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 https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2017/09/08/vintage-airfix-tin-hoard/

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

Man of TIN Advent Calendar 2019 Day 6: War Games V & A Exhibition Plymouth 2016

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What I bought at War Games … these now have WG written on their base.

This was a post that got lost back in May 2016. Now I have found most of the photographs again!

The ‘V and A’  (Victoria and Albert Museum) also run the Bethnal Green Musuem Of Childhood. They put together touring exhibitions from their extensive collections of toys, such as the now finished War Games exhibition I saw in 2016.

Sadly it seems photography was not allowed in the main exhibition, but I have photographed some of the things I picked up free around the exhibition and in the shop including the obligatory bag of plastic toy soldiers. These now have WG marked on their bases, short for War Games (the exhibition). They can be seen at this May 2016 blog post https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/06/17/spa-treatments-for-toy-soldiers/

675514A4-A5F6-4A62-8F51-A93AC8E4E4CE War Games brochure 2016

This post got lost in the earliest days of my blogging. The Victoria and Albert Musuem / Museum Of Childhood travelling exhibition War Games has now finished travelling. It was hosted as part of the 1941 Plymouth Blitz Anniversary  and the Plymouth City Museum (which survived the Plymouth Blitz) is closed for rebuilding until the Mayflower Anniversary 2020 https://plymhearts.org/

https://plymhearts.org/2019/10/16/figureheads-restoration/

Presumably  the collection is back in store at the V and A Childhood Museum at Bethnal Green https://www.vam.ac.uk/moc/collections

UK blogger PB EyeCandy visited the exhibition and a related talk in London in 2013 and did take some photographs  https://pbeyecandy.wordpress.com/2013/06/06/war-games-talk-and-review/

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Sadly I was unable to photograph the responses written by young and old visitors on these postcards  – hopefully they were suitably wide ranging and thoughtful  comments.
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Picked this up at the end of the visit – obviously well used!
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Britain’s Soldiers formed part of the advertising. Incorrectly these highlanders are labelled as Lancers.
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One of the children’s trail leaflets – a glimpse of some of the toys.
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A very Airfix sprue design to the cover of the children’s trail.
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Hauser Lineol German composition figures 1936

I have a few photographs of the advertising banners outside the museum but nothing inside the museum.

Sadly three years later I cannot remember too much detail about the different sections appealing to different demographics.

There were some well-presented old toy soldiers on parade or in boxes. There was a section on classic board games (Risk etc) and  a whole section on video games. I don’t recall a wargames section and any classic wargames title.  The section on vintage kids dressing up uniforms such as “cowboys and Indians” and toy guns was pure nostalgia!

There was the obligatory dressing up costumes  (for kids only) for  a photo opportunity. From what I recall, you weren’t allowed to photograph the rest of the exhibits and in 2016 not everyone carried an IPhone camera.

The final room featured a big room sized table top diorama using toys of all scales called “Earthling Armies vs. fantasy Forces” which was quite good fun to see and identify figures.

Another random blog post draft finally sees the light of day as part of the Man of TIN Advent Calendar Day 6.

 

 

Man of TIN Advent Calendar Day 1 – The Greek Sacred Squadron Combined Ops 1940 to 1945 WW2

 It’s that clear the decks time of year when half finished drafts of blogposts get polished up for the Man of TIN Advent Calendar – figures, references, websites and other wargaming scenario miscellany.

What’s behind the window today on Day 1?

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I came across this interesting Combined Ops website, http://combinedops.com/SACRED_SQUADRON.htm

A website covering in the English language the exploits of many Allied special forces and Combined Ops teams in WW2.

“In October 1940, Greece was drawn to the vortex of WWII, the most catastrophic struggle the world has ever known. Its participation in hostilities was to last, formally, until October 1944, a period during which Greek troops would fight from the rugged mountains of Albania and the numerous islands of the Aegean, to the inhospitable desert of North Africa and the Italian peninsula. In fact, Greek troops continued to fight against the Axis forces in the Aegean until the last day of the war – 8 May 1945. These troops included parts of the famous Sacred Squadron.”

