Total Pageviews


'A gaping silken dragon,/Puffed by the wind, suffices us for God./We, not the City, are the Empire's soul:/A rotten tree lives only in its rind.'

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Ten shillings!

Although I was only a lad back in 1972, I still automatically changed the UK's then new style decimal money into old style 'proper' money. In fact, I still do when I want to wonder at the changes that have taken place over my lifetime. Anyway, back then, I had a paper round that brought me 60p (aka 12/-, that is twelve shillings) a week for hefting a great bag of newspapers up hill and down dale before school. Although inflation, soon to be stagflation, was only really taking off (the Yom Kippur war adding that extra kick a few years later), I was aware that 12/- wasn't what it used to be. An advert in Airfix Magazine caught my attention, combining an exotic title - Halbkettenfahrzeuge - with a cracking cover photo. But it was 50p (10/-). Ten shillings! Add in P&P and the charge for a postal order, and that was a week of early morning toil. I was a bit concerned recently when I was making the Plastic Soldier Company Hanomags that  couldn't find my little 10/- book. Worried, in fact, that somehow I'd lost it, and a tiny bit of my childhood. But, happy day, while sorting through stuff today, I came across it, and another 1970s bit of toy soldier world:

The Almark Publications book was an expensive purchase at only 32 pages, but it felt like a very grown up, technical booklet to my 12 year old self. Of course, in those days, the only readily available German half track was the Airfix SdKfz 7 and 88mm gun, and this little booklet made me wish for some armoured half tracks - see how things have changed! The booklet also covers some pretty exotic bits of kit. Including:

A Famo SdKfz 9 and 88mm anti-aircraft! I'm tempted to do a conversion even now, although I suppose some manufacturer already makes the complete combo.

The other little booklet, by Terence Wise, Battles for Wargamers, World War II, Tunisia, dates from 1973, although I didn't buy it until a decade later (hence the 30/- price tag). A very useful little booklet of 43 pages that gives outline accounts of six key battles, notes for wargaming them, and fold outs:

Each fold out carries a photograph of the relevant action being wargamed (and in a very old school way too), plus a map. What strikes me now about both booklets is the low production values, especially in terms of illustrations, maps and photographs, all of which are frequently indistinct, fuzzy, and certainly lack detail. But the world was young, and peering closely for protracted periods of time was the norm in the long-gone days before electronic media turned us into demanding budgies.

Finally, on the chocolate egg and superheroes front, look at these cheerful chaps:



  1. Ahhhhh those old Almark books were wonderful. Actually they still are now I think of it.


    1. Sadly, I have very few indeed. A recent-ish second hand purchase brought me Charles Stadden's two on the Coldstream Guards and The Life Guards. I'm resisting an ABE Books trawl for the things, but keep an eye open in second hand bookshops.

  2. Nostalgia,nothing like it.I have some almark books on the shelf as i write- ww1 German uniforms,acw uniforms-used to give advice for painting my plastic Airfix chaps way back etc.
    i had a few issues of the magazine many moons ago to.
    Egg men are fascinating too.
    BTW do you recall the cardboard soldiers on the back of kellogs cornflakes in th e1960's .Ecw pike men etc.Our friendly grocer used to trawl through the packets on the high shelves to get different ones for me...

    1. You lucky fellow! I think I've pieced together a privileged childhood, you jammy dodger! As I said above, I have, so far, resisted the Almark collecting bug, but do keep an eye out in the second hand emporiums.
      The egg men are great, aren't they?! Yet another benefit of having a three,nearly four year old grandson.
      I do indeed remember the cornflake chaps. Not the ECW types, but the history of armour series. I think what I remember most was the slightly odd, rough texture to the coloured card. That, and the primary school room that I was in that year, when I took the cut outs into class. Good lord, only a few years older than my grandson is now.

  3. On the subject of nostalgia, I'll just mention 'Banana Oil'... and Terry Wise's excellent series on Operation Sea Lion in Airfix Magazine.

    1. Yes, the mystic 'banana oil'! I had no idea whatsoever about what it might possibly be, and I'm pretty sure no one else did either. You can just imagine some poor lad squashing bananas, trying to extract oil! I understand now that it is simply 'dope' - which I did have for elastic band balsa and tissue aircraft. Yes, too, for Operation Sealion - I was particularly pleased because I actually had one of the 'boats' - it was a RNLI thing to commemorate what must have been their 150 anniversary.

  4. Classic stuff Stephen, Tim Gow sent me a Bellona publication last year actually very useful indeed.