Airfix OOHO British Paratroops – Chubsters?

More of my childhood Airfix Veterans painted and based for the first time.

These OOHO Paratroopers’ figures Set S23 were first produced in 1965, sculpted by John Niblett who produced many of the slender first version Airfix figures.

Some of these “bunch of chubsters“, as Gary Cumston light-heartedly called these figures on this Facebook group (below), have fought bravely in my boyhood battles since the mid 1970s, but oddly never got painted. Maybe their useful khaki green plastic handily required no painting?

They were indeed tall “chubsters”, compared to the slender Version 1 Airfix infantry figures that preceded them.

The third figure was a random one from Ken or Tony that appears to have been slightly melted or modified (to standing firing?) I think I may paint and finish this as an umbrella to represent an officer figure like Major Digby Tatham-Warter the famously eccentric Parachute officer at Arnhem who carried one. Experimental Scrim on his helmet.

Parachute regiments were usually made up of men from many regiments and sources. The same is true of my Airfix Figures. These are mostly the green colour 1970s ones but some brown 1990s Playset Coastal Fort / Gun Emplacment ones crept in. (Why make them in brown?)

Now my childhood elite veterans have been joined by a few 1960s/70s figures from Tony Adams and my former work colleague and friend Ken from his 1960s/70s tin of Airfix. Their figures are suitably coded with initials under the base.

To consider this chubster question, what better than to look closely at the figures, whilst painting up and basing some of these veterans?

I checked that I had all the figures and equipment from the Airfix British Paratroopers section of Plastic Soldier Review (which is largely unimpressed by this set) http://www.plasticsoldierreview.com/Review.aspx?id=418

Yes I know it’s a Bazooka rather than a PIAT. Support weapons mounted singly except mortar team vignette. Scrim helmet experiments (see later in post).

*** Digital camera or iPad photos do tend to show up forgotten or unpainted chin straps, mouldlines and flash etc but I have to remind myself that on the games table, you are seeing them at a distance. These are old figures / moulds too. ***

A few figures and fine fiddly bits were missing from my childhood originals including the two part mortar and base, the officer checking his watch with his “whatever” hand signal and the two deflated parachutes. I searched around and added these from my unused brown plastic 1990s play set figures, many of which were still on the sprue.

There are some surprising details to paint on these rather generic allied Paratroops like the ‘monkey’s tail’ tailpiece or crutch strap, that ran from back to front to button up the smock tight whilst parachuting.

The famous drop canister and associated vignette figure.

Illustrations – Airfix boxes 1970s OOHO called generic ‘Paratroopers’ – with a US Airborne look on the left? – in this still used artwork by Brian Knight. Source image: Plastic Soldier Review.

The box art illustration by Airfix artist William Champion from the second version British Paratroops 1:32 boxes (shown in Denison smocks below) – still in use 2021.

Where can I get some?

WW2 Airfix OOHO or 1:72 figures seem to go in and out of production, as the British Paratroopers currently are (summer 2021). Recent releases of the Paras up to Red Box packaging style (2012) onwards are still around online for much the same price as the OOHO figure selection currently on Airfix.com

Airfix 1:32 British Paratroops are being re-released late summer 2021.

As a young gamer borrowing this book from the branch library service I felt included in the adult world of gaming because Donald Featherstone used Airfix figures: Appendix 3 Wargaming Airborne Operations – basic Airfix paint style shown.

Painting my Paras at last

I had intended at first to do my usual childhood ‘Airfix basics’ simple painting of black boots, flesh faces and weapon colours.

Usually I use Khaki Afrikabraun for faces as it is not quite so pink and bright pale as flesh paints usually are.

Once I had painted in packs, gaiters and webbing in Khaki (Afrikabraun Matt in Revell Acrylic Aquacolor), it became necessary to use Flesh for the faces toned down with a hint of khaki or green. Any other webbing colour from the paints that I had available and had tried was too grey. I hadn’t considered using any washes at this point.

Afrikabraun – gaiters, webbing pouches and haversack

Tar Black – for boots and weapons

Leather Brown – for hair and wooden parts of weapons

Silver and black mixed for gun metal and grenades

Dark Green – for helmets

Shade and Wash?

