“Maisie” early Girl Scout as drawn by Doris Weston 1909 – Scout Heritage Service
This accomplished hand drawn 1909 image of Girl Scout ‘Maisie’ by Doris Watson in The Scouts Heritage Trust online museum has a Tolkein-esque / RPG Role Playing Games character feel.
Adventuring in the Shire(s)? Boy and early Girl Scouts of Kangaroo Patrol together on Wide Games – scandalous in 1909? – as drawn by Doris Weston 1909. Image source: Scout Heritage Service. They remind me a little of my one (and the only surviving?) copy of The Warrior and Pacific Magazine, a handwritten and illustrated 1901 magazine.
Heresy alert: I admit here that never have I ever managed to read any Tolkien and I have also steered clear of the films.
My fantasy fiction universe is far more simplistic, ranging in childhood from the early Narnia books, Enid Blyton’ s The Land Of Far Beyond (her simplified version of The Pilgrim’s Progress) to Norton Juster and Jules Feiffer’s The Phantom Tollbooth (it could be the ImagiNations map below?)
More recently as an adult I have managed to read the multi volume Harry Potter series, the rebooted Bronte juvenilia of Celia Rees’ Glass Town Wars and Philip Reeve’s Mortal Engines sagas.
Maybe it’s the big casts of characters? I generally don’t enjoy War and Peace style books or films with huge numbers of oddly or multiply named characters. I generally prefer the smaller casts and character complexity of the 8iaverage Mr. Men book.
Maybe it’s the sacred canon of it all, the huge back story and overall fan worship of these classic books that puts me off, having tried to read them a couple of times. At least I tried.
Inspired by Alan (Duchy of Tradgardland) Gruber with his grasp of games mechanics and the Tolkien universe, we hope together between us one day to build in to the slowly developing Scouting Wide Games for the Tabletop Project an element of some character complexity of different abilities (age, special skills, in this case scout badges earned etc.) which is pretty standard stuff from role playing games.
This would make more of a character of each Boy Scout, Girl Scout or Camp Fire Girl figure and add complexity to their Patrol / team strengths and differences.
We wanted to build this character and skills element into the Snowball Fight games as well – marksman, artful dodger, frozen fingers etc.
I have to say I am already on a back foot here, having struggled to get my (solo Airfix kid) gaming head round even the simplest D&D starter set that I received one Christmas / teenage birthday in the mid 1980s. Maybe my Mum and Dad thought it would be a good thing for me to try it. Thanks – I still have the books and dice, minus the box, but again have never managed to get my head round this starter game, despite several attempts.
Stranger Things and Dungeons and Dragons graphic novel – page illustration.
My fantasy RPG role playing gaming limit was the Steve Jackson type Fighting Fantasy paperback books with built in Umpire or Dungeon Master, perfect for solo gaming. Everything else chit and token and card and chart driven still feels too much like maths homework.
In gaming terms, “I am a bear of very little brain and long words bother me …” to misquote A.A. Milne. For “long words”, read cards, charts, activation tables and massive thick rule books.
I am not (and was not) being too much of a wargames hermit here, I knew very few gamers growing up, didn’t have an accessible games club and certainly no helpful Librarian Gamers to hand. I realise I was lucky enough though to have a branch library system where you could freely borrow a wider range of history, uniforms, modelling and wargames books than you could nowadays.
Why am I thinking about this RPG stuff?
My recent favourite viewing since Lockdown started in 2020 has been the D&D influenced Netflix series Stranger Things, set in a high school and local community of small town America in the mid 80s and the Cold War.
D&D and its character monsters are a recurring theme throughout the four series released so far out of a total five.
The child characters often interpret the weird, surreal or criminal events happening in their small town America community of Hawkins Indiana as if they are caused by D&D evil monsters.
By Series 4 some of ‘The Hellfire Club’ of D&D players at the local High School are being hunted down as potential suspects in some of the weird unexplained deaths in the area. This is developing a plot point from the real historical events surrounding fears of D&D being seen by some as occult satanic devil worship in mid 80s America. Bizarre.
Erica, feisty younger sister of Lucas Sinclair, one of the African American main child characters, is glimpsed in Series 4 painting a Dungeons and Dragons female warrior figure.
