Crossposted from my Man of TIN main blog, 24 December 2021
Some new or old arrivals from the bottom of the toybox have come in from the wider family. Good old Herald Household Cavalry foot figures and a bashed 80s Britain’s Deetail Knight.
I think the white cowboy (sort of a solid swoppet Timpo clone?) originally came from me, from Pound Store bags back c. 2007. It has now returned to me after these many years.
Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 11 December 2021
**** Delayed post from late May / early June 2021 ***** shelfie photo *****
I had to go into town for a medical appointment on a quiet day at the end of May 2021. With a few minutes to spare, feeling more Covid secure after two jabs, and masked up, I checked out my local poundstores for the first time in over a year.
In Wilko there were no Lego compatible blocks, block ‘pick and mix’ and no toys to be seen. Maybe nothing until Christmas …
However Poundland, wonderful Poundland, had these “penny dreadfuls” (as some unkindly call them) back on sale at a penny each in bags but tubs as before.
Check the shop label: 100PCS – £1 – 1.00p each
That is affordable gaming – and two colours / forces per bag!
I had a closer look at the packaging during March this year (Lockdown 3 Non essential retail closed) https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2021/03/22/new-battle-squadron-packaging-for-the-penny-tuppenny-dreadfuls-100-toy-soldiers/
Only two colours available in each pack (ready made opponents) green and silver grey, Union Jack versus German flag and flag mound. This, I suppose, is what makes it a ‘Soldiers playset‘?
The packaging had the same type of green and white star generic flag, which I rather like.
Unlike the packaging suggestions, there are no free helicopters, greenery or walls inside, just two colours of troops and two flags and two flag mounds.
Poundland, still the home of affordable budget wargaming!
Blog drafted by Mark, Man of TIN 30 May 2021, finally posted 2nd September 2021.
Spot the odd pound store figure out amongst the 1960s OOHO Airfix version 1 US Marines featured on my Man of TIN blog post:
It’s a bit like “Where’s Wally?”
Did you spot him?
The only Airfix Version 1 US Marines figure that I didn’t find in my scratch invasion force was the Bazooka man. Standing Bazooka loader yes, Bazooka man no.
Bazooka man as seen here in Plastic Soldier Review Airfix US Marines version 1 review http://www.plasticsoldierreview.com/Review.aspx?id=355
***The kneeling loader figure is a damaged US Version 1 Marine, too fragile to repair the rifle, so a few scalpel cuts left him with a Bazooka round instead, kneeling to avoid enemy fire.***
However I knew I had multiple US Infantry Bazooka men from an early 2020 recent pound store purchase.
Just a few dozen Bazooka men, then!
These pound store figures are either small copies of the Airfix 1/32 US Infantry or those familiar poses which were scaled down by Airfix themselves to make up part of the newer version mid to late 1970s Version 2 US Marines (still available at Airfix.com or stockists)
Airfix Version 2 US Marines https://uk.airfix.com/products/wwii-us-marines-a00716v
And finally, a strange Bazooka name ‘fact’ …
The Bazooka got its name from a strange jazz instrument invented or played by US comedian Bob Burns.
The resemblance of the M1 anti-tank weapon to this odd wind instrument probably led to its Bazooka nickname.
Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 8/9 June 2021
Pound Store Wars was the first post I wrote on my Man of TIN blog, a theme that would later become this separate Pound Store Plastic Wars blog by September 2016.
Blogaversary reflections over on my sister blog Man of TIN …
The fifth Blogaversary for this Pound Store Plastic Warriors blog is in September.
Happy Geek Pride Day.
Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 25 May 2021
“Things are getting strange, I’m Starting To Worry, This could be a Case for Mulder and Scully …” (Catatonia)
Heroscape Krav Maga figures 32mm could double up for the FBI … extreme hourglass corseting by Agent Scully here?
What series or TV programmes distract from or inspire your gaming scenarios?
Painting has slowed considerably in the Man of TIN Towers and Pound Store Plastic Warriors thanks to the Disney+ subscription channel now hosting all seasons of the X Files from the early 1990s.
