About Me

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No Fixed Abode, Home Counties, United Kingdom
I’m a 49-year-old Aspergic CAD-Monkey. Sardonic, cynical and with the political leanings of a social reformer, I’m also a toy and model soldier collector, particularly interested in the history of plastics and plastic toys. Other interests are history, current affairs, modern art, and architecture. 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, therefore I hate the 'educational' establishment and pity the millions they’ve failed. 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”.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

More Pictures

Images have now been added to Union and Confederate Infantry and the US cavalry - all small scale, filing them on the Airfix dongle I found a few more images I haven't used yet so there may be a couple more added to the US cav. and union troop's posts later this evening.

New shots and some text were added to HO set listings for the Cowboys, Indians, High Chaparral and Foreign Legion (Ist Type) last night.

Hopefully I will get on top of the text this week, and finish laying out the other posts so I can start loading more 1:32/54mm content - Kostas has sent nice pictures of Solpa and other HK copies of the large scales from his collection which I'm looking forward to loading.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Introduction / Explanation

This will always be a 'work in progress' as photographs are added or upgraded and missing bits are slotted in. Aiming to be no more than a guide to the figural production of Airfix Products.

Wherever possible it will quash urban myths or commonly held beliefs which are incorrect, most of which have grown-up during the 'Internet Years'.

As many search terms as possible will be used in order that anyone visiting whether familiar with Airfix or a new collector/casual browser will be able to find what they want, either singly or in groups of similar size, period or subject matter using the 'Click-on Index' to the right. Likewise the title-blocks will be as comprehensive as possible so they can be discerned in the 'Blog Archive' feature on the left of the page.

As this is designed to be a sort of second page for the Small Scale World blog, there was going to be no 'comments' feature, but I've enabled it, still, anyone with an issue concerning the factual accuracy of any entry can eMail me with supporting evidence and will be fully acknowledged for any resulting change or update.

I will also not use the Pink/Khaki thing here as I have on the general Blog, I want it to be cleaner and more streamlined, so people can find what they're looking for with ease.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Zoo Animals - Error in the 1975 Catalogue

I spent ages editing the catalogue illustrations from the 1975 catalogue the other day, kindly scanned and sent in by Kostas from Greece, they contained a page of my favourite feature from the early catalogues, the painted sets, set-up on a card. However, what I didn't notice - tired, late at night - was that Airfix had miss-attributed the two illustrations, so although I collaged the correct margin entry for each picture, the animals were from the other set!

The errant catalogue entry above; to be fair no one told me they were wrong, and with only 20-odd hits on either thread since they went live a couple of years ago, I'm guessing it's of no consequence to most of you, and I probably could have got away with it if it hadn't been for this pesky Aspergic kid!

Still, I seem to recall other errors in the catalogues and there's the famous Guards box-art screw-up which will appear on the correct post eventually, but as this concerns two sets and one image they can have their own post for now. Both images have now been corrected on the two Zoo Animal's posts below somewhere.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

1970-71; [Wild West/Media Related] High Chaparral (Cowboys+), S38 / 01738 / 01738-1 - HO/OO

We'll start this one with a useful link...The High Chaparral Fan Site which should help those who may have missed the original TV series. Or even those who didn't; I was a young fan, but at that age I was only really interested in that day's plot-line, not the back story, with the result I've learnt today that Manolito was Victoria's brother and Buck was John's brother...I'd always thought Buck was the eldest, Blue-boy the middle and Manolito the youngest half-brother of three siblings!!!!

The twin-figure vignette of John Cannon and Victoria Montoya, showing all three colours this set was issued in - the same colours as the cowboys, with the dark 'plain chocolate' brown arriving while they were still useing it for the Cowboy set this TV tie-in is based on. Then we get the mid-brown that represented Airfix's first attempt at reducing the number of plastic colours they were useing; a move shared by the later issues of ACW Artillery, the Indians, Wagon Train, Ancient Britons and RHA already being in the same red-oxide colour along with  the Naploleonic Accessory Set later issued in the large Waterloo 'Assault Set'.

Always a great disappointment when you realised this was just the cowboy set with a few new figures, especially as the new figures - while much better sculpts - didn't really 'go' with the Nibblet designs of the older set.

Three mint boxes of black-ended blue boxes, showing that the latter colour made it to these boxes and the latter plain-ended boxes probably only had cream figures in, the cream being the least common colour encountered with this set, and cowboys falling out of favour as the mid-70's gave way to Star Wars, Pong and Micronaughts!

