17 July 2009
A how-to guide, tips and advice for the novice toy modeller. ...
Metal or plastic - it's all the same!
Well, no, it isn’t, of course, but the same modelling techniques work with either. Modelling putty, when fresh mixed, will stick to both, even the smooth polythene of modern plastic figures. When it’s reluctant to do so, some superglue will encourage it if ‘run in’ under it when first applied. My point is that the additions can be made in the same way, whatever the material the figure is made from.
In plastic, Armies In Plastic (www.armiesinplastic.com) 1/32 scale polythene boxed figures are great for conversions. They are one of the cheapest sources with 16 figures in eight poses. The range keeps growing, with Napoleonic, Colonial, WWI and ACW period figures already available, and many more planned. Their figures are ‘toy soldier’ style, simple in pose and detail. For ‘military miniatures’ Conte Collectibles (www.conteco.com) and Black Cat Miniatures
(www.blackcatminiatures.net) are as good as any metal figures. Once painted it is impossible to tell the difference between them and the prepainted metal versions.
Don’t just go by what description is on the box. The idea that ACW figures can only be converted into other ACW types is far from the truth – look at the pose and underlying elements of the uniform, not the period description, and you will see all sorts of potential across many other periods. I have converted WWI figures to 1860s French in Mexico, ACW to British Colonial... and so on.
Getting hold of all the modern makes of plastic figures can be a challenge. There are so few shops around nowadays selling them that mail order is often the only option.
Companies that provide such a service include Harfield’s Military Figures (www.harfields.com), Steve Weston Toy Soldiers (www.plasticsoldiers.co.uk) and Ivanhoe Figures (l.cooksey@ btinternet.com). Older figures can be obtained from dealers like Harfields, or real specialists like Plastic Toy Soldier Collectables (pts.collectibles @ntlworld.com) and Allsorts Plastic Toy Soldiers (www.die-cast-toys.com).
For new castings of old Cherilea and Charbens figures, Plastics From The Past
(www.plasticsfromthepast.co.uk) have the original moulds. For metal figures at bargain prices and therefore ideal for conversions, try IC Toys (i.c.toys@btopen world.com).