One of those presents put away on the Christmas presents shelf for this Christmas … and well worth the wait!
I like old toy shop packaging and this Battle Ground Military Series pack caught my eye online on EBay a few months back for £5, one pack opened and one still in the pack.
I can’t put a date on this box of Matchbox 1:76 German Infantry copies but it’s obviously post 1976 when these Matchbox figures came out. I only have a few surviving original ones from the time, so they inexpensively fill a gap.
They have a CE mark on the lower right hand corner as well as on the importer label, the CE mark about origin or toy safety is more modern than the 1970s /80s and standard in the EU area from 1993 onwards. So probably 1990s …
There is a maker’s or packager’s company logo of an H? in the top left corner which I don’t recognise. The figures themselves have no Hong Kong or China base markings.
The vibrant flaming orange packaging reminds me a little of today’s ‘Combat Force’ type pound store figure packaging.
In the cheerfully bizarre way of cheap copies and playsets, the packaging images showing vaguely WW2 to Vietnam era American soldiers but this is not matched by the content of German WW2 figures in dark green plastic but oddly does match an American flag!
Oddly included in the pack are some tiny walk-in talkie radiomen.
Accompanying this unopened blister pack was the contents of an opened pack, mixed in with a handful some Airfix American Infantry copies (copies of which still around today).
These look like they have got jumbled in from elsewhere, as I can see no such American figures inside the unopened pack.
Adding to the impression that this is someone’s jumble of figures, a much older stray metal diecast anti-aircraft gun (on a circular vehicle mounting?) with nice elevation gearing is mixed in with the bundle.
Anyway some cheap and cheerful recruits for the toy soldier box …
This charity shop find of a couple of dozen bashed figures came to me as a gift from family.
I imagine they are the ragtag odd mixed bag of someone’s small army. Enough to make two small army squads of red-brown / tan versus everyone else?
They are obviously battle scarred and playworn veterans!
I found these figures interesting as they are mostly copies of Airfix and Matchbox figures. As they have slowly being copied (in Hong Kong / China?) over the last forty plus years, they have slowly shrunk and changed into different figures.
Not a maker’s mark among them either.
Airfix Eighth Army figures are 40mm – 50mm
In the same mixed parcel was other Matchbox copies and a couple of small but slightly larger Airfix copies, shown next to the smaller cousin. I have included the sole probably genuine Airfix figure, the 54mm German submachine-gunner figure for scale.
These bashed and limbless Matchbox copies were around in seaside pound shops c.2007 and still seem to emerge from time to time, getting thinner and more brittle (hence the missing limbs?)
These limbs and weapons might need a little repairing.
These white copies of Airfix German Infantry are slowly changing into squat Generic Infantry. The distinctive “coal scuttle” stalheim helmet is changing, becoming oddly more British or American.
The lying down figure who used to feed the Light Machine Gun is now a distinct figure in its own right, the magazine box in the right hand for the LMG has morphed into a very strange object in its own right.
The officer figure is getting shorter and squatter but still full of character!
Some nice modern American troops and Officer, one or two a bit bashed.
These look like TimMee / BMC / Toy Story sort of stuff. I like the baggy clothes and helmet covers.
The other figures are a curiously mixed bunch of figures and sizes, again with the 54mm Airfix German for size comparison.
Some Matchbox American Infantry copies in two different sizes and colours, and a few of those modern US Infantry / Rambo types.
Lining them up in height order from 54mm Airfix at the right shows how they have shrunk and thinned down over the years of copying.
Last but not least, one of those handy Khaki figures that could be a modern desert warrior, Special Forces / SWAT team or space marine.
The original pirate or clone Matchbox figures and the Bush hat conversions. I shall paint in the desert / jungle cravat …
These Matchbox 8th Army copies were amongst some of the unlovely but cheap plastic, increasing distorted mouldings that I bought from now vanished local pound stores around 2005/6.
I am intrigued by the way that as figures are copied, they change slowly into the suggestion of different figures. Great for conversion potential?
These sandpit pound store knock offs of long unavailable Matchbox figures have continued to evolve or de-evolve with less and less detail into even thinner shadows of themselves.
‘Original’ unaltered pound store copies and my Bush hat conversions …
The bush hat conversions are made using a hole punched circle of card trimmed down to size and attached by PVA or UHU glue. These early crude attempts do have a unfortunate fashionable Edwardian ladies’ bonnet look.
Once varnished or sealed, they could be useful for sandpit games or garden gaming, as well as on the tabletop.
They may not be lovely copies but ..
Over the years, many of my original Airfix and Matchbox 1:32 figures have not survived various house moves and downsizing into adulthood, so these copies were a good way in 2005/6 to bulk up available gaming and conversion figures for a cheerful pound a bag.
