Sunday, 23 December 2007

Hello and welcome to the last HELMET Blog of 2007. We ventured into our front garden this morning to take the photographs that you see here. It was, and still is, very cold and the fog has yet to lift properly. Sorry we failed to publish last week, other things took priority.
The first two pictures show my latest work for the War of 1812, a group of American Riflemen in hunting shirts. There are two from Barzo - American Militia, two from A Call to Arms and an old Accurate Confederate, all have their heads replaced with adapted HELMET products with plumes and cords added from greenstuff. I have also modelled various bits and bobs of equipment from greenstuff and two of them have had 19th Century style overalls added also from the same old greenstufff, and the Confederate has a new right arm, from the elbow anyway, pinned and glued in position. I have also turned the head on this figure through 90 degrees to make a fairly blend model slightly more useful. When we uploaded the pictures earlier, we noticed an interloper, namely the redcoat from an as yet unidentified unit who has managed to sneak into the line. We are sure he wasn't there when the photos were taken.
The next picture is a close-up of two of the Riflemen, both of these are adapted from the A Call to Arms Maryland Infantry, Revolutionary War period. I really like these somewhat strange uniforms which seem to combine 18th Century and Napoleonic military fashion into something unique but distinctly American.
Next we started to set up my representation of the 10th Regiment of Foot, also from the American Revolution, two things defeated our efforts, firstly the roof of my car couldn't accommodate all the figures and secondly, the cold really began to bite. I'll get some better pictures of the whole lot of them on a nice warm day next Spring, in the meantime however. these should give you some idea of how big this outfit is and hopefully inspire some of you to reproduce more of the glorious British Infantry of the period.
Thanks to all those who have taken the time and trouble to read through all this stuff and all I can do is promise more of the same for the future. Thanks to my son, Jonathan, who took all the photos for this and all the other Blogs, and finally I want to say something I've dreamt of writing for a long time:
and a great 2008 as well.

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Hello and warm greetings from a dark, damp, and dank South of England. Not long till Christmas now, and I hope you have been good all year and get the presents you want, and therefore obviously deserve. I remember fondly the Christmases when boxes of Herald, Timpo and Crescent were waiting for me under the tree, there was always something about seeing them proud in their unchipped paint schemes that made them look, feel and dare I say it, smell, so special. Enough ramblings!
The first couple of photos today show the last of my Zulu War cavalry, two members of the Natal Native Horse and two mounted Boers. I was determined to include as many different contingents for the Imperial forces as possible, and will go back to them later and increase their numbers, well that's the plan anyway!. The mounted Boers are a Replicants Confederate with shotgun, pretty much unconverted, and a CTS Mexican cavalryman with a Replicants head and a couple of extra bits from greenstuff. I've used greenstuff to make the red scarves around their hats. The Natal Native Horse are an Italeri Confederate and a Cherilea remould with a BMC head, both on Hat horses. (If you re-read the last sentence only people like us would understand the strange collection of words that form it's contents.) The dismounted chaps are both from BMC Spanish American War figures with very little conversion. I know that the painted cord jackets and breeches are out of scale but I tried to "represent" the style of the cloth and not just produce a rather bland brown effect.
I guess the American War of Independence/ Revolution collection that I have accumulated is the second largest, I really like the British uniforms. As for infantry figures we are reasonably well served, with the Accurate sets for hat companies and the A Call to Arms grenadiers, however I must admit to being disappointed by their fairly recent issue of British light infantry. I do find the work of some of the American reenactment groups very useful and the recreated Royal Welch Fusiliers website is inspirational. We took these pictures about an hour ago and the green lake they are standing on is the roof of my car, still wet after a recent shower. I've included the colour party, and featured the regimental goat, from Irregular, and half the light company, that is 10 men plus a sergeant.
The conversions are pretty standard stuff for the colours and goat section, all are from A Call to Arms and Accurate. The ensigns are mounted on metal washers to counter balance the weight of the paper flags which once painted an glued are pretty heavy, for plastic figures at least. The light company platoon come from a number of sources and I admit are a bit of a pain to produce individually. I cut don jackets and add wings from greenstuff, but the real problem is the heads which are have a false from, turban, and crest all from putty, finally the white plume is more greenstuff built up around a pin driven into the left side of the poor man's head. However, the result when seen en mass is OK. At full strength the 2regiment should number 100 figures, so I've still got another 40 to paint for the 23rd, but I have one complete British regiment, the 10th - we all have to start somewhere.
That's enough for now. More later, feedback welcome.
Cheers and keep dry.