Part of the steady Lockdown year has been spent binge watching box sets of series and episodes in order such as Star Wars spin off series The Mandalorion, Stranger Things, Buffy the Vampire Slayer …
I have been waiting years for the X Files to be available but the cost of video and DVD box sets has been off-putting.
I remember watching this series as it came out in the early 1990s. Watching them through again from Episode 1 and seeing the series and main characters develop, I remember some storylines and character monsters very well but I obviously missed quite a few episodes too – I was hard at work in my first job.
I enjoyed the stand alone one-off “monster episodes” in the early series far more than the tangled plot and subplots of conspiracy within conspiracy. Trust No One etc.
The series cleverly combined a US cop show and crime drama with every Arthur C. Clarke’s Mysterious World case and conspiracy theory you can think of, exploiting the public mistrust of “government within government”, all recently dealing with the recent end of the Cold War and the shadowy activities of the CIA.
I like the small town America where anything weird can happen. It’s perfect Forgotten Georgia territory, although I think lots of the X Files was filmed in Vancouver, Canada.
It reminds me strongly of the old 90s high school horror teen comedy drama series Buffy the Vampire Slayer (recently rewatched – free on All4) or the more recent retro 80s Stranger Things series on Netflix with its cast of young teenage kids, another of the binge-watching delights of this last unusual year.
Somehow I don’t think such series could have been made in Britain, despite the weird West Country cryptozoology and other dark regional folklore. To be fair, we had Doctor Who grounded on Earth (or 70s Britain) fighting off monsters in the Jon Pertwee Third Doctor series (arguably the best Doctor?) with its fabulous Brigadier and and UNIT episodes. I have seen several such UNIT games on people’s blogs.
Obviously time spent enjoying watching the X Files is time spent not painting figures. I should be painting my ArmaDads Army figures and repairing hollowcasts but …
Sometimes X Files plots seem like possible gaming scenarios.
Who needs new figures?
In my boxes of figures I have these handy ready painted FBI figures which came with the useful boxes of plastic Heroscape hex terrain.
And some weird looking alien crew from a downed space craft, avoiding the blue hats and awaiting rescue from above?
I can see a way in future to reuse the bodged hexagon (whoops octagon tiles) from recreating the old OOP Games Workshop Lost Patrol game:
Pound Store Plastic stores stock lots of the 1990s and post Gulf War American troops that could be easily paint converted into the brutally efficient (fictional?) Blue Berets or Blue Hats US Army UFO Retrieval Team or the various SWAT teams.
Usually these plastic modern figures range in size from 30-32 mm to 40/45 – often 54mm plastic clones and copies, steadily downsizing as they become more distorted.
Even these distortions can be used as aliens as the Wargaming Pastor does with his alien Selanoids in his Death Zapp game. https://thedeathzap.wordpress.com/2019/05/25/battle-squadron/
Other sources of figures to hand:
Anyway I look forward to more adventures with clean cut boyish Agent Mulder, and “Gutsy Girl” intelligent, sceptical agent Dana Scully … it’s a great way to wind down from a busy working day!
What series or TV programmes distract from or inspire your gaming scenarios?
TO BE CONTINUED …
Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 24 March 2021
As a pound store trash puppy (not a trash panda – that’s a raccoon), I keep an eye out for the changing packaging of the sort of pocket money cheap toy soldiers I collect and convert on this – the Pound Store Plastic Warriors blog.
With non essential retail closed during Lockdown, I keep an eye out online.
Battle Squadron were the branding c. 2016-2019 before Poundland stocked the same figures repackaged as ” Cyber Combat Alien Defence Force”.
These pouches or bags might be from old boxes of such stock that eBay sellers are selling off, rather than anything brand new.
This battle sandpit illustration seems to have been redone from the Poundland runs or buckets of such troops, ones that I bought in early 2017 before the old pound coins were called in. Poundland cleverly continuing to take the old coins for longer than most.
I like the green flag with white line outline star. Each pack inside through appears to have one or two flags of the WW2 and postwar super powers – usually Germany, America, Britain, sometimes Russia. Oddly not China!
