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My most far memory of myself playing with toy soldiers is when I was 6 or 7 years old (I'm from 1964). My parents gave me a castle and about 20 WWII soldiers (Germans, Arabs en 8th Army) as a New Year present. I played several times with my older brother, we divided the room in three area's : one for the indians, one for cowboys and one for modern soldiers (with the castle), and our world war could start. After a year or so my brother wasn't intrested anymore, but I was sold and continued to play on my own. I also was intrested in history and stories and played all books and TV series I learned to know (Last of the Mohicans was a favourite). That was all in scale 1/32, 1/35... My father never threw any toy away, so I still own my collection from the very beginning ! My first soldiers in scale 1/72 were Giant indians and cowboys with Fort Apache. At age of 10 I bought with my own money my first Airfix box, Highland infantry. That was the start of hundreds battles of Waterloo at home, starring all kinds of armies, even ACW and WWI armies took part, it didn't matter. I remember I played a week long the ACW with all figures I had together.
Now I collect 1/72, 1/32, Mithril (32mm LOTR metal figures) and Games Workshop figures. I don't play with them anymore but I still enjoy painting them. Let's say, some 40% of my collection (about 16.000 figures) is painted.
When I was very young (in the 1960s) I had 1/32nd scale Britains of various types. Then I saw an advertisement in a comic book offering “200 Revolutionary War Soldiers” for 50 cents. They said they were 4 inches tall. Well, when they arrived they were 1/72nd scale. After the initial disappointment I realized that Airfix offered lots of other 1/72nd scale figures and I was off to the races. I think I bought one box of every type they offered. With a wide assortment of tanks in support the battles of the Second World War raged across the basement floor.
When I became a teenager I got into board war gaming (in those days before computers) and the “army men” went into storage.
One day, in my mid twenties, with a girl friend we were in a hobby store in the States looking at war games when I saw the ESCI Polish Lancers. Just from mild interest I bought a set to see how the hobby had progressed. That winter the girl friend and I had planned to vacation in Florida, but at the last minute she dumped me for a Sergeant from an American unit. Crushed, with time on my hands, I pondered what to do. Noting the box of lancers I decided to try to paint them. That was December 1987. I was initially impressed by my results so I pulled out the old Airfix infantry from their storage places and started painting them. Since then, I’ve never looked back. Last week I finished another battery of British field artillery thereby completing my 21,500th figure. I must admit, I have several thousand still unpainted in boxes.
I now have lots of board war games in storage in the basement gathering dust.
As a kid, I played with several friends with 1/32 figures covering all periods. During vacations, we were getting together at someone's home, bringing our own collections, and the whole day was full. Especially medieval themes were popular. But then, for WW II, 1/72 was much better, since there were also the kits on offer, easier to build and at a more decent price then in 1/35. All that stopped with teenage and change of interests.
Then, about 15 years ago, it started again with some airplane and armor kits. In 2 years, I was buying compulsively 1/35 & 1/72 airplane, armor & figures of WW II, piling up boxes. Four years ago, my wife (God bless her!) wanted for herself Italeri's french napoleonic headquarters, so she would paint all those colourfull soldiers and horses, as opposed to the dull WWII colors. Needless to say, that was the start of buying hundreds of boxes in 1/72, napoleonics, ancients, WWI...Then it was PSR (God bless them!), the sites of Hat, Strelets...You figure the rest!
Unfortunately, I lost track of the wereabouts of my playing buddies from the 70's. None is hooked again as I am now, as they would be present on these forums. But I guess they will occasionally look at some miniatures.
Someone may remember that I talked about this a bit in the past (January 30, 2006 posting). It was in the 70s and I was in primary school in Hong Kong. My mother bought me a box of Airfix Waterloo British Horse Artillery from a local hobby store at, you know what, Waterloo Road. I guess this explains why I am such a Napoleonic Wars fan. And since then, I am hooked. There was a period during secondary school and college that I was more into fencing, 1/35 military plastic modelling and girl friends. I have been back to this hobby as a collector and painter since the early 90s. Now, I am living in the U.S. and I still have my first set of Airfix Waterloo British Artillery. It has travelled around the globe with me. Sadly, my mother, who introduced me to this wonderful hobby passed away last October.
It all started when my father bought me Airfix Gun Emplacement Assault Set with German and British infantry, tanks, sand bags etc. The year was 1974. Then, my 1/72 army started building itself up with more Airfix blue boxes, Guard sets, Robin Hood, Astronauts, Farm Stock, Ancient Britons, etc.
That same year, I was fascinated by the movie "Waterloo" by Dino DeLaurentis and my whole Napoleonic enthusiasm significantly grew when, again, my father acquired for me Airfix Waterloo Assault Set in '77.
So, thanks Dad for taking me to this wonderful hobby!!
Airfix with their perfidious little bits of plastic led to my descent into this demi world of plastic figurines and talk of whats next?
