Unboxing my Blue Box 1980s figures time capsule Part 1

In my recent post about Stuart Asquith’s free Wargames supplement to Military Modelling in 1987, I mentioned the box of drawers that he used and that I also bought around the same time.

It helped preserve a small core of random painted and unpainted figures from my gaming in the 1980s throughout many house moves.

I thought these needed sorting out, so an excellent chance to show you the contents. It is almost a time capsule of my mid 1980s figure buying. Some people have a fireproof box for important household papers. This is almost my gaming version of that firebox, a good cross-section of my gaming interests then and now.

Aerial view of 15 slide out plastic trays of figures and fun!

I found a couple of lost figures rattling around at the back of this cupboard box of drawers.

Sometimes poking through this odds and ends bits box, I wonder what my games would be like if this was my “desert island box” of all that washed up on that ‘Desert Island Discs’ type island. There should be enough for a few games here including some unusual dice.

First out of the box trays are some random but attractive 25mm figures that I bought or were bought for me in a model shop (possibly in London). I painted these in the mid 1980s – sadly the Royalist officer’s sword is broken and needs repair.

The ‘Little Corporal’ Emperor and his unusual (miscellaneous) random Arabian bodyguard. 25mm Minifigs Napoleonic range http://www.miniaturefigurines.co.uk/Catalogue.aspx?ScaleID=3&CategoryID=18

Beautiful 25mm English Civil War figures. Royalist officer with sword to repair.

Not sure of manufacturers or makers of some of these, thirty+ years on. I had to look them up, they are Minifigs 25mm ECW range, still in production at:


Beautiful as this random sample of 25mm figures were, they were too expensive and out of reach of my pocket money for a period such as the English Civil War. By then I had already acquired 100s of cheaper Peter Laing 15mm English Civil War figures (for these see my forthcoming Unboxing Article part 2 and 3).

Down from 25mm to the tiny end of a sample 1/300 or 5 to 6mm figures c. 1985/86

1:300 Ancients from Heroics and Ros still available http://www.heroicsandros.co.uk

1:300 close up of Ancients – Persians, Greeks and Roman artillery?

I have not yet found photo ID of all of these strips of 1/300 individual figures amongst the equally tiny writing of the Heroics and Ros magazine adverts in Stuart Asquith’s 1983 Battle for Wargamers Wargames Manual:

Magnifying glass required for both the 1983 advert and painting the figures
Roman artillery mentioned note the 1983 prices

Greeks, Persians and Sassanids 1/300 Heroics and Ros figures

Enough for a generic Ancients type skirmish game.

I have some vague recollection that the small selection of 1/300 WW2 Infantry groups that I still have (to feature in Unboxing the Blue Box article Part 2 or 3) or these Ancients were swops with a Naval gamer school friend for some small model ships or 1/300 AFV micro-armour. I cannot remember which way round but it seems an odd random selection of figures with no AFVs etc.

Those were not the tiniest Warriors in my armoury box. I still have the famous Andy Callan’s Hair Roller Armies featured in early issues of Miniature Wargames:

Round dots are pin heads, snipped off from pikes of Peter Laing figures, suitable for shields or wheels?

Miniature Wargames No. 9 (Andy Callan article)

I featured a little about these figures on my Pound Store Plastic Warriors blog


I chopped up a couple of spare or damaged hair rollers obtained from my Mum, who had trained in the Fifties as a hairdresser. They were too fiddly for me, besides massed ranks were not really my thing, having long been a simple Donald Featherstone skirmish ‘Close Wars’ kind of boy.

Random inclusions – OO/HO Atlantic Wild West buildings and figures

A few trips to Beatties model shops mid 1980s revealed these Atlantic Wild West sets from Italy

The Platoon 20 Months c.1983

Mid 1980s I paused briefly collecting all the available new Atlantic, Esci and Airfix plastic figures and 15mm Peter Laing figures to collect some of the then new Platoon 20 modern metal figures. As with Peter Laing figures, I saved up and searched out every single penny I could find to buy some sample figures and afford the Platoon 20 postage from Northern Ireland.

1983 prices and addresses for Platoon 20 in Northern Ireland

I found the original Platoon 20 figures quite brittle and the feet and weapon ends snapped off fairly easily.

Platoon 20 are still available through East Riding Miniatures, where you can see and ID the various figures https://shop.eastridingminiatures.co.uk

Platoon 20 Modern British Infantry – bought mid 1980s, shortly after the Falklands War. Within a few years, some of my school friends would be dressed like this serving in Northern Ireland.

Platoon 20 sample figures modern 1980s British Infantry, tank crew and black clad SAS (top right)

I painted some of these up at the time but cannot recall ever using any of them in games. I think I was maybe collecting the figure ranges.

Plastic 20mm OO/HO or 1/72 figures was always the cheaper option for the pocket money stretched schoolboy, despite a week Paper round. Around the same time Matchbox brought out modern British / NATO troops (Falklands)


There were also the OO/HO Airfix NATO aircrew with Infantry figures, http://www.plasticsoldierreview.com/Review.aspx?id=561 Modern Russians and NATO / US Infantry. Britain’s Deetail and Airfix 1:32 also issued plastic 54mm Modern British, German and Russian troops.

Few of these modern figures have survived in my collection. I remember selling boxes of these off as I pared down my collections throughout various house moves. The 1990 Gulf War also put me off gaming any modern conflicts. Maybe I thought it was all the too close to home / the news, with friends serving in the forces.

Another sample was Platoon 20 Israeli troops – I am not sure why I bought these. Were they intended to double up as Argentinians? Within a year or two I would have gone to college and there met Israeli students amongst many international students who had already done their conscripted military service. We understandably didn’t talk politics.

Platoon 20 Israelis

Platoon 20 Mercenaries, Australian SAS and Modern Russians. These Russians complemented the 1982 Airfix Modern Russians http://www.plasticsoldierreview.com/Review.aspx?id=584

Platoon 20 Falklands Argentinians (right) in American style uniforms and Australian Vietnam War troops with plastic Esci Vietnam Americans for comparison:

The Argentinians were close enough in uniform to American WW2 figures that I would probably have used these cheaper plastic alternatives for any opposition or invaders. I cannot recall ever gaming such a modern Falklands type scenario.

Discussing the events each day walking to school and collecting the newspapers as it happened, the Falklands was all too recent and bizarrely makeshift an armada and event that I remember it almost as the last of the Victorian colonial small wars, having read Donald Featherstone’s book of this title in the school library.

These modern figures might make for a modern ImagiNations skirmish conflict at some point. If you can tell apart the Khaki grunge …

These modern Platoon 20 figures are still available from East Riding Miniatures:


Finally one of those bits and bobs, odds and ends that have survived tucked into a spare tray:

Q. Recognise any of them?

A. Amongst these oddments are: an Owzthat cricket dice game in a tube, some game pieces from Tank Battle and some ME109 type planes from an aircraft game, Airfix? 1:32 sandbags, wooden village walls, useful bits of wood, a lone 30mm Spencer Smith plastic ACW bugler, some Atlantic 7th Cavalry / Wild West tents, a large plaster gnome, three small gnome candles and a plastic Tobar gnome reappointed as a WW2 Gnome Guard.

The thin strips of lead came from 1930s wiring in the house I grew up in when my late Dad rewired the house. I kept them to make him a lead figure one day to replace the Britains he no longer had. I shall put the lead into a special home cast figure or castings one day.

In the tube, Owzthat! A dice cricket game that kept sport mad members of my family busy for years on rainy days:

I have a vague recollection of making “Owzthat” type metal hexagon or long dice in metalwork at school, letters stamped by hand. These dice are not wonky lettered, so not my handmade set. It is still made by Lindop and available from Amazon in a tiny tin -more about it here: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Owzthat

Next in ‘Unboxing the Blue Box: Part 2 and Part 3’, more 1/300 figures (WW2), some Peter Laing 15mm figures and Airfix Esci and Revell oddments.

