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.

Thursday, 28 April 2022

The Raid on Sudbury (Dominion Wargame)

The town of Sudbury had become a regional HQ for local Empire troops. Four small Canadian military units were based there. Unknown to them, an American commander was keen to take this position, and had five military units at his disposal. Surprise was vital to this mission, and with careful preparation, he made his move. 

The American force utilised a train to within twenty miles of their objective, they then travelled by horse. Reaching their objective undiscovered, and with several hours before dawn, their commander allowed his column to rest. The Empire garrison being totally unaware of their nearby approach (D1). However, the garrison commander had the good sense to post five (D5) sentries, and they knew their duties (D6). 

The garrison had occupied several mining buildings, and others served as barracks. They also had a warehouse serving as stables. The American commander decided to launch a single attack (D3), by advancing at double-time, but without noise. If they could not take the position, they were to destroy its effectiveness, and return to their train, which also had a guard of four soldiers (two dice).

MOVE ONE. American troops advanced, at twelve inches, dice were thrown to see if a sentry spotted their advance, D6, the Americans scored a D3, the sentry fired his rifle and started shouting out the alarm. 

MOVE TWO. The Americans moved at full pace, while the garrison stumbles out of their accommodation.
But this was not what the attackers were hoping for, even their cavalry were several moves away from the town centre.
MOVE THREE. the Canadian artillery piece opened fire, with a hit on the approaching cavalry. 

MOVE FOUR. The gallant advance by the two cavalry units had seen two taken down by the gun, and another from the Fusiliers, firing from the Miners' store. Amazingly, the 1st cavalry held their position, not advancing further, but still in the fight. This allowed the 2nd cavalry unit to charge the gun position in MOVE FIVE. The gun crew fired at point blank range, knocking them down to 50%, and their morale now broke. Two good regiments wasted!
The only positive news was the American gun had inflicted a casualty on the Fusiliers, and a light infantry unit had secured a chapel, and was now firing on the gun redoubt. 
MOVE SIX saw both artillery pieces inflict a casualty on each other. The light company in the chapel suffered a casualty from the Canadian rifles, their three firing sections (8 plus two ex-sentries) gave them a dice advantage over the two firing American sections (8 figures, you need three for a firing section). I thought it right to dice to see if the American commander wished to pursue his plan, a D5, yes!
MOVE SEVEN. and EIGHT saw some reversal of fortune for the Canadians, their gun crew was taken out by artillery and rifle fire! And a fire had broken out in the Miners' store.
MOVE NINE. Some excellent marksmanship (D6 twice) inflicted two casualties on the American light troops in the chapel. But a hit on the station not only inflicted a casualty but also started a fire (D6).
MOVE TEN. The US artillery piece was repositioned. MOVE ELEVEN and TWELVE were ineffective. MOVE THIRTEEN and FOURTEEN saw some casualties but it really was time to stop this game, the Americans being now largely dependent on their artillery piece, while their light infantry were being similarly reduced.
The garrison survivors view the scene.
The surviving attackers make a hasty withdrawal.

EMPIRE Nine casualties, two buildings destroyed.
UNITED STATES Thirteen casualties, three routing.
Both sides claimed the victory, but I think the Canadians have a better claim, having inflicted heavier casualties and maintained their position. Also, all American forces in this region retired to Sault Ste. Marie which would not have occurred if Sudbury had been neutralised. 

Tuesday, 26 April 2022


Just finished varnishing two armoured vehicles for my Japanese army 1930-45. The first is my plasticard rendition of an actual Japanese tin-plate toy made in the 1930s. I so liked the toy, I had to have it represented in my collection. No way could I afford to get an original, they sell for about £300 when they do crop up. I have seen originals in a grey-blue, and also pale green, I chose the former as more appropriate with my naval landing party. OK, I did reject the brass, double-barrelled turret. Have also painted some anchors for added interest. (Charity shop toy furnished the wheels for £1.)

The second vehicle is a genuine Japanese-made tin and plastic toy tank, with a working wind-up mechanism. Made during the 1970s, it does look fairly realistic. I'm happy to consider it a suitable recreation of Japanese Type 95 HaGo very-light tank. After all, it is a toy soldier collection, and I have a growing attraction for old tin-plate toys. (Had to create a gun barrel, and found something suitable for a turret lid.)


Tuesday, 19 April 2022


Have just varnished two Royal Navy ships for my 54mm collection. In constructing these simple models, I had to consider several factors. Firstly, that they were of a size which would work on my limited table space. Secondly, they possessed something which implied importance and power. Thirdly, that the models looked right with 54mm toy soldiers. The problem with accurately scaled models is I would end up with something either too large, or too insignificant to have any naval value. Fortunately, viewing examples of old tin toys provided the answer. My models are based on typical toy steamboats that were made during the 1870-1910 period, which does seem rather appropriate. Have included some photos as examples.

