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Airfix's Useless Figures Charades: A modest proposal

(this idea comes from a discussion between Charles Vasey and Ian Wedge on the Miniatures section of Consimworld. I credit them with the original concept, which had me in stitches. We will likely run this at TriaDCon but I suspect the rules will have changed to make it a better convention game by then.)

Airfix Charades: A Proposal for Useless Figure Poses

Introduction: growing up in the hobby, most kids in Europe or North America who liked plastic soldiers became familiar with the products of the venerable (and now sadly defunct) Airfix plastic figure company. Airfix manufactured (primarily) HO or 1/72 scaled figures for collectors, toy soldier enthusiasts, and wargamers. For most of us, Airfix was that magical stepping stone into the hobby. There wasn’t any other figure company back in those early days, especially for poverty stricken children. Fortunately, the Airfix catalogue of figures was huge. Almost any period you can imagine was either represented or could be created with kit-bashing and even a mediocre paint job. I often wonder how many sets of the famous kepi-clad ACW UNION CAVALRY became Chasseurs D’Afrique, or Mexican Cacadores, or some other obscure regiment. Airfix figures were so versatile, so broad in application, and such great value for the money, that even to this day older hobbyists are both sentimental about the line and possessed of an encyclopedic knowledge of the subject matter.

Which is an appropriate segue to the titular subject of this article. There was ONE department where Airfix had somewhat spotty results in—poses. To be effective in either a diorama or wargame, a line of figures has to be cast actually doing the fighting. Airfix sculptors of the period differed widely on the application of some of their poses; most lines had a decent complement of soldiers doing the stand up “shooty things”; yet every box had its contingent of… let’s say “whimsically conceived” poses. These are poses that are extremely distinctive, highly original, generally specialized… and almost useless for wargaming. It is to those poses.. the crawling union infantrymen that could never be displayed in a line, the grenade throwers that look like they are performing aerobics, the legion of troops doing an overhead bayonet stab or clubbed musket butt, that this post is affectionately dedicated.
Miniature gaming now has its own cult game—AIRFIX CHARADES.

To play, you will need a circle of friends with a somewhat encyclopedic knowledge of the Airfix line and some sort of reference work that will authenticate guesses. I suggest printing out the Airfix section of the TOY SOLDIER REVIEW page (
http://www.plasticsoldierreview.com/Airfix.html) as it is somewhat authoritative.

At the proper convention, getting a circle of Airfix geeks together might be easier to do than you think. A flip chart might be a good addition, to record the guesses made. A referee, to ‘call’ someone on a bogus pose, should stand by with the reference materials (such as that printout from the plastic soldier review).

Airfix Charades can be played in teams or singly, there’s no particular driving reason to do either one. Lastly, add a lot of beer to the mix. Or don’t. The core of the game is to stand up on your hind legs (or sit, or crawl, as appropriate) and mimic the pose of a distinctive and memorable figure (in your judgment) from the Airfix line. It is important that the figure NOT be pointing, firing, reloading or otherwise doing something useful with his primary weapon (if it is a gunpowder weapon). If it is a non-gunpowder weapon, then the distinctions become a tad more subtle about what is “useful” to a wargamer and what is not. So the rule of thumb should be the stiffer and more unnatural the pose, the better. Of course, if the figure hails from one of the many non combat series produced by Airfix, such as astronauts, marching bands, Tarzan, etc., this will certainly count as “a pose not useful for wargaming”

How to Win the Game:

“Scoring” and “Winning” are rather elastic concepts here—the real value of this game is having people make fools of themselves by getting into the poses suggested by Airfix. However, given the inevitable clamor for structure inherent in wargaming, someone will want to know how to win. My suggestion for keep score is very simple. One might record the number of guesses per pose, with the lowest scoring team winning the round. Subtract 1 for a sitting down pose (they are harder) and 2 for a lying down or crawling pose (even harder). Answers must be given in the form of a description of the figure, and what box he is from. E.g., Crawling Union guy with his butt in the air, UNION INFANTRY set, If this scoring and winning method doesn’t work, make up your own. Otto is taking a look at the idea and will probably expand on it.