THE BEGINNINGS OF MODERN LITTLE WARFARE
The beginning of the game of Little War, as we know it, became possible with the invention of the spring breechloader gun. This priceless gift to boyhood appeared somewhen towards the end of the last century, a gun capable of hitting a toy soldier nine times out of ten at a distance of nine yards. It has completely superseded all the spiral-spring and other makes of gun hitherto used in playroom warfare. These spring breechloaders are made in various sizes and patterns, but the one used in our game is that known in England as the four-point-seven gun. It fires a wooden cylinder about an inch long, and has a turning thread adjustment for elevation and depression. It is an altogether elegant weapon.
It was with one of these guns that the beginning of our war game was made. It was at Sandgate—in England.
But the writer had in those days a very dear friend, a man too ill for long excursions or vigorous sports (he has been dead now these six years), of a very sweet companionable disposition, a hearty jester and full of the spirit of play. To him the idea was broached more fruitfully. We got two forces of toy soldiers, set out a lumpish Encyclopaedic land upon the carpet, and began to play. We arranged to move in alternate moves: first one moved all his force and then the other; an infantry-man could move one foot at each move, a cavalry-man two, a gun two, and it might fire six shots; and if a man was moved up to touch another man, then we tossed up and decided which man was dead. So we made a game, which was not a good game, but which was very amusing once or twice. The men were packed under the lee of fat volumes, while the guns, animated by a spirit of their own, banged away at any exposed head, or prowled about in search of a shot. Occasionally men came into contact, with remarkable results. Rash is the man who trusts his life to the spin of a coin. One impossible paladin slew in succession nine men and turned defeat to victory, to the extreme exasperation of the strategist who had led those victims to their doom. This inordinate factor of chance eliminated play; the individual freedom of guns turned battles into scandals of crouching concealment; there was too much cover afforded by the books and vast intervals of waiting while the players took aim. And yet there was something about it.... It was a game crying aloud for improvement.
The Three S’s
Soldiers Scenery Scenarios.
The Four M’s
Movement Missiles Melée Morale
Over 1989 until the present day I have made +50 moulds (RTV31), casted and painted +3000 54mm soldiers. Many I offered to the public through Military John of the Hythe Malthouse Antique Market (2000-2004). Boxed in Dorset figures boxes which I bought off of Giles Brown of Dorset Figures.
Dorset Model Soldiers was acquired from Andy Gibbs in December 2019, who had originally bought it along with his partner Peter James from Giles Brown. Giles started Dorset in 1976 and had run it for 40 years, building up a reputation for quality and service.https://imperialminiatures.co.uk/about-us/
Make sure they are Baillie’s
I drew and hand produced the labels using the Britains Edwardian box label as a template. The word “London” referred my Chemistry Lab at Dover College Prep School, Folkestone which I called it!
I am gratified that you can still see item for sale on the internet from time to time. They are made to last for posterity as treasured item I the hope that they bring as much pleasure to the keeper as I had in produce them.
Typical advert on EBAY:
Baillie 54mm Solid Cast Lead Toy Soldiers
Types of the British Navy No 3
Naval Blue Jackets Landing Party
8 Traditional Toy Soldier Style Figures
Box with a Vintage Style Label
These figures are in excellent condition in a very good box
(Item offered for sale £79.00 at the current rate 2021).
Gütersloh NAAFI 1987: the Matrix in action I picked up that book as I was about to go back to England. It change my life! I used to see Andrew Rose at the annual Military Odyssey, Detling, Kent (2000 - 2018). He was always dressed as a Union Gunner from the American Civil War. Upon first meeting him I said, “It is all your fault, with that book! It got me back into toy soldiers.” He laughed.
The Collector's all-colour guide to Toy Soldiers: A record of the world's miniature armies from 1850 to the current day
(England, 54mm painted metal models - gloss finish) Toy soldier designer/writer/historian Andrew Rose was involved in the design of such British soldier lines as Steadfast, Mark Time, Wessex (a subset of Dorset), Albion, Blenheim and his own private brand of Bastion.