Sunday, 2 December 2007

Well hello again, sensation seekers and welcome to another edition of the world famous HELMET Blog. As I sit and type this, the wind is howling and the rain is lashing down, I hope you are all having better weather than we are here in the soft underbelly of South East England.
Yesterday we attended our first show, and it was a great learning experience for all of us, the current Mrs Kemp and our son and my daughter were in attendance giving help, advice and support, Although our stuff wasn't exactly flying off the shelf, we took some money and had a good, if exhausting time. Thanks are due also to Paul Morehead, Brian Carrick, Steve Weston and Mike Blake all of which came to chat, encourage and assist. Cheers Chaps, it means a lot.
What was interesting was the number of people who stopped to say that they remembered HELMET from when it first started out, one gentleman said he hadn't heard of "you" for so long, he thought "you" was dead! I admit I looked pretty terrible yesterday but I was eventually consoled by telling myself he was referring the products and not me personally. We sold a few kits but the spare parts provoked a lot of interest which bodes well for the converters out there.
This week, the pictures show the grenadiers we featured a few weeks ago, with a few of their hat company comrades. Mid 18th century uniforms are quite attractive, although those who actually wore them probably had a somewhat different perspective. There are the usual mix of Barzo, A Call to Arms and others, plus a few "metals" from Irregular, all bodged along with tons of greenstuff and a gloss paint job.
As I said last time about our attempt at the Zulu War is exemplified by the next few photos. I wanted to get away from the Zulus attacking a British defensive position, so we have only panted about 30 infantry and have started to concentrate on others, including cavalry and artillery. The results can be seen here, a couple of mounted infantry, mounted (of course) then duplicated on foot, a close-up of the Natal Carbineers shown last week and a Royal Artillery gun and detatchment. The gun is an Imex ACW piece with some seats constructed on the axles from scrap polystyrene, I was attempting to get the "look" of the thing rather than getting an accurate representation.
Lastly another pic of our new kit. K33, which is now up on the website and for sale.
Slightly shorter this week as we have to clear away the debris from the show.
Good luck to you all, and please comment or leave feedback, it shows someone out there is reading this.

