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

Advertisements

Inspirational Articles No. 1 WW1 Railway

Jun RM 01

Amongst the hundreds of old railway magazines I have recently been given to pass on to my railway modelling family members, I wondered if there was a special little article or two that I remember reading in the mid 1970s.

One of them was,  I was sure, a Junior Modeller sort of article about WW1 using Airfix WW1 figures. I checked all the Railway Modellers first. as luck would have it, I eventually found it, after flicking through thousands of pages.

I  remember this April 1976 article very well as a child from the railway magazines that were around in our house. The Junior Modeller pages were about as much as I could understand of these technical grown-up magazines.

jun RM 02.jpg

What I liked about this article was that the Airfix figures and models were ones that I recognised and owned. I could perhaps do something similar?

 

RM1
A little scenario setting by Julian Chambers  and the magical words Airfix WW1

 

It was written by a young person as well, a 15 year old  called Julian Chambers.

 

Jun RM 03
Some atmospheric black and white photos of Bellona trenches and Airfix troops.

I hope somewhere that a mid 50-something Julian Chambers still has this gem of a 009  little layout tucked away. Interesting to read about a planned possible extension through the quarry tunnel. I wonder if this ever happened.

The text mentions of Bellona houses and Jouef trains didn’t mean much to me at the time – what was 009 anyway? As it was the photographs that I remember best,  I have edited the pages to produce some close ups of the photographs by Roy Chambers.

 

RM1
Interesting bucket hoist quarrying set up. Bellona walls?

 

RM1
WW1 Horse Artillery  enter left amongst Airfix railway buildings Water Tank and Engine Shed (kits still available from Dapol).

 

Rm 2
Interesting little staff car … Bellona house

 

Rm 2
Sentries patrol the heights with Airfix railway buildings at the rear.

 

Rm 2
Airfix WW1 Royal Horse Artillery (left) French infantry rear centre and British Infantry Medical officer and casualty  (right)

 

RM 3
Airfix WW1 French fighter kit in frozen flames forever…

 

RM 3
The good old  Airfix British tank kit ….

 

RM 3
An impressive little Bellona  trench system …

The difference between a model railway or diorama piece like this and the wargamer’s approach is that these Airfix figures and tank are fixed or “pinned down” (in the old, entomological rather than gaming sense).

Without figures fixed down and based, you could fight this scenario over and over again, bringing in reinforcements by train. The closest to Bellona trenches and these troops you will get now is the small offerings in the Airfix Somme Centenary set – now sold out on Airfix.com – so get it while you can. https://www.airfix.com/uk-en/battle-of-the-somme-centenary-gift-set-1-72.html

 

RM 3
Final perspective shot of the WW1 Airfix Germans

I clearly recall these many of these  photographs 30 to 40 years later, so often did I pore over them. (Star Wars still hadn’t happened by then).

 

RM1
The plan of the compact layout by Julian Chambers

I even wonder if the way I sketch out scenario  maps for gaming is influenced by this terrific little map that I looked at so often. It linked so well with the photos.

Julian Chambers mentioned an interesting little colour illustrated Blandford style book Railways and War before 1918 by Denis Bishop and  W.J.K. Davies, 1972. Not sure if I ever found this amongst the Blandford Uniform hardback colour books in the local library  but I now have this on order (lots of them still out there affordable second hand) along with the sequel Railways and War Since 1917: featuring World War II (in Colour) by Denis Bishop and  W.J.K. Davies, 1975.  

So thanks Julian Chambers  for the inspiration still many years later, Roy Chambers for those photos  and Railway Modeller with its Junior Modeller page (does it still have this?). You made a small boy  happy and a grown-up small boy even happier still to rediscover that this was just as good as he remembered!

Blogposted by Mark Man of TIN, Sidetracked blog, 15 August 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Charlotte Bronte and Lawrence of Arabia blow up trains

IMG_2094
Peter Laing 15mm WW1 Turkish infantry alongside the blocked desert train in a current Heroscape Hexes game scenario.  Crossing that marshy bridge could be risky. Will  it be BOOM time for my Train In a TIN? 

Seasoned railway modellers might not be inspired by seeing trains blown up or derailed.

However I spotted an interesting photo on the Not Quite Mechanised website by Chris Kemp of a detailed desert train in a diorama model at the ‘Shifting Sands:  Lawrence of Arabia’ exhibition at Newark’s National Civil War Centre.

https://notquitemechanised.wordpress.com/2017/07/30/a-civil-day-out/

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
My hexed up desert and vintage Airfix desert warriors …. all I need add is train and track. Photo from my Man of TIN blog.

