Vintage Airfix 1960s Infantry Combat Group – Grey Enemy Aggressor Troops

The gift from Tony Adams in 2019 of a small box of unwanted old Airfix OOHO figures keeps on giving.

This time I repaired and based a handful of some old battered Infantry Combat Group figures which Tony had painted grey but with colourful yellow and blue hats.

They reminded me of some of the oddly coloured helmets in our family collection of OOHO sized Airfix, often also yellow or blue helmets. I have no idea why. It obviously meant something at some time.

I thought Tony’s few figures could stay grey and keep their colourful original painted helmets, becoming vintage Airfix figures which are flocked and based in a modern way using Warbases MDF penny bases.

Oddly some books and websites say that the Airfix Infantry Combat Group came out in 1959 (others say 1960) so we’re issued possibly a year earlier than their opponents the German Infantry (version 1).

It wasn’t uncommon in early Airfix figures for Enemy or opponent troops to emerge a year or two later. Foreign Legion had to wait a few years for the Arabs, US Marines had to wait a year for the Japanese etc.

As a result c. 1959 /60, it might have been the only way to get a modern enemy to fight was to paint another pack of the Infantry Combat Group as grey opponents (unless the Infantry Combat Group took on the ceremonial rifleman of the Guards Colour Party?)

Many comment on the Infantry Combat Group’s modern rifles and helmets as being 1950s issue, certainly the National Service uniform of my late father.

So even if the WW2 German Infantry appeared alongside them in 1960, these Infantry Combat Group could still be painted as generic 1960s Enemy Cold War Troops (Russians, Tintinesque ImagiNations, etc)

More tempting archive / SOLD pictures on Barney Brown’s Herald Toys webshop


Rather than paint them green and add Tony’s battered figures to what is left of my few dozen Infantry Combat Group, I wondered whether they could stay grey and represent “the enemy” for training purposes.

This was a clever trick that Britain’s Herald did with their Fifties plastic khaki infantry – just paint them grey with black webbing as the Enemy.

Herald, Britain’s Lilliput and early Airfix British Infantry seem to have shared similar poses.

These photos are from the excellent Barney Brown Herald Toys website and web shop.

I had a number of the Herald Khaki troops as a child and have since acquired a few more in dribs and joblot drabs but I have never seen the Enemy Troops grey variant in the flesh (or plastic).

There are some great colourful paintings of Infantry Combat Group on Hugh Walter’s Small Scale World

Different coloured dyed uniforms were part American troop training and exercises in the 1950s, used as the enemy “Aggressor Troops”, speaking Esperanto – see the latter part of the blog below:

Tony Adams also passed on as well as battered unwanted Version 1 Airfix, some Revell German Horse Drawn Artillery (he has a longstanding interest in logistics and horse-drawn troops, shown in his Miniature Wood Screw Army website) and some Esci British Napoleonic Artillery. These will join my various ImagiNations once painted up. Thanks Tony!

Back into action, I look forward to bringing them back into gaming use again after fifty or more years.

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN blog, 30 May 2021

Turncoats and Mercenaries?

Updated July 2021 with Figure paint conversion pictures

A small colourful consignment of turncoats and mercenary troops, previously serving with the Duchy of Tradgardland, have been posted to new service here with various ImagiNations.

These familiar and classic Airfix OOHO figures from the 1970s will be perfect to bulk up the small numbers of the various colourful and random RainBow ImagiNations units featured on my Pound Store Plastic Warrior blog last week:

In red on the left, you can see a handful of Airfix AWI British Grenadiers and Washington’s Army figures.

July 2021 Update: the Tricornes have now become black and gold

July 2021 update: The Grenadiers have become reinforcements for the Kings Guard

In the centre, mostly French Napoleonic Artillery figures, gun and limber pieces and a medley of other figures.

July 2021 Update: the French Artillery have become blue and gold

I like the French Artillery firelock figures at the bottom centre with musket perched casually over the shoulder whilst marching or shuffling along.

On the right, French Napoleonic Imperial Guard.

There was also half a dozen Airfix horses and bases (not shown).

