Saturday 22 December 2012

Robin Hood Prince of Thebes

Some more figures from the Minifigs JonBee range. Above is a Greek officer and below some rather nice one-piece cavalrymen.

I have to say that I am rather fond of the old OPC cavalry. That's probably because I've lost count the number of paint brushes I've ruined down the years by hurriedly setting about undercoating two-piece cavalrymen before the superglue has actually dried properly. "Sets in 30 seconds" my arse.

Tuesday 18 December 2012

The Greeks of Sherwood?

More figures form the JonBee range. These have have oval bases and are not as obviously Airfix Robin Hoodish as the others. The helmets are very nicely done.

Some of the figures have that characteristic early Minifigs marking on the base - an attempt to engrave the serial number using little pin pricks. It's hard to read on S Rangers but on these it's impossible.

Monday 17 December 2012

Hoist up the JonBee (Part One)

A couple of rather nice hoplites from the Minifigs JonBee 20mm range. Like the slinger this is a conversion of one of  the Airfix Robin Hood figures. Below I've placed one next to a PBs Persian to give an idea of the size, which - obviously - is kind of at the HO/OO end.

Sunday 16 December 2012

Well, I'll Bee Damned

At one of the first wargame conventions held in the mid-1960s in Southampton, a wargamer from Stockton-on-Tees in the north-east of England turned up with a box full of figures he'd made. Charles Wesencraft was amazed "We all had our armies of Airfix plastic Romans and there was this chap with these beautiful little metal Greeks and Persians". Another man who was impressed was Neville Dickinson. Dickinson had just bought a figure company, Alberken that made Hinton Hunt sized 20mm Napoleonics. He'd moved Alberken from Nottinghamshire to Hampshire and changed the company name to Miniature Figurines The wargamer from Teesside was John Braithwaite and Dickinson hired him to design Ancient figures for Minifigs. The result was the 20mm JonBee range.
The range was short lived - probably in production from c.1967 until c.1969 when Brathwaite started his own figure company, Garrison and Miniature Figurines launched S Range. They don't feature in any of the 1960s Minifigs catalogues and the listing I have for them was laboriously compiled from adverts and figure reviews in Slingshot and Scale Models.

The JonBee range is, I think, the most obscure of all the ancient ranges that features on this site, yet they were created by a famous designer and produced by a company that was soon to be the biggest manufacturer of wargames figures on the planet. Why then were they so cloaked in mystery, missing from catalogues and rarely advertised? A glance at the slinger above may offer a clue. He is plainly converted from one of the peasant figures out of the Airfix Robin Hood set. I wonder if the British toy giant noticed?

More on this in the coming weeks....

Thursday 13 December 2012

Matters of the Flesh

The above PB range Indian cavalryman mounted on the Indian horse came in the same box as the elephants. My usual policy with second hand figures is that if they are painted to a reasonable standard I leave them as they are. The vast majority are painted with Humbrol enamels in the sort of style favoured by wargamers in the 1970s and it gives them an authentic vintage look, plus they have a character all of their own and back story. I'll even copy the style to finish off units, though I use acrylics (I went over to them when my daughters was three and started to insist on "helping". Getting gloss red out of a pre-schooler's eyebrows with white spirit would tax the nerve of any man).

Since most ancient armies weren't uniform in appearance this heterogenous approach works fine. The Indians though are a bit of a problem because it seems that 40 years ago wargamers fell into two radically different camps when it came to what people from the sub-Continent looked like. The first felt that an Indian's skin is exactly the same as that of a Northern European, that is to say: Humbrol Flesh. The second was of the opinion that Indian flesh is - in the immortal words of Special Agent Dale Cooper - as black as midnight on a moonless night. The painter of the above figure was clearly of the latter school.

Wednesday 12 December 2012

The Missing Piece In The PMD Jigsaw

Props (as I believe young folk say) to Paul from Oz for sending me these PMD hoplites, the only figures from the range I didn't have. As you can see they display the same slightly fey Up Pompeii* styling of the other Greek figures from PMD. I'm not quite sure why they are cocking their hips in quite such a manner though that and the position of the right arm suggests they maybe about to enter a Disco Inferno. Hmm come to think of it The Hot Gates does sound like a New York club c.1975. 

*A 1970s BBC TV comedy series starring camp comedian Frankie Howerd and based on A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum only without the songs.

Tuesday 11 December 2012

A Jumbo Parcel

Well, I finally managed to get my camera back from wherever my daughter had left it (in the bottom of a bowl of avocado dip by the look of it - that's what I'm telling myself the green gunk is anyway, the alternative is too horrible to contemplate) and so we can get going again.

