Monday, 13 December 2010

Japanese 23 Infantry Division - Airfix to the rescue (again)

Following the completion of some 1/144 scale Japanese aircraft, I gave some thought to a game based on the early actions at Khalkin Gol in 1939.  Despite my considerable numbers of aircraft the only Japanese ground troops I had available were Naval Landing infantry - with prominent anchors painted on their helmets - which I picked up at a show earlier in the year.

Although the unpainted figure pile contains a couple of divisions' worth of Japanese, I always prime metal figure with spray paint and at the time (last weekend) my spray painting 'studio' (the garage) was out of use, being full of crap.  A quick rummage in the plastic figures box revealed modest numbers of old Airfix Japs. 

Unfortunately, the figures were so old that plastic fatigue had taken hold and many had broken due to being too brittle.  I managed to salvage enough infantry for a three-regiment ('triangular') division, together with a few potential gunners.  Following a swift paint job, I think they look OK.  Here is one of the regiments skulking on a hill.
For what it's worth, the painting process was as follows:
1. wash the figures carefully
2. glue to bases
3. 'paint' figures with PVA
4. base coat (of Vallejo 117)
5. limited detail painting - rifles, boots, webbing, flesh
6. ink wash (Winsor & Newton 954 - Nut Brown)
7. very light dry brush of pale sand
8. flock bases
9. paint edge of bases
10. spray of matt varnish

Here is an ill-advised close-up of one of the little chaps
Other divisional assets (artillery, HQ, cavalry etc) still await completion, but I did repair and base an old Toyota lorry to serve as divisional transport.  This Hasegawa kit comes as a starter rig for aircraft, but mine was completed with a scratch built GS body.  I actually built this in the late '80s as part of a Spanish Civil War project and since then it has served the military of Germany, France, Poland and Russia.  So it's about time it was repatriated.
More of this division as and when it is finished.


Paul´s Bods said...

Well done. It´s good to see these venerable old boys coming out and getting a new lease of life :-)

Tim Gow said...

Paul's Bods
I think they certainly rate as 'veteran'. Or more likely as 'pensioners'.

Don M said...

Nice to see these guys again...lost my old Airfix Japs in the late 70s I think.

Tim Gow said...

Don M
They're not my 'originals' but part of a shopping bag full of 20mm plastics I picked up a few years ago.

west1871 said...

Looks good mate.Hard figures to paint well.

Geordie an Exiled FoG said...

With a bit of care and attention the Airfix figures paint do seem to paint up decent

Well done

Greek_Geek said...

Airfix still has the best looking Japs in my honest opinion. Granted Matchbox might have been a little bit better (who can forget the camouflage-cape sniper) but they are gone, daddy, gone...


David Crook said...

Hi Tim,

Great job with the old Airfix Japs - I like the painting technique as well!

All the best,


Tim Gow said...

Thanks for the encouraging comments guys - and a warm welcome to my new readers. I'm very pleased with these old figures - especially as they were intended as a stop-gap measure. I'll be finishing the Div HQ stand tonight so a photo should appear later in the week.

Bill said...

Very nice to see these again it's been many years for me! I have to
say I really prefer the Italirie Japanese because they come with a
heavy machine-gun and knee mortar,
although I seem to remember the Airfix figures had a rather interesting pose of a kneeling guy
with what looked like a tommygun?

Don't know if you can mix these in
but, I'd try it.

Great paint job Tim as always a delight to see what you come up with!

Tim Gow said...

Thanks for the tip-off about the Italeri/Esci Japs - I'll keep an eye out for them. The kneeling bloke with the Thompson will soon be making an appearance as an artilery spotter.

Paul said...

Outstanding work Tim. As with most wargamers my age I have a few sets of these lurking in a shoebox stuffed under something in the back.

Seeing these means I will probably have to drag them out over summer and do something with them!

Nice post.

Tim Gow said...

These were the only plastic Japs I had but painting them has rather restored my enthusiasm for plastic figures. I have just acquired (in a convuluted deal) a big box of assorted 20mm plastic figures so sorting them out will be my Christmas holiday project. Well, one of them.

Ross Mac said...

I have a lingering fondness for 1/72nd plastic figs and airfix in particular. Despite the occasional odd pose, and sometimes questionable detail, at arms length, most of them still look more "natural" to me than many others.

I'm now "off" the heavy overwash look myself despite years of doing it but it still works and I can see that these guys will look good on the table.


Tim Gow said...

Ross Mac
Airfix made it possible for me (and many others) to get started in wargaming. Many of their figures can still proudly hold up their little plasic heads in the company of much younger and pricier alternatives.

Geordie an Exiled FoG said...

Good recommendation Tim

I've just opened a packet of Airfix Japanese and despite the obvious age of the mould I am well impressed

Probably not a good seller but the poses are really nice

I am tempted to get another box. I have the Revel box and I would like a Italeri (old Esci) set if I could get my hands on them :)

Tim Gow said...

They're not bad by any standards - add to that the period charm and you really can't lose! I have just discovered most of a box of Matchbox Japs!