These are some of my WIP Work-In-Progress on the painting table.
One of the more awkward of the 12 figure poses for conversion from the Poundland tub of £1 for 100 36mm plastic figures is this Rambo style bare-chested machine gunner figure, a figure beloved in different scales of many pound store toy soldier makers.
Work so far
Out with the scalpel and off with the machine gun barrel and magazine. The cartridge belt get some incorporated into or covered by the tissue paper robes later on.
Next hot glue gun the plastic figure to a penny base. Post 1992 in the U.K., these pennies are magnetic cupro-nickel, useful for later storage and transport. The figure’s original plastic base overhangs the penny so I have trimmed it back with snips and scalpel as far as possible.
Out with the mini hand drill and finest drill bit (bought from Prince August) to drill the right hand to take a wire spear made from stiff uncoated garden wire.
Drill a hole through the left hand to take a pin shield. The shields used are patterned upholstery pins ordered online, which took weeks to come free post delivery from China. Standard drawing pins would suffice. The long pin tail can be cropped with metal snips later on.
A small strip of tissue paper attached round the legs with white PVA glue ( a small dob of this in a plastic milk bottle top palette) makes a suitable robe effect, and scrap of tissue to helmet and back of head. This needs time to dry overnight.
The spearman are not based on any particular troop type. The hefty pike of a spear seems ridiculously long for now but looked odd cut shorter. It can be transformed into a flagstaff or standard. It can be trimmed down later as needed. I may add with hot glue gun a wire or Fimo scabbard for a sword or not. A wire sword can be fashioned by trimming down the spear, if I change my mind.
This PVA and tissue paper robes were done using the same approach to the completed Pound Store desert warriors and kilted colonials (see link below). They easily cover up the modern trousers and any obvious modern military kit.
Undercoat with white acrylic before the painting proper begins.
That is as far as I have got for now … as I said, it’s all WIP / Work in Progress.
The Man of TIN has been stricken with slight Man of TIN flu of late, which has delayed work on my blog and my latest figure conversions.
I wanted to try something different with these cheap “penny dreadful” 36mm plastic figures which are currently available online or from Poundland (at £1 for 100).
Ross MacFarlane of Battle Game of The Month blog described these cheerfully as “some of the crudest cheap plastic toy soldiers that I’ve ever seen but you have managed to rescue them and transform them into brave warriors!”
These ‘brave’ desert warriors needed some opposition, starting out with the same fairly unprepossessing starter figures.
Some of these 36 mm figures have simply been painted as Redcoat infantry and have had Fimo backpacks and blanket rolls added.
Other figures have had more conversion work by scalpel such as the officer figure with his rifle cut into a sword and a Fimo scabbard added. A similar posed figure had the rifle removed and the hand drilled to take a piece of wire to make him into a flag or standard bearer.
Before I tried these command figure conversions, I also added as ‘officer material’ a 30mm-ish WW2 US officer (an old Matchbox China made pound store clone) firing a revolver or pistol in his greatcoat. A thin Fimo scabbard was added.
A gloss toy soldier look was wanted, so Artist or Revell Model Acrylics were used. Uniformity of moustache was also needed, eyes dotted in with a pin and a very thin brown acrylic wash to add some definition to the faces.
I may well add a pinprick pink dot on each cheek to keep that toy soldier look as I did recently on my 42mm pound store toy soldier style paintwork.
There is still some tidying up to do, a few straps to add and the inevitable varnishing, but these red coated troops should soon be ready for action dodging ambush by hill warriors.
Any slight resemblance to Zulu War Redcoat British infantry is entirely deliberate, although with such modern figures as starting material, it is only going to be a suggestion.
For uniform inspiration I had by me some childhood books, namely an old Osprey Men At Arms book on ‘The Zulu War’, Preben Kannik’s Military Uniforms of the World in Colour and my trusty Ladybird ‘Soldiers’ book.
(Good job I noticed the mistyping as Military Unicorns of the World in Colour – what a book that would be. What a great cavalry regiment or regimental mascot!)
Conversions in Progress
Amongst the other figures can be glimpsed a kneeling modern machine gunner who has had his Heavy Machine Gun cut down to make that start of a Heliograph for signalling. Still needs a reflector disc. A kneeling bazooka man had his bazooka clumsily removed by hot scalpel and a wooden rifle added instead.
The hot scalpel or hot knife technique, warming a blade in a candle flame is not recommended indoors, plastic figures like these give off unpleasant fumes when selectively melted.
Brim-ful of conversion ideas
A quick dip into Preben Kannik’s Military Uniforms of The World in Colour suggested another figure conversion. It must have been the floppy hat that caught my attention.
Further opposition for the redcoated British style infantry is now underway on the painting table, with some simple headgear conversions or additions. A couple of those old fashioned hole reinforcers, stripped off an old cardboard label, proved a suitable hat brim, further trimmed down once glued in place.
These should make suitable Boer Commandos or Confederates. There is a farmboy or cowboy look to both figures. Lots of figures are suggested by this simple hat brim addition – US Rough Rider infantry from the 1890s / 1900s, Confederate or Union infantry.
