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Saturday, July 7, 2012

Airfix - Toy Soldiers

Airfix, a British firm, is among the best known manufacturers of WWII Plastic Toy Soldiers. They produced a wide range of figures representing many countries and branches of the service. They were also quite good at sculpting, coming up with realistic and well detailed poses. If anything could be asked of them is that they had produced more poses for each set as most of their sets were released in 1/32 with only 7 poses. They began producing figures in the 60s and went on strong through the 70s and 80s. Unfortunately they do not produce new sets anymore, but the molds still survive and new production figures are still being released for the WWII range, which makes them easy to find. A definite must have for any collector and a good starting point for someone looking to get into the hobby.

Airfix British Paratroops
Solid set. Nice mix of berets and helmets. Not a big fan of the marching guys, but they could come handy for a Market Garden scene as they approach Arnhem. Keep an eye out for the radio man's 'twin' in the British Infantry Support set.

Airfix British Paratroops - Series 1 - Part I
This is one of the rare Airfix Paras which Airfix made before they switched to the set which has become the standard one. I should say that in terms of the sculpting and poses, the second series is indeed superior to the first and it is easy to understand why Airfix decided to replace them. I once ran into the whole set at a soldier show, before I knew what they were. They were priced a bit on the expensive side, so I passed on them, Years later, when I realized what I had held in my hands, it became clear to me that I should have bought them and that they had actually been priced quite well given how rare they are... This one I got in a large set of mixed figures that someone did not bother to sort out and classify. A bit of a lucky break for me. Here you can see the rest of the posescourtesy of Toy Soldier HQ.

Airfix British Paratroops - Series 1 - Part II
Here is another guy from the set, firing off into the sky. Now the question is, what could he be firing at? In theory, his unit is the one doing the drop... The enemy would not drop on top of them, since after all, they are already behind enemy lines. I suppose he could be firing at a strafing fighter... In terms of the sculpting, I just wish they had given him a slightly more relaxed stance. Maybe the knees, slightly bent? At any rate, I am glad I ran into him. Only 5 more poses to go!

Airfix British Paratroops - Series 1 - Part III
OK, so I had a bit of a lucky break and found a batch of about a dozen paras in pretty good shape. Out of those, we have 3 more new poses. Out of these three, the kneeling, firing guy is my favorite. Now we are just missing the prone bazooka man and the man walking holding his sub mg at his side. 

Airfix German Paratroops - Part 1
One of the few sets with over 7 poses. In fact we got twice as many, resulting in a good diversity of poses. I like the abundance of automatic weapons.
Airfix German Paratroops - Part 2
One interesting thing to note is that these guys seem to be a tad shorter than the figures in most of the other sets.
Airfix German Infantry
All good action poses. One of Airfix's representative sets.

Airfix German Afrika Korps - painted as German Infantry
Most manufacturers represent German Infantry with helmets, so having a few guys with caps is a welcome alternative.

Airfix German Afrika Korps
Here they are painted as DAK. I really like the way they are posed. Note how most figurs even if they are standing straight, have their balance shifted off-center which gives them a more realistic, action look.
Airfix British Modern Infantry
OK, these guys are not WWII figures, but if you don't look closely at the weapons they could pass for paratroopers, as their helmets have a similar cammo look.

Airfix Modern German Infantry - Part I
Same with these guys. But they are so well sculpted that I could not resist getting a batch of them and incorporating them into my ranks. Even though they are German, I think I could use them as British paras.

Airfix Modern German Infantry - Part II
In typical airfix fashion, the poses are full or action and include plenty of realistic detail. Even the folds on their clothes are all in the right places. Out of this batch, I really like the guy firing his sub MG from the waist and how he leans into it.

Airfix Australian Infantry - Part 1
Lots of action in this batch. Ideal for jungle warfare scenes.
Airfix Australian Infantry - Part 2
The marching guy does seem a bit out of place compared to the rest of the poses, but the other two are really nice.
Airfix British 8th Army - Part 1
Another representative set which ahs been widely cloned. The figures are also a bit on the shorter side, but the poses are great for an advance across the open desert.
Airfix British 8th Army - Part 2
Even the marching guy can fit in, marching behind a tank as they try to pucnh a hole in the enemy lines.
Airfix British Infantry
They definitely tried to do a god job depicting their fellow countrymen. Great action look in most of the figures. I like to see for once an officer who is crouching some. Perhaps the one that is lacking a bit is the man on the far right.

Airfix British Support Troops - Part 1
This set contains some heavy weapons that can be used to reinforce the British Infantry set.

