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"Play sets that inspired you" Topic

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Action Log

16 Jan 2017 9:54 p.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

  • Crossposted to History of Wargaming board

1,301 hits since 15 Jan 2017
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Kevin C Supporting Member of TMP15 Jan 2017 12:02 p.m. PST

What were your favorite play sets as a child that helped set you on the road to wargaming? For me these were the two that I remember best. The Guns of Navarone (which I got for Christmas in 1977) and the Alamo (which I think I got for my birthday in 1975 or 1976) were the ones that I remember best:



RittervonBek15 Jan 2017 12:08 p.m. PST

Airfix Waterloo set. Closely followed by most if not all rtf he other airfix sets.

Personal logo PaulCollins Supporting Member of TMP15 Jan 2017 12:15 p.m. PST

My Marx Alamo set and Gettysburg set provided so many hours of inspiration and fun that I owe Marx, and my parents, a huge debt of gratitude.

Personal logo PaulCollins Supporting Member of TMP15 Jan 2017 12:16 p.m. PST

My Marx Alamo set and Gettysburg set provided so many hours of inspiration and fun that I owe Marx, an my parents, a huge debt of gratitude.

Personal logo Herkybird Supporting Member of TMP15 Jan 2017 12:45 p.m. PST

Airfix for me too, I still remember the Joy of the Wild West fort and La Haye Saint…ahhh!

Personal logo Dances with Clydesdales Supporting Member of TMP15 Jan 2017 2:24 p.m. PST

The old marx sets. Guns of Navarone, Sons of liberty, The Alamo, ACW one, and Fort Apache. Airfix sets and old Brittons miniatures as well.

The Beast Rampant15 Jan 2017 3:02 p.m. PST

For me: Iwo Jima, the palette-swapped Navarone. grin


Probably the most "bang for the buck" I ever had in a toy- $15 USD! Excellent value, even in 1980!


Jakar Nilson15 Jan 2017 3:04 p.m. PST

The Rebel base on Hoth:

galvinm Inactive Member15 Jan 2017 4:04 p.m. PST

Wow! What memories. I had all 3 of those sets plus a couple of the tin sets that folded up like a suitcase many, many years ago. Lots of hours of happiness.

Jason O Mahony15 Jan 2017 5:27 p.m. PST

Battle on Hoth:


Present from my aunt one Christmas many, many moons ago.

Though I always had a love of toy soldiers and model making because of my dad and grandad.

DColtman15 Jan 2017 6:03 p.m. PST

I always wanted the Navarone set – never got one… :(

rustymusket Supporting Member of TMP15 Jan 2017 6:17 p.m. PST

The ACW set 54 Union soldiers, 63 Confederate soldiers from the Sears Wish Book. Now what did I do with my keys?

Shagnasty Supporting Member of TMP15 Jan 2017 6:19 p.m. PST

The old tin and plastic Alamo set I got in the '50s during the Fess Parker Davey Crockett craze. Played it to pieces.

Oberlindes Sol LIC15 Jan 2017 6:29 p.m. PST

The huge Fireball XL-5 playset probably provided the most inspiration for me as a young wargamer -- before I even knew what wargaming was.


I also had Marx's Fort Apache supplemented by Lincoln Logs. Some of the soldiers were made so that they could ride horses and also stand on their own. I've often wished that manufacturers of wargame miniatures would produce at least dragoons with that ability.

cavcrazy15 Jan 2017 6:48 p.m. PST

I had the Marx Comanche Pass mountain playset. The best playset I had was the H.O. scale Little Bighorn set by Atlantic.

Ragbones Supporting Member of TMP15 Jan 2017 7:03 p.m. PST

The Marx Alamo, Desert Fox, Battleground and Ft. Apache playsets. Followed later by the Airfix Coastal Assault, Roman Fort and Sherwood Castle playsets.