On the left is a complete set of the High Chaparral, with the difference found in the cowboy set to the right, Airfix clearly considered the vignette of John and his wife to be 'two' figures for the purpose of like for like replacement, vis-a-vis mould cavities!

Paul Morehead in issue 7 of One Inch Warrior magazine pointed out that the figure of Manolito seemed to have been designed to ride a horse before ending up on a base, not something I'd ever noticed, however I had a damaged figure so took the base away and tried him.

He's far too big...but does seem to have been designed with that (being mounted) in mind, I guess once they'd decided to use the existing set and keep the horses while going with a new sculptor (Ron Cameron?) there was a miss-match in style or scale (which could equally be a pantograph error?) so a base was added and all six of the old riders survived the sprue/frame re-suffle!

A bunch of OBE's (Other Bugger's Efforts), I had in the past cleaned all the scrappy Cowboys and High Chaparral (I keep them all in one box with the High Chaparral characters in a separate self-seal bag) for set making, so these are mostly from one sample, although it is an old one and you can recognise the Airfix vermilion (was it M1 or M12?) straight-off!

The 1975 catalogue image with the 'blurb' inset, scans courtesy of Kostas, a follower from Greece, this was sharing a page with the original Cowboys set, one of Airfix's bigger rip-offs was running two almost identical sets side-by-side...their 'biggest' is probably continuing to sell the German Armoured Car with the idiot mudguards!

1971; [Civil/Space] Astronauts, 01741 / 01741-7 - HO/OO

One of the only Airfix sets which had no counterpart sets or 'enemy'. By going down the NASA route and using non-warlike designs based on actual or planned equipment from the real-world Airfix lost the possibility of adding vicious space-alien sets and expanding the range exponentially, had they done so, we might never have heard of Games Workshop and White Dwarf might have remained the interesting and eclectic magazine it was for its first few issues!!

Instead, GW became the 'Evil Empire' even as Airfix folded.

However, it was still a great favourite at the time, men had walked on the moon the year before this set was issued, and with all the little plug-together accessories there was play-value, the cameraman clearly had a ray-gun, the bloke carrying stuff was obviously carrying charges - nuclear charges!!

The chap with the probe was undoubtedly doing something horrible to the dustbin-lid entries on the Clanger's underground complex while the hover-platform men carried two para-munitions either side of the platform...what? You actually played 'NASA' exploration?...There's some'in wrong wi'yer!

The moon-buggy, a lovely piece, not that accurate but there were so many pre-production prototypes it would have been hard for the Airfix pattern-makers to get it right, without the limitations of production methods and budget to boot.

Word of warning to collectors - Like the Waterloo French Artillery wheels, these are now very hard to remove without pulling the mounting spigot/axle off and ruining the thing for all time, so its best to either keep them on or use a tooth-pick or other soft'ish, blunt'ish thin-thing to push the spigot/rod through the wheel, rather than pulling on the wheel itself.

The 'hover platform', not something that actually saw service, but like assault infantry backpacks; something that was experimented with from the 1950's through to the 70's!

The 'Lander'...no...I haven't the faintest idea...I'm hoping one of the boys from Moonbase Central will visit here and put me right on this one!! But...clearly a powerful weapon system for engaging the Giant space aliens or the evil 7-foot-something LP/Triang humanoids!!

The rear view shows the (power cable?) difference in back-packs for the moon-buggy crew, these push into the floor-pan of the buggy to aid stability, all the other figures get a normal pack.

Artwork from late catalogues, these seem to be the illustrations from the Long Boxes and look to be very nice watercolours when enlarged. The 1982 image is from the German language version of the catalogue.

For those interested - the font I've used for the dates is a free download called TR2N (ie; TRON) and can be found here Dafont - TR2N.

OBE's - Once more; I don't have many of these, but they give an idea of the two camps...NASA realists against militarised warmongers (Me sir! Me!). I think a couple of them have the Space 1999 schemes? And...more Airfix matt vermilion! (see; High Chaparral).

Re-issued a few years ago in a silver plastic, that's the only real variant for these, there were two hard styrene plastic ones in the Eagle-Lander Module kit which I will add here when time allows.

We've found a monolith on the dark side sir!

Is it a big oblong box-like structure made of something too hard to penetrate and unknown to man, emanating the cry of the universal God-child?

No sir, it's hollow and has Bon-bon Buddies on the underside!

2013 - A Space Oddity!! A complete set congregate round a capsule-egg, to see if there is anything sugery left...

