“From the halls of Montezuma …” Airfix Version 1 US Marines 1963

Some of my original painted version 1 US Marines veterans from my childhoood, freshly rebased.

Since starting the numbering, basing and flocking of my Airfix figures, I have been basing some of my childhood figures to bring them up to gaming condition.

Once this has been done, I have been searching around for more of such figures in various tins or job lot bags picked up or gifted over the last few years, enough to make a skirmish or small invasion force.

A handful of freshly repainted US Marine figures, originally painted grey by Tony Adams

Eventually with scouring through several boxes of mixed Airfix I found a few dozen more, enough to make a small invasion force. Some of these are probably my original family / childhood ones which were left unpainted.

Over 80 original version 1 figures scraped together, almost two boxes worth.

My paint style as a child or teenage gamer was minimal, leaving the uniform colour unpainted if it was close to the desired base colour and then highlighting usually just face, boots, weapons and webbing. I tried to keep close to this style of the originals that I had painted long ago. Some figures needed olive drab overpainting to cover up any other paint schemes such as Tony Adams’ grey Marines.

There was only one pose missing, the bazooka man, so I used a pound store copy of such a version 2 figure.

Pound store bazooka man, original standing loader and more cautious kneeling conversion.

These figures were first released as set S16, in 1963, a year before their opponents the Japanese Infantry.

They have a variety of odd poses, which the type 1 box usefully lists, pictured in J C. Carbonel’s Airfix’s Little Soldiers.

Years late , when I read them in Carbonel’s book, I thought “Oh, is that what they are supposed to be doing?” Running, charging, leaping, lying, lying wounded, just wounded.

Box listing of figures type 2 and familiar later type 2 blue box from J.C. Carbonel’s Airfix book

The Plastic Soldier Review for this set is here:

http://www.plasticsoldierreview.com/Review.aspx?id=355

The Marines were remodelled into a new version 2 set somewhere around 1975 to 1978, using scaled down copies of the familiar chunky US Infantry 1:32 figures and some new slender replacement poses: http://www.plasticsoldierreview.com/Review.aspx?id=354

These version 2 US Marines figures are still available from the Airfix web shop or stockists for a very reasonable £5 a box, still with the familiar box art from the late 60s and 70s https://uk.airfix.com/products/wwii-us-marines-a00716v

I much prefer to use the version 1 figures when I can.

The only other bit missing in my set was the base of the rubber dinghy or ‘assault boat’ so I improvised with a card replacement until I find such a dinghy base whilst rooting through my Airfix odds and ends.

Using the version 1 Marines

I have no intention of running any Japanese Vs. Marines type games anytime soon. The more I learn of the savagery of the Pacific War, the less I would want to replay actual historical battles.

The Marines would be great for many mid to late 20th century troops and ImagiNations games.

The US Marines figures seemed to fulfil for most at the time the role of US Infantry which oddly Airfix never made in OOHO, unlike Matchbox and other makers. Airfix include the Version 2 ones in their current DDay diorama / Playsets.

I noticed that they are generic enough to use for many postwar armies, and for summer in Korea, Vietnam and the ‘Cold War in hot countries’ type scenarios. They lack the greatcoats etc. for winter warfare.

Curiously whilst I was slowly painting, flocking and basing these figures amongst others over the last few weeks, Alan at the Duchy of Tradgardland blog posted an intriguing picture of Airfix Version 1 US Marines from Charles Grant’s WW2 rules book Battle! Practical Wargaming, ‘spotty’ painted in use as WW2 or postwar modern camouflaged troops:

I shall try this spotty colour scheme out on a few spare crawling Marine figures. Hopefully Alan has now secured some version 1 Marines for future ‘spotty’ use.

The US Marines band – Music For Pleasure?

Whilst painting, basing and flocking these figures, I listened to a wide range of US Marines music and their marching cadence calls, including lots of Sousa marches and a very varied jazz and chamber music repertoire, all free and live streamed on the YouTube United States Marine Band channel. https://m.youtube.com/user/usmarineband

The bandsmen and bandswomen wear splendid red band uniforms.

Hopefully this rousing Marines music is now infused into my tiny Marines’ paintwork and flock.

The Sousa marches seem very familiar since quite by chance, as a child in the early 1970s, my family were given some random Woolworths type LPs by a relative. They included this very cheery album cover of a tanned and smiling American drum lady; in reality, the band itself was all the way from sunny Sandhurst. MFP – good old affordable‘ Music for Pleasure vinyl LPs.

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 6th / 7th June 2021

Washington’s Army vintage Airfix OOHO paint conversions

Crossposted from my Pound Store Plastic Warriors blog –

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2021/06/04/imaginations-vintage-airfix-figures-1-black-and-gold-washingtons-army-tricorne-troops/

Strikingly colourful yellow and black paint conversions of the classic Airfix OOHO AWI Washington’s Army figures.

Such perfect figures for ImagiNations games. Enjoy!

More pictures at: https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2021/06/04/imaginations-vintage-airfix-figures-1-black-and-gold-washingtons-army-tricorne-troops/

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 4 / 5 June 2021

Turncoats and Mercenaries?

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:

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2021/05/20/imaginations-obes-and-vintage-airfix-scrapings-from-someone-elses-toy-box/

In red on the left, Airfix AWI British Grenadiers and Washington’s Army figures.

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

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

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 https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2021/05/20/imaginations-obes-and-vintage-airfix-scrapings-from-someone-elses-toy-box/

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 Airfix.com https://uk.airfix.com/shop/figures

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.

