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.
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.
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.
The Plastic Soldier Review for this set is here:
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