Extremely Fine Figures
Andrew made some of best New Toy Soldiers in my opinion. Thank you Andrew!
NEW TOY SOLDIERS
New Toy Soldiers by Alejo Dorca
It took me years to get those memories back on track… I fondly remembered that “special” mountie I had when a child… never seen one alike since then, it does not matter a lot to me that it was simply an undress dark blue patrol jacket… IT WAS MY BLUE MOUNTIE!… so I finally painted him myself! ANDREW STEVENS REPLICAMETALMODELSOLDIERS 54mm. Painted by myself.
“An adult who plays is a child who has survived.”
I decided to create a Blog – obviously and not originally namedhttps://www.mytoysoldiersandme.com
– because “My Toy Soldiers and Me” was the title of my book autoedited in amazon. It is a mean to communicate with the rest of the wargaming/collecting world -and a posteriori with my grandchildren- and specially with my small band of readers!
I have created today 28th October 2020 a Facebook Group evidently enough called mytoysoldiersandme.com for you to ask questions etc. This present blog does not permit it to avoid spam. Sorry about that. But it is the only way to communicate or solve doubts, anyway a month later nobody has written in it about this semiblog…
You must forgive me because this is NOT an orthodox Blog, in fact it does not function at all as one, it is more a collection of Posts. I do actualize those Posts when I have an idea or change my opinion about something, but not in the usual chronological way someone would expect. What is more I put them in order at my whim thinking how I would like to read them myself.
After 2016 (3)
Changing the Guard (1)
Collecting Toy Soldiers (3)
French Colonial Units (3)
FFL Interlude (1)
XIXth Corps d’Afrique (1)
If I had to start again (1)
Military Modeling (1)
Trooping the Colour (1)
I even wrote a book about it once, by now, a bit out of date about my recent adventures, specially concerning 6mm ACW armies… so here is the way to explain what happened next -after 2016- quite a lot of things in fact!
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is WhiteCover.png
That is the cover and back cover of the second English edition. Still on sale through amazon, both on paperback and kindle. Finally this one sales regularly in the wargames fraternity and readers interested on the topic of Toy Soldiers.
This book was what it started all. Well, to be exact -as it says in the caption- in fact this is the English second edition.
Table of Contents (or Chapters):
quote: …/… There are collectors who never play, wargamers who have not painted a figure in their lives, experts in military history who do not even think for a second about buying toy soldiers, and finally professional painters of figures who do it for others and do not wargame or collect themselves. …/…
Between those extreme limits we live and thrive and in the span of life sometimes indulge more in one aspect and then another.
.- I .- History as the First Step.
quote: …/… For those of us who go on to recreate conflicts on tabletops, however, whether those conflicts are ancient (history) or imaginary, or we simply enjoy collecting toy soldiers (whatever the scale), the ability to suspend reality and obviate the more disageeable aspects of our favourite periods is essential. …/…
.- II .- Basic Influences.
quote: …/… Who in their childhood did not read adventure books? Or at least got his hands in an epic comic, or saw a swashbuckling movie or a war film? And then, after the experience, went to the toy box, whatever the size of it, and recreated the story with little or no care about matching exactly uniforms, weapons or other details in general? …/…
“an adult who plays is a child who has survived”
.- III .- Wargames and the Question What If?
quote …/… Among those who have indulged in wargaming, the percentage of time actually spent gaming on a tabletop is very low compared with the total time dedicated to the hobby as a whole. We spend a lot of time thinking about it, reading books, organizing and building armies, searching manufacturers, comparing scale benefits, painting figures, basing them, pondering which terrain we are going to use, and so on. …/…
.- IV .- Wargames with figures. A brief Historical Introduction.
quote …/… This book is maybe an exercise in self-satisfaction. But if some of you profit from my experiences and avoid making the most obvious mistakes I commited in my lifelong journey, so much the better for you. And always keep in mind that even after more than sixty years in this hobby, I still do heavily blunder sometimes. …/…
.- V .- Miniature Scales and the Suppression of Reality.