BattleCaptain Inactive Member15 Jan 2017 7:29 p.m. PST

Around 1960, I had a pre-painted Marx Fort Apache set, with all sorts of figures and terrain elements tightly packed in small box. I had such fun with that. Here it is:


ZULUPAUL Supporting Member of TMP15 Jan 2017 7:41 p.m. PST

I got the flat plastic "Roman Civil War' set ordered from the back of a comic book.

Personal logo Wolfshanza Supporting Member of TMP16 Jan 2017 12:04 a.m. PST

MARX Fort Apache, French Foreign Legion, a britains (I believe) wooden castle and knights as well as a couple of other sets. This is late 50's/early 60's.

IanKHemm Inactive Member16 Jan 2017 12:53 a.m. PST

Airfix Pontoon Bridge set. It had pack of Commando's, German Infantry, the bridge and a couple of polyurethane tanks (a Centurion and a Priest I think).

David Manley16 Jan 2017 2:31 a.m. PST

I never had any of the Airfix players but I recall my father and brother put together something solar when they got me the coastal defence fort, a box of Germans and Commandos, and the LCM and Sherman set

Terrement Inactive Member16 Jan 2017 7:48 a.m. PST


Darkest Star Games Sponsoring Member of TMP16 Jan 2017 8:38 a.m. PST

Between my cousin and I we had a lot of the Star Wars stuff, but my favorite set was probably the card Death Star set (even though he had the big plastic one with the big gun), played with it till it fell apart!

But the BIG bag of green and tan armymen that my uncle bought me when I was 8 probably is what set me on the path to gaming the most. I bet there are still rubberbands hidding in various corners of my childhood home.

attilathepun47 Inactive Member16 Jan 2017 10:34 a.m. PST

My two earliest "sets" were an early version (there were more than one) of the Marx Fort Apache, and a great pirate ship and crew made my Ideal, which produced some of the best sculpted toy figures. Considerably later I also received Marx Zorro and Robin Hood sets as well, but they had less impact mostly because I was older. The fun I had with those sets, and other toy soldiers and warriors of various sorts that used to be sold by the bag, certainly set me on the path to adult wargaming.

genew49 Supporting Member of TMP16 Jan 2017 12:56 p.m. PST

I had a western town, the figure I remember was an outlaw on horse back with a bandana over his face. His torso was turning backwards firing a pistol. A little later we had a Mountie playset that was really nice. Both mid/late .

Atomic Floozy17 Jan 2017 7:43 a.m. PST

Does Barbie count?

Hafen von Schlockenberg Inactive Member17 Jan 2017 9:38 a.m. PST

genew49: Is this the guy in the top row?


From this set,"Mineral City",originally,I believe,although this one is "Dodge City":


The back:


It was originally a Roy Rogers tie-in,and had a figure for him. They were made from a rubbery sort of material; my little brother chewed on a few of mine.

Several of the figures were so specific in pose that it was difficult to think up different "scenarios" for them. I always liked the guy firing backwards under his arm,for some reason. And I felt sorry for the poor fellow,bottom left,forever doomed to be knocked down by the guy next to him.

Thomas O17 Jan 2017 11:27 a.m. PST

I had several of the Marx sets as a kid, The Alamo and the Robin Hood ones being my two favorites. Wish I would never had passed them down to cousins.

genew49 Supporting Member of TMP17 Jan 2017 12:59 p.m. PST

Hafen von Schlockenberg,
Yes,he's the one. I don't remember the other figures although the broncbuster on the right kind of rings a bell. I don't recall which specific town I had, I was maybe 6 when I received the town as a gift so 1955. I do remember the rubbery material but my younger brother didn't chew on it. He was too busy biting me! Thanks for postings the pics, I appreciate it.