There are cheapish, (not quite) pocket money alternatives out there again now, ranging from Hing Fat 54mm to reissued late 2021 Airfix (£9 a box for 14 figures or 65p each!)
Again, these are painted in simple or traditional toy soldier style in Revell Aquacolor Acrylics. These will then receive the shiny toy soldier gloss varnish treatment, which also protects them during handling.
How many kilted bagpipe Eighth Army figures do you need?
54mm Matchbox copy figures 2021?
If you search around online, you will find these Matchbox copies of four colour, four different nations Matchbox copies of German, Japanese, American and Eighth Army Infantry in its various incarnations or tubs. The Americans are widely available as reprints.
How many kilted bagpipe Eighth Army figures do you need?
An online purchase last year from a vintage ex-shop stock supplier, at first I thought these were 54mm pirate copies. In fact they turned out to be OO/HO.
I was not disappointed as this meant I had some OO/HO copies of the larger Airfix Japanese Infantry to play with, pirated and pantographed down in size from 1:32.
These were pretty ropey, poor quality copies with extra flash and badly moulded weapons. Perfect for conversion then! Four bags full …
Because of the unusual nature of these Airfix Japanese figures in a small scale, I think that they are worth trimming free of flash and painting up as an Imagi-Nations army unit.
Hopefully I will be able to create some interesting new OO/HO figures for the American Civil War or for an Imagi-Nations army, such as I have done with the original 1:32 Airfix Japanese Infantry that I have repainted here.
These Pippin fort figures were previously shown at my Man of TIN blog in June 2016 (link below here) and would feature well in the employ of any late 18th or 19th Century Imagi-Nation:
Lovely charity shop find, this one was found on its own amongst lots of other no doubt highly desirable collectibles (to someone else). One slightly battered, slightly wonky of wheel Matchbox Ford Model T 1912 lorry, only 99p and some careless previous owners.
The price label below the 99p reveals it has sat there for a while at £2.99 attracting no interest. I checked it out later on EBay, they are common enough and battered ones are worth about £1 to £2.
Sold to the gentle-Man of TIN for transporting tiny footsore Pound Land pound store plastic warriors of just the right size (£1 for 100 figures).
Unfortunately the back doors don’t open, but there is space to put some suitably converted or Fimo-made figures in the driving compartment.
These Pound Land 100 figures for £1 are about 32-34 mm high, and I’m sure this Ford Model T would stretch or shrink to working with 30mm or 28mm figures. A little too big for HO/OO First World War Airfix figures.
Alongside the Poundland figures is one of my c. 28 to 30mm silicone toy soldier mould creations, described below:
Maybe a paint scheme for early 20th century “Imagi – nations” would turn this into an Army supply lorry? Ambulance?
I might change its paint work to something more ‘War Department’ requisitioned, reflecting the fact that the British Army had on Available to requisition a number of subsidised motor lorries of civilian origin at the start of WW1, glimpsed in a recent book gift 0f C.F. Klapper’s British Lorries 1900 to 1945 (published by Ian Allen, 1977).
I was given this book as I am finding out a little more about steam wagons and steam lorries; one of my great uncles was a ‘steam waggon stoker’ in civilian life before his conscription and death in WW1.
I am also considering the Matchbox ford Model T lorry’s possibilities for Home Guard WW2.
The Poundland £1 for 100 plastic figures look at first a little too modern / American for this WW1/2 role. I thought I had no suitable WW1 / WW2 figures around the 30mm size, until I remembered some curious pound store partybag figures that might just do the job.
To match a Matchbox lorry for £1, what could be better or more fitting than a very cheap pound store type 30mm-ish set of Matchbox WW2 copies?
The first set of these c. 30mm figures came as free bonus pack of soldiers with a cheap set of 8 mini friction bizarre tank plastic kits bought for a few pounds at a garage / convenience store. These strange snap together tanks deserve a separate blogpost in themselves at a later date.
Searching the Internet, I found a supplier of these 30mm-ish WW2 figures via a party bag supplier for about 16p a pack of 6 soldiers. I bought all the last 16 packs they had and haven’t seen them around much since.
Some of the figures suffer heavily from plastic flash so you will need to spend time with your scalpel.
An unfortunate lack of enemy troops means the ‘British’ might have to fight ‘American’ troops unless you have some suitable enemies from other 28/ 30 / 34mm figures like the Poundland £1 for 100 figure buckets / bags.
…maybe these ones could look like suitable enemy infantry or paratroops with a suitable paint scheme.
Some of the Pound Land figures which have modern / American helmets might make passable German or Euro Imagi- Nation troops for the WW2 British / Americans to fight against with suitable paint conversion.
The American figures have their own pound store transport cribbed from past packs of mixed scale pound figures (you know the type, range of scales, 54mm figures, smaller vehicles and aircraft, strange accessories).