Wednesday 10 February 2016

Old School Airfix Conversions

I have rather neglected the blog of late, and I do have a few AARs to post, plus some other items too. But firstly since I played a game of Volley and Bayonet on the weekend, and have started doing more Napoleonic figures, I should post this first...

At the end of last year I acquired a number of second hand painted Airfix figures from Glenn. amongst these figures were a number of conversions that have managed to survive a number of years neglect after having  a reasonable amount of effort and imagination into converting them.

Mounted figures are from the Airfix Cuirassiers set, and the horses from the Airfix US Cavalry set
 The first of these conversions, I have after hitting the books and discussing it with Ion (Archduke Piccolo) are most likely a conversion of figures from the venerable Airfix  Waterloo French Cavalry set (click here for the PSR review) and horses from the even more venerable Airfix US Cavalry set (click here for the PSR view). I hope to get these fellows refurbished soon as I think they have a certain charm!

An Airfix Russian Dragoon? EDIT: Austrian Cheveux Leger. Thanks Doug!
A more basic headgear conversion is these rather nice (but in need of refurbishment) French Hussars. the base set is of course the Airfix Waterloo British Cavalry (Hussars) set (click here for the PSR review), with the headgear being the shako from the Airfix Waterloo French Infantry set (click here for the PSR review).

Airfix French Hussars.

The drummer is very cool figure, but alas would be in the rear with the gear.
Again, since I don't currently have any Hussars in my French hordes for Volley and Bayonet, these should get refurbished sooner rather than later.

Airfix US Cavary horse and figures with head swaps.
The above fellows are a little more challenging as they are Airfix US Cavalry horse with the figures having heads from the Airfix Waterloo French Imperial Guard (click here for the PSR review). I believe that could either be pre1810 Carabiniers, or more likely French Horse Grenadiers - which given I think the paint job represents the cuirassier habit-vest - suitable for the Waterloo campaign.

Airfix US Cavalry converted into Polish Lancers.
The final lot is a group of Airfix US Cavalry that I believe have been converted into Polish Lancers, by means of carving the headgear into something more Polish.

Some assembly required.
The czapskas are a good effort, but aren't quite there. With a little bit more effort I could improve on them, but I am tempted to leave it as is and perhaps see if I could retask them as something a little more 18th century as the czapska seems a little more squat in some of the pictures I've seen.


  1. I think the first guys are Austrian Cheveux leger
    Nice figures, that blue colour is unusual, very bright.

    1. And upon looking at that site, I would agree. Any errors in misidentifying the figures were mine - poor Ion was making best guesses based on my poor descriptions over the phone! Thank you very much Doug for solving that mystery! (And the blue is very cool - shame I have no idea what paint the original painter used!)

  2. It will be interesting to see how you solve the age old problem of attaching the horses to their bases.

    Attaching the rider to the horse is quite simple.

    See my recent attempt with hard plastic horses.

    1. Thanks Jim! Your post has sparked a possible solution...

  3. Hi,

    I've solved the problem (after much toil, tears, and sweat) of attaching the horses by putting a dollop of crazy glue gel on the holes in the base, then dipping the horse hooves in white glue and setting them in place. Combining the glues like this creates an immediate bond--don't ask me why--which is later reinforced by brushing additional white glue around the hooves later. This has worked pretty well for me. A friend of mine hit on the idea of sticking a straight pin up through the base into the horse's belly. This works (although it's a lot of hassle), but unfortunately gives the horse the appearance that he is, um, really, really happy.

    As for figure conversions, I painted British Hussars as French Guard Chasseurs-a-Cheval--the heads don't have plumes, etc., but I figure they probably removed them anyway when going into battle.

    The riders from the RHA set work as early British Light Dragoons without the need for conversion, of course; and the artillery crew will serve as RHA gunners during the Crimean War by replacing their heads with heads from Esci British Hussars.

    Finally, Airfix British infantry will work as French Revolution-era Austrians by removing the peak from the shako.

    It's nice to have the actual figures available, but it was a lot of fun producing figures that no one else had!