Here are my two 'modest' vessels. I guess its possible they could claim to represent the torpedo ships that also appeared in the late 19th century. Have named them HMS SPITFIRE and HMS THUNDERCHILD.  At a later date, will add some further detail, including flags. They are made of plasticard, with plastic awning fittings for the funnels. The guns are BRITAINS TOYS.

Rule Britannia!


Antique Tin Toys

Sunday, 17 April 2022

DUTCH WW2 (but only just) and a TANKETTE

A somewhat odd post arrived in early April. I picked up on Ebay ten plastic French Navy figures. Clearly cheap copies of the French toy manufacturer STARLUX, I was hoping they would, when suitably painted, provide some additional troops for my French Army 1870-1914. Unfortunately, the figures turned out to be very rough in their moulds, and rather than 50-54mm in scale, more like 45-48mm. (SMALL SCALE WORLD has suggested they were made by Ri or Rado Toys of Hong Kong.)

Somewhat disillusioned, I set about contemplating their future use. My heavily converted Dutch WW2 army figures are also rather small, approx. 50mm. Thinking about it, on file I have some photos of Dutch seamen serving on land with small arms.

A technique I've used before is to disguise a smaller scale by fixing on higher bases, and that can provide another two millimetres.

Here they are, painted and ready for service. Three figures can now man an AA gun, and five more will provide some extra rifle fire. (The two officers will be drafted into my Ugandan army as they are perfect for their Police force.) You can see one of my original Dutch infantry in their grey-green uniform for size comparison.

Original state
No copyright infringement intended. Armed seaman 1930s.
1920s gun crew
(PS. Interested in recruiting some Starlux French Navy figures, open to favourable swaps, and happy to include those that are damaged!)

Back on the Dutch theme. I popped into a local charity shop a few days ago and picked up a broken toy for £1. What interested me was the tractor had wide caterpillar treads. So wide, they could be sliced so as to produce potentially enough for two vehicles, there was also a useful eight wheels too.
Here is my attempt at recreating a Dutch c.1939 Carden-Loyd Tankette using plasticard sheets. They apparently had five such vehicles, their only tracked vehicles in WW2. Wasn't sure whether to clearly mark this model as Dutch or not. as I could use it with my British, or even my Japanese. However, research showed that the Dutch adopted a machine gun shield, so Dutch emblems were permitted. And, as a bonus, it was something Orange!
Don't mind admitting, it was a fiddly project!
Wonderful tracks, useful wheels, dumped the rest!
Here are two photos from TANKS ENCYCLOPEDIA. COM, a wonderful resource for students of the subject. Visit them to see so much more, well recommended!

Tuesday, 5 April 2022

MY ARMOURED TRAIN (Progress Report) March 5

A few days ago I started on a new project, to convert a Timpo Prairie Railway engine and fuel wagon into something more military. I think an explanation on how we got here is appropriate. Often mentioned, Paul Watson has been a sponsor of many collections on this blog, and in this project it is 100%. Paul's own traditional toy soldier collection is nearing completion and he decided to clear more of his abundant spares. Several boxes duly arrived but, on this occasion, they comprised American-West railway items, made in the 1970s by Timpo, a very well established British manufacturer of 54mm toy soldiers.

The boxes contained the following. Three 1850-1950 style steam engines. Three fuel wagons (which actually carry the batteries that power the trains). Two passenger carriages, and two freight carriages. The track comprised eight straight pieces, and twenty-four curved pieces. Arguably, enough for three working trains.

The condition of the train stock varied from excellent to quite good. The three fuel/battery wagons seemed to work but it should be noted that the power-system is primitive by today's standards, somewhat haphazard, a bit unreliable (just like the real thing in the 1970s). The three steam engines do have a design flaw, its not uncommon for their front wheels to break free from the track, strange!


I decided to use one engine and fuel wagon to construct my armoured train, choosing those that most showed signs of wear, or missing parts. Initially, I wasn't too bothered about losing their ability to run on batteries, but that soon changed. I have ended up spending quite a few hours achieving a system to make the battery connections operational. I 'think' they work, but only time will really tell. If I may be so bold, the reduced length of the steam engine seems to keep it on the tracks better than the originals!

Here are some photos, with the armoured train en route to be painted. Have decided to go for a slightly brighter shade of green. This will allow me to use it in conjunction with several army collections. In constructing a toy armoured train you have a fair amount of leeway as to its appearance. (Will probably add some further detail before its final paint job.)

Early Work
The photo below shows the front wheels fixed further back.
As for the other two train sets. The best will be left as Timpo envisaged, using their original black and red livery. The second is their mainly dark blue variation (with some missing parts). I'm tempted to paint it all-black, but it needs more thought.

Here are just a few historical photos which have caught my eye, no copyright infringement intended.