I’m not the only one who noticed that the Science teacher Mr. Scott Clarke is also spotted painting fantasy miniatures in Series 3. Image: u/Floatsm Stranger Things Reddit forum.
Is the figure painting and gaming suggesting Nerdcore or Nerdcool?
Some fan theories about Stranger Things suggest that all the ‘real world’ events and characters, monster battles and deaths that happen in the Stranger Things series are in fact all fantasies happening within a game of Dungeons and Dragons.
A sort of Mr. Benn story ending or one of those schoolboy stories that ends “…and then I woke up and it was all a dream. (Or was it?)”
I had been told about the series by work colleagues a few years ago but didn’t have Netflix until Lockdown 2020 so I missed the first three series of Stranger Things on release. As a result, it has been a strange experience to watch the build up to the release of the delayed current fourth series. Filming was halted for two years by COVID, whilst the content of the new series was extensively trailed, hyped and anticipated on Youtube channels and discussion boards.
This was a new thing for me, seeing the build up or countdown in real live time to the current Series 4 (which is set in March 1986) and now the same teaser anticipation of the final fifth series all happening on ‘Social Media’.
(1986? Where was I and what was I doing in March 1986 in small town Britain? Not playing D&D obviously).
Trailer snippets, sneaked photos from filming, posters, interviews and comic con appearances by cast members are now endlessly discussed online forums and Youtube as fans and pundits try to predict what will happen next, who will die and what some little “Easter egg” clue might mean.
The mid 80s film references and pop culture snippets along with the Eighties Pop music soundtrack are part of the familiar nostalgia and success or “warmth” of the show.
I’m not sure what a British small town or suburban setting of this set in the 80s would be like – Grange Hill with monsters? Rentaghost?
What a shame also that it isn’t historical wargaming that has created this fandom intensity. I expect that Stranger Things may have created a renewed or higher profile of fantasy role playing games amongst a new multiracial audience of young men and women. Even if the game itself and STEM science is also seen as a geek or nerd thing in the series?
As with many sports and games in books, films and in real life, how bravely and honestly you play the game is often a judgement or delineation of courage and character.
I can’t quite yet see Donald Featherstone’s War Games or Battles with Model Soldiers as the back drop to a 1960s – 1970s based major TV series anyone? Apart from Callan, that is.
I wrote a little more about Stranger Things here on my previous power cut and skateboarder figure posts:
Some times some of the first time players amongst the young actors like Natalia Dyer seem a little nonplussed or puzzled by the game, so I am not alone, despite the experienced Dungeon Master (Umpire) Chris Perkins (in Santa hat) who says he helped develop D and D.
Monster visuals are included to help make this otherwise two-hour long, verbally described (and thus very wordy) game a little more visual.
The recent June 2022 Netflix Geeked Geek Week(end) online weekend featured a D and D game with more of the cast and new Dungeon Master on Youtube, with again some interesting graphic inserts of game locations to make it more interesting viewing.
Here, zombie legs and body parts attack the “party members”:
Hawks End might be a pun on Hawkins, Indiana, the small town setting of Stranger Things.
Useful visual resources to help viewers understand the scenario and possibly replay it themselves.
Snowball Fights and Scouting Wide Games?
So after all this, where does that get us with our Snowball Fights and Scouting Word Games?
We can match the visual resourceson a basic level, looking at the BP style Scenario maps from Wide Games.
Will we introduce a dark or light fantasy underside to their Edwardian / WW1 world through to 1940s 50s historical world?
Will it be more weird E. Nesbit and Psammead than Stranger Things and its D & D Monster Manual Handbook?
As several people have pointed out in comments on my Scouting Wide Games posts, without having the necessary Boy Scout or Girl Scout figures (as few available in most scales), you could easily use suitable available lead or plastic figures to match whatever the pirate, police, robbers, gangsters, smugglers, Cowboys, natives, Knights, spy characters that the Wide Game Book scenarios have suggested.
This could use cheap plastic knights, cowboys, Indians, pirates etc
We could through suitable figures enter into the imaginative make believe world of these (miniature or real) Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, going underneath the disguise or transformed by the imaginative magic of the Cloak Of Romance.
The Cloak Of Romance?