They are all such useful generic shako, bearskin and Tricorne figures for “Horse and Musket” era ImagiNations.

As you can imagine, I will probably not be painting or using them as they were intended. Some of the later shako figures may do well with the post Napoleonic Mid 19th century Bronte family ImagiNations of Gondal, Glasstown and Angria.

I will mount gun crews and skirmish infantry as individually based figures.

Thanks to Alan Gruber of the Duchy of Tradgardland for this kind gesture. The finished figures will feature on this blog in time.

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 27 May 2021,

updated 5 July 2021 with phinished phigure photographs.

May 25th Geek Pride Days and my fifth Man of TIN blogaversary 2021

Happy Geek Pride Day May 25th 2021!

Not just a day for Star Wars but also Pound Store Wars?

Five years ago today, I Man of TIN / 26soldiersoftin cautiously launched the Man of TIN blog.

Happy fifth Blogaversary to all my readers!

The very first Man of TIN blog photograph of Redcoat steampunk shiny toy soldier style conversions of modern pound store soldiers

Geek Pride Day is also appropriately the fifth blogaversary of starting this my Man of TIN blog.

“To begin at the beginning…” (as Richard Burtin would say in his deepest Welsh tones in Dylan Thomas’ Under Milk Wood)

It is always interesting to look back at the first posts of people’s blogs, which for me began on Man of TIN blog in May 2016 with a short post titled ‘Pound Store Wars’:

to see how these toy soldier and gaming themes develop.

Early themes in my first post or posts:

  • Pound Store plastics and pirated figures
  • Cheap Hollowcast figures
  • Paint conversions
  • Donald Featherstone
  • A dose of childhood nostalgia
  • Airfix
  • H. G. Wells’ Little Wars
  • 54mm figures
  • Steampunk and ImagiNations
  • Garden wargaming

And within the first month, various posts covered:

Painting Pound Store Plastic tat figures as if they were ‘run of the mill’ factory hollowcasts was an early and still ongoing theme.

25 May 2016 first blog post

The list of blogs I was discovering and listing then in my first posts in May 2016 includes many I still read and follow on a daily or weekly basis:

And South American toy soldiers

Bob Cordery’s Wargaming Miscellany blog roll soon led me to the Duchy of Tradgardland and Battle Game of the Month blogs, which rapidly became my three daily or weekly portal sites.

It took several weeks, even a month or two before any reader comments appeared. I presume I saw some views and reader stats, otherwise this could be very dispiriting for a fledgeling blogger.

Part of the pleasure of blogging is the many comments, emails and even conversations in person that the Man of TIN blog has led to over the last five years.


Donald Featherstone’s quote from my favourite Wargames rules book since childhood War Games (1962) has served well to summarise my approach to “Toy soldiers, gaming, Imagi-Nations” as my Blog strapline says:

“There is a great deal of satisfaction in making one’s own armies, either in their entirety or by conversions.” (Page 21)

“Part of the fun of being a war gamer lies in the making of one’s own soldiers as distinct from purchasing figures  of different sizes obtainable from makers in various parts of the world.” (Page 18, War Games) 


Although I had been involved in regular blogging for work projects since 2008 and also buying toy soldiers online on EBay since 2008, it took another eight years to develop my first toy soldier blog.

By the time that I started Man of TIN blog in 2016, some veteran gamers such as Bob Cordery (2008), Alan Gruber Duchy of Tradgardland (2007) and the Emperor vs Elector blog group (2009 or earlier?) had been blogging for almost a decade.

Without Whom – thanks!

Although my blog is essentially a personal scrapbook, journal or Work in Progress diary made public , my blogaversary is also an opportunity to thank my loyal, passing and occasional blog readers and comment writers. Thanks gentlemen and ladies for your kind words and challenges.

My Spin-off and Sister Blogs

As well as establishing separate pages within Man of Tin blog for H.G. Wells’ Little Wars, Bronte ImagiNations, Roman 15mm games and Scouting Wide Games (now itself a spin off blog), there are now several sister or spin off blogs from which to crosspost.