Some of the website information is available from detailed and illustrated sources like this by Nikos Nikoloudis here:

http://lki.gr/Files/History_Sacred_Squadron.pdf

As such interesting websites have a habit of disappearing, best read or print it sooner rather than later.

It makes accessible translated Greek sources and many of these small scale actions would make fascinating gaming scenarios.

Other sources:

Gallery of pictures

http://gallery.commandoveterans.org/cdoGallery/v/WW2/comb+ops/greek+sacred+squadron/

Wikipedia article

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sacred_Band_(World_War_II)

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http://greek-war-equipment.blogspot.com/2010/11/1942-1945-sacred-band.html

Hints for gamers and modellers are included on this Greek War Equipment blog.

An equally interesting page of this blog covers Greek WW2 ski troops:

http://greek-war-equipment.blogspot.com/2009/05/ski-troops.html

One of this latter blog’s  comments by John Begg mentions “recommended reading for the Aegean role of the Sacred Band is ‘The Filibusters’ by John Lodwick, published by Methuen in 1947.” Available secondhand, a reprint of this or similar book by John Lodwick on the SBS is called “Raiders from the Sea”.

Much of the Greek Sacred Squadron equipment and uniforms appears to be British issue, making sourcing suitable gaming figures and vehicles easier for any Desert War and Aegean raiding scenarios. Ditto, use your favourite WW2 Skirmish rules.

Commando hats and berets seem to have been sported in many photos, but maybe steel helmets were worn in action.

Definitely a website worth looking at, alongsid a reread of Donald Featherstone’s Skirmish Wargaming and Wargaming Commando Operations as well, recently published or reprinted by John Curry’s History of Wargaming Project.

Blogposted by Mark Man of TIN, 1 December 2019.

 

Stuart Asquith’s Roman and Pictish Army 15mm Peter Laing figures

Preparing for an Ancients Solo Skirmish this weekend, a tribute game in Stuart Asquith’s memory, using Stuart’s very own old 15mm Peter Laing Roman and Pictish Army.

I bought these figures, which were painted and based by Stuart, from him via an online dealer about two years ago. I have yet to split or alter the beermat bases into individually based skirmish figures.

Before I do this rebasing (which mostly involves simply cutting the multiple figure beermat bases like the archers into two individual bases), I wanted to photograph them all together, under the watchful eye of their old commander for the last time.

Email reply from Stuart Asquith assigning these troops over to me as their new Commander.

The Picts have some attractive swirly body tattoo or body paint, along with some great command figures.

Elsewhere if I want to transform these into Ancient Britons, I have some old Peter Laing 15mm British chariots somewhere and some Assyrian and Egyptian ones – good for chariot racing games.

There are some attractive 15mm Peter Laing Pictish and Roman / German Auxiliary Cavalry and Mounted Archers. There is also a non-Laing Pictish C in C on Horseback

The Roman and Pictish foot soldiers are backed up by these colourful Peter Laing Pictish and Roman Cavalry.

Many of the figures have Stuart’s unit ID notes on the bases, which I will do my best to photograph and preserve as I split up the bases to individual figures bases.

The Peter Laing Romans are superb little figures.

There are also what I take to be auxiliary troops and some great Roman artillery.

Roman Archers and officer.

I’m sure my fellow Peter Laing collector colleagues will help me ID with catalogue numbers some of these Ancients figures over the next few months.

I have other Peter Laing 15mm Ancient figures acquired over many years or dual use items from my teenage Middle and Dark Ages Peter Laing figures. Stuart’s Romans can take on (in Ancient future) my Egyptians, Greeks, Sea Peoples and others, even my Zulus. I even have a Peter Laing elephant with howdah somewhere!

I wish I’d asked Stuart for a bit of ‘commander in chief’ advice, as Ancients are a relatively new period for me, aside from playing rough games with my Airfix Romans and Britons many years ago.