Having done the old Airfix figure basic colours, I thought I would try some Citadel shade wash to pick out the detail and shadows of pouches, clothes and faces. I used a Christmas gift from the family last Christmas of Citadel Shade Athonian Camoshade (dark green) and Agrax Earthshade (brown). Nuln Oil (black) was generally too dark.

Shades of Denison?

Flocking and Basing (F and B)

MDF 1p Penny bases from Warbases were used for individual figures, Tuppeny 2p MDF for lying down figures and support weapons.

Apart from lying figures, figures were glued with UHU onto these 1p bases before painting started. It makes them generally easier to paint.

The flock used was a mixture of several Woodland Scenics flock types, some Jacklex packing sawdust, fine beach sand and beach micro-gravel (gathered from beach trips).

PVA Glue mixed with brown and green craft acrylic was placed by cocktail stick onto the Airfix figure base and MDF penny base before burying them in flock in a small tray.

A little later, the figure bases were buried in a tub of the fine beach sand and micro-gravel.

Trusty old Preben Kannik 1968 Military Uniforms of the World in Colour (Blandford)

Uniform Research – Denison Smocks

Some online sources, painted sample figures in ads and book illustrations show quite garish bright washes of brown cream and green for camouflaged Denison smocks.

Initially I did not even intend to paint the green sections of these already khaki green plastic figures, unless they required this like Tony Adams’ grey painted figures or the 1990s Brown issue Airfix OOHO Paratroops.

Once I had done the green or brown wash, I thought this might suffice.

However, having done the Citadel wash which seems at first to add a shine on matt colours, I went back and spent some time adding brush shade mixes onto the Airfix plastic green base colour of Olive (dark) Green and Dark Earth (brown) Revell Acrylics.

Whilst I did this, I listened for the first time to the DVD Special Features film makers’ commentary by “special effects, designers, cinematographers and film production staff” on my trusty A Bridge Too Far DVD.

After I had done this and it had dried, I couldn’t easily tell what I had done, which is hopefully the opposite of garish.

Early Denison smocks were supposed to slowly fade and the colours wash out.

These familiar Airfix Para figures seem to hold up well enough for me for gaming, especially considering that these figures that are almost 60 years old. Their modern equivalents are probably these 28mm Warlord Games Paras or any other plastic 1:72 / 1:76 British Paras you can find.

How do they paint Denison camouflage jacket ‘brush strokes’ this tiny? 28mm figures.
Three Esci hard plastic Red Devil’s that I painted in Denison camouflage c. 1982, next to a recently painted Airfix paratroop signaller, probably trying to get those radios to work.

A Bridge Too Far 1977 quote: Anthony Hopkins as John Frost: “D’you know something’s just occurred to me. We’re wearing the wrong sort of camouflage … all very well for the countryside but I doubt if it’s going to fool anyone in the town …”

Screen shot from YouTube clips of A Bridge Too Far. Chicken in a backpack mascot optional.

To Scrim or Not Too Scrim?

I watched an interesting YouTube video on helmet scrim using finely cut up bandages https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=vdj1a8Irgu4&feature=youtu.be

I tried this out but found my old time-expired bandages, once cut up were more like cotton fluff plastic than cloth, so I only did one trial figure in this style. I then trimmed a few millimetres of edging from a green gaming cloth, which had more of a weave to it and the benefit of green shade colours. I tried this finely chopped material out on a damaged figure and a few lying figures.

Green cloth scrim on No. 1, bandage scrim on No.2 and none on No. 3

To Scrim or Not to Scrim and how?

Scrim Plus point: It does hide the unfortunate mould rim line or dent across across the top of the helmet.

Scrim Minus point: Many of the archive pictures that I looked at did not show British Paratroops with helmet scrim net or a leafy head scrim.

I want these figures to be as versatile for (ImagiNations) gaming in different theatres as possible, although generally on grass flocked bases.

What do you think?

*

Casualties without a base are now mounted as standing figures to make more grenade throwers or weapons crew.