The breakdown of a complete set, the little balls (gyroscopic levellers? They should have had Segways!) for the hover platform are 'the bugger' with this set, being often overlooked at the de-sprueing phase, or easily lost.

Thanks to Greek follower of the blog Kostas, we have this collage of the box-art and blurb from the 1975 catalogue, the rover here has much larger rubber-tyred wheels than the contents of the box, and seems to have a raised battery on the front deck, the actual one had sort of tension/compression-stressed wire-basket wheels.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Small but perfectly formed!

One of each - 20/25mm, HO/OO, 1:76/1:72 range, boxed sets...I think!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

1947-1955 (approximately); [Civil] The Zoo Animals & Zoo Brix - No Scale

First advertised (as far as we know) at the same time as the Life Guard/Horse Guard set in 1947, this set and it's subsequent offspring present a few questions once you look at it in detail.

A whole card, when I bought this, the vendor had about 6 similar cards, the animals - which the original advertisement tells us numbered 12 different - were randomly assorted so that while there were never two animals the same on any card, they were not divided into two sets of 6, which would have made far more sense.

My set is of polystyrene plastic, the same as the later Zoo Brix, however it seems almost certain that like the contemporary figures, earlier production would have been cellulose-acetate, indeed...

The three brown animals above and the yellow lion in-line with them ARE cellulose-acetate and their bases are the same as the carded ones, so it's fair to assume they are slightly earlier (actual 1947) production.

The 6 animals in the row above them are polystyrene again, however there are subtle differences in the duplicate animals, and the elephant is markedly unalike the carded example. Having only got the 'Brown Bear' in the Zoo Brix Series 'A' (below) this yellow one could be the plain 'Bear' (from the Zoo Brix Series 'C') but without seeing the Airfix animal in the flesh can't know if it's as close to the Airfix moulding as the lion or camel, but given the moulding variations in the Bergen/Beton figures and the early set of 8 soldier poses, it's likely these are all Airfix production or copies of/from Airfix mouldings. Likewise the slightly less defined elephant in pink.

The dogs have the same base style, and could originate with Airfix, but even if they did - I'd put money on their having been sold as playing pieces in a 'Totopoly' style dog-race game. Going to 'The Dogs' was far more popular in the fifties than now, and a fair few dog track board-games exist. The nice thing about these is that they are all slightly different and therefore each - unique. These days you would sculpt one, pantograph it in multiples and produce the same piece/pose in a half-dozen colours!

A close up of the lions and the 'wood-wasp' in the timber-pile; A donkey or ass/mule thing...stripe-less zebra? The dodgy-origin set has slightly thinner bases, however, as the Airfix ones barely stand up, they may be a first effort, but - if that's the case - why didn't the equine subject survive? Also, donkeys and dogs are not really 'Zoo' animals, but rather 'Domestic' animals.

The Logo hiding away in the Jungle foliage, if it's not a jungle, it's a very spacious zoo for the 1950's!! I'm guessing this 'Ape' is meant to be a Gorilla, although it looks more like a Sasquatch I encountered on the Brecon Beacons once!

A Year later the animals were used for Pattern No. 430 Zoo Brix; a boxed set of 6 infant's rattles/bath toys/building-blocks I first covered back in January last here; Bargain! which might be worth a read, however the pictures here are better, I was trying too hard to be clever with the Collage feature last time!

The bases were made wider and glued onto the base of the brick, they were also used in a similar capacity in the end of a baby's rattle/soother. As they would have stood-up better with this wider base, one wonders if they weren't also sold separately, or perhaps supplied as a premium somewhere?

I took these purely to show the size in relation to something more familiar to Airfix fans, one of the dancing para's with his space rifle and pockets stuffed with tissues! What WAS going on with that set, and why did people keep buying it - they must have or they wouldn't have kept churning it out?!

The little granules used to provide the rattle are small pieces of cellulose-acetate raw-material, which was being phased out at Airfix, and what better way to get rid of it than to flog it to the general public a thimble-full at a time! In the words of someone in the industry at the time (I can't find the reference, one of the TIMPO guys?) "Like the little stones in the bottom of a fish tank".

Here's a 'to be updated' chart showing the known poses and their position within the Airfix oeuvre. Which were the other four poses on the original cards? Where does the donkey fit in? Why two Elephant moulds? When - exactly - was the change to all-styrene polymers? Are the Dogs from the same source?

Further reading;

Plastic Warrior's 'Airfix - The Early Years' again.
Tony over at the Airfix Collectors Forum has the same set (from the same seller!), but has tracked down a few of the other animals; Zoo Brix.

