Sunday, February 18, 2018

'Childhood' from RichardC: A Hobble Down Memory Lane

The Childhood bonus round was the one I was really looking forward to. However, as with much of this year’s Challenge, real life has got in the way. A few weeks ago, I visited the doctor with what I hoped was a minor ailment. Last week, I had a group of medical students staring at me whilst a consultant barked questions at them. A couple of hours later, I woke after emergency surgery. As a result, sitting for any length of time is difficult and painful – painting has literally become a pain in the back!!!.

Enough of my woes, on to the theme. It was my father who engendered my interest in ancient Greeks, and here is one of my all-time favourite figures. He is 54mm, and from the Herald range from Britains, and he probably helped start me on the figure collecting obsession. My two older brothers and I had a number of these with which to do battle, together with Timpo crusaders and knights. In 1973, my brothers painted the Airfix OO/HO scale Romans and Britains together with the fort for me, but sadly these have long since disappeared. Many thousands of Airfix Napoleonics were painted and then left behind at university or in various house moves.

Then when I was 11, I discovered metal figures – Hinchliffe and Minifigs. They were expensive by my pocket money standards – 6p for a foot figure, but I was hooked. Every Saturday, I would visit War and Pieces in Rochdale, spending hours peering through the small drawers at the figures within. Eventually, I would have chosen half a dozen figures covering a variety of periods, and I would go home a happy lad. The shop owner even let me exhibit my meagre efforts in the shop window from time to time.

Now my original plan was to array a number of my favourite childhood figures next to their modern equivalent. This would show the huge leaps forward in sculpting and casting over the last 40-odd years. The Greek officer by Garrison, Marshal Ney by Foremost, the Roman centurion by Warrior, the 20mm Niblett ECW figures. Sadly, they are all in the lead pile in the attic, and therefore unavailable to me until I get full mobility back. Therefore only a single figure this time, but one of my favourite historical figures. Here is Front Rank’s Marshal Jean Baptiste Bessieres next to his 1970s Minifig version. I still have most of the Minifigs French General Staff, but at some point in the past, they went into the paint stripper – so I can’t show you what my painting skills as a 14 year old were like. He was fun to paint, and I’m pretty pleased with the result – if only my photography was better. I know he will put in an appearance before the end of the Challenge if I can get my act together. First the original 25mm Minifigs Bessieres.

Then the newly painted Front Rank Bessieres:-

 Here are the pair of them together as a comparison:-

I have, however a single Roman cavalryman by Hinchliffe – one of the first figures I bought (either from a shop in Hyde near Manchester or Bradford’s Train Shop Supermarket – 3 floors of models, including one devoted to figures!) – he must date from about 1974 (I bought him after reading an article on ancients in Military Modelling magazine). At some point, he fell in battle, never to be seen again, however many, many years later, whilst digging over the garden of my childhood home, my father found him and returned him to me – a nice memory.

The quality of figures has certainly improved over the years, but I do still like the “old school” chunky figures of my childhood. This has been a fun trip down memory lane.

1 x Front Rank 28mm mounted figure. Base by War Bases. 10 Points


  1. Now if that is not true to theme I don't know what is! The figures are great but the story is gold mate!

  2. Firstly great to hear that you are still with us! Secondly what a lovely post, I knew you were hoping to have achieved more, but this rather does everything that you planned - splendid work Sir.

  3. That first pic stopped me in my tracks - I had the same Herald figs when I was a lad!

    Great work on the newer acquisitions as well, top work Richard!

  4. Love those OS Minifigs, give them love and they still hold up well. I definitely want to see the Marshall painted up!

  5. Love the old soldiers very much, Richard!( probably should revisit my old homes and dig in the yard!)
    Beautiful paint on that front rank figure, I quite like those green boots. As an old soldier myself, do take care. We need more than a few hours (days) to recover! ;)

  6. Thanks for the very kind comments. I've been able to pick up a brush again this week, and am beavering away (albeit slowly).


    Richard C

  7. Sorry to hear about your medical issues, Richard. Wonderful work on one of my favourite Marshals.