Here is a trumpeting herd of Minifigs PB range Indian pachyderms that arrived via the Royal Mail this morning in a rather festive looking box.

And here is one of the PB three figure Indian crews. The elephant driver seems to be clutching a small axe, possibly to dispose of the beast when it goes mental, though the erudite Mr Elsden reckons it may just be a version of the driver's riding crop that has gone a bit wrong.

I think I have at least 20 Indian elephants now, which may mean it is time to stop. Though I wouldn't bank on it.

Friday 16 November 2012

Minifigs S Range Ancient Listing

(Two versions of AGr7s Greek Peltast (Medium Infantry) Charging. Original version on the right. Slimmer remodel on the left)

Ancient Period Infantry
AA 1s Assyrian Officer
AA 2s Assyrian Standard Bearer
AA 4s Assyrian Heavy Archer Firing Bow
AA 6s Assyrian Heavy Slinger
AA 7s Assyrian Light Spearman with Shield Advancing
AA 12s Assyrian Heavy Spearman Charging
AA 13s Assyrian charioteer
AA 15s Assyrian Medium Archer
AA 16s Assyrian Javelinman
AA 17s Assyrian Wicker Shield

AP 1s Persian Officer
AP 2s Persian Standard Bearer
AP 3s Persian Immortal
AP 6s Persian Light Archer
AP 7s Persian Medium Spearman
AP 10s Mede Spearman
AP 11s Mede Archer

(L-R Later remodel of AR4s and earlier version of AR5s. I'm not really sure why the former is characterised as "Late Roman")

AR 1s Roman Tribune
AR 2s Roman Centurian
AR 3s Roman Eaglebearer
AR 4s Late Roman Infantryman Throwing Pila
AR 5s Roman Legionary Advancing
AR 6s Late Roman Infantryman with Spear Advancing
AR 7s Roman Auxillary Javelinman
AR 8s Roman Auxillary Archer Firing
AR 9s Roman Auxillary Slinger
AR 10s Late Roman Praetorium Spearman Advancing
AR 11s Praetorium, Sword and Cloak
AR 12s Late Roman Auxillary Slinger
AR 13s Late Roman Auxillary Archer
AR 14s Palatine Auxillary Spearman
AR 15s Roman Musican (Large Horn)
AR 20s Roman Artilleryman pulling Lever
AR 21s Roman Artilleryman holding Bolt

(L-R Later version of AR7s and earlier version of AR9s)

AM 1s Macedonian Officer
AM 2s Macedonian Spearman Advancing
AM 3s Macedonian Standard Bearer
AM 4s Macedonian Archer Firing

AE 1s Egyptian Noble Firing Bow
AE 2s Egyptian Standard Bearer
AE 3s Egyptian Medium Spearman
AE 4s Egyptian Light Spearman
AE 5s Egyptian Light Archer
AE 6s Egyptian charioteer
AE 7s Egyptian Medium Archer
AE 8s Egyptian Guard Spearman
AE 9s Egyptian Light Slinger
AE 10s Sudanese Archer

(AGr4s with characteristic thick pike. Quite how he is "receiving cavalry" is hard to fathom, unless Pegasus is involved)

AG 1s Gaul Heavy Spearman Advancing
AG 2s Standard Bearer
AG 9s Celtic spearman
AG 10s Hun Archer
AG 11s Gaul heavy Spearman
AG 12s Gaul Axeman
AG 13s Gaul Spearman. (Ancient Briton)

APh 1s Philistine Spearman
APh 2s Philistine Archer
APh 3s Philistine Officer

AC 1s Carthaginian Spearman
AC 2s Carthaginian Archer
AC 3s Carthaginian Officer

APt 1s Pict Spearman Advancing
APt 2s Pict Archer Kneeling Firing

AGr 1s Greek Officer
AGr 2s Greek Standard Bearer
AGr 4s Greek Phalanx Spearman Receiving Cavalry
AGr 5s Greek Light Archer Firing Bow
AGr 6s Macedonian Phalangite
AGr 7s Greek Peltast (Medium Infantry) Charging
AGr 8s Spartan Hoplite Spearman
AGr 9s Greek Slinger with Shield

(L-R AR14s and AB1s)

AS 1s Sassanid Levy Spearman
AS 2s Sassanid Levy Archer.

