ESCI Figures – Introduction

1980s Benchmark

ESCI

ESCI was established in Italy in 1930, to trade goods between the mainland and the Italian colonies – hence its name “Ente Scambi Coloniali Internazionali” or, roughly translated, the “International Colonial Trade Exchange”. In the 1960s ESCI began importing Japanese plastic construction kits, and in 1972 began producing its own kits. It was the first firm to produce 1:72 military vehicles (Airfix at that time were working in 1:76) and as part of this range produced small sets of hard plastic infantry.

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Solido Military – Conversions

Extending the Range

Third Party Models

Most toy makers have embraced the concept of extending their range by the creation of variations to their basic mouldings. The most common way this is done is simply by finishing the models in different colour schemes. Sometimes, the physical models are varied by the addition or changing of ancillary (and often plastic) parts (see this story for an example of how Solido did this). Both of these approaches keep the costs low and make maximum use of the existing moulds.

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Wiking Ships – Auxiliaries

The Untold Stories

Introduction

In general, the focus of any range of military models tends to be on the items that actually do the fighting. But, as any military historian knows, the fighting units depend heavily on the vital, and often more numerous support services that command, administer, train and supply them. They may not be sexy, but they are essential!

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Airfix Military Series – Accuracy

Faithful or Flawed?

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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Wiking Ships – Production

Making the Models

Introduction

It’s easy to think of the ship range created by Wiking in the 1930s as being old-fashioned, since post-war developments have enabled more complex, more detailed models to become the norm. However, at the time the models set new standards of accuracy and robustness, which were achieved by the application of novel production methods and materials. To appreciate the range properly, you have to understand how innovative they were in the context of the 1930s. To help us on our journey, let’s use as an example an unusual warship which was one of the earliest produced by Wiking.

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Matchbox Aircraft Kits – Box Art

Capturing the Dream

Packaging

The packaging that a kit is supplied in fulfils a number of functions. Primarily it gathers and protects the contents of the kit from damage prior to sale, but of course it also has a role in both identifying the subject of the kit, and persuading you to buy it! In these latter regards, the most significant feature of the packaging is the colour illustration on the box top. Airfix blazed the way and are famous for the quality of their box art, especially the iconic images painted by Roy Cross. With this example in front of them, Matchbox had a lot to live up to, and live up to it they did!

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