About Me

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No Fixed Abode, Home Counties, United Kingdom
I’m a 51-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.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

1960; Infantry Combat Group S3 (WWII British Infantry - 1st Type), S3 / 01703 - HO/OO

Clearly based on the Zang/Britains 'Herald' 54mm (1:32nd scale) Combat Infantry issued a few years earlier, this was an odd set, as it was neither fish nor foul. The figures are basically cold war, 1950's troops for what the simplified detail reveals - which isn't much!), with the post-D Day/late-war helmet still in use when I joined in the 1980's, and weapons that from the box-art must be taken to be FN-licensed SLR's rather than Lee-Enfields, and Stirlings rather than Sten guns - although the difference isn't so marked between the latter, in real life.

Yet - as Airfix always did pairs of Friendly/Enemy sets - expected to face-up to the earlier set in time WWII German Infantry, a view backed-up by the fact that they were replaced with new sets at the same time?

A mild, but notable colour variation in the green on the box-art of two first type boxes, often I'd ignore a print run variation, but with one a blue-green and the other a yellow-olive, it's a clear difference in ink.

A late figure on the left carries longer pole-ends wherever he goes. It would seem that the holes in the hands are formed by two pins in the shell of the mould/bolster, and if they fail to engage properly or are pulled-back to soon a bit of still-molten plastic pops into the space where they should be, if you super-glue the vignette together, then fill the gap, he'd look quite good, but it's a lot of effort for little reward with what is only a form of flash!

Just me getting all artistic with the OBE's shown lower down the post! I was thinking of abstract greeting card or wrapping paper designs, which large numbers of figures or toys, or anything repetitive lend themselves too...still needs work...or a funny caption!

Above - Colour variation with this set is vast, early sets being darker olives, later sets being lighter, herby shades. The very dark one (left, second figure in) is part of a small sample I have (4 figures) and is almost charcoal to the eye, he is very early as well, if you enlarge the image you'll immediately see he's the cleanest, sharpest moulding in the line up. I've shot them twice with different results to show how they can change colour in front of you, even as a cloud move across the sun on a bright day!

The lower OBE image establishes a war games rule...all British blankets are green! In point of fact they are all a brownish-grey (I had to immaculately fold them day-in, day-out so I should know!), but war gamers have decided otherwise and who am I to argue with them.

A complete set laid-out on parade. This is a later paler set, but still quite clean mouldings, some did get a bit flashy, but they never suffered from the same level of degradation that the guards did, however they were replaced by the second version in the 1970's, while the guards kept being issued and would have sold in larger numbers as most of the London tourist sites and kiosks stocked them, leading to hard-worked mould-tools, while this set was confined to hobby outlets.

 Other bugger's efforts, although second row down with the Hong Kong rip-off  of Action Man tiger-suits are my '70's efforts!

I like the orange and blue army below mine, they will be a 'secret army', based on the armies who always finished a James Bond movie back in the day, Felix Lighter would turn-up at the 11 hour with a bunch of black-clad Air America types, while the Bad Guy's forces ran around in colour-coded pyjamas...dying or surrendering!

Best-effort award here is probably given to the simply-painted ammo-carrier in the centre of the parade...or the guys at bottom left? Do you recognise yours? Your dad's?

More colour variations, photography can't do justice to the various shades - and there are many - so one is only looking for samples that are 'clean' and sufficiently different from the other samples to be worth the effort of keeping!

About 15 years ago, a dealer I used to help bought-in a larger collection from a war-gamer's widow, after days of sorting I was given all the painted stuff as it wasn't worth the effort of eBay'ing, bits of it will appear (already have on some posts) elsewhere on the blog, it still awaits sorting! This bag has the contents of maybe 40, 50 sets? They were colour coded for battle...

...by the simple expedient of painted helmets; each unit having a different colour. The 'black' force also had all-black packs (a special unit?) while some of the blues did too. There seems to be an HQ/Resupply force with grey helmets that consists of ammo-carriers, stretcher teams and officers only.

A size comparison between the contemporary 'Tiny Trojans' from Trojan (themselves in part old Crescent mouldings) and Airfix's Infantry Combat Group, the Trojan's are far larger, being placed in the Skybird's established aircraft modelling scale of 1:72 while the Airfix figures are toward the HO end of their flexible HO/OO moniker!

In the early days Airfix seem to have been quite shocking pirates (Begen-Beton figures, probably Featherlite/Pierwood figures, possibly (?) flat animals from 'Margerine' premiums, cigarette-pack ships, later ships (?) the Aurora Spitfire...) and this set is no exception!

