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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

1974 [WWII] British 8th Army (2nd Version), 1709 / 01709 / 01709-3 / 9 01709 / A01709 - HO/OO

Arguably - in terms of sculpting - as good a set as the Afrika Korps 2nd Type, and - like them - based around the original seven 54mm poses. But, not quite to the standard set by the DAK, this set suffers (like the 2nd Type German and British Infantry) from a couple of daft poses, one in particular has adopted a very 'Ooh, get you!' pose which leaves him in the tin when the rest are set-up!

Still, well received at the time, and a lovely set nonetheless. The Vicker's gun and crew making a lovely vignette, and a breath of fresh air after the peculiar flat-faced tripod of the 1st Type; technology had moved-on and such undercuts were now easy with multi-part mould tools.

I didn't really take to them, because I'm an ornery Luddite, and they didn't go with my beloved 1st Type, to whom I had such loyally as to reject these exquisitely sculpted, highly-detailed muppets out of hand! Oh...they grew on me over time, although - only really after Matchbox issued their 'expansion set'! Also, my toy soldier tub was full of small scale Hong Kong copies (which you will find on the 1:32nd sets post) of the larger seven poses already, so the set wasn't that 'new' to me.

The usual box art from the 1980 catalogue, based on the little 'thumbnail' images from the backs of the 'White' boxes, one of which would be used as the front (main) image of the 1980's 'Long' boxes.

Despite the relatively late arrival of this set, Hong Kong was quick to exploit it and it was one of the only late type issues to be pirated, indeed, I think that along with the RAF Personnel, they were the only post 1970 Airfix sets to suffer copying. All other copies of 2nd Type releases being actually older, copied from the 1:32nd scale sets and containing only poses from those sets.

Looking at the runner ('sprue'), I wouldn't mind betting the company behind these was also behind those RAF copies and that execrable set of Romans with their horseless, wheel-less chariot and shield-less legionaries with spigot arms...and giant cannon!

The copies were also available in green: dark, enemy blue-green! But they are good copies, same-size and detail not too bad, proving you don't need to lose or gain a few millimetres if you know what you're doing with a pantograph milling-machine..again; 1970's...technology had moved on, for the pirates as well as the originators.

Comparison between the Fujimi set and the Airfix 2nd Type - the Fujimi set (on the main Blog) is not terrible, a few of the 'out of the box' poses leave a little to be desired, but the hard plastic and 'multi-pose' element to them meant they could be used to fill gaps in an Airfix unit, such as the very useful Boys (sometimes - incorrectly; 'Boyes') Anti-tank Rifle, still common in the western desert where a well-placed shot to engine or tracks could stop a light tank or tankette.

As the old 'Blue Boxes' faded from the inventory, and the 'White' or 'Corner-art' boxes replaced them, you found both in the catalogues at the same time, this is the 1975 catalogue image for what was still a relatively new set at the time - courtesy of Koastas, from Greece.

Colour variation was minimal for the first 15 odd-years of this sets availability, being slightly lighter or darker shades of the 'standard' Airfix sand. Once the fine old British maker had become an internationally traded brand, these hideous camel-shite orange ones were issued by some bunch of fuckwitts in Europe, playing pin the tail on the donkey in the colour column of the order-form for plastic granules!

For sorting: only one officer, but the two machine-guns were useful, not sure three mine-detectors were needed, but ultimately they were toys, or still had at least a part 'toy' ethos. There is a slight difference between the old 1:32nd scale poses and the all-new figures, but it's very slight, not as obvious as it is with the Germans or US Marines.

As with most of the late issue WWII, I had a big-old cleaning session a few years ago, so have very few OBE's, and those I do have don't exactly add anything to the oeuvre! The chap with binoculars looks like he was getting there, paint wise, and the figure at the bottom would make a nice Indian Army soldier.

The top row is the all-over, odd-colour, first attempt paint-jobs a fair few of us had in our collections at some point!

Comparison with the Marx Miniature Masterpieces, although here supplied by the Hong Kong producer Rado via Marksmen, they really are a bit too big, and unlike a couple of the thinner poses (see the 2nd Type British Infantry) can't be hidden with a bit of a paint job.

Comparison with the Matchbox set, I've shoved the non-equivalent 'spares' over to the right, Matchbox get the win on pose-number, but overall the Airfix set is superior in my opinion. They get across the sword bayonets (meant to compensate the reach in close-quarter fighting of a shorter rifle) far better than Matchbox, who's men have clearly been issued novelty toothpicks.

The Mortar is a definite plus for M'box, despite being a bit basic, and the smattering of Tam o’ Shanter headdresses coupled with the famous Tobruk bag-piper, are a nice touch - Pipe Major Rab Roy.

It's also a point for Matchbox that the surrendering figure is German, it always worried me (in my younger days) that the surrendering figures in the Airfix 1st version sets were in with their own men...how much grief did they get after you turned the lights out and went to bed?

The Airfix MG is the better sculpt, although it's mounting collar is the heavier, the clamp swivels at its base are quite well modelled and look better after painting...and - of course - the collar can be cut-down. The Matchbox tripod is as simple as the mortar, but the gun is OK.

I suppose I should have saved this comparison for the Gurkha or Australians, but they're wearing shorts, so the photo's were done! And the verdict? No comparison...mad ceremonial headdresses on most of the figures, a fictional mounting for an oversize Vicker's which is being fed ammunition from the wrong side...waving clown or circus blades about, to big, chunky bases...huge Bren gun pouches...

...along with the usual highfalutin' blurb on the back of the box and some enticing artwork on the front! The line drawings on this pack are quite accurate and stood to warn the purchaser of the contents...except that back in the mid-late 1970's when these became available, they were exotic, they were 'not' Airfix and they were welcomed into the toy box!



The older sculpts above and the newer sculpts below, as with the German Infantry and Afrika Korps; the old ones are better that the newer one, some of whom are really quite daft poses, but then they have otherwise been well matched vis-a-vis uniforms and equipment, the rifles are disappointing, however that's compensated-for by the exquisite 3-man MG vignette.


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