Blowing Up More Trains the Airfix Way

 

IMG_2114
Wild West Adventure – a tiny little clue in the book Airfix’s Little Soldiers by Jean-Christophe Carbonel

Having spotted this little catalogue reprint picture in Carbonel’s book, I looked around the Internet for more details of the rare Airfix Railway  System Adventure Train Sets.

There is an entire well illustrated Airfix railway fansite: http://www.airfixrailways.co.uk/ARSwildWestAdvSet.htm

“See how Badmen hold up the Western Train to dynamite the side!”

This was a set c. 1975 that I never saw as a child and would have been interested to see how it worked  http://www.airfixrailways.co.uk/ARSwildWestAdvSetC.htm

The cartoon style catalogue pictures shown on the excellent Airfix Railways fan website give an idea of the ‘excitement’ involved.

  1. Train passes under gantry with bandit in position
  2. Trap door in passenger car roof opens automatically and cowboy drops in.
  3. Train backs up, last coach is unbuckled and bandit appears with stick of dynamite
  4. Detonator is pressed and the baggage car is blown open!
  5. Bandits appear from log cabin open the safe and reveal the gold.
  6. 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.

wild west airfix
Borrowed from Airfix forum post  http://www.modelkitcollecting.com/topic900.html by reposting 4 – Thanks.

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.

Does Black Jack’s  ambush succeed?

Can the Sheriff’s Posse catch the gang?

Will Black Jack double-cross the other outlaws?

Will they double-cross him?

It’s Up to You?

Obviously the Posse was other Airfix figures that you had bought, if you could still find Airfix Cowboys in the mid 1970s with its erratic supply chain. http://www.plasticsoldierreview.com/Review.aspx?id=27

A great looking set of Airfix cowboys painted up here on the P and P blog http://pampersandp.blogspot.co.uk/2017/07/cowboys-and-indians.html

Dr X or No?

As if this wasn’t exciting enough, there was also a very James Bond 007 style Dr. X Adventure Set by Airfix Railways.

See how Dr. X holds the world to ransom with his fiendish plan?

IMG_2115
Dr X, I presume …

http://www.airfixrailways.co.uk/ARSdr.Xset.htm

  1. Dr X’s radar scanner picks up approaching train
  2. Breakdown truck stalls on level crossing forcing train to stop
  3. Rocket transfers automatically to waiting lorry
  4. Rocket prepared for launching from inside Dr X’s secret laboratory
  5. 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 …

A fairly full set with its parts is illustrated here: http://www.modelkitcollecting.com/topic910.html

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!”

Some of the Dr. X artwork was later rescued from a skip: http://www.airfixrailways.co.uk/General.htm

Sadly it sounds from the railway forums as if the sets had all the same slightly disappointing,  “doesn’t quite work”  nature that bedevilled many  70s action toy sets.

The “If Airfix Had …” section

These train sets offer some of the interest of the Airfix Play sets with forts, figures and vehicles  http://www.vintage-airfix.com/diorama-and-buildings-c-73.html 

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

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Author: 26soldiersoftin

Hello I'm Mark Mr MIN, Man of TIN. Based in S.W. Britain, I'm a lifelong collector of "tiny men" and old toy soldiers, whether tin, lead or childhood vintage 1960s and 1970s plastic figures. I randomly collect all scales and periods and "imagi-nations" as well as lead civilians, farm and zoo animals. I enjoy the paint possibilities of cheap poundstore plastic figures as much as the patina of vintage metal figures. Befuddled by the maths of complex boardgames and wargames, I prefer the small scale skirmish simplicity of very early Donald Featherstone rules. To relax, I usually play solo games, often using hex boards. Gaming takes second place to making or convert my own gaming figures from polymer clay (Fimo), home-cast metal figures of many scales or plastic paint conversions. I also collect and game with vintage Peter Laing 15mm metal figures, wishing like many others that I had bought more in the 1980s ...

4 thoughts on “Blowing Up More Trains the Airfix Way”

  1. I never had heard of these sets before. I would have loved them as a kid. We used to play a similar game with our model trains. Of course, our cowboys weren’t so clever when they robbed the train; ours would derail the entire train!
    I concur with your statement about Airfix making kid friendly rules for their figures. Could you image how many potential war gamers there would be now if they had a simple set that they could have included in their boxes of toy soldiers?

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    1. John
      Cowboy scenarios are always fun, Although I think derailing a whole train for one safe is slight overkill by your childhood cowboys.

      I have never understood the business model of Airfix, they had lots of brilliant ideas and seemingly endless supply problems of figures and kits and figures appearing and disappearing with their management changes. Covering so many areas as railways, the many branches of kit modelling, toy soldiers etc, and many other toys including my early childhood 1970s Weebles, it was all probably all too much during the UK business conditions of the 70s and 80s. There are a couple of great books on Airfix by Arthur Ward.

      Re the Kid Friendly starter Rules
      Although through lending their name to the Airfix magazine, annual and the modelling books I imagine that Airfix thought that others were doing this whole rules and gaming thing for them. No adult gamers are ever going to agree on rules for long.

      With some simple starter rules for young or novice gamers such as Donald Featherstone for Airfix OO/HO (or HG Wells provided for 54mm) in their books, I think Airfix could have dominated the younger and nostalgia end of the wargaming world for years. (In some ways they still dominate the nostalgia end.) Airfix could have grown and regrown their child market into today’s adult gamers over and over again with some simple starter rules. If they kept the figures and kits in production.
      I haven’t tried the Airfix Battlegames by Modiphius, attractive to look at, but it looks a bit card driven and complicated for me.

      Many best wishes, Mark Man of TIN.

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