Essential Reading Matter

Wargaming Airborne Operations by Donald Featherstone (1977) – same period as A Bridge Too Far film. The appendix sections show Airfix publicity shot pictures of the new German Paratroops OOHO and German Mountain Troops, along with OOHO British Paratroopers with minimal painting style.

In the game photographs, it shows that generally Featherstone barely painted his British Paras, or the newly released 1974-76 issues of Australian, US Paratroop, German Paratroop or Mountain Troop Airfix figures.

By chance, timely figures or the stimulus for producing this book?

Representative sample page of Wargaming Airborne Operations showing Featherstone’s simple figure painting style and functional games table. I found this achievable approach inspiring as a young gamer. Atlantic and Airfix figures, handmade, charred and melted urban terrain pieces …

Interestingly he also hadn’t added or updated to the Version 2 British Infantry or German Infantry, still using his Version 1 Infantry Combat Group and German Infantry from his WW2 game in War Games (1962) fifteen years earlier. Along with Matchbox US and German Infanty, he had surprisingly used Atlantic German and US Infantry in his games though instead.

A reprint by John Curry in the History of Wargaming project also includes Bob Cordery’s Tarred and Feathered grid update of Lionel Tarr and Donald Featherstone’s WW2 rules in War Games (1962).

Osprey Combat: British Paratrooper versus German Fallschirmjager (Mediterranean 1942-43)

A Bridge Too Far by Cornelius Ryan (extract) from True Stories of World War Two (Reader’s Digest). This thick hardback book of extracts was a welcome teenage Christmas or Birthday present from my parents.

Essential Viewing Matter

I chose A Bridge Too Far as my Desert Island one film challenge Duchy of Tradgardland blog post that has most introduced my gaming:

“Hard to choose from the raft of westerns and 50s/60s war films and Battle Victor comics etc, the Zulu, Waterloo films mentioned. Probably ‘A Bridge Too Far‘ from its plan of ops beginning, suggested flaws before the gliders launch, its series of plucky little character vignettes, unlucky blunders, plucky heroism, independent individual skirmish actions and IGO YUGO-ness (now the Allied side, now the German side). Obviously the same could be said of The Longest Day and Battle of the Bulge movies, all a bit mashed together in my head. This happened roughly around the same time as finding Donald Featherstone’s Airborne Wargaming book from the library.”

This film has its detractors https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Bridge_Too_Far_(film) but this broadly accurate film by producer Joseph Levine, scriptwriter William Goldman and director Richard Attenborough is a suitable memorial to many brave young men who died in this tragedy of human flaws in the planning and general bad luck.

Like Attenborough’s earlier film version of Oh What a Lovely War! and many late 1960s and 1970s war films, it is arguably / almost an anti-war film. (‘Discuss’. Film Studies 101).

These Para figures will one day grace the gaming table again as they did in my childhood and teenage games but probably not in a historical reenactment game.

Maybe in ImagiNations games as the First Angrian Parachute Brigade?

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 18 July 2021

WIP King’s Guard paint conversion of Vintage Airfix AWI British Grenadiers

The original few King’s Guard figures are based on unusual paint conversions of Airfix AWI British Grenadiers.

These were found as a handful of figures in a small hoard of random old Airfix figures from a local collectibles shop plastic bag over ten years ago.

This is how they arrived …

As they were when I emptied the random joblot bag … before paint retouching and rebasing. The officer is a conversion from an ACW officer.

The dozen or so original King’s Guard figures (both blue facings and a few green facings) needed bulking up in numbers to be any kind of effective unit on the gaming tabletop for a skirmish game.

Bottom left, a useful handful of British Grenadiers from Alan. The French Artillery are now painted up https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2021/06/13/wades-toy-soldier-artillery-from-vintage-airfix-ooho-french-artillery-imaginations/

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2021/06/04/imaginations-vintage-airfix-figures-1-black-and-gold-washingtons-army-tricorne-troops/

Fortunately, some Airfix ‘turncoats and mercenaries’ arrived from Alan at the Duchy of Tradgardland blog as Army surplus to current Tradgardland projects.

