SPECIAL THANKS. I would like to thank Paul Watson for his sponsorship of several lead figure collections on this blog. Having decided to clear his spare/surplus figures, he generously forwarded them on with no other requirement than they deserved to be restored. I would also like to mention George S. Mills, who kindly furnished a quantity of metal and plastic figures which allowed me to complete another five or six military units, serving in several collections.

Wednesday, 30 March 2022

Scots Guards Completed (And State of my Spares Box)

Just completed a new battalion for my British Victorian Army c1900. Working through my spares box, and with reinforcements kindly furnished by Paul Watson, I was able to muster twelve suitable castings for the Scots Guards. With the arrival of rifle-arms from REPLICA, the restoration could begin. To be honest, I already had this regiment in my collection, but had dispatched the painted herald figures off to a relation, for his budding collection. 

I really have done quite well working through my project list. My spares box has been reduced to about sixty castings, of all sorts. With another thirty others being more than two thirds complete!
Footnote, can also confirm some very useful work has been made on sorting out an armoured train. Just waiting for the arrival of the armour plating (plasticard)...... and it actually runs on its railway track..... really excited about this project.

Friday, 25 March 2022

WOODEN TOY TANKS and early TIN examples

Have seen other blogs upload photos of their toy tanks made of wood. Several designs/kits are available to purchase from the Tank Museum website. And they aren't too expensive. Depending on the time and effort you put into painting them, they really do look quite good.  As I'm seriously looking at the prospect of constructing one of my own, to a scale and design I prefer, thought the following might prove of interest. Here are some photos of old home-made tanks made of wood.  Most of these certainly date back to the Second World War when metal toy production was prohibited. I'm impressed by tank no.2, with its turret-gun system.

1. Simple idea, could be developed.

2. Impressed by the system for raising the barrel.
3. Interesting carving work.

4. This last photo is from the excellent TOY SOLDIERS & REAL BATTLES blog, which is devoted to early toy soldiers. Well worth a visit. See links.

As a follow-on to the above, here are some tin examples, not necessarily the best I have on file but still interesting to view.
5.This is actually a tin box or caddy, 1920s?

6.Foreign-made, wind-up, 1930s? 

7. Made by the German company BING, a WW1 Mark5 British tank, 1920s

8. British-made, early toy tank 1930s?

9. A 'PW' tank, and quite small.

10. WOW, just look at the bold green colour!

11. American-made, an ARNOLD tank

12. British-made METTOY wind-up tank

13. German-made DRGM wind-up tank, 1920s?

14. British-made MINIC (Tri-ang) tank, 1935?

15. American-made TOOTSIE tank, possibly a Renault?
I hope others found the above of interest. For my part, I would far prefer to game with these brightly painted toy tanks than accurate models. My favourites are probably 1, 4, 7, 10, and 13. (see LABLES 'Armoured Vehicles' for some of my own plasticard constructions, all inspired by these old toys.)
Footnote. The photo below is from the Tank Museum website, showing one of their wooden toy tanks, available to purchase. and given different paint schemes.

Saturday, 19 March 2022


Several years ago I purchased a music box biscuit tin for Christmas. It cost £5 and included a pack of shortbread biscuits. The Swiss mechanism plays, rather quaintly, DECK THE HALLS with Holly. With hindsight, it wasn't that great looking, and recently decided to get rid of it. Change of plan, decided to see if it could be converted into something more attractive. 

Completed yesterday, here it is. I'm a lot happier with it, and the tin container can also store some walls, railings, and street lamps. And the music only adds to my old style 'Toyshop Atmosphere'.

A recent Ebay win has furnished two useful additions. It comprises a Crescent die-cast Saladin armoured car, and a Lone Star Bren Gun Carrier. Both are in very good condition, the wheels look almost new. They have both been repainted but its very nicely done, no signs of the previous paint, cracking or rough surfaces. These join examples already in my collection, but at £8.19 delivered, and requiring no restoration work, I'm quite satisfied.

Monday, 14 March 2022

The St.Eugene Wargame & Skirmish

Although the 1st Canadian Army, holding the Granby Line, had been forced to withdraw to Montreal (see previous game), intelligence in Montreal (D5) was informed that the 2nd Army of New York had suffered heavy losses, and would require some time to reform and build up their strength. Empire Command decided to inspect the Granby survivors, and three battalions (D4-6) were willing to immediately move off to support the western defences (the St-Eugene Line) to oppose the American Main Army. Dice were thrown to determine whether they would arrive there before the American assault. Scoring a D3, compared to a D6, they arrived in good time........ General Gordon embraced the Canadian commander on their most opportune arrival.