"Hell, every toy-shop's got 'em, lets just make em smaller!". I think someone may have once said...

Side by side comparison (a size comparison will follow) with the Britains/Herald figures upon-which this set is not only 'based on' but lifted from lock stock and two...who's figures are the stretcher-team based on...Marx? MPC? Solido?....no, I suspect the first version Subbuteo St. John's Ambulance set - probably by the same sculptor; Nibblet, - or even the Britains other range; the Swoppets?

But...it would seem Britains took their revenge? This Hong Kong era, late addition to the range, bears more than a slight resemblance to the Airfix predecessor! Just a better sculpt without the pack...I know, it's just wishful thinking!

The Airfix set - only showing its age - against the Atlantic 'Royal Fusiliers', the Atlantic set hit UK shores in around 1975/6 (?), although they (Atlantic) had been available in Italy since the 1960's (where the 'Dictators' and modern-looking Italian troops had been placed in boxes designed to match the Airfix 'blue box' with black ends), this set (part of the WWII - proper - range) was a later addition and coincided with the move to a global market, adverts appearing in UK and US comics, and my buying several sets including a set of these in a village shop in a Bavaria, around '76 or '77.

Another comparison, this time with their replacements, the old set is clearly not up to the mark, and is both smaller and simplistic next to their younger (but better-fed!) brethren. The new chaps are nicely sculpted and set in the correct era to provide 'proper' enemy for the German Infantry, but devoid of any war-like equipment, looking more suited to a range-day, or one of Captain Mainwaring's parades...they'll be looked at fully on their own post!

Comparison-shot with the contemporaneous and company-stated 'HO' figures by Marx for Marksmen via Rado/Ri-Toys...least said; soonest mended...they're bloody huge!

Again looking tired and elderly next to the Matchbox offering, this shot is only the close matches as they are really miles apart.

Montaplex did pirate the set, but for now I can only show the one pose which was included with paratrooper copies in a US set. Given how long the Airfix set was around for, and the amount of piracy at the time in Italy, Greece and Spain as well as the Far East, it's surprising there aren't more copies of this set. The 8th Army suffered far more copyists.

The set was provided to Quaker Foods in the early 1960's to support a promotion - as free premiums - given away in packets of the company's Sugar Puffs breakfast cereal. You got 2 figures in a 'Standard' pack and three in a 'Family' pack, presumably the stracher team was made available, randomly in the larger packs as a three-piece 'unit'?

I've posed the figures to match the poor image which has suffered from being photocopied out of a magazine (TV Comic, October 6th, 1962), probably mucked about with in software, photocopied again for publishing (Cluck, Vol.1, Radcliffe) transfered to disc, cropped and mucked-about with again (by me!) and finally collaged.

There is a better picture here;

Sugar Puffs Model Army

I've also mocked-up the text, to make it easier to read! It's not exact in positioning or font, but the wording reads correctly. 'Tommy Gunner' is interesting as I've always thought he is firing a Stirling SMG, but "Tommy Gun" became a generic term and they were toys when all's said and done! Interestingly they are also described as "...modern British soldier"s, not World War Two, which brings us back to why did Airifx then issue the Germans from that earlier conflict?

Note also that 12 figures are to be collected...ignoring both the fact that two of them are identical (the stretcher bearers) and; that one of them (not illustrated on the pack's art-work) is dead or dying! The guy being shot notable by his absence from the publicity, but clearly included in the packs. Can't be having that sort of casualty on the breakfast table...a chap nicely wrapped in a blanket is OK, but blood and gore is a no-no in the nation's morning routine!

Another private Army's come in since I took the shots above, these guys have blue boiler-suits with black and silver webbing...probably have special powers too!

Now adding the full Montaplex frame refered to above, size-wise they are pretty good, but quality has dropped and they are flashy and less sharply detailed, colours varied and they were included in various sets from both Montaplex and Hobby-Plast, this being from the latter...

...the Hobby-Plast set 'Mission Peligrosa' (Dangerous Mission). They came with a clip-together USAF Cutlass jet fighter in approximately 1:100th scale and the ubiquitous Montaplex Jeep; in this specific case with a twin cannon mounted.

2 comments:

Patrick Payne said...

Do you know of any place to buy these? I need just the ammo carriers and stretcher party for a Korean war British army unit sized in line with the Airfix Australians.

Hugh Walter said...

eBay!

H