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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.