AB 1s Byzantine Heavy Spearman
AB 2s Byzantine Dragoon Standard Bearer
AB 3s Byzantine Officer
AB 5s Byzantine Light Archer
AB 6s Byzantine Javelinman
AB 7s Byzantine archer

AF 1s Frank Axeman Advancing

AV 1s Viking Swordsman Advancing

(L-R Earlier and later versions of AR13s)

Ancient Period Cavalry APac 1s Parthian horse archer

APhC 1s Philistine Lancer
APhC 2s Philistine Ox Chariot

APlc 1s Palmyran light cavalry

AEC 1s Egyptian Mounted Archer
AEC 2s Egyptian Chariot

AMdC 1s Macedonian Cavalryman

ARC 1s Roman Cavalryman
ARC 2s Late Roman heavy cavalry
ARC 3s Late Roman light cavalry

ABC 1s Byzantine Heavy Cavalryman. with Kontos
ABC 2s Byzantine Light Cavalryman (Bow) or Hun

APC 1s Persian Lancer
APC 2s Persian Horse Archer
APC 3s Persian Chariot



AAC 1s Assyrian Lancer
AAC 2s Assyrian Horse Archer
AAC 3s Assyrian Cataphract
AAC 4s Assyrian Chariot

AGC 1s Gaul Lancer
AGC 2s Gaul Javelinman
AGC 3s Gaul or Hun Horse Archer
AGC 4s Gallic Chariot

AGrC 1s Greek Cavalryman

AMC 1s Macedonian cavalryman

SMC 1s Sassanid Cataphract with Kontos
SMC 2s Sarmatian Cataphract
SMC 3s Cataphract
SMC 4s Persian Cataphract

APtC 1s Pict Lancer

Ancient Period Horses ACH 1s HalfArmoured Cavalry Horse
ACH 2s Fully Armoured Cataphract Horse
ACH 3s Ancient Briton Chariot Horse
ACH 4s Egyptian Chariot Horse
ACH 5s Ancient Cavalry Horse Trotting
ACH 6s Ancient Cavalry Horse Cantering
ACH 7s Ancient Cavalry Horse Galloping
ACH 8s Half Armoured Cataphract Horse for Sassanid
ACH 9s Chariot horse
Camels Camel 1s Dromedary Trotting
Camel 2s Bactrian Trotting
Camel 3s Armoured Dromedary
Elephants Elephant 1s Armoured Elephant with Howdah
Elephant 2s Indian Elephant


(Return of the LSD Elephant or Elephant 2s as the catalogue styled it)

Wednesday 14 November 2012

Philistian Dog!


Or so I recall Victor "Samson" Mature snarling at his captors in Cecil B De Mille's overheated epic. Anyroad, here is a Philistine officer converted from the standard Minifigs S range spearman by the judicious wielding of an X-acto knife

Over the next few days I'm going to post up Minfigs S Range and Minifigs PBs listings. Vintage20Mil has been unavailable - except via various cached sites  - for some while now and besides it seems a good idea to have all the listings of OOP vintage ancients available in one place.

With a Hint of Wild Gallic


Here's the Minifigs S range Gaul "lancer" mounted on what maybe one of the little Napoleonic cossack ponies. The S range series used bare-backed horses with the saddlery attached to the riders. The idea was that you could save money on horses by swapping the riders around. The number of cavalry figures I have bought over the years that had plasticene stuck between their thighs suggests that many gamers adopted this cost-cutting approach.

Tuesday 13 November 2012

Love Rhompia


The PMD Thracian peltast. He's more or less identical in costume and pose to the Minifigs PBs version, suggesting that WRG's Punic Wars book had an influence in Northamptonshire as well as Hampshire. I think I've now posted photos of all the PMD ancient range with the exception of the hoplite - the only one of the figures I don't own a sample of. If you have one and can't stand to be parted from it, send me a picture and I'll post it here.

Monday 12 November 2012

Handbags at 20 Paces

If there was a prize for the least military looking ancient figures ever made these little fellows would surely be in the top ten. They are the "missing" Phoenix Model Developments Greek slinger (code AW8)  mentioned in an earlier post. Previously Rob from Garrison described one of the PMD figures as "elfin" and there's certainly something rather Charles Hawtrey-like about these chaps.

Sunday 11 November 2012

A load of Bullocks

Here is the Minifigs S range Philistine ox chariot with flanking guard of spearmen and archers. The chariot is a pretty fair copy of the one in Funcken. Modern historians incline to the view that the chariot was not used in combat but was merely a transport. What a boring bunch of cardigans they are. My own oxen are made of more martial stuff and will - I hope - trundle into action spitting death at some point in the not too distant future.

For fans of farm livestock here is one of the oxen unencumbered.

Friday 9 November 2012

Corinthian Casuals

Or possibly Athenian Idlers. A couple of the Hinton Hunt Greek hoplites. Both have had their cast on spears removed. They are decent little figures though I think my favourite hoplites are the ones from Garrison 20mm.

