Home Forums General General Airfix v. Marx

This topic contains 26 replies, has 13 voices, and was last updated by MartinR MartinR 2 weeks, 3 days ago.

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  • #103573
    irishserb
    irishserb
    Participant

    I am in the US, and the first toy soldiers that I actually asked for as a child was in the form of the Louis Marx and Company Battleground play set, featuring US and German WWII soldiers.  As a kid in the 1960s and early 1970s various Marx brand figures were present in the toy department of almost every store that carried toys.  Those Battleground soldiers would be the first that I tried to game with in the mid-1970s.  There were sometimes other brands of plastic toy soldiers at the toy stores, but they were generally of inferior quality to the Marx figures and I tended to avoid them.

    Somewhere around 1976, I became aware of 1/72 scale Airfix figures in the plastic model section of a hobby shop.  A few years later, they would make up my first wargame army, being used with Heretage’s Panzertroops rules.

    I didn’t see my first 1/32 (or were they 1/35th?) scale Airfix figures until 1987 or later, and didn’t know that they made larger figures until that time.  i’ve never owned any.

    In reading online posts by gamers, UK gamers often mention Airfix as being the maker of their first toy soldiers/figures, though I don’t remember anyone that I recognize as a UK gamer making reference to Marx plastic soldiers.  In the US, my experience was that the Marx toy soldiers had a broad distribution and availability, while Airfix had a much more limited distribution mostly through hobby shops.

    I am curious (if you had some and if you know), what brand of toy soldiers was your first?  For US gamers, what was your experience with Airfix figures, if any?  And for UK gamers,  in your experience, did Marx plastic army men have any presence in the UK in the 1960s/1970s?

    #103583
    Not Connard Sage
    Not Connard Sage
    Participant

    I think most British wargamers of a certain age will agree that it was boxes of Airfix figures from Woolworths that were their first experience of 1/72 soldiery. 2/- for 48 figures? What’s not to like?

    Britains, Timpo and Herald made 1/32 plastic figures. Britains were a bit upmarket,  plebs like me made do with Herald and Timpo 🙂  Airfix were latecomers to the 1/32 market, the first sets appeared around the early 70s. They also produced hard plastic 54mm ‘Collector’s Series’ figure kits presumably to jump on to the bandwagon that Historex in France had started rolling.

    http://www.vintage-airfix.com/figures/54mm-scale-figures-c-64_69.html

    I don’t remember Marx having much of a presence in the UK when I was a kid in the 60s. My exposure to American plastic models was Revell, Monogram and Aurora (Famous Monsters 🙂 ) kits.

    "I go online sometimes, but everyone's spelling is really bad. It's... depressing."

    #103584
    Ruarigh
    Ruarigh
    Participant

    1/32 Airfix for me some time in the seventies in the UK. My brother and I used to line up our figures and take turns in taking shots at each other. You could either take a rifle shot and knock over one of your opponent’s figures, or you could pick a figure modelled with a grenade in hand and throw a small wooden building block from that position, hoping to knock over more than one figure. Fun times.

    I graduated to 1/72 Airfix when I joined the school wargames club at the end of the seventies. I don’t recall encountering Marx figures at all. I think the vehicles we used were Airfix and Matchbox but I’ve slept since then so my memory is not what it used to be.

    Never argue with an idiot. They'll only drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.

    https://emidsvikings.ac.uk/
    #103595
    Guy Farrish
    Guy Farrish
    Participant

    Started playing with Airfix 1/72 sometime in the 60s, My Dad started me off with 8th Army and Afrika Korps and a made me some terrain with large sheet of paper folded and glued into shapes I was convinced were dunes and they fought each other to a standstill. Instant wargamer.

    Marx – my Dad suddenly returned from a trip with these enormous WWII beasties -5″ tall! This was in the mid 60s? I was so taken with them, every time he returned from wherever he’d been he’d bung me a few of these. I ended up with Germans, Japanese, US Marines, British in European theatre dress, everyone fought everyone! Never heard of the smaller Marx soldiers until years later.

    All the 5″ goliaths went up in a warehouse fire.

    A lot of the Airfix, I am ashamed to say, perished in the great air rifle discovery wars of 1970.

     

    #103598
    grizzlymc
    grizzlymc
    Participant

    Britains, timpo and herald for firing spring loaded cannon. Then Airfix civil war. I worked out some rules for them, then 78b minifigs 25mm Wellingtonics and I was hooked.

    #103601
    Not Connard Sage
    Not Connard Sage
    Participant

    Britains,

     

    Posh git.

    "I go online sometimes, but everyone's spelling is really bad. It's... depressing."

    #103606
    grizzlymc
    grizzlymc
    Participant

    You do not knw how much I scrimped and saved for those Britains, sadly given away to Great Ormonds St Hospital when we emigrated to Aus. Mind you, if I still had them, I could not remain High Priest of COTOTS.

