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

Hing Fat 54mm WW2 Italians painted

Crossposted from my Pound Store Plastic Warriors blog, see more pictures of my latest painted sample 54mm plastic figures from Hing Fat (thanks to Peter Evans who sells them via Figsculpt https://www.ebay.co.uk/usr/figsculpt on eBay)

There’s also a comparison with the scarce Airfix 1:32 Italian Infantry figures.

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2021/04/27/hing-fat-54mm-plastic-ww2-italian-infantry/

Hing Fat 54mm Plastic WW2 Russian Infantry samples painted

Shiny toy soldier style painted Hing Fat 54mm Russians on the painting table awaiting the gloss varnish of victory …

Crossposted from my Pound Store Plastic Warriors blog – some more interesting Hing Fat 54mm plastic sample figures gifted to me by Peter Evans. (Thanks Peter.)

More photographs and the full range shown at:

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2021/04/14/54mm-hing-fat-ww2-russian-sample-figures/

Peter currently sells these ‘Made in China’ Hing Fat figures through his eBay seller site figsculpt https://www.ebay.co.uk/usr/figsculpt

Size comparison with my repaired childhood Airfix 1:32 (2021, currently unavailable)

Previously on Hing Fat samples posts: WW2 French

Next sample trio: probably WW2 Italians?

Meanwhile on a tinier Russian Front …

What, no Soviet women in these 54mm figures? Annie Norman of Bad Squiddo Games is producing a new range of 28mm Soviet women of WW2 on Kickstarter and then via her web shop. I don’t collect or play with 28mm figures at the moment but I have bought several vignette packs of her interesting female figures like her Land Girls. https://badsquiddogames.com

Blog Crossposted by Mark Man of TIN 15 April 2021

Airfix WW2 1:32 figures 54mm Rerelease for Summer 2021

Childishly delighted to see that Airfix are rereleasing six boxes of their classic 1:32 / 54mm scale WW2 figures in Summer 2021 – maybe in time for the 80th anniversaries of WW2 events over the next few years?

https://www.airfix.com/uk-en/shop/new-for-2021.html

The 1960s beach buggy in 1:32 is available again – amphibious assault vehicle?

These classic 1:32 figures will be as welcome to military modellers, collectors and diorama makers as to 54mm Wargamers.

The 1:32 British Infantry set – different figures from the 1:72 scale ones

14 figure for £9.00 is a good deal these days, 64pence each compared to 8 Chintoys figures for £25 at £3 ish each, although Steve Weston Plastic Soldiers WW2 British are a very good deal.

64p each – Cheap joy! 1 Officer, 1 radioman, 12 infantry: The tactile shape of my childhood.

Some exciting skirmishes can be fought with Paratroops and Infantry.

Six sets of WW2 1:32 figures is a start. Thanks Airfix! What can we expect next?

Strangely there are no desert war figures – German British or Italians – for the 80th anniversary of the desert battles of 1941/42?

No Waterloo 1:32 figures? No Wild West ones? No Australians or the versatile Japanese figures for the anniversary of Pearl Harbor December 1941? No Russians for the 1941 Invasion of Russia anniversary?

Looking through the website now is like poring over the lovely Airfix catalogues of our youth.

1982! https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2019/09/07/warning-more-vintage-airfix-nostalgia/

The last release of 1:32 Airfix figures in the early 2010s are still around online and in some shops including British Infantry Heavy Weapons Support Set and German Mountain Troops.

There are no new releases in 1:72 just these classic figures for WW1 and a few still available for WW2, along with a lone Airfix Multipose German Infantry 1:32 starter set https://www.airfix.com/uk-en/shop/figures.html

The current 2021 available 1:72 range, some now sold out, as of 2021. Sold out on the Airfix.com shop but ‘view stockists’ available from model shops and online stockists.

Good starter figures for young gamers such as Tom the Wargamer on YouTube. https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2020/09/20/ww2-wargaming-on-a-budget-tom-the-wargamer-and-historical-wargaming-on-youtube/

Blog posted by the childishly delighted Mark Man of TIN, 8 January 2021

Mysterious Jungle Carvings of South America?

Strange Carvings Amid the Jungle Ruins … uncovered by my favourite 1970s 54mm Airfix figure, WW2 Australian Officer, produced before the Indiana Jones films.

There is an unusually festive source for these strange and mysterious stone carvings in the South American jungles – a cheap terrain idea, crossposted from my sister blog Pound Store Plastic Warriors:

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2020/12/07/christmas-biscuits-or-mysterious-jungle-carvings-of-south-america/

What does a Mixtec Oracular Priest make of these tribal carvings? Chintoys 54mm Mixtecs

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN 7 December 2020

Support the Smaller Figure Companies: Early War Miniatures 1940 range

Danish troops in Greatcoats 1940 – 20mm metal Early War Miniatures

Dutch 1940 Troops Rifle Squad – Early War Miniatures

If I was going to run a small metal miniatures company it might look a little like Early War Miniatures.

Unusual metal figures for WW1, Interbellum and WW2 in a traditional 20mm scale.

20mm.

That’s right – not a typing mistake – 20mm. Not 28mm. Not everything has to be 28mm and one day that scale will fade from dominance as much as 30mm or 40mm has done. A few years back it was all 15mm / Flames of War etc … and relax.

20mm.

In a recent blog post I suggested that in the absence of supporting traders at games shows, if we could, we should support smaller figure manufacturers like Bad Squiddo with the odd order through the pandemic.

I have been buying ahead of time some small orders for my Christmas gifts to help out those in my family who don’t know what to buy me (and they don’t have to post it either!)

