ImagiNations Vintage Airfix figures #1 Black and Gold Washington’s Army Tricorne Troops

Airfix Washington’s Army (S39, first produced 1971) are a versatile set for ImagiNations use. Sadly they are currently unavailable and have not been widely produced since the early 1980s.

I wanted to keep the bold colour schemes and paint style that I found in an old battered bag of Airfix and assorted figures.

How they arrived:

How these Airfix arrived … paint flaking off flexible parts like legs and weapons

The Accurate Revell AWI British troops were even less finished.

The random flag came with the bag of figures but I’m not sure which of the many colourful groups of figures it belongs to; it matches the uniform colours anyway.

Figures with round MDF bases are recently gifted Duchy of Tradgardland origin troops from Alan Gruber, which I have painted to match the others. Thanks Alan!

As they arrived from Tradgardland, left hand side.

Their origin is inscribed in fine point indelible CD marker underneath – figure number and origin e.g. D of T. This makes for easy stock-keeping, honours the gift or origin and also helps with personalised wargaming.

Yellow and Black?

Like a swarm of wasps or angry bees? The starting original yellow tunic colour is well matched by the vibrant Lufthansa Gelb (Yellow) 36-310, the silk matt Revell Aquacolor Acrylic that I used.

Who could they be?

1. It also gives me a possible Mittel Mittel European ImagiNation or FMS Forgotten Minor State (Principality, Electorate, Empire or Duchy etc) of Gelberg. Gelberg is named after its yellow-tinged rocks and mountains glimpsed above the forest line (a bit like Golden Cap near Lyme Regis).

The name Gelbania is already taken by another of my (post) Napoleonic era FMS ImagiNations.

2. Alternatively the black, white and gold could be a regiment of Kernewek or Cornish Guards in British or ‘foreign’ service, hence the ‘redcoat’ facings. There are Irish, Scots and Welsh Guards, why no Cornish ones? These are led by one handsome Captain Russ Dolparke.

3. Some other bright (yellow) idea …

Pigtails and Details

As I painted, I noticed more and more fiddly details – straps, the powder horn and its thin straps, the tie back buttons, cockades, the pigtail and ribbon. These are well detailed figures for their time, ones that have aged well too.

Checking through Uniforms of The American War of Independence (Blandford) as suitably Tricorne era, I noticed that the British and American troops did not all have white wigs and pigtails, below the senior officer level.

Some left-over figures, possibly intended to be standard bearers, will serve as gun crew as needed.

The odd figure with a (gunpowder?) barrel is actually an awkward chimera that I made of two damaged figures, part French Artillery legs and Washington’s Army body.

You could spend forever tweaking paint on straps etc. I decided against a dark wash to bring out details, as I wanted to keep close to the simple fresh paint scheme on the figures from the original random bag.

There are some beautifully painted and highlighted examples of Washington’s Army online including on the Paul’s Bods blog site.

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN 3 June 2021.

Author: 26soldiersoftin

Hello I'm Mark Mr MIN, Man of TIN. Based in S.W. Britain, I'm a lifelong collector of "tiny men" and old toy soldiers, whether tin, lead or childhood vintage 1960s and 1970s plastic figures. I randomly collect all scales and periods and "imagi-nations" as well as lead civilians, farm and zoo animals. I enjoy the paint possibilities of cheap poundstore plastic figures as much as the patina of vintage metal figures. Befuddled by the maths of complex boardgames and wargames, I prefer the small scale skirmish simplicity of very early Donald Featherstone rules. To relax, I usually play solo games, often using hex boards. Gaming takes second place to making or convert my own gaming figures from polymer clay (Fimo), home-cast metal figures of many scales or plastic paint conversions. I also collect and game with vintage Peter Laing 15mm metal figures, wishing like many others that I had bought more in the 1980s ...

11 thoughts on “ImagiNations Vintage Airfix figures #1 Black and Gold Washington’s Army Tricorne Troops”

  1. The AWI sets were strange. IIRC, the same guy who did a less-than-brilliant job on the Waterloo French Infantry figures did both of these as well. Oddly enough, the standing-firing and the kneeling-firing figures were actually pretty good; the hunched-over advancing guys were not. The rest were kinda “meh”. (And Airfix folks should have hung their collective heads in shame at including a surrendering officer in the Washington set.)

    The Grenadier set had figures that were really off–no shoulder wings, and a plume on the headgear. They made great French Grenadiers, however. I found an article from an old Airfix magazine in which the author gently pointed out the flaws in the figures, and detailed instructions as to how to correct them. It was a lot of work.

    None of this is to say I don’t enjoy seeing these figures again, though. Really does take me back,,,

    Chris J.


    1. Plastic Soldier Review didn’t like these sets that much either.
      The things that you dislike are the things that make them suitable for looser use as ImagiNations troops.
      All that said, the ‘meh’ silly diorama poses of casualties, crawling men etc., the useless / shameful standard bearer aside, and that’s a big aside, they are the classic AWI figures of our youth and our ImagiNation. Shame they are orphan sets probably for the bicentenary, unsupported by cavalry and artillery and Playset.


  2. These have turned out very nicely and Gelberg sounds right to me as their place of origin. I had these and their Airfix opponents, not one of my favourite childhood sets I’m afraid. Don’t know why but of the two the Grenadiers were preferable to me as a boy. I liked the hats and the figures were more lively. The Americans just weren’t to me.
    I agree that Airfix missed an opportunity to produce something better.
    Perhaps not having the correct Ladybird book didn’t help.


    1. Thanks Alan. I’m the opposite on this one – I preferred the Washingtons Army set – I didn’t like the grenadier headgear so much.
      I’m surprised that Airfix didn’t develop more OOHO and 1:32 for the bicentenary of AWI (sorry that’s the Great Revolutionary War if you aren’t British)
      Another chance soon for the 250th anniversary soon 1776 – 2026?


  3. Well, for my part, Mark, I know the figures have plenty of flaws, but I still like them. The so called ‘Grenadiers’ were probably British fusilier regiments, hence the regimental colours. and no shoulder wings. And compared to what else was available, or previously made in plastic, it was an exciting move forward for those on a modest budget, and wanting to create ‘lace-wars’ armies. I still have a warm nostalgic feeling when I see these old Airfix figures.


    1. Yes nostalgia it certainly is! I see lots of Tricorne era figures on lots of blogs and websites, beautiful metal figures and otherwise, but for me these are it – these to me are Lace Wars and AWI.
      (I’d never come across Spencer Smiths in the plastic.)


  4. I like what you’ve done with them, the bright colours bring out their animated poses nicely. I think I had the British ‘grenadiers’ as I recall, way back when. As you say, the less accurate the uniform, the more they lend themselves to entirely imaginary interpretation. I like the idea of Cornish Guards. We could even go further and arm all the west country counties – Devonian Jager in Green!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s right! I think also, from memory, Dorset is similar but yellow? Perhaps therefore they could be Dorsettian Guards (is that the right word!?)

        Liked by 1 person

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