Upgraded equipment and yet another new mould.

In the past I have used a camping stove to melt metal for casting. However, they do have some safety issues with exploding gas canisters. My wonderful wife, concerned about my safety, urged me to buy an electric hotplate. So I recently bought a cheap double hot plate from Kmart. A quick test has revealed that it will melt casting metal, although more slowly than the gas stove. Better to be safe than sorry.

Electric Hot Plate

The new mould is a recent purchase on German EBay.  It was made by a company called Scad that produced seemingly random moulds of semi round figures depicting various troops of the Napoleonic and Franco-Prussian Wars.  Unfortunately the moulds are no longer produced and the company seems to be long gone. Fortunately, it is still possible to pick up second hand moulds from time to time.

Scad Dragoon Mould

The Scad mould is a French dragoon of Napoleon III from the Franco-Prussian War and will provide me with some more 40mm cavalry for the conduct of little wars. My small collection of Scad moulds is mostly a mix of 1st and 2nd Empire French. The moulds produce nicely detailed castings which paint up handsomely in a toy soldier style but can readily be painted in a more realistic fashion. Consequently, I am always on the lookout for more.

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More Prince August Moulds.

PA 54mm Dragoon

Taking advantage of recent sales at Prince August, I have been most fortunate to add more moulds to my growing collection. Cavalry have been added to the small stockpile of “Traditional Toy Soldiers on Parade” in the form of moulds for 54mm dragoons and hussars. The French & Indian War collection has been increased with the French infantry mould, my first purchase from the new 40mm Seven Years War series.

PA 54mm Hussar

I have previously purchased some of the 25mm Fantasy Armies series moulds, mostly as substitutes for various Dark Age types.  I do have a few pure fantasy moulds, so an Orc mould has been added to them. The British infantry mould from the 25mm Battle of Waterloo series represents the start of an opposing allied force to the two French line grenadier moulds I already have.

PA Moulds

In the current May sale at Prince August, I have purchased moulds for the 25mm French Chasseurs of the Guard Trooper, British Life Guards Trooper and one of the Napoleonic Wars Horse moulds. So I am continuing to amass moulds whenever the opportunity presents itself.

 

 

The long silence!

It has been more than a few months since I last posted on this blog and many a moon has passed since I last had a wargame. The last game I played was over a year ago. It proved not to be an enjoyable experience, so I have not bothered with playing wargames at all since. My more recent lack of posts is largely due to a sense of wargaming ennui and some real life unexpected events.

I haven’t been doing much painting either. Although I have made a little effort and daubed a bit of paint on some Tasmanian 40mm toy soldiers. Currently awaiting completion is the company of Launceston Rifles, that I started some time ago, and some Tasmanian Permanent Artillery. There is also a painted but un-based and unvarnished Viking that has been waiting to be finished for a very long time. I’m not entirely sure what to do with it as I find that I now prefer and enjoy a simple toy soldier figure style.

I have continued to develop a few wargaming related projects since my last post and have acquired a number of books as gifts and purchases. My collection of moulds for metal casting has been growing apace with acquisitions made from Prince August during their sales. I really like the idea of moulds as they are full of potential and can just sit in a box until you need a few figures.

PA Colour Party

The Prince August 54mm Traditional Toy Soldiers on Parade Colour Party was a particularly welcome addition. I have also bought some of Prince August’s 25mm fantasy moulds that I carefully selected for their usefulness in creating Dark Age armies. The cannon and crew moulds from the Prince August Wild Geese series have also been picked up to further round out my stockpile of moulds for the French and Indian War. I should probably explain that as I don’t think I have mentioned the project before.

I have long desired to do some aspect of the SYW and originally I had intended to do it in 30mm, using a variety of figures including zinnfiguren and old Spencer Smiths. However the cost of going down that path proved too prohibitive so I started to look around for an alternative. I then remembered Prince August had an assortment of moulds suitable for producing toy soldiers for the SYW in 40mm, a size of figure that I really quite like.

So I narrowed down the focus to the FIW, making the project more achievable. As a result, I have been buying and stockpiling moulds from PA’s Wild Geese, French and Karoliner series, along with moulds from the old Holger Eriksson Cowboys and Indians range. I chose these rather than the newer SYW range because they are more complete and being a bit more generic I can use them for both sides. However, I do want to collect the more recently released SYW moulds down the track.

While my focus has been on stockpiling moulds, I have had other projects on the go. Some of my hobby time has been spent making alien style plants for future sci-fi battles. My major project, however, has involved the continuing effort to gather a 54mm medieval battle host using Britain’s Herald and Deetail toy soldiers.

Britains Deetail Knights

I am a natural collector of things but these will, I hope, occasionally see some table top action rather than just be dust accumulators. I will blog about those in more detail another time. I hope to resume casting in the autumn and I am rather looking forward to start casting some figures for the FIW. So, as you can see, I am still doing hobby related stuff despite my long silence.

 

Prince August Toy Soldier Moulds

During a recent sale on the Prince August website I was able to buy the boxed “54mm Toy Soldiers on Parade Moulds”. Indeed I was fortunate enough to have a voucher which meant I only paid a couple of dollars for the set, including postage. I’m looking forward to casting some figures from the moulds and painting them in the full splendour of the shiny toy soldiers that captured my imagination so long ago. The moulds don’t represent a move to another size of wargames miniatures; they are simply a welcome return to creating and collecting traditional toy soldiers.

PA Toy Soldier Mould Box PA Toy Soldier Moulds

Napoleonic Voltigeurs and a Small Mishap.