Fairly quickly my Man of TIN blog had spin off blogs for different materials and to spread the megabyte heavy photo content across several WordPress Free 3GBs.

Pound Store Plastic Warriors September 2016 (which has its origins in these early Man of TIN blog posts on Pound Store plastics)

Sidetracked 2017 (where gaming meets model railways)

Scouting Wide Games for the Tabletop (April 2019)

Look Duck and Varnish – Gaming the Home Guard (2019/ May 2020)

And Man of TIN Blog Two, established in 2020 for when Man of TIN blog 1 is (very nearly) full of its Free 3GB WordPress limit, which will be within the next few months / this year? Man of TIN blog will then continue its weekly blog life there.

Man of TIN blog WordPress stats as of w.c. 24 May 2021

I don’t check blog stats often or have a page / view counter thing, likewise across on my sister blogs. So far by w.c. May 24th 2021, a surprising 157,000 views by 78,000 people have stumbled across my Man of TIN blog and hopefully been distracted from something useful if only for a few moments.

A small number of readers return on a regular basis. If you are one of them, thank you!

Why Wednesday evening is a popular reading time, I have no idea – Hump Day at work? Halfway through the week, dreaming of the weekend hobby? I’ve no idea why 29 May 2018 was a two thousand+ views day either.

The next five years 2021-2026?

I wonder where the next five years of blogging will take me and the other bloggers I regularly read?

Forward towards 3D printing and computer assisted gaming (touted since the Wargames Manual 1982/3)? Maybe.

Backwards or retro to Old School, 60s Airfix nostalgia, back of a postcard rules, flats and hollowcasts? Much more likely.

Forward Men! Going forward and back, back, back … for the future!

5th Blogaversary post by Mark Man of TIN, 25 May 2021

ImagiNations, OBEs and vintage Airfix scrapings from someone else’s toy box?

In the Pink! Just one group from an oddly coloured haul of vintage Airfix tricornes figures from a mixed bag from a seaside shop. Airfix OOHO Washington’s Army, AWI Britain Grenadiers redcoats and others, painted with great colourful abandon. Redcoats, Pink Coats, Purple Coats …

ImagiNations? Add in a bit of colourful window shopping on Etsy …

See them all at

Blog cross-posted on my Pound Store Plastic Warriors blog by Mark Man of TIN, 20 May 2021.

Final Flocking and Basing Done After Thirty Odd Years – some Airfix and Featherstone first versions

This weekend gone I have been “Flocking and Basing” version 1 Airfix figures from our 1960s family collection that I first painted back in the early to mid 1980s. Only a mere gap of 35 years or more to finish them off and get them back into gaming condition again!

Part of the joy of rediscovering what vintage Airfix was stored in my Flight Case was deciding to finish off painting and basing familiar figures from my childhood such as Version 1 Airfix troops.

Part of this week’s F and B – “Flocking and Basing” involved small painted groups of:

Infantry Combat Group version 1 – 1960 S3 (set 3) or British Infantry as Airfix magazine called them in 1960. Replaced by Version 2 in 1973

German Infantry version 1 – 1960 S5 (set 5)

US Marines version 1 – 1963 S16 (set 16)

Dates based on Plastic Soldier Review and J.C. Carbonel’s Airfix’s Little Soldiers.

These slight of stature Version 1 figures were sculpted from 1959-74 (according to Carbonel) by John Niblett. These stylish but small, and to some crude, 1960s figures were replaced by the Version 2 Airfix in the 1970s, sculpted by Niblett or Ron Cameron. These version 2 figures are the few WW1 and WW2 figures still available at

By the time I was buying Airfix figures with pocket money in the mid 70s, the older version 1 figures in our family collection had been replaced in the shops by Version 2.

As a result these older but by then unobtainable figures always held a bit of a fascination for me. They were my special elite troops and I preferred the older figures.

Today many of them are fragile and the original Airfix version 1 moulds are reported lost in the Airfix / Heller period. I think they have a certain charm that their replacement Version 2 figures often do not. I would happily buy the Version 1 figures recast in metal if they were available.