quote: …/… After so many years of buying, converting, painting, mixing and selling parts of my collection, with all the alternatives in between (like sending figures to a professional painting service), my personal experience is inclined to those counsels given in function of your particular situation. Remember that only what YOU think counts in the end. …/…
.- VI .- Scaling Down. Proportions, and the concept of Multipurpose Unit.
quote: …/… Believe me, specially at the beginning, and if you build your army slowly, the big temptation is to paint a favourite elite unit – maybe the Chasseurs a Cheval de la Garde Imperiale 1805-1815. We have all done it. Would it influence you if I said that the more time you spend in the hobby, the better your painting efforts will get, and that the order in which you paint the units is important? Why? Simply that you run the risk that the last unit you paint – e.g., an obscure militia unit you needed to paint because it was present in the field and you want to be proportional – will look better when painted than the first elite or fetish unit you painted a long time ago. …/…
.- VII.- Playing with other people or solo: Wargames and the Tabletop
quote: …/… Sometimes, I guess, the discharge of adrenaline that occurs during civilized tabletop games diminishes or helps control the aggressiveness of real life, or at least I like to think so. But I also think that the best wargames are those played in your head in anticipation of the actual game. I don’t know why, but things always seem to depart from the initial plan after the first move. …/…
.- VIII.- The Battle: Historical ORBAT, Army Points and variations.
quote: …/… One of the recurrent fears of the dedicated wargamer is being anachronistic, fielding on the tabletop units that were nonexistent at the time or simply not present at the battle. Everybody knows that there were no Polish lancers of the Imperial Guard at Austerlitz, and what is more, they did not have lances at their disposal for a long time. Nor did they have lances at their famous uphill charge at Somosierra in Spain in 1808. See what I mean? …/…
.- IX.- Figures, Terrain and Accessoires.
quote: …/… Before you fall in love with a particular size of wargame figure, keep in mind that if you are going to indulge in different periods, as we all do, then you will also need to choose carefully all the buildings, rivers, roads, barricades, trees, bridges, pontoons, mule trains, wagons, horses (to dismount cavalry), and many other things if you are to use them in multiple periods. If you do have armies in different scales or sizes, you will need to double up the scenery. So in a way, sticking to a wargame scale is also a money-saving process. …/…
.- X.- Hexagons, Grids or a Metric Ruler?
quote: …/… As with everything else in the hobby, it is a matter of gusto, personal experience, or even a function of the period played or the rules used. Try them all, and in the end you will stick to the one you like the most. But keep an open mind. Sometimes you find the best games where you least expect them. …/…
.- XI.- Rule sets and gamesmanship. Where’s the fun?
quote: …/… I must clarify that in many years of wargaming, I have collected many sets of rules, mainly but not exclusively dealing with my periods of interest, always searching tips that work here and there – Napoleonic, American Civil War – nearly anything concerning the nineteenth century and also Ancients intermittently. …/…
.- XII.- Collecting.
quote: …/… You will also learn that a collection is seldom a “quite thing”. You will have the tendency to exchange, sell, and buy items to consolidate the part you love the most, even if that entails discarding items no longer part of your main interest. With time, you will concentrate on some parts, expanding them or specializing in a theme, or you will change your objective, and that will affect the composition and structure of your collection. …/…
.- XIII.- Painting the figures, or the Painting Service Alternative.
quote: …/… As with everything else, there are various options when it comes to painting figures. There are the wargamers who paint the figures themselves, and some of them are very good at it. Others prefer to use professional painting services. A third possibility is those who simply buy the already-painted and based packs of figures available in the market, be those first or secondhand. …/…
.- XIV.- The Conversions.
quote: …/… I am not going to be a bore and harp on this particular subject, but here is the place to mention the astute mnaufacturers who have developped ranges that permit easier conversions, casting upper torsos, legs, and heads so that you can design your own figures. These include Dorset Soldiers (and REPLICA model soldiers) in 54mm and Redoubt in 25/28 mm. …/…
.- XV.- Museums and Public and Private Collections.