1947 - 1955 (approximately); The Bergen/Beton Mounted Figures

Disclaimer

All or none of the figures in this post could (or could not) be by Airfix, or any of the other manufacturers mentioned in the text. Most of the horses probably are Airfix, those over-which a question mark remains are pointed out in the text.

First advertised in 1947 these are probably the first 'plastic' Toy Figures produced commercially in the UK as playthings...

Group Shot

These figures (where they ARE Airfix) were probably pirated from the Bergen Toy (Beton) company rather than licensed, after Nikolai Kovespachi (Nicholas Kove) came back from his reconnaissance to America sometime in the mid-to-late 1940's. The horse is deliberately different with it's tail slightly to one side and there are subtle differences in those figures which are duplicated, while the Life Guard seems to have been an Airfix original?

Doughboy in 'Brodie' helmet

This figure may be (and the horse definitely is...) a Beton product, but he comes within the scope of this article/post and ended up first in line because I wasn't too bothered about the order in which I uploaded the photographs! The horse is a dense cellulose-acetate polymer called Tenite, and while the figure is similar, he seems more clearly a polystyrene, so late US or European production?.

Staff Officer

Beton called this chap either M416; U.S. Cavalry Officer, or with a paint change; M418 Traffic Officer. Airfix called this the Horse Guard. Beton Horse on the left with a polyethylene Airfix horse on the right, The Airfix horse is marked 'MADE IN ENGLAND' withing the hollow underside/belly.

The red figure has probably only had his paint removed, you can see the figure on the left is suffering a crystalline reaction between the paint and the plastic, sometimes this reaction results in a sticky mess which is better removed.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) 'Mountie'

The Mountie, again not sure if Airfix produced this one, Reisler did, and as they produced the Life Guard, it's possible they got their figures (or a license?) from Airfix which would suggest Airfix produced a Mountie as well. Airfix horse again on the right.

The Mountie was also produced by Tudor*Rose, but as part of their wild West range and will be covered when I look at them.

Lifeguard in ceremonial uniform

The Life Guard, clearly aiming at the Tourist market, all these figures - when originating with Airfix - were supposed to stand up when removed from the horse, they rarely do! These are probably both Airfix with the horse in polyethylene and the rider in a styrene polymer.

Hunting party with both poses

The Hunters, Beton produced a female rider and a Jockey in racing silk, both in a larger size, neither of which - as far as I know - were part of the Airfix issues and don't seem to have featured in the Reisler inventory either.

Beagles


By Airfix - the hunters were sold in a boxed set with the two dogs above, these dogs were also sold in a kennel shaped box with other breeds. Early ones are cellulose-acetate, these are the later polyethylene run.

The dogs are marked internally in the same manor as the Airfix horses. The lower two are also ethylene, but in black, I don't know is there were brown ones?

Academy Cadet/Circus Performer/Ceremonial figure

This horse is from a different source altogether (the Woolworths Crazy Clown Circus) but might be an Airfix original and this figure looks good rearing up on it! These are technically only 'Cadets' but they do look like simplified ceremonials or those generic Napoleonics that feature so much in early toy production, while he also works well as a circus performer!

The following will help identify these figures in greater detail;

Kent Sprecher's Beton page.
The Reamsa figure on JC's blog.
Reisler page click-on; SGI / Riesler then either 'I Soldater og Politi' or; 'III Sportsryttere' below the thumbnails.

Further reading

Plastic Warrior magazine have produced a guide: Airfix - The Early Years, which covers all this early production in some depth.

Any of Richard O'Brien's volumes on firstly 'Collecting Toy Soldiers' and latterly 'Collecting American Made Toy Soldiers will fill you in on the Bergen/Beton production.

Indeed, one of the main questions remaining comes from his work if an American reader can help...did Beton use both sets of codes or is one O'Brien's own system?

Added 20th November 2012

And then this turns up! Raising that whorey old question of who copied who? It is quite a lump of lead, and seems to be early enough to be pre-war. So did Timpo copy Bergan-Beton, or did the Americans have a stab at a British piece of hollow-cast but in plastic (albeit: cellulose-acetate)

Clues point both ways - The edges of the horse are a bit rough, so it could have been the copy, taken badly and not cleaned up, while the solid belly and hollow-cast nature of the piece would make copying almost has hard - thechnically - as making a new horse pose from scratch, suggesting it IS a new pose and not the copy.