As a child I would have been a bit miffed with the depiction of typical plastic playset helicopters, tanks, walls etc on the packaging but then finding only figures and a flag inside.
Toy Buyer beware – not quite requiring the Trades Descriptions Act but always a little annoying. Was there ever a “Serving Suggestions” type get-out clause – “does not contain sand, walls or helicopter or nuts”?
On a practical play note the figure tub or stiff plastic ziplock pouch is a handy container for a child to keep these figures safe in, not as leaky as the old Airfix cardboard boxes.
A simpler header card version can also be found online (screenshot from EBay March 2021), packaged in the easily tearable plastic bag. Usual “elite forces” type illustration in an otherwise quite plain harder card. 100 such figures now
Available online on eBay but also for £2 plus P&P from Bovington Tank Museum
I like the Bovington Tank Museum online shop description of these figures which adds value to what others might see as disposable plastic: ” A classic toy … A timeless collection of figurines perfect for playtime. Each soldier comes equipped with his own battlefield kit and is moulded onto a solid base to stop them falling over in the middle of all the action.”
A reassuringly complete description that is, “classic … timeless … “each with his own battlefield kit”, like buying 100 tiny Action Men for £2, who don’t fall over and lose their “kit”.
Why I like toy soldier packaging
The 1960s and 1970s colourful cardboard header and Hong Kong contents are becoming more collectible and kitsch – eBay and Etsy are good place to go window shopping and take digital “shelfies” screenshots for reference. *
These header illustrations are the poor cousins of the Airfix kit or figure box illustrations but with a certain rough excitement to them, promising to show you the inside contents of your head and your play world to which these clone Hong Kong copies are a cheap portal.
After Blue Planet II on TV, plastic is becomingly increasingly demonised from an environmental point of view as cheap and therefore throwaway disposable. We are rightly told that we now need to reduce, recycle and revalue our use of plastic.
We had no such public awareness about SUP (Single Use Plastic) when I was a child, although it all had to pass the non ‘single use plastic’ throwaway / ignorable, easily breakable, five second wonder toy test. Toys had to have proper “Play Value!”, as my Mum and Dad would say to guide me away from the more transient, flimsy, seasonal topical breakable trash of the toy shop.
These cherished plastics from the 1970s are still on display at home and sometimes appear in battle on my Tabletop, handled carefully now as some of the plastics are getting a little brittle. Indeed this makes them MUP Multiple Use Plastic or LUP Use Plastic.
At least for now, this brittleness is not such a worry with the freshly moulded, rough and tumble ‘play tough’ pound store plastics of today’s sandpit and Floor Games.
Maybe this is a side effect of growing up in the late Sixties or Early Seventies without colour TV and few colour picture books in infancy?
* “Shelfies” are reference pictures you take in a store if you are not buying everything you see.
I am amateurishly straying into the more organised serious plastic collecting, packaging and referencing territory of Hugh Walter’s Small Scale World and the Plastic Warrior magazine team. Writ the collection larger, you become Robert Opie of the Packaging Museum and his wonderful Scrapbooks, showcasing by decade and era his fascinating collection of ephemera. Robert Opie is the brother of the toy soldier collector and author James Opie, son of the folklore and playground rhyme collectors Iona and Peter Opie.
Me? I just find the colourful packaging and hyperbolic language and illustrations of passing interest.
blog posted by Mark Man of TIN 24 / 25 March 2021
2016 – Three Man Patrol of pound store pirated clone* BMC US Marines, officer, radioman and prone BAR man providing covering fire.
Not entirely intended as A Mother’s Day Post March 14th as it is largely about the ongoing influence of toy soldier games in the garden with my Dad.
For the last month or two I have been exploring the origins and early players of H. G. Wells’ Floor Game or Little Wars.
Although I researched the women who saw this happening, it appears to be mostly Edwardian men who would happily be found stretched out on Wells’ lawn or nursery floor, firing spring loaded cannon at lead toy soldiers. This sometimes, according to the tongue-in-cheek Wells, brought “disdain” from lady visitors who did not see the imaginative play going on at floor or garden level.