I have long wanted to explore the Teutoberg type scenarios and The modern Vietnam style “natives versus more technologically equipped infantry” with milecastle ‘firebases’ etc https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/full-metal-hic-jacet/

However there are his many books to give me some strategy advice.

As well as Stuart’s very simple rules in his books (pictured), there are also simple Ancients rules in Donald Featherstone’s War Games (1962), which also has as an appendix my favourite ‘Close Wars’ Skirmish rules.

So still a little work to do to get my Skirmish game ready for Sunday / Monday in Stuart’s memory.

I have chosen a scenario from the Stuart Asquith book of Solo Wargaming.

The WW1 centenary (2014) ‘soldier’ beer is ready.

Preparation of the game blog post to follow.

Blog posted by Mark, Man of TIN on 15 November 2019

BMC Plastic Army Women figures project Kickstarter Now Live

I have backed my first Kickstarter for a bag of these new BMC 54mm Plastic Army Women figures next Christmas!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/bmctoys/plastic-army-women

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2019/11/14/plastic-army-women-kickstarter-now-live/

You can read more about the project so far at previous blog posts such as https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2019/11/09/bmc-toys-plastic-army-women-update-5/

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN 14 November 2019

A Jacklex Christmas come early …

General JEB Stuart mounted – an alternative horse pose was also included.

Christmas has come early to Man of TIN house, as my first order of Jacklex figures has arrived from the new owner Mark Lodge.

Before they go into the Christmas present box to be given to me by the family, I thought I would check my order through – all present and correct.

I have long wanted to buy some Jacklex figures having seen them in Donald Featherstone books.

Whilst they are out of the lovely red box and sawdust packaging before Christmas, I thought I would photograph the figures alongside their 20mm Airfix counterparts.

Jacklex figures were made by the talented Jack Alexander (90 this year, 2019) in the 1960s and 1970s, partly to complement the popular OOHO Airfix American Civil War and Foreign Legion figures.

This ‘origin story’ is told here – I have yet to track down in online scan archives the Featherstone Meccano Magazine article or War Games book review in 1962 that first inspired Jack Alexander to make his toy soldier range:

https://www.jacklexminiatures.com/index.php?route=information/information&information_id=4

The Airfix WW1 Americans come across as quite slender in comparison with the Jacklex American Punitive Expedition to Mexico just before WW1. Others like the limited WW1 Jacklex range are a far closer size match to Airfix.

Airfix WW1 German and British Infantry alongside the Jacklex equivalents, albeit with mid to late war steel helmets.

Jacklex ACW figures

The American Civil War figures generally blend well with the Airfix Civil War figures.

My conversions from British Commandos and Japanese Infantry look quite slender in comparison to Jacklex drummers and standard bearers but these are the sorts of figures that oddly Airfix did not produce for their ACW range. Trumpeters and Officers for the American Civil War were produced by Airfix but oddly not drummers or standard bearers. The American War of Independence and Waterloo Airfix range was better served in this way.

Airfix 7th Cavalry on a Jacklex horse, JEB Stuart and an Airfix packhorse for comparison.

The Jacklex horses match quite well the Airfix ACW / Seventh Cavalry and may be a solution to the awkward Airfix horses that do not glue well to their bases.

Jacklex Colonial Range British Army and Navy officers and Foreign Legion Officer

Again these lovely colonial British and Navy officers and French Foreign Legion officer match quite well the size of the relevant Airfix French Foreign Legion, Arabs and Esci colonials and Zulus.

Lead Mountain Warning – you could happily spend a small fortune on the new old Jacklex ranges (but at least you would have something decent and long lasting to show for it).