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN blog, 8th April 2020

Asterix creator Albert Uderzo RIP

Sad news that at the grand age of 92 Albert Uderzo the illustrator of Asterix books and illustrator / writer of the later ones has died


The announcement on the official Asterix website https://www.asterix.com

As you can see from my book pile above, the Asterix books were and still are a major inspiration to my occasional Roman and Ancients Games – Full Metal Hic Jacet.


A sad day for Tidders and his Asterix inspired 54mm gaming website By Toutatis! or Romans Go Home


Gone – but what a joyous visual legacy Uderzo and Goscinny have left, one that for me easily matches Tintin. Both these sets of comic books or graphic novels were a main stay of my branch library borrowing throughout my childhood.

Happy memories of Airfix Romans versus Asterix Ancient Britain’s and Sheriff of Nottingham figures.

Happy memories of Weetabix cereal packs with Asterix scenes and cardboard Asterix figures http://cerealoffers.com/Weetabix_Ltd/Weetabix/1975/Asterix_-_His_Friends_-_Foes/asterix_-_his_friends_-_foes.html

Blogposted by Mark Man of TIN, 70s wargaming kid with Cardboard Asterix figures off the back of cereal boxes, 24 March 2020

Wheel Meet Again: A Tribute Ancients Game for Stuart Asquith

Tomorrow / today the 18th November is the day of Stuart Asquith’s funeral.

I know that several of Stuarts’s long term gaming friends and magazine colleagues and contemporaries will attend.

I hope the many online tributes and the tribute games played this weekend in his memory will be of great comfort to his family.


Aerial view of the skirmish area set out as in the Solo Wargaming book. Turn 1


My tribute to Stuart, using some of his former 15mm Peter Laing troops, is a small Ancient skirmish.

It is based on the ‘Wheel Meet Again’ scenario in his Guide To Solo Wargaming. The rules are based on his simple rules in his Guide to Wargaming.


Scenario 8 – Wheel Meet Again

“A lightly guarded convoy of wagons has run into a spot of bother. One of the wagons has suffered a broken wheel and had to be left behind with a guard by the rest of the convoy. On reaching their destination the scouts pass on their news about the disabled wagon. At once a relief column is organised, complete with spare wheel to put the wagon back in service and sets off.

Meanwhile the enemy is also interested in the immobile wagon and its small escort and decide to investigate. The wagon guard, on the alert for just such an event, open fire on the inquisitive enemy, hoping that relief is at hand.

This scenario is fought in three stages. Firstly the wagon guards attempt to keep their attackers at bay. Next reinforcements arrive and deploy to allow the wagon to be repaired. Finally the wagon and its new escort have to gain the safety of the eastern edge of the table once more. A moderately complex, three-part engagement follows and offers numerous permutations for the solo player …”

Stuart Asquith, p.74 Solo Wargaming (1989)


I am not normally an Ancients player but having picked up several years ago a 15mm Pict / Celtic and Roman army from Stuart Asquith and also other figures from online sellers, I have enough scraps of Egyptians, Greeks, Assyrians etc to field several different national skirmish forces.

The setting: Roman Britain – the Pictish wilds

A Roman supply column has left behind a broken down wagon with a few escorts, promising to send a relief force.

A small shadowing hunting party of Pictish scouts lurk to the Northwest.

The broken wagon is a fire cart, a blacksmiths cart, belonging to the Roman Army.

Stuart recommends a small ‘Wagon Guard’ force for part one, such as 6 archers (or musketeers in later periods).

A d6 is thrown to find out when reinforcements on both sides will arrive. In this game they would appear on Turn 5, Romans to the East and Picts to the West.

After playing the game I noticed that Stuart Asquith suggested that one d6 is thrown to work out which turn for the arrival of the enemy, two d6 for the arrival of the supply column.

There are several areas of uncrossable forest to the Southeast and Southwest and a passable rocky forest outcrop to the North East.

It takes two turns to fix the wagon once the Roman forces reach this waggon with the repair tools and a spare wheel. Repairs take the help of four men.

Phase 1 – Holding the Pictish Scouting Party at Bay

Turn 1 sees the Roman armoured archers spread out into a defensive circle, the Pictish scouting party spread out to the Northwest. The Roman archers land two successful hits at mid range and hit the two Pictish archers.

Without distance or range weapons, the Picts charge into melee – one Roman archer is killed and two more Pictish spearman.

In some melee situations, the +1 advantage of the armour of a Roman archers is cancelled out by being confronted by two Pictish spearmen +1.

Roman archers fought the melee with their swords, so are unable to fire this round.

Turn 3

With few Pict scouts left, we take a morale test to work out what the Picts will do. Roll d6 – 1,3, 5 continue for melee and 2,4,6 outnumbered, retreat. The Picts move into melee and being within firing range, the last Picts are quickly wiped out.

Turn 4 sees the Roman Archers regroup.

Phase 2 the Relief Column Arrives

Turn 5

The Pictish War Band and Roman relief column arrived on the scene at opposite ends. The Light Cavalry and Light Infantry head out ahead of the others. Roman archers take out a Pictish light cavalryman and archer. The Pictish archers miss their targets.

Turn 6

The Roman light infantry and cavalry ride up with the mounted office of the relief column to join the Roman archer Wagon Guards who fall back behind the wagon to join them.

In the ensuing movement / melee and fire turns, 2 more Pictish archers are successfully targeted by the Roman archers but the Roman mounted officer is killed by a Pictish archer.

Turn 7

Romans move first and the legionaries in the relief column reach the stranded waggon – the light infantry and cavalry on both sides clash in melee. Two Roman cavalry and two auxiliaries are quickly killed.

At this stage the Picts have a series of lucky dice throws, spelling disaster for the Romans. They slam into the Roman ranks, killing the last 4 Roman archers of the Wagon Guard.

The Romans are unable to fire their pilum short spears as their own men are out in front. Fortunately the Pictish archers are equally blocked from firing by the presence of their own men.

In the melee the Roman Eagle standard bearer and another infantry officer is killed. However the Eagle is quickly grabbed by another legionary.

As soon as the Romans can throw their pilums, six Pictish warriors are brought down.

Rule – only the first two rows can throw pilums.

Turn 8

In turn 8 the two front Roman ranks who have thrown pilums spread out to counter the Picts to their right. 6 more legionaries are lost in melee before the remaining pilums are thrown taking out three more Pictish archers and spearmen.

Turn 9

As the Picts move into further melee, 2 more legionaries fall – the Eagle is again grabbed to safety by the Roman officer – and 4 Picts are killed. Only one of the Pictish archers is left.

Turn 10

On the Pictish side, only one archer, a spearman and the mounted Pictish officer and one of foot remain.

On the Roman side, 4 legionaries, the trumpeter and officer with the Eagle remain.

The morale test – throw d6 1,3,5 to retire and 2,4,6 to fight on.

The Picts choose to retire, the Romans to fight on.

Phase 3 – The Wagon repaired and rescued

The Picts retreat and the Roman legionaries repair and recover the wagon, heading off to the East, wary of further Pictish attack.

A beer tribute to Stuart Asquith who watched over the whole proceedings.

Once the game was over, I raised a glass of WW1 anniversary beer to Stuart in thanks for all he had done for my hobby.

Sadly my last bottle of this 2014 WW1 anniversary Cornish vintage beer picked up on my travels hadn’t aged well in the bottle. I had picked up a couple of beer mats for figure basing from the pub after Sunday lunch after an earlier walk – appropriately drinking some Tribute beer.

Rest In Peace, Stuart Asquith – hope you enjoyed the game.

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN on 17 / 18 November 2019.

B.P.S.Blog Post Script – 18 November 2019,

Henry Hyde’s


Appendix – Amending Stuart Asquith’s Ancients Rules

I reduced the movement scales and weapons ranges down from Stuart’s simple rules for 15mm scale:

Spears (such as pilum) 4 inch range.

Bows 12 inch range

Weapon ranges –

Close range up to 4 inches, throw d6 4,5 or 6 for a kill.

Medium range 4 to 8 inches, throw d6 5 or 6 for a kill.

