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] Robin Hood, S20 / 01720 / 01720-0 - HO/OO

Without a shadow of doubt - my favourite set of figures produced by Airfix, and still holding it's own against a lot of the prolific production of current toy soldier manufacturers.

I had these in an enhanced Robin Hood gang, as men-at-arms or rioting peasants in a medieval war-band, in my rather fictional Greko-Roman army (it had Etruscans and Macedonians in it!), my equally fictional 'barbarian' army and glued to my attempt at a stone-age house.

The generic clothing of loose tunics, long-stockings, hooded cloaks and belted short-sleeved tabards make them the locally-recruited yobbos of choice for any army-builder from around 800BC to 1600AD.

Copy of the 1975 catalogue image and blurb supplied by Kostas a reader/follower from Greece, showing the classic combination of 2nd Type artwork on the 'blue' box (box with blue ends for those new to the hobby), the next version would cut the bottom right-hand corner off.

Maid Marion (probably not much of a 'maid' she was shacking-up with an outlaw!), I used to think this was a commonly distorted or easily miss-moulded piece - its size giving it a propensity for shrinkage if removed too fast from the mould - but the two versions turn-up in almost equal numbers, so I think there might have been two moulds? It was a very popular set, and also came in one of the better-selling play-sets, but it's pure conjecture on my part.

Colour variations with the earlier green figures range from quite yellow-greens from the olive range, through to jadeite or emerald blue-greens, and when sorting it's worth spending the time getting them colour matched where possible.

The photograph bottom-right shows one of the commonest faults with this set, the single character figure with a small wood-choppers axe is more often than not waving a blob on a stick, but for stone-age or earlier bronze-age also-fought's he's fine as it does look like a nice stone axe-head. The same problem pesters the sword on the other lower pose.

Paint-stripping, washing and sorting, I gave a tedious blow-by-blow on the washing/stripping business the other day on the Sheriff of Nottingham update so won't repeat myself here, but note the same 'phenomena' of differing densities leading to floaters and sinkers!

The full range of variations of the greens are clear in the line-up prior to sorting. A full set is lined-up to the left as a quite to picking, and more figures (from the drying process) are waiting to be added. I start with the darker ones as they are all from the jade/emerald spectrum of blueish greens, then I do an olive/yellow green set from the paler range, once you've done that two or three times, you're left with a bit of a mix and these are made-up into mixed lose sets as eBay-fodder.

Various conversions, and the contents of the 'damaged/painted/converted' bag (bottom left); drawing-pin shields make for instant Anglo-Saxons, while damaged bowmen can often be sent strait to the front as swordsmen receiving cavalry!

The Roman soldier head-swap is typically from the Terry Wise school of army-building, while I'm afraid I removed Robin's feather to make him fit my 'Ancient Briton' force majure! Who went to all that effort cleaning the main from the horse when it would have been easier to get a Sheriff's man or Arab's horse to do the same job is not recorded, but they were more frugal times!

The remains of the recruits to my bronze-age band of ner-do-wells is top right, yes - I know - far too colourful, but I was thirteen at the time! Although, some of the work of modern thirteen-year-olds on the figure painting forums puts mine to shame, but that's progress...or practice?

 Along with colour variation in the later cream sets and a couple more views of The Maid.

A complete set in green and one of each pose (from the other side) in cream, it was not 'heavy' is poses, not because it didn't have the typical 15 of Airfix - it did - but because there were numerous duplicates of a couple of the figures to counterbalance the character figures.

From the right in  both line-ups we have Marion, Robin, Friar Tuck, and a guy with a pole arm one presumes is Little John, the other two can be seen as Much the miller's son (with a wood axe) and possibly Will Scarlet (sword)?

More conversions, these images originally appeared in Plastic Warrior's One Inch Warrior Magazine, and are scanned from old-school photographs, so aren't that high-resolution. The guy with the wooden shield is another of my childhood additions to the reaving war-band, he worked quite well with a lump of Araldite two-part epoxy holding the shield onto his arm, the same can't be said for the fat Friar, who's 28mm spear-shaft must weight in at a hundred-weight!

The sling and hedge-knife pole-armed plastic people came in with mixed lots, while the two spears between the hedge-knives in the close-ups were hammered and turned by me. You can get away with dress-makers pins for shorter javelin type missile weapons as someone has top-left to create a sort of peltast/skirmisher type.

The latest incarnation of this set, with a handy guide to the contents - an idea taken from Strelets*R and Orion/DDS (Dark Dream Studios), who introduced the habit while Airfix was going under for the umpteenth time somewhere in the 1990's...oh how the mighty had fallen!

All pieces from both sides still on the sprue. In time I will do numbered line-ups like the PSR or Eric Williamson sites as I know some people like the information in that form, and as I'm aiming at a 'Scrap-book' format, the more visual information the better.

Although the set as a whole seems to have missed being pirated, this extraordinary piece of innovation does exist. Being based on the Maid Marion figure, it is a crude re-sculpt, designed to be Queen Elizabeth II, reviewing the troops at the annual 'Trooping the Colour' pageant, which she used to do year after year. The sculptor has given Her Majesty a bearskin which looks more like a motorcycle helmet!

See the Guards Band and Guards Colour Party posts for the rest of this carded set, I will get some better images up next time I'm photographing the HK carded stuff. [25th August 2014 - done]

Close-up of the recent re-issues, they are a nice colour and with the moulds cleaned-up from the tired state they had got into; this set has a new lease of life and could run for years yet if Hornby have half a brain, and sometimes I wonder!

Paul's Bods Elves


Anonymous said...

I had the Airfix Robin Hood set as a child in the 60's but remember having a covered wagon and beer barrels(always thought they were part of the Friar Tuck figure)but it seems I was mistaken. Does anyone know what set had the covered wagon and barrels. Regards, Tommy

Hugh Walter said...

Depends on your age Tommy! If you are an old git like me it was probably the Wagon Train set, if you are younger it might just as easily have been the less common (but now reissued) accessory set from the Waterloo Assault Set which I haven't posted yet, the wagon train are 'live' here;


But haven't got any text yet!