Baden Powell suggested that the Cloak Of Romance is what makes a Wide Game not a walk in the (familiar) park or streets or fields but something more magical or imaginative through such role playing.
Edwardian LARPing? With a pretty fantastical reading list!
The text of Wide Games (1933/ 1944) freely available here:
Blog posted by Mark Man Of TIN 1970s British Cub Scout, Bronze Arrow (retired), and failed 1980s D&D player / Tolkien reader on 13 June 2022
Appendix – “Make the Games Cubby” text from The Book Of Cub Scout Games, V.C. Barclay, 1919
PLAY IS THE FIRST GREAT EDUCATOR
THIS is the text on which I have preached in the Handbook. Just as for young animals, so for the Cub Scout, ‘play is the thing.’ I have advocated in the book that the principle for dealing with Cub Packs is that of making the Cubs a happy family – not a family, but a happy family.
But when they play they should be encouraged not to mess about but to play heartily. Games properly organised develop the important items of laughter, good nature, and comradeship as well as physical health and activity, while team games further develop unselfishness, esprit de corps and fair play.
But through it all I continually lay the stress upon laughter. Another text that you will find in the Handbook is that ‘he who laughs much lies little.’
It is, of course, easy to state generalities like these. It is another matter to devise the details by which they can be put into practice. This important part of the proposition Miss Barclay has by her unique experience with Cubs successfully achieved, and in the following pages she gives a resume of games such as will be of infinite value to the teachers of young boys in putting into them the foundation of Character, Health and Happiness.
Why Play Games?
Games are admittedly a very important part of Pack life. Here are five good reasons why you should include plenty of them in your programme.
1. The boys love games; and the Pack should give them what they like, especially when it is something so good for them.
2. They are the best training in discipline, because they make for self-discipline while in strenuous action, and self-control while excited.
3. They are the best form of physical exercise because they consist of natural movements, done at the boy’s own pace; and supply as much exercise as each needs. And, what is more, the joy and keenness they provoke are as much a tonic to the nervous system, as the exercise is a means of toning up the muscles, quickening the breathing, and increasing the circulation.
4. Games are true character training in a number of ways. The many virtues that get practised while playing the great variety of games that are possible in Cubbing, get built up into the character, because they are practised voluntarily, with real joy and enthusiasm.
5. Games make for quickness, deftness, poise, suppleness, resource of the body and its members in adapting to situations. A boy who has not played all these games of ours is obviously clumsy compared to a Cub.
Make the Games Cubby
Many of the games in the various books are, of course, played by the Scouts – but you cannot leave them out on that account.
One of the ways to prevent the Cub becoming too familiar with what he will find again on going up to the Scouts, is to dress the games up in a romantic setting – not only the Jungle story, but Indians, Explorers, Highwaymen and Police, Detectives, Giants and Tom Thumb, Robinson Crusoe, Peter Pan. (Avoid war settings, however).*
[* Note: the first edition was printed at the end of WW1 in 1919.]
This is not only a matter of the name given to the game, but of all sorts of details that a resourceful Akela will be able to think out. It adds to the pleasure of boys of that age. And if it adds to the work of Akela, well, all that is worth doing in Pack life means preparation.
For Cubs of Different Ages Cubs are young animals in a state of rapid change. At 8-9 they need games that are either romp or make-believe or (like Jungle dances) both.
Cubs of 9- 10 want something a bit more enterprising – ‘acting’ rather than make-believe; a rough and ready contest with beginnings of co-operation; opportunities of displaying individual skill. Cubs of 10-11 already want games that are becoming more the games of a boy than of a child, they need Scout games, though they are, of course, only doing Cub work still.
Michael Bentine’s Potty Time was one of those bizarre childhood TV memories especially the surreal battle scenes on beautiful terrain with movement by puffs of smoke and air?
I remember his Waterloo battlefield.
In this paperback book version is the Carry On meets the Goons version of the Potty Khyber Pass Story – 1940s Service humour for the slightly puzzled 70s child!
In 1974 the puns are cheerfully painful – Afgoonistan – Pottistan – Himalayas Heralayas … Foothills
Aircraft and parachute supply drops turn up, making it more like Donald Featherstone’s chapter (in Wargames Campaigns ?) on the North West Frontier Campaign between the World Wars (using Airfix Arab natives fighting off Airfix Eighth Army in steel helmets and shorts) than Gunga Din and The Four Feathers. A bit of Kipling-esque doggerel ballad of Mad Carew (MC) and The Green Eye Of the Little Yellow God is added for good measure.
