Welcome all, to a loooong overdue post on a blog that is a) 14 years old this year and b) sadly neglected.
The latter point there will be rectified, as now I have my good buddy Matt Crump on board, we’ll be tag-teaming articles, and reinvigorating the blog, including the look. Lots of plans in the works, we promise!
For right now though, I’m handing over to Matt for another misty-eyed look down memory lane, and just how nostalgia can play a big part in our hobby buying decisions. Matt, over to you old bean.
So as Paul has already mentioned I’m going to be a co-editor of the blog which I’m pretty chuffed about. I find writing about my hobby a real enjoyable part of the whole process and I’ve found myself saying “why didn’t I do this before?”
So what can I bring? I’d like to continue my “trips down memory lane” style articles as I find those really enjoyable to write and they seem to go down well with readers. Me and Paul also discussed the idea of opinion pieces which whilst not intending to bash gaming or modelling companies (there are plenty of YouTubers who do this and sometimes hilariously), but I think sometimes an honest personal appraisal can generate a debate amongst like minded people. We do this when we review a model so why not look into the practices of that company or how our personal relationships with these companies works. I foresee my output will evolve over time and whilst initially will be familiar I’d like to think I will take more risks as time marches on!
So without further a do my first article as co-editor. Like putting on a comfortable pair of slippers I’m hopping into the TARDIS and heading to the distant past…Around 40 years ago (you’re making us sound real old, Matt! – Paul) I got my first toy soldiers in the form of the classic bags of green army men -who were molded like WWII US infantry and of course their enemies? A bag of grey army men with the approximate look of the Wehrmacht.
So whilst I was more than happy battling away with these basic troops my dad had other ideas. Enter the Airfix 1:32 British airborne models! These were a huge step up in my toy soldier game (both figuratively and literally) and were well detailed and full of great poses. Now, my dad had looked to paint these figures, but like a lot of folk in Britain in the early 1980s they didn’t have a great deal of cash to throw around on paints, inks, airbrushes etc., and so my dad worked with what he had which were basically enamel olive drabs greens and khakis but sadly no flesh tone. As I kid I didn’t care – I had these cool painted figures!
Having watched the flawed – but still epic – war film: ‘A Bridge Too Far‘, which features a thrilling battle where the paras attempt to take the bridge at Arnhem during Operation: Market Garden – my 1:32 equivalent were, to my mind, the pinnacle of British WWII soldiers. As the years progressed I added to my collection of 1:32 soldiers bringing in all sorts of troops from both sides – I even raided my dads increasingly more impressive range of paints to decorate the Afrika Korps, the German paras and the British 8th army. Great memories indeed!
Hopping back in the TARDIS and heading to 2021, I received an email from one of my local model shops I frequent who were marketing a sale they had going on. My eye was caught by an Airfix entry as they had re-released the classic 1:32 British para, complete with Arnhem artwork! (nostalgiahammer incoming! – Paul). With bank card in hand I promptly purchased two boxes of these iconic soldiers. Now to be honest this was a complete knee jerk purchase fuelled by nostalgia (there it is! – Paul), but during the Christmas holiday I had the urge to do something that was not sci-fi.
All that said, I was desperately in need of good paint colors for these chaps. Step up Warlord Games in Nottingham who offer paint sets for various armies. Now I know that’s nothing new, however Warlord offer what I call ‘non partisan paint sets’ meaning you get the best color for the job irrespective of manufacturer. Equipped with the tools of my trade I set about preparing the models. I picked two to start with: the crouching sniper with iconic beret and a standing rifle armed para with helmet. After giving them a good bath as they appeared very shiny and a little greasy the files and scalpel came out to clean up some fairly obvious mold lines and injection plugs. I undercoated my usual black and set about base coating.
It’s fair to say that time hasn’t been entirely kind to these old minis whilst they still look good detail wise but they are inferior to todays modern war gaming minis. With this in mind I decided to use the time-honored skill of dry brushing to enhance the detail. As always I used my go to wash of Devlan Mud (really? you still have some? It’s Agrax Earthshade these days mate! – Paul) to again look to enhance the detail. The Denison smock was a curious thing to paint and I undertook a lot of research to try and get the patterns right dry brushing that proved challenging!!!!
Overall I’m pleased with my results and my dad was really impressed which was nice as it’s coming full circle for us both. The fate for these guys? Well I’m tempted to do some German 1:32 airfix and use them for a skirmish game, then the circle of life will be complete!!!!!
Paras painted to the suitable NWOBHM sounds of Motörhead, Iron Maiden, Saxon, Judas Priest, and Girlschool!!!!
Cheers! – Matt