Airfix British Support Troops - Part 2
To the far left we have the radio man 'twin', very similar to the one in the paratroops set, but not quite the same. It is a fun exercise to find the differences.
Airfix British Commandos
A decent set, but a couple of the figures seem to be standing a bit too straight for my taste. On the other hand, I love the guy crawling on his belly, ready for some action.
Airfix Gurkhas - Part 1
Nice set with good variety. The figures are a bit shorter, but I think that is intentional as the Nepalese troops were shorter in general. The poses are varied, but the sculpting is a bit 'stiff' in my opinion. The oposite of what I was remarking about regarding the Afrika Korps set.

Airfix Gurkhas - Part 2
Nice touch of having given them traditional Gurkha knives. Those things could take a man's head off without much effort.

Airfix Gurkhas - Part 3
There is also a casualty figure which I did not paint at the time and neglected to include in the picture. I'll try to upload him later.

Airfix Italian Infantry
A hard set to find. For a long time Airfix was the only manufacturer to offer an Italian Infantry set.
Good, solid, 'middle of the road' set.
Airfix Japanese Infantry - Part 1
Note how they made the kneeling guy without a base. Unusual for an Airfix set.
Airfix Japanese Infantry - Part 2
The other poses are nice and well suited for a jungle battle scene.
German Mountain Troops - Part 1
A favorite of many collectors. It's unusual in its concept and offers a good number and variety of poses.

German Mountain Troops - Part 2
Not all of them are combat troops, but they depict several of the challenges faced by this type of units.
German Mountain Troops - Part 3
I like the guy on skis. If you can get a hold of several of them you can form up a longe range reconnaissance patrol.
Airfix US Paratroops - Part 1
I have mixed feelings about this set. I like the number and variety of poses, however some of them feel a bit stiff and are on the smaller side for 1/32.
Airfix US Paratroops - Part 2
One thing I like about this set is that it blends very well with the ESCI US Paras.
Airfix US Paratroops - Part 3
Speaking about the sculpting, the grenade man says it all.

Airfix US Infantry
Another representative set from Airfix. Love all the poses. The only thing that could have been better would have been to give the bazooka man a base.


Airfix Soviet Infantry
This is another solid set. Would have liked to see a couple more figures rushing forward as they sometimes did in reality when they mounted their frontal attacks, but they can still be used very well for urban combat scenes.

7 comments:

  1. Hi TSG, did you know there was another set of Airfix WW2 British Paras, They were the very first set issued in this range and came out slightly before the German infantry. They were pantographed up copies of the HO/OO scale set, rather crude and now very brittle nearly every one I have is damaged.

    Best wishes, Brian

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  2. Very Unique.I have never seen so much different countries and types. Its not easy to come across Soviet, Italian, Australian or German Paratroopers Are these all yours? do they come painted or are they painted by the owner?

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  3. Thanks. It has taken a few years to assemble the collection. They come unpainted, and I have not had a chance to paint them all yet.

    Brian, I know which ones you are talking about. The Series 1 British Paras. I once saw them at a toy soldier show but passed on them and have never seen them again. I regularly keep an eye out for them online, but no luck so far :-(

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  4. By the way, all of these figures bar the Italians and the modern troops have now been re-issued by Hornby in an excellent new plastic-resin called K-Resin.

    I think it's a bit unappealing when unpainted, but because it's porous or something the paint actually seeps in- I have figures that I painted four or five years ago and the paint job looks brand new, no flaking, and I didn't need to add any protective layers or PVA.

    Lovely figures, though, aren't they? I'm glad Hornby wanted to continue the 1/32 range and they're super cheap here in the UK, don't know about the States but they're dirt cheap in comparison with other figures! Great for conversions.

    The Afrika Korps figures are a great way to get some extra Italians, too, painted as regulars or blackshirts.

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  5. Yes, Airfix are among my favorites of all time. I was not aware of Hornby. I will have to look them up. Would be a good way to strengthen some of my ranks. Good idea re the AK as Italians. And this K-Resin sounds like quite an improvement over previous materials, at least when it comes to painting. Thanks for the tips!

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  6. Ok, so I think I found them. They are the new red boxes that still say Airfix. Over here they are sold for a big price range, but you can definitely find some pretty good deals, like 29 German mountain troops for 13 usd... or 14 British Infantry for 5 and change...

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    1. Yes, you'd pay the same in pounds over here, so you're getting them cheaper! Hornby bought Airfix when they went out of business (again) in 2006 or 2007 (and they now own Corgi and Scalextric too, so most of the old British toy market).

      They've also released, in the past few months, some 1/32 diorama pieces like houses and checkpoints and two kits of vehicles. Worth a look.

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