About Me

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No Fixed Abode, Home Counties, United Kingdom
I’m a 49-year-old Aspergic CAD-Monkey. Sardonic, cynical and with the political leanings of a social reformer, I’m also a toy and model soldier collector, particularly interested in the history of plastics and plastic toys. Other interests are history, current affairs, modern art, and architecture. I love plain chocolate, fireworks and trees but I don’t hug them, I do hug kittens. I hate ignorance, when it can be avoided, therefore I hate the 'educational' establishment and pity the millions they’ve failed. And I hate the short-sighted stupidity of the entire ruling/industrial elite, with their planet destroying fascism and added “buy-one-get-one-free”.

Monday, August 25, 2014

N is for Nice

Back to Britains box-ticking with this post, these are still very common, the only problematical aspect is the pole arms which were polystyrene and are breaking faster than the figures get damaged, so you often find the figures without weapons, or with damaged weapons, or 'borrowed' Timpo or other tools!

I really like them none-the-less, as we had them as kids and being Hong Kong-for-Herald PVC they took a lot of punishment...except the pole-arms! And they were/are nice sculpts, possibly early Ron Cameron work?

This was my collection about 18 months ago, a reasonable sample but missing a few of the variants. Basically; there are two paint versions for each figure although with the chaps in plate armour it's a minor thing.

A year ago I bought a junk lot off Mike Melnyk which had three of the four I was looking for, but I've now lost them in the 'to be sorted' zone of the attic, so this shot I took at the time is all I've got to go on! Blue version of the black pole-arm bloke, red version of the swordsman (who will need the white versions base!) and a yellow-crested shield-guy, I'm just looking for a red-crested version of the other pole-arm equipped figure now.

To go deeper into the variation thing - you can look for different shield stickers, the goldie-coloured silver, both shades of yellow and variations on the belt painting of blue/black pole-arm man. Mounted and siege crew another day...

R is for Red Blobs

Guards on Parade - 100 Piece Set...only there aren't 100, there aren't even 100 pieces! 98 pieces - once de-sprued - make 112 pieces assembling into 96 figures, assuming you happen to  have the correct number of side and bass drummers on the card to receive the separate instruments! Presumably if extant; the 49/50 piece sets had similarly complicated maths?

Purchased in Bristol in 1969 by Mr James Opie, this set is clearly an Airfix piracy, except that while the musicians are owing everything to Haldane Place, the marching figures are something else...

They have been suitably 'changed' (I think 'converted' is too strong a word for it!) from the Airfix marching figure, and although the legs are the same, the bodies have been re-sculpted to represent shouldered arms on the left and right, and port-arms likewise.

Looking at the figure on the left, you can see the port-arms sculpts both used the same scrap of metal or plastic for the change, so the butt is upside-down on that figure! The other port-arms chap (third from left) though, could paint-up well for Crimean - or later - war-gaming?

These will be looked at in greater detail on the Airfix blog pages for Robin Hood and Guards Band, so just a few shots to show how Maid Marion became Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and that the musicians don't loose that much in translation.

B is for Bumper Gift Set

Back to Dr Who Adventures Magazine and another freebie from HMA, mostly it's the 'same old same old', but there is a new shape Dalek and two new sculpts. sadly only one of each, and I'm not going to predict that they'll turn up later/soon in one of the 2x8 16 figure issues, as the previous new sculpts only turned up once again, in small numbers in the Christmas Advent Calender.

These are either on sale for another two days or another nine days, so if you want to purloin, it's out into the rain for you! Bit of a scale problem with this growing range, some are not bad for 1:72'ish gaming/modelling, the others are 28mm role-play size!

V is for Viking, not Vicky, but Very Vicious

Actually, apparently they weren't...very vicious that is.

There was some new research a few years ago (probably a decade or more, the years speed-up as you get older!) that they'd had a bad press and were 'misunderstood' and the Beeb provided for the school of thought with a sensitive documentary portraying them as peace-loving pastoral herders who loved their wives and kids and fluffy animals and stuff...

