I have kept the paintwork on any ‘new’ figures or any refreshed paint style very simple to match the original figures. No washes, no outlining straps and cross belts, and also no varnish (yet).
These early 1971 Airfix AWI figures have a surprising amount of detail to choose to paint or not to paint such as pigtails, powder horns, straps, turn backs, facings and buttons. Plastic Soldier Review are not so impressed by these vintage 1971 figures: http://www.plasticsoldierreview.com/Review.aspx?id=43
I wonder if one day the original painter of these “King’s Guard” figures will spot these figures online and recognise their handwriting and their handiwork?
Future vintage Airfix plans
There are several more colourful but undermanned ImagiNations units from the original plastic bag hoard who need reinforcements –
Recently Ian M. Dury my fellow Peter Laing collector posted the remains of a surplus box each of Airfix British Grenadiers and Washington’s Army to add to the colourful Rainbow ImagiNations figures. Thanks Ian. Ironically they will probably delay some Peter Laing figures on their journey across the painting table.
Naturally these are now marked up on the bases as ID, ready for future painting, along with a handful from Tony Adams (TA) and about half a box from former colleague Ken (KA) of Washington’s Army figures.
Having no intention of starting proper historical Napoleonic gaming, this gave me leave to experiment with colour and ImagiNations using these familiar vintage figures.
I searched and found some side and back views as well again from Etsy:
Although not exactly the same, the Wade figure having a longer tail coat and no gaiters, it gave me an idea of how to develop these spare random Artillery figures and a future use for any stray French shako troops that I might find whilst sorting.
The first attempt painting involved a multi racial unit but somehow the ones painted with darker skin tones worked better (Revell Aquacolor Acrylic Dark Earth colour).
An attempt at a flag colour. Blue sky, sandy beach?
One of my family said they thought the figures had a Caribbean look to the bright uniforms.
Equally they might suit the Bronte ImagiNations islands Gaaldine and Gondal set in the South or North Pacific.
Borrowed a couple of Esci French Napoleonic Artillery pieces that I painted in the 1980s
I have painted a few Airfix Waterloo Napoleonic French Infantry (including some chewed up or melted ones) from the same gift to join with firelock troops from the Napoleonic Artillery set.
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.
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
Updated July 2021 with Figure paint conversion pictures
A small colourful consignment of turncoats and mercenary troops, previously serving with the Duchy of Tradgardland, have been posted to new service here with various ImagiNations.
These familiar and classic Airfix OOHO figures from the 1970s will be perfect to bulk up the small numbers of the various colourful and random RainBow ImagiNations units featured on my Pound Store Plastic Warrior blog last week:
In the Pink! Just one group from an oddly coloured haul of vintage Airfix tricornes figures from a mixed bag from a seaside shop. Airfix OOHO Washington’s Army, AWI Britain Grenadiers redcoats and others, painted with great colourful abandon. Redcoats, Pink Coats, Purple Coats …
ImagiNations? Add in a bit of colourful window shopping on Etsy …
Alan Tradgardland Gruber’s post on Skirmish Kokoda Trail rules from Lone Warrior magazine reminded me of a failed experiment of mine last summer.
Maths was never one of my strongpoints.
I have often found that drawing hexagons that interlink well is not easy either.
I found this out about twenty years ago trying to plan some hexes to make a D & D style random terrain jungle path to suit Donald Featherstone’s Close Wars forest skirmish rules in the Appendix to his first War Games book (1962).
These simple rules call for impenetrable forests and dead ends to paths etc. as Natives track down Troops in the cluttered terrain on the tabletop terrain, mostly collected from the garden.
I discovered some interesting things.
Hexagons are not Octagons.
One of them has six sides.
I noticed too late that the toffee tin castle lid that I found at home, my sure-fire way to mark out rough draft cardboard hexagons, had on closer examination eight sides.
I was happily looking through the photo archive of original and DIY versions of Games Workshop’s Lost Patrol minigame (2000) on Board Games Geek. The game was reissued in a different form in 2016 and here is also a useful Skip the Rule book on YouTube video on the rules and tile placing in the 2016 re-release.
This difference between hexagons and octagons eventually explained why, as I tried to produce rough cardboard copy DIY version of the original tiles for Lost Patrol, that some curved path tiles and the ‘start’ clearing tile of six paths did not work for me. They did not copy across for some reason. It was admittedly quite late in the evening that I was roughing this out.
