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

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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

ImagiNations Mapped

Please note: Tony Adams’ map of his ImagiNations world Tian is copyrighted. I have taken a screenshot, very tiny here, to give you an idea how professional this looks and showcase his blog.

I love a good map on a blog or in a book. I noticed this beautiful map on Tony Adams’ The Woodscrew Miniature Army blog. He has been writing recently about his reimagined Earth in the form of his ImagiNations world Tian.

Please note his map is personal and copyright and not to be used or published without his permission.

It was made for Tony by a professional cartographer, Greg Shipp of Lost in Maps, prepared from Tony’s sketches. https://www.lostinmaps.co.uk/

Screenshot from Greg Shipp’s website Lost in Maps.

Tony has been setting out in print over several blog posts the background to his reimagined version of the world for his ImagiNations.

One of the interesting points he made is that his reimagined world and its armies c. the Eighteen Nineties has only coal and therefore steam power, but no reserves of oil or petroleum. So effectively, what some others would call ‘steam punk’.

As Tony says in his first Tian related post on Thursday 5th March 2020:

“In most respects my planet has evolved in the same way as  Earth and has now reached the equivalent of the 1890’s on Earth. At this time however, progress has slowed in some areas. My planet’s development is firmly harnessed to the horse and steam train as the only forms of transportation and apart from the very earliest experiments in coal fired steam generation of electricity, the future holds no prospect of an Earth like oil based revolution.

Small quantities of oil for lubrication purposes and a little gas are becoming available as by products from steaming of coal for the production of coke for iron smelting but these are still very infant technologies. However, radio technology has advanced a little faster than on Earth and is at a level similar to that on Earth in 1918. In addition the telephone and telegraph are in widespread use and general industrial capabilities are very close to those on earth in the 1890s.”

Fascinating.

I first came across Tony Adams when I found his blog about his Miniature Woodscrew Army, inspired by an article in Miniature Warfare in 1969. Tony then kindly sent me some vintage Airfix 1960s figures that he had spare, as he is not currently wargaming. Some of these repainted and rebased figures have featured on this blog such as https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2019/08/28/adamstown-or-angria-vintage-airfix-acw-repaired/

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

Tony’s blog and book reviews (often about military logistics) are worth dropping in on from time to time. I’m sure Tony would welcome people’s comments:

https://thewoodscrewminiaturearmy.blogspot.com/?wref=bif

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 29th March 2020

Adamstown or Angria? Vintage Airfix ACW Repaired

The kind gift by Tony Adams of a bag of Airfix OO/HO figures from the 1960s has pushed aside a few other units of the painting table (poor old Peter Laings).

To make space for more units of the Miniature Wood Screw Army, Tony sent me a mixed bag of bashed and sometimes damaged 1960s Airfix plastic https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2019/08/02/a-1960s-airfix-owl-pellet/

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Penny based, before repainting and flocking 

I was intrigued by some of the colour schemes and set about repairing some of the American Civil War figures first. Hats of reddy brown, yellow and blue as painted by Tony many years ago were kept, refreshed or patched where needed. On a ragtag Confederate Unit, who would notice a bit of patching?

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Flying the old Confederate flag, the Adamstown Volunteers.
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A ragged firing line … in many senses of the word.

I had in mind a scratch unit that could be Confederates but with a different sunrise flag could pass as Angrian units in my ImagiNations refighting of the Bronte ImagiNations of Glass Town, Angria and Gondal. https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/gaming-the-bronte-family-imaginations-of-glasstown-angria-gondal-and-gaaldine/

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Angria Arise! The Rising Sun banner transforms these Confederates into 1830s and 1840s Bronte ImagiNations  scruffy  Angrian infantry.
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Tony Adams’ original paint colours of yellow and red-brown hats is mirrored in the colours of the Angrian National Flag, according to the Brontes.

A mixture of penny bases and square mounting card was used. I started mounting them on pennies as part of an email chat with Tony about Flocking and Basing then remembered looking at the Battle of Pine Ridge ACW Skirmish that all my other vintage Airfix were on card: https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2017/07/23/airfix-acw-battle-of-pine-ridge-river-crossing/

I had run out of pennies anyway.