...then the archaeologists uncovered a few [more] mass graves in the UK, some filled with locals, some - I'm pleased to say - filled with Vikings, and we were back to the stereotype we all know and love - raping, pillaging, slave and hostage taking, Dane-geld demanding, berserker warriors, going a'viking every fighting 'season', burning, plundering and settling other peoples lands!

Some collectors get excited about the backwoodsmen, or the aliens, but to me these are the quintessential Giant...the copy of the Aurora Viking Longship. On the left is the larger of the marked Giant offerings, the double-ship set, to the right a single vessel, unmarked which may or may not have been produced in the factory supplying Giant.

The graphics, particularly the lettering is virtually the same on both cards, and the content - apart from being doubled-up in one set are pretty much of a muchness, but there are subtle differences that mark them apart.

Close-ups of the figure/accessory blisters - Giant figures are marked on the base and stick to a very 'Giant'esque' colour palate, while the imposter's (?) are unmarked and of paler shades, the same goes for the vessel and it's accessories, with the shields of the unknown vessel having non-giant colours like white, mauve and purple.

But then the Giant Cowboys and Indians (we've looked at here and Here) can be found in these colours, as can the aliens, so it's no guarantee either way.

There is more of a difference between the sails though, and this could mean two different producers in Hong Kong, or it could mean a second mould or a re-tooled mould. Whether the second set is Giant or not is pretty immaterial as far as identification goes as these will only ever be sold as Giant, with the ridiculous premium that attaches to them, but I bet a lot of people have paid those asking prices for vessels with the second sail!

We will come back to these and compare properly when I get the loose ones out of storage, but for now, they stay 'on the card'!

About 10 years ago this set was all over the shop, they are getting scarcer now, but again there were box-fulls, not that long ago, so one shouldn't be taken in by BIN prices in excess of 20-quid, a fiver is what they're worth.

The recent nature of them is confirmed by the fact that the hull is a tinny polypropylene-like material, as are the oars, sail and side-rudder (or steering oar) along with Saddam's two giant (not Giant) swords! What the hell Iraq's Victory Arch is doing here is anyone's guess...but it might help explain the loss of Atlantic's moulds!!! That's one for the conspiracy theorists! And...no, they don't look much like the Baghdad swords, but can you suggest anything else?

Of more interest than the very toy-like ship, are the figures, as these would have been contemporaneous with the reissue of the old Giant late type knights and Mongol figures, first by Archie McFee/Accoutrements and then BuM, suggesting that other Giant/post-Giant moulds have survived, and that any of this stuff could reappear at any moment?

Another shot of the newer ship with its shield stickers, above which are a couple of much older vessels, on the right a (stable) cellulose acetate or early polystyrene tourist piece of unknown manufacture in a toy-like style, on the left a more realistic fold-out ship-in-bottle kit by name-escapes-me (Multi-state Industries?) both in a ratio of around 1:120, roughly equating to N-gauge size. The kit is missing its mast, the older ornament might be?

Sunday, August 24, 2014

M is for a Thousand!

So...blimey! One thousand posts active, bit of a landmark, certainly didn't think I'd get here, especially having so much still to cover, visit or look at for the first time...still to come!

I really am very grateful, even if I don't always seem so...that's the Asperger's - be thankful you're 'normal', whatever that is!

 1000th

There are five posts still in draft, and with the posts I've deleted over the years, I don't know what the true total is, and with the three other Blogs that were brought back here, it's only about 900 actual Small Scale World posts.

I'm not running a competition or anything, and this is the last time I'll do one of these self-indulgent jobbies...except a quick mention of the million-hits in a future News, Views Etc... . Reason being - when you start a Blog, you are more than happy that anyone would like to read or follow your whitterings, and therefore the landmarks 'mean something', but the truth is the nature of the Internet means all the totals will inexorably rise, and the task itself become - at times - a millstone! Which sounds graceless, but it's not...

