A Nudge of Pike

A small push of pike … a nudge or shove of pike maybe?

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

I have had these old Call to Arms English Civil War 54mm plastic pikemen figures knocking about unpainted at home for about 10 -15 years. They are still available online for example https://www.drumandflag.co.uk/collections/english-civil-war/products/a-call-to-arms-2-english-civil-war-pikemen-1-32-scale-royalist-parliament

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.

https://www.cromwellmuseum.org/cromwell/civil-war/soldiers

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

Airfix 54mm 1:32 WW2 figures rereleased for Summer 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

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2021/01/08/airfix-ww2-132-figures-54mm-rerelease-for-summer-2021/

Classic figures – 64p each or 14 for £9.00 – preorder for Summer 2021.

Curious that only the Airfix Paratroops of each nation had radio men figures.

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.

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2017/06/13/more-combat-mission-80-pound-store-plastic-soldiers-part-2/

and as they shrink, deform and de-evolve into newish figures, useful as stylised generic cheap figures for paint conversion.

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2017/06/10/combat-mission-80-plastic-pound-store-soldiers-part-1-charge/

Copying original Airfix (left) then copying, shrinkage and lessening of detail into new figures

Some see poor smaller copies of Airfix, I see glossy shiny toy soldiers …

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2017/11/10/pound-store-42mm-infantry-army-red-army-blue/

This Airfix pirated figure de-evolution happens both for 1:72 and small copes of 54mm figures

Good Airfix pirate figures are handy for conversions – Para officer into scout mistress?

https://tabletopscoutingwidegames.wordpress.com/2019/10/17/turning-cheap-pound-store-army-figures-into-boy-scouts-and-girls-scouts/

Blog posted by Man of TIN blog, 8 January 2020.

More Retro packaging for the ‘Penny Dreadful’ pound store plastic warriors

The Super Cheap Wargaming Facebook group featured a post by Ron Lumbis about the current 30mm-32mm (ish) pound store figures.

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.

I see echoes of the famous Russ Heath Lucky Toys page adverts in US comic books for disappointingly flat mail order figures. https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2020/05/10/classic-close-wars-and-comic-book-soldiers-back-to-the-forest/

You can also see similarly stylish packaging (short lived packaging and sold out) from 2017, the “WW2 Soldiers” tag a little misleading with the Russian Army looking troops.

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2017/10/26/retro-packaging/

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 …

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2019/05/19/pound-store-plastic-boy-scout-32mm-conversions/

to Flash Gordon style space marines and little green men aliens.

The alien ‘cape’ is a card paper hole punch strengthener from cheap old luggage labels.

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2018/01/28/little-green-men-pound-store-plastic-space-warriors/

These figures adapt to modern as well as 19th Century colonial figures

Various theatres of War and historic periods suggested by paint conversions here

Simple cardboard hat brims (again from hole punch paper strengtheners or card circles)

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2017/11/26/pound-store-plastic-colonial-infantry-on-the-painting-table/

Colonial highlanders from Carry on Up the Khyber … tissue paper and PVA kilts added

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2018/01/28/pound-store-plastic-carry-on-up-the-khyber-colonial-highlanders/

Simple desert or native warriors created by scalpel and PVA / tissue paper conversions

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2017/11/06/pound-store-desert-warrior-unit-completed/

Cheap enough to risk losing figures if taken as a travel battle on holiday – simple melee rules.

As you can see these are very versatile figures, with a little imagination, they can become many different types of ImagiNations figures.

Transport easily requisitioned from charity shop cheap finds …

Arguably Airfix figures have or had the advantage of scale model kits and buildings to complement their figures (although both often in and out of availability or production).

However, with a little imagination, suitable Pound Store playset or charity shop vehicles, terrain and buildings can be found.

A full blown pound store colonial skirmish for under a pound …

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2018/02/03/pound-store-colonial-skirmish-part-1/

Suitable sized gaming accessories add variety to conversions – here an old Prince August homecast gun.

Or light railway battery ‘train in a tin’ style …

https://sidetracked2017blog.wordpress.com/2017/08/10/deconstructing-trains-train-in-a-tin-vs-train-in-a-box/

This paint conversion or scalpel and PVA approach works with any size or scale of cheap plastic Pound Store type figures as you can see from meandering through my blog.

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN on his Pound Store Plastic Warriors blog, 21 December 2020

Christmas Biscuits or Mysterious Jungle Carvings of South America?

“Edwardiana Jones uncovers a strange mysterious stone carving in the jungle …” or This WW2 Australian Infantry Officer is one of my favourite 1:32 Airfix figures.

Following up my post on my recent painting of 54mm Mixtec and Zapotec figures, I saw this and thought South American stone carving!

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

Chintoys 54mm Mixtec and Zapotecs in the jungle – jaguar warriors and Oracular priest

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.

Chintoy 54mm Conquistadors puzzle over these mysterious fierce stone carvings.