Some gamers of players with toy soldiers would say that not much has changed 100 years later if middle aged men are glimpsed crawling round their floor or garden in pursuit of toy soldiers. Or worse still, their front garden …
Gardens and floors seem a natural home for toy soldiers.
Ever since I was a small boy in the early 1970s, I have left toy soldier figures in the garden “on Patrol”, usually a three man Patrol Post or Observation Post OP tucked away in a flower bed or safe area, safely away from being dug up, trampled or mown down.
Each three man Patrol had the following usual figures:
- One officer or someone with binoculars, armed
- One radio man, armed (usually a bit of a scarcity per box in early Airfix or Matchbox)
- One rifleman, SMG or LMG infantryman for Patrol protection
These were usually unpainted plastic 54mm figures. Sometimes these would be WW2 troops, sometimes Cowboys or Civil War figures (despite the lack of radios) and occasionally even knights.
Each of these 3 Man teams (in threes, like Lighthouse Keepers) had a way to communicate with each other or raise the alarm, some firepower to defend themselves and their OP and enough men to have at least one sleeping whilst others were on watch.
My late Dad took a slightly dim view if I left the same figures out on Patrol, neglected for weeks or months. It made sense. More regular changeovers of personnel kept the garden and these Patrol Posts tidier.
Usually in my childhood garden, a small stone base was made for the Patrol Posts with flat stone or slate walls, roof and floor base. Small palisades of wood or twig log piles completed the defence. Some kind of plastic stores box was usually included of “food” and “ammunition” such as Britain’s farm sacks or Airfix sandbags.
Inside the house up in my room would be the HQ team, such as the little travel box three man Patrol that I take away on holiday and travels – to keep in touch by radio with ‘home’ and teams in the field.
It’s odd but I still find that keeping the three man Patrol out there provides a calming link back to my childhood games, my late Dad’s vanished flower garden and our shared playful interest in toy soldiers.
I liked the Borrowers scale thing, the threat of giant garden wildlife like snails and other minibeasts, the military birdwatching. RLS’ poem The Dumb Soldier captures this well – see also later for a brief quote from the poem:
I wrote a little about this garden before on this blog back in 2016 on a Garden Wargames post, from which I have taken some of these older photos:
Bearing their battered sloppy childhood paintwork … my indoor desktop / travelling Three Man Patrol (TMP) of Airfix figures. About time they got some proper paintwork.
Usually I have used my most expendable pound store figures, as there was always the risk that dogs, lawnmowers and wildlife would trash the Patrol Post.
* Back in 2016 I was using what I now know were BMC clone US Marines
The OP has changed from this safari / zoo animal walkway tower to an odd little house that I picked up about 15 years ago in a pet shop. Italian plastic, originally designed as a rodent hamster type house, sadly I have not seen them since. The label says Casetta per Criceti or a Hamster house (see B.P.S. Blog Post Script)
I liked it straightaway for its white walls and pantile roof. Instant Mexican cowboy town or Mediterranean village hut.
This pet shop where I found this house was a few doors away from a now closed independent pound store where I bought lots of pound store plastic soldier figure packs (Cowboys, Indians copies of Airfix with wagons, pirates, those 60s divers and sea creatures). Another pound store full of plastic tat, vanished and sadly missed …
I have always liked my Patrol or OP posts to have a certain kind of internal logic to them, otherwise they are just useless and silly. So as part of this, the pantiled roof house OP has a rigging type plastic ladder to the roof.
The boat at the foot of the cliff is their Patrol transport in and out of the situation and route of resupply, if not by air. A rope ladder links the house plateau with the river below. Supplies are winched up on ropes and stored in the house. It all makes its own kind of (non)sense.
The blue cowboy in my retiring three man Patrol in the pictures is one such Airfix clone, the blue speedboat in pictures below from a divers underwater play set kit. You got a lot more plastic tat for your pound 15 years ago.
