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Airfix

Set 1710

Foreign Legion

All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Stats
Date Released 1962
Contents 44 figures and 2 horses
Poses 16 poses, 1 horse pose
Material Plastic (Medium Consistency)
Colours Dark Blue
Average Height 22 mm (= 1.58 m)

Review

As a military unit the French Foreign Legion captures the popular imagination like few other units ever have. Various tales of dashing adventures in the desert mean most people associate them with North Africa, and so it is this theatre of colonial activity that Airfix placed their set.

Airfix made a good many poses for their figure sets in the early 1960s, and the poses here are mostly pretty good - good enough apparently to be recycled for several other sets such as the American Civil War. The man holding his rifle over his head is a curious choice as the sculptor's intensions are not clear. However there are a good number of marching and firing poses, and enough variety to keep most people happy.

As might be expected of a set of this vintage, the standard of sculpting is well down on today's standards. The figures have a bare minimum of detail, and what there is is indistinct and sometimes difficult to identify. Such items as buttons are completely missing, and faces are no more than a smooth surface with a nose in the middle. As a result it is difficult to comment on accuracy, but in general these seem to have been designed to give the impression of Legionnaires rather than carefully researched historical models - not surprising since they were made as a toy. The most glaring omission is the lack of a canteen, which is an essential item for campaigning in North Africa.

There is a good deal of flash on these figures, and also some extra areas of plastic in 'blind' spots for the mould. The horse fits into a very thin base in the usual wobbly Airfix style, and there is sometimes a problem with plastic not reaching the end of thin parts such as the officer's sword.

Airfix eventually chose to retool the set to a higher standard, and thus was born the type 2 set. As a result, examples of the type 1 set are now quite rare. In certain respects the type 1 is more accurate than its descendent, but in all other respects it is inferior, and while good enough to keep many a small boy happy when it first appeared, today it must yield to its more modern competition.

Ratings

Historical Accuracy 6
Pose Quality 7
Pose Number 9
Sculpting 2
Mould 3

Further Reading
Books
"Colonial Armies: Africa 1850-1918" - Foundry Books - Peter Abbott - 9781901543070
"French Foreign Legionnaire 1890-1914" - Osprey (Warrior Series No.157) - Martin Windrow - 9781849084222
"The French Foreign Legion" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.17) - Martin Windrow - 9780850450514
"The French Foreign Legion 1872-1914" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms series No.461) - Martin Windrow - 9781849083263
"Uniforms of the French Foreign Legion 1831-1981" - Blandford Press - Martin Windrow - 9780713710106
Magazines
"Uniformes (French Language)" - No.29

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