By Rob Morgan
Yes, now that takes me back! Brian Cameron is quite right, several of the old Airfix articles on modelling 20mm plastic figures contained instructions on ‘fixing’ additions with banana oil. I recall being given advice by an older aircraft modeller, who worked entirely with balsa and tissue, to use the stuff on plasticene, which I wanted to use to fill the centre of small model boats. It worked, but smelled odd and I know it ruined the paint brush.
I’m almost certain this product was made by Joy, the company that sold a vast range of model-making sticky materials. The oil came in two forms. No.1 was thick and No.2 thin, and they also made plastic wood! Those were, obviously, far off, simpler days.
I’ll save the dip into the site Brian suggests, but for those who decide now is the time, can I suggest three valuable infantry pack conversion articles in Airfix Magazine which I think have great value even now. If you get the chance, read them, and you’ll find a range of useful and straightforward additions to build up your World War II forces.
In the April 1965 issue, starting on page 232, Chris Ellis deals with WWII Japanese Infantry equipment. He provides plans and scratch-build information for two guns, including the little Model 92 howitzer, along with several mortars, mg’s, anti-tank rifles and some oddities, including rifle shields, which several armies possessed in WWII, including the Japanese and Italians, but which never appear on the table top. A lovely read this article, and given the content of the Airfix Japanese Set, provides a lot for the wargamer. It’s also useful if you’re building one of the Chinese puppet forces run by Imperial Japan — easy conversions from the soft-capped figures in the set.
February 1966 saw “Modelling the Red Army,” page 176. Chris Ellis created a mass of Soviet troops and gear, simple conversions from the Airfix Wagon Train, lend-lease jeeps and carriers, and additional Winter War figures from the Arabs set (still works for me!) and Confederate troops. Very competent modelling of snipers in this short article. March 1966 continued, page 206 on, with Red Army guns and wagons. If you’re reading this, Jim, take a look at the two-gun conversions from the ACW Artillery set drawn here — magnificent! Chris made a Tkchanka machine gun cart and a command wagon too. I am actually still using my conversions of the guns over 50 years on.
While you’re in the pile, don’t forget December 1964’s issue. Chris Ellis dealt with the 8th Army in North Africa, pages 106 on. Some lovely little conversions from the Airfix figures, most simple cut and glue work, and super-detailing, it’s also a sound reminder of what there was and wasn’t available then. We as wargamers owed a lot to Chris Ellis, who later edited the magazine, of course.