The retiring Patrol after weeks to months in the field (in winter I forget don’t change figures as regularly) are a mix of figures, (what I now know are) some pirate cloned playset Tim Mee USA infantry, * the BMC clone US marine radio man and the blue Airfix clone cowboy. All expendable beach, garden or sandpit plastic figures.
Now in 2021, expendable plastic army men based on cloned Tim Mee, Airfix and BMC figures are being replaced by –
genuine new BMC Plastic Army Women.
Again in our new three woman Patrol we have:
- Female officer figure with binoculars and pistol
- Radiowoman or signaller (with no pistol)
- Sniper on the roof tiles
In my BMC Plastic Army Women Parazuellia Women’s Revolutionary Army figures that I painted for FEMbruary, I gave the unarmed Radiowoman a spare pistol in its holster from Airfix Multipose spares.
Having used up all these spare Multipose weapons, I noticed that there is a handy rifle on the trusty old Britains Herald Cowboy raft cargo boxes. That then is the weapon for the radiowoman – my internal logic says that is so.
A supply barrel (old barrel bead or button) is glued to slate to stop it blowing away. These stores will be packed away into the house whilst this new Patrol gets settled in.
The Patrol house OP has a handy removable red tile roof, but no closing doors or window – so I will assume that there are internal door and shutters. I like the ability to poke a toy soldier rifle out of the window. The house itself is expendable but this one has withstood many frosts and storms (sometimes the roof blows off in very bad weather!)
The Patrol house OP is a pale imitation of those excellent Timpo Wild West plastic buildings of our childhood that now go for such extortionate sums on eBay, even with the working closing doors missing. Timpo buildings would now be too old, brittle and valuable to be left outside in all weathers anyway.
At some point these patrols may mingle and we may have a mixed Co-Ed Patrol, out in the wilderness for weeks and months on end. For now, we will have single sex patrols.
Who knows what they will see, night and day in the wilds of the Yarden or Garden. We might need to alter RLS’ The Dumb Soldier slightly:
“She has lived, a little thing,
In the grassy woods of spring;
Done, if she could tell me true,
Just as I should like to do.
She has seen the starry hours
And the springing of the flowers;
And the fairy things that pass
In the forests of the grass.
In the silence she has heard
Talking bee and ladybird,
And the butterfly has flown
O’er her as she lay alone.”
Alone? Well, maybe not, as there are three highly trained and well equipped Plastic Army women out there anyway, but you may be alone on watch.
The travelling Box HQ three man team remain the same indoors and should now be in radio contact with the new three woman Patrol.
“Come in, Garden Patrol … come in, Garden Patrol.”
The retiring three man Patrol team await a debrief on their return, before a wash and brush up and some well earned leave.
That’s my family toy soldier tradition garden patrols, still going strong. I have come across Marvin at Suburban Militarism’s tradition of Christmas soldiers.
Anyone else have any strange toy soldier superstitions or strange family traditions to do with their toy soldiers?
Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN on 13 March 2021
B.P.S. Blog Post Script
Below – some Casetta per Criceti or Hamster House examples online 2021, but not my exact pantile roofed example.
Hamster or mouse houses in wood or plastic – search around, there are some interesting small house examples online. Hamster or small rodent houses are a source of some possible garden wargames houses or cottages. They may prove an alternative to the converted bird box or the useful aquarium ornaments, something to look out for whilst browsing the pet store ?
Four more packs of £1 joy
Q. Why are these the perfect toy soldiers for Christmas?
A. Read on below – be patient … it’s almost worth waiting for.
Part of the joy of Christmas is new toys, either a surprise or a long awaited gift. Here are four bags of delayed gratification!
I featured their arrival by post and stowage back in August during Lockdown and Covid Shielding when I could not go browsing in pound stores, seaside shops or charity shops. I opened one packet for review and stowed the other four in the Christmas cupboard.
They cheered then and cheer now my inner seven year old that this much richness could still be bought for a pound. If these were metal figures, this haul would cost a small fortune.
I remarked a little upon the strangely worded bold claims of the packaging then. They have some discerning small customers to attract and persuade with serious pocket money.
