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.