I’m glad many of you shared my excitement about my recent Airfix tin hoard.
2017 has been a bit of a ‘jammy’ or lucky year for me for vintage Airfix, especially welcome now that I have restricted and almost stopped using a well-known online auction shopping website after being hacked.
2017 saw a charity shop haul of Airfix OO/HO blue boxes and figures which should help with future projects this coming year.
I could not believe my luck and bought them all on sight without any chance to check contents. Each box was only £3.99 and all the money to a good cause.
Thanks to the excellent box art shown in Jean-Christophe Carbonel’s Airfix’s Little Soldiers, I do not need to own lots of vintage cardboard Airfix packaging. I have no idea where many of my childhood Airfix boxes went but I was always interested by the early Airfix box art.
The accidental chance to own and enjoy some vintage boxes and figures was very welcome.
I noticed with many of the matched figure boxes – Union Infantry versus Confederate Infantry, Waterloo French Infantry versus British Infantry – that there is a bit of a left / right thing going on. The same with artillery and cavalry.
A game of two halves, the two boxes make up or suggest one scene. The Union figures are skirmishing and firing towards a barely glimpsed enemy and their officer on a wooded ridge to the right side of the box. On the Confederate box, the implied enemy troops are firing down from such a ridge to a Union enemy below and on their left.
Quite frequently the British or Allied troops are coming in on the left, the enemy troops from the right on a matched pair of boxes. At least opposing sets usually form two halves or sides of an illustration. Looking through Carbonel’s book, however, this “to the left = victorious, on the right = bad guys” theory does not hold true from a British or Allied point of view for all the Airfix sets.
Alternatively the enemy are glimpsed – French Cuirassiers appear along the ridge or skyline for the Waterloo British infantry, a Waterloo British Highlander in an implied square bristling with bayonets against the charging French Cuirassiers on this cavalry box.
This is in picture terms almost a “Dogfight Double” as Airfix would make for their matched fighter / bomber kits. In this figure case, it encourages you to buy the opposition figures inferred by the illustration.
There is more about the box art and artists in Arthur Ward’s excellent books on Airfix.
The Back of the Box
I have always admired the black pen and ink line illustrations of figures and the later coloured painting guide pictures of figures on the Airfix box backs. So at least I have some not very valuable Airfix packaging to enjoy, as well as the contents.
These box illustrations formed a simple and effective painting guide for the figures inside. One or two of these coloured figures would be included tantalisingly in Airfix catalogues.
Between first sight and returning to the shop a few minutes later with enough cash, two boxes had sold. The two boxes that sold before I bought the rest were Airfix Waterloo Highland Infantry and French Cavalry (Cuirassiers).
I’m not too sure what would have been in those ‘lost’ boxes, as some of these boxes were a curious mix.
They all obviously belonged to the same person as contents were sometimes scattered amongst different boxes.
Inside the Waterloo British Infantry box were not the usual custard yellow Wellington’s veterans. Instead there was an interesting red / brown figure mix of Airfix Indians, Wagon Train figures and wagon and a few Ancient Britons! Not unwelcome figures.
Even the odd one out old set of the Afrika Korps had a surprise – it had a fair number of the vintage series one Eighth Army figures included as well. I much prefer the vintage series one tinier Airfix figures to the larger and still available series two figures.
What to do with lots of lovely Airfix figures?
These are all very useful figures, some part painted, all for future Napoleonic and Civil War games or more generically painted or differently flagged, ready for Imagi-Nation skirmishes in the fictional Bronte kingdoms of Angria and Gondal.
I know that many of these Waterloo figures were made recently available again in 2015 for the bicentenary Airfix Waterloo gift set but I have enjoyed seeing all the old boxes again.
To speed the journey to the tabletop, some of these figures are part painted and surprisingly, the horses are stoutly glued. Fixing horses to bases and riders to horses was one thing about Airfix and Esci figures that I disliked, compared to Atlantic horses.
Apart from not being based, it looks as if some of these figures have been enjoyed and deployed on the games table. I hope they will have many more skirmishes to come.
I hope you have enjoyed a closer look at my lucky discovery!
Little shop hoards like this don’t happen often and it is a different more exciting experience from bidding or buying online. It makes up for all the days that you don’t see any figures at all in charity shops or market stalls.
A couple more lucky hoards for 2017 to share in future blogposts, so that you can share in my joy at a bit of a ‘jammy’ year for figures.
Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN, 16 September 2017.