The elephant gun is inspired.
It’s pure Goon Show on a page with the sad absence of Major Dennis Bloodnok. Not that he or his drinks cabinet would be anywhere near the sound of guns anyway.
A lot of this humour is obviously based on colonial and army ‘types‘ that Bentine, Sellers, Secombe and Milligan had met during the War.
I didn’t hear The Goon Show on the radio until it was repeated on Sundays on BBC radio in the early 1980s. I taped everyone I could.
My late Dad mentioned then that he hadn’t liked The Goon Show or found it funny on first hearing it on the radio as a 50s teenager, not until he had done his National Service in the Army. Only then, he said, he liked it a bit more as he understood a lot of the service humour that crept past unwitting BBC censors.
but I also wanted to air and share some of my other Guards ceremonial parade collection.
Riley’s Toffee Tin
A few more Guardsmen turned up this morning Just before Trooping the Colour began.
Late on parade?
I was wearing my finest Guards tie for the occasion, designed and made for me by one of the family …
Some of these parading Guards toy soldiers from my childhood were out on parade for the Silver Jubilee of 1977 (The year of Punk, the Pistols and God Save The Queen). I remember seeing these extravagantly dressed colourful popinjay punks in London as a child at the time.
I need Peter Cole’s Replicants youth types for a suitable punk plastic figure!
Punks? Anarchy in the UK? Call out the Guards!
My Guards collection ranges from chocolate boxes of old (in 1953) which were sadly already empty when I found this delightful Dairy Box …
To attractively packaged new chocolate soldiers of 2022 … Mmm, thanks!
It’s all gone a bit ‘guardsman’ (Cath Kidston)
A great snowy Guards Christmas cardby Clare Wilson
I have featured this lovely Peter Spier book cover before with lovely sound page.
Off to deepest Germany for Erzgebirge wooden guardsman in those delicate wooden boxes …
A gift a few years back of a nicely packaged sentry in its Guards sentry box with a secret under that black bearskin hat (not a busby)
The secret under his bearskin?
This 1:12 trio – below – were bought one day in a seaside post office at a good discount a few years ago and have been saved for a rainy day …
Finally my ‘Cakes Of Death’ rough experiments of 2015/16 using Fimo polymer clay with cake or chocolate silicon moulds to make cheap custom figure conversions:
FIMO packs and pin swords were added to make these flat figures more 3D and rounded.
Blog posted by Mark Man Of TIN Platinum Jubilee weekend 2 June 2022
Even the house mice got in on the Jubbly act; not so sure about those red and white muffins / cakes though …
More unusual uniform research for figure conversions? African-American Camp Fire Girls USA or YWCA Girls amongst the early Guides movements would have looked like this. Image source: Marcia Chatelain, South Side Girls.
Today is my 6th Blogaversary, the 6th anniversary of my first Man Of TIN blog post in 2016.
A lot has happened this past year since the 5th Blogaversary. It has certainly been a bit of a strange year, on top of the ongoing COVID disruptions to normal life .
The invasion of the Ukraine in late February and the prospect of war spreading across Eastern Europe and beyond, even going nuclear, brought most of my gaming, ImagiNations or hobby activities to a halt.
Since then I have avoided khaki, grunge, guns and ‘modern’ warfare for the time being.
Well not entirely khaki free, as my Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts from Scouting Wide Games for the Tabletop Project originally wore a khaki uniform.
My time since February 2022, when not busy with work, has been spent instead digging around newspaper and photo archives looking for the spirit of early scouting, guiding and forgotten youth movements in Britain, New Zealand and America. Lots of uniform research has ended up here on my Scouting Wide Games blog: https://tabletopscoutingwidegames.wordpress.com
Instead I have been focusing on non-lethal strategy games – Scouting Wide Games, Skatebaord graffiti games, Suffragette billposting and Snowball fights. All the S-sees!