Long Range 8 to 12 inches, throw d6 6 for a kill.

Movement rates

Light Infantry 6 inches – Roman Auxiliaries and Picts Celtic warriors

Heavy Infantry 4 inches e.g. Roman legionaries and Archers

Heavy Chariot / Ox Cart 6 inches

Light Cavalry 9 inches

Melee rules

Individual melee, throw a d6 for each man involved, highest number wins. If there is two versus one man, add +1 for each attacker.

Mounted versus foot, +1 for mounted.

Fighting troops with shield or armour, -1 for attackers.

Unarmoured troops, -1 from their dice.

Preparing an Ancients Game in Tribute to Stuart Asquith

My Solo Opponent for the weekend? Stuart Asquith in his 1988 Guide to Solo Gaming.

I was saddened by the news about Stuart Asquith’s death, whose funeral is on Monday the 18th of November. It has been good to read the many tributes to him by his gaming friends and readers, as his family have also publicly said.


Along with many other gamers worldwide, I will be holding a small tribute game in Stuart’s memory. It will be a solo Ancients Skirmish game for this coming weekend. This will be using some of my 15mm Peter Laing Ancient Roman and Picts / Celts that used to belong to Stuart.

Here is my excellent research material:

Some Ancient inspiration …

Stuart Asquith’s Military Modelling Guide To Wargaming – Ancients page
Simple rules for the Ancients from Stuart’s book with option for individual melee
Tradgardmastre Alan Gruber recommends the Phil Barker WRG titles

One of these excellent books mentioned by Stuart is literally top of my list of Ancients research, Nils Saxtorph’s Warriors and Weapons of Early Times (Blandford Colour). Many of my childhood drawings were based on this book. Like the Asquith titles, my copy of this wonderful colour book came from my local childhood branch library when they started inexplicably selling off ‘old’ books in the 1990s (!) That was back in the days of reading Stuart Asquith in Military Modelling.

Some of Stuart’s books and his Peter Laing figures feature in my Full Metal Hic Jacet project ‘research’ pile: https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/full-metal-hic-jacet/

Choosing just one suitable small scale Skirmish scenario has been a challenge from the many ones in his Solo Wargaming book. One that I have looked forward to playing again is the ‘Stranded Wagon’ scenario 8, Wheel Meet Again, adaptable to almost any period from stranded oxcart of early times and Wild West waggon to broken down supply lorry or futuristic (but broken) cargo speeder.

This is the broken down ox waggon, almost straight out of Asterix!

When is the rescue party going to arrive?

Will the escort hold out long enough?

Can wheel repairs be done in time under the threat of attack?

Stuart’s stranded waggon scenario in his Guide to Solo Wargaming

I had one recent go at this scenario theme in my Bronte inspired Angrian Imagi-Nation skirmish https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2017/05/20/a-skirmish-in-angria-close-little-wars-rules/

My Angrian waggon Skirmish scenario – Bronte ImagiNations

Before I play out this Solo scenario at the weekend or on the evening of the day that he is put to rest on the 18th November, I need to slightly undo some of Stuart’s handiwork to turn these figures back to single basing.

Original Asquith beermat bases – proof that he followed his own book advice!

I’m sure Stuart would be pragmatic about my adapting his multi figure basing to single figures. Stuart’s basing tips from his Guide to Wargaming are shown above, including beer mats that Stuart has used here.

Single basing using Stuart’s original beermat bases cut in two or three
A small Roman Column, some to escort the stranded ox waggon, some to repair and rescue it.

Beer mats aside, some Beer may need to be opened and drunk in Stuart’s memory as well, on or close to the 18th November in spirit alongside my fellow gamers and admirers of Stuart’s many books.

I also want to fit in a 54mm game skirmish in Stuart’s memory soon, an unfashionable scale that he supported.

I shall post pictures afterwards.

The Click2Comic treatment of Stuart Asquith, Solo gamer!

And finally … my Peter Laing 15mm Ancient British Chariot Squadron which will probably not be appearing in this “Wheel Meet Again” Stuart Asquith Solo Scenario.

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN on 15 November 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