While the figure stares at us inanely, giving no clue as to his parentage, being easier to copy either way, and being as clean a moulding here as he is in plastic?

Also, there were other poses than the Mountie produced by Reamsa, and other stuff has come to light on this much copied/licenced set, so I will update this post properly one day!

1949 - 1960 (approximately); Early Toy Soldiers

Definitely in production by 1949 (when they were advertised in Toy Trader & Exporter), I'm guessing the unpainted polystyrene figures arrived first with the painted Polyethylene versions following at a later date, but that is a guess.

I only have two of the hard plastic ones at the moment; 'Airborne' and 'Knight in Armour', more will be added as I find them.

In soft plastic we see from left to right; '18th Century Fusilier', 'Paratrooper', 'Airborne' again (as opposed to paratrooper!!?) and finally 'German Soldier'.

These figures were also issued in Australia by a company called Pierwood Plastics under the Fethalite label in the unpainted hard plastic version. Some of the names/titles were however changed.

Smaller (copies/pirates?) have turned up and various mould variants of the Paratrooper seem to exist - both versions shown in the Plastic Warrior publication 'Airfix - The Early Days' have different arm-gaps from mine - and each other.

1958; [Civil] Station Accessories - HO/OO

First issued in 1958 this was the first of the 'Figure' sets, except that it...er...wasn't part of the figure range, which would be a year or two in the gestating still! This was actually part of the Railway Accessory range, and would remain so until late 'Blue' box era, when it was given a place in the figure range.
The two early bags from the Railway range, the earliest having a cursive scrip on the 'Banner' logo, while the later bag had a printed 'AIRFIX' and the graphics changed to match the other ranges.
Finally it gets a place in the mighty figure range (well - it was then!), and apart from a couple of Tamiya or Italeri/Heller kit boxes, possibly the only time someone is seen smoking on a toy figure box?
Also please note that the Fat controller seems to have been borrowed from the Reverend Scouse-Beetle, a bit misleading as the contents of this set are - to a man; or woman - suffering from the post-war austerity diet of the 50's and all need a good feed!
After some time 'off the ledger', the set returned in the 80's, with graphics to tie-in with the new Airfix railway range and catalogue, which would end up as 'Mainline' after Palitoy via Heller to Dapol...or something...ask the man with a notebook at the end of platform 5; Woking Station, he'll know
When Dapol inherited the moulds for the railway range, they also got a lot of ex-factory stock of the figures and so to start with just re-bagged them in cream polyethylene, they appeared in these bags and were contemporary around 1994 when I got this in the New Tottenhamcourt Road Beatties (which must have been just before the whole group went belly-up?). Note - they've kept the artwork but removed the paint references at the ends of the pointer-lines!

Once they had used up the old stock they (Dapol) re-ran the mould in 'standard' grey polystyrene, which was easier to glue, convert, paint etc...and gave them a new style of bag to boot!
As to the discolouration..."Careful with that mould-release agent Eugine!"

It is one of life's little annoyances that red velvet is just not the background for photographing pink'ish-white'ish-creamy coloured figures, so this little lot will need to be re-done, but for now, here is a full set 'on the sprue' and laid-out, the best thing about this set was that the various machines, loads and trolleys; when used as street furniture and barricades, made a Stalingrad carpet-war so much more realistic!!

1959; [Ceremonial] Guards Band, S1 / 01701 / 01701-9 - HO/OO

There is nothing quite like a military band on the move, and the popularity of the larger figures by Britians - in metal and plastic, Crescent/Kellogg's, Lone*Star et al...was bound to be mirrored in plastic and Airfix proved that when the first 'proper' set in the small-scale boxed figure range was a set of generic British guards regiment's bandsmen.

A full set of poses in the later cream-coloured plastic (circa mid-1970's), this set suffered from flash in the later stages and was a nightmare to paint, yet another pointer to why Airfix went bust, it was no longer about the customer, or; common sense, it became about cost/profit, and somewhere in the depths of Airfix's account department, some bean-counter thought a reduction in the colour palate would save a few beans!

Eric William's otherwise excellent site had a few issues with colours, not least because he was archiving one country's products in another - mostly before the internet, so while I have in the past corrected the blue ACW Artillery question, and have a problem with his view on the position of the grey issue of French Waterloo cavalry, with the guards it's not so clear-cut. Eric does his careful positioning of a figure of each colour with each box type as he believes them to have been issued, and I don't disagree with his distribution, except that the earlier vertion of the type I box should have a red option as well as the pink, the reason being...