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The mixture of penny and square bases is not too noticeable. Neither is the Southern ragtag mix of red, yellow, blue, grey shades of hats and uniform.
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Smart ‘Blue and White’ ImagiNations 19th Century troops. Airfix ACW Union infantry, rifles repaired. First version French Foreign Legion Officer.  The nucleus of a new Regiment.
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A range of 1960s First version Airfix,  based and basic painted – work in progress.  1 and 2 Afrika Korps, US Marines 3, hat amendment to Eighth Army  officer 4, Infantry Combat  Group officer, German Infantry officer or mini Hitler, RAF Kit crew.

So there we have some new life breathed into some old figures, along with a few repaired rifles. I bet they thought in their tiny increasingly fragile plastic heads that their fighting days were over forever.

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The spare Foreign Legion and Japanese in the box and that I have stashed away could well become more Zouaves or Militia,
https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2017/07/16/confused-by-zouaves-some-airfix-acw-paint-conversions/

although in my mind they might be needed as ‘Japanese’ as I have ideas for an updated Gondal or Gaaldine type Bronte ImagiNations Pacific based island which is invaded by Japanese style troops 100 years after the Bronte’s  1830s / 1840s ImagiNation settings. A chance to use my spare Airfix first version Eighth Army figures as defenders (they are wearing shorts – perfect for the tropics) or use the ACW figures above as the Island militia.

I have more vintage Airfix ACW from a previous tin gift and ‘blue box’ charity shop finds to paint and add. Packaging I remember as an Airfix child.
https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2017/09/08/vintage-airfix-tin-hoard/
https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2017/09/16/another-vintage-airfix-hoard/

Not sure which side or nation these hoard figures  will eventually represent.

The duel flag system works well. For the cost of one figure, you get a whole new unit or regiment.

More vintage Airfix nostalgia posts on the way in a bashed old 1982 Airfix catalogue that I kept.

Posted by Mark, Man of TIN, 28 August 2019.

A 1960s Airfix Owl Pellet …

IMG_1144IMG_1145IMG_1146IMG_1158Chatting by email to Tony Adams of the Miniature Wood Screw Army blog, he mentioned passing on a few Airfix figures that he no longer needed. I little expected an A4 jiffybag to arrive a few days later full of unwanted 1960s version 1 Airfix figures.

I find it interesting to see the mix and the range of paint schemes when buying the odd job lot of figures or seeing the OBEs on Hugh Walter’s Small Scale World.

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An Airfix timeline 1960 to about 1966 along with RAF kit figures c. 1969

This lovely gift was heavy on version 1 Afrika Korps but had an interesting early 1960s mix from the Guards Colour Party 1959/60 through to the First World War.

In Plastic archaeology terms this was a short stretch of time from Guards Colour Party (1960) to WW1 figures (1966), as the Version 1 figures were replaced from 1972. The version 1 Airfix figures are those used in Donald Featherstone’s WW2 game in his first book War Games 1962.

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Left version 1 Germans and strange egg box fortifications in Terry Wise,  Introduction to Battle Gaming (1969/72) and right, Donald Featherstone War Games (1962).

The beautiful paperback Airfix’s Little Soldiers (2010) by Jean-Christophe Carbonel has a useful Year by Year chronology of Airfix HO/OO figures. A book well worth getting for the pictures of the figures and their packaging alone.

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Version 1 Airfix replaced by Version 2 Chronology

(based on Plastic Soldier Review and Small Scale World Airfix figure listings)

1960 Infantry Combat Group (British Infantry) replaced 1973

1961 WW2 German Infantry replaced 1974

1962 British 8th Army replaced 1974

1962 Afrika Korps replaced 1973

1962 French Foreign Legion replaced 1970-72?

1963 US Marines replaced 1979

The American Civil War figures were all produced in 1962 and the slender and versatile Russian and Japanese infantry in 1964 before the shift to slightly larger figures such as the WW1 figures which appeared in 1966. The Chunky British Paras appeared in 1965.

These larger or version 2 figures are the ones still available from Airfix over 40 to 50 years later on their sporadic reissue as Vintage Classics. https://www.airfix.com/uk-en/shop/figures.html

I wonder what was behind the change from the charming version 1 figures? Version 2 figures are often a scaled down (pantographed) small version of the equivelant 1:32 poses. Was it a change in technology or different sculptor?

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Jean-Christophe Carbonel,  Airfix’s Small Soldiers (2010)

Were the Version 1 figures deemed too crude or small by emerging metal figure and kit standards? Jean-Christophe Carbonel in Airfix’s Small Soldiers suggested that John Niblett sculpted lots of the Airfix HO/OO and 1:32 figures for  Airfix until 1974 when Ron Cameron  took over, Ron having also sculpted figures for Matchbox. Hopefully someone can tell me more.

