Sunday, 25 January 2015

Another mystery package

This week I was lucky enough to receive another mystery package from Jack in the US. I think most wargamers would agree that there is nothing quite like receiving a package of toy soldiers in the post but when you have no idea what it contains the pleasure is all the greater!


This one contained 18 x DK215 British Royal Dragoons which when combined with Don's squadron (click here) will provide a mounted force that ought to please even the cavalry phobic Duke. For the sake of balance there were also 10 x DK46 French Guard Grenadier-a-Cheval (just what I need to bolster the Guard cavalry).

DK46 French Guard Grenadier-a-Cheval, a very similar figure to Hinton Hunt FN/56.

There were some lovely DK British command figures, three vintage Hinton Hunt BN/2 British Sergeant (charging) and one BN/80 Guards Officer in bearskin (charging). Marcus Hinton produced his British Guards infantry wearing the full-dress bearskin although these were not worn on campaign – I have an example of a sergeant in my British Foot Guards (click here).

Fresh off the playing fields of Eton, Guards officer BN/80.

Another very useful item was a French Limber AL3 as this was the only limber in the Napoleonic range that I was lacking. This means that I will finally be able to put together a French limber team to complement the artillery contingent (click here).

 This is French Limber AL3 and is either a vintage model or a Clayton casting.

All welcome and useful additions to the lead pile but for now it’s back to painting tartan!

20 comments:

MSFoy said...

Great package - British Royal Dragoons? - is that of the Northern variety? Excellent, anyway.

Your comment about the joys of receiving a parcel with unknown contents brought back to me the days when Hinton Hunt stuff would come from the shop, wrapped in newspaper. That was often a bitter-sweet experience - in particular i recall receiving a load of Union zouaves, and I still wasn't sure what they were after I had unwrapped them! They really represented all the spending money I could raise in those days, and it required a philosophical heart to stay with the hobby!

Stryker said...

Hi Tony - no they are just regular line dragoons but the DK list I have classifies them as 'Royal'.

I totally agree with your comments about receiving packages of figures direct from Hinton Hunt in the 70's. I to can recall looking at a heap of lead that represented 3 months pocket money and trying to work out what was figure and what was flash! If only Hinton Hunt had developed the same casting techniques as Minifigs how different things would have been...

lewisgunner said...

His castings were fine fine when a new figure was made, he just never made proper production moulds with only one figure on them, never cast for stock and only replaced a mould when the figures in it were, as you imply 50% flash. The rest, the mould making machine, the casting machines etc were the same as Minifies. HH was a classic case of refusing to invest in kit and labour. The Hintons were a charming, chaotic couple. When others wanted to invest in the business, like most owners, they became greedy and wanted more than it was worth or would not relinquish control. They had no marketing or production strategy and thus made all sorts of things that had no commercial future. There was a chess set, I recall that had little half figures that plugged in the base, some 40mm knights, some 30mm English Restoration figures. Similarly I would class the British Napoleonic guards in bearskins as a folly when he should have been making Prussian, Russian and Austrian standard bearersabd drummers. What was the point of a Crimean range with no artillery, no Russian cavalry, no British HC and only 17th lancers, no Russian sharpshooters etc etc. What was the point of a colonial range with no guns and no cavalry and no Dervish Ansar, only Fuzzy Wuzzies. Why did he make several figures for French Light Infantry Carabiniers and yet no centre company Legere. Inconsistency ruled

A true eccentric!
Roy

Stryker said...

Roy - I guess that's all part of the fascination for me but what you're saying about the moulds does explain the excessive flash. Certainly in the end it was the labour involved in cleaning the castings that put me off buying other Hinton Hunt ranges and I turned to Minifigs when I dabbled in ECW.

lewisgunner said...

At one point the Hintons had tried to save money by buying cheapermoulds. These were less flexible than the black silicone moulds and went even stiffer after reoeated heating. They also epxperimented with cheaper rather more infleible metal. the result was that these cheap moulds list bits of their rubber where there were undercuts such as the soaces between the arms and the body and between horses legs. When casting I would always try to. use the black moulds and only use the brown cheap ones where absolutely necessary. I suspect that some of the other people who had cast for them had been under pressure to produce and if you pulled the star. if cast figures out too quickly and the mould was too hot that would damage them. Of course, had Hinton had production moulds, then producing 72 French line infantry would have taken four turns of a warmed mould whereas with only say four of a figure on the mould it meant 18 turns of the mould so it became hotter and more fragile. That also meant that all the other figures on the star were produced 18 times and because there was no system or money to cast for stock all these good figures would be thrown back into the pot. S you can only use a mould so many tines in a straight run often one would have to stop before the order was fulfilled and cast sonething else until the mould cooled. If I was doing a three hour stint that meant that some oders would then wait days before they were finally cast up.
We have to remeber that the Hintons were geared up for casting and animating 54mm figures which only ever required one or two of a particular figure. Hence their entire mindset was about individual oroduction.
Miniature Gigurines, if course was an entirely different proposition when they started mass production but production was something that Neville learned. When they started with the Alberken figures and then the John Braithwaite stuff that was based upon converted Airfix figures I do not believe that they were much better than Hinton Hunt, though they always had much better standards when it came to flash.
Roy

Stryker said...