So what of the Americans. Their command had also been informed on the action at Granby (D6), that a headlong rush towards Montreal by their Main Army was no longer required. Instead, they informed other garrisons to furnish additional troops and artillery. The new plan was to bombard the St-Eugene Line into submission. This would also allow the 2nd Army of New York time to reconstitute itself.

Reinforcements Arrive!

The response to the Main Army was quick and efficient. By utilising the canal systems joining the Great Lakes, merchant shipping ferried three military units from Detroit, and one from Buffalo, NY, to Ottawa in record time. 

The American garrison in Ottawa had already prepared to move their siege guns, in preparation for Montreal, now they would form part of the 'Liberty Line' (entrenchments being raised opposite the St.Eugene Line). 

Reinforcements arrive!

The American delay in attacking the St.Eugene Line had allowed a naval vessel to arrive from Quebec (D4). It now disembarked a naval landing party and gun, That city was unable to send further reinforcements as its garrison only comprised two more military units, and some armed civilians, but the extra gun was most welcome.

STATE OF THE LINES The Liberty Line. Fifteen military units including the Signals Corps. Four siege guns, three field guns. Note, field guns are not in range. Also, two of the siege guns are actually howitzers, so any redoubt casualties cannot claim saving throws for hard cover!

The St.Eugene Line. Ten military units, including 3 siege, 3 field guns. By mutual agreement. The civilian population, and their livestock, were granted leave to vacate the area.

MOVES ONE to FOUR. At 10.15am the American guns opened up. The Empire guns replied. Both sides sought to silence their opponents siege guns. RESULTS Six Empire artillerymen lost, the survivors hold their position. The Americans lost one of their howitzers, and three gunners. Also one infantryman. 
MOVE FIVE. The artillery duel ceases, both sides reorganise their artillery crews. Dice are thrown to see who launches a raid. An American battalion. MOVE SIX, a Canadian unit does likewise. MOVE SEVEN-EIGHT. The artillery begin again, the Empire guns are slowly being silenced due to casualties, then the routing begins. By MOVE NINE, General Gordon orders a full retreat, the game is over. They must save what ever they can. MOVE TEN, the American army begins to advance towards the now deserted St.Eugene Line. 
RN Landing Party and Gun  -2     13 routing
RN Battery                            -7     1 routing
RCA Gun                              -2      2 routing
Highland Battn.                             12 routing (just very bad dice!)
                                              Three guns captured.

US Howitzer Battery              -2   one gun destroyed
US Siege Gun                         -2
Mass. NG Battn.                     -1

This was nothing like how I expected it to play, but siege artillery will dominate, and the campaign required it to be played. Fortunately, for the Empire, only one military unit is fully lost. I guess the Americans will now be moving on to Montreal! MGB

FOOTNOTE, additional skirmish game
The hasty withdrawal from the St.Eugene Line seemed a bit of an anti-climax. So, to assist in their safe withdrawal, I decided to play a delaying tactic involving the unscratched Royal Artillery battery of medium guns. Their objective, further down the road, was to delay the American army pursuing Gen.Gordon's. These guns have a range of 36inches. This skirmish was more fun to play than the previous battle! I hope my notes give some insight into the flow of the game.
MOVE ONE The battery opened up on the approaching army at 36". A D6 was a direct hit on the cavalry, a D4 was slightly to the left, another hit. The cavalry were now at half strength and obliged to test their morale. D1, and with factors including artillery fire and half strength, they rout. Morale tests now on neighbouring units 6" away of similar class. The skirmishers to the right (D1) also rout. The battalion behind the cavalry throw a D2, they hold but refuse to advance (but at least they didn't rout!). The skirmishers on the left of the cavalry throw a D1, and they scatter. This forces a morale test on another skirmishing unit to their left. D2, no movement forward.
MOVE TWO The battery fires again. D6 is a hit, D3 is slightly to their left and is also a hit on another unit. American General moves to rally one of the routing units, he will lose the other as they move off the table. He saves one, they form up but refuse to advance.

MOVE THREE The guns fire, D6, and a D4, the latter hits open ground as the unit was in column and had a narrow frontage.
MOVE FOUR The guns fire, D6 (again), and a D3, a miss. American General has another morale test and they still decline to advance (D2).