Love and Hate - Two Horns On The Same Goat

Well, that's what Eileen Way as Kitala claims in The Vikings anyroad. Here we have a Minifigs S range Viking, code V1. The Vikings were included in the Ancient range and I'm not sure if there ever was a V2 (and just as well probably given the connotations). As you can see he doesn't actually have a horned helmet, but one with wings on. I will bundle him in with the Celts alongside the Frankish axemen and the Germans.

Sunday 4 November 2012

Licence to Sling

The PMD Persian slinger. The sling has been removed perhaps because he had been ear-marked to crew the Hinton Hunt Persian chariot. He's in the same garb as the Cardaces spearmen that featured earlier.

I mentioned in the previous post that the designer Steve Farmer worked at Mettoy. Quite a few of the other Les Higgins/PMD designers did too, including Tim Richards (who did a fair few of the Napoleonics) and Higgins himself. I believe Les may have been responsible for the James Bond figure that accompanied the original Corgi 007 Aston Martin.

Saturday 3 November 2012

PMD Ancients Listing



Contrary to what I said earlier on this blog, the designer of this range of figures is known (and I should have been aware of it since I was the one who interviewed Tim Richards). His name was Steve Farmer and he worked for Mettoy designing the figures that went alongside the Corgi range of model vehicles. The Ancient range was released in 1973. I believe there may also have been a Greek slinger and if I can find the box the figure I’m thinking of is in I’ll tell you for certain.

The Ancient World (500-320 BC)

AW/1 Greek javelinman [this figure is actually a spear armed hoplite]
AW/2 Greek warrior with short sword [Hoplite with cloak]
AW/3 Thracian Peltast [with oval “thureos” shield and rhomphaia]
AW/4 Cretan archer
AW/5 Greek cavalryman with sword
AW/6 Persian archer
AW/7 Persian infantryman (Cardaces)
AW/8 Persian slinger (Confusingly some PMD greek slingers - see later post - I have also have the code AW/8 on the base)
AW/9 Persian Anatolian spearman
AW/10 Dahae horse archer
(Javelins and spears were not included with packs)
Photos shows AW/5. His sword has been cut away, presumably to replace it with a javelin.

That'll Be The Dahae

Another Phoenix Model Developments ancient figure - the Dahae horse archer. He's very similar in costume and pose to the Minifigs PB version. The horse is the standard Higgins design, more or less the ECW horse with the pistol holsters removed.

Friday 2 November 2012

Chariot of Deserts

Here is a Hinton Hunt Persian chariot. Unfortunately there are no horses or crew to go with it. Many moons ago I did have some Hinton charioteers that I got from Pete Bateman of BB Wargames. They were Assyrians and Celts, though. They didn't have bases, but did have plugs on the soles of their feet, suggesting that you could fix them into holes in the chariot. It's interesting - well, to me at least - that Hinton was still designing wargame figures long after his ranges had fallen out of fashion with mainstream gamers. It suggests that then, as now, there was a high-class body of elegant and cultured wargamers who refused to be drawn into the vulgar commercial world of scale-creep and bucket-handed trolls.

Thursday 1 November 2012

Hinton Hunt Ancient Listing

The following list combines the sheets that came with the Hinton Hunt catalogue c.1974/5 with the odd addition of figures I own or have seen.

Greek Hoplites AG 7 Officer in cape waving sword
AG 10 Hoplite thrusting with sword
AG 11 Hoplite thrusting with spear
AG 13 Hoplite with spear, marching
AG 15 Hoplite standing with spear

Persians AP 1 Immortal Officer with axe
AP 2 Immortal Standard Bearer
AP 3 Immortal firing bow
AP 4 Immortal thrusting with spear
AP 5 Immortal marching with spear

Persian Royal Guard of Archers AP 6 Officer with axe
AP 7 Standard bearer
AP 8 Guardsman firing bow
AP 9 Guardsman thrusting with spear
AP 10 Guardsman with spear marching

Medes AP 11 Officer with axe
AP 12 Standard bearer
AP 13 Mede firing bow
AP 14 Mede thrusting with spear
AP 15 Mede marching with spear

Persian Chariots AP 20 Chariot driver
AP 21 Chariot bowman
AP 22 Persian 2 horse chariot
AP 23 Persian chariot horse

Persian Cavalry AP 30 Horse archer firing bow (horse Aph3)
AP 31 Mounted spearman (horse Aph3)
AP ?? Mounted Royal Guard spearman (?) - See picture below.