I have yet to sample the Jacklex Russo Japanese War, Colonial Natives, Mexicans Ranges but they do look attractive figures. Fighting as I tend to do small solo Featherstone ‘Close Wars’ type skirmishes with only a few dozen figures on each side, I can (almost) get away with gaming a wide range of figure scales and periods without additional storage problems and bankruptcy. Oddly appropriate as ‘Close Wars’ rules are a simple appendix to the 1962 War Games book by Donald Featherstone that inspired Jack Alexander to make Jacklex figures in the first place.

https://www.jacklexminiatures.com

Jacklex website page on wargaming with free PDF Andy Callan rules

It is a great easy to use shopping website with good customer service, easy payment, fast despatch and some quirky touches like free PDF Andy Callan 19th Century Rules (veteran rules writer Andy Callan is an old gaming friend of new Jacklex owner Mark Lodge). There are also links to these two Jacklex inspired websites:

All Things Jacklex:  jacklex.blogspot.com

ABC Wargamers:  abcwargamers.blogspot.com

Jacklex – a company and figure range well worth supporting.

Too dark in the evening now to photograph my new figures anymore. Time to pack away for now.

Back in the box they go till Christmas to snooze away the time with their sawdust infused dreams of glory …

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN on 5 November 2019.

On Wargames magazines and ‘new’ Airfix figures

I rarely buy wargames magazines now.

When I was a youngster, my Dad would bring back Military Modelling, the occasional Airfix Magazine and then Miniature Wargames each month when it first came out in the 1980s. No doubt he read and enjoyed them on the train home for the history articles. I still have many of them in part or whole. Thanks Dad!

So I was interested to read the wargames magazines reviews and comments on various blogs including Bob Cordery on Wargaming Miscellany as the magazines have changed audiences and editors over the last few years.

I wrote a little about this back in 2016, having not read many gaming magazines for years: https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/07/30/miniature-wargames-magazine-milestone-issues-1-and-400/

Many of the recent comments on the changing nature of some magazines seemed to fall into a generational trench or historical vs fantasy gaming camps, the recent editorial and ownership changes to Miniature Wargames magazine having polarised opinion.

Some confess to fall no back in love with print magazines like Big Lee:

http://www.blmablog.com/2019/09/falling-back-in-love-with-print.html

For a fringe or niche hobby, it is a surprise to me that there are still in 2019 three colour wargames magazines on the newsagent stands alongside two toy soldier collector magazines and all the tabletop and fantasy gaming magazines.

I usually flick through these magazines when I go into town to see if they are ‘worth buying’.

Irritatingly, some are shrink wrapped issues with free gaming show catalogues or free sprues of the latest plastic figures (i.e. clever product placement) so that you cannot see inside some of the magazines.

This freebie is calculatedly and temptingly an effective entry level drug to a new period, scale or games system, clever but something new that I simply do not need with a head and a paint table already full of ideas.

There is also a QR code on the front cover to scan to see the contents page, if you have that sort of phone (which I don’t). It loses Wargames Illustrated Magazine and Miniature Wargames one potential reader every month.

Like many of those who comment on the review posts, which is obviously just one slice of opinion, I am regularly put off buying several of these magazines over the last twenty years by the increasingly advertorial scenarios for certain games systems and figure ranges.

If you don’t play those systems, this style of magazine article seems almost meaningless.

I do like a look at the adverts and new figure ranges, although quite often they are featured long before on the websites of other bloggers, excitedly distracted by the next new shiny thing.

One interesting feature in the most recent Wargames Soldiers and Strategy WSS magazine www.wzssmagazine.com is the thematic approach to the core articles of each issue. A few months ago I bought the French Indian Wars issue as this is when my favourite Featherstone Close Wars small wooded Skirmish (natives vs soldiers) rules are set. This month I bought the mostly WW2 1944 issue – theme: the Fight for Overloon and Venray.

I recognise a few of the opinion column writers from past magazines, blogs and podcasts such as Henry Hyde, former editor of Miniature Wargames and Battle Games and Guy Bowers the Editor.

Guy Bowers review page in Wargames Soldiers and Strategy and an Airfix omission?

I enjoy the Guy Bowers‘ figure reviews showing a sample of what figures in what scales are currently available to play for each issue’s main theme period.

Obviously not every manufacturer and every scale could be featured in such an article.

Wot No Airfix?

