Around the late Sixties my indoor battles with my two brothers went ballistic. We got tooled up. Out went socks stuffed with socks [although they would re-appear] and in came weapons. These were weapons for kids and included artillery and small hand arms.
But the first flush of weapons came in the mid Sixties and were medieval; bows and arrows, maces, swords and knight's armour. These were classic toys which are mostly still available, fitting as they do, like Pirates and Cowboys and Indians, in the unlicensed sweep of human history. Often these toys were bought on our superb Summer holidays at Butlins holiday camps.
Me and Aunty Terry, Butlins, circa 1965
Inspired by my Marx Noble Knights, I would don my silver plastic knight's helmet, silver breastplate and circular shield and looking like the heroic Ivanhoe I was reading about at the time, I trundled off, plastic broadsword in hand, in search of damsels in distress and older brothers I could pester! These broadswords were quite hefty affairs with a ridged grip, thick T-bar style hand guard and a wide two-edged 36 inch blade. I loved sliding it out of the equally chunky scabbard attached to my belt and spinning the sword around in my hand like a gunslinger!
I tended to spin the sword on approach of my hapless prey, usually one of my annoying siblings and with the timeless, although somewhat historically incorrect battle cry of 'Geronimo' I would strike like a Knight's Templar! The broad bladed weapon would produce an incredibly satisfying plastic 'thwap' sound on my brother's backside as it struck true, to which I would shout 'Cry God for Harry!', which I'd seen on the cover of my Mum's novel.
My brother would shout 'You little bastard!', promptly turn and try to grab me Kendo Nagasaki-style. Forsooth, I was long gone and well on my back to yon jousting yard! Actually I was on my way to one of several hiding places scattered around the house, where I could regroup. Both of my brothers knew my hiding places so to call it a game of hide and seek would be disingenuous to that classic pastime. No, this was more like Seek and Destroy and I knew a good drubbing was but a rusty cutlass away! My only reason for hiding was to gain some time and choose a new weapon stashed there, one which was suited to hand to hand combat in close quarters.
If I was feeling brave and masochistic I would, when found, deploy a toy dagger with a retractable spring-loaded blade for effect. It was great fun especially if I was hidden in the double door blanket cupboard, which was huge and shelved. the shelves were so big and strong that I could climb them like a ladder and lie on the top one, bedded down on sheets and pillows and close the doors from the inside. When the door creaked open I would plunge the toy dagger in my brother's shoulder.
He would shout 'Dammit!', to which I would follow up with the second of my arms, a brown plastic mace complete with knobbly bits on the business end. I loved this thing and clubbing either of my older brother's over the head from my crow's nest ranks highly on my best feelings of all time list!
Like any knight errant worth a maiden's hanky I had weapons aplenty in my junior armoury. The wide broadsword was my blade of choice but I also had short black medieval dirks with grips and scabbards encrusted with plastic emeralds. For a more sophisticated look I would brandish a toy rapier, foil or epee, all long thin swords complete with curled guards and black shiny scabbbards. Gently hawling one out would inevitably lead to me bellowing 'En Guard' like D'Artagnon in the Three Musketeers.
I also had a plastic axe for leaving a bruised line on my siblings' backs, which would guarantee a long and painful trial by combat for me. Ideally I would have liked larger shafted arms like a halberd, poleaxe, pike or a lance. A life size toy horse , which could gallop would have been cool too!
I know I had a bows and arrows, a spear and a horn but these represented another epoch entirely and one which would be a stepping stone to a full-scale ballistic toy theatre of war, the Wild West.