I have looked before at the EWM 1940 range of Early War Miniatures. Tempting enough. Do I really need another shiny new project? Playing small solo skirmish sized games of a few dozen figures each side, it is easy enough to have a number of small projects on the go in different scales if needed.

Stocking the Man of TIN Christmas Stocking ahead of time, I chose a few sample packs – 2 rifle squads each of Danish Infantry and of Dutch Infantry – enough for an unusual WW2 skirmish game against my trusty old Airfix German WW2 Infantry.

I had been intrigued by the short lived but hard fought Danish resistance to the German Blitzkreig portrayed in the recent Danish Language film 9 April

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2020/04/09/remembering-denmark-april-9th-1940/

I hope to use some of my existing childhood WW2 figures, rather than buy even more tempting EWM figures from their WW2 German range (including paratroops). Whilst I had some of the EWM figures unpacked, I thought I would check them for scale against my other WW2 figures.

In size comparison with my existing plastics, such as the WW1 and version 2 Airfix WW2 Germans, they look a little slender in comparison with EWM but to be fair they are figures without greatcoats.

I have also added Atlantic German Infantry for comparison and some odd hard plastics from my Blue Box of stored games bits and bobs from the modern 1980s. These were some curious “larger 20mm” Germans that I have identified as Esci hard plastic Afrika Korps from the 1980s.

Now painted grey, at last a use for these odd “big 20mm” Afrika Korps from Esci in hard plastic kit form.

Easy assembly – these are flash free metal figures, some with separate heads, packs and weapons that fit easily in place together with superglue.

I have yet to paint them up but they are crisp, sharp castings with nice animation and detail.

Each online supplier has their individual quirks. Peter Laing added in a few extras, sometimes new sample 15mm figures from new ranges to offset postage and breakages. Mark Lodge at Jacklex packs these 20mm figures in a lovely red box of sawdust. Annie Norman at Bad Squiddo adds in herbal tea bags or scribbled thank you messages and doodles on the compliments forms. Paul at Early War Miniatures added in a complimentary little packet of resin scenics.

I have had the pleasure of chatting by email to the EWM owner Paul Thompson about the disputed WW2 German commando raid in 1943 on a radar station on the Isle Of Wight. This was covered in a recent book by Adrian Searle, Churchill’s Last Wartime Secret. I had reviewed the book in my blog for possible skirmish games scenarios.

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2019/02/28/churchills-last-wartime-secret-the-1943-german-raid-airbrushed-from-history-book-review/

Paul Thompson at EWM has written a couple of blog posts on his website about finding possible new evidence in 2017 for the possible IOW German Commando Raid:

https://earlywarminiatures.com/nazi-commandos-uboats-and-cliff-top-raid-on-radar-station-in-england/

https://earlywarminiatures.com/update-on-the-german-commando-raid-on-england-in-1943-finds/

Overall, EWM are a great little company with lots of tempting shiny new things including their Vichy French WW2 range and new Siam WW2 range. A company well worth watching and supporting.

https://earlywarminiatures.com

Now these EWM figures must reluctantly go back into the Christmas cupboard. In the mean time I can paint and base their opposition. Only four months to go …

Next time on my next “support the small manufacturer post” – Sergeant’s Mess i20mm Scout figures and then more Mexicans from Jacklex 20mm.

Blog posted by Mark, Man of TIN (and delayed gratification) 20/21 August 2020

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

Instant Airfix Featherstone WW2 Game by the Death Zap! Wargaming Pastor

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Have a look at this attractively improvised game and games table (I’m sure Little Wars / Floor Games author HG Wells would approve) with Featherstone rules, scrambled together by the Death Zap! blogger The Wargaming Pastor:

https://thedeathzap.wordpress.com/2019/09/27/instant-ww2

These pictures recapture the spirit of the games of my youth.

Enjoy! Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 28 September 2019

Black Cowboys, Time Tunnels, Earworms and the Old Town Road

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More realistic 54mm cowboys (Pound Store copies of Airfix)?

Gaming and pulp scenarios here: Time tunnels, black cowboys, American western history and myth,  earworm songs and music videos, all on my sister blog post Pound Store Plastic Warriors:

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2019/08/16/black-cowboys-on-the-old-town-road/

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Blog posted by Mark, Man of TIN 15 August 2019. Boogety, Boogety,  Boogety!

From our Toy War Correspondent

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Our blog photographer in action: Taking the portrait photographs for our Lost Legions:  Beachcombing feature.

Words on our ManofTin blog are of course typed by our tin hatted war correspondent, but first scribbled in his notebook by pencil.

I have always liked this workaday clerkish Airfix figure. Turn him around though and his Stengun may prove to be “mightier than the word.”

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Photographs on this Man of Tin blog are of course all taken by this dandy fellow with the very latest equipment!

(Painted from a Tradition 54mm Matthew Brady casting by Man of TIN).

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As a child, one of my treasured type of figures would be the rare radio man if luckily present in each toy soldier set.

These tiny radio figures would be able to form part of three man patrols (including a guard and an observer / someone with binoculars) regularly mounted and replaced  in the flower bed jungles and keeping  in constant radio contact with base / HQ (me!) Advance guards, forward observers and early warning all in one!

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Getting the news back fast to Man of Tin blog HQ / Basecamp: officer and red coat radio telephone man both from pound store warriors (Painted: Man of TIN).

Man of TIN blog, brought to you in words and pictures by our brave and tiny toy war correspondents.

Posted on their behalf by Mr MIN, Man of TIN, June 2016.