About Me

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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.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

1962; [WWII] Afrika Korps (1st Version), S11 / 01711 - HO/OO

Another favourite set...well - let's be honest; I wouldn't have an Airfix blog if I didn't have a fondness for most of their figures one way or another! Even the execrable Paratroops...

These early sets follow the same style and share poses, the gun team being a straight lift from the earlier German Infantry (S5), with several of the poses mirrored in the 8th Army set.

Favourite pose has to be Rommel, in the replacement set the officer looks more like some earnest Captain or Major of artillery following the fall of shot with his binoculars while waiting to clear the next salvo with a swift drop of the arm, but this chap is taking a far more measured view of proceedings, and earlier issues (before the face detail on the mould went a bit 'soft) actually look like Rommel.

Speaking of the man; here are some OBE's, mostly from the same collection, but the bottom row are from other 'artists'. Of interest here is the evolution of the base. Early versions have a reasonable base, but it used to be flashy at the rear (I well remember the tongue of plastic that used to curl off it like a fingernail!), in order to solve the problem Airfix cut the base shorter with a step at the back of the tool, creating the small base, obvious on the pale figure to the right of the second row and the two figures either end of the bottom (nearest in right hand image).

This clearly left the figure impossible to stand on deep-pile carpets, so a much larger base was created (middle figures in that bottom row), which was also nearly always flashy - although the blue chap in the earlier, darker plastic is OK - so it was probably a quirk of the mould that pressure at that point was high enough to cause a constant problem?

An interesting shot which has appeared on the other blog, it consists of figures from both types taken from several mixed bags, being sorted prior to putting away in the correct box. Now, the figure top left is probably from one source, the two grenadiers bottom left are likewise form one or two other sources, the two darker figures are from a forth, and the unpainted probably a fifth source.

This leaves the seven figures in the green and brown paint-job. We know the two 2nd type SMG-equipped figures were used on the early sprue just before it was phased-out, so there's no real surprise there, but this is one of those anomalies where if they are not on the sprue - they mean little or nothing. When I put them on the other blog it was to ask for advise on what to do with them; in the end nostalgia got the better of me and I stuck all 7 in a little bag for perpetuity!

However - looking for an image to push this post live just now (21st April 2013) I noticed that there is - in this random and small selection of figures - a full illustration of why the figures were placed on the runner/'sprue'. The four advancing poses on the top row (all to the left of the 'Rommel' figure) were issued at a rate of three per pack and it was two of these that were replaced by the 2nd type figures.

Looking at the figure to the far left of the four, and the one next to him, we see that in the early days they were - while not 'detailed' by today's standards - at least as detailed as the rest of the set, however if we look at the two figures nearest the Staff Officer have lost all moulding on the chest and have pretty shiny faces...clearly the mould suffered some catastrophic damage, a mend was actioned - with a welding rod (?) - and after some had been issued it was decided to top the set up with some of the figures from the otherwise unfinished replacement set.

Gives us some idea of how popular the sets were and how fast the stock sold, that they would bring forward some new figures to keep an old mould going until t could be replaced with a set that must have been close to ready?

"Mahhh Maaaa-a'haammmmieeee"

Trying to place colours is an inexact science, and the vast range of shades means that to the naked-eye my bag of spares seems to have dozens of shades, however; I've found that both scanning light and flash light simplify the choice by cutting through dirt, age or surface deposits to find the major batch shades, so picking figures for these colour comparison shots is not easy, but this is a fair sample.

The two figures on the left look to be from the typically later sets, by which time Airfix were probably using pre-coloured granules from a big supplier who could guarantee some sort of consistency. The next two look like the earlier darker sets, where Haldane Place would have been adding the colour as a greasy concoction of additives including lubricants, colour, stabilisers, plasticisers...fillers, 'extenders'...you get the picture. The last figure is probably a late production, 'Friday' shot to fill an order in a hurry!

But; that's based on the typical range, in actual fact the guy on the left is an early one with as clean a moulding as the 3rd (darkest), the 2nd figure is probably the next oldest, with the other two late, glossy, flashy (round the mould's split-line) figures. The rule is not hard and fast, colouring the granules on site could produce light or dark figures, commercially obtained pre-coloured granules could vary and the moulding process could effect the final shade. However as I said; the early sets 'tend' to dark, the late sets tend to lighter shades and the last figure is an uncommon variant.