Overview

The last time I did one of these overviews I was asking for a couple of 'followers' (the only time I've done so or will do so!), as I was a few off a hundred, and several people answered the call, then it sat at about 103 for quite some time, suddenly climbed to 109, sat there for about six months and recently has risen to 111. And I'm very grateful to all those who follow, visit or just dip-in occasionally.

I don't see it going much further as the nature of the Blog's subject matter means it has a limited audience for followers, and the bulk of the new traffic comes straight from Google.

At the same time I mentioned that it was one target of three, "more on which later"...well 'later' never happened and the other two targets are long forgotten but were probably 800 posts and 300,000 hits or something like that. As you can see, the half a million slipped-by a few weeks ago, and that's a more unbelievable number than 1000 posts, believe me!

'Stats'

The reason I took such a 'graceless' line above is because I seem to have hit and crossed a 'tipping point'. June was the highest hit total ever at 17+ thousand, with July coming in at 24+ and August looking good for 23, when it's usually a quiet month, it would seem that the million will be here soon, this is all new traffic from Google, and I don't see it dropping off, as it's not 'toy collectors', it's Internet surfers!

This is good news for anyone who blogs as it means that the more you put-up there, the higher you climb the Google-ranks. I used to be the 18-million-and-somthing'th most popular Internet page, now I'm 'only' the 13,410,283rd!!

Although, as I've said before, these 'stats' are only a guide, the fact is they didn't come in until the late spring of 2010, so how they've slid back to May 2006 when I didn't start Blogging until December 2008 I don't know! And the hits between were never counted, nor are the hits from the imported Blogs.

The plot thickens...

I think we've covered about 10% of the companies in my archive, if that, and will never cover all of them, although I'm working on A-Z pages, how that will pan-out remains to be seen as I've already had to cut them down, to load properly. I was hoping for them to be comprehensive listings, but Blogger doesn't like long pages and the letter 'A' was going to be the equivalent of 400pp at A4 size! So the pages will be 'thumbnail' company sketches, with the product listings as separate (text only) posts on the main blog, which has the added benefit of getting them included in the tag list.

We've also only looked at 20% - if that - of the stuff in my collection, but with a lot of it in storage (the bulk of it!), if I'm not quite struggling; I'm having to be a bit inventive in order to feed the beast (the millstone I was talking about!) with new copy.

In the next few days/weeks, we might finally get the French combat infantry box-ticking done; Photographs taken over two years ago, mentioned several times since, loaded in February/March and now 4 of the 5 posts languishing in draft! [the other is a rant against rude eMailers!]

More Galoob is coming and the rest of the 100-figure carded HK sets. Something will go up tonight as I know you don't want this navel-gazing crud sitting at the top of the homepage! There's more knights to come and the rest of the material for the Khaki Infantry page, a page on composition, with pages on metal & plastics, scale/size/ratio/gauge, manufacture and general jargon/lingo in the pipeline.

Links - There are some dead links, but I don't have time to find them all, if you don't tell me when/if you find one I won't know and they'll sit there some more. Equally I don't have time to surf the whole Internet for your probably precious and possibly worthwhile Website/Blog/Web Page, so if you think you should be in one of the link lists, or if you think I'd like to link to you, let me know...'Pages' of links are a long term goal.

Long time ago!

So thank you for visiting, whether regularly, occasionally or just dipping-in.

Double-thanks to the few who comment - it's the comments that add to the whole for other readers, and it's a mild frustration that some people who do visit, don't comment, and I'm not referring to the war-gamers and modellers, they have little reason to comment unless a post pushes a nostalgia button, it's the professed 'collectors' who don't comment here, but then spend hours discussing the minutiae of Engineer Basevitch elsewhere, as if mass-produced 'new production' is ever going to be significant! Ooh - you hated that didn't you? But you'll be back...silently* Meantime I'll take the lack of comments as a sign I'm 'getting it right'.

Triple-thanks to those who have contributed articles or photographs, I can't cover everything and don't have everything so all contributions are gratefully received.

*You may have noticed I've been getting a little less tolerant and a little more sweary (arse, shite and bollocks mostly), this is a trend set to continue, I may have had a posh education, but I've seen all sides of life, and I'm not your typical small-c slightly grey, middle-class, middle-English conservative tosser...and I'm definitely turning into a grumpy old git.

Life's too short to waste on a voice that's not yours, or on tolerating idiots, plagiarists or people who 'accidentally' discover Tatra two weeks after it's appeared here, or who adjust their pages to reflect information published here - without crediting the blog...More rants are an inevitability, as are more 'political' posts, but I'll try to illustrate them with Toy Soldiers, as I did with the WWI winge the other day!

1001st Coming-up...

Saturday, August 23, 2014

T is for Thundercats

Something I totally missed at the time, which might explain why I only have the two examples, more likely though is that they are not that numerous, and would seem to have held a value which I think is beyond what they are - recent vinyl product from the age of mass production - more numerous, younger collectors?

Apparently this chap is called Mumm-Ra, he's about 60/70mm (attic!) and made by Galoob, I'm guessing here from standard kids cartoon tropes that he's a 'bad guy' - bad teeth, green skin, hood, links to Egyptian mythology, chunky wristbands...?

A 'good guy' from LJN (Lewis J. Norman, the reverse of Norman J. Lewis; founder), the chap's called Wily (or Willy) Cat, and is a titular 'Thundercat', we know it's a 'he' because there was a more svelte-looking Wily Kit! He came carded with a larger, jointed action figure.

I was planning another subject for this post, but by some act of serendipity I discovered an arcade in Reading on Thursday I didn't know was there, despite passing it countless times. Looking for something else I found two collectors shops next to each other, the one being all trains and die-cast I avoided due to finances, but fatally went into t'other and found Wily Cat, not cheap but couldn't not have him join the collection.

I had the picture of Mumm-Ra in the Galoob photo-set I've been picking from, so after a quick Google had this brief post, which adds to the tag-list with some esoteric - if modern - stuff!

The shop is Reading Collectors Centre and it's in the Harris Arcade just out of the train station, as you walk up to the town centre, on the left-hand side opposite where the buses stop...

Reading Collectors Centre

I think I was in No.14, which is mostly comics, records and a few action figures, the private display cabinets have some lovely bits and pieces in though, the whole set of R&L Crater Critters, the Thunderbird cereal premiums..I'll be back to look at No.15!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

B is for Blobs

As well as the '100-figure' carded sets (more on numbers when we get to the guards!) like the Wild West one we looked at last night, there were also '50-figure' sets, but with 49 figures!

It was brash of the Hong Kong pirates to place their products on such obvious display, given the poor quality of most of it, the reason I tend to refer to it as 'shite' even though I collect them - note to non-English speakers; the word rhymes with Kite or Bite, not Kitty...which would make them shi....you get the picture!

And no set required more brashness, even bravery, to put on a card in the full glare of a 1960's corner-shop's flickering bulb than these...

Starting life with Giant branding, even the Giant ones were pretty poor, and 'blobs' is a reasonable moniker in this case. Indeed, next to the Giant originals, there's not much in it, these have a different base-mark, but the detail is only slightly poorer and may well be put down to mould age?

The trouble with these is that they are constantly sold as Giant, yet the true Giant are as rare as their Aliens, while these are as common as muck on a farmer's boots, they were sold on sheets of fifty [49] and a hundred, for pocket-money prices, included in other sets and can be found in three main generations.

The other generations are in storage (which gives us the excuse to come back to them in  a few years!) so you'll have to take my word on the rest...There are two other base types, unmarked and marked in a circle. Nearly all examples are silver, but small numbers of metallic blue (and metallic purple?) turn up from time to time with roughly equal numbers of standard silver versions, these are probably from 50+50 cards like the Cowboys & Indians.