I wondered why it didn’t work.
One of my family pointed out that my cardboard tiles did not tessellate properly without square inserts. Hexagons should fit snugly together without gaps.
Featherstone’s Close Wars Appendix to his 1962 War Games that inspired my first hex attempts on tiny paper c. 1999 / 2000.
Maybe I would find the answer looking at my tiny flimsy paper hex versions from the year 2000?
Putting numbers on the paper hex tile edges meant that using a d6 dice roll could help to place the tiles for solo play at random. Throw one d6 for the connecting tile edge, another d6 for which of the newest tile sides is connected. And so your path randomly grows before the game or as you travel … d6 dice roll by d6 dice roll.
Fast forward to 2020: Late one evening a few weeks ago I decided to have another go at a random forest path of larger hex tiles.
I had been looking at the Solo Wargaming with Miniatures group on Facebook post on this attractive 3D DIY terrain hexes for Lost Patrol by Raymond Usher.
Obviously the attractive 3D terrain modelling would be more difficult to store than the original design of flat tiles but they looked very impressive.
Raymond Usher’s solo play ideas are very interesting including the random tile choosing tokens.
The interesting concealed enemy (originally ‘lurkers’) have the advantage that they can cross the jungle across country from tile to tile whereas troops need to stay on the paths, which are surrounded by impenetrable jungle forest.
The jungle grows around the troops and can even encircle them. Apparently it is very hard to survive and win in the original Lost Patrol game as the Marines.
The Lost Patrol type hex or octagon path could be easily adapted back from fantasy and futuristic sci-fi of “aliens and lurkers” back to other jungle encounters in colonial times, ImagiNations, Victorian and Interwar explorers or modern / WW2 jungle forces. This malicious forest has a strong fairy or folk tale feel to it.
The Original Lost Patrol rulesby Jake Thornton 2000
Useful starter rules from Games Workshop’s Lost Patrol 2000 version game design / rules by Jake Thornton – reprinted by Hulkskulker on Trove.net
Looking at Board Game Geek, now that the GW 2000 Lost Patrol original is no longer available at sensible prices, there are lots of interesting DIY variations that people have posted including using hex tiles from other games like this urban warfare futuristic game.
The Octagon and Hexagon thing aside, these tiles were ‘doodle relaxing’ to draw up as rough tile copies. They could hopefully pass for alien forests or earth jungles.
The original Lost Patrol had ensnaring Tangleweed tiles that you had to dice to escape from. I used ridged garden wire to create my own renamed ‘Snarewort’ tiles.
In the original 2000 Lost Patrol, lurking forces of spirits of the forest were represented by card markers, an idea which could be cheaply and easily adapted such as card markers for the forest Natives in Close Wars / French Indian Wars. Forest spirits? Spirit warriors or ghost soldiers (Thanks, Wargaming Pastor / Death Zapp! ) are another possibility. That’s why your troops should never camp on the old Indian burial ground …
The route out or victory and end condition for the troops is to make it to the crashed dropship and retrieve documents. They do not have to fight their way back anywhere in the original. Presumably they get zoomed somehow out of the situation.
Again the lure or target such as the ‘drop ship’ plans could be adapted to period – a rescue mission, rescuing plans or vital maps and secret documents from a lost wagon or appropriate era vehicle. Explorer figures would have to find the Jungle Temple artefact Indiana Jones style etc.
Like the random path, where will this idea go?
Who knows? I could add or insert 3D jungle elements to the square spacer tiles but again this is a challenge for storage.
First off, I will explore Raymond Usher’s solo wrgaming ideas, read through the original and simplify it to my level.
If it doesn’t work it has cost only cardboard, paint, some ink and some time. I will have relearnt again some basic geometry. Hexagons. octagons. One of these has six sides.
Watch this space.
Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN August 2020 / 12 February 2021
A World War I British Army patrol is crossing the Mesopotomian desert when their commanding officer, the only one who knows their destination [and mission] is killed by the bullet of unseen bandits. The patrol’s sergeant keeps them heading north on the assumption that they will hit their brigade. They stop for the night at an oasis and awake the next morning to find their horses stolen, their sentry dead, the oasis surrounded and survival difficult.
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?
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.
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.
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:
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!
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.
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.
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.