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Hello and welcome to the latest HELMET Blog. We start off this week's effort with a bit of HELMET PR in the form of our latest kit, Number K33, a French Infantry Officer in pre-1812 uniform. This can be painted in a number of ways including officers from the Young and Middle Guard, so you could use one to lead the Armies in Plastic French Napoleonic Infantry. Also in the kit I've included a few spare parts to enable the construction
of a mounted French ADC, again this figure can be used alongside the Italeri French General Staff set. We'll be launching the kit at the London Show on December 1st and it will be available from the website in the near future.
The next three pictures show some recent, I only finished the bases this morning, work where I have been looking at ways of providing opposition for the Americans I'm making for the War of 1812. The 6 figure picture is of a Canadian Fencible, a private from the 5th West India Regiment, and four men from the 95th Rifles, this hot is followed by close-ups of the two Redcoats and the Rifles. These are all basically HELMET figures as follows:
The Canadian Fencible, also can be a British Infantryman from the Peninsular War or even a member of Bernard Cornwall's South Essex, is a standard kit apart from his head, which uses a test shot of a stovepipe shako head with "standard" plate, we hope to have these available soon, as I think they'll open up a whole new area and can be used in America and Peninsular and elsewhere, for infantry and artillery models. The West Indian has his pack straps carved away and a bayonet scabbard added from scrap. Both have had their shoulder strap tufts built up from the ubiquitous greenstuff, always a challenge to my spellchecker! All the rest is achieved through paint.
The Rifles are pretty much basic HELMET kits, with an added waist belt and small pouch made from scrap plastic. The Baker rifle is just a cut down Brown Bess, shoulder straps ass before and one figure has shako cords in greenstuff. I wanted to add variety to the existing Riflemen that I already have ready to paint (Replicants and Italeri) and also I wanted a Bugler and Officer, you can see that latter on the Conversions page on the website. I'm quite pleased with the result, they look a bit different and to my biased eye, quite elegant.
I've mounted all the infantry models on small metal washers, which I bought very cheaply in a local "Pound shop", this provides a bit of stability and "heft" when picking them up and moving them.
Finally a taster, some cavalry from our Zulu War set-up, these are Natal Carbineers, mounted and dismounted. I really want to game in this period, but wanted to get away from hordes of Zulus attacking the 24th Foot in a defensive position so have started to build a few mounted units to have a more open type of game. The idea is to duplicate most of the mounted models so that they can fight on foot. The horses are Imex, although the Officer's mount has a metal head which I added as an experiment in variety, the dismounted figures are A Call to Arms British infantry with their kit carved away and new belts and bits from greenstuff. Pins and a dab of putty make the helmet spike. The mounted men started out as Cherilea Mounties, heads and gear as before with A Call to Arms weapons and boots added from other models as appropriate, all making up something a bit different.
Going now, have got stuff to do for the show next week. Comments and feedback welcome as before.

Sunday, 18 November 2007

If it's Sunday it must be Blog time. Hello everyone from a wet, dank and dark south of England. We've spent most of the weekend getting stuff ready for our first show on December 1st at the Royal National Hotel in London. We've never done this before, and there seems to be so much to think about and prepare, but if you're coming to the show, drop by table A1 and say hell. I am continuing our quest to get some new HELMET products on the market, and I fully realise that we have at least one customer patiently waiting for new stuff out there, but I'm quite excited that we'll have some new and interesting items in the near future. I'll not mention this again until I know that we can actually supply the new bits and pieces.
So, on to this week's pictures. There is nothing new here, the show preparation has seen to that, but there should be some more War of 1812 pictures ready soon. I particularly like British 18th century uniforms, The Revolution and before, and have long been interested in the Jacobite Rising of 1745/1746 and the French and Indian War, so have devised a cunning plan whereby I can use the British troops for both conflicts. I realise that there are subtle uniform differences, but as I said in an earlier Blog, I paint and convert to get the "look and feel" rather than complete down to the last button accuracy. These grenadiers are mainly from the A Call to Arms grenadier set. I have trimmed their bearskins and produced mitre caps from the ubiquitous greenstuff, and added deeper cuffs and some additional bulk to their coat tails from the same material. The drummer is a metal figure from Dorset Soldiers and the officer is made by Barzo. The loading figure is from the Maryland Infantry set.
The Romans are mainly from the newish set from A Call to Arms, the conversion work consisted mostly of turning heads through 90 degrees so that at least some of them are holding their shields in front of them. I read somewhere that equipment was only replaced when it was worn out, and as this makes perfect sense, I used a few heads from the Toyway set and a mail clad body from Italeri. The centurion and a couple of legionaries are metal models from a New Zealand company who are no longer operating.
The two Napoleonic cavalrymen are made from HELMET spare parts. I saw a photo of a painting by Eugene Leliepvre on the front of an old Military Modelling - July 1984, I was only 10 at the time (not!) and was impressed by the simple but elegant uniforms. These are Declarers of the Guard, I think the nearest translation is "scouts" and were formed apparently to counter the threat from Russian Cossacks. We could issue these as a kit, what do people think?
Finally the Russian steamroller from the Crimean War. There are two companies from a line regiment here and about 20 packs of greenstuff. The figure come from the usual wide range of sources and take ages to make, but there is some compensation in the fact they are fairly quick to paint up.
That's all for now, any comments and feedback gratefully received.
Cheers and take care,