In fact it was all very Watch This Space? A lot of Space; I was watching a lot of SciFi (Battlestar Galactica 2004 reboot, bad Star Wars rip offs and The Orville) so was steadily working through SciFi figures for Close Little Star Wars such as the odd 1981 Airfix Space Warriors, figure group by group.
What I like about this hefty hardback book is the original storyboards and early character designs for each of the first three films (IV V VI), the “original trilogy”. These are arguably (for me) the best of the nine films and the ones I saw in the cinema as an impressionable child and teenager.
Life changed c. 1977/78. Playground games changed, pocket money priorities changed, “must-have toys” changed, what comics you read changed; everything was space again, since the Apollo Moon landings were now over.
The silver jubilee was forgotten. Exotic looking Punks on Top of the Pops and in town now had their freakish alien rivals.
The Bionic Man and Bionic Woman and the Fembots now also had their rivals in the form of droids and space heroes and intergalactic villains.
Time-travelling Doctor Who’s bad guys like Daleks and Cybermen suddenly had planet-killing alien rivals and evil empires.
Who you were in your childhood street, garden and playground games changed.
Even childhood pinups changed when blonde crime fighting TV princesses in Charley’s Angels and The Bionic Woman with their Farrah Flicks suddenly had feisty gutsy dark haired Star Wars Space princesses to contend with.
Action Man and my Airfix figures had their first serious rival, although Airfix (slowly) responded by film two in 1981, producing their own odd Space Warriors figures and carrying a short-lived range of Star Wars kits.
For me, Rogue One is the best of the standalone spin-off films and series. Before we geek out on this listing business, back to my book choice, here’s the back cover of this lovely book with an early sketch of Darth Vader (top right).
You’ve seen my bashed original childhood Star Wars action figures before on International Star Wars Day. That’s where my non-Airfix pocket money went in the late 1970s and early 80s. One month’s pocket money each! Priceless, not worth much but I still have every single one of my original ones today (some seen below).
But enough, where are the proper toy soldiers you ask?
The little known British version of the American Camp Fire Girls (1925 British handbook photo)
Another enjoyable research ‘rabbit hole’ for my Scouting Wide Games for the Tabletop Project, in hobby terms let’s call it obscure uniform research and gaming scenarios for my DMZ demilitarised Project:
Crossposted from my Tabletop Scouting Wide Games Blog:
So here is my version from last year, based on my earliest Airfix collections in the early 1970s – Weebles (“wobble but they don’t fall down”).
One of my favourite Weebles was the pilot figure and his plane, so last Easter I reproduced him in painted egg form with acrylic paint and Black Sharpie pen, alongside one of my original Weeble figures of the policeman which I still have.
Here is Alan Weeble, one of my original and surviving Weeble Pilots. Pure Battle of Britain stuff!
Dapper Air Force blue tie painted by my late Dad.
My Weeble studies tell me that these Airfix British Weebles are quite different from the American Romper Room original Weebles.
Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN Blog Easter 2022 – Happy Easter!
B.P.S. Blog Post Script
Marvin’s comment reminded me of this bashed EBay research screenshot in my collection:
“Excellent (I promise no more egg puns from me this year) You’re a talented Weeble egg painter. I’m sure you’ll agree, it’s not easy to paint on that curved surface! I had that very Weeble too, not Airforce blue but I think possibly red? It was the only one in my possession as I recall and that pilot Weeble rode in a helicopter / egg cup.”
I had this ‘egg cup’ Weeble helicopter but the pilot with brown helmet and blue bass as shown.
I agree, drawing and painting on a curved surface is not easy!
This post is for Marvin at the Suburban Militarism blog, with his interest in Volunteer and Yeomanry Regiments from the Napoleonic Wars and mid Victorian period 1850s.
I am a little confused as to the Pub Sign uniform, this redcoat with green facings looks like he has a 18th century to Napoleonic helmet, like a Tarleton or Light Infantry Helmet? Some of the Rifle Volunteers were derided by satirists for their very fancy uniforms.
Images: In These Times, Living In Britain through Napoleons Wars, Jenny Uglow
Lyme Regis was well established as a seaside town by this time, it features in Jane Austen’s novels and is famous for its fossil cliffs and collector Mary Anning. John Fowle’s book (and subsequent film) French Lieutenant’s Woman, is set in the mid Victorian period in the town.