These Grenadier figures from Alan have been painted up to join or blend in with the battered original paint scheme.

Underneath on the Warbases penny MDF bases, I have inscribed with Steadtler fine liner CD/DVD permanent marker pens their origin and individual number.

DofT means Duchy of Tradgardland origin, along with other ‘bag originals’ marked as DH for another origin or KG (for King’s Guard).

Placeholder simple red flag for the King’s Guard, as red as those striking britches!

Reversed colour facings for the drummer.

The original handwritten biro markings beneath their original bases.

Inscribing ID numbers and origin initials on the bases means that I can

  • keep track of how many Airfix figures I have,
  • which are my original childhood ones
  • who or where the kind gifting of figures came from.

It also fits in well with Featherstone’s personalised wargaming chapter of his Solo Wargaming.

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 –

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2021/05/20/imaginations-obes-and-vintage-airfix-scrapings-from-someone-elses-toy-box/

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.

Welcome AWI Airfix surplus to join my ImagiNations recruits, a gift from Ian Dury …

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.

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2017/09/08/vintage-airfix-tin-hoard/

Washington’s Army from the early 1970s still on the sprue from my former colleague Ken. Thanks Ken.

I wonder – If Airfix rereleased them, would I buy many more? Do I have enough already for my small skirmish forces?

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN 5 July 2021

Wade’s Toy Soldier Artillery from vintage Airfix OOHO French Artillery ImagiNations

Inspiration for ImagiNations units comes from very odd and whimsical sources such as this slightly Sergeant Pepper ceramic toy soldier by Wade, glimpsed recently on Etsy.

Great moustache!

My starting materials would be these vintage Airfix French Napoleonics:

Napoleonic French Artillery (centre) posted for future service by the Duchy of Tradgardland

These were a gift of some battered Airfix OOHO French Napoleonic Artillery and other figures from Alan Gruber (The Duchy of Tradgardland blog).

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

And on a less beach background, this is how the figures look.

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.

A colourful ImagiNations unit to play with.

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN June 2021

Washington’s Army vintage Airfix OOHO paint conversions

Crossposted from my Pound Store Plastic Warriors blog –

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2021/06/04/imaginations-vintage-airfix-figures-1-black-and-gold-washingtons-army-tricorne-troops/

Strikingly colourful yellow and black paint conversions of the classic Airfix OOHO AWI Washington’s Army figures.

Such perfect figures for ImagiNations games. Enjoy!

More pictures at: https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2021/06/04/imaginations-vintage-airfix-figures-1-black-and-gold-washingtons-army-tricorne-troops/

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 4 / 5 June 2021

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

Final Flocking and Basing Done After Thirty Odd Years – some Airfix and Featherstone first versions

This weekend gone I have been “Flocking and Basing” version 1 Airfix figures from our 1960s family collection that I first painted back in the early to mid 1980s. Only a mere gap of 35 years or more to finish them off and get them back into gaming condition again!

Part of the joy of rediscovering what vintage Airfix was stored in my Flight Case was deciding to finish off painting and basing familiar figures from my childhood such as Version 1 Airfix troops.

Part of this week’s F and B – “Flocking and Basing” involved small painted groups of:

Infantry Combat Group version 1 – 1960 S3 (set 3) or British Infantry as Airfix magazine called them in 1960. Replaced by Version 2 in 1973

German Infantry version 1 – 1960 S5 (set 5)

US Marines version 1 – 1963 S16 (set 16)

Dates based on Plastic Soldier Review and J.C. Carbonel’s Airfix’s Little Soldiers.

These slight of stature Version 1 figures were sculpted from 1959-74 (according to Carbonel) by John Niblett. These stylish but small, and to some crude, 1960s figures were replaced by the Version 2 Airfix in the 1970s, sculpted by Niblett or Ron Cameron. These version 2 figures are the few WW1 and WW2 figures still available at Airfix.com https://uk.airfix.com/shop/figures

By the time I was buying Airfix figures with pocket money in the mid 70s, the older version 1 figures in our family collection had been replaced in the shops by Version 2.

