Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming!

Cool commie castings

Sure, I know the wall came down and all but old habits are hard to break. Here are some nice miniatures that I turned into toy soldiers (huh?).

My friend Ike gave me a small grouping of miniature ACW soldiers from Russia.

I decided to make them into toy soldiers,  which is as simple as...

taking the matte finished miniature and...

spraying it with glossy lacquer.  Presto! a shiny bright toy soldier.

As with the soldier above all of the poses of this group of Russians are very pleasing.

Drummer boy

Charge bayonets guy

Shootin' guy

Rebel general

nice detail on the coat facings.

Altogether a very nice group of Confederates

But now its time to put them in the context if their comrades:

On the firing line...

rushing into action...

advancing to the front.

Thanks Ike, for the reinforcements.

Soldier on!


Friday, October 25, 2013

When I turned ten...

Marx Blue and Gray playset...

best birthday ever.

Soldier on!


Saturday, October 19, 2013

Confederates in the Basement

I've been spending some quality time out in the shop - before it gets too cold - assembling and painting some worthy opponents to my pewter Third Michigan Volunteer Infantry (click here) which I completed last year - a nearly twenty year project.  I'm hoping my Confederate regiment doesn't take nearly that long.

In the shop with paint still drying.

In the field.

Marching over a bridge.

On the firing line.

Nearly all of these soldiers have been cast from commercial molds, my custom (home made) latex molds are pretty burned up from doing the Third Michigan project.

Acknowledging that these are toy soldiers and not miniatures, I'm painting them in spic and span gray or gray and butternut uniforms, finished bright.

Officers call.

Charging into action (or skedadeling from it!)

Charge, bayonets!

Forty down...

179  to go

(watch this space)

Soldier on!

Monday, October 14, 2013


Toy soldiers need toy artillery support. This Penncraft naval gun was always handy for use with Lincoln Log fortifications. Its non-firing but can still send a lot of pretend iron downrange. 

Tootsietoy 3" parrott rifle
As a little kid this was my first gun; I'd fire BBs from it at my army guys
It was a steady shooter.The scale of this little gun is actually pretty accurate, as was its firing; this spring-loaded shooter knocked down lots of plastic soldiers . 

I painted the carriage on this Penncraft Napoleon with its very shiny tube.  As a kid I could usually find these at any historical tourist attraction, I think I got one at Greenfield Village in
 Dearborn Michigan.

A typical souvenir cast-iron Penncraft with "VIRGINIA" on the trail.  Even as a kid I was kind of a stickler for scale and guns like this were just too big to find themselves on the firing line of my bedroom-floor battlefields.

An Americana combination Whitworth rifle and...

pencil sharpener!  ! 

A Britains Royal Artillery Gun,  this one is a little battered but it still shoots well .

A Britains Howitzer with threaded elevation screw and firing lever.  These shoot little metal projectiles. 

A Japanese knock-off of a Britains Royal Artillery cannon. I really like the complexity of this gun with adjustable elevation and intricate breech mechanism,  and it shoots well.

This is a masterpiece, the Britains 4.5" naval gun.  This is the gun which made possible the modern wargaming as invented by H.G. Welles.  I made hardwood projectiles for this gun which I've fired for distances of over twenty feet.

A crazy big made-in-india tourist trade cast iron gun.  The breech screws off and there's a hole in the knob making me think this for using with firecrackers.

As big as I can go.  The tube of this parrott I turned on my woodlathe.

What fun!

Soldier on!


Saturday, October 12, 2013

How it all started

I must have been five or six when my mother bought me my first bag of toy soldiers. And as the only accessories were picks and shovels - in retrospect I guess they were green construction guys, nonetheless to me they were my first plastic armymen.

These were MPC "ring-hands" the first generation of cheap American-made plastics that had rudimentary accessories. 

The summer that I turned ten my godmother, Aunt Josie, gave me the MPC Civil War playset to supplement the Marx "Blue and Gray" set that my parents had given me that spring for my birthday. I was in kid heaven that summer.

The accessories were pretty clunky, as here, our soldier models the neckerchief, saber, 
canteen, and haversack.

The sculpted detail however was quite pleasing.

And, though somewhat squinty, the facial expressions were much improved on the earlier ring hands in which everyone looked like Raymond Burr.

This Yankee may have lost his rifle but he still has his bedroll.

MPC also made really cool WWII GIs.  I had lots of these.  The silver-colored accessories were much better than those of the Civil War guys.  Helmets, "grease-guns", M1 carbines, and even life jackets for goodness sakes - these guys were ready for anything.

Again, the sculpted on detail was very good.  And as a kid I was fascinated...

by these cool cargo pockets!

The prone shooter guy was a favorite, waiting silently in ambush for the next Japanese patrol 
to come down the trail.

Thank goodness for my mom and Aunt Josie, they got me started in a delightful world 
of toy soldiering.

Soldier on!