...there was no such thing as pink guards issued by Airfix.

This is not to say that you won't find them, it's not to say that I don't remember them being pink in the boxes - they were! But it is to say that I believe they left the factory gates as nice red figures, ready for a bit of matt black on the bearskin and trousers.

The early plastics - as an industrial product/by-product of the oil industry - particularly the cheaper ones, were supplied to end-users as small beads (or sheets - Bellona) of a pale, cream, clay, dirty-white or putty shade (these days some 'raw' plastics come a semi-clear or milky-glue colour), totally pigment free, the pigment was then added to the beads prior to moulding as a faintly greasy powder. I say 'cheaper' as people like Merit and Tudor Rose were producing colour-fast plastics before these figures hit the shops.

Some pigments were more colour-fast then others, and in the case of the guards (both sets - see also Guards Colour Party; next post below) the case seems to have been that the pigment was so weak that the figures went pink after a few weeks or months on the dealers shelves. This was the 1950's remember; these figures were sold in bicycle repair shops, village stores and ancient branches of Woolworth's with no air conditioning, they got very hot in the summer and quite cold in the winter (especially overnight)...indeed they might even be placed too close to a bar-heater mounted on the wall near-by! These environmental actions seems to have caused the pigment of various batches to either fade or migrate to the surface - or both.

The above (upper) shot shows from the left; a - headless - figure which has faded to the base colour (coincidently the same colour as some early Station Accessory sets), next to him is a figure that has faded to a pale pink but shows the darker residue of red in the deeper recesses of the moulding and then the figure that causes the confusion...an apparently pure, even pink-coloured figure. However the shot below to the left shows what happens if you scratch the base of one on these 'pure-pink' figures, you get the same base colour right under the surface.

I would imagine that as the plastics industry developed, the nature of the pigments changed, the 'faded' figures having a pigment that fades-out to nothing (left figure) or leaves traces of red (second left) while the 'pure-pink' figures have a pigment which while fading from red also migrated to the surface as a relatively stable pink layer (the late ethylenes from Began-Beton and some of the Matchbox figures from the mid-1970's would suffer the same problem). But they were almost certainly all red when they were made.

Further advances in the technology led to the darker vermilion-based red (the forth figure from the left) then a shiny, glossy scarlet-based red and finally the awful cream colour of the civil, Napoleonic, late Wild West and ground-crew sets.

How we painted our guards back in the day. It is one of my long term goals to make a proper band with these figures; scratch-building the missing instruments.

Also shown here is a common problem with flash between the legs of the later issues.

Here they are in all their glory, this was an odd set, as it's hard to make a decent display other than a long thin band of three or four files with the bass drum and cymbals taking-up double spaces to make a 'block', otherwise you end up with the odd extra figure; I've hidden a fifer/piper at the back!

As hinted above; it was also a bit odd for the type and mix of instruments - how many fifer/pipers? But they were toys and in the late 1950's must have been a colourful addition to the dining table on a rainy day. One also suspects they were - in part - intended for model railway layouts, where they would make a fine addition to a low relief high-street or parading outside the station for an expected dignitary on the 9.15 from Waterloo!

The least common copies of the Guards Band - and the best quality wise - are these jelly-bean coloured versions, I think I've identified five different copy-ranges (including Montaplex) and these are about as good as they come.

The commonest piracies of these figures are shown in this shot, the 100-piece (actually 98 'pieces') sets included copies of early Airfix Combat Group, German WWII Infantry and 8th Army, along with the post-Giant quality astronauts in silver and this set. There are marching figures hidden in there, but they are not really derivative of the Airfix Guards Colour Party, but the musicians certainly are with the little separate drums spruelette. The best bit is the production of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II from Airfix's Maid Marion! There were probably 50 piece sets as well, they would have had around 47-49 'pieces'

The musicians, they don't seem to have suffered the loss of detail (and dignity) the marching figures did, although there is no fifer and I've not seen one, and I have 3 carded sets so if there was one he should be there? A quick perusal of one of the sets reveals 10 drummers, so the drums and drummers weren't matched up - as the drums are poor sculpts with the bass not staying in its hole and the side's not going in theirs; it's a moot point!

Thanks to Kostas again for the 1975 catalogue image, we see them here with the five-button arrangement of the Welsh Guards, they should have a white-green-white plume on the left of the Bearskin (which is never a 'Busby' or a hat!), and while the artist has left the plumes off, the beauty of the simple nature of the sculpting of these early figures is you can paint anything on you want!