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.

4 comments

  1. I vote that we admit these figures are totally useless for gaming, and turn them into something completely different for the convention contest. I have a few ideas in mind for what I will convert mine too no matter what rules we put in place, I like to play outside fo the rules!

    Andy

  2. Andy:

    Here’s the guts of Otto’s reply. We’ve been discussing taking the concept (which he really likes) and making more of a game out of it. Please LMK what you think.

    To immortalize these unsung (and unused) heroes of the past, TriaDCon is kicking off a CHALLENGE EVENT, the first of its kind, and with the kind
    sponsorship of the Society of Daisy is offering a medal, cash, and meerchandise prizes for the winner of the event. The winner being decided by who can portray, in pose and expression (but not in words or uniform)one of these fabled misbegotten warriors of the past. So do you think you can portray the French Poilu with carrier pidgeon from the World War
    One Set? The Surrendering Confederate from the ACW Confederate set? The
    rhapsodically sinuousity of the brave from the Plains Idian set? Then come on down and give it a shot!
    You could win

    1st Prize- The Society of Daisy “Humor in Gaming Medal” and $50 cash prize.
    2nd Prize- $25,00 and 10 boxes of airfix or other plastic figures.
    3rd Prize- (TBD)

    The rules of the event are simple. Each contestant is limited to THREE figures. He must present the figures he wishes to represent, each on a 3 x 5 index card with his name at the registration desk. The figure MUST
    be from a plastic Airfix boxed 1/72nd set, OR from a more modern Revell or Monagram set. The Event Coordinators may disallow any figure that they are unfamiliar with but if the player can prove its existence by photograph or actual sample of the figure it will be allowed, but be advised NO props are accepted (so if you need a ladder for the British Commando figure you’re out of luck!

    THE EVENT IS SCORED- Each contestant will do one figure in rotation till all are done. Each contestant will have ONE minute (with the event coordinator noting time) and the contestent must portray in stance and gesture (but may not use words, notes or uniforms) the figure he is
    portraying. If anyone in the audience can guess the figure within that one minute he gets 3 points.

    BONUS POINTS- At the end of the figure presentation, regardless if it is guessed or not, the figure is revealed and the entire audience gets to
    vote on how well he presented the figure, AND how entertaining his
    presentation was. If less than 25% of the audience give him a thumbs up he gets 0 bonus points. If more than 25% give him a thumbs up he gets 1 bonus point. If more than 50% he gets two bonus points.

    OVERTHE TOP POINTS- After the judging the player may gain ADDITONAL bonus points. If he can present the figure he portrayed either converted to a useable legitimate wargame pose, (either in context – for example
    using the surrendering guy as a combat engineer lifting pontoons, IN THE PLASTIC, that is actually produce a war game piece using it– then he gets 5 bonus points! In addition, the figure will qualify for a FURTHER award as entry into our “Modeling-Painting Contest.”

    Players may not mimic useable figures- that is- figures doing normal military things like marching or standing, nor may they use undistinctive poses like looking at your watch or holding a map (can be used as officers). They MUST be in ungainly, unusual, or awkward poses and especially be unsuitable in a whole line or as a phalanx. Players MUST also use human figures as models. You cannot use the Camel from the Arabs set or the Cheetah picking its nose from the Tarzan set.

  3. Walt, sounds good to me. I plan to break the rules in that I wont be modeling my pieces to be useful in wargaming, but I will modify them to be humerous, and paint them up. Not that the rules need to change for this, Im just doing it because they are easier to convert into humerous pieces, than they are into serious wargame pieces. Or the rule could be changed for bonus points for usable, or humerous, conversions, either way works for me. I plan to play. This would also be a good use for the display case that Otto questioned about on the Cabal group.

    Andy

  4. Another like minded idiot!We have been playingh this game since the 1980’s. We even considered introducing it as a diorama at oneof our re-enactment events!
    Good work fella!

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