With my Train In a Tin, a bit of sand, some Tiger.com cocktail stick palm trees,  a scattering of  desert hexes on my Heroscape hex board and the old OO / HO  Airfix Bedouin Warriors and / or French Foreign Legion, this could be an interesting desert scenario variation of my recent ACW Battle of Pine Ridge River.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
My desertified portable hex games board September 2016. Photo from my Man of TIN blog.

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/09/28/my-portable-hex-games-board/

IMG_4238
My ACW Battle of Pine Ridge Valley game with Train In a TIN (Man of TIN blog)

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2017/07/25/acw-battle-of-pine-ridge-vintage-airfix-full-game-write-up/

Hmm, ideas, ideas!

IMG_2066
A different desert focus for a desert railway scenario – my Peter Laing 15mm  French Foreign Legion figures and desert hexes. Photo from my Man of TIN blog.

Interesting. Thanks Chris Kemp on the NQM Not Quite Mechanised website for another interesting blogpost that sparks some more gaming scenario ideas

Compulsory  research

Adding to the Wild West movie inspired  T.E. Lawrence myth, David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia 1962 film features an exploding desert train on the Hejaz Railway. (Clips available on YouTube). 1962 – there was a year, Lawrence of Arabia in the cinema, Donald Featherstone’s War Games published …

Skim reading this Great Arab Revolt Project GARP website

http://www.jordan1914-18archaeology.org

http://www.jordan1914-18archaeology.org/NDpages/Hejaz/GARP%20HEJAZ%20RAILWAY.doc

This article  features the following interesting perspective:

“To understand why the rail line was never permanently closed by military action we need to know something of railway features. Once built they are: easy to maintain, environmentally friendly, difficult to destroy, easily repaired, seldom interrupted through accident, produce very little “road-kill”, require small manpower to operate, are inexpensive to maintain after the original capital expenditure and, rolling stock (the engines and carriages) is generally plentiful.

Railways can move large tonnages and civil or military passenger numbers over vast distances relatively quickly, including the return of casualties to hospital facilities. Although used with success earlier, the American Civil War 1861-65 proved the strategic and tactical use of railways.

Note, damaging or destroying one train has not destroyed a rail network.

From  The Hejaz Railway, GARP website article by Neil Dearberg, 2010

Running steam locomotives with their need for watering points through a desert is a considerable challenge, one that would have affected building parts of the Wild West railways too.

The GARP gallery also features ruined and intact station buildings.

More photographs of wrecked trains at:

http://www.withnailbooks.com/2015/05/blowing-up-trains-lawrence-of-arabia.html

http://www.haaretz.com/jewish/archaeology/1.713171

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2587193/Secret-desert-camp-used-First-World-War-hero-Lawrence-Arabia-discovered-intact-rum-jars-campfire.html

http://www.nonesuchexpeditions.com/nonesuch-features/hijaz-lawrence/hijaz-railway.htm

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hejaz_Railway

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/rail-journeys/T-E-Lawrence-and-the-Hejaz-railway/

A Bit of Imagi-Native Distance: The Brontes do Lawrence of Arabia!

Without wishing to trivialise real past events and politics  in the Middle East over recent years and the past century, this is all fascinating stuff for the desert Imagi-Nation games scenario from the Brontes onwards to a steampunked early train Stevenson’s Rocket kit from Dapol /  Airfix. Hmm ..

The Brontes travelled on trains and featured Byronic Victorian desert nations loosely based on those Africa and Arabia. I’m sure that the Bronte sisters and brother Branwell would have found Lawrence of Arabia a fascinating and emotionally complex heroic figure for their novels.

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2017/03/30/charlotte-bronte-as-gamer-1/

“From June 1836 to September / autumn 1836, Northangerland was in control of the new French style Provisional Government of the Grand Republican Union (formerly the Verdopolitan Union). He has direct control over Angria where his allies (Ashantees,French and Bedouin forces) wreak a reign of terror. The Arab troops are led by Lord Jordon, in Byronic ‘Turkish’ dress and known as Sheik Medina.” (From my Charlotte Bronte as Gamer post Man of TIN blog)

Zamorna’s European enemy Lord Jordan (in his Arabian guise of Sheik Medina) is the Byronic  head of an Arabian army invading, with a combined African, French and Scottish force,  the Bronte Imagi-Nation of Angria. He is defeated and killed at the ‘Battle Of Leyden’ in Angria in the Bronte Year of 1837.

Definitely  a possibility of being Sidetracked by that one …

Blog posted by Mark, Man of TIN, 31 July 2017.