This post is wonderful on all accounts! Your Middle Guardsmen are very nice. I've put together my fair share of Victrix plastics and can attest to both their ease of conversion but also how fragile some of their parts can be (especially the bayonets). As you say a bit of strategically placed dirt and mud seems to strangely elevate many figures.
Your new puppy is awesome! I love his face and white paws. Sarah and I spent conducted the necessary 'awwws' and had fun checking out the breed online. What is the little fella's name? I have no doubt he will propagate Canada's good reputation in your fine household (shirts, shoes and nummy figures notwithstanding). :)