A lightly more extravagant hat brim would make a Mexican style bandit brigade of brigands.
It might even be possible to turn a brim up on one side for that bush hat, slouch hat or smart City Imperial Volunteers ‘titfer’ look.
Sadly most office hole punchers make too large a hole for the head of a 36mm Poundland figure. So if you run out of suitable scrounged small parcel label hole reinforcers, use one as a rough template to cut out new ones from scraps of watercolour paper. Fiddly work but folding the tiny card circle in half means you can cut a rough inner circle. A little bushhat bashing or distressing is then required.
Reinforcements for the Thin Red Line
The Preben Kannik book also has a good kilted khaki Highlander – a conversion I am working on, using a kilt made of a thin strip of tissue paper and PVA.
The main inspiration for this variously khaki or Redcoat highland unit is mostly one of my favourite films Carry On Up The Khyber, being the infamous 3rd Foot and Mouth (Highland) Regiment, those ‘Devils in Skirts’.
The battle scenes are quite impressive, if you ignore the slapstick bits. A great inspiration to any tongue in cheek Colonial gamer.
Some great uniform inspiration photographs here at the IMDB website and also the Carry On UK site.
This 1968 comedy remains to this day my favourite of the many Carry On films. There is still much to like about this (now very un-PC?) pantomime satire on colonialism and the heroics of 1960s war films like Zulu; I like the fact that this freezing Khyber Pass was filmed in exotic Snowdonia in North Wales. http://carryon.org.uk/gallery/thumbnails.php?album=31
So off to paint Another Thin Red Line, or Thin Khaki Line with Kilts, hopefully not as painted by one Private James (Jimmy) Widdle. Bliss …
Blog posted on my Pound Store Plastic Soldiers by Mark, Man of TIN blog, 25 November 2017. (Apologies for the dim photographs, I was photographing figures in natural but dimming light.)
These 42mm figures were figures from packets of Combat Mission 80 pound store plastic warriors from the seaside stores, although I have had some of these rifleman figures painted up in since about 2006/7. They are often found mixed in with 50 to 54mm pirate or clone copies of WW2 figures.
Having completed a unit of Space Marines, I have been building up the numbers of my native warriors as another Poundland penny plastic toy soldier figure conversion (or “penny dreadful” original figures as some of you have suggested).
Each plastic 36mm figure costs a penny (tub of 100 for a £1 in Poundland) and is now based on a penny for a bit more weight and stability.
My first trial batch of half a dozen figures worked well enough, so I have now quickly converted another dozen riflemen towards a small skirmish force of native warriors or hill tribesmen. Another dozen or so more figures to add and we should be almost there.
Any roughness in painting or conversion is almost hidden en masse.
A very light wash of pale blue was used, hopefully to bring out the whiteness of their robes.
I am thinking about future native artillery unit conversions so dug out of the spares box an old 30mm artillery piece, probably by Spencer Smith Miniatures or Prince August. The lack of 36mm cavalry is one thing I am working on, with some interesting odd possibilities in my spares box.
These figures are not specific to any country or historical period. Instead they are intended to be a wily native opposition to the usual Redcoat or colonial / imperialist troops invading or defending one of my Imagi-Nations countries.
Redcoats in Waiting
My next conversion is to paint up a unit of some “Redcoats” using some more of the Poundland figures. A batch of 20 riflemen are already undercoated, based on pennies and waiting their turn on the painting table. A very rough conversion of a Poundland’s modern machine gunner to a Redcoat heliograph signaller is partly done (below). Twenty odd tiny Fimo backpacks will also be required!
My alternative desert infantry conversion is a simpler paint conversion, a little more ‘modern’ (or at least 20th century) and khaki than the toy soldier style Army Red / Redcoat figures. I want to create a small skirmish force of these desert khaki infantry as well from the Poundland figures.
All good fun, it makes a cheap and pleasant change from tracking down vintage Peter Laing 15mm metal figures.
Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN blog and Pound Store Plastic Warriors blog, November 2017.
The last week has been spent working on a variety of Pound Store Plastic Warrior paint projects including my Poundland Space Marines, adding another twenty Space Marine figures and a Command and Comms team.
Apart from the varnish and a mild black wash over the darker faced Space Marines, they are pretty much done and ready for action. All I need to do is create some opposition troopers.
The Command and Comms Radio team came from a batch of a dozen bags of party bag filler Soldier copies of Matchbox figures that I bought last year or came free with some garage forecourt shop cheap vehicle kits.
The least impressive of the figures is the Poundland penny dreadful figure with the machine pistol / space blaster. I have some ideas on adding a shiny drawing pin riot or deflector shields to space-ify these up a bit.
As possible allies or opposition, I have started work on some Flash Gordon / Star Wars rebel inspired bronze, gold and orange figures. Some Rebellious type troopers and Imperious SturmandDrangTroopers (in black and white) might also follow.
I like the bronze gold steampunk of the laser rifle and space blaster.
For space rules, I can downsize the Close Little Star Wars rules from last year’s Planet Yarden garden game.
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 …