    #103721
    Cerdic
    Cerdic
    Participant

    Yes. Growing up in Britain in the 70s it was Airfix figures from Woolworths. The first time I heard of Marx was via the Internet many, many years later!

    #103730
    grizzlymc
    grizzlymc
    Participant

    Airfix were just a little late to the table updeating ther WWII figs and failed to give wargamers enough support weapons. Otherwise, I think they might still dominate WWII wargaming. Men, tanks, houses all in the same scale, what’s not to like.

    #103751
    Sane Max
    Sane Max
    Participant

    Matchbox 1/76 for me, rather than Airfix, but certainly no memory of Marx. But bear in mind I was limited in my options, there was one model shop in walking distance for a 10 year old boy*, and they sold Airfix and Matchbox.

    * I should have got a 15 year old boy to go shopping for me instead, but he was lazy. His contribution to my wargames collection was he used to bite their heads off in idle moments. A Juvenile Iconoclast, my brother was.

    I BELIEVE my first, actual, toy soldiers were some sort of Cowboys and Indians in a bag from the local Newsagents but they don’t count. Also, one of my earliest embarassing moments was when a new lad, a year younger than me, moved in across the road, and I convinced him to swap his 1/72 for my 1/32, and that obviously, being bigger, each of mine was worth 5 of his. His annoyed mum came over with him in tears and made me give them back of course. I was 43 at the time….

    *edit* God, Aurora…. I had forgotten them!

    Pat

    • This reply was modified 1 month ago by Sane Max Sane Max.
    #103807
    Harry Faversham
    Harry Faversham
    Participant

    A lot of the Airfix, I am ashamed to say, perished in the great air rifle discovery wars of 1970.

    When you think of the priceless artefacts we wantonly destroyed in Great Air Rifle Discovery Wars of 1970…

    we should get done as war criminals!!!

    "Wot did you do in the war Grandad?"

    "I was with Harry... At The Bridge!"

    #103858
    Oldgamer
    Oldgamer
    Participant

    My mainstay figures were Airfix, unless it was Cowboys and Indians where Timpo and Britains ruled supreme.

    I did have some Marx though, 6″ Vikings from a small corner shop. I also recall some of the smaller Marxmen WW2 British in the toy box at my infants school, l always liked the grenade thrower, less so the marching figure in side cap.

    I also picked up some US cavalry, again the smaller, prepainted Marxmen, at a church jumble sale, paying 2p for around a dozen figures.

     

    #103878
    Cerdic
    Cerdic
    Participant

    Ah yes! The Great Air Rifle Discovery Wars of the 70s!

    My mate and I decided that shooting at Action Man in a moving Jeep would be fun. We weren’t completely stupid though. The Jeep ‘pusher’ had an upturned wheelbarrow to duck back behind so he didn’t get accidentally shot…

    #103879
    Guy Farrish
    Guy Farrish
    Participant

    Ah yes! The Great Air Rifle Discovery Wars of the 70s! My mate and I decided that shooting at Action Man in a moving Jeep would be fun. We weren’t completely stupid though. The Jeep ‘pusher’ had an upturned wheelbarrow to duck back behind so he didn’t get accidentally shot…

    Thank **** for you and Harry, I’d thought it was just me!

     

    (actually you sound well ahead of us  on the health and safety front!)

    • This reply was modified 1 month ago by Guy Farrish Guy Farrish.
    #104175
    Harry Faversham
    Harry Faversham
    Participant

    Ah yes! The Great Air Rifle Discovery Wars of the 70s! My mate and I decided that shooting at Action Man in a moving Jeep would be fun. We weren’t completely stupid though. The Jeep ‘pusher’ had an upturned wheelbarrow to duck back behind so he didn’t get accidentally shot…

    Thank **** for you and Harry, I’d thought it was just me! (actually you sound well ahead of us on the health and safety front!)

     Christ no! Yours Truly is a war criminal of the first rank!!! 

    Hollow cast, painted lead soldiers, including them RAF Firemen in asbestos suits, wooden topped Guardsmen… all mown down in their prime, nary a one given quarter. Down the brook from our back garden I can still see the riverside slaughter ground.

    Did I learn the lessons of my misguided youth?

    No…. add to the slaughter my lad’s A-Team, Playmobile Wild West and first issue Star Wars figures/collections when Daddio introduced him to joy through firepower…

    little bleeder could shoot like Burks’s by the time he was knee high to a rifle butt, but never had any toys to play with, and it’s all my fault!!!

     

     

     

     

     

    "Wot did you do in the war Grandad?"

    "I was with Harry... At The Bridge!"

    #104176
    Not Connard Sage
    Not Connard Sage
    Participant

    A few Action Men also died under fire from the old BSA Meteor 🙁

     

    "I go online sometimes, but everyone's spelling is really bad. It's... depressing."

    #104181
    Guy Farrish
    Guy Farrish
    Participant

    Harry, I had you as a wrong ‘un from the off!

    I was talking about Cerdic’s  body armour obsession – wheelbarrows etc – wuss.

    The memory of the figures I can probably live with – it’s the thought of all those hours inhaling hallucinogenic solvents, burning my fingers melting rubber tracks together and stabbing my thumbs sewing the remains of the rubber tracks together that gives me tremors. All gone in a flash of .22 lead.

    Can we draw a veil over the effects of matches meths and black powder on Airfix Armour?(it was a long time ago officer).

    My Action Man and Tommy Gunn survived in the attic to be sold for a ridiculously handsome profit many years later.

    #104184

    warwell
    Participant

    To respond to the OP, I am from the US and also cut my teeth on Marx (loved the Fort Apache set!). I don’t think I discovered Airfix until college.

    • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 5 days ago by  warwell.
    #104208

    Etranger
    Participant

    My knowledge of Marx figures in the UK and Oz was limited to the advertisements in the back of American comics. It was Airfix, Timpo the odd Britain’s & some other mob that did 1/35 (or thereabouts) plastic Napoleonic figures. There might be a few still floating around in the kids toybox.

    #104467
    Cerdic
    Cerdic
    Participant

    A lit match head dropped into the turret of an Airfix Sherman made a great Molotov cocktail substitute! And they burned with a very satisfying pall of thick black smoke!

    You did tend to singe your fingers, though. Maybe that led to the adoption of the wheelbarrow in later experiments?

    #104492
    Harry Faversham
    Harry Faversham
    Participant

    Our first experiments blowing tanks up was a banger glued inside, a burst of flaming lighter fuel as a source of detonation, the result was a stunning bang and nowt left of the tank. Metikulus research and experimentation lead to a far better method, glue all the tanks down on something solid before they went bang… a steppe/back bedroom of wrecked armour that made Kursk look like a bunfight!!!

    "Wot did you do in the war Grandad?"

    "I was with Harry... At The Bridge!"

    #104496
    Autodidact-O-Saurus
    Autodidact-O-Saurus
    Participant

    I’m probably a bit of an anomaly in the U.S., but I wasn’t aware of Marx until 30 years after discovering Minifigs and Airfix in the ’70s–though I had collected a number of the Britains’ Knights and Saracens at the time. I only ‘discovered’ Marx because I wanted to experiment with gaming with 54mm figures in this century. I do recall some 6″ WWII figures in my grandmother’s toy-box which was communal for all the grand-kids. Those were probably Marx now that I think about it.

    I did shoot down a number of WWII German aircraft and destroyed various tanks with the ol’ trusty BB gun. I recall a Me 163, a Me 262 and a Stuka shedding flying surfaces. I recall a motorized Saab tank being particularly difficult to disable!

    Self taught, persistently behind the times, never up to date. AKA ~ jeff
    More verbosity: http://petiteguerre.blogspot.com/

    #104500
    irishserb
    irishserb
    Participant

    Thanks for all of the replies.

    I didn’t subject my toy troops to the destruction of actual combat, choosing instead to sell most of them at a flea market.  That money went to football and baseball cards, and 1/32 scale Monogram WII kits, which did find themselves subjected to destruction via fire crackers and air rifles (only the kits, not the cards).

    #104682
    Harry Faversham
    Harry Faversham
    Participant

    Thankfully some of ’em survived the genocide of the Great Air Rifle Discovery Wars of 1970!!!

    "Wot did you do in the war Grandad?"

    "I was with Harry... At The Bridge!"

    #104703
    Cerdic
    Cerdic
    Participant

    Oohhhh….you have the fort! Mine fell victim to the flames.

    (Couldn’t get the molten plastic out of the lawn for months…)

    #104707
    Guy Farrish
    Guy Farrish
    Participant

    Cor! You must have been a rubbish shot!

    Seriously I am beginning to wonder about the inhabitants of this forum – that’s a lot of shooting and explosive mayhem from a bunch of kids/young teens.

    As I am one of them , I like to think of it as youthful high spirits rather than juvenile delinquency (blimey, that dates me!).

     

    Nice collection by the way – my fort was a plastic ‘flat pack’ version before its time – from Woollies I think – had it until c 2003 when a storage unit in Manchester went up in flames along with my survivors from the Air Rifle Discovery Wars.

    #104747
    MartinR
    MartinR
    Participant

    I can’t say I’d even heard of Marx until I started hanging out on wargames forums at some point in the 1990s.

    For me the 1960s and 70s were Airfix, and more Airfix (maybe with some Britains, Roco, Matchbox, and ESCI thrown in). Later on in the 1970s, proper wargames stuff in 6mm. H&R etc.

    Like Harry, air rifles and bangers did vast amounts of damage. I think my entire Airfix 1/600th scale fleet went the way of the banger, I dimly recall that Graf Spee was curiously resistant to being blown up, although it burned as well as the rest. Ah well, that was a world wash with cheap oil, despite the oil crisis.

     

     

     

     

     

    "Mistakes in the initial deployment cannot be rectified" - Helmuth von Moltke

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