As a result these older but by then unobtainable figures always held a bit of a fascination for me. They were my special elite troops and I preferred the older figures.

Today many of them are fragile and the original Airfix version 1 moulds are reported lost in the Airfix / Heller period. I think they have a certain charm that their replacement Version 2 figures often do not. I would happily buy the Version 1 figures recast in metal if they were available.

Here they are, after fifty years or more, Flocked And Based at last – honoured with modern Warbases 1 penny sized MDF bases and Flocking onto PVA glue and green / brown acrylic paint mixture.

First version German Infantry, US Marines and Infantry Combat Group

Miniature Hitler and his special weapons troops – version 1 German Infantry

Now fragile but flocked and based repaired version 1 US Marines
Medical and HQ staff – version 1 Infantry Combat Group 1961

Version 1 bayonet charge, mostly childhood / 1980s paintwork, now property based

‘Special forces’ 1960s uniform of black trousers and yellow helmet! Family paint job.

When I found Featherstone’s 1962 War Games for the first time, even though this was by then the 1973 seventh edition in our local library, the original photos by Ken Baker were still in use. I recognised the WW2 figures used as some of these curious and scarce version 1 Airfix figures we had in our collection at home.

I didn’t really understand at the time when and why they changed as I was then very young but I realised you couldn’t buy them in the shops anymore. They were all just our family Airfix figures to me.

These are the Version 1 type figures seen in Donald Featherstone’s WW2 sand-table game in War Games (1962), when these figures were still quite new and ‘revolutionary’ in their cheapness, availability and conversion potential.

I was curious to read about his use of the recently introduced Airfix kit Sherman tanks (1961) but making do with home made German Tiger looking tanks. The Sherman, Churchill and Panther tank kits from Airfix were available in 1961. The Tiger tank kits would not appear until 1964, the lorries and guns even later.

Worth noting though that by 1961/2, lots of useful OO HO railway buildings, the familiar houses and figures had been produced. The former Airfix railway range is still available from Dapol.

War Games 1962 and 1973

I have two copies or editions of War Games.

One is the well-thumbed and battered ex-library copy Seventh impression of 1973 that I would have borrowed as a child from my local Branch Library. I bought it along with Blandford colour uniform books when they oddly started selling off their older book stock in the late 1980s.

The other is more recently acquired, an affordable (scuffed up and well-battered) first impression or edition from 1962, missing its dust jacket.

The 1973 edition has a 1970 update or addition to Featherstone’s 1962 preface by one single, understated paragraph in a slightly finer, lighter font or typeface:

There are some interesting differences between the first 1962 and the 1973 version, not least the growing availability of Airfix figures that were set to revolutionise gaming.

New Airfix announced in War Games 1962 Appendix 1 Sources of Supply for Model Soldiers
Featherstone’s hopes for more Airfix promise here from War Games 1962:
Breaking news of new figures from my 1962 battered first edition War Games by Donald Featherstone – Chapter 2 ‘Model Soldiers for War Games’

It will be interesting in a future blog post to look at the other small changes to War Games 1962 and 1970/73 in this chapter on Model Soldiers such as the changing fortunes and suppliers of 54mm, 30mm and Flats. 15mm are not mentioned – Peter Laing’s 15 mm figures were still a year or two ahead in 1972 when Featherstone updated his preface in 1970.

Interesting to read that the Eighth Army and Afrika Korps were due to be released at time of writing in 1962. In the brief chapter on wargaming in his Tackle Model Soldiers This Way, he mentions Airfix German and British infantry and British 8th Army and German Afrika Korps.

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/10/15/featherstone-simple-ww2-rules/

I used my childhood Version 1 Desert War figures and commandos for my LRDG game early last year https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2020/01/18/desert-commando-raid-on-wadi-yu-min-1941/

By Featherstone’s 1970 / 1973 editions of War Games, Airfix’s range has expanded:

Airfix figures and recent Featherstone publications from my 1970/ 1973 battered seventh impression War Games by Donald Featherstone – Chapter 2 ‘Model Soldiers for War Games’.