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Hi everyone, the English Civil War cavalry pictures we published last time seemed to cause something of a stir, so not being one to ignore a passing bandwagon, I've continued the mounted figure theme on this edition of the Blog. True to my word in promising that this would not be a vehicle to advertise HELMET products, there are none of our kits or spare parts on display here today, however it must be said that there is an influence in the use of pipecleaners on some of the conversions.
The photos that show cavalry from the American Revolution, or American War of Independence, depending on your preference, show mainly Loyalists dressed in green jackets, this is our standard organisation for a cavalry squadron, an officer, a sergeant, a trumpeter and 15 men. They are mostly CTS Mexicans on HaT horses, although there are a few Historex bits and pieces along with a couple of Italeri converted Scots Greys. Usual rules apply with pins replacing most of the plastic swords and additions from greenstuff. I have tried to add a little variety through the chap firing his pistol with his sabre attached to his wrist by the leather sword knot, and the guy, somewhat unwisely reloading his carbine whilst riding at the gallop. I really like the plain and simple uniforms they form a marked contrast with the three 17th Light Dragoon conversions riding alongside. The Loyalist are "sort of generic" by which I mean they are probably closer to the Queens Rangers in their uniform details, but could easily be used to represent Tarleton's British Legion Dragoons.
I've added a picture of some of our Parliamentary Horse from the English Civil War, like the Royalists shown last week, they are pretty massive conversions using a great deal of greenstuff and/or miliput. The excellent heads on most of the figures are metal and come from Maros here in the UK, I'm not sure if they are still available, does anyone know? I'm very much Old School when it come to the English Civil War, so all the Cavalier cavalry are flamboyant and colourful, whilst their opponents are uniformly dressed in lobster pot, back and breasts and buffcoats, well I like it that way, The second photo shows a few of the boys getting stuck in..........
The Roman was made as an experiment, we've got some infantry, I'll feature these on a future Blog, but was unsure about cavalry figures, so this poor Frankenstein monster is made as follows: the head and feet(!) are from the Toyway factory painted Romans released a few years back, the torso is Italeri, the legs, down to the calves are from a HaT French Dragoon, I had to extend the mail shirt with greenstuff, javelin from brass rod, shield from card and an old Timpo horse......phew! The result is OK but I need to make a few more to improve on some of the methods and techniques.
OK thanks for looking, any comments gratefully received, cheers for now,

Sunday, 4 November 2007

Welcome to the latest version of the HELMET Soldiers Blog. What I've got this time are some old school photos showing part of our English Civil War set up, produced a few years ago, and some work in progress when I return to the War of 1812.
The English Civil War is a great period to model in 1:32/54mm, and I really like the A Call to Arms Infantry especially the pikemen set, which I think contains 20, rather than the more usual 16 figures. The musketeers need a little more work on them, hence the usual round of conversions and additional figures from Replicants, amongst others.
This group represents a company from the Royalist Marquis of Winchesters' Regiment. To be honest I have based them on a re-enactment unit in the English Civil War Society, so cannot vouch for their authenticity. The Marquis was the owner and commander of the garrison of Basing House, which eventually fell to Cromwell in 1645. The ruins of Basing House are only a few miles from where I live and we often walk around the now peaceful grounds in the summer. I particularly like the claret colour of the clothing and the huge variety of headgear which breaks up the uniform appearance. At the moment there are over 60 figures in the company, which is probably, on a 1 to 1 ratio, about the correct size for an infantry company on campaign.
The cavalry also come from a number of different sources, and are the usual massive conversions, they represent troops from the regiments of Prince Rupert and the Prince of Wales and include some modified figures produced by Replicants and others. Most of these were bought from Steve Weston, who provides a helpful and friendly service and has a great website at .
The others pictures are a return the the War of 1812, currently my newest period. I've started to make a company of US Regulars in the short grey jackets issued to some regiments, Although very plain, I think they paint up as simple but attractive models. Most of these feature the usual HELMET head, the hat less private is from an old Phoenix part. I looked for models that had short jackets, so the Accurate ACW Confederates were a good start, although the downside is their lack of crossbelts, so I rather painstakingly added these from greenstuff, there are also toys from Marx, HaT, Imex, BMC, A Call to Arms and HELMET, I've just realised that's seven manufacturers for eight figures, where does the madness end?
Finally for the War of 1812, the first "British" figures and a confession. I don't normally give my painted units any form of flag until they number at least 40 "privates", however the ensign in the photo was an experiment to see if I could convert an infantry officer from HELMET parts. I wanted the colour he carries to be something a bit different, so chose the Swiss Regiment Meuron, because of both the strange pattern on the flag itself and their unusual light blue facings, so you see before you the complete British Army for the War of 1812. The privates are from HELMET and A Call to Arms with HELMET heads.
I'll post some more next week, as usual any comments or feedback gratefully received. By the way I thought it was about time I mention Plastic Warrior magazine, A great read every two months and also a terrific show in Richmond each year, you can reach them through the ever helpful editor, Paul Morehead, at .
Finally don't forget us, , cheers for now,

