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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.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

1973 [WWII] British Infantry (2nd Version), 01703-5 / 9 01703 - HO/OO

So these were the new version, much anticipated, they were a bit of a disappointment when they finally arrived, and most of the criticism of the set found elsewhere over the years is well founded. But - there's always a 'but' - it doesn't add up to much really, as the set still delivers a decent bunch of figures, well sculpted and ten times better than the Combat Group set they replace while paying homage - through a stretcher team!

It's about how much the problems bug you, or how much you are willing to let the problems bug you! They are thinnish, they are under-equipped, and too 'clean', their uniforms are too tight...but...they paint-up OK, sculpting detail is fine and they are a vast improvement on the Britains-clone blobs.

A nice painting guide from the 1980 catalogue, the image taken from the back of the long boxes of that era. In point of fact the battle-dress was a tad darker.

The slightly larger ammunition box illustrated is an accurate representation of the ammo-box for the Bren gun, but its carrying handle was actually on one end, so it would hang with the long dimension in the vertical. An academic point as the actual figure sculpt clearly carries the thinner box configured for the belted ammunition of the Vickers MG! The figure from the older set of Combat Group however, could very well be carrying a Bren gun ammo-box!

Atlantic's figures, I think the Airfix set pre-dates them by a year or two, but they were close, however while some of the Atlantic poses are quite nice, the set as a whole owes more to the dancing loons of Cherilea and its UN troops then to any others! They were also a deal taller, but a lot of that was down to the deep, heavy bases. I had more to say about this set on the main blog a while ago.

The 1975 Airfix catalogue (image provided by Kostas again!) was a cross-over catalogue, with the older 'blue box' imagery in the main (Ancient, Medieval, Waterloo, Wild West, WWI etc...Civilians!), but with the WWII sets illustrated as joint-set photographs in the new 'white-box' or 'corner-graphics' artwork.

The OBE's in this sample are not much it has to be said, but I had a major paint-stripping session a year or two before I'd even heard of blogging, or handled a computer for that matter, so these are what's been painted in what's come-in in mixed-lots since about 2004/5?

I can never imagine what makes someone start painting their figures all-over jade green or gloss balck, but then I remember I had some silver Marines when I was a kid, which I must have painted myself in a mad moment, so it was clearly just part of being a kid...thinking about it as I was writing that (I'll get rid of the resultant typos before you see them), it struck me that actually it probably goes something like this...

You think - on the spur of the moment - "I'm grown-up enough to paint these (at age 6-8 or so) without supervision...and no-one is watching"...you get the paint out, you find a flat-ended craft brush in your school pencil-case (or the jam jar on the window-sill by the kitchen-sink), you open the thinners, then you dip the brush in the paint...it comes out dripping! You panic, realise you haven't the faintest idea how to paint a floor or a barn door, let alone 20mm figures...You stab a clumsey hand at the bayonet you intended the silver for or the boot that the gloss black was destined to coat, a large quatity of paint then uses the laws of water tention to flow down the rifle, slide effortlessly over, under and around your fingers and on down the figure...Your limited life experiance then kicks in, instantly you realise 4 things: 1) you have not got a painting cloth; 2) that blob of paint is going to drip off the figure (onto your trousers or the carpet) if you don't do something; 3) the rest of the paint on the brush is now flowing down the handle toward the other hand and 4) you need to do something about 1-3, now! So...you spread the rest of the paint on the first figure; it's still pooling....you do a few more and hey...it'll help your story that 'that's what you wanted to do', you run to the loo and grab some loo paper, you clean the brush and the fingers (at this point some story's will get worse with incompatible thinners or the introduction of water or washing-up liquid...nightmare), you put the figures somewhere to dry - hoping they won't be found before you can hide them...upturned box at the back of a drawer near a radiator was a good one...and ergo...oddly-painted figures in you nascent collection!

The experience only encourages you to try the matt green with a proper brush a few weeks later or the next time you're alone in the house!

