About Me

My photo
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.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

1964; [Medieval] Sheriff of Nottingham, S21 / 01721 / 01721-3 - HO/OO

As there is only one figure who really covers for 'character' figure (the unarmed chap in a cloak) and he's looking like the evil Sheriff of Nottingham, I've never really been too sure who the 'King Richard' figure is supposed to be? I always assumed that it was the guy flying a pennant from his lance and; where's the Prince Regent/King John figure Haldane Place?

Another great old favourite of mine and many a small boy in the 1960's and 1970's, and - to be honest - it's stood the test of time well, you can still slip a few of these in with your Miniart or Revell armies without raising an eyebrow.

Although there are some who would lecture you endlessly about the subtle changes in shoulder adornment mid-12th Century, meaning at least two of these are "...way out..."; we know people like that should go back to their cheese-toasties and let the rest of us enjoy our toys!

A full set laid-out (less one archer) and set up, with a closer shot of the mounted figures, while I was OK with the Hussars, could usually get most the 7th Cavalry into action, had no problem with the Cowboys and Indians and found most of the AWI/Napoleonic stuff (excepting the Cuirassiers) would stand with ease...this set was rubbish for getting the mounted figures to perform!

Hot implements and childhood fingertips were never a good combination, while the Bostic they (Airfix) recommended was no help at all...

First appearance in a catalogue with the small black & white 'thumbnail' (as they definitely weren't called then) in the 4th edition catalogue of/for the 1967 season.

Hong Kong got in on the act with a predictability that leaves a question mark over the fact that they never got round to copying the twin - Robin Hood - set? This particular group of pirates only consisted of the four mounted swordsmen, who plug-on to the two baseless horses, which are an even bigger bugger to stand than the originals!

Montaplex managed to copy the foot figures and get usable bases on the horses, so - obviously - by the 1970's piracy was improving!

Another Montaplex shot, just the foot figures, with a full complement of poses and their Airfix equivalents. They are a bit rough, and the second guy in from the left is welded to a sheet of flash!

The next catalogue change was the whole set mounted on a card and painted to 'toy' standard, again if the leading mounted figure is taken to be the Sheriff who is Richard? It's definitely not clear?

While I don't believe Nibblett designed this set, he did make his own range in metal, which were similar, although a 'true' HO size at around 18/20mm, compared to the Airfix figures which are 23+.

Top left is an Alymer medieval pair with a label for the German market, these were all unique, being built-up with solder on pins, following a master 'patten' figure, and are again closer to HO.

Note however; the two Nibblett horses bottom right show the pedigree of being from the same stable as the Cowboys and Indians (which he almost certainly did design).

Looks like the old picture re-used, but in fact the base is a different colour and the figures are not decorated the same either.

Giant based their 2nd version knights on a variety of Britains and Crescent poses but similarities still exist with this set, maybe the Airfix were themselves based on the earlier 1950's figures, there are similar links between the Combat Group and the old Britains 'Herald' Khaki Infantry.

Bottom right is the 1st version Giant with an axe; late pirates of copies of rip-offs tend to give this chap a large 'rock' on a chain!

My favorite catalogue phase was the 'painted line-up' years and here from the 1970 catalogue we have them in a third Airfix finish.

A couple of comparison-shots between the Airfix figures and the game playing pieces from the 3M Feudal board game. Also a couple of conversions to English Civil War troops of a few centuries later.

Box-art hits the catalogues in '73 and I get board with them, so start collecting the old ones (catalogues) with the 'groovy' sets all painted-up!

Contemporary sets were either too small or too big, Hey-ho! But some of the Marx figures could be snuck into a bigger army, although they were wearing the much later showy armour of more Tudor/Elizabethan times.

I'm not sure I've ever seen this 'corner artwork' or 'white' box, and if it is around it will be quite rare, this was the last time the set was in a catalogue, and while it would soldier-on in the play set for a while, it was only ever there as a sprue, not boxed as in the bigger 'Assault Sets'.

A re-issue in 1995, alongside the supply of silver sprues to HaT was the only real 'variant', being in a slightly darker grey than it had appeared in before, and with the mould (of the whole set) having been cleaned up. The HaT set lost some detail, due to the nature of the material (metallics often soften!), and a bit of shrinkage.

The HaT box, I'm not sure if HaT did the earlier box-version in black with painted figures? I rather like the 'cartoon' or kids comic effect of this artwork.

Comparisons (of size, look or 'feel', not period!) with the main stuff being issued today. The Airfix set really fills out a Hundred Years War set well, so they go very nicely with the Accurate/Revell/Imex sets, most of the Italeri/Zvezda oeuvre seems to be either the wrong period or too specific, and the Miniart sets which I have most of now (I'm quite a fan of them) are aimed more at the later European Wars of Rutger Hauer's 'Flesh and Blood'.

Finally; This is a scanned version of one of the images used in the Giant articles I did for One Inch Warrior magazine about 8/10 years ago, and just shows that if you have a good skull-splitting pose, you really must just keep-on using it.

Left to right; Airfix, Italeri, Giant Knight, Giant Mongol, Accurate/Revell and an Airfix Ancient Briton.

The recent re-release, hardly differing from most other sets re-releases and/or the HaT contracted sets in being practically the same colour as the originals - a mid grey, albeit slightly darker than most of the originals.

Both sides/angles of all four sprues - I seem to have left one archer off the introductory images at the start of this post, don't know why and it will be corrected at some point, but for now...there are THREE archers.

Sorting and cleaning; I used to use good old Nitromore's paint-stripper, which was a strong caustic gel, taking most paints off in seconds, sometimes (usually thick coats of spirit-based gloss) minutes. But these days it's either the aerosol foam of Mr. Muscle oven-cleaner (orange can) or a yellow-green (Firefox is giving me 'yellow-bellied' as the only correct term here!) aqueous gel that comes as a pump-spray, but which I couldn't find the other day and can't remember the name off off-hand, so these were done with Mr. Muscle.

I place all the painted figures in an empty 2 litre (4 pint) plastic milk-bottle/carton and then spray the foam in. The reason for this is that the foam remains active for some time but brakes down to a liquid after half an hour or so. As these modern stripping methods take far longer than the old caustic strippers, you can then put the lid back on the bottle and give it a good shake every 20 minutes or so for a few hours to foam it up again.

They then go in the sink for a rinse and a quick scrub with a toothbrush, use cold water with a bit of washing-up liquid and a hard-bristled brush - the cold water keeps the bristles stiff, warm water will soften them. Of interest here is that some of the figures have a floating density, others have a sinking one, this shows how the figures can vary between production-runs or batches and may be one pointer to the problem of brittleness.

I allow them to air-dry, not because it's better for them, but because by the time you've cleaned that many, you're pissed-off with the fiddlesomeness of it all, and your hand's gone rubbery, so let them do themselves! All the shaking and scrubbing will reveal (and write-off!) any brittle figures, there was only one it this batch, but he was the lunging with sword pose and had he not broken I would have got another complete set...them's the breaks - ho ho!

Because there is often a small trace of paint left with these new methods - which never used to happen with Nitromore's - I sort them to one side and the unpainted one to the other prior to picking complete sets. Staring with a dark set, then a light set, only taking needed figures from the right-hand (ex-paint) lot if needed, and continue until there are too few figures of one pose left to make a full set. This sorting produced four good sets and left me with a bag of figures to play about with!

Note: Nitromore's is still available from hardware stores but has been re-formulated to save the planet (which I'm all for) and is no more efficacious than the other available products now.

A conversion, not my work but a nice use of the bowman figure. I have more conversions of these somewhere (I think they may have been put on the other blog already?) but I can't find the images, so they will join this post another day.

The upper shot here is of my old figures from around 1983, they are getting very brittle now and are in the bag of damaged figures and bits which may prove useful one day, but which really just proves how bad my addiction is - that I can't even throw away damaged stuff!

The lower image is stuff painted by other people, back in the day, which have come in with mixed lots.

I was so pleased with the eagle-shielded guy at the time, looking at it now I suspect the eagle was not as happy with his appearance as I was! Even if these were not brittle they would still be in the shrapnel bag as I used to cut a bevel onto the base edges, so that the filler I used to mount them would hold them down, polyethylene's being so hard to glue.

On the left is the only common fault with this set, he's quite a solid moulding round the middle and suffered from shrinkage sometimes when removed from the mould too soon. However he is usually still a usable pose: appearing to be leaning over slightly to get-in under the other guys thrust, and also seems to be putting more effort into his own thrust than his non-deformed twin, so when I find them they go in 'my' bag, for future use.

Top right is a shot of the three main colour variations, with a brown or mauveish grey to the left, a pale grey in the middle and a darker grey to the right, they haven't reproduced well under flash though. The other shot shows how the mould degraded over time from the fine lance on the left to the chunky 'apparatus' on the right!


Paul´s Bods said...

One of my favourite Airfix sets...coming second only to the robinhood set. Those 3M Feudal board game pieces look interesting....

Ross Mac rmacfa@gmail.com said...

I always assumed that the mounted knight with raised sword and a crown on his helmet was King Richard.

Hugh Walter said...

Blimey Paul...missed that comment sorry! They are nice figures!

You're right really Ross, but I always think of him as King John...it's a poxy little regents crown thing! And you need a King John around to re-fight each episode after it's broadcast...Richard only turns-up at the end to right a few wrongs before the summer break in schedules!