Unboxing the Blue Box of 1980s gaming figures time capsule – parts 1 to 3

If you missed any parts, here are links to all three posts about my Unboxing my Blue Box of drawers, my ‘bits and bobs’ box of 1980s figures that I unpacked, explored and sometimes finished off this week.

What lead mountains, unfinished projects, forgotten boxes or stockpiles of your own figures have you raided over these Lockdown weeks?

Part 1 – 1/300, hair-rollers and other scales and the background to these posts:

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2020/04/08/unboxing-my-nineteen-eighties-figures-box-part-1/

Random 1/300 Ancients from Heroics and Ros

And Moderns – some Platoon 20 Falklands era 20mm metal samples

Part 2: mostly 1/300 and plastic OOHO

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2020/04/10/unboxing-my-blue-box-of-1980s-figures-time-capsule-part-2/

Some of the random Airfix and Esci figures tucked away – great figures for an ImagiNations game?
Some random bits and bobs in the Blue Box such as this RSA First Boer War related stamp.

Minifigs 15mm British Colonial Infantry c. 1879, finally based & flocked after 35 years!

Part 3: Mostly 15mm Peter Laing and other 15mm figures.

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2020/04/11/unboxing-my-blue-box-of-1980s-gaming-figures-time-capsule-part-three/

Peter Laing 15mm ECW musketeers, again finally based after 35 years.

My Blue Box of drawers reminded me of Peter Laing’s casting room wall of drawers. Some of my figures could have come out of these marked boxes from these very photographs. F1, F2, F3 …

These are the vanished moulds … December 1982 Mil Mod interview

I remember that Peter Laing had walls of such drawer boxes to store his castings. This scan from this site saves me tracking down my copy of this December 1982 Mil Mod: http://www.deartonyblair.co.uk/2013/12/peter-laing-interview-from-1977.html

I was already buying from Peter by then so it was interesting to see the man behind the figures.

What were your favourite parts, figures or drawers in the Blue Box?

Already the White Company pikes are in place, a new unit finally finished after 35 years patient waiting for basing and arming. These will eventually join my other Laing ECW regiments in Really Useful Boxes. They are no longer ‘odds and ends’.

What next for the Blue Box figures?

The box’s contents should give me some dedicated “Blue Box days” painting or gaming with the limited resources that I have in the Box.

Some of the random solo figures may be “returned to unit” if more exist elsewhere, packed away in my collections.

With unlimited figures available online now, it is quite restrictively creative in a ‘Desert Island Discs’ scenario that this Blue Box is all that you have …

This used to be the same going on holiday as a child (and still today) where you can only take a really limited box of figures, so you had to choose very carefully!

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/06/07/portable-wargames-on-holiday/

The portable Wargames 1960s Airfix style in a tackle box (2016)

What if / Blue Box games?

What 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.

In an era of too much choice, I sometimes do this Time Machine thing with vintage Airfix games restricting the figures selection to those boxes available from 1959 to 1969.

What have I learned from several days rummaging through the Blue Box?

I have enjoyed sorting through the mixed figures, sample figures, lost figures, revisiting past projects begun and unfinished, sample figures. Some may have been long forgotten swaps. Sometimes I have no idea or memory why these painted figures were left unbased and unused.

It tells me I am still the easily distracted “Wargames Butterfly” that I was as a childhood or teenage gamer, who just likes collecting toy soldiers. Nothing much has changed.

Some of the junk bits and bobs have quite strong memories attached, from Owzthat dice to parts of long vanished 70s games or bits of houses like the old lead wiring cover strips from my childhood home that I planned to include in castings for my Dad.

Lovely flags! Peter Laing 15mm ECW Standard bearers who should be back with their regiments …

I still like, collect and use the Peter Laing 15mm figures that I eventually focussed on, choosing these above the odd 15mm Mike’s Model samples and for some reason (money?) never went with the 15mm or 25mm Minifigs.

The metal figures were part of the ‘eye candy’ temptation of what I was seeing in the wargames and modelling magazines. Outside of Featherstone books, ‘grown up gamers’ in magazines didn’t seem to use plastic figures. Plastic figures were for kids.

The Platoon 20 metal 20mm “Moderns” samples were good but expensive compared to similar Airfix, Matchbox, Atlantic or Esci plastic figure. That us, if you could find them in stock at the time. I still like and still use these plastic figures.

Early to mid 80s Esci Colonials

There was obviously in the early to mid 1980s a lot of distracting new figures, scales and ranges around to explore and choose from, ranging from tiny 1/300 to 54mm figures. Nowadays there is even more distractions and choice …

1/300 offered such a lot of figures for such a little amount of money. Such a lot of little figures. 1/300 were maybe too tiny for the skirmish level small group or individual figure games that I enjoyed then and still do now. The simple Featherstone War Games 1962 rules and Close Wars appendix still does nicely for me!

What is missing in the Blue Box is much trace of 54mm figures and 54mm gaming. Thankfully a representative sample of some of these original heroic plastic figures from my childhood have survived, despite paring down and house moves, in a separate metal engineers suitcase. For obvious ‘safety’ reasons, Lead 54mm and home casts were just not around in the shops and toy boxes of my childhood, metal 54mm meant Britain’s Deetail with metal bases.

Make Do and Mend

It all fits very well into Ann Wycoff’s Immaterium Challenge for April 2020 of “Painting what you already own”, perfect for exploring what you already have stockpiled for such lockdown situations. https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2020/04/05/anns-immaterium-painting-challenge-april-2020/

I shall explore some more boxes over the coming weeks.

