Sunday, 14 July 2013

Making a traditional 'tin' soldier

An interesting day today - I started cleaning up my very first metal toy soldier. The Black Hat c.1900 French Infantry are what I would describe as traditional 'tin soldiers'. The are caricatures of soldiers and hardly realistic, but as I explained in my previous posts they are not meant to be.

That said, today's work gave me a chance to examine the quality of these metal toys in more detail.

The main thing with cast figures is moulding marks, seams and any imperfections in the metal itself. Being multipart toys complicates matters as each component must fit snuggly onto another appropriate part. So how does Black Hat fair up with fit and quality?

Well, to be honest I have to borrow a phrase from my wife - who is a teacher - and say 'could do better'. They aren't terrible, being metal one should expect a little work to make things fit, but the parts hardly snap into place!

That said, and bearing in mind - again - that these are supposed to look like toy soldiers the fact that there are noticeable joins between components may actually be a positive thing.

Likewise other details are probably purposely simplified. Take the rifle, it's hardly what you could call an accurate historical representation - it's neigh on cartoonish in it's construction. And the shoes of the little soldier are like a pair of blocky clogs!

Now...It may be a bone of contention as to whether Black Hat are being clever and doing these things deliberately, or are just a little - er, how do I put this - 'naive' in their toy making, but it actually doesn't matter. The end result is appropriate.

There's plenty of routine file work to get ride of seams - you can see one of the main seams on the head in the photos - but again, if you are of a mind to recreate the traditional tin soldier look you may even want to leave in these seams. Remember the real thing was a factory cast and painted mass produced product, and things like seams and slap dash painting were the norm.

Trying to capture this authentic tin soldier look will be a challenge, but Black Hat's metal models have given me an excellent start with their model - it's now up to me to finish this model with an appropriately traditional paint job.

> You can view all the posts in this project here - link to all posts in this series.

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