Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Redemption Story III: Back in the Saddle Again


Back again to that heap of forlorn arms, legs, heads, and torsos that I got on eBay.  This sad assortment was a once-upon-a-time horde of toy soldiers for some young boy...a young boy who was particularly hard on the troops.

The mission this time was to see how many of the ten damaged cavalrymen could be made 
whole again.

Like the foot soldiers who appeared in my most recent posts, the men of the mounted arm were in equally , if not worse, stages of damage and destitution.

This cavalry officer has at least his head to hang his hat upon, others were not so lucky (as will be seen).


The first step was to go through the heap of limbs and fragments to determine
if he could be made whole again.

In this instance I (and he) was fortunate.  Everything was present and...

with the help of a few drops of Krazy Glue...

Captain Dumpty had come together again.  However the rehabilitation process has just begun.

Not so easy is one of the more typical troopers of this truncated tribe.

This was the appearance of the majority of the ten cavalrymen.

As with the captain, the missing pieces needed to be located, fracture lines matched and Krazyglued back together.

 These early Britains plastics are far superior than the current generation.  Note the cool carbine, molded separately hanging at his side.  Now to find that other arm.

Krazy Glue alone only "bastes" the pieces together.  The real bond is made by "heat welding" one piece to another with a modified soldering iron

Once reassembled everyone got primed and ready to paint.

Sarge LaFarge leads the way, fully restored to duty, finished toy soldier brite and sporting the chevrons of a newly-minted NCO.

I like his neatly-trimmed Van dyk.

Choosing to completely alter the painting of these soldiers from their original Britains scheme is a reflection of the licence that comes with resurrecting destroyed (and some would say "noncollectable") toy soldiers.

Our captain has returned to the active list and is anxious to rejoin his unit.

Generally, when I do chevrons, I simply paint a large chevron shape and then use a 000-nib technical pen to create the individual stripes.

Here they come!

Sabers drawn and galloping into action...

Of the ten, only two were total losses.  There little plastic families can take comfort in the knowledge that their men had given their all for Lincoln and Liberty.

This eBay deal is getting better all the time.

Soldier on!


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

“[No] matter what a waste one has made of one's life, it is ever possible to find some path to redemption, however partial.” ― Charles Frazier, Cold Mountain


What to do with broken toy soldiers who wish to soldier on for the cause of Lincoln and Liberty?

Specialized situations call for specialized soldiers

A new lease on life came for more of those fractured, limb-less,  and abused Britians and Cresent soldiers from my most recent post.

I've begun the repair and painting of many of the "salvageable" soldiers, the group of six in the center had legs and bases that were too brittle and shattered to even begin to try to glue back together, having, you may recall, the tensile strength of a crayon

I decided to look at each figure not as what it had been but what it could become
including this legless rebel who is about to be repurposed as a galvanized Yankee but first...

Those stumps need to be even'd  up on the belt-sander.

The sander transformed a figure similar to the one on the right to the work-in-progress on the left (you'll see him again soon).

Repainted and sprayed with a "brite" finish, and new transparent bases at the ready,  these little fellows are nearly ready to reenlist.

Scoring the base with a "cross-hatch" pattern makes for better adhesion with the super-glue

Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to present the newest addition to the miniature Army of the Potomac:

 fully recovered and re-purposed little Yankees, again rushing to the sound of the guns

as they splash across the creek under heavy rebel fire.

 [please do click on the photo for a larger and more dramatic effect!]

Brave toy soldiers taking the fight to the far bank.

Some do fall in the effort...

but will be avenged by their tiny comrades!

This saga will continue.

Soldier on!



Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Another 54mm Redemption Story

 (This is the first installment of a saga prompted by a recent purchase)

 Buyer's remorse set in almost as soon as I opened the carton.

The two limbers with four horse teams caught my eye immediately.  It was a very tempting ebay offering, as I'm working to recreate in 54mm, Battery B, 4th US artillery.  Along with the limbers there were about 75 figures; Swoppets, Crescent, Deetail; pretty much all of the plastics made by Britains during the 1960s.  Included were infantrymen mounted artillerymen, and about twelve cavalrymen, on horseback, both blue and gray.

The dealer was very upfront  about the condition of the soldiers, noted that many of them were "wounded".  I pored over the auction photos and made a detailed list of how many of each there were in the "damaged" or "undamaged" categories, certain that my steady hands and superglue could make quick work of the walking wounded, plus those limbers kept calling out to me.  I decided on a price above which I wouldn't go, somewhat more than I should've, and waited for the auction to wind down.

"congratulations you won..."  Came the cheery robot-generated tidings, I paid and I waited for the mailman.

As I opened the carton I was reminded of the rail yard scene in "Gone With the Wind" as Scarlett winds her way through a ghastly pan shot of hundreds and hundreds of maimed and dying Confederate soldiers.

I was in way over my head.  They looked as though some petulant and spoiled little English boy of the 1960s (Swinging Carnaby Street days) stamped upon his tiny legions in  fit of pique because he encountered daddy "hugging" someone who wasn't mummy in the back of the Bentley.  The enormity of his tantrum was made manifest in the gruesome contents of the carton.

My first attempt at "fixing" a broken soldier was revelatory - they were so broken up because the plastic (after years of being, I suspect, in a very hot attic) had the tensile strength of a black Crayola crayon - the little man nearly crumbled in my hand.


How I proceeded is the grist for future posts; in this one, however, I'll focus on one unfortunate infantry officer who came home from battle not quite "all there".

This is the story of his long road back.

The officer in question is at the lower right.  Note he was missing both legs (though they are in the pile as were dozens of other separated limbs) and his sword had gone the way of all things.

I located his missing legs and tacked them into place with Super glue.  Following that I welded the pieces together with a soldering iron.

So far, so good.

Next up was the missing sword.  I wanted the new sword to "flex" or would just end up getting busted off again.  I cut a blade-shape out of a piece of an aluminum soft drink can.  With a very fine razor-saw I grooved the existing hilt and snugged the super glued blade into position.

The barrel to his trusty sidearm got lost somewhere in the cosmic shuffle so I heated a small section of paperclip (sharpened to a point at the heated end) and drove it right in to the cylinder.

As you watch me repaint the figure note that his missing scabbard is no longer missing in action.  Using rudimentary blacksmithing technique, I heated a larger paperclip with a MAPP gas torch to cherry red and hammered it to the desired flatness and curvature of a convincing scabbard. Heating the hilt end (not nearly as hot this time) I pressed the scabbard into the plastic, bonding it to the figure.  His red sash and binocular case identify him readily as an officer even i the smoke of battle.

The bases of all of the figures were very brittle so I cut a clear plastic base and epoxied the original base to the sturdier one and painted the result green.

Now it was time to send our soldier back into battle and see if he still had the "right stuff"

Was there any doubt?

Buyer's remorse gone, I intend to soldier on!


p.s. much more to come.