EDUCATION


How can you creatively transform the pages of your school project and turn it into a visual still or moving image.

Minifig Battlefields launches its first hardback book. An ideal companion for your classroom.


This hardback book is a fully illustrated colour book that uses Minifig Battlefields pieces to re-enact faithfully key events in the Great War from 1914 -1916 from the Western Front to Verdun and the Somme.

This is part of our ongoing Education program to inspire young people through the creative technology of 3D printing and visual art. This is the first publication, created by Minifig Battlefields and published by Collis Enteprises Ltd using specially designed pieces, parts and military equipment to illustrate military campaigns in an easy to read format.

This first book is an ideal complement to encourage young people to compose a storyline; augment their history learning and engage them in creative technologies from 3D printing through to the media of animation and visual arts.


Available also online from many other leading book sellers – just enter 9780995535701 (the ISBN number) in the search tab.

Minifig Battlefields mission in educationTell your own story.

Starting with the Great War, our aim is to provide all the pieces you need to tell your story and leave a legacy. Using realistic diorama and scenery such as trenches and battlefields specially designed for minifig soldiers you can recreate your story. These soldiers fit perfectly in the trenches with compatible manufactured duckboards and fire steps enabling the minifig to move along the trench. Trench cladding has been created to fit inside the trenches. Together with compatible equipment such as hats, helmets, backpacks, weapons to kit out the soldier, and accessories such as ladders for the minifig to climb out of the trench, as well as barbed wire entanglements for the battlefield, you can quickly reconstruct a scene either for a photo, collection of photos, or to animate. Accurately recreated machine guns and artillery are also available.

Most battles on the Western Front during the WW1, such as Ypres, Verdun, Somme, and Passchendaele involved trench warfare and the call to ‘go over the top‘ onto the battlefield. You can reconstruct your battlefield assault by moving the minifig soldiers across the battlefield. So not only can these minifig soldiers move along the trenches, the troops can move across the battlefield as well – and the good thing is – it is all designed to be compatible with existing well known brick brands. If you need more pieces to complete your story, we can design and supply them to you, and if you already have a 3D printer we can show you how.

Check out some of the video animations using our WW1 minifigs, trenches and battlefields. When you have created your story, tell us about it and we will post it.


..…..be creative, be imaginative and recreate your own story as you learn about the Great War.


Cambridge TV captures a school using Minifig Battlefields minifigs to tell their First World War story. An excellent way to teach children about creativity and working together. A great way to learn about history. Click on the image on the left or click here to watch the article from Cambridge TV.


Pour La France – a World War 1 story researched, developed and animated by school children from Sawston Village College using military minifigs.

Click on the image on the left or click the video here to watch their WW1 animation.  You too at your school can create and tell your own World War 1 story with minifigs.


Theatre of War

By mid November 1914, the temporarily exhausted British, French and German armies resorted to the primitive trench warfare across the stalemated Western Front that extended some 400 miles from the English Channel to Switzerland. This provided a picture that remained largely unchanged for most the war, which resulted in the trenches and battlefields of no-man’s land providing the iconic images of the Great War. Trench images of soldiers trudging along duckboards, standing on firesteps to peer and shoot over the parapets, and battlefields images of mud covered wastelands pitted with shell holes and craters, covered with barbed wire.

 


The American Army in WWI

 

The United States entered World War 1 in April 1917, although at the time, large numbers of trained soldiers were not available. Those that were experienced, were often used to quickly train others.

American Weaponry

There was also a shortage of weapons, and in particular heavy weaponry such as artillery. However, after providing the raw materials, artillery was manufactured in France using French designs, such as the 75mm. There was also a shortage of machine guns and the French Hotchkiss machine gun was used initially. The Americans introduced the Browning machine gun later in the war. The Americans used the Springfield rifle, which ironically had been adapted from the German Mauser.

American Soldiers

The American infantry arrived in France wearing khaki, olive drab uniforms. They had a canvas knapsack with canvas belt and straps, the belt holding a series of canvas pouches or pockets.

 


 

The Montana wide brimmed hat was worn with a blue cord by the infantry but gave no protection under fire and was used behind the frontline. An almost identical Brodie helmet to the British was quickly manufactured by the Americans for frontline use.

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The British Army in WWI

Most British ‘Tommies’ had only a few weapons to use in the trenches, such a rifle, bayonet and grenade. The British Brodie distinctive ‘soup bowl” shaped helmet was made from hardened manganese steel and was virtually impervious to shrapnel balls from above. Introduced in 1916 ready for the ‘big push’ Battle of the Somme it was mainly painted khaki.