Here they are, after fifty years or more, Flocked And Based at last – honoured with modern Warbases 1 penny sized MDF bases and Flocking onto PVA glue and green / brown acrylic paint mixture.

First version German Infantry, US Marines and Infantry Combat Group

Miniature Hitler and his special weapons troops – version 1 German Infantry

Now fragile but flocked and based repaired version 1 US Marines
Medical and HQ staff – version 1 Infantry Combat Group 1961

Version 1 bayonet charge, mostly childhood / 1980s paintwork, now property based

‘Special forces’ 1960s uniform of black trousers and yellow helmet! Family paint job.

When I found Featherstone’s 1962 War Games for the first time, even though this was by then the 1973 seventh edition in our local library, the original photos by Ken Baker were still in use. I recognised the WW2 figures used as some of these curious and scarce version 1 Airfix figures we had in our collection at home.

I didn’t really understand at the time when and why they changed as I was then very young but I realised you couldn’t buy them in the shops anymore. They were all just our family Airfix figures to me.

These are the Version 1 type figures seen in Donald Featherstone’s WW2 sand-table game in War Games (1962), when these figures were still quite new and ‘revolutionary’ in their cheapness, availability and conversion potential.

I was curious to read about his use of the recently introduced Airfix kit Sherman tanks (1961) but making do with home made German Tiger looking tanks. The Sherman, Churchill and Panther tank kits from Airfix were available in 1961. The Tiger tank kits would not appear until 1964, the lorries and guns even later.

Worth noting though that by 1961/2, lots of useful OO HO railway buildings, the familiar houses and figures had been produced. The former Airfix railway range is still available from Dapol.

War Games 1962 and 1973

I have two copies or editions of War Games.

One is the well-thumbed and battered ex-library copy Seventh impression of 1973 that I would have borrowed as a child from my local Branch Library. I bought it along with Blandford colour uniform books when they oddly started selling off their older book stock in the late 1980s.

The other is more recently acquired, an affordable (scuffed up and well-battered) first impression or edition from 1962, missing its dust jacket.

The 1973 edition has a 1970 update or addition to Featherstone’s 1962 preface by one single, understated paragraph in a slightly finer, lighter font or typeface:

There are some interesting differences between the first 1962 and the 1973 version, not least the growing availability of Airfix figures that were set to revolutionise gaming.

New Airfix announced in War Games 1962 Appendix 1 Sources of Supply for Model Soldiers
Featherstone’s hopes for more Airfix promise here from War Games 1962:
Breaking news of new figures from my 1962 battered first edition War Games by Donald Featherstone – Chapter 2 ‘Model Soldiers for War Games’

It will be interesting in a future blog post to look at the other small changes to War Games 1962 and 1970/73 in this chapter on Model Soldiers such as the changing fortunes and suppliers of 54mm, 30mm and Flats. 15mm are not mentioned – Peter Laing’s 15 mm figures were still a year or two ahead in 1972 when Featherstone updated his preface in 1970.

Interesting to read that the Eighth Army and Afrika Korps were due to be released at time of writing in 1962. In the brief chapter on wargaming in his Tackle Model Soldiers This Way, he mentions Airfix German and British infantry and British 8th Army and German Afrika Korps.

I used my childhood Version 1 Desert War figures and commandos for my LRDG game early last year

By Featherstone’s 1970 / 1973 editions of War Games, Airfix’s range has expanded:

Airfix figures and recent Featherstone publications from my 1970/ 1973 battered seventh impression War Games by Donald Featherstone – Chapter 2 ‘Model Soldiers for War Games’.

Sadly by my second 1984 edition copy of his 1970 Battles with Model Soldiers, Airfix’s past historical range was listed in detail but it’s irregular availability and that of Atlantic was already sadly lamented.

This is probably why I am often still tempted to hoard Airfix figures when I see them in the shops …

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, seventies Airfix kid , 11/12 May 2021

“I live in a madhouse …” Home Casting Humour

As well as EBay there are other maker and vintage listings out there, ranging from

the international Etsy with its often expensive ‘vintage’ toy soldier offerings and unusual international toy soldier offerings (great for window shopping)

to the more British based crafting site Folksy.