The original Spekulatis design up close. I wonder what is it supposed to be?

I’m not sure how long this biscuit will last before it breaks down, the PVA glue coating will only preserve it for so long.

But it will be fun while it lasts!

To keep this super cheap or Pound Store, even the jungle foliage is scrounged, being unwanted old cleaned-up fake aquarium or vivarium plants …

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 7 December 2020

The Spanish Fury!

54mm Spanish Armada troops that I have enjoyed painting in shiny toy soldier style – Chintoys Conquistador Set 1 plastic figures.

Crossposted on 30 October 2020 from my Man of TIN main blog for you to enjoy!

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2020/10/30/the-spanish-fury/

Scrap modelling a SteamPunk Tank

His and Her Majesty’s esteemed shipwrights and steam boiler makers have used all the available materials including scrap to make His and Her Majesty’s first Land Ship.

I blame Mr. Alan Gruber of the Duchy of Tradgardland blog.

If he hadn’t mentioned in the comments about building a tank for my WW2 tanker inspired Steampunk infantry, I probably wouldn’t have got around to it. Thanks Alan.

So ‘corrugated card tracks’? This made a connection with some Lockdown grocery packaging in my scrapbox.

I didn’t go for the WW1 Rhomboid tank with tracks top and bottom, I went more for the more interbellum type Sno-Cat tank track.

The body of the tank was going to be another trusty milk carton. Some readers might remember the LCC Landing Craft Carton of 2019.

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2019/07/21/milk-carton-creation-no-1-cheap-landing-craft/

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2019/11/02/landing-craft-carton-two-more-how-to-photo/https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2019/11/02/landing-craft-carton-two-more-how-to-photo/

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.

The basic tank shape and turret hole

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.

There is a lot of space inside the Carton that could be used in other designs.

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.

I like the scrap toy nature of these button 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.

Copper painted button wheels and button viewing slits on escape doors.

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.

Cupola open and cut down tank commander figure
The steampunk infantry sit between engines and turret. A step over the track links allows safe deployment of infantry without hitting the tracks.

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.

Modern Flats and Toys for a Pound online pound store soldiers

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:

A. Stylish and spirited ultra modern metal flat sci-fi or special forces trooper?
A great Flash Gordon or Star Wars rebel pilot? Interesting semi-flat figure.

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?

The answer?

Being the guttersnipe, pocket-money, neighbourhood trash puppy that still I am, finding an online pound store during Lockdown was irresistible.

Toys for a Pound? I’m in.

https://toysforapound.com/products/special-forces-soldiers-mini-army-figures?_pos=1&_sid=44ef637cc&_ss=r

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.

Here I must give a Pound Store shout out to the Wargaming Pastor Death Zap blog posts for his various sci-fi units made up of Penny Dreadful Pound Land figures. https://thedeathzap.wordpress.com/2019/05/18/simple-satisfying-games/

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!

The kind of comment that makes my Pound Store toy soldier day happy and complete. Thanks Ross!

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.

Helicopters, modern troops, tanks graphics amongst the camo patterns.

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.

Eight poses, my running rifleman the smallest of the lot at 35mm

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.

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 16 August 2020.

The Joy of Pound Store Play Sets …

Combat Mission Mini Soldier Play Set Play Mat – more of a poster than a play mat?
The contents in full – 203 soldiers, 3 jeeps, 2 tanks, 2 flags, 1 aircraft – felt river not supplied.

Side view of the 2 cm green and grey 203 figures

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.

Six poses of green or grey troops, mostly scaled to each other. 4 and 6 are Airfix British Para derived, others American Infantry derived.

Green troops have a radar or searchlight jeep, along with a small multiple rocket launcher.

Whoopee! Grey troops have their very own rocket propelled jeep.

Side view of a ‘cute’ little grey tank. It looks like a light airborne armour or early war light tank.

A neat little tank from the rear, some good engine & stowage detail. Not sure which model of tank it is meant to be.

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 Quality all 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.

Britain vs America? Available play set Amazon U.K. June 2020

 

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.

Pound Store Plastic Figure Conversions into 54mm Boy and Girl Scouts

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:

Paratroop Officer into Maud The Scoutmistress

https://tabletopscoutingwidegames.wordpress.com/2019/10/17/turning-cheap-pound-store-army-figures-into-boy-scouts-and-girls-scouts/

Crude cheap modern and WW2 figures into 54mm Scout figures

Blog posted / crossposted by Mark Man of TIN (1970s Cub Scout, Bronze Arrow, Retired) 17 October 2019.

Close Little Wars Simplified

Crossposted from my Man of TIN blog

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2019/06/15/close-wars-simplified/

A blog post all about American gaming librarian Jen B using simplified Featherstone rules with simple plastic 54mm figures to attract young or new entrants to the figure gaming hobby:

Photo by Jen B of her D-Day 75 simple drop-in library game.

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, Regular (Library User) and 70s Airfix kid 15 June 2019.