The British Army uniform of 1914 was a camouflage drab colour, developed from khaki used in India and the Second Boer War but was a darker khaki shade for home use. The thick woolen tunic and trousers had two breast pockets for personnel items, with two smaller pockets. A stiffened peak cap made of the same material was also worn, but was no protection against shrapnel.

The British were the first European army to replace leather belts and pouches with webbing, a strong material made from woven cotton. The Pattern Webbing equipment included a wide belt, ammunition pouches, braces, a small haversack and large pack. Personal items and unused rations were kept in the haversack, while the large pack was normally used to carry the soldier’s greatcoat and / or blanket.

 


For weapons, the standard issue rifle was the short magazine Lee Enfield (SMLE). It was the fastest military bolt-action rifle of the day. A well-trained rifleman could fire 20-30 aimed rounds in 60 seconds. It had a 10 round magazine loaded with 5 round charger clips, and an effective range of 500m. The British Vickers machine gun had a reputation for reliability firing up to 600 rounds of ammunition per minute at targets up to 4000m away.

 

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The French Army in WWI

The uniform and headgear worn by the French soldier on the Western Front evolved as the war progressed. Although plans were made for a change from the traditional blue coats and red trousers for infantry, this bright highly visible uniform was still in use at the beginning of the war. Some attempts were made at this early stage to reduce visibility by using a cloth cover to conceal the bright red top of the soldiers Kepi (peaked cap). Despite this very heavy French losses during the Battle of the Frontiers were in part attributed to high visibility of the uniform, and new horizon-blue clothing of simplified design was introduced in early 1915. The pale grey-blue colour was intended to blend into the skyline on the horizon.

By mid 1915 the French Adrian metal helmet was introduced to reduce ballistic head injuries, a distinctive design, painted grey-blue, it resembled a fireman’s headgear.

The French soldiers were all issued with the M1893 knapsack, made of canvas with leather straps and a square construction using an internal wooden frame. The canvas was dyed in various colours including brown or horizon-blue. Straps on the top and sides were included so that items such as a rolled up greatcoat could be fixed over the knapsack, similar to the German equipment.


For weaponry, the standard issue rifle was the Lebel model 1886 bolt-action rifle. It was the first military firearm to use smokeless powder ammunition, and had an 8 round tube magazine, with an effective firing range of 400m. The French Hotchkiss machine gun was developed by the Hotchkiss arms company in France through an improved adaptation of an Austrian design, following the purchase of the patents in 1893. The gas actuated air-cooled machine gun fired 8mm Lebel cartridges and could fire 450 rounds per minute, 3800m. It used 24 round strips and later 250 round metal belt fed ammunition. This machine gun was later also used by the Americans.

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The German Army in WWI

Until 1910 each German state had its own particular uniform colour with distinctive design. In 1910 the entire German army adopted the Feldgrau ‘Fieldgrey’ uniform. Red piping on collar, pockets and edges was used to indicate infantry. The distinctive leather Pickelhaube, spiked helmet, had highly reflective brass and silver fittings. In order to reduce visibility in active service a light brown canvas cover was used. Pre-war the cover had the regimental number on the front in red. In 1914 the colour of the number was changed to dark green, and in 1915 was removed altogether. A simplified Pickelhaube with a detachable spike was developed and used in late 1915 to further reduce visibility in the front line.

The distinctive German Stahlhelm, steel helmet, with its deep-pressed shell and prominent slide lugs was designed to provide more ‘all round’ protection. It was tested against artillery fire along side British and French helmets, and was not introduced until 1916. Although the Stahlhelm offered more ‘all round’ protection, soldiers reported poorer hearing and side vision. Nevertheless, there was 70% reduction in German head wound fatalities.

The German soldier carried the M1895 Infantry backpack, known as the Tornister 95. Before the war it was made of hide and leather and due to material shortages, was replaced by waterproof canvas with a wooden framework. Rolled and folded over the top and sides of the Tornister was the famous Greatcoat covered with the waterproof and versatile canvas Zeltbahn, a half shelter-half cover


The main German infantry rifle of WW1 was the Gewehr 98 bolt action Mauser rifle. It fired cartridges from a 5 round internal clip-loaded magazine. British and American manufacturers rapidly adopted its advanced features. The rifle had an effective range of 500m that could be extended to 800m with an optical sight.

On the battlefields of WW1, the standard machine gun used by the Germans was the MG08, adapted from the original 1884 Maxim gun, it could fire 600 rounds of ammunition per minute at targets up to 3600m away.

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