With my recent series of posts on marching bandsmen as depicted by Fred Stansell, I’ve been wondering about turning my attention to painting a band myself. I thought of a group of bandsmen that I’ve had for some time buried in a trunk of unpainted figures – (yes, I have a whole trunk of them).
I’m thinking of Airfix’s classic Guards Band. As plastic soldiers go, these are pretty ancient, a miniature Australopithecus from Airfix to our modern Homo Sapiens from the likes of Strelets or RedBox. First released in 1961, this set has long been out of production and will spark off a wave of nostalgia for those old enough to remember it when freely available (which does not include me actually).
In an original box, the band consisted of:
- x1 Drum-Major
- x7 Side Drummers
- x10 Flautists
- x7 Tubists
- x5 Saxophonists
- x2 Cymbalists
- x4 Trombonists
- x7 Trumpeters
- x1 Bass Drummer
My bandsmen were bought in an auction and so came in a ragtag, broken and half-painted fashion. I had plenty of some types but few of another. Of those in working order, I was a bit short on side drummers and trombonists (I have only two of each) but over-subscribed with saxophonists and tuba players.
I’ve evened things up a bit for the underrepresented trombonists at least with a bit surgery, making for three extra. The drummers will have to remain a trifle undermanned.
Having removed some paint and glued some limbs, I’m nearly ready to put some paint on them. Given the topic, and being such a very old set with details which are very slight indeed, I’m not sure they are suited to my usual painting style. I think they cry out more for a toy-solder style simple paint job, which I think is sort-of what I’m going to go for.
I fancied having some oboists in my band and thought some of the damaged saxophonists might pass with the end of their instrument missing?
One of the saxophonists seems to have come out of the mould a little awry, leaning back and letting rip!
Being an individualist has made him keen to express himself more freely than his other bandmates – a Guardsmen Charlie Parker or Guardsmen John Coltrane, perhaps?
I envisage embarking on a slow burn project with these, steadily adding some paint as and when I can.
Meanwhile, up for auction on eBay is another marching band of the Grenadier Guards, this lovely lithographed cardboard soldier set. Titled “Drum and Fife Band of the Grenadier Guards”, it is made out of cardboard and was manufactured by postcard company Tuck.
Delightfully illustrated, perhaps it can be considered a forerunner to the “Paperboys” paper soldiers range by Peter Dennis? Famous British army artist Harry Payne painted many military subjects around 1900 for Tuck postcards – so could this be his work? I couldn’t find any evidence of the artist’s name on the example shown.
A little bit out of my price range for this set but a very pleasing set, nonetheless.