My brother who is 14 years older than me was a 1/1 scale soldier when I started collecting pathetically tiny, inconsequential, plastic miniatures of all sorts. Not a lot of support there. Parents thought I was a warmonger with jibes like "when you have been through a real war you will think differently". Couldn't wait for this war it sounded like a lot of fun so all I could do was rehearse it with plastic figures and tanks and aircraft. My secondary school was run like an extreme form of the Hitler Jugend so if the armed forces were a bit like that - no thanks. I inevitably went for the the likes of the Indians, Arabs and Robin Hood getting the better of their opponents. The Foreign Legion, US Cavalry, Sheriff of Nottingham's cronies and so on were a bit like the teachers so they got the worst of it. History was thus re written into a scholarly good/evil. This sublimation was put on hold when I got a school prize given to me by the real Sheriff of Nottingham. I could never face those little green Robin Hood figures with the same clear conscience. "It was like this Robin....." "Friar you know what it's like"
Time to press the pause button.
How and why I came to this hobby as a child.
Part sublimation as a result of alienation and effecting control over a world of miniature that I could not in real life. Escapism - there I've written that dreaded word.
It was all a process of steadily going into the closet, literally, and building up a cache of plaggy figures for the future. Psychologists would say this was my Linus* blanket.
*How come that pathetic Linus gets immortalised.
It started about 1964 when a friend and I played with Airfix's Infantry Combat group and 1st version Germans. The anti-tank gun is what sold me. I bought many more Airfix and Giant sets because I could buy them with my own money, not like the big Marx sets that were out of my price range. I came back when I came across ESCI's Polish lancers which I liked because of the better engineering. After I found Hats web site there was no going back.
i come to this hobby wery suddenly when i was 6 my mother bougth me some tin soldiers when we were in Leningrad(St.Petersbur) they were russian revolution era sailors in 1/45 scale (i think) then next set was russian wwII infantry( some are still in some box -others lost)then when i was 11 i got my first western figures two german soldies oficer and mg gunner in 1/35 scale.and after that i have bougth several sets(sadly i cant buy more because i am at moment in seasonal unemployment status, but my prioreties are buy sets from Strelets and HAT because they are good. i have in my collection some 500 or more
i started at playing with 54mm plastic 'armymen' in the 70's. but i loved the 1/72 airfix range because the smaller size meant you could have bigger armies. a kid down the road also collected and we'd spend rainy afternoons rolling dice and being conquerors. it was good cheap fun. i forgot about my troops for a few years, and they were boxed up and put in the attic. then when i got out of the service, i started collecting again. i can thank my father for hiding my original sets of airfix and atlantic stuff from my mother, who surely would have thrown them out, as mothers do. but my how this hobby has grown!
It must have been the late sixtys or early seventies when my brother came home from a shopping trip with my mother and he had with him a box of airfix first edition 8th army.At first i wasnt interested but one day my dad was watching my brother play and he started to tell us about his time in the army in ww2 well for me that was it i played and played with those troops with the officer figure always being my dad and he always saved his men by a brilliant charge.I also remember a small hobby shop in my town and in its window was every set of airfix soldiers i could spend literly hours just looking in the shop window trying to make a decision what to buy , my pocket money at the time was just enough for 2 boxes of 1/72 sets or 1 1/32 set so i always went for 1/72 the rest is as they say history
In my case it also started with Airfix.
It's funny: when I try to explain to people what my hobby is I only have to say Airfix and 9 out of 10 have an idea what I'm talking about.
Well, men above thirty ofcourse.
Gettysburg. I was a little guy, probably about 4 or 5 and my parents took me to Gettysburg with my older brother. At a toy store they got me some 54mm plastic Union and Confederates with detatchable guns, canteens, kepis etc..... lord I LOVED them.
Then a year or so later I saw these neat boxes of little soldiers (Airfix) and was transformed. I could field huge armies ! My local toy store owner - back when Mom and Pop stores existed - actually told me if I learned the names of all the wars of the US and could name a general from each he would GIVE me a free box. I did and he actually gave me 10 free boxes....what a great old gentleman. Till he passed away many years later I bought from his store ....... a wonderful magical beginning to a hobby that is now seeing me into my middle - middle age !
Then Revell about 1991, Hat and Italeri about 1996 now ther are two many to mention.
I had the standard Airfix collection starting about age 9 and matchox got the hardplastic armour and vehicle end of things going. I abandonned the hobby in disgust, when MPC took over and started puting out those low-grade hardplastic ripoffs. Happily ESCI's Romans/Barbarions, Modern US/Soviets, and Vietnam series revived the hobby and all of the other ESCI sets soon followed. Revell soon joined the game opening even more new teritory and things have just been escalating out of hand ever since.
Started with the very first two sets available in the US in the early sixties.
i 1st came into this hobby at about 7 or 8 collecting & playing w/ toy soldiers from Giant i purchased at the long defunct Grants dept store. i discovered my 1st Airfix sets a couple of years later at Woolworths. these t 2 makers were the bulk of my army til high school when i lost interest for nearly 20yrs before i was given my old soldiers from my father during a move. seeing them brought back many memories & i decided to get back into the hobby, but all the stores i used to buy them from were gone! i started checking out hobby shops in my home town, Buffalo & Cleveland where i discovered Atlantic, Matchbox, ESCI & Revell. the internet & Plastic Figure & Playset Review mag allowed me to fill in gaps in my Airfix collection. since then, i've bought every set that's come out from numerous new manufacturers! my army is now well over 60,000 in my standing army w/ probably another 40,000 in unwanted poses or older boxed sets!