The first stage of repairs begins on the broken rifles of these unidentified steel helmet Tommies.
The interesting background story to how I acquired these and other ‘waifs and strays’ can be found here: https://manoftinblogtwo.wordpress.com/2021/10/09/repairing-vintage-toy-soldiers-1-waifs-and-strays/
The broken rifle end is filed flat to give as good a face to carefully and slowly hand drill out a hole using a pin vice to fit the new wire barrel.
A new barrel piece is cut and inserted into the filed hole, secured with a small dob of superglue. The rifle ends will be trimmed to length once the glue has securely dried.
This is the kind of slow finicky handiwork that I enjoy (when it goes well).
Thickening of the wire insert to match the rest of the barrels with masking tape is the next step, followed by painting in a dark brown acrylic to match the original remaining rifle paintwork.
Basing and letters
As some of the bases are damaged or miscast, leading to figures toppling over, I glued them to MDF tuppeny bases. I shall match paint from the MDF base colour to the original as best I can.
Whilst doing this, I noticed some tiny top of base lettering.
These riflemen are possibly pictured in the ‘unidentified makers’ section in Norman Joplin’s Great Book of HollowCast Figures, same stance, albeit pictured in Joplin with a rounder base and no white belt.
They have no discernible maker’s mark on the underside of the base.
Only a faint trace of tiny lettering ‘de’ and ‘nd’ can be seen front and back around their feet. ‘Made in England’ perhaps? A common enough base marking.
‘Steel helmet riflemen standing firing’ is a common enough figure. What helped to avoid identifying them as any of the known makers is that they have no puttees, instead they are wearing trousers. This may suggest a post WW1 date.
The other figures
Paul Watson kindly suggested an ID of the prone figure as a Taylor and Barrett stick grenade thrower. This checks out in Joplin as c. 1930. He makes a good enough crew member for the machine gun team.
The kneeling machine gunner feels solid and possibly home-cast. It is a common enough pose.
The Britain’s Tommy Gunner is intact, just battered and playworn. A common enough figure from Set 1898. He feels different, has none of the usual Britain’s base markings or hollowcast pouring holes on base or helmet, so is probably one of the Britain’s postwar 1950s experiments in using techniques and metals other than lead such as mazak.
I have marked the underside of the MDF base as ‘waif and stray rifles’ so their jumble(d) origins remains clear.
These figures, once repaired, should fit snugly into a mixed and motley khaki-clad steel helmeted unit of Home Guard or similar.
I shall post a picture of these figures once repairs are completed.
Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 14 /15 October 2021