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http://www.plasticsoldierreview.com/ManufacturerList.aspx?id=3

By the time my pocket money was being spent on Airfix kits and figures in the early to mid 1970s, it was mostly the chunkier or more detailed Version 2 that was available. The same slender and smaller to chunkier and bigger figure shift can be seen in the Airfix platform and railway figures still available in hard plastic from Dapol. Was it a HO/OO scale issue trying to resolve the 1:72 / 1:76 thing?

Sadly figures of this age, condition and style are not accorded much value.  Some of these charming Version 1 smaller figures that were my quiet childhood favourites are beginning to crumble now. Usually it’s just lost rifle ends but occasionally heads, arms and bases. These can be carefully repaired or replaced. I wish someone would recreate or recast the Version 1 figures in metal as vintage gaming figures.

One of the attractive features of someone else’s playbox are the mysteriously painted or coloured figures from past battles with their now cryptic base markings and uniform colours. I like these OBE figures on Hugh Walter’s Small Scale World, for example the Afrika Korps http://airfixfigs.blogspot.com/2010/06/1962-wwii-afrika-korps-1st-type-s11-hooo.html

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Amongst the figures were some odd ones with slightly unusual hats that I take to be from their harder plastic and dark green colour to be Hong Kong copies.

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From the new arrivals HK Copies or Airfix originals? Some have almost miners hats or bowler hats.

There were some recognisable Airfix kit vehicle crews such as Bren crews (1964)  and cut down Afrika Korps version 1 figures,  amongst some unusual and very versatile hard plastic German seated troops. Manufacturer identified by Tony Adams (see comments)  as Airfix kit crew for the half track towing the 88mm gun (1967). At around 60 seated infantry and 15 drivers, that’s a lot of half track kits !  A seated platoon  may possibly be created.

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It was interesting to see the change in size from Airfix version 1 to the larger Airfix Version 2 style, whilst also  amongst Tony Adams’ figures were some larger pirate copies of other figures, seen here next to one of my Pound Store equivalent 32mm figures.

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Version 1 through larger Airfix 1:72 figures through Crescent copies to a modern Pound Store 32mm figure.

There were also some larger Hong Kong copies of Lilliput style Herald Britain’s 1958 1:72 or 54mm Herald 1953/54 Modern Infantry or Crescent 54mm Eighth Army figures.

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Flashy 25mm Hong Kong copies of Crescent 54mm Eighth Army c. 1960 plastics

I have a battered few of these Crescent 54mm Desert Rats, seen here in better condition set on Barney Brown’s Herald Miniatures website (archive pages).

http://www.heraldtoysandmodels.co.uk/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=128&products_id=2732

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Archive sold section  screenshot from Barney Brown’s Herald Toys  shop

Those familiar and classic Britains Herald plastic ‘British’ Modern infantry in 54mm (1953/4) were also briefly issued in 1957/8 as 1:72 figures, similar to the Britain’s Lilliput Range. These tiny figures  weren’t issued for long, but long enough to be pirated in Hong Kong.

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Those four delightful words of childhood pocket money  joy – ‘Made in Hong Kong’

So the best of these figures will be repaired, painted up and penny based for Future Featherstone vintage nostalgia ‘War Games’  1962.

With a bewildering variety of scale and figure choice today, harking back to the restricted pocket money choices of the Sixties child or adult gamer of my youth has some Featherstone War Games (1962)  charms.

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These figures have some unusual paint schemes, probably making the most of the figures in hand, along with cryptographic colour markings on the base that only Tony Adams would understand. Look at his Miniature Woodscrew Army and you will see similar hat, base and body markings for different branches of the armed forces still.

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Thanks Tony, for sending these and the pleasant evening sorting through this Airfix Owl Pellet of the Sixties gamer into a Really Useful Box tray for future games inspiration.

Blog posted by Mark , Man of TIN, child of the 1970s nostalgic for version 1 Airfix, 2 August 2019.

B.P.S. Blog Post Script

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The first figures repaired and put on penny bases. Have run out of spare pennies for now …

The Legendary Wood Screw Miniature Army of Tony Adams

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Scratchbuilt limbers and bowsers to accompany Tony Adam’s  woodscrew army 

Crossposted from my sister blog – enjoy!

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2019/07/19/design-ideas-from-the-legendary-woodscrew-wargames-army/