    Best regards,

    Chris Johnson

    1. Hi Chris,

      That information about the glue is really interesting! Is crazy glue gel a type of super glue as water will make that set quicker, and I have combined it with PVA (Elmers) glue in the past. Reinforcing it with an addition layer of PVA sounds clever, I wonder if using an artist's texture medium would work as well?
      The visible pinning of the belly does seem a little unappealing to me:)

      Your figure conversions sound cool! I may have to try some out! While it is nice to be able to buy the figures off the shelf, conversions always hold a certain charm for me!

  4. Doug is right - now that I have seen the pics, I can identify these easily as Austrian dragoons or chevauxlegers - they really could be either. From your description over the phone they did sound a bit more like Russians, but these definitely aren't!

    Incidentally, the Austrian dragoon or chevauxlegers could wear green or white coats, depending on the regiment. I think there was a transition going on with some dragoon units becoming light, the dragoons gradually adopting the white coat and the chevauxlegers the green.

    I'd call thse fellows chevauxlegers, and, depending on the red of the facings, could be any of

    1st (Kaiser Franz) Bright red facings
    2nd (Prinz Hohenzollern-Hechingen) Bright red
    4th (Baron Vincent) Dark Red
    7th (Graf Johann Nostitz) Crimson.
    The other regiments (3rd, 5th and 6th) wore white coats.

    As conversions go, they don't look too bad - they certainly are easily recognisable. There really should be a sheepskin saddle cover, black or white possibly depending on the regiment. My source (Osprey) indicates that the Kaiser had white saddle cobers. These things left a lot of shabraque exposed, so I'd suggest just painting the saddle itself black or white. Alternatively you could bulk the saddle up a very little with greenstuff or something. I probably wouldn't bother, myself.

    1. Opps! Sorry for putting you wrong with my description over the phone! However, I am glad we have a consensus over a better identification! Of course this means I am now one step closer to painting up an Austrian army for Volley and Bayonet!

  5. I agree with Doug about the Chevaux Leger. The red saddle cloth with yellow and black lining is very typical.

    1. Thanks Anon!
      It is very nice to get so much help on figuring these conversions out!

  6. My previous comment concentrated on the first two pictures. For the rest: the hussars could be anything - any nation, with the possible exception of Prussia. With the busbies of the original figure they could become a converged unit of elite companies, or even French Chasseurs of the Imperial Guard.

    Those guys we thought might be horse grenadiers, that remains a possibility, but they could also be Prussian line dragoons, or Prussian landwehr horse of some description.

    finally, what I would do with the lancers - depending on how many you had - is paint the headgear black, as if wrapped in weatherproofing of some sort, and make them Prussian line or landwehr uhlans. The 'weatherproofing' will serve to disguise whether the headgear is supposed to be a czapska or shako.

    I should ask, which armies are you building?

    1. Thanks Ion,
      Some interesting possibilities! The Hussars will most likely become French (as that seems to be the original intent - there is a wee tricolour in the photo), and that is where they would currently be of the most use to me:)

      As to the rest, the possibility of additions to my Prussian forces is very appealing. I shall have to ponder upon this...

      Your final question - what armies am I making? I think the honest answer is that I am not making them, as rather facilitating them occurring as I build up my French... I think that I should start thinking about having a method to this particular madness...

  7. Me again. Some time ago, I got hold of some italieri Prussian hussars, I think. I like Italieri figures as a rule, but I tell you what: these are damned horrible - not so much the modelling as the posing. I'm still using them, and hope that quantity will ameliorate the deficiencies in quality.

    1. Are they these guys:

      The PSR review is incredibly scathing - almost as if they were Mars figures....

    2. Yes, them's the villains. Frankly they rather discourage doing any work on them. Had I read the review before buying them, I doubt I would have done. Having said that, though, the pictures in the review will give you a idea of the look of the Prussian light horse.

  8. Lovely post...I'm perticularly drawn to the first shot...the trucated bases of cavalry horses once fixed (with some indescribable glue?) to little squares of thick card...usually 'sourced' from school clip-boards or old folders after the pvc covers were ripped off!


    1. Thanks Hugh! Indeed, some were based on old cardboard squares. School was always a good source of modelling supplies!