quote: …/… Those changes of location and “on” and “off” dates of visit are frustrating, so it’s always better to confirm beforehand. After all, a trip is expensive enough itself without indulging in deviations from the planned route to see nothing …/…
.- XVI.- Megalomania has its necessary limits.
quote: …/… Finally, let’s mention what I consider the most common sickness of the wargamer – the “if I only had another battalion” syndrome-. It is at the root of the very large armies built by wargamers, who are always thinking about a second or third chance in the game. …/…
.- XVII.- Summing up: To avoid mistakes.
quote: …/… It sound logical enough, but you will be amazed to discover how we all make sorry mistakes, especially at the beginning. Temptations are great, and you won’t be the first to do things in great disorder or without perspective. …/…
.- XVIII.- Playmobil.
quote: …/… Then suddenly I started to look at Playmobil figures in detail. With time and subsequent evolution, those crude toys from 1974 were slowly becoming less and less childish in design. I have to confess that …/… having in mind that I am a curious person by nature, I detected wargaming potential for adults. …/…
.- XIX.- Conclusion.
quote: …/… Enjoy whatever you do, and be your own guide Learn from others with more experience, copy whatever you like, adapt to your taste, convert to your needs, transform and work your own ideas to the last, but overall have fun with it, because any hobby is about having fun from beginning to end …/….
.- Update to the Second English Edition (Outro).
quote: …/… As it is, and especially from a certain age onwards, the “it is done” syndrome is present. At least this is what I thought around the month of August in 2008; at last I have finished my collections and pet projects, and I have written a guide about it. It’s a kind of self-help book for beginners, or “toy soldiers for dummies”, as those books are generally titled nowadays. I thought it was a fitting end, but as usual, time has proved it was not the end at all …/…
Reason of this Blog actually!
.- Acknowledgements and Final Note.
quote: …/… I think that the last words of the text need to clarify that entertainment with imaginary wargames on a tabletop is one thing, but real wars are a quite different thing. I have always admired the common foot soldier of any country, tribe, or nationality, – those who in history textbooks have been callously called “cannon fodder”- and I do include in this concept absolutely all of them. And I absolutely agree with the Duke of Wellington’s words after Waterloo: “Next to a battle lost, the saddest thing is a battle won”. This is why I love toy soldiers: they never die.
(Each Chapter has 4 or 5 colour pics at least).
The “white book” was the second English edition three years after the “black book” fiasco. By now I am quite proud of it, it is quite self-contained and exhaustive about the Hobby. But from my perspective it is becoming slowly obsolete with no mention of the current trends and times… it does not mention LITTLE WARS TV for example (podcasts!), neither my current passion for the ACW in Baccus 6mm with Baccus and Leven scenery (renewed interest for a period). And some other collateral interests like the NWF, North of Africa Colonial French, LBH, Second Punic War -“counters” for a board game- Death Ride in the FPW etc. But this Blog hopefully makes up for it. In fact it complements the second edition in English nicely enough as an update.
As it is, I first wrote the book in Spanish because I was born in Spain and that was my first language.
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is RedCover-1.png
Cover and Back cover of the Spanish second edition.
In fact I thought this “blog” would be useful because I can edit, add, reorder or delete!- and post the link to the blog in FB or twitter. I am having a lot of fun… started in December 2019 the blog has had 30.000 visitors and 144.500 visits… (counting robots&would be hackers! in them visits, and from 140 different countries… ) not bad as a whole for such a minority interest!
I once (quite recently) started a more orthodox Blog in one of the Posts but I did not liked much the result… I was giving away too much personal thoughts and snipets of me you do not need to know at all… after all I am quite an introvert person and would not like to publish a Diary at all…
Author: Alejo Dorca
Born in 1952. Married in 1976. Two sons and a daughter. 4 grandsons to date, 3 boys and a girl. Arquitect in 1978. Retired in 2016 aprox. Lifelong Toy Soldiers aficionado. View all posts by Alejo Dorcahttps://www.mytoysoldiersandme.com/2019/12/10/hola-mon/https://www.mytoysoldiersandme.com/category/collecting-toy-soldiers/