Man of TIN Blogvent Calendar Day 16: Vintage Airfix Africa Korps 1962

Over the last few days I have been repairing, repainting and basing some 1962 vintage Airfix Afrika Korps that were in the package of 1960s Airfix that Tony Adams kindly sent me earlier this year.


Such 50+ year old (almost 60 year old) plastic figures are getting rather fragile now but I thought it better to paint them up and use them for gaming with care whilst still intact.

Before and after basing: Fragile enough 1960s figures that the stick grenade tops have fallen off.

Some of Tony’s originals are seen here in their 1960s paintwork by Tony.

As they arrived from Tony with cryptic base markings and helmet colours

As is usual with Airfix, some of the paint had flaked. I have tried to keep most of Tony’s original paintwork where I can, mostly repainting hats and rifles.

I tried a little bit of Citadel Agramax Earth wash or shade, but this didn’t do much for them, having such muted detail as early Airfix generally had. I could have painted in straps and equipment, but this was not only fiddly but mostly this was dust and khaki colour on khaki.

I thought the mix of old and new paint / uniform makes them look like veteran troops.

I also wanted to keep them slightly non-specific, as the ones in the Bergmutze soft caps had the look of a generic private army such as James Bond villains often had, especially the way Tony had painted them with dark or silver caps. I wanted to be able to use them in ImagiNations as desert forces or desert raiders. This is why in the first batch I have included no figures with the distinctive German helmets.

A Rommel looking figure besides a battered childhood Airfix halftrack.
Another battered old childhood Airfix model an armoured car from the desert reconnaissance set

In Jean Christophe Carbonel’s book Airfix’s Little Soldiers HO/OO 1959-2009, this set is listed as being introduced in 1962, the same year that Donald Featherstone’s War Games was published.

News of the only Airfix WW2 figures available in 1962/3

Mention is made in 1963 of these desert figures arriving in the wargaming chapter of Donald Featherstone’s Tackle Model Soldiers This Way here

The short-lived version 1 set (1962-1973) is unfavourably reviewed on Plastic Soldier Review

I have tried to keep simple paintwork as shown on the early Airfix boxes.

Eventually for opposition I will paint and base some of the version 1 Airfix Eighth Army figures that Tony Adams had in the parcel he sent me and some of my childhood / family original figures.

The 1973/4 update sculpts (version 2) of these desert troops are still available over 45 years later (2019) from Airfix stockists or online.

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 15/16 December 2019.