Sunday, February 27, 2022

Winter Update

 Not much new this winter, except all the snow.

We don’t get the big snowfalls like people down east with those Nor’Westers or people in Colorado with the huge snowfalls.

But we do get blizzards, which is sustained high winds and snow.

This year they’ve been a near weekly occurrence and we are getting blocked in by all the drifts.

So it’s been a great time to do favourite tv and movie rewatches, read a book and paint toy soldiers.

Here’s a scene reminiscent of Valmy. Hong Kong soldiers made into Revolutionary war period French.

Next are a few Thirty Years War types. The large base is a terico, made of figures from one box of Mars figures. The pikes are those provided in the set and a bit of an experiment on my part. I used to just use florist wire, but after I dropped a biscuit tin full of pikemen, I kinda walked away from them. These soft plastic pikes may not be painted (yet) but they stay in place. 

These next guys are actually lead 25mm Minifigs S range if I’m not mistaken. I bought a bunch of broken figures and these guys were in them. No swords, but they look ok on those Giant copy horses. Also there is  a squadron of Warrior Miniatures 25mm French Cuirassier.  

And finally here’s some of those medieval figures I bought and featured in the last blog post. They paint up nicely.

Friday, December 10, 2021

Cheap Medieval Figures ****Updated****

 I’ve looked at Ali Baba and other places and noticed Caesar minis for sale in loose bunches.

Largely these have been World War 2 types, but I saw these medieval types on eBay:

I checked on plastic soldier review and these are indeed Caesar minis, from these sets:

European Knights:

So for $12-16 US, one can get 200 figures in 12 poses which is the equivalent of 4 boxes of Caesar.

I picked up some.

I’ll add some pix once (if) they arrive.

My hope is that these are releases by Ceasar under licence and not just pirates, and that they release cavalry and ancients.

If they do chariots from the Hittites I’ll faint and hit the floor.


Well it’s December 22, and the soldiers arrived yesterday.

11 days from order to my house, very good considering it’s Christmas season!

So what did I get?

I ordered a double dose of figures, that is 400 of them.

I received four bags of figures:

The package label is a ubiquitous one showing larger 54mm type figures with horses:

The figures themselves are of a hard plastic, which is a relief as the original Caesar figures were notoriously soft with rubber twisty weapons that were often difficult to straighten, and bent figures that had a tendency to lean and fall over.

Their use is pretty broad, as medieval types go, but I can see the heavily armoured pole axe figure being a “stand in” for Swiss infantry or even bill men in Wars of The Roses scenarios.

The heavily armoured types could also pad out an army of Lord of The Rings armies along with those Dark Dream Alliance sets.

They are 1/72 scale:

So for around $20 bucks I ended up with 400 little guys that look pretty good.

(After I posted this I sat down to count the figures and they do vary, from 180 plus to 190, so you don’t quite get 200 figures.)

I can only hope they continue to release other periods in a like manner, along with mounted figures.

Friday, November 26, 2021

Dollar Store Tanks

 Several years ago I posted some pix of the World War 2 Style tanks and trucks I have found at local dollar stores.

I was looking at Hugh Walter’s excellent blog “Small Scale World” and he had some of the newer made in China tanks. So I thought I’d post some of mine.

First up are some ersatz early World War 2 German vehicles.the Jeep’s are my “sorta Horch” conversions, with extra spare wheels, roll top and pellet headlights, a great idea I saw another guy doing. The figs are cut up Hong Kong figures.The tank transporter was actually a rocket transporter sans Scud missile.

The tanks are a mix of hulls and turrets and they are next to some Atlantic German Panzer Grenadiers.

Here’s some of the bags of toys as they come from the store. There are a lot of modern vehicles, based on the US MLRS type of vehicles, but with odd oversized Sidewinder missiles or archaic fantasy howitzers. The Montoy bag has an interesting heavy flatbed truck with a tiny tank on the back that is sporting a huge gun. So I got out the razor saw and did some surgery.

The truck is a nice size and looks pretty good. A box could be easily constructed, but the cast on wheels look odd. They look like WW1 solid metal wheels. The tiny tank would make an OK tankette, perhaps Japanese or Italian. I put half a Hong Kong soldier in the cupola of the colourful one.

Some more items. Firstly Jeep’s and an odd “dune buggy” with chained tires . I took off the silly howitzer mounted on the buggy and the small shielded Hmg on the fender. I am using these as recon armoured cars, as can be seen in my first pic. I also have mounted a turret on some, an ersatz Sdkfz 222.

The airplanes are kind of neat. The Osprey is a nice model as toys go. But the biplane has those friction motors on the bottom ruining the aircraft’s profile. Also the pilot is a cartoonish helmet and goggles that I cut out with an Xacto. I painted the plane as an early war aircraft. Not very satisfying but beggars can’t be choosers.

More tanks with swapped turrets. The top has several versions based on the Centurion tank.