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/10/15/featherstone-simple-ww2-rules/

I used my childhood Version 1 Desert War figures and commandos for my LRDG game early last year https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2020/01/18/desert-commando-raid-on-wadi-yu-min-1941/

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

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. https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2020/04/13/unboxing-the-blue-box-of-1980s-gaming-figures-time-capsule-parts-1-to-3/

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.

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

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2019/08/02/a-1960s-airfix-owl-pellet/

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 …

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2020/03/08/celebrating-international-womens-day-2020-but-sadly-im-not-taking-the-girl-scouts-to-woking-games-day-next-weekend/

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 7 May 2021

Tell it to the (Pound Store Plastic) Marines

Marine Infantry – More lazy 1970s Airfix style painting, sorry, I mean ‘charmingly retro’ simple painting of Airfix copies. Joy!

Crossposted by Mark Man of TIN from my sister blog Pound Store Plastic Warriors

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2020/07/13/tell-that-to-the-pound-store-plastic-marines/

Unboxing my Blue Box of 1980s figures time capsule part 2

More drawers from my 1980s time capsule of a bits box. Part 1 blog post and the box’s background is here: https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2020/04/08/unboxing-my-nineteen-eighties-figures-box-part-1/

First, some Heroics and Ros 1/300 WW2 Infantry figures

This fridge magnet of Whitby Abbey becomes a useful church ruin for my 1/300 WW2 figures.

I’m not sure why I have such a random selection of British, German and possibly French Infantry and heavy weapons. I think they were part of a schoolboy swap.

A strange few extras of the Red Barons triple decker WW1 triplane, an old ship’s cannon (from a naval board game?) and a recent space droid and a Dalek.

Allied forces 1/300 WW2

I sorted the tiny 1/300 figures as best I could into German and Allied (British and French) based on helmet shape and backpacks. The kneeling figures need a further sort out with a good magnifying glass. There are not many photos to ID these figures on the 1/300 Heroics and Ros website:

1/300 German WW2 Infantry and Heavy Weapons

There are less German Infantry but they have heavier weapons.

Heroics and Ros 1/300 catalogue advert page, C.1983

French Infantry, possibly the Allied ones with pointy Adrian helmets?

Enough figures here for a tiny Infantry skirmish.

I also found my lovely little Dinky Supermarine Swift jet aircraft 734 that is a little too big and modern for the 1/300 figures: it could be a “large experimental bomber” at this scale.

If this was my Desert Island Discs box, my ‘fire box’, if this Blue Box from my 1980s gaming were all that survived, I think there is enough interesting variety to scratch together some skirmish games.

If these were the only figures you had in the world, what fantastical ImagiNations games these would be.

There would be enough for some Ancients and WW2 1/300 games, some 15mm ECW and Marlburian era games and OO/HO or 1/72 Plastic and metal figure games from various manufacturers and several 19th and 20th Century periods.

Plastic OO/HO or 1/72 and 1/76 figures from the Nineteenth Century – American Civil War period, Colonials and Napoleonic period. A complete painted box of Esci French and British Napoleonic Artillery was a pleasant surprise!

The WW2 period figures mostly from Airfix and Railway Civilians with some improvised artillery pieces and useful wheels and horse transport.

Colonials, mostly mid 1980s sets from Esci and some Airfix oddments and animals

American Civil War figures and Waggon Train with the usual awkward Airfix horses.

Interesting 1981 RSA South African centenary stamp from the First Boer War Battle of Amajuba

Finally the kit figures, some of these Eighth Army and Afrika Korps are clearly Airfix copies, a little larger than the normal Airfix version two figures.

Esci hard plastic Eighth Army kit figures with gun crew and spare radio from Red Devils Paratroop set

Reviewed here http://www.plasticsoldierreview.com/Review.aspx?id=722

Esci hard plastic German Afrika Korps figures 1980s

The Esci hard plastic kit figure Afrika Korps are reviewed here:

http://www.plasticsoldierreview.com/Review.aspx?id=839

British or Allied Paratroop figures are part straight Airfix copies, part kit figures. Unusual little PIAT figure.

Esci Red Devils British Paratroops kit figures http://www.plasticsoldierreview.com/Review.aspx?id=754

The final selection of these kit figures shows some more need for repairs – order, arms! A few Atlantic US Marines from the Iwo Jima flag raising set.

Airfix, Atlantic, Esci gunners, Fujimi gunners and Herald British Infantry clones

The German anti tank gun crew in fragments reviewed here http://www.plasticsoldierreview.com/Review.aspx?id=741

Some pirate OO/HO copies of Herald 54mm British Infantry are interesting oddments.

The key is to my long vanished LP Storage case for wargames figures made or crafted for my birthday by my family to store my Peter Laing ECW figures after reading an article in a modelling magazine. The LP case of plastic and card eventually fell apart but the inner wooden storage trays still survive in use with Peter Laing 15mm figures.

A small desert skirmish or WW2 action could be improvised from the various OO/HO figures in this Blue Box.

Finally to go from 1/300 to the other end of the scale, two random 54mm figures.

Two different 54mm Airfix US Infantry captains to repair together, a Timpo drum and Timpo 7th cavalryman

The two large shells are all that I have left of my much missed lovely Britains breech loading heavy siege howitzer, a powerful cannon for playing Little Wars with 1/32 or 54mm figures.

In the final forthcoming part of the Unboxing the Blue Box post, part 3 focuses on 15mm metal figures including some lovely Peter Laing figures.

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 9/10 April 2020