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Set 01701

Guards Band

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All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Date Released 1960
Contents 44 figures
Poses 9 poses
Material Plastic (Medium Consistency)
Colours Red, Pink, Cream
Average Height 23 mm (= 1.66 m)


The first British military band appeared in 1678, and today they are a familiar sight at many state occasions such as Trooping the Colour. In the Guards regiments, each band comprises a Director of Music and 49 musicians, and it was this appealing type of peacetime soldier that formed the subject of this, the very first set of plastic figures Airfix ever produced.

According to the original Airfix packaging, the figures in this set are as follows, working left to right and top to bottom on the above pictures:

  • Drum Major
  • Tuba
  • Flute
  • Side Drum
  • Saxophone
  • Cymbal
  • Trombone
  • Trumpet
  • Bass Drum
The actual mix of instruments varies considerably between bands, though all the instruments here would normally be used. Several others could potentially have been chosen, with perhaps the most common missing instrument being the horn. However, this is a reasonable selection.

Such a set as this must have presented Airfix with some real problems in sculpting. Musical instruments are normally complex in shape and difficult to produce in a two piece mould. Some of these figures are face on to the mould, and some side on to it, but still there are compromises. Perhaps the most obvious is the tuba, which is nowhere near the soldier's mouth and therefore cannot be being played. Both sizes of drum are separate and plug in to the figure using a peg. The fit is not particularly tight and should be glued.

The uniform must be the easiest to research, not least because it has not noticeably changed in over 150 years. This set was designed in the late 1950s, well over half a century ago, yet the uniforms are still the same today, and given the fairly low standard of sculpting the full dress of the British Foot Guards is correctly depicted here. There is no lace or other detail which you might expect on some such as the drummer or the drum major, so some fairly serious painting would be required here!

This set is of course a real antique by the standards of plastic figures, and the quality of sculpting is well down on today's products. The anatomy is fine and well proportioned, but detail is very basic and often missing entirely. Faces and hands are featureless, clothing has few folds if any, the tunics have no buttons, and there is also a large amount of flash on most examples.

As with the Guards Colour Party, this was out of production for a very long time, and only reappeared in 2024, though it is debateable whether it will appeal to many enthusiasts today. Nonetheless it has great potential for donating parts for conversion projects. Most of the instruments have never been modeled by any other set, so if a band from some other country or era is desired, it is this set that would be an important source. Other than that, it will provoke nostalgic memories in collectors of a certain age!


Historical Accuracy 10
Pose Quality 5
Pose Number 8
Sculpting 5
Mould 6

Further Reading
"Military Bands and their Uniforms" - Blandford - Jack Cassin-Scott - 9780713708950
"The Coldstream Guards" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.49) - Charles Grant - 9780850450576
"The Grenadier Guards" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.73) - David Fraser - 9780850452846
"The Guards" - Windrow & Greene (Europa Militaria Series No.20) - Simon Dunstan - 9781859150627
"Uniforms of the Foot Guards: From 1661 to the Present Day" - Pompadour Gallery - W Carman - 9780951934210
"Regiment (The Grenadier Guards)" - No.4

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