I completed the 40mm French Napoleonic voltigeurs some time ago but only finally varnished and photographed them in December of last year, so I thought it was about time I actually posted them. I am very pleased with how they turned out as they capture the shiny toy soldier look rather well. The figures are home cast from Zinnbrigade moulds and painted with acrylics and then gloss varnished.

voltigeurs-front

voltigeurs-rear

The voltigeurs will join the nascent French army opposing the equally growing Tasmanian and Imperial forces.  They will of course, and despite any anachronisms, participate in future battle games involving a fictitious Victorian conflict after the fashion of “The Great War in England in 1897” by William Le Queux.

voltigeurs-march

voltigeurs-advancing

On a more frustrating note, a few hours before I prepared this post I was moving stuff around and managed drop a tin full of the 20mm WWII British that I posted about last November. It proved to be something of a disaster as I now have a tin full of figures with chipped paint and bent weapons. There is also one figure that will probably require some deft work with the soldering iron. The temptation is simply to ditch the figures and buy replacements to paint or to strip them back entirely and repaint them from scratch.

I have, for the moment, set them aside until I can do an assessment with a calm analytical eye. I may simply get away with careful retouching of the damage but it is still immensely disheartening. Needless to say it will be a long while before my WWII British will be ready to take to the field again.

Garde Mobile Toy Soldiers

This batch of toy soldiers are from Irregular Miniatures’ 42mm Franco-Prussian War range that I have painted up as some better equipped Garde Mobile from 1870. They are, as usual painted using acrylics and varnished liberally to give them that glossy toy soldier look that I have come to prefer

garde-mobile-parade-front

garde-mobile-march-past

garde-mobile-parade-rear

The Garde Mobile came into being in 1868 to provide the French with an army reserve in the fashion of the Prussian Landwher. However, they were a somewhat neglected force and the quality of training and equipment they received was quite variable , those from rural areas being worse off compared to those units from the large towns and cities.

I also have some more French in the form of home cast Napoleonic voltigeurs but I haven’t photographed them yet. They will be the subject of my next post.

Tasmanian Toy Soldiers

For my first batch of 40mm home cast toy soldiers I wanted to do something unusual but meaningful to me. I decided my first lot would have to be a Tasmanian colonial unit. I chose the Tasmanian Volunteer Rifle Regiment / Southern Tasmanian Rifle Regiment.

Little Wars

Until 1870 Tasmania was protected by imperial forces but in 1859 the Hobart Town Volunteer Artillery Corps was formed. This was followed by more local units, including quite a few of rifles.  In 1878 the Tasmanian Volunteer Rifle Regiment (TVRR) was created with four companies based in the South and two in the North.

TVRR parade front

In 1880 the two northern companies were split off to form the Launceston Rifle Regiment and the remaining companies became the Southern Tasmanian Rifle Regiment. In 1897 the regiment was incorporated into the Tasmanian Regiment of Infantry of the Tasmanian Defence Force. (The Queen’s and Regimental Colours of the TVRR were eventually laid up in St. David’s Cathedral in Hobart in 1922 and 1949 respectively).

TVRR rear view

Tasmanian contingents served with distinction in the Second Boer War and earned two Victoria Crosses and battle honours. After the formation in 1901 of the Commonwealth of Australia, the successors of the Tasmanian Volunteer Rifle Regiment continued to serve with excellence and are now represented by the 12th/40th Battalion Royal Tasmania Regiment.

TVRR march past

The figures are home cast from Zinnbrigade moulds depicting late nineteenth century Prussians and glued to standard size MDF bases. They were painted using acrylic paints in the fashion of the old toy soldiers manufactured by Britains. The figures were then lavishly varnished to produce a suitably high gloss. I thoroughly enjoyed the process of casting and painting these figures and I am now looking forward to completing some more and having a game with them. In the meanwhile my first company of TVRR shiny toy soldiers stand ready to defend Queen and Empire against all comers.

Sizing up the Future

Some time ago I contemplated my approach to this hobby and what I wanted out of it now and in the future. The first of my deliberations was on what gave me the most pleasure. After some thought I concluded that I simply enjoy playing games, particularly with toy soldiers, and have done so for as long as I can remember. That simple pleasure was best expressed by my love of traditional brightly coloured, jewel like, glossy toy soldiers.  The second consideration was how to continue collecting and playing with toy soldiers long term while keeping expenditure to a minimum. The answer was to cast my own from moulds. I considered 54mm figure moulds that would fit with standard toy soldier ranges but after some research concluded that the cost of the moulds and the metal would be prohibitive. Further research revealed a fairly wide range of 40mm moulds and 42 mm toy soldier ranges that would address my needs.

So over the past year or so I have been seeking out and acquiring home casting moulds for toy soldier style miniatures. This has not proven an easy task as I have had to purchase them via German EBay when I could. Despite the difficulty, I have managed to build a reasonable collection of moulds for casting. The moulds include Napoleonic, Franco Prussian War and late 19th Century figures in fully round and semi round forms.  In order to supply metal for casting I have been melting down old miniatures from long abandoned projects and I am now considering the fate of a number of projects that have stalled and may be better pursued in other ways.

For inspiration I have chiefly looked to “Little Wars” by H. G. Wells and “The Great War in England in 1897” by William Le Queux, along with “Vanished Armies” by A E Haswell Miller and “Armies of Europe Illustrated” by Fedor Von Koppen. I have decided that the figures will be painted in either the old British or German fashion (although more neatly), as fancy takes me, with plenty of gloss but without any black lining or shading, for that proper traditional toy soldier look. As yet I haven’t decided on any of the available rules but will give the matter more thought as the project develops. Alternatively, I will draft a set of my own or cobble a set together from aspects of different old and modern rule sets I like, as a sort of Frankenstein’s monster of toy gaming rules. I have, however, chosen to organize my units along the lines of my childhood forces.  So my units will be formed around six man infantry companies and 4 man cavalry squadrons with officers, musicians and standard bearers extra.