift shop, part of the Combat Mission branding that we have featured elsewhere on this Pound Store Plastic Warriors site. However it can be found online for around £5 including delivery.
The tiny Airfix sized OOHO or 1:72-1:76 2cm type figures are clones or copies of two familiar Airfix figure sets of American Infantry (4 poses) and British Paratroops (2 poses).
They have muted details but are not too distorted with minimal flash and have good bases. Even without vehicles, these 200 odd figures would be 1p to 2.5p each.
Being a cheaper play set, both sides of German / Grey and American / Green troops use the same moulds / figures. Ditto the jeeps and tanks. They all make good enough generic WW2 / modern infantry and vehicles.
Green troops have a radar or searchlight jeep, along with a small multiple rocket launcher.
If you don’t want to use the flag-post mound for its intended purpose, it can become infantry cover.
Overall this is good (play) value, as you can buy these playsets online all in for about £5 and free delivery.
Given that you have 203 figures in my set, approximately four boxes of Airfix figures, this would cost you in the shops about £20. Add in the hard plastic tanks and jeeps similar to the Airfix ones from the 1970s, this £5 set proves good value to the young and not so young gamer.
Quantity has a Qualityall of its own, someone once said. “The phrase has been popular in the US defense community since the 1980s, sometimes acknowledging it as a US coinage, but often misattributing it to Clausewitz, Lenin, Stalin, and Brezhnev, but mostly to Stalin.” http://klangable.com/blog/quantity-has-a-quality-all-its-own/.
As poses go, we have a fair share of each of the poses but this leads us to having too many pistol waving (American Infantry) officers and too many (American Infantry) bazooka men. Obviously you can reuse pistol guy in other roles as vehicle crew etc. That saying, Airfix and other plastic figures have their fair share of useless diorama poses in each box.
One of the typical play set minus points for some is the weird period mix and oddities of scale. These are generic WW2 and postwar figures next to a WW2 type tank and WW2 or postwar type jeeps but the modern odd one out is the secret Stealth type jet.
If you are role-playing a pound store WW2 skirmish rerun of Germany versus Britain and America, this could be a prototype or experimental Me262 type variant jet fighter.
If you are role-playing Green versus Grey in your ImagiNations scenario, again it could be a top secret stealth fighter etc.
The German / American branding is fairly fluid, depending on which bag you get. Other versions of the same figures and vehicles can be found online with desert tan and green troops, marked by flags as Americans and British!
It is the sort of playset that I would have been happy to have bought with my pocket money as a child and even today as an adult gamer, I could enjoy this for what it is.
I might rebase the figures. I might remove the stickers and even add a lick of flesh paint, maybe some brown or black paint on boots and weapons. But I will enjoy them for what they are.
Blogposted by Mark Man of TIN on Pound Store Plastic Warriors, 23 June 2020.
Usually I post my Pound Store cheap plastic figure conversions onto this Pound Store Plastic Warriors blog here first but have recently set up this Scouting Wide Games for the Tabletop blog especially for this Scouting Games project.
When you need some cheap 54mm plastic Boy and Girl Scouts, what else can you do but convert the cheapest figures you can find? Read and see more at: