A holidaymaker who tried to take a model soldier on a plane was stunned when airport officials ordered him to remove the trinket’s three-inch gun – as it was a safety threat.
Canadian tourist Ken Lloyd bought the nine-inch model soldier holding a replica SA80 rifle during a visit to the Royal Signals Museum at Blandford Camp, Dorset.
But when he tried to take the #135 keepsake through Gatwick Airport in his hand luggage it triggered a security alert at the scanners.
Officials declared the moulded gun could not go on the plane because it was a ‘firearm’.
Mr Lloyd was forced to snap off the model weapon – which was then posted back to their home in Ontario, Canada.
He said: ”As the figurine’s SA80 rifle was pulled from the box, the security search officer contacted her supervisor.
”The moulded SA80 could not pass.
”My wife asked for a ‘reality check’, explaining how this offending piece of sculptured moulding is a 9 inch painted model with a moulded and painted rifle that is part of the figure.
”The supervisor was confident within the surety of the regulations and a ‘firearm’ is a firearm and cannot pass.
”The rifle could not travel; she would have to return back to the main airport concourse.
”The two patrolling policemen didn’t seem to mind. They didn’t even notice. The numerous security people sitting around the concourse didn’t leap to their feet as she passed.”
The resin model, which cost #135, depicts a typical British army signaller dressed in camouflage fatigues.
As they returned home Mr and Mrs Lloyd packed the sculpture into its box and tucked it into their hand luggage.
After being stopped at the airport security desk, they were directed back to the airport concourse, where they bought a padded envelope from WH Smith to post the rifle home.
But the package was too big for the airport’s postboxes and eventually a customer services assistant posted it and the envelope arrived at their home five days later.
Mr Lloyd added: ”The little SA80 was bent but not broken, with its story perhaps becoming part of Gatwick’s unofficial mythology of how unthinking regulations successfully protected the free world from the threat of terrorism.”
Adam Forty, curator at the Royal Signals Museum at Blandford Camp, Dorset, said: ”The military museum takes security very seriously, especially around military installations and airports, but this does seem more than a little excessive.
”It is probably just as well we didn’t sell Mrs Lloyd a toy tank.”
A spokeswoman for Gatwick Airport said: ”Items including firearms and items with the appearance of firearms are prohibited.
”There are lots of other reasons an item could be prevented from going through security, such as large items that do not fit in overhead lockers on the aircraft.”