Long before I was a wargamer I fell under Henry Harris's spell and converted all my old Britain's Toy Soldiers into Model Soldiers. I hacked and glued and puttied and painted to make unique poses and uniforms. From there I went on to smaller figures and detailed, shaded, matte finish models for wargaming. Even when I started buying recast Britain's 20 years ago I turned them into models. Now that I've started painting simple glossy 40mm toy soldiers it was easier to finally undertake proper renovations to the antique toys that have come to me.
What a joy it has been to start producing proper toy soldiers for wargaming!
Originally the Highlanders probably came with an officer with binoculars, but if they did he was lost before they came to me. There were 4 broken figures out of 9 though so I decided to convert a broken firing figure to an officer. His body pose was all wrong for adding binoculars but seemed suitable for a highland version of Britain's iconic sword and pistol officer pose.
|Highlanders from Andrew Rose's Collector's Guide to Toy Soldiers. Note the two officers with movable binocular arms.||CIV Officer from Andrew Rose's Collector's Guide to Toy Soldiers.|
Four men might make a company but it wouldn't use all the figures in hand or look like a battalion so I proposed fielding 2 companies from each regiment to allow a variety of uniforms even in a small force. Once I reviewed what I already had, I found elements of at least 10 British/Canadian infantry regiments. If you add cavalry and artillery we're edging up on potentially 30 tactical units each occupying 1 square. My table is 12 squares wide. Even if I made two separate British forces that never saw each other, they would each still be too big to fit!
When I was young my Mom used to tease us about "our eyes being bigger than our stomach" if we took too much and couldn't finish it, an expression passed down from my grandmother and who knows how many generations before. That was basically the case now. I had starting to plan bigger armies than I was likely to finish or could use or display if I did. I needed to scale back and field fewer but slightly bigger units.
|58th Foot, now 4 strong with 2 more waiting. The officer has been "rebadged" from the Hochelaga Fusiliers (headswap and repaint - See him in action with his old unit in Dec 2015 here). Having talked myself out of doing realistic but un-Britainlike stained helmets and belt, I decided to be truer to history, toy soldier history that is, and removed the pointed, laced cuffs. If Britain's did facings you got a swipe of colour and that was it!|
I like the single rank look for this period so I have decided to revert to the existing plan of 6 figure units grouped into "brigades" of 3 or 4 "companies" plus a Mounted Officer. This will accommodate most of my existing 54mm figures with just a few small additions (apart from the non-existent Boer force).
For my South African British force I just need to add 2 figures to the 58th, refurbish 2 more Gordon Highlanders, add another company of British infantry in helmets, refurbish enough sailors to field a Naval Brigade company, convert 4 lancers to sun helmets, convert a gun crew to helmets and paint up a mounted Brigadier in helmet. Then I'll start the Boers, being mounted infantry they will get only 4 figures per unit like the cavalry (unless doing 25 conversions leaves me wanting to do more!) . I'm not sure yet if I will rebase the Zulus onto slightly larger bases to allow an increase to 8 or 10 figure units or just field more units!