About Me

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No Fixed Abode, Home Counties, United Kingdom
I’m a 56-year-old Aspergic CAD-Monkey. Sardonic, cynical and with the political leanings of a social reformer, I’m also a toy and model figure collector, particularly interested in the history of plastics and plastic toys. Other interests are history, current affairs, modern art, and architecture, gardening and natural history. I love plain chocolate, fireworks and trees but I don’t hug them, I do hug kittens. I hate ignorance, when it can be avoided, so I hate the 'educational' establishment and pity the millions they’ve failed with teaching-to-test and rote 'learning' and I hate the short-sighted stupidity of the entire ruling/industrial elite, with their planet destroying fascism and added “buy-one-get-one-free”. I also have no time for fools and little time for the false crap we're all supposed to pretend we haven't noticed, or the games we're supposed to play. I will 'bite the hand that feeds' to remind it why it feeds.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

1968; [WWII] British Commados (1st/4th Versions), S32 / 1732 / 01732 / 01732-3 / A01732 - HO/OO / 1:72

From the first time I saw these (a mate's big brother's Pontoon Bridge assault set), I thought they were a pretty poor set, it's all down to the head gear...what are they wearing on their heads? It's supposed to be the sealed woolly tube or "Cap, Comforter, Helmet-lining - for the use of", issued to most troops as some point and was more commonly used as a scarf - the predecessor of the face-veil - but looks more like the little pill-box hat still worn by several commonwealth armies/units or Gurkha soldiers on parade. Face veils were also issued in WWII, from 1942, mostly to airborne troops in a green with brown-blob overprint.

The poses were also rather lack-lustre, while the boat is really nice, and the carriers could be employed to carry the boat (either way up!) or a ladder (...or two!), but the other poses? The officer looks like he can't be bothered to fire his Webley, the wounded guy looks as if he's just remembered he left the gas on, The grapple-thrower could be playing magnetic-fishing (and clearly isn't under fire or stress of any kind!) and most of the other poses seem to be being forced to dance by the Tommy-gunner! Just...not nice...

Once the - much better - replacement set's mould had been scrapped by idiots in France, the new parents of the old mould then added insult to injury by re-producing the awful poses...in an awful colour! I mean to say; What TF! 1st Battalion, Cadbury's Own Chocolate Commando Regiment anyone?

Well...this is what you got for your money...hopefully it was some well-meaning parent or auntie's money...not yours, would you? Really. OK, enough attacking the set...it's got two useful bazooka's and a pair of radio-operators who could be given helmeted head-swaps!

Being one of the later sets issued in 'Airfix Green', this set doesn't have all the darker shades of olive-green and olive-drab you find with the Infantry Combat Group, US Marines or British Paratroopers, so colour matching to make sets from loose examples isn't so problematic, then there are the...err...shit brown ones from France! There have been better colours in recent years...a pale-tan for instance.

Other bugger's efforts, the grenade thrower looks like one of mine from the early 1970's, but I think that's just coincidence, there weren't many colours to chose from then and with Airfix only having a couple of 'Army' greens and 'Khaki' browns in their range, a lot of figures got the same scheme around the nation!

The blue and black guy is probably from a 'private army'...back in the day, various 'Bond movies and similar big screen extravaganzas had us rushing of to create wildly coloured secret armies, space armies, future armies of good guys and/or bad guys ready for final scene denouements! My Brother had one in 1:32 scale, Germans, Americans and the Paratroop officer pointing were brought together with a fetching set of yellow pyjama trousers and black jackets with red head gear!

I don't have many OBE's for the Commandos as I had a big paint-stripping session a few years ago...well, I say a few years; probably 20-odd years ago...where does the time go!

The vastly improved replacement set, waits it's turn in the limelight, they will get their own post, so I won't dwell on them here, but don't you want to slide them out from underneath and forget the subject of this post all together?

Assault ladders; The only real difference - to the naked eye - between the 1st/3rd and 2nd version Airfix is that the cross-rungs on the 2nd version were finer, which causes it to look a little wider, but actually it's pretty-much the same width and length as the 1st/3rd version. The only real fault with the Matchbox set IS the ladder...a short, chunky thing you might use to clear the gutters on an outhouse, but not much use for assaulting 'Fortress Europe'!

A full set comparison, the four figures bottom right (3 Airfix, 1 M'box) having no real opposite. The Matchbox are a lovely set of figures and go very well with the 2nd version Airfix, but they make the 1st/3rd versions look like the toy clowns they mostly are! fair shout though....I prefer the canoe to the wet-weekend-in-Margate's rubber-boat of the Matchbox set.

Nitto had a stab at copying this set - or at least one pose of it - for their US Infantry...the mould-tool for which is now owned by Fujimi. They gave him  a helmet and then cut his arm off...I'm sure I should have one somewhere, but couldn't find it for this photo-shoot, so when (if? It may never have been on the runner?) it turns-up I'll re-take the image.

It IS all about the headdresses though isn't it? He looks quite good with an M1 helmet, yet the original looks like a loon escaped from Rampton* with a carved rake-handle...and a sword-bayonet he stole from a museum!

* Overseas readers need to know Rampton (along with Ashworth and Broadmoor) are where we send our REAL loons, to protect society and them...from themselves! As a kid we used to listen-out for the alarm-test on Thursday mornings which would drift over Bramshill forest and penetrate our classrooms, if it wasn't Thursday morning (or whichever morning my memory is tricking me into thinking it wasn't)...we panicked!

Thanks again to Kostas for the scans of the 1974 catalogue, which provides us with the classic 'blue box' artwork...no it doesn't - the white 'corner' boxes were being phased in at this time, and while the blue boxes make up most of the images in the '75 catalogue, all the WWII sets were illustrated in their new clothes!

A conversion I've never got round to finishing! One of the features of this blog will be a certain amount of repetition from time to time, and this is one of those times, as the same images will also have to go on the 'Aussie' page when I get it up and running.

One day I'll retake the images for one random page and paint them-up, then one page can have the painting in progress and the other the finished figures. For now...at least the legs are useful, huh? The donkey is from a board-game called Trek (I think), and while there is only the one pose, there are a whole bunch of them, very useful for war-gaming supply columns.

The boat floats, but low in the water, it also fills-up, so a seal with silicon paste would help, or a few foam off-cuts stuffed in the hull might help it ride a little higher?

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