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.

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2017/06/18/national-service-days-1/

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2020/04/22/1955-british-army-infantry-training-booklet-no-4-rifle-and-bayonet/

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 http://airfixfigs.blogspot.com/2010/06/1960-infantry-combat-group-wwii-british.html

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:

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2020/06/28/verda-versus-griza-pound-store-plastic-soldiers-20mm-interbellum-fms-skirmish-now-with-added-esperanto/

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

Tintin and Imagi-Nations Games

 

imageOne of the things I like about Tintin are the interesting ‘Euro’ nations and enemies that Belgian author and illustrator Herge created as foils for his intrepid young reporter detective Tintin.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Adventures_of_Tintin

Great uniforms amongst enemy troops, but as a child I couldn’t work out why the Police in Tintin for example of what I took to be a supposedly British / English setting for Captain Haddock of Marlinspike Hall looked so odd.

Had Herge (I wondered as a child) never been to Britain? Slowly as I got older I realised that Herge was drawing mostly European / Belgian settings and that the books are translated all over the world.

This  ‘Glocal’ World (both Global and Local) of Herge in translation has strange villains and fake euro Imagi-Nations such as Borduria in the Calculus Affair and the regime of the villainous Kurvi-Tasch with his strangely fascist moustache logo on his very Nazi looking generals, troops and 1950s looking tanks.

Even though Tintin goes back to the 1940s, to me his books are the ‘Funny Little Cold Wars’ of the 1950s and 1960s in graphic novel / comic strip version,  akin in style and feel to the early 1960s James Bond movies with the suave and stylish Sean Connery and his menacing enemies.

A range of plastic Tintin figures / key ring figures is available online in various sizes.

Great inspiration for some enemy troops as shown with generic enemy  “red troops” or “red guards” in my Back to Basics DIY figure making blogpost:

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/05/27/back-to-basics-toy-soldiers/

 

image
Unfinished faceless hordes of red guards based on a 1950s US Barclay podfoot dime store lead figure representing ‘enemy troops’, defending the secret base of whatever enemy regime or Imagi-Nations you choose (photo/ figures: Man of TIN)

Tintin should prove equally good inspiration  for some paint conversions of Pound Store Warriors from modern / WW2 green / toy army men.

So why not make up your own Imagi-Nations, uniforms and all?

If Tintin is not your gaming thing, then there is of course Asterix and this fabulous wargaming Asterix and the Romans website http://romansgohome.blogspot.co.uk

image

Fictional Enemy, Threat or Aggressor Troops  

Making up your own enemies, uniforms and all isn’t that far from the truth.

The Milihistriot Website (c/o Sheil family USA website) has an interesting section with coloured plates of threat, enemy or “aggressor” troops with adapted uniforms from military exercises:

 

image

Green crested helmet enemy troops as just one example of some colourful training enemies from a 1964 MIlihistriot article soldiers of Never-Never Land by James Glazer,  based on US troop manuals. These are archived at: http://www.thortrains.com/online/aggressor1.htm

Examples of 30-101 / these US troop manuals can be seen at:

https://ia600302.us.archive.org/4/items/FM30-101/FM30-101.pdf

http://www.alternatewars.com/WW3/Trigons/FM30_101_1959.pdf

The fictional (Esperanto speaking!) aggressor troops had a white ensign or badge with black triangle.

http://www.thortrains.com/online/aggvehicles1.htm

These manuals have obviously inspired many of the imaginative paint finishes and uniforms on the Sheil range of vintage home cast Toy Soldier Art figures. More have been created on the same principle at their Spy Troops page: http://www.thortrains.com/online/spytroopies.htm

 

Herald infantry (like those from my family collection above) had ready made plastic ‘enemy’ troops made briefly in what the Sheils call ‘Berlin Gray’, http://www.thortrains.com/online/berlinggray.htm

http://www.thortrains.com/online/Berlin%20Grays%20%20and%20Spies.htm

image
Atlantic 54mm plastic soldiers, a junk shop find. (Figures / photos: Man of TIN)

Back to Tintin and Imagi-Nations

The Tintin / Calculus Affair  Kurvi-Tasch troops also have a look of the strange Atlantic modern troop figures that occasionally and erratically  appeared in shops in the 1980s, featuring an odd sort of  Euro army appearance. They looked strangely foreign, even futuristic on occasion (not quite American, not British and not German). Only later did I discover that they are meant to be Italian / Euro troop types. Atlantic figures and their strange box art are well covered in the Airfix’s Competitors chapter of my much-thumbed copy of  Airfix’s Little Soldiers by Jean Christophe Carbonel (Histoire & Collections publishers, 2009). Some of the Atlantic figures were recently reissued by NEXUS.

Happy Imagi-Nations Gaming!

Posted by Man of TIN, June 2016.