These are in the bag marked: 'broken, converted and painted', and I didn't really know what to do with them - I'm wont to throw anything away - when it struck me the one at the back would look good crawling out of the water... a river, the sea or a flooded shell-hole. He's lost his feet as the knife de-basing him has turned-out as it cuts through the plastic, a problem cutting thicker sections of polyethylene.

There's never been the colour variation with this set you find with some of the others, partly due to it's late arrival in the list, partly down to luck. there is a darker run (slightly washed-out by the flash in this shot) and in certain lights you can find a 'greener' issue (more yellow in the mix?).

Complete set ready to roll, the poses are for the most part OK, but like their twin replacement-set; the German Infantry, they suffer from a couple of dumb poses (middle left) and I always found the officer to be a bit weak.

Basically you get more than enough for all the men in a late-war Infantry platoon, with or without a dedicated MG section, but without a mortar team. The two signallers can be a signaller and runner, or signaller and attached FOO, air liaison or similar, or you can leave one in the box!

For those who prefer to work from a one of each line-up. You can see all the criticisms clearly here...parade or range webbing, tall, thin and gangly with tight clothing, a couple of silly poses, but painted and based with a few other makes they pass muster for war gaming, and the detail is lovely, however inaccurate it might be in places.

Some sets of toy soldiers have identical stretcher carriers, this has them stepping-off from opposite feet which is a nice touch and a sign of the effort that went into the production of the set, even if it was ultimately a bit disappointing!

Comparison with the recent effort (type 4!) and they (the sculptors) still haven't really got it right (they will have their own page at some point), like their earlier brthren, paint will hide a lot of sins, but they can hardly serve together, one lot all lumpy, over-fed and cammed-up, the others hungry-lean, in parade-order with skin-tight tailoured uniforms!

The closest Airfix (or the owners of the 'brand') have ever got to decent WWII British Infantry was the ex-Esci/A-Toys/Italieri type 3 which had already been issued by...err...Esci, A-Toys and Italieri! The Bren guns are particularly poor in this set, but the PIAT is rather nice...if a little thin, and the comparison above suggests an easy conversion of the older prone figure to a PIAT-man?

The kneeling firer's from both sets make the same mistake as the type 1 (and the Britains Herald granddaddy of them all), in adopting a pose no man firing a rifle from the kneeling position ever adopted, ever, in the whole history of warfare, drill, and press pictures for dill manuals, indeed - I don't believe the human body can adopt that position without a hip or thigh being surgically dissociated first!...I just tried, you can; but it's bloody uncomfortable!

Marx (here Marksmen from Ri-Toys (Rado Industries) giants are not much of a threat despite being called 'HO' by the original maker, however the officer and the chap on the left of the line-up with the Tommy-gun, could be hidden in a platoon of Airfix after a matching paint job, they've both been to the same tailor as the Airfix chaps! [see the 8th army for comparisons of the rest of this Marx range, they are all wearing shorts]

How it should be done, Matchbox lead the way with a set of business-like poses and some nice AFV crew. However, the bases are a real pain with this set, small and slightly rounded they were table-top only, the carpet defeats them before the Germans have been set-up - if it's Matchbox Germans as well...it's an apocalypse! But they failed the colour rule as well...brown? For European theatre? NO!

Nitto get the colour rule, but totally muck-up the simple 'ish procedure of copying the figures with a copying machine! [pantograph] It doesn't help that they are trying to convert them to American M1-helmeted troops at the same time - the heads are so poor I think they came from Airfix 1st type Marines who (with a couple of Para's - also from Airfix sculpts) make up the rest of the group - now a Fujimi catalogue item.

Thanks to Konrad Lesiek I now know these (upper row, brown) were issued as kiosk novelties by Andrzej Kawecki, and are from Set 3 British Infantry, the only set of piracies of these figures I know of, and they're not bad, a slight loss of detail, but every pose has been reproduced, even the two different stretcher-bearers, all made - apparently - from recycled material; in this case a soft PVC vinyl rubber.

Indeed - I'd go further and say that by attaching the front feet to the bases, they have actually managed to improve the two dumbest (advancing, running) poses, and somehow they've got the captain/platoon commander to look more businesslike (or less foppish) just by copying him!


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