Friday, November 22, 2013

I wanna tell you a story.. Tales with Toy Soldiers

Barry Hilton - For many years now I have attempted to steer as far away as possible from ranks of identical toy soldiers evenly spaced, and painted exactly the same. I agree that units of this type can look hugely attractive and were the inspiration for almost everyone of my generation to get into the hobby. I also accept that a cloying nostalgia exists for this retro look and that many people seem to have caught the bug for that. I am not sold on the plain, emulsion coated boards and shiny lead men with rosy cheeks. It is quaint but not for me.

Before the last charge... Poltava 1709 Swedish Lifeguard

I am not sure when I started deviating from the serried ranks into something a bit less rigid but last night, I opened an old briefcase in which I keep wargaming related papers and found a photograph taken around 1990 of some older design Front Rank ECW models I had painted. Although those figures were sold more than 20 years ago clear evidence of my need to tell stories within the bases is visible.

Sad death of an old friend

This ongoing series of articles is going to focus on how to create tiny tales of war on a base which can be considered on its own as a piece of work whilst at the same time fitting into a larger unit. I will try and pass on as many ideas as possible without the articles turning into full blown 'How to's'.

The articles are likely to evolve as the series unfolds and will not necessarily follow a weekly schedule. I have not yet planned how many pieces will appear but each is likely to be photograph heavy as I believe these will say more than accompanying text.

Åke is hit!

 I will focus on aspects such as Incidents - something that clearly has just happened and is captured in the base, Implication - something that maybe suggested by the positioning of the minis, Height - how much can you realistically hope to use height differential in a small area, Water  - features such as puddles, pools and the like, Men - the figures themselves. How many, what poses, conversions and substitutions.

Cold Russian wind

The rate limiter on the article will be trying to keep it in context with the period which is the focus of this blog. Occasionally to illustrate a particular point I may have to include the odd piece from beyond the pike and shot era but mostly we'll try and stay in the boat!

God is with us!

As a starter for 10, this launch piece is peppered with some vignette pieces from my Great Northern War collection each which tells a little tale.


  1. Exellent blog post !

    Lovely painted minis and a something that I to try to achieve with my painting and units to.

    Looking forward to heare more about your thoughts in the subject.

    Have a realy nice weekend !

    Best regards Michael

  2. I see some Foundry SYW Russians serving in the army of Charles XII. :)


  3. Fantastic paintjob, minis, and basing!

  4. I painted and converted most of these guys way back before 2000. Then you had you use what you would get Jim!
    Ben, will do a feature on the water effect soon on the blog. Quite easy really.
    Thanks for the comments All, these models and paint jobs have stood the test of time. They also still play.. many died to a man in Derby against the Saxons!

  5. That last pic is one of my all time favorite LoA vignettes and one I intend to steal the design of for my Ireland project... Maybe an allied brigadier hurtling a fence at Donore Hill...

  6. Just superb and a wonderful idea for an article. Inspirational and insightful Barry. Will follow intently!

  7. Thanks Carlo! I have just finished five more pieces in the series today whilst on holiday. I hope they live up to expectations.

  8. These are inspiring! Thank you for posting.


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