I noticed one surprise omission on the figures page for WW2 1944 Northern Europe scenarios, which covers the current fashionable scales from 6mm through 10mm and 15mm to the ubiquitous 28mm. (No 54mm?) One set of cheap and affordable figures were missing – there were no Airfix.

There were four other 20mm manufacturers mentioned, mostly metal – Adler, Frontline, Valiant plastics and Wartime Miniatures (Australia). Foundry 20mm are mentioned rather than shown. Some of these figures are £1.20 each!

But no Airfix. Why the omission? It could be because they are currently and irritatingly out of stock on Airfix.com and only available in shops or online suppliers if you can find them.

Maybe Airfix figures are the generational Fault Line?

On the same basis, I’m sure the old Airfix 54mm figures are not shown in the review as their 54mm British Infantry (Combat Support Group) are hard to find in the shops and few now game in this scale. 54mm British Infantry are now fairly hard to find cheaply, but as for 54mm gamers, they are available to find online in one place at the Little Wars Revisited 54mm gaming forum.

But No Airfix? This was maybe something I only noticed because a few days earlier on a trip into a real toyshop searching for family presents, I had picked up the latest ‘new’ Airfix figures in thirty odd years. Obviously latest and new meant 2011 – I hadn’t noticed that the 1973 ones had been replaced.

This type of cheap plastic figure is where many a gamer of my generation or older cut their teeth. The metals and plastics shown in Guy Bowers’ magazine review were or still are beyond pocket money range and easy access to many youngsters, even today through online sales. I was able to look at these Airfix figures and others closely in the shop. I paid hard cash for these figures. I bought a box of the new WW2 figures partly as I am a ‘Completist’ who owns Airfix figures from all the sets ever issued but mostly to show my support for real toyshops.

Airfix is still just about available in many of the larger hobby shops, craft and toy stores as well as these WW2 British Infantry (currently out of stock) at Airfix.com

£6 for a box of 48 figures seems reasonable, at roughly 12p each figure. As Bob Cordery mentioned, this is pretty much the cost of a magazine these days. They also come with an available Airfix relaunched ‘vintage classics’ range of WW2 vehicles, admittedly ones you have to make yourself.

The only 20mm alternative in plastic shown are the Valiant figures at £13 for 68 Miniatures. This is comparable value per figure, just a big outlay for maybe too many figures for a simple Skirmish game.

Plastic Soldier Review – Airfix WW2 Britain Infantry

Airfix have issued several British Infantry sets over the years. Which do I like most?

Not these old ones – not the 1973 ones that were newly around when I was little, http://www.plasticsoldierreview.com/Review.aspx?id=25

These 1973 ones replaced the charming but odd 1960s Infantry Combat Group http://www.plasticsoldierreview.com/Review.aspx?id=53.

Didn’t really like the odd poses of these spindly 1973 ones much.

Not the 1982 Esci reissues under the Airfix name when Airfix lost the moulds for the 1973 Airfix British infantry http://www.plasticsoldierreview.com/Review.aspx?id=84

Here below is a better off the sprue photograph of the new 2011 Airfix British Infantry.

The review on Plastic Soldier Review is not flattering about the skinny legs, what should be shapeless but here skin-tight battle dress and poorly moulded weapons but they seem no more distorted than the average metal figures.

To me, they look a useful enough set loaded down with lots of haversacks, equipment and few useless weird diorama poses.

New WW2 Battle Dress 2011 Airfix figures – Plastic Soldier Review photo source

They are a good looking, animated set of figures which almost don’t look like Airfix. Shame that they don’t make them as copies in 54mm but there are the old Britains Paratroops, Britains Deetail and Steve Weston’s WW2 versions if you can find them.

They would be a good match for the Airfix WW2 German Infantry in either scale if you can track them down (also out of stock on Airfix.com).

At some point I will get a chance to paint these new figures. Painting table is a bit cluttered at the moment.

Blogposted by Mark Man of TIN, 20 / 21 October 2019.