Sadly by my second 1984 edition copy of his 1970 Battles with Model Soldiers, Airfix’s past historical range was listed in detail but it’s irregular availability and that of Atlantic was already sadly lamented.

This is probably why I am often still tempted to hoard Airfix figures when I see them in the shops …

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, seventies Airfix kid , 11/12 May 2021

Two by Two into the Metal Airfix Ark: The Case of the Metal Box

A few of the surviving figures, as I empty out and sort my old Airfix figures.

How did your childhood toy soldier collection survive, if at all?

How did you preserve your collection of childhood figures or how did they survive? By luck? By accident?

One reason that I can still play with some of my childhood family Airfix figures is this battered old flight case or engineer’s aluminium suitcase.

As far as I can remember the case was passed on to me by my late Dad. Having left home for college and work, the play things of my childhood were being packed up, sorted and some things reluctantly passed on.

Three of my surviving Airfix plastic preformed tanks, early 1980s painting. Figures “To Keep …”

The core of my Airfix OOHO and 1:32 figures survived in this suitcase, an Airfix toy soldier Ark.

It has lots of height so this was packed to the brim lid with bagged figures. This stout travel case has meant that this collection has survived several house moves since first leaving home.

Similarly the odd old 1970s battered biscuit tin has preserved a medley of such bagged childhood soldiers. Reopened, they have that familiar ‘plastic death’ chemical smell of ageing figures.

Two by Two …

I remember sitting at ‘home’ before the family final move from my childhood home in a sort of Noah’s Ark mode, sorting out who was to survive, who was to be set aside and who take their chances.

I chose one of each Airfix pose unpainted and some interesting painted ones from each Airfix set.

After that, any gaps were filled with more of my favourite veteran figures – all my 1:32 Airfix Italians, larger numbers of ImagiNations Japanese, my few Airfix Space Warriors and Airfix medieval Knights all survived, crammed in.

Some of the more useless mouths (boxed Airfix Modern Infantry, boxed 1980s Britain’s Super Deetail SAS / Marine / Paratroopers) that had no play history or emotional connection were set aside to sell on early eBay type sites.

I’m not sure what happened to most of the Matchbox 1:32 boxes of figures – probably mostly sold – but my few Atlantic OOHO and 1:32 figures survived.

Some of our 1960s and early 70s Airfix OOHO family figures were already brittle and beginning to crumble by then, so they were set aside during sorting and quickly sold, especially the scarce Waterloo ones. This was at a time when Airfix 1:32 and many of the OOHO figures had vanished again from the shops.

This core collection would survive, even when some of the surplus figures were sold.

This case was to put it fancifully my Seed Bank, my Lifeboat, my Ark or Gene Pool from which to rebuild my collection in future. A Touchstone or Portal …

Other Survivals

In early Lockdown, I have previously shown my 1980s blue box of varied and random spare figures. https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2020/04/13/unboxing-the-blue-box-of-1980s-gaming-figures-time-capsule-parts-1-to-3/

My small group of based 15mm Peter Laing ECW and medieval figures survived in a ‘carry case’ curious birthday present from the family, a converted 1970s/80s LP case with wooden trays, copied from an early 1980s Military Modelling or Miniature Wargames magazine. The wooden trays and figures have survived, the plastic and cardboard LP case has sadly not.

Having preserved a core of my collection in such a way, I am often fascinated by the odd mixed lots of other people’s plastic or hollowcast figures in an old tin that pop up on EBay. I have had such rusty old tins of mixed Airfix passed on to me by friends, workmates or fellow bloggers.

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2017/09/08/vintage-airfix-tin-hoard/

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

What I like about this metal box is that it has preserved early family ImagiNations sparse paintwork on figures with random selection of available matt and gloss Humbrol or Airfix paints.

Japanese figures with black hats and boots with red epaulettes?

It has also preserved samples of my own childhood and teenage efforts at Britain’s Deetail style or shiny toy soldier style painting on drab WW2 figures, minus the glossy varnish.

Another cardboard box in a loft held boxes of bits of 1970s and 1990s Airfix Playsets, tanks and figures crammed in – one to show another time.

