The Importance of Accuracy
Airfix was proud to claim accuracy for their kits, emphasising their quality and attention to detail, and naturally wished this reputation to also apply to the figures they produced. After all, many of their buyers were knowledgeable enough to complain if they made mistakes, and in the 1970s there were plenty of competitors who could step into the gap if the figures proved to be inaccurate. So, how well did they fare with the Military Series? To make a judgement, let’s go back in history to the fateful day of Waterloo, 18 June 1815.
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Build and Rebuild
As we’ve already seen elsewhere in this website, a popular category of toys is those that involve using a set of parts to build, breakdown and rebuild models. Solido termed their creations of this type transformables. Amongst the toys they created in their early years, were a classic example of this: the 1936 “Canons a Transformation”, a range of parts from which a bewildering variety of artillery pieces could be assembled.
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Sets of toy soldiers tend to be composed of a handful of fairly predictable poses. After all, buyers love, and expect to find, certain standard poses. But when faced with competition, manufacturers have to find ways of standing out from the crowd. So, what can you do to the poses to excite the market?
There are two obvious and complementary ways of increasing the attractiveness of the sets – by expanding the number of poses in a set, and by innovating with new, and hopefully more exciting, ones. Airfix experimented with both of these, and a good example to illustrate this is their set of Second World War German mountain troops.
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As we have already seen with Britains Deetail, complementary accessories were important in increasing the attraction of the range. Airfix certainly understood this, and created a selection of buildings and vehicles to extend the play possibilities of their figures. One of the vehicles they created may be familiar, as we have already encountered it in this blog – the Bedford RL truck.
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The Magnificent Seven (Poses)
The Airfix Military Series
Airfix first began to produce figures in HO/OO scale, a size compatible with their burgeoning ranges of railway and military vehicles. It wasn’t until 1969, a decade later, that they introduced their first set of larger figures in 1:32 scale. 31 different sets were created up to 1983, mainly of military figures from the Napoleonic Wars, Wild West, WW2 and Cold War eras. In other words, classic toy soldier subjects. A selection of vehicles and buildings was also produced.
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Interest in the possibility of Space travel, and speculation about what might be found, had steadily grown during the period after World War Two. In 1966 the TV series Star Trek was televised; in 1969 the first Moon landing was watched by millions; and in 1977 the first Star Wars film was released.
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Almost as soon as Britains started making figures of soldiers, they provided artillery pieces to field with them. Some of them are pretty impressive. In 1902 for example, they produced their first version of the 4.7” Naval Gun (mounted on a land carriage and used by the British during the 2nd Boer War), a model that measures some 20cm in length.
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