Here I spotted and bought this rather apt fridge magnet that home casters might enjoy.

Luckily I tore off the Folksy maker’s name from the invoice and stuck it roughly in the back, so I could find them again.

I thought it goes well with the contents of a recent mostly Schneider vintage metal mould casting session and some very cheap Pound Store conversion plastic soldier Boy Scouts.

Eagle eyed readers may spot two ‘half casts’ who were missing heads, so these colonial flats got a plastic flat head modern Fritz helmet from the Specia forces figures.

(Small) World Domination plans

It reminds me of a rough sketch outline I did for a finished postcard in a local art event in the anonymous Post Secret / Secret Squirrel confessions postcards project:

Rough sketch by Mark Man of TIN – based in Prince August 54mm toy soldier moulds

This postcard blog post from my first month of blogging here in 2016 with some thoughts on homecasting

Blog posted by Mark, Man of TIN on 8 May 2021.

Two by Two into the Metal Airfix Ark: The Case of the Metal Box

A few of the surviving figures, as I empty out and sort my old Airfix figures.

How did your childhood toy soldier collection survive, if at all?

How did you preserve your collection of childhood figures or how did they survive? By luck? By accident?

One reason that I can still play with some of my childhood family Airfix figures is this battered old flight case or engineer’s aluminium suitcase.

As far as I can remember the case was passed on to me by my late Dad. Having left home for college and work, the play things of my childhood were being packed up, sorted and some things reluctantly passed on.

Three of my surviving Airfix plastic preformed tanks, early 1980s painting. Figures “To Keep …”

The core of my Airfix OOHO and 1:32 figures survived in this suitcase, an Airfix toy soldier Ark.

It has lots of height so this was packed to the brim lid with bagged figures. This stout travel case has meant that this collection has survived several house moves since first leaving home.

Similarly the odd old 1970s battered biscuit tin has preserved a medley of such bagged childhood soldiers. Reopened, they have that familiar ‘plastic death’ chemical smell of ageing figures.

Two by Two …

I remember sitting at ‘home’ before the family final move from my childhood home in a sort of Noah’s Ark mode, sorting out who was to survive, who was to be set aside and who take their chances.

I chose one of each Airfix pose unpainted and some interesting painted ones from each Airfix set.

After that, any gaps were filled with more of my favourite veteran figures – all my 1:32 Airfix Italians, larger numbers of ImagiNations Japanese, my few Airfix Space Warriors and Airfix medieval Knights all survived, crammed in.

Some of the more useless mouths (boxed Airfix Modern Infantry, boxed 1980s Britain’s Super Deetail SAS / Marine / Paratroopers) that had no play history or emotional connection were set aside to sell on early eBay type sites.

I’m not sure what happened to most of the Matchbox 1:32 boxes of figures – probably mostly sold – but my few Atlantic OOHO and 1:32 figures survived.

Some of our 1960s and early 70s Airfix OOHO family figures were already brittle and beginning to crumble by then, so they were set aside during sorting and quickly sold, especially the scarce Waterloo ones. This was at a time when Airfix 1:32 and many of the OOHO figures had vanished again from the shops.

This core collection would survive, even when some of the surplus figures were sold.

This case was to put it fancifully my Seed Bank, my Lifeboat, my Ark or Gene Pool from which to rebuild my collection in future. A Touchstone or Portal …

Other Survivals

In early Lockdown, I have previously shown my 1980s blue box of varied and random spare figures.

My small group of based 15mm Peter Laing ECW and medieval figures survived in a ‘carry case’ curious birthday present from the family, a converted 1970s/80s LP case with wooden trays, copied from an early 1980s Military Modelling or Miniature Wargames magazine. The wooden trays and figures have survived, the plastic and cardboard LP case has sadly not.

Having preserved a core of my collection in such a way, I am often fascinated by the odd mixed lots of other people’s plastic or hollowcast figures in an old tin that pop up on EBay. I have had such rusty old tins of mixed Airfix passed on to me by friends, workmates or fellow bloggers.