Thankfully the communal family box of motley 1960s and 70s plastics, Herald and Britain’s knights, cowboys, indians, ceremonials and Guardsmen also survived in a box, along with a battered wooden Fort, having done play service for a time in the extended family.

Old plastic bags might not be the most recommended means of storage for plastic figures but it kept them all sorted until Really Useful Boxes came along and rebasing began.

Two by Two? Numbering the Airfix.

Having kept these figures safe, I am now number code labelling the bases of each of my surviving OO HO and 1:32 figures or rebasing them and labelling them before storing them in Really Useful Boxes.

One crammed metal case of bagged figures turns into a surprisingly large number of Really Useful Boxes and trays, not to be stored in the loft or garage to protect these ageing plastics from the extremes of heat. Some of them are now 50 to 60+ years old. Some of them are older than me!

Once done, I will know what I have got, what still sits on the sprue in my red box and blue box Airfix hoard and which are my original childhood figures. I am using a permanent marker Staedtler fineliner pen, the sort once used for marking DVDs CDRewriteables and CD-Roms. Remember them?

Have case, will travel again …

This metal case almost saw service again last March 2020, emptied out for the occasion, as it was how I planned to carry up by train to Woking a selection of my 54mm snowballing and Scouting Wide game figures and terrain for the Little Wars Revisited 54mm Games Day. The emerging Covid situation had other ideas on this occasion but maybe someday soon …

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2020/03/08/celebrating-international-womens-day-2020-but-sadly-im-not-taking-the-girl-scouts-to-woking-games-day-next-weekend/

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 7 May 2021

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

The late Donald Featherstone’s 102nd Birthday

Today would have been the late Donald Featherstone’s birthday, born 20 March 1918.

Happy Birthday Don! You changed lots of lives (of mostly men of a certain age).

To celebrate this year, I bought reprints through the History of Wargaming Project of two of Donald’s classic books that I had not read for years:

http://www.wargaming.co/recreation/details/dfcampaigns.htm

http://www.wargaming.co/recreation/details/dfadvanced.htm

Previously on Donald Featherstone’s birthday last year 2019:

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2019/03/20/donald-featherstones-birthday/

And how to celebrate his centenary or his birthday in 2018:

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2018/03/03/featherstone100-donald-featherstone-centenary-20-march-2018/

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2018/03/20/donald-featherstones-centenary/

This is how it all started for me as a boy with Don’s book from the branch library, the very copy that I bought when it was sold off.

Boyhood Airfix, boyhood copy of War Games … still have them. Picture from:

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2017/07/25/acw-battle-of-pine-ridge-vintage-airfix-full-game-write-up/

War Games being the source of my favourite rules, Featherstone’s simplest rules in its Appendix ‘Close Wars’:

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/06/09/close-little-wars-featherstones-simplest-rules/

Happy Birthday, Donald Featherstone.

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 20 March 2020.

Marlene Lilli visits the lonely NAK desert troops 1941

Marlene Lilli the famous singing star and “Forces Sweetheart” visits a lonely desert airstrip to cheer the lonely NAK NordAfrika Korps troops.

#FEMbruary 2020 – a chance to celebrate beleivable female gaming miniatures.

Marlene Lilli is a useful little platform figure from the Peco / Merit / Modelscene set 5201 Unpainted Army, Navy and Air Force personnel.
http://www.plasticsoldierreview.com/ShowFeature.aspx?id=107
5116 Army Personnel
https://peco-uk.com/collections/4mm-oo/products/army-personnel

Her visit to the troops was inspired by one of the latest song covers by one of my favourite bands Postmodern Jukebox. Previously featured on Man of TIN / Pound Store Plastic Warriors:

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2019/03/15/thinking-outside-the-postmodern-paintbox/

This is its first German language cover, the 1980s Nena song 99Luftballons or ’99 Red Balloons’. This is covered in a 1940s / 50s ¬†jazz vibes style in German by singer Aly Ryan.

The 1980s original song was released in both German and English.

Blogposted by Mark Man of TIN, 11 FEMbruary 2020. Enjoy!