Man of TIN Blogvent Calendar Day 7: Airfix Civilians and Country Workers

For a forthcoming gaming scenario in 2020 about the Battle of Saxby between navvies and country farmworkers in Leicestershire during 1844, I needed some suitable looking country figures for the mid 19th Century to match my Airfix OOHO trackworkers / navvies with their red neckerchiefs.

The first of my Airfix OOHO Navvy figures …

I raided all the spare civilian figures that I could find from hoarded boxes of Airfix Waggon Train, American Civil War Artillery and the odd Airfix civilian or airman.

I have used a Citadel Agramax Earthshade brown shade wash to make the figures’ clothes and faces suitably muddy for farm work, on campaign or on the trail.

Shaded figure on left, unshaded figure to the right for each pose

These men with rifles might be too well armed for the Saxby Bridge battle of farm tools and navvy tools.

I painted them non-uniform and nondescript enough to work as American Civil War troops, Wild West cowboys, irregular troops or even Boer sharpshooters. The lamb or calf carried by one of the figure types can be underpainted to look like a bed roll or provisions sack.

Some of the Airfix Waggon Train civilians have no tools or weapons so I used a range of spare picks and shovels from the Airfix OOHO Forward Command Post or Jungle Outpost.

The Earl of Harborough’s men at Saxby Bridge fought off the Midland Railway navvies, who were trying to survey and build a railway across the Earl’s estate, with stout staves and every tool they had to hand.

Oh my darlin, oh my darlin, oh my darlin Clementine, you are lost and gone forever …

The farm figures equipped with picks and shovels should work equally well for future modern railway games, as well as civilian workers, sappers, miners and engineers with a wide range of armies.

Some interesting figures of the American Civil War Artillery crew look as if they could be miners or farmworkers, whilst still being usable as gun crew.

There are also useful Waggon Train female figures who could double up as nurses and a Boy from the Waggon Train (who also works well as a tall man with my Peter Laing 15mm figures). Spot the spare RAF crewman, as many of my past railway figures were padded out with German and British Aircrew.

My favourite conversion of the lot came from looking in a tin of unshucked or uncut sprues from the 1960s

I looked at the Confederate Artillery Officer and thought – could he become an early Victorian policeman to sort out the unruly mobs?

One snip off a plastic straw or paintbrush guard later and I had superglued a Brunel sized top hat in place. Cutlass by his side, he was soon ready to read the Riot Act as needed.

Reading and posting the Riot Act, our brave Victorian bobby faces a surly crowd of more than 12.

Disperse you mob, else you face transportation or hanging!

So there you are, a man ‘happy with his wash’ and some useful vintage Airfix figures, penny based and ready for action next year.

Blogposted by Mark Man of TIN 6 December 2019

11 thoughts on “Man of TIN Blogvent Calendar Day 7: Airfix Civilians and Country Workers”

  1. What a lot of creativity has gone into the selection and conversion of these figures for your forthcoming scenario. You have chosen well and assembled those who really look the part. The top hat is my favourite conversion and he really looks the part. Will you be using the close wars rules in your game? I see a number of Airfix figures I had forgotten about from years ago and it is great to see them once more.


    1. They were surprisingly fun figures to paint and shade wash, an alternative to my usual shiny pink cheeked gloss shiny toy soldier look. The spare tools made a big difference.

      I shall be looking at adapting Close Wars Skirmish rules, including non lethal melee of shoving (like a mixture of scrum and crowdsurfing) versus the obvious pick axe and farm tool as weapons. It is a wonder no one was killed. Quite a few injured though, although compared to the dangers of railway tunnel work in normal Navvy working life, this battle was probably less risky!

      The quarterstaff duelling Parry and Lunge rules might help the Melee here.

      A suitable non lethal social history conflict – or was that scouting Wide Games?
      I wonder if we can use the Battle of Saxby as a Wide Game, one Patrol as Railway surveyors, another Patrol as their protective navvies, the third Patrol as the Earl’s farmworkers?


    1. Thanks MJT. If I had more such ACW artillery officers I would have more Policemen, Brunel, Sir Topham Hatt etc.I shall keep my eye out! I have an Airfix Rocket (Dapol reprint) OOHO somewhere with Airfix giant top hat crew.
      I also have one BIG sir Topham Hatt in my 54mm collection

      Obviously our childhood Fat Controller / Thin Controller characters are no longer PC?


    1. This will be happening in (early?) 2020, giving me more time to get the scenarios outlined of what happened each day, pull some terrain together etc.
      I thought you might like the Victorian bobby – in their job, they were or had to be tough hard men!


    2. Marvin,
      Interesting Leicestershire history article on the first Leicester Chief Constable Mr Goodyer and the Leicester County Police Force he created – including the Rural Police in the Chartist rebellions of the 1840s, the period of unrest when the railway Navvies’ Battle of Saxby happened in 1844, where 4 or 5 officers deweaponised the initial ‘battle’ into a shoving match, first time round. This didn’t apply to the skirmishes over the next few days.
      Lots on the links between the army, yeomanry and police constables and senior officers including Goodyer’s successor in the mid 1870s, an Army Officer

      Click to access 1975-76%20(51)%2015-28%20Stanley.pdf

      19th August 1842 – A political movement consisting of Chartist extremists and a gathering of 500 industrial strikers armed with stones and bludgeons marching form Humberstone Gate (Leicester) to Loughborough through Belgrave and on to Mowacre Hill. They were overtaken and challenged by Frederick and a contingent of Regular and Special Constabulary officers, strengthened with a mounted troop of the Leicestershire Yeomanry. The marchers split up and ran in all directions chased by constables across fields and ditches. Four men were arrested but the leader escaped. Long after this clash, it was referred to as ‘The Battle of Mowmacre Hill’. During the same day similar outbreaks of mass disorder broke out at Loughborough and at the Royal Oak on the Leicester Road en-route to Mountsorrel.

      Further article with portrait – buried in Welford Road Cemetery.

      Photos –

      And a whole PhD or Masters thesis on the Early Years – not read this one.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for this. Lots to dig into. Leicester was a succesful industrial town (hosiery particularly) and had more than its fair share of urban/industrial strife over the years.

        Have already quickly read through the first link. Mowmacre Hill (as it spelt now though pronounced as before) was where my grandparents lived until the end of their days. I’d heard of the incident before but in no detail.

        In terms of 19th C local disturbances, I’m always amused by the 1864 Leicester Balloon Riot.
        BBC –
        The Leicester Mercury –

        Once again the doughty police were involved –
        “Insp Haynes and Sgt Chapman, stalwarts of the Leicester force, battled manfully with the rabble, but they were horribly outnumbered…”

        A London publisher wrote:
        “It set him down on Monday amongst a horde of savages as fierce and untamed as South Sea Islanders and differing very little from them except in their habitat, which was at Leicester…” 😀

        Most amusing of all, and in typical local fashion, the locals blamed people visiting from Nottingham for the trouble. This sounds very likely to this Leicestrian (or Balloonatic)! Posted comments to this stry on the Leicester Mercury’s website – “in many ways, Leicester remains charmingly unchanged” and “Yep. Sounds like Leicester lads.”


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