Hafen von Schlockenberg Inactive Member17 Jan 2017 2:10 p.m. PST

Yeah,his horse was "sunfishing",IIRC,something like this:


Christmas present for me,around the same time. I saw a set in the box at a flea market a few years ago. Guy was asking $350. USD

Atomic Floozy--I have a feeling that many a Barbie fell victim to their brother's GI Joes. They should have made a Mrs. Peel Barbie!

mumbasa17 Jan 2017 3:27 p.m. PST

I remember getting an outer space set with aliens and Earth spacemen when I was 3 in 1950. I still have a single tin wall of the Alamo. The rest of the figures including the Johnny Termain set were boxed up in 1965 and sent to a little cousin in California. I later learned that the box was given to a little neighbor kid. Hopefully they are still bringing as much fun as I had ;)

zoneofcontrol Inactive Member17 Jan 2017 8:03 p.m. PST

Battleground, Ft. Apache, Ben-Hur

Also, homemade: every year we would set up an HO train platform at Christmas. It was ALWAYS set up the same way. When nobody else was home, I would get out my Airfix soldiers and battle my way through the town.

attilathepun47 Inactive Member18 Jan 2017 11:58 a.m. PST

At Hafen von Schlockenberg,

I believe the rubbery material you mention was a form of vinyl. It was also used for the figures in both the Ideal pirate ship and the early version Marx Fort Apache set that I mentioned in my post above. It is too bad it was ever abandoned, as it holds up really well over time, compared to the polyethylene used later for most toy figures, and which tends to become brittle with age. Quite a few years back, I came across a stash of my old toys when clearing stuff out of my childhood home, and the rubbery figures had survived just fine over some fifty years in an unheated outbuilding.

Hafen von Schlockenberg Inactive Member18 Jan 2017 3:29 p.m. PST

Yup,same thing when I came across some of the figures from my old original "Davy Crockett" Alamo set.

To bad the Marx Toy Museum closed:


They had a lot of stuff. Still some pics on the web.

Oberlindes Sol LIC18 Jan 2017 7:28 p.m. PST

Mention of pirates above triggered my memory of a red plastic pirate ship with a yellow sail that was too small for the Marx pirates it came with, but I had many great adventures anyway. The pirates had ring hands, so they could hold weapons and shovels (to bury treasure!). That was a great set.

custosarmorum Supporting Member of TMP18 Jan 2017 7:55 p.m. PST

While I had a number of Marx pay sets, I was also quite influenced by plastic flats that my parents got for me from the back of comic books produced by a company named Lucky (I think). The came in interesting cardboard boxes. I had Romans (yellow and blue and probably my favorite), knights (black and white), American Revolution (red and blue, of course) and "moderns" in olive green.

I think these had a great impact on my because I could pack them up in their boxes and take them with me to play with in the car or at the homes of relatives and so that got a lot of use… and explain history (based on movies and Classics Illustrated Comics) to anyone who would listen!

Ottoathome Inactive Member18 Jan 2017 9:47 p.m. PST

All of them. Loved them all. None of them survived. Damn!

attilathepun47 Inactive Member19 Jan 2017 11:36 a.m. PST

For all my nostalgic comrades, try this link.


@Oberlindes Sol,

I believe the pirates you describe were not made by Marx, but rather by an outfit called MPC, which specialized in the "ring-hand" figures you mentioned. I had one of their ships too, although a different color (yellow). It was rather flimsy hard plastic and did not survive the years.

Hafen von Schlockenberg Inactive Member19 Jan 2017 11:23 p.m. PST

Yup,those bring back memories too:


The ads were generally more exciting than the products:


Interesting article about them on the site Attila linked:


Russ Heath did some of the ads (without having seen the figures). No wonder they didn't live up to the pictures!


pbishop1226 Jan 2018 5:57 p.m. PST

If we only knew then the interest they'd all inspire today. I still have Airfix Waterloo. Been over 40 years ago when I bought that. I still have Risk circa 1966 with wooden pieces. Wish I kept Battle Cry, Broadside, Dogfight and all the boxed army sets my parents bought for my brothers and me. I also had the Robin HOod and Davy Crockett Alamo sets. Where did they go?

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