This group of other buggers efforts...is this bugger's efforts! I painted these in about 1979 (when I was old enough to know better) and, no, I don't know why I went with the brown either!

I'm rather amazed though, that the paint has held-up so well. looking at them, the bases are that awful sandy textured duck-egg green from Airfix, as is the sand of the rifle-slings and the boot-black. I guess they've survived years of scudding around in bags because they spent their first couple in a drawer? You know; paint curing over time like concrete!??

Anyway, they have kept a clean look for thirty-odd years, with just a bit of flaking off the weapon-tips. It probably also helped that they were old, matted, played-with figures when I painted them?

I don't get the Nazi 'thing' at all, I understand the German 'thing'; their early-war uniform was sharper than our bag-of-spuds look, their late-war collection of 'uniforms' was more workmanlike than ours and their vehicles have a sort of architectural design paradigm most of ours didn't, so the three-for-one on model kits (the opposite of the actuality on the ground at the time) is understandable, but given what they did, what they stood for and what - historically - they will always stand for, why the need for black-clad, parade-uniformed, SS idiots fighting across some collectors shelves or 'on-strength' in some war gamers armies? And how many Görings did this bugger need in his army!

What? Have you? Why? Paint over them, you weirdo!

More OBE's, the top row are the standard of the day....flesh, weapons and a bit of webbing highlighted, he hasn't even bothered with the boots as most did!

The next two rows are a mystery to me. Luftwaffe ground troops, Falschrimjager? He's painted over the bare legs, but not the arms...Spanish in Russia? Blue division...geddit? The red-hats are from the same source and follow the headgear colouring rule of his other units (most found elsewhere on this Blog)

The lower four rows are pretty par for the course, the orange guy is probably from a movie'esque Bond villian's 'private army' while the two figures either side of him might be Spode's wrong-shorts! best effort there is probably the shoveller...leather belts and a bit of a tan! The fifth row makes an effort at the pea-green which shames mine.

Comparison between the venerable 'Type One' and a set of poses from their battle-casualty replacement's; Type Two! Not much in it size wise, the surrendering guy should have put-up more of a fight - he's six-foot-six if he's an inch! But the detailing is about as good as it gets...or has ever got (but I'll be waxing lyrical about them when I get round to their post/page), and the weapons a superb.

A rather nice moulding variant on the right of each shot.This rear-foot often came unconnected to it's base, and on this example a slight shrinking after the product was ejected from the mould slightly too soon has tipped the figure forward a tad as the left knee straightened. You could probably do this with hot water, but you'd be bending the ankle unnaturally.

The death-knell of this version?...given the lead-in for a set of figures and the issue dates of the Matchbox (1977) and the 2nd version Airfix ('73), I think not. Matchbox saw what Airfix had done with the new sets and the improved technology and though "Humm, we'll have some of that thanks".

There's no competition, the Matchbox are vastly superior, but the side-by-side comparison makes you ask if the 'Rommel' figure may not have been sculpted by the guy who did the rest of the Airfix set (Nibblet).

In this sample he does look similar in sculpting style, but some of the OBE's with early figures have him looking more detailed, less wax-carved, and you wonder if the guy who would produce the Russians and Japanese was already waiting in the wings and got to do the officer?

Pocket-pleats, goggles, buttons...all detailing not attempted on the other figures in the set; compare his hands to any of the other figures, even the surrendering guy, and, he's a taller figure; I've always thought he might have been sculpted by someone else.


This is a comparison shot between the Airfix and Atlantic sets, there's realy no comparison, the newer set's figures are bigger, the bases are deeper...the technology had mved-on and left the old set looking small and tired!

One of the box types...the 'blurb' makes for amusing reading - if there's nothing better on the telly-visual goggle-box! They was robbed...the horrid Allies with their ten-to-one superiority; it's just not crick...er...it's just not competitive Gondola rowing!

Links

Airfix Tribute Forum
Plastic Soldier Review
Wargaming With Barks (vintage paint-job)

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