What I like about this metal box is that it has preserved early family ImagiNations sparse paintwork on figures with random selection of available matt and gloss Humbrol or Airfix paints.

Japanese figures with black hats and boots with red epaulettes?

It has also preserved samples of my own childhood and teenage efforts at Britain’s Deetail style or shiny toy soldier style painting on drab WW2 figures, minus the glossy varnish.

Another cardboard box in a loft held boxes of bits of 1970s and 1990s Airfix Playsets, tanks and figures crammed in – one to show another time.

Thankfully the communal family box of motley 1960s and 70s plastics, Herald and Britain’s knights, cowboys, indians, ceremonials and Guardsmen also survived in a box, along with a battered wooden Fort, having done play service for a time in the extended family.

Old plastic bags might not be the most recommended means of storage for plastic figures but it kept them all sorted until Really Useful Boxes came along and rebasing began.

Two by Two? Numbering the Airfix.

Having kept these figures safe, I am now number code labelling the bases of each of my surviving OO HO and 1:32 figures or rebasing them and labelling them before storing them in Really Useful Boxes.

One crammed metal case of bagged figures turns into a surprisingly large number of Really Useful Boxes and trays, not to be stored in the loft or garage to protect these ageing plastics from the extremes of heat. Some of them are now 50 to 60+ years old. Some of them are older than me!

Once done, I will know what I have got, what still sits on the sprue in my red box and blue box Airfix hoard and which are my original childhood figures. I am using a permanent marker Staedtler fineliner pen, the sort once used for marking DVDs CDRewriteables and CD-Roms. Remember them?

Have case, will travel again …

This metal case almost saw service again last March 2020, emptied out for the occasion, as it was how I planned to carry up by train to Woking a selection of my 54mm snowballing and Scouting Wide game figures and terrain for the Little Wars Revisited 54mm Games Day. The emerging Covid situation had other ideas on this occasion but maybe someday soon …

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 7 May 2021

May the 4th be with you! Happy International Star Wars Day 2021

Happy International Star Wars Day 2021

The above image (Topps Trading Card No. 72) from Rogue One one of my favourites of the Star Wars films sums up how Star Wars has changed since I was a young boy watching the first film Star Wars IV A New Hope on its release c. 1977/78.

We didn’t see many films at the cinema growing up in the 70s. It remains the only film I have seen twice in the cinema – I still remember the awe of watching the opening moments of a huge Imperial star cruiser appearing to fly over your head across the top of the screen.

It changed the school playground overnight. Everything became space!

I have seen each of the films since in the cinema and Rogue One remains a favourite, being a stand alone prequel to the events of the first film in 1977 /78.

Now Disney have worked hard to make these movies as inclusive as they can be ranging from female X Wing Fighter pilots, young and old to a multiracial cast.

That gutsy feisty dark-haired space princess heroine of Princess Leia has been recreated many times in the subsequent films and stand alone films.

The Mandalorian Disney TV series continues this multiracial inclusive approach. Everyone should be able to see themselves reflected in this Star Wars universe somehow.

Thanks George Lucas and team for bringing us this interesting, inspiring, gritty and fantastical universe.

This is the set I wish I had bought – Star Wars Battle of Hoth set – with the tiny snow troopers and rebel snow figures.

From my c. 1980/81 Airfix Catalogue – a set I never saw in the model shops.

Instead of the Airfix sets, I still have my original Palitoy Star Wars figures (goodbye Airfix budget for a while). I hoped Airfix would bring out OOHO or 1:32 Star Wars figures.

Eventually 1:32 Star Wars figures – seen in my blog post In A Yarden Far Far Away – and MicroMachines type tiny Star Wars figures appeared from different makers. They have been good for the occasional duelling games.

Some borrowed Star Wars figures are almost OO HO scale.

Spot the Airfix Luftwaffe crewman – odd one out – for scale.

My Close Little Star Wars rules for the tabletop or garden

Happy International Star Wars Day!

Previous International Star Wars Day May 4th blog posts.






Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 4th May 2021