Persian Command AP 40 Great King Darius on his portable throne
AP 41 Attendant with royal umbrella

Republican Romans
AR 1 Centurion charging
AR 2 Aquilifer with eagle
AR 3 Signifer with standard
AR4 Horn player
AR 5 Legionary thrusting with sword
AR 6 Legionary throwing pilum
AR 7 Centurion marching
AR 8 Legionary marching

Imperial Romans
AR 11 Centurion charging
AR 15 Imperial Roman thrusting with sword
AR 16 Imperial Roman Legionary throwing pilum
AR 17 Centurion marching
AR 18 Legionary marching

AR 34 Auxiliary slinger
AR 35 Asian archer

AR/41 Cavalryman armed with spear (Horse ARH1)

Praetorian Guard AR 25 Thrusting with sword
AR 26 Throwing pilum
AR 27 Marching

Roman Command AR 51 General Standing with baton
AR 52 Mounted general (horse Apnh1)

AC 1 Chieftain in winged helmet
AC 4 Helmeted warrior waving sword
AC 5 Helmeted warrior stabbing with spear
AC7 Warrior in crested helmet and cuirass waving sword.
AC 10 Chariot
AC 23 Charioteer with whip
AC 24 Chariot spearman
ACH 1 Celtic chariot horse

Ancient Parthia
APN 1 Armoured Cataphract (Horse APNH1)
APN 2 Horse Archer (Horse APNH2)

The following figures do not have bases. They do, however have plugs on the feet. They may be charioteers, or prototypes, or pirates.

AR ? Roman officer, standing
AC ? Warrior, horned helmet, naked, standing
AC ? Warrior, winged helmet, kilt, standing

AP ? Persian slinger ?
AP ? Assyrian, chainmail, plain conical helmet, standing
AP ? Assyrian, unarmoured, crested helmet, standing


Across The Hush of 24 Centuries...

...As the narrator intones at the start of what I like to think of as the proper 300 Spartans film. Here are some Hinton Hunt versions of the Immortals who featured in that splendid 1962 movie (Which I think was billed as something like "An army five million strong against the invincible flying wedge!"). Left to right we have an archer, officer with axe, a figure that could be the standard bearer (the standard has ben replaced with a wire spear) and an Immortal thrusting with spear. The archer is in much the same stance as the firing musketeers from the ECW range.

Stryker has kindly forwarded me the additional sheets from the 1974 catalogue which detail the "ancient civilizations" range. Intriguingly they promise that there will be lots of additions in the near future. If I can master the technology I'll post them up here at some point.

Wednesday 31 October 2012

A Happy Medean

Actually he's probably more of a perky Persepolian.

When we were compiling the Hinton Hunt Ancients listings for Vintage20Mil we had a bit of a problem as we didn't actually have any printed material on the figures from either a catalogue or from our regular sources of Wargamers Newsletter or Military Modelling.

In the former case we wouldn't have expected any - Marcus Hinton had fallen out with Don Featherstone years before in a dispute about figure piracy in which Hinton (along with Edward Suren) made various allegations about The Don's wargaming buddy and Minifigs owner Neville Dickinson.

Whatever, we eventually managed to cobble together a listing based on various odds and ends of figures we had and the catalogue that had appeared on erstwhile Hinton Hunt owner David Clayton's website in the US.  The Persian section has several different categories of troops including both Persian Immortals and Persian "Royal Guards". I think the little fellow above might be one of the latter fellows.

Tiara Bumper Day

A Mede spearman and archer from Marcus Hinton. The Hinton Hunt ancient range were probably the last that the great man created - certainly they don't feature in any of the catalogues I have seen and may not have appeared until the late-1970s, by which time 20mm had rather fallen out of fashion.

Persian spearmen. The previous owner has replaced the cast on spear with one made from wire.

Tuesday 30 October 2012

By The Time I Get To Phoenix

I've previously featured pictures of a couple of the old Phoenix Model Developments ancient range - the Greek officer and the Anatolian Guard Spearman (the latter had stepped straight off the pages of Funcken). Here are a few photos of the Infantry of the Cardaces.

PMD was the name of the company that began life as Les Higgins Miniatures. The rebranding occurred after Higgins died. Most of the later ranges were designed by either Tim Richards - who also did a lot of the Phoenix Follies 54mm stuff - and Higgins' business partner Brian Marlow. However the ancient range was designed by somebody else - Marlow couldn't recall hs name and Tim Richards was similarly vague, venturing that "He lived in Norfolk". Whoever the designer was they are nice figures if a little prone to a certain Hincliffe-esque gibbon-arm.