Saturday, 27 October 2007

This time we will look at the Crimean War, one of my favourite periods. It is some yardstick on the nature and extent of my insanity that I embark on toy soldier projects that require almost every figure to be drastically converted, and this one is no exception. Shares in greenstuff must have rocketed during this time as I was buying packet after packet, and going through knife blades at a rate of knots.
I think then contrast between the British and Russian uniforms is another reason why this war is so interesting, the British are dressed in classic toy soldier style, whilst their opponents are drab and almost modern looking, I'll publish some Russian photos next time.
So to the pictures, first off an 11th Hussar trooper, one of Lord Cardigan's "Cherry Bums". This is an extremely minor conversion of a standard HELMET Napoleonic British hussar, all I did was add a small cap pouch to his waist belt, made from a scrap of plastic, the water canteen and haversack moulding is another addition. You can see this more clearly in the second photo, which shows our bold hussar alongside a Light Brigade colleague, this time from the 17th Lancers - this is a standard HELMET kit.
Next we have some Scots Greys from the Heavy Brigade. These are mostly old Cherilea heads on CTS Mexican cavalry bodies, mounted on Imex horses, the belts and other equipment are built up from greenstuff. The officer's head is from Timpo, with a somewhat alarming set of whiskers "greenstuffed" to his face.The trumpeter behind him is from the slightly disappointing Italeri Greys set, with built up headgear and trumpet slung across his back from a HELMET spare. Wherever practical I replace plastic swords with metal pins, thickened up gradually with layers of paint, this prevents the plastic blades bending and cracking their paint. I paint in batches, so the left over paint from batch one produces the sword blades for batch 2.
My grandfather was in the Coldstream Guards, so there is a dreadful inevitability about their appearance in my Crimean British army. So the next picture shows a part of the single company I have produced so far. These fellows are from Imex, CTS, Accurate, A Call to Arms, Armies in Plastic and (probably) others, They have heads looted from Britains Deetail figures picked out from rummage boxes at various shows. Plumes, large white epaulets, equipment and cuff flaps from the omnipresent greenstuff with coat fronts trimmed to look double-breasted, buttons have been built up with paint as per the sword blade method outlined above. Finally we have four Highlanders from the Thin Red Streak, the 93rd. These are from Timpo with bonnets, sporrans and cuff flaps from greenstuff. These were quite simple to convert, but maddening to paint, personally I find the tartan not too bad, it's the damn dicing on the headwear and the pattern on the hose that I drives me to distraction, which all goes to explain why there are only four!
I'm still working on War of 1812 American regulars, so an update on progress there, next time. Also some Crimean Russians, and how about some English Civil War to add a bit of contrast?
Any comments or feedback welcomed, and by the way we have added a link to the Blog from the website under the "Latest News" tab.
Many thanks

Sunday, 21 October 2007

So here we are at Blog Number 2 and some War of 1812 American Regulars. Thanks to all those who responded with positive feedback after Number1.