The next lot are a new product, small panther hulls, with that annoying friction motor (easily removed) and a selection of inappropriate turrets. So I tried to turn one into a Lvt Buffalo, using the shielded Hmg from the the dune buggy. I also cut out the rear deck and added a lower one with half beads as the helmets of the sheltering marines. 

The last batch of photos have some of my plasticene blobby guys I tried to use as loads in those naked Jeep’s. Not too successful. They look like seals.

And finally some of the newer tanks.

Colourful, and of two types. They also have an annoying fuel barrel on the rear end, easily cut off, but an odd inclusion.

There are more items coming out all the time, but these are some that I’ve been working on for now.

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Blemmyes: An Early Dollar Store Army

 I started these guys in the early 90’s.

I saw the listing in the WRG book “Armies and Enemies of Rome” and it listed Blemyes as having elephants and cataphtact cavalry. Most of their forces were skirmishing archers.

I saw other lists for them, Irregular Miniatures offered an army in their 25mm lists (now rebranded as 28mm to stay relevant with the trend to larger figures) with elephants, archers, cavalry and camels.

So I was hooked.

Modern spellings have changed to “Blemmyes” or “Blemmae”

As for their battles, the Wikipedia entry is enticing:

 The cultural and military power of the Blemmyes started to grow to such a level that in 193, Pescennius Niger asked a Blemmye king of Thebesto help him in the battle against the Roman Emperor Septimius Severus.[citation needed] In 250, the Roman Emperor Decius put in much effort to defeat an invading army of Blemmyes.[13] A few years later, in 253, they attacked Upper Egypt (Thebaid) again but were quickly defeated. In 265, they were defeated again by the Roman Prefect Firmus, who later in 273 would rebel against the Empire and the Queen of the Palmyrene Empire, Zenobia, with the help of the Blemmyes themselves. The Blemmyes were said to have joined forces with the Palmyrans against the Romans in the battle of Palmyra in 273[13]

The Roman general Marcus Aurelius Probus took some time to defeat the usurpers with his allies but could not prevent the occupation of Thebais by the Blemmyes. That meant another war and almost an entire destruction of the Blemmyes army (279-280).[13][14][15]

During the reign of Diocletian, the province of Upper Aegyptus, Thebaid, was again occupied by the Blemmyes. In 298, Diocletian made peace with the Nobatae and Blemmyes tribes, agreeing that Rome would move its borders north to Philae (South Egypt, south of Aswan) and pay the two tribes an annual gold stipend.[16][13]

I decided to use the dollar store generic WW2 toys that were in abundance and add in toy elephants, camels and use Giant Indians for cavalry.

My first lot of soldiers were the “follow me” GI.

The problem was the bow.

Shields were easy, hole punch rounds, and the quivers were clipped round toothpicks.

But the bows were tough.

Metal didn’t bond well with plastic and fell off if bumped or picked up.

So I tried using dried pine needles of an appropriate size.

They were also slightly curved. But they eventually snapped off leaving me in the same fix.

So I ditched them and went with a running figure, rifle painted as a spear.

The cavalry turned out really nice, I think anyway.

The cataphracts have plasticine armour and a slung spear, no kontos were used.

I recently added a few armoured officers, from the Zvezda Alexander Nevsky box.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Some Late Roman/Byzantine Soldiers Plus Some New Dollar Store Items


These are some infantry, just toys from the Risk game “Godstorm!”

I have some other infantry, loosely based on the Hinchliffe figures and WRG book “Armies and Enemies of Rome”, that I posted here:

Here’s a wider shot:

The cavalry in front are Emhar rowing Vikings with plastic shield on Giant recast horses.

And another

I have a metal command figure I picked up on eBay. He might be a stand in for Justinian or Stilicho. As an aside, author Kieth Roberts book “ The Boat of Fate” has a vivid description of Stilicho. An excellent book on late Rome set in France, Spain and Britain. One of my favourite re reads.

Next up is a regiment of British Waterloo Hussars. These are some of those guys I picked up a while back from eBay. I did some touch ups to the chipping of old Humbrol paint and coated with a seal of wax. Nice figures but the original owner never painted up the trumpeters or kettle drummers.

Finally some new made in China dollar store toys.

New poses!

And they are close to 1/72 scale!

Unfortunately I had to get these on eBay and not my local store. I guess with shipping backlogs it will be some time before I see them here.

Anyway, here’s the eBay photos which show the poses in two colours and an idea of their size:

Here’s my own size comparisons:

Top row left, Airfix Paratrooper pretty close in scale, next pair is the  1/76 scale “Follow me” GI officer who is towered over by the new guy.  The last two pairs are Airfix Waterloo French and they aren’t too badly matched size wise.

Bottom row: a made in Hong Kong GI next to the new pose, quite a difference, and finally a couple of pairs of 1/76 scale Matchbox figures being dwarfed by the new guys.

Over all the new figures are crude, but the  poses are unique and for me, someone who cuts them up, drills them and slathers them with plasticine, I have to say I’m pleased. Some poses have wide spaced legs which might make mounting them on horseback that much easier.

Anyway, a curiosity perhaps, but one with some use.