Not a detective series or a firm of solicitors but one of my favourite Railway figures – fogman, hut and brazier.
I have bought several of these attractive PECO packs for my Railway civilians. lovely figure and great little fire effect using red and silver sweet wrapper type paper.
Reading through my stash of old railway magazine clippings in my scrapbook, I found this imaginative small tale or short story by B. Willcocks. Sadly I cannot remember which magazine it came from c. 1970s/80s.
I often wonder about the conversations, thoughts and back stories of the figures glimpsed on railway layouts.
What is a fogman?
A “fogman” was a person in charge of fog signals on a railway track or system. Uup to the 1950s, the fogman would stand offside the rail tracks with a lantern to signal “go slow” to the train driver.
A railway detonator (torpedo in North America) is a coin-sized device that is used to make a loud sound as a warning signal to train drivers. It is placed on the top of the rail, usually secured with two lead straps, one on each side. When the wheel of the train passes over, it explodes emitting a loud bang. It was invented in 1841 by English inventor Edward Alfred Cowper.
Interesting blog post and possible games scenario for blowing up more desert trains here on the History in 1/72 website, by German games blogger Uwe, showing some excellent photos of an unusual museum diorama (in the Airforce Museum, near Munich)
This would prove an interesting variation on our previous Lawrence of Arabia style games scenarios on blowing up desert trains.
These German planes and squadrons provided vital combat, photography and aerial reconnaissance services to the Turks, fighting the Allies in the Middle East. These would need to have been stopped if possible …
“Spain in a Small Case – A Z Guage layout you can take with you”, described and built by M.J.G. Baggs, Continental Modeller Number 2 Autumn 1979.
Z Guage – now that’s really tiny, 1:220 scale, so almost 8 to 10mm figure scale in Wargaming terms.
Before there was Travel Battle in a case, there was a layout in a case. Only one page of the article has survived in my battered copy but you get the idea.
I hope M.J.G. Baggs (an appropriate surname for his subject) had hours of travelling fun with his instant Spanish layout. I have my Train in a TIN and variants for such instant railway fun, very therapeutic!
Another bit of Model Railway whimsy and puns from Model Railways June 1974.
In its own way, not dissimilar to the many inventive “Carry on Up The Khyber Pass” style punning suggestions on Henry Hyde’s Wargaming Blog about crowdsourcing fictitious place names (August 2017). These are suggestions for his new Dahlia and Chindrastan campaign map for his forthcoming book Wargaming Campaigns (Pen and Sword, 2018). http://henrys-wargaming.co.uk/?p=2704
Found whilst ploughing through endless old railway modelling magazines that I have been given to pass on to railway modelling family members. Have found a few novel ideas to share over the next few months.
A good 1970 photo by N. V. Salt of one of the locomotives on this famously ambushed railway – see previous blogposts such as
The cartoon style catalogue pictures shown on the excellent Airfix Railways fan website give an idea of the ‘excitement’ involved.
Train passes under gantry with bandit in position
Trap door in passenger car roof opens automatically and cowboy drops in.
Train backs up, last coach is unbuckled and bandit appears with stick of dynamite
Detonator is pressed and the baggage car is blown open!
Bandits appear from log cabin open the safe and reveal the gold.
Will they get away?
Will they get away? To be fair, with only four fixed action cowboys and two spare cowboys from the Airfix Cowboy set to stop them, they probably would get away. A few more cowboys or other figures would add to what in my family was known as its “play value”. Or was this a bit of a one trick pony, one hit wonder, assuming it worked?
Bits and pieces of the set such as the attractive Western Engine and rolling stock can be found on Ebay and other online auction sites
One of the Airfix forums featured a close up of the full black and white cartoon strip.
So the scenario in text form reads:
The Payroll Train is on its way to Gun City – Loaded with Gold Bullion – But Black Jack’s Outlaw Gang is waiting.
The Payroll Train approaches a deserted mining town. It passes under the gantry and Black Jack drops through a trapdoor in the roof.
He uncouples the baggage car – one of his gang places the dynamite – stand back! BANG – and blows the doors open.
The gang rush out of the old log cabin – open the safe.
Breakdown truck stalls on level crossing forcing train to stop
Rocket transfers automatically to waiting lorry
Rocket prepared for launching from inside Dr X’s secret laboratory
Dr. X holds the world to ransom. Will He Succeed?
(Note: Dr X’s secret pre-coloured cardboard laboratory is conveniently located inside nearby hillside tunnel – pondering that would make most rail journeys more interesting – an action tunnel that contained radar scanner and rocket launcher).
Will He Succeed? Quite likely as the only figures included alongside the highly desirable Dr X figure and a couple of version 2 Airfix commando figures – were they probably his tiny gang or the tiny Rescue Party? Sadly as the Airfix OO/HO SAS figures were never produced …
One photo features some of the text from the 1970s boys comic style black and white cartoon:
Dr ‘X’ Adventure Story – a Threat to the World
Somewhere in England, a top security operation is under way. Its object: to transfer a deadly new nuclear missile – to a secret testing ground.
The sinister, international arch-villain, known only as Dr. X. has discovered the plan and he intends to steal the rocket and hold the world to ransom!
It looks like an ordinary goods train. But one van conceals a nuclear missile bound for a testing ground …
In his secret tunnel laboratory, Dr.X brings his radar scanner into action. “The train is on its way!”
I am lucky enough to still have bashed remains of some of my 1970s sets and their 1993-4 reissues, which at the time were one of the few ways of getting new supplies of some of the scarcer Airfix historical figures.
“If Airfix had only…” – I think the cartoon scenario inserts would have been a good addition to the Airfix play sets to create some interesting scenarios. Lego sets do this comic strip scenario thing (and online animations) for modern franchises like Star Wars and Superheroes. The Airfix ones are much in the style of the Battle, Victor and 200 AD comics that I remember from the 1970s (and the tiny A5 War Library picture stories still in print and still in newsagents).
“If Airfix had only” created some very simple, child friendly, Donald Featherstone type wargaming rules, appropriate to the period of the Airfix figures, this would also have been excellent. Couldn’t they have just phoned up Donald Featherstone?
In the absence of these simple rules and scenarios, you just had to use your imagination, raid the local branch library and start tinkering.
Thanks to the Airfix Railways website and other Airfix forums for the source information, enthusiasm and photos. You made a small boy happy many years later.
So there you are, two excellent future scenarios for future Sidetracked games,
1. Bandits holding up the payroll or treasure train (in whichever period from Victorian, Civil War, Wild West through to Nazi Gold trains)
2. Holding up the train, blocking the train track and stealing the poorly guarded or discretely transported top secret weapon of mass destruction (in whichever period you are playing)
How good, numerous or well armed the train guards are or how quickly the posse and rescue party arrives is all part of the scenario.
These were not the 1840s Victorian railway scenario one that I am still working on but that is the name and nature of being Sidetracked!
Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN blog, 27 August 2017