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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
It is often said that a man dies two deaths, once when he physically dies and second when he is past living memory and his name and works are forgotten.
Someone like Stuart Asquith with his magazine columns and books, along with the many figures he painted, will not be forgotten, at least not by a small band of wargamers of a certain age and hopefully younger people who discover his simple approach in his accessible wargaming books.
Beginners will not forget borrowing from branch libraries or now tracking down online his Military Modelling Guide to Wargaming, which had lots of entry level plastic figures and simple rules. I still have and use the local branch library copy that I borrowed as child, picked up cheaply when it was sold off by the library service.
Solo Wargamers will not forget his interesting book on the topic with some innovative solo games mechanisms.
Siege Wargamers will not forget his book on this unusual subject.
I really like his ComfortableWargaming articles with their laid back, enjoy your games approach with No Units. No Morale Tests: “If you want to shell out around £30 for a set of rules, then feel free, but you know, you really don’t have to – don’t worry about phases or factors, go back to simple enjoyment.”
I never met Stuart in person but you feel like you sort of know somebody when you have read and reread their books and magazines for 30 to 40 years.
However in the last couple of years I was fortunate enough to be able to say a small thank you for all that he had done for my hobby.
I heard from Stuart after reprinting some sections of the Brian Carrick article Big Wars on 54mm gaming sections from the Battle For Wargamers Military Modelling Wargames Manual on my blog(s) as part of a discussion on 54mm garden gaming.
Stuart asked if anyone had a spare copy of this Manual magazine / annual as he could not find his own copy. He wanted to see a copy again but there were no second hand copies around. Not wishing to part with the original (a treasured gift from my Dad), I managed to photocopy it all and send it in a presentation folder to him.
It was my small way of saying thanks for all he had done for simplifying and inspiring my hobby over many years. I was happy to have given him a weekend of comfortable wargames nostalgia.
I was trying not to be a total fanboy but Stuart Asquith – the Stuart Asquith – had read my blogs. He left a comment on them and then I had a few emails from him.
Could I have imagined that as an 1970s 1980s Airfix kid pushing my plastic armies around a felt cloth on the dining room table?
The editor of the wargames bits and books from Military Modelling Magazine, Stuart Asquith was a giant in my Airfix boy eyes, along with Donald Featherstone. More important to me than any 1970s or 80s popstar, TV celebrity or footballer. (No, you’re right, that is a bit total fanboy but still …)
I was delighted and not a little surprised to hear that he was still enthusiastic and active in our wonderful hobby, cropping up on some of his regular gaming partners’ blogs. Hope for us all yet …
I received an appreciative email or two back from Stuart, who was also pleased when I let him know that his 15mm Peter Laing Roman Army and Ancient British Celtic armies were in good hands, mine, and still in use. Painted and used by Stuart, they now take pride of place amongst many treasured objects in my games room, still looking good after many years but awaiting rebasing.
They receive a passing mention of these very troops in his Comfortable Wargaming article in the form of Boadicea in her chariot that Peter Laing had specially made for Stuart, one figure that he had not parted with when he started downsizing his figure collection.
Amidst our email conversations, I mentioned the Wargames Manual’s general unavailability secondhand to John Curry of the History of Wargaming Project, who started talking to Stuart about possibly reprinting the Wargames Manual as part of his long to-do list of reprints. John has already reprinted several Stuart Asquith titles. http://www.wargaming.co/recreation/asquithandwise.htm
Thinking back to my first Osprey book written by him to help paint my Pater Laing ECW armies, Stuart’s 2019 reprinted ECW rules book ought to be on my Christmas list.
Tell it to the Bees …
Like bees, when their bee keepers die, I wonder if you have to break it to the tiny tin and lead men very gently that their painter and former (owner) Commander in Chief is no longer with us, gone to that Valhalla in the skies which is a bit like an eternal weekend of the Wargames Holiday Centre.
There, Stuart Asquith and Donald Featherstone, H.G. Wells and many of the wargames pioneers who are no longer with us are, I hope, having good natured arguments about wargaming in the afterlife and rolling the odd dice together …
Thank you Stuart Asquith, not forgotten, whenever and wherever a simple comfortable wargame is played and enjoyed.
Iremain proud to lead his tiny legions and tribes into battle with his blessing as their new Commander.
Blog posted by Asquith fanboy Mark Man of TIN, 4/5 November 2019
“In the freezing woods of Norway, dead men leave footprints in the snow. Their SS uniforms are riddled with bullet holes, their hearts frozen solid, and their rotting flesh frostbitten.
What should have been a routine raid took a horrific turn for Commandos Leo Mantelow and Lionel Stone as they faced down something from out of a nightmare. But it’s hard to follow the book when you’re up against the living dead!”
I could and did resist buying this but liked the title.
There’s a weird World War Two scenario for my more battered and broken Airfix German figures that I had never thought of …
Commandos versus Zombies is still in the shops like W.H. Smith.
More about the comic and a few inside glimpses of this title written by a female comic book writer Georgia Standen Battle: