Monday, 26 October 2009

Airfix 1:32 WW2 British Commandos!

Swept along by an uncontrollable force of hysterical nostalgia I eagerly got my hands on a box of the recently re-released Airfix 1:32 WW2 British commandos.

The figures form part of a limited range of these classic packs from the '70s and '80s. As a lad, I, like countless others, had these along with their German foes and spent many hours battling away with them.

The new packs only contain 14 figures with up to 7 variations in pose - although disappointingly mine only contained 6 with the grenadier being omitted and extra riflemen making up the difference. The boxes too, are much smaller than the originals and are roughly the same as those containing the 1:72 counterparts. However, the old box art survives with its Leonard Nimoy lookalike on the front about to toss his Mills Bomb.

A helpful painting guide is now on the back of the pack for those unsure of the colour scheme to use along with an illustration of the figures contained (probably) within the box.

So, what were my first impressions of these well-remembered figures of yesteryear? Well, I have to say, so far, disappointment for a number of reasons, I suppose. The first being that despite my fond memories, it is all too evident just how far moulding techniques have improved during the past 20-30 years leaving these veterans behind with their lack of definition and detail. This, despite Airfix's use of an improved 'K-Resin' to apparently improve painting, which instead, gives a horrible shiny surface texture almost akin to painting glass.

I found this rigidity gave a problem and scars the plastic when cleaning away the considerable join lines which mar otherwise fairly clean figures straight out of the box.

It's not all bad though, and I realise that it may sound that I have nothing good to say about these chaps, but that isn't the case. Despite my expectations being over inflated, these figures did reignite that old excitement when I caught sight of their forgotten-but-still-familiar poses and slightly inaccurate weapon scales and details. All men are lightly equipped with standard-issue 1937 pattern webbing with single water bottle and all wear the famous commando woollen cap.

One thing I will finish by saying is that I was struck by how large 1:32 scale is! With 28mm now being considered 'big' and 15mm or even 20mm being the normal to paint these days, these monsters dwarf them in comparison and it's hard to see them being of much use to anything less than a small skirmish game on a very large table, but who am I to surmise?

I shall post again with my final thoughts once I have completed some figures, which, despite the various comments above, I am looking forward to.

For what it's worth, this is my personal favourite figure whose dynamic stance (for me) perfectly captures the commando spirit.

Upon reflection these figures are all we should really expect from designs which are around 30 years old. Undoubtedly eclipsed by their modern rivals, I'm sure they will still hold a charm for those that recall their first appearance.

All the best for now,



  1. Flashback to the 70's and 80's. Awesome. I still have my originals in an old tin in the shed. Where did you buy these from? I want to see what else they have.

  2. Hi Paul,
    I got these from a local stockist, but they are on the Airfix site too. The others due re-release are WW2 German Infantry, Afrika Corps, 8th Army, US GIs, fallschirmjager and modern British Infantry. I really want the 1:72 range to be redone though as I need to do an Airfix Crossfire game, oh well...
    All the best, mate,

  3. A very nice site you have too Monty. I have often thought about gaming ancients myself, but have been put off by the standard of painting required; something you certainly have no trouble with. I'll be following your site with great interest also, glad to know you.