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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.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

1965; [Wild West] U.S. Cavalry, S22 / 01722 / 01722-6 - HO/OO

I had a love-hate relationship with this set as a kid, 12 poses was good, and the dead horse, rearing horse and charging horse were all fine but the six trotting poses (shared with the Arabs and Sheriff of Nottingham sets) would NOT stay standing-up! awful bloody creature, awful I say!

Thanks due to Kostas, a follower from Greece for this catalogue scan; the 'blue-box' artwork in the 1975 catalogue, this does the contents justice in the Cavalry department, but leads one to expect a lot more of the Indian set than you actually get!

The horses I did get on with! The dead horse was quite unique at the time, I think Marx had done one in large scale, but this - while a bit grim in subject matter - gave a whole other dimension to a set of toy soldiers. The Officer's rearing mount with the clever use of tricycle mounting pins - by hiding one at the end of the tail - was inspired, possibly the best horse Airfix ever did in small scale?

The last shot is the guidon-bearer (another favourite, despite the rather heavy lance and flag) on the charging/running horse, which usually worked OK.

Colour variations, they don't seem to have had a very dark ink-blue issue, but they were common with the early FFL sets and this was a later issue. However they do have brighter versions which are a latter issue, click on the image to see the mould-damage on the saddle of that late (right-hand) example.

The lower shot shows the re-issue from the 1990-2000's, a rather insipid sky-blue, which I guess is the trouser base-colour, as opposed to the jacket/hat base-colour of the older issues. I don't know if Humbrol/Heller didn't get the colour thing, or where trying too hard to follow Esci and Atlantic? As Airfix used to lead the field, it would rather sum-up those years!

OBE's including the guidon bearers for an entire war-games army that came my way! I can never get enough of these - as I'm sure you've gathered if you're scrolling through from the beginning of the blog! - even though they are all earmarked for cleaning and/or repainting one day. This is how we did stuff in the early days.

Note how the bottom row are all serving with the Confederacy...dirty Rebs! Strictly these are post-Civil War 'US Army' cavalry from the Indian Wars (slaughters), but we used them for ACW all the time, there was nothing else!

My Egyptian cavalry; removal of feather's and a set of US Army mounts left them a formidable opponent for my Greeco-Roman army of several centuries later! They were based round a core of the first Atlantic figures to hit these shores in the late 70's. Inset are a couple of English Civil War conversions missing the heads they had stolen from Nottingham's men.

Bagged-set as issued in the fort play-sets...I hadn't planned on doing the ready-made forts here, but will make room for them one day. [now done - see image below]

A quick-guide to the contents of a complete set, it's not really needed with this set, one-each of the figures, one each of the two best horses, four of the useful horse pose and SIX (really?) of the stupid one - with bases to match.

More OBE's, this time the horseflesh; Painting horses is an art, even painting them OK-looking is a tad beyond the capacities of your average 1960/70's schoolboy, but some good efforts were made, sadly there aren't really any in the above shot! Although the attempt at a grey (rearing, bottom-left) is worthy and the dead piebald is a nice effort.

The Marx US 7th Cavalry, these actually from Marksmen via Rado Industries (Ri-Toys), although technically a larger scale (probably aiming for the US 'HO' of 1:64th scale), once painted they would blend-in quite well, especially if a few horse-swaps were indulged in!

The only Wild West accessory was this timber 'frontier' type Fort Apache, sold like this as a 'fort' and as a play-set with figures, it makes a nice trading outpost / winter quarter, although it's a bit Spartan in the facilities department, but it was first and foremost a toy!

The artwork has been reversed at the printers, clearly someone who didn't collect Airfix, he/she got the colour transparency the wrong way round at a point of no return in the printing process...Doh!

Variations of the first version 'cartoon artwork' box type. The oldest is at the bottom without the US price signature, which is present on the middle example, at the top is a second (or 'later' anyway) print run/box batch in a paler colour of blue, which has bled into the yellow giving it a greenish halo.

Imex mounted Union with the Airfix for comparison, not much in it, they look a little more ACW than US Cavalry, but size-wise the match is fair and painting will hide any horrors...on campaign the Cavalry of the Indian Wars would be as scruffy and un-Hollywood as any war-weary ACW unit anyway. The Imex blue photographs very badly!

The confederates, the legacy of Airfix in all these late 1980's (Revell) and 1990's (Accurate, ACTA, Imex) manufacturers is often clear to see and here it's with the guidon bearer who doesn't even try to carry a different shaped flag! Both sets also included a few Infantry figures (not illustrated here) taken from the Infantry set's mould cavities, and a few dismounted cavalry types, both fighting and stabling/billeting.

Imex produced a large boxed set of Custer's last stand, for which they removed one of the figures from the union cavalry set and included a 'limited edition' Custer figure on one of the several frame/runners included in the set. Subsequently he appeared in standard boxes, but others still contained the NCO halting a patrol. Whether this was a permanent change or a cavity swap will only become clear if the set remains in production with the odd re-release over a good few more years? They [Imex] could have large stocks of both frame-types, still!

As a figure he looks like the popular image of the awful self-publicist...who was a historical character, not a creation of Hollywood (although Hollywood's definitely contributed to the post-mortem mythology!), but as he served in both the Civil War and the later Western Expansion massacres, he works for both here. Of course - ironically - the most famous massacre of the genocide; was the one involving the good ol'boy himself!

Is it fair to think the Airfix US cavalry officer actually makes a better ACW officer? I think if you cut his brim-off and flocked his hat with some black velvet fluff he'd make a good Cossack! One day I'll try it and pop the result on this post...

The contents of the larger Wild West play-set, these seem to have consistently disagreed with the catalogue images/descriptions, but were consistently the three figure sets with a fort. Even the Airfix Tribute Forum (18th Oct. 2015) are currently not listing the Cavalry (because they were never in the catalogue image?), but this is a pre-'93 reissue Fort Apache Playset boxed set, and I've seen plenty over the years, always with these contents. There is a vague possibility that early 'cartoon' artwork issues with the soft palstic fort only have the two sets (Indians and Wagon Train), but I'm pretty sure I've seen them go through auction with the three compartments; full.

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