MOVE FIVE The guns fire, D4 and D1, both miss. American General convinces a regiment to fully obey their orders.

MOVE SIX The guns are limbered up and they about face. Two American units are only 18" away. 
MOVE SEVEN The guns leave the table.

NG Battn,         8 refuse to advance
US Marines       12
US Infantry        12      -3
US Infantry         12      -1  also refuse to advance
NG Skirmishers   12    routed
US Infantry          12    routed, rallied
US Cavalry            4         -2      two routed

That was fun, and made a better conclusion!

The Advance on Montreal (Wargame)

The Dominion War in Canada had largely gone quite during the winter. It now erupted into conflict when the US Army advanced two expeditions towards Montreal. The largest comprised ten military units, those formerly encamped near Ottawa. The other comprised seven military units, which formed the 2ND ARMY OF NEW YORK. The Empire intelligence service was fully aware of this, and Montreal had twelve military units at its disposal. Since the fall of Ottawa, this city had become the seat of government for the Dominion of Canada, its loss would have a disastrous effect throughout the Empire. But Empire Command had concluded that Montreal and suburbs could not be protected on all fronts if surrounded, so plans were prepared to establish two outer lines of defence. One guarded the western approach via St.Eugene (Township of East Hawkesbury), the other was to the east, based around the town of Granby.

THE GRANBY LINE had been assigned five Empire military units. Facing them was the 2nd Army of NY, comprising seven military units. The American objective was to smash through this defensive line, and to join up with the Main Army outside Montreal.

MOVE ONE commenced with a rapid advance by the Americans. The redoubt guns opened up and scored a hit on the Roving Cannon (aka RC), taking out a crew member. MOVE TWO saw the redoubt guns destroy a field gun, although the crew were uninjured. So far, the redoubt only had one very slightly injured (saving throw), so it was looking good for the Canadians. MOVE THREE, not so good. A gunner is hit, and the RC gun takes out a Canadian Rifleman. MOVE FOUR, the RC suffers another hit on its crew. MOVE FIVE has the RC gaining its revenge on the redoubt.

MOVE SIX, the RC moves into melee with the Canadian Highlanders. Suffering one casualty, the Highlanders break and run. Fortunately, further damage ceased as a redoubt gun silenced the last RC crew member. But they had lost an entire battalion, unable to be rallied in time.
MOVE SEVEN saw an excellent charge by the NY Hussars. In the subsequent melee they were neutralised but not broken, and not before they had scattered the Canadian Fusilier battalion! This move also saw hand to hand fighting over the redoubt. The gunners fought like lions, breaking two battalions before their own resolve gave out on reaching half strength.
MOVE EIGHT-TEN involved heavy fighting over a fortified house, several rounds of melee, until the attacking American unit eventually broke. By now, it appeared  the Americans only needed to move up their unemployed artillery crews and realign a captured redoubt gun onto the nearby houses, and pound them into submission. The Canadians withdrew. (An alternative view is that the two Canadian battalions could have attacked the redoubt, from two sides...., but the Canadians did not know how much damage they had inflicted, but were aware that the central redoubt had been taken, and three allied units had routed.
Despite the Americans taking the key redoubt, their army was broken. Only one battalion, and the artillery battery were still operational! Five other military units were knocked out. The Canadians still had two working battalions, and two more would likely rally elsewhere. A tractor had even saved one of the siege guns. Officially, this was an American victory, but there would be no advancing on Montreal (confirmed by a D3).
Campaign Footnote. Dominion Map. This shows the distribution of military units just after the above action. The 2nd New York Army is presently forming two small provisional battalions by consolidation/drafting.

Friday, 11 March 2022

New York National Guard (71st Battalion)

Decided to home-cast a new battalion for my late 19th Century American army. Some of the New York National Guard uniforms were quite distinctive, so here is my rendition of the 71st Battalion. I have quite a few sources for their uniform and as they all differ its fair to say the period 1870-1910 allowed commanders quite a lot of leeway as to the cut and style of their dress uniform. 

The surviving items below are c.1880-90.

This white hat belonged to the 14th U.S. Army Regiment, probably a musician, thought it would look good with this unit. The fifer was drafted from my spares box, white bearskins were also popular with National Guard units.

The Hat below belonged to the 71st Battalion at one time.

FOOTNOTE, some additional files on the New York National Guard, a suitable opportunity to capture the period.