EXERT FROM APPENDIX 1 from Don Featherstone's Battles With Model Soldiers
(The book that got me started.)

"Nothing in these pages is a dictate, no word says you must or you shall do it this way. On the contrary, the book sets out from the very beginning to stimulate the reader to think for himself, and to use what he has read merely as a foundation for efforts and ideas which reflect his own temperament and character. Only in this way will he obtain maximum satisfaction from the hobby of battling with model soldiers."

-Don Featherstone 1918 - 2013

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Bits and Pieces

A converted kit beside an original pre-painted figure.

Tragard Master asked for more about Preiser/Elastolin kits. I don't actually know alot but here goes. Many among us are familiar with the beautiful painted hard plastic 4cm and 7cm toy soldiers made by Hauser under the brand name of Elastolin. Production of these plastic figures began in 1955 according to all-knowing (sic) Wikipedia. (Production of me also took place in that same year, a coincidence? Really?). Originally the figures were only sold as painted, boxed sets but apparently they were eventually released as unpainted kits as well. Hauser ceased production in 1982. When they declared bankruptcy the next year, the molds were sold to Preiser.  Preiser has continued to sell the 7cm figures as painted figures and as kits and may have periodically released batches of the 4cm figures. For a short while Michigan Toy Soldiers had them listed as did Germania and I foolishly talked myself into believing that they would be available for a few years and kept putting off an order for some of the figures I needed, especially the mounted figures from the Prince Valiant range of which I have none.   AARGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH  I should have known better!  
They do crop up frequently on ebay at prices ranging from ridiculously expensive to ridiculously cheap with most being in the middle.
The kits in front, the finished figures behind them. The one on the left is a damaged original that I touched up, with a spear from some other range, the one on the right is an original with broken axe. I will get around to drilling his hand and replacing it one day. The guy in the middle is one of the kits that followed me home from Historicon.

I have occasionally treated my self to intact, pre-painted figures, but not often. Early on I bought a number of broken pieces since they were all that I could afford but for a while there was a glut of cheap kits, usually in mixed lots, (ie instead of all Romans or all ACW, there would be 1 or 2 from each range)  probably left over stock or from someone's estate.  I also made 1 really useful buy, 100 gold vikings from a dealer in Germany, all the same pose unfortunately. I believe these were sold as novelties but the price worked out to pennies apiece and has provided a useful supply of shields, heads and arms for conversion and repair. They have also been the foundation for my "Pictish" spearmen, all with shaggy bareheads and bare knees.

The kits only go together one way but being hard plastic, the figures cut well with a razor or jeweler's saw, can be shaved or sanded, adhere to epoxy putty and may be glued easily and securely. They also take paint well. The historical accuracy  of the Ancient and Dark Age figures is variable and dated but that on the more modern periods such as the Landsknechts can't be faulted. More than that, the anatomy, animation and attention to detail is amazing.  WHY CAN"T I HAVE MORE!!!!???

One of the golden vikings in front. Needing some mounted "bad guys" (a "Pictish" Noble) to add depth to my Saxon invaders, and having some mounted Roman and Hun kits, I did some simple surgery to get mounted barbarians such as this one. Dismounted Huns are a "maybe" for the future.
The figure at the top of the blog was a kit but received an arm from one of the golden vikings to add variety. 
For those they missed it, here is a battle report of Prince Michael trying to hold a pass against a Picto-Saxon incursion last year.

10 comments:

  1. What great little models - I'd heard of them but never seen them before. Excellent paint jobs too!

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  2. What scale are these ? 70mm or 40mm. Beautiful figures. Very reminiscent of 19th century engravings. There is a definate touch of the Gustav Dore's about them.

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  3. These are 40's. One of the reasons I settled on 40mm as a scale.

    -Ross

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  4. Looked out the 20 plus 40mm pre-painted Elastolin figs from circa 1970 today ( complete with stuck on labels from their Featherstone skirmishing days)...
    Still undecided whether to repaint or not- what do you guys think?

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  5. They are a joy to paint. Unless you plan on selling them and the labels can be removed without damage, I'd say do what pleases you most.

    I like having a couple of the pre-painted ones around as a tribute and reminder of what they looked like, but I like my own painted ones even more, even with only a casual paint job.

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  6. I don't know if it's "sacrilege" or somehow lowers their monetary value, but I like your conversions and your paint work looks great.

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  7. Ross, mind if I ask? What do you consider a reasonable price for an unassembled kit? I see them on eBay frequently from one particular seller, and he asks $8.99 each, plus shipping. That's beyond my price point, but I don't know if that price is high, low, or in between. Trying to figure out whether to push on with my 54mm Vikings or go all in and follow your lead into these really fantastic 40mm Elastolins.

    Cheers,

    Will

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    1. Will, reasonable is a relative term, my budget is next to non-existent. There have been occasions when I have paid as much as $5 for a kit or original figure but not many, I just can't afford it. Finding cheaper ones is hard though, its taken me almost 10 years to build up my little band and even then, the only reason I have enough for gaming is that I once jumped on an ebay offering of a bag of 100 gold vikings (all 1 pose, no weapon) for 10 Euros. My cavalry has mostly come from some grab bag lots of 20 mixed kits (ie ACW, Turks, Romans all mixed) for $20 that I won about 5 years ago. I'm still looking for more of those!

      The sane answer is to stick with the 54's or if you want a similar feel, go 60mm with Cherilea figures and Marx Russian recast WoW 60mm vikings.

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    2. Thanks Ross.

      There is something about a difficult-to-collect subject that gets my fires burning. But 54mm dark ages are hard enough. Conte's wonderful figures are almost impossible to find anymore (what wargamer doesn't have a story to tell about those figure he assumed would always be available and failed to purchase?), for example.

      So I will take your advice, and soldier on with my 54s. I did manage to add a few poses last night, by converting some of my Marx 54s to carry alternate weapons of brass (spears, swords, javelins, etc.).

      I don't suppose you (or any of your readers) know a source for 54mm dark ages round shields, do you? That would increase my conversion possibilities greatly.

      Anyway, thanks again. For this advice and for your excellent blog and rules.

      Will

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  8. I didn't realize the Conte's had gotten scarce. Irregular has some metal shields and DSG in argentina has shields as well as their own vikings available unpainted.
    http://www.dsgplastictoysoldiers.com/

    dsg viking

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