Fascinating stuff Roy!

paulalba said...

Yip it's always great to get another parcel of toy soldiers!

paulalba said...

I think the complete limber may be a star attraction in your collection Ian!

Stryker said...

Paul - I think you may be right, I already have plans to push it forward in the painting queue!

Anonymous said...

A parcel is always a treat, the limber team will complement your artillery, but the cavalry must be tempting. After the highlanders some British cavalry would be useful to bolster the ranks, and run down the French.

Or do you get side tracked by Brunswickers?

Paul

Stryker said...

Paul - More British cavalry would be good but I probably need to do some more French next. Brunswickers may also be on the agenda!

Anonymous said...

Would they be Old Guard infantry or some of the lovely Guard scout lancers that you showed from a previous package?

Paul

Stryker said...

Paul - yes I'm thinking more in terms of cavalry!

the Archduke said...

Methinks I have been unforgiveably slow. Do I infer that Roy worked in the production of HH figures? Respect.

Stryker said...

Archduke - yes he did, a mispent summer of his youth but I'm sure he'll fill us in with the details!

lewisgunner said...

Yers in about 1974-5 I was living around Reading and used to visit Rowsley to buy and collect orders. Mrs Hinton told me that things were delayed because they had no one to cast for them. For several months I did the odd afternoon casting and was paid in figures which worked well for me.. My future wife came along and worked as well, However, I cannot believe that it was particularly economic for them, because the place was so inefficient!! We also took HH54mm figures to war-games shows a few times to sell, Marcus himself used to sell at the BMSS meetings in London.
It was quite good fun, but the inefficiency was a constant!

Roy

the Archduke said...

Magic. I wish I had misspent any of my summers at Rowsley. I bought most of my figures from there in the late 1960s when, in fairness, it was relatively efficient. Mail order was slow but I don't recall ever receiving any erroneous types. But when I tried to repeat the experience in the mid 70s, it was so bad that I thought they had gone out of business. I shall try not to blame Roy for that. Respect.

lewisgunner said...

I only did it for a few months so I hope it was not me that sent the wrong stuff. The Hintons used to hide behind a rubric on the order form that said they could send substitutes. (iIRC there) .
One of the problems was that they were unrealistic about the market. they had no understanding that sending out figures with huge chunks of flash damaged the brand and that the inefficient casting system meant that they were often later than 28 days by the time an order was fulfilled. Marcus did nothing as lowly as casting and Mrs did it when she had to.
I think they thought the business was still valuable, but they would not invest in new product or listen to feedback. Meanwhile Minifigs got its act together and swept the market. It was an enormous pity because the range was huge and many of the missing items could have been sorted in a few weeks master making. Similarly the pricing strategy was madness and Minifigs were able to undercut HH substantially. Frankly I consider the early Minifigs inferior figures, but they got all the surrounding service, pricing and packaging issues right and That told. Wargaming expanded hugely in those years so there was plenty of market to go at. Because Minifigs could not make such good masters to start with the scale crept up and new companies started making in what was called 25 mm. Because Hh did not create new ranges they left the field open.
Interestingly, although I have all of their ancient ranges the Ancients were not such good figures as the Napoleonics. That's strange because the Ancient and mediaeval 54s were fine. I don't think they ever sold well and were always hampered by Marcus not filling out the ranges, so Greeks with only three figures, Parthians only two, etc. One thing he had real trouble with was spears, all energing as wobbly and knobbly.
Still immense charm even in these.
Roy

lewisgunner said...

Oh,n forgot one f the joys, which was running out f metal. On a coupke of occasions I would arrive to find there was little or no metal. Then we would have to melt down what stock there was. both Mrs Hinton and I would try and put figures that were popular and had been cast because another on their mould was needed into little labelled cardboard boxes, so British French and Prussian line infantry, French cuirassiers, standard bearers etc. all would go into the boxes if made and unwanted. Then if metal ran out we would melt these into the pot.
There was also a peculiar kind of dirt in the casting shed at Rowsley, I woner if any of you found it in the figures.I don't think it was hamster poo, though they had free run if the place, but it did get onto figures that had sort of been forgotten and had sat in a box for some time. It was like sawdust that had been exposed to damp and oil, perhaps they had one packed in sawdust? Occasionally I have bought stuff on Ebay that still has this dirt on it.
Roy

the Archduke said...

Fascinating. This answers many of the mysteries of my aspiring collector days. Yes, I have met the "dirt". In fact there is one dealer I used to suspect of having a buried cache of the figures, because his offerings had a brown earthy patina that would wash off. Good of you to share this stuff, Roy. Thank you.