I’ve had a birthday recently – these thing happen! I am the oldest thing in the house! There are a couple of bits of old furniture but, if they’re as old as me, they’re less worn and not as grey! Anyway, it got me thinking about the oldest wargames model I’ve got!
The two Russian ASU-85 airborne assault guns in the picture above are the oldest models I’ve got that I can date with accuracy. I recorded scratchbuilding them in a diary for 1982, back in the days when models got built, painted and into a wargame in a matter of days (and in some cases, into a wargame with the paint still drying). I built them when a group of friends used to play “modern” wargames, with each of us having armies for our own fictional countries. They were entirely scratchbuilt from card, plasticard, plasticene (for the mantlet cover and driver’s position) and a cocktail stick (for the gun barrel). They are still in their original paint scheme, although the accompanying figures and scenery date from the 90s. They were also some of the last vehicles I built for those games (sigh)!
The Panhard EBR armoured car in this next picture is a bit older than the ASU-85s (not much, but can’t date it exactly) and is probably the most difficult vehicle I’ve ever scratchbuilt! I built it after reading a series of articles on French Foreign Legion armour, so that dates it to 1981-ish. Apart from the rubber-tyred wheels, which came from an Airfix Matador truck, it’s all scratchbuilt, even the central wheels! Turret’s plasticene, but even that was easy compared to the shape of the curved mudguards, and I don’t think I could build this now! Paint scheme is the original – although vehicles in Algeria were usually olive, I chose to assume that the vehicle had been overpainted sand, but leaving olive around any existing markings. I’ve never used it in a wargame, but don’t want to part with it!
￼￼The Panzer IVs above are probably older again, but I’m not sure when they got built either. I remember building German WW2 vehicles with one of my mates from school, when we couldn’t afford plastic kits, and these were amongst those vehicles. When Steve Zaloga’s book on Eastern Front armour came out (1983-ish) I can remember re-painting these tanks, along with all my other German vehicles, in more accurate camouflage schemes and colours, and the Panzer IVs are still in those colours and still going strong!
So that leaves this! The car in the centre of the picture above is an old Matchbox diecast toy! Back in the mid-90s I painted quite a few vehicles and troops for the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, all before 9-11! Getting wargames stuff for the period then was not as easy as it is now, but I wanted some civilian vehicles, so I had a rake through some really old boxes of stuff my mum was going to chuck out before she moved house to see if there was anything useful there. And that’s when I turned up the Matchbox Number 18 Field Car! It was bright yellow, with an orange roof and red wheel hubs, but I thought it’d be spot on for a Russian command car! In my mind I can remember playing with it in the back garden as a kid, along with diggers and dump trucks! Since that would have been before our family moved to Scotland for a couple of years, and the model doesn’t have “speedwheels”, I’d have dated it to 1969, and that seems to fit in with what toy collector websites say!
So, I may have repainted it, but it’s had a new lease of life and is the oldest wargames model I’ve got! Not as old as me, but older than more than a few people I know!