When life and shopping was more normal before Covid, it was often a quiet delight to quickly cruise at speed through several pound or discount stores, looking for Pound Store toy conversion gold. Sometimes I would overhear those sort of toy discussions between children and parents about how much their gift pound would get them each and witness that painful indecision in the toy aisles that I had when I was originally seven.
If you only have one pound to spend, which toy do you choose?
If I’m spending serious child pocket money in a pound store, I want a lot of bang for my buck (or pound). Tiny pictures of military hardware, camouflage packaging, ziplock bag for storage – all good for Christmas or party bags – and big words:
METAL SLUG – SUPER SYSTEM – WORLD PEACE MILITARY EQUIPMENT –
and best of all the para wings or elite forces insignia – WINNER. I’m feeling like an elite highly trained veteran five star general already before I open the bag.
As I notice now, this is not just special forces – this is SPECIA FORCES.
This makes them the perfect Christmas Toy Soldiers.
Q. Why are they the perfect Christmas Toy Soldiers?
A. No L. No L.
A suitable Christmas Cracker joke for the season. If you’re not sure why, check the packaging again. Quality proofreading on the packaging!
The contents of the bag I discussed a little in my August post, the thin contorted nature and brittleness of the plastic may disappoint some. The amount of flash. Too many useless Officer ‘waving with binoculars’ poses.
They are not constant scale, the usual pound store playset irritation of slightly different sizes to annoy the scale purist – but then so many ‘proper’ expensive toy soldier manufacturers are guilty of the same scale creep.
They may be mass produced in China without much love or care but in the right imaginative hands, they could be great heroic stuff!
My favourite figures are the WW2 US style infantry with rifle advancing.
The original pound store toys webpage I ordered from is on hold at the moment over Christmas – no doubt the pound store elves are exhausted. https://toysforapound.com
Quantity, as Stalin and so many others supposedly observed, has its own quality.
Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN on Pound Store Plastic Warriors, 29th December 2020.
Popped in with my Christmas parcel from our upcountry family in 2019 was this lovely £1 bag of plastic soldiers and tanks.
They are the remnants of a playset style bag from a charity shop, picked up pre-Lockdown in late 2019. They were popped in alongside our Christmas presents as padding or packing in the Christmas parcel before posting. Who needs bubble wrap?
Please note: These were photographed in the poor light of Winter 2019 / 2020. I don’t think I posted these then for some reason.
Larger copies of familiar Airfix figures in two colours
Figures seen here in size order compared to the size of an original 54mm Airfix WW2 British Infantryman.
Again the slight size difference in the same bag of the same poses is interesting … two different factories? Two different mould tools?
Arriving without a header card, a bit of web research and toyshop browsing reveals that these Airfix figure and tank copies are HTI figures, made in China.
Similar bags are still available July 2020 in toy shops, post offices and seaside stores or from online suppliers such as here at Amazon, including with good copies of the Airfix pre-assembled OOHO Centurion tank.
I think that’s enough publicity for buying these here from Amazon (July 2020) for one post.
Buy them where you see them and certainly support your local toy shop.
Just seeing the wonky mixed scale content of these playsets so attractively photographed gives me simple childhood joy.
How have sizes changed from the Airfix originals?
I posted some comparison shots here:
I really like the running infantryman figure, it originated as the advancing Airfix German infantry man with rifle but in the process of copying over forty to fifty years has become more generic, simpler and smaller. It now has more of a traditional toy soldier look, especailly if painted up in gloss toy soldier paint style.
I can never have enough of these running plastic toy soldier figures!
How do they measure up as they get smaller?
The smaller running rifleman or standing rifleman is just under 38-40mm from base to the top of his helmet (or if you measure to the eyes about 35-36mm)
The larger running rifleman is about 42mm from base to top of helmet, 38mm to the eyeliner, which is the usual size that I have encountered these before on these smaller figures. Quite a size drop from the 54mm Airfix originals.
This brings these broadly into line with 40mm Prince August figures for example.
Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, January / July 2020.