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, June 17, 2010

1960; [WWII] German Infantry (1st Type), S5 / 01705 - HO/OO

Some people hate this set with a vengeance, I actually quite like it. Yes, like the Combat Group they are little nondescript blobs, with dodgy weapons, but...once you'd got your second type, or a few Esci or Revell - or any of the dozens of sets released in the last 12/15 years (how many German sets?), with their good detail and manly 23mm HO-going-on-1:72 sizing, these make fantastic Hitler Youth!

Lots of Panzerfaust, Panzerschrecht and the little AT rifle thing (28mm AT gun Model 41, s.PzB 41) are all lovely for a last stand at the cross-roads. And yes - I know there are Hitler Youth now in one or two of those 20 or more recent issues, but have you seen them? Horrible little dwarven lumps sculpted like metal war-games figures from the '70's.

"Ah!" I hear you say, aren't these the same?...Well, not really, these are steeped in nostalgia for one, and for another they are - if anything - sculpted for/like composition production, not lumpy metal, the masters being sculpted in wax from the look of them?

Aren't they lovely? OK, they're little blobs, but they're rather nice little blobs if you are a child of the late 1960's-early 1970's! The AT rifle was very useful for conversions, particularly for half-tracks. Favourite poses (way back when) were the officer with his riding breeches, his No. 2 (with the binoculars) and - for the pre-pubescent giggle factor - the wounded guy holding his nut-sack like a squirrel!

Favourite poses now include the kneeling ready with SMG, don't know what SMG, but he gives me a nostalgia hit as does the grenade thrower, and I still like the little gun with its wooden crew!

Little bags like these could be either Christmas Cracker gifts or 'novelties' or cake decorators supplies, but were easily as likely to be found included in 'Lucky-bags'. I know we got these jade-green coloured figures in Lucky-bags around the mid/late-1970's, but  don't remember the 'planes or ships at the time, so I suspect Christmas Crackers for these combination bags.

The aircraft are MPC 'Minis' copies and were issued with all sorts of Hong Kong rack-toys, gum-balls and the like, the boats too have been seen with other HK sets.

Comparison between Matchbox's set and the old and tired (retired by the time they came out) Airfix boys. Although the Airfix set had been withdrawn, it continued to be issued in 'fort' play sets for some time after the Matchbox figures were issued (1976). There is no comparison, although we hated the bases when these first came out, and they are a bit 'flat' due to the limits of the moulding technology at Matchbox, the detail is fine, the animation is much better and they had a mortar and proper MG's!

Fujimi comparison shot, not the best sample of the Fujimi, but I may have a better sample made-up in storage so we can re-do this at some point, they were a mix of the then 1:32 scale Airfix (officer) and Britains Deetail poses, along with several prone figure-poses apparently lovingly hand-sculpted from a pile of cow-muck with the blunt-end of a broken shovel!

This set (like most of the sets with figures) continued to clear the 'old type' long after the 2nd version had been released, and it was late issues of this play-set that contained the Japanese contaminant. I'm not sure why I haven't included a photo here yet as I have a couple around somewhere, but he may be in the Japanese bag....although I've done those pictures too, so he may be in storage with the Miscellaneous Airfix box? I'll add them below when it happens as they need to go on the Jap page and the WW1 German page as well.

Aurora copied the set for their Anzio Beach play-set/kit. My mate David Anderson had the set when we were kids, and although he left it at home, he brought to school and gave to me one each of the pile of tentage/tarps, stack of boxes and an oil drum to prove it existed and I still have them, much treasured possessions - despite having a mint set and several part sets now.

Hong Kong copied these prolifically before better figures (to copy) came along, with different companies (the loosest use of the word 'company'!) apparently copying a different 'menu' of poses, although there more than in this shot, which is what has come-in in the last few years, again storage holds the master-collection of these and larger samples will give-up the fuller picture in the future.

Airfix originals are the bottom rank, and sometimes these come with a mix of Airfix 8th Army copies and a falling casualty, who could be from the Combat Group, but is probably taken from the Britains Lilliput set. The blue row are from the same source as the jade ones in the little bags further up the post, and each row is from a different source. We will return to them below when I get the images sorted out and look at the various sets.

Montaplex-Hobbyplast used the figures in various sets and here we see them in the German Combat Group and El Alamein envelopes, equipped with a [captured!] Radar Jeep in the former and a couple of sub-scale trucks (radio-shack and runway control - I think!) in the latter, which also has a runner of 8th Army knock-offs.

Straight comparison, Montaplex really pushed the boat out with this particular act of piracy, copying no less than fourteen of the original poses with no duplicates. Figures are a bit smaller and slighter and suffer from the usual loss of finer detail.

Another set, another colour and a Japanese-looking bomber! France prepares to fold as the Prussians roll across their green, leafy. rural idyll for the third time in 70 years! Will they ever learn?

Nitto's set is the only one capable of claiming to be superior to it's then rival Fujimi (now stable-mates), based - I think - on Tamiya (or Bandai?) 1:35th scale kit figures and with separate weapons, they are still poor sculpts, just not as poor as the Fujimi set!

Sorting sets back in 2007/'08, the reason for laying them out is that it becomes easy to spot damaged, miss-moulded or converted figures by running you eye along the row, also any paint remnants stand-out like a sore thumb - see the brownish prone figure in the top right of the bottom left image.

You can see four sets already sorted on the other box top, and by counting the streatchers (top left) you know you're looking for another six sets, although out of shot were more bags of bits to be added as those seen are picked...I tended to do a light grey set then a dark grey set, fill the gaps and go again, the fifth set would be a more specific colour (there are some blueish-grey sets).

You keep going until you're down to the last few which you do as mixed (colour/shade) bags to knock-out ofr  a couple of quid at a show, the bargains causing customers to stop at your table, hopefully spotting something else while they wait for their change!

The late WWII sets from Atlantic were much bigger (here showing their homage to the Airfix 1:32/late set), and you can see what I mean about the old Airfix set as making good Hitler Youth!

Atlantic 'Hitler and the Brown Shirts', from the earlier sets however, is a much better match, and while the figure stands higher, that is down to the depth of the base. Careful use of a variable-speed belt-sander, held upside-down in a vice can solve that problem for ever!

Eidai-Grip-Arii also copied the 1st version Airfix Germans, three of them, along with the crew of the risible Sd.Kfz.234 Armoured Car from the same company. The whole set was also included in the big German Secret Strong Point play set, issued again by Arii in recent times and not very 'secret' as it's garrisoned by everything in the range!

I've miss-matched the kneeling figure but no matter, you get the idea! As with the HK and Spanish copies, these lose size and detail (but not as much of the latter) through the poor use of a pantograph, to copy from the original figures. The other two figures are - of course - from the Airfix Sd.Kfz.234 eight-wheeled armoured-car model kit, with the idiot mudguards.

First version 'cartoon artwork' boxes are my favourite, although they pretty-much pre-date me as a toy soldier fan, there were still a few on the revolving wire-rack dispensing 'trees', or at the back of the shelf in Webb's newsagents as I grew into Airfix in the late 1960's.

Comparison with the contemporary Lone Star offering, and LS wins hands-down, the detail on their figures wouldn't be seen on Airfix for some time still, and while probably equally invented, the flame-thrower works better with it's loop of hose and the kneeling firer knows how to fire, while kneeling!


Erica Rose said...

Hmmm... I remember seeing some of these and some of the Airfix first gen US Marines in an old Aurora set "Anzio Beach" they were molded in hard plastic.

Hugh Walter said...

They are illustrated above Erica, with Aurora typed underneath...I haven't got round to doing all the text on this entry yet, they (the Aurora) are the pale grey upper row in the shot. They were also copied in sand coloured hard plastic by a Japanese company called Crown, mine are in storage so that image is probably years away, but it will be here eventually!


Anonymous said...

Aurora copies from their Anzio Beach Kit were great fornconversions, as the hard plastic was easy to glue, paint and handle.

Hugh Walter said...

Glue and paint - yes anonymous, but handle?? The problem with all attempts at hard plastic figures (in any scale) is that bits break off too easily and I have a tub of detritus to prove the point!

The running guy, panzerschrecht (spell?) and officer being particularly susceptible to damage in the Aurora set. But I get where you're coming from and I've cut'n'shut gun crews from polystyrene 'kit figures' happily in the past!