Some people requested information detailing the construction and conversion methods I use, but, before I go on to do that, a quick statement of the type of stuff I produce. We like to have big units, we think that large scale figures in small numbers look a little daft, so what you see in is our standard infantry company, an officer, drummer and sergeant and 20 privates. Because of our desire to build these units as quickly as possible, our conversions are best described as "in the style of...." that is they do not stand up to scrutiny as 100% accurate, but are pretty close, they are not connoisseur models, but toy soldiers for wargames and display.

I've always liked "American Wars" ACW and AWI (American Revolution if you prefer) both are well provided for with plenty of plastic figures in our scale. So why choose the War of 1812? Madness just madness.

So back to the figures. They are a mix of Barzo figures from the period, a few HELMET Soldiers, simple conversions here, and the bulk of the rest coming from A Call to Arms Belgian Infantry, BMC Mexicans with similar from CTS. I was just looking for British style Napoleonic types.

For all except the Barzo's I used HELMET Belgic shakos. I removed the cords, not the tassels, and badges and replaced these with new items form greenstuff, the American badge was small and higher up, and the cords sloped across rather than hanging in a half loop. I also "nicked off" the top corners of the false front on the shako to try and create the impression of greater height. A tip here, I try to avoid troops carrying their musket across their bodies, this can often be avoided by turning the head through 90 degrees and have him looking along his gun rather than across it. The high collars which support the pinned and glued heads come from greenstuff.

Those figures wearing knapsacks had them replaced with American envelope style packs made simply from greenstuff. I've uploaded a couple of pics of the command figures as we have had a few questions about the availability of such models. The Officer is as follows: HELMET body, arms, head, sword and scabbard, Marx US cavalry legs with sash etc from greenstuff. The drummer is an old Timpo Waterloo figure with a HELMET head, I carved away the lace on the coatee front and built up coat tails, haversack and canteen from greenstuff. Finally the sergeant is basically a HELMET figure converted as above with sash and epaulets from greenstuff with an extra sword and bayonet scabbard. The belts are made from thin paper fixed with a gel superglue. Painted for durability in good old gloss enamels and textured bases. Done!
I'm working on some more regulars in grey jackets which we'll post when complete. Any feedback gratefully received.
Cheers for now.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

We start the first HELMET Soldiers Blog with three photos from a garden, front drive actually, wargame held on one of the last Sundays of the Summer. The (somewhat) outlandish scenario was a small Russo/Austrian force was retreating to the coast where they would be rescued by elements of the Royal Navy assisted by a detachment of Marines. The French were in hot pursuit and, using our simple rules the usual carnage ensued, good fun though and some excellent pictures courtesy of my 17 year old son, who also commanded, successfully as usual, the Allies.

I intend to add items to this Blog at what will probably be irregular intervals. It is not meant to be an advert for HELMET Soldiers, although inevitably some of the figures and conversions will be from our product range. I hope the Blog will be about painting and converting toy soldiers in 1:32 or 54mm if you prefer. By definition, a lot of the posts will be based around the 1800 to 1815 period, but I do have interests outside of that timframe and some of the updates will reflect that.

So to the pictures, the first show French Old Guard Grenadiers, these are amix of metal and plastic from Irregular Miniatures for the metals and Aifix and Armies in plastic for, guess what? There's quite a lot of conversion work involved to bring the plastics up to the same appearance as their metal comerades.

The second photo shows part of a squadron of Russian Dragoons. These are our figures in a pretty much straight up and down simple uniform.

Lastly I show a Russian infantry square some AIP 1812 period figures and some Grenadiers of around 1805. The basic models are I think Russian made and now difficult to get hold of, nice though they are the poses are quite limited so they are, once again, a fair proportion of heavily converted chaps in amoungst the rest.

So that's it for the moment, short and sweet, next time I'll cover something a little different, thanks for looking.