Mark Man of TIN April 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

TSAF Toy Soldier Air Force

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Thanks to the quickly passed plastic  craze of Moshi Monsters, I have now acquired two interesting hybrid fighter bombers. Perfect for any Imagi-Nations Air forces.

They were sourced through my family for free or a few pounds online. They are roughly suitable for 54mm or 1:32 figures, arguably the only true scale for H.G. Wells Big “Little Wars”.

This was how they arrived, in their original Moshi Monster Super Moshi character forms of Katsuma and Poppet, little Heli Moshi Monster  which cleverly transforms into part of the propellor and engine.

These planes are hybrids, garishly coloured with their  pink countershading (female Super Moshi Poppet character) and orange paint scheme (Male cat Super Moshi character Katzuma). I recognise bits of different WW2 aircraft moshed, morphed or mashed together to make this generic hybrid.

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Those Super Moshi hybrid aeroplanes in a screen shot of the Super Moshi music video (c/o Youtube / moshimonsters.com)

I especially like the orange bulbous nosed “Shark Teeth” fighter, originally belonging to SuperMoshi Katsuma.

Light machine gun armament  from a pound store / Tim Mee type modern toy plastic soldier in Blue Army uniform.

How our wartime photographer pictured these magnificent men …

I looked through a cheap modern reprint of another old childhood branch library  Blandford favourite, Fighters 1939-1945 by Kenneth Munson, to see if I could find the Moshi Monster plane’s forebears.

Grumman Hellcat? Tomahawk with the shark teeth motif? Bulbous Brewster Buffalo, one of my odder childhood aircraft models?

My naval grandfather may have recognised the type. He served on various Royal Navy aircraft carriers during the Pacific /  SE Asia naval campaigns including the Kamikaze raids on carriers.

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Small snaps in my Royal Navy grandad’s WW2 album that may have been taken by him or the ship’s photographer. Stamped on the Reverse by Censor: “Not Suitable for Transmission Through The Post”.  Written on the back – “Corsair Fighter” (bottom left)  and top left “Port Suez”  with aircraft wings stowed. Note RAF Roundels. 

His photo album shows similar carrier based planes but with fold up wings to stow neatly above and  below decks.

The shark teeth and eye motif of the Curtis P40 Tomahawk

I would be surprised if you recognised the pilot of the orange aircraft but you might have seen part of him on the blog a few months back amongst the metal detectorist’s toy soldier finds.

Here is how he looks now with a charming Dorset Soldiers recast Pilot head. A hint of Dastardly and Muttly here? Maybe a bullet-holed flying scarf might be required.

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Here is how he appeared amongst the toy soldier finds:

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Third from top left, our pilot’s arms and body. Bottom right, this fragment is also a pilot figure, not yet fully restored.

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2018/05/20/recalled-to-the-colours-54mm-metal-detectorists-toy-soldier-finds-restored-to-fighting-condition

Some Ground Crew

The  Johillco running pilots in civilian or technician white flying overalls and also khaki flight suits will eventually be joined by some ground crew. Somewhere I have a mould to homecast more RAF Regiment ground crew and also a Britain’s WAAF amongst others to add to the Toy Soldier Air Force at some point.

Army Red and Army Blue will get one plane each, after some removal of some stickers (the shark teeth, eye and katsuma stickers will stay!) There will also be some paint  adjustments to their desert orange or desert pink camouflage schemes, such as lighter bellies as part of aircraft countershading.

Johillco running Pilot, Britain’s RAF fire crew, modern metal  Britain’s British and US Navy crew (D-Day 1944 commemorative set?), Johillco air crew in donkey jacket, Home cast RAF Regiment, Britain’s RAF Regiment, Johillco running Pilot.
Rear view of the Air Force and Navy figures including handy slung tin hat on the sixth Home-cast figure, who can also be painted a# Home Guard or Army in Khaki.

Interestingly these navy and aircrew figures link into both sides of my family with a Naval grandfather who served on aircraft carriers and an RAF ground crew Grandfather, both of whom had passed away before I was born.

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/07/20/fathers-day-raf-firefighter/

Not quite sure how these aircraft will fit into the 54mm outdoor or indoor games. Defending the airbase will be one scenario.  I currently have no rules for aircraft, but I’m sure F.E. Perry’s First and Second Book of Wargaming and Featherstone’s Air Wargames Books may have some clues. Not quite sure what sort of ground spike or stand will be needed yet for a mix of garden and floor / tabletop use.

Little Air Wars?

If I encounter another Moshi aeroplane at good price, the next one gets turned into a “string bag” Biplane, even more suitable for H.G. Wells Edwardian / WW1  era  Little Wars. He missed including military biplanes in Little Wars by a few years.

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One very “Happy Meal” at Macdonalds when The Peanuts Movie came out …

Meanwhile the Aerial Menace of my floor and garden is added to by my favourite (toy) pilot of all time – well worth watching the recent Peanuts movie for the dogfight scenes against the Red Baron.

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A dubious ground crew on this surprising ESCI product, an Italian company not just good for plastic toy soldiers.

Some great 1983 packaging too!

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Love the  machine gun hole damage to the fuselage! Good Grief!

Chocks Away! Bandits at 5 o’clock! Tally Ho! Blam blam blam etc.

and finally … here is the original Super Moshi March music video on YouTube.An

Blog posted by Mark, Man of TIN 6 July 2018.