Occasionally, instead of being moulded in the purple plastic, they are just painted - definitely in metallic purple - and this is a brush-splash across either the trousers or upper body or the whole body. In both cases; this would have allowed for two sides....warfare!

On the subject of 'other sets', this one from 1969 has the astronauts, with a Dinky Honest John missile knock-off, a couple of pocket-money paratroopers, a micro-plane and the common (ex-dime store moulding) cannon, along with bunch of copies from Airfix HO-OO figures.

The tactical battlefield nuclear rocket is being ridden (piloted?) Major Kong style (Dr. Strangelove) by two helmeted loons, clearly determined to get forward observation taken seriously! Although, they're faceing to the rear, so seem to have had second thoughts!

A is for A Call to Arms

Which gets them top-billing in some lists, but doesn't stop them coming late to the blog!

Very much a Picasa-clearing, desktop-tidying, box-ticking exercise this - at a time when small scale collectors like myself were celebrating the renaissance in plastic toy soldier production with the output of HäT (I still have two mint sets of Marmalukes!), ACTA and latterly Strelets*R, the larger scale collectors were celebrating too, and these were in that late 1990's/early 2000's vanguard.

(set '4' above is actually set 5, but I can't be arsed to re-do the collage!)

There have been eight ECW sets issued so far by this one-man-band of an operation...

1 - Royalist V Parliament (separate drums and flag-arms)
2 - Pikemen (separate pikes and scabbards)
3 - Royalist Musketeers
5 - Parliament Musketeers
13 - Cannon
14 - Royalist Artillerymen
33 - Cromwell's 'Ironsides'
34 - Haslerigg's 'Lobsters'

...of which; the above photo' shows one each of the foot, excluding the four artillery poses, so we'll have to come back to them one day to tick the other half of the box!

Link to Kent Sprecher's ACTA page;

Angelfire

They were later issued in 1:72 scale in different combinations with two extra poses (nice dismounted cavalrymen looking figures in the 'Command Set'), but the cavalry have yet to appear in the smaller scale which is a shame as the Revell cavalry of the same period have become quite collectable due to their limited availability and the numbers swallowed-up by war-gamers!

Links to the PSR small-scale revues;

59 - English Civil War Royalist Artillery
61 - English Civil War Royalist Infantry
62 - English Civil War Command Set
63 - English Civil War Parliament Infantry

C is for Carded Cowboys (and Indians)

When you are sorting all the non-Giant from your pile of mixed small-scale Hong Kong shite, these are easy to separate...

Unmarked bases, mixture of Crescent and Britains Swoppet foot poses and the two mounted figures from Lone Star, these - of course - get separated-out further by unscrupulous dealers and sold on feeBay for silly BIN's as Lone Star! There are several copies of these LS mounted figures the others tending toward more or downright blobbyness.

They always appear in this colour-way, so other similar figures are from other sources, the only variation I've found is some batches have a slightly metallic green of a more herby shade ('errby' over the pond or 'air'bee' if you're a pretentious chef!), it's a very poor photograph I'm afraid, but I've just cropped it out of a much bigger show-plunder image, remembering I had them in a shot!

Hummm...ten figures by ten figures, switching from the invasive species to native fauna halfway down the card...they're not wrong; 50 Cowboys and 50 Indians...Hold on! There's a red cowboy - bottom left? I've been cheated! I'd take it back for a refund but they went bust in '79 when the Key Market was replaced by Waitrose.

I present to you the incredibly rare 51 Cowboys and 49 Indians set with the world famous printing-error!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

X is for Cross-shaped Wing-form Star-fighter!

I've been following developments over at Rob's shipyards with some fascination in the last few days, not least because the system is too small a scale for figures so I'll probably never partake, but they are lovely models and what Rob's done with his spare Millennium Falcons is superb.

In the Galoob stuff I found this morning were some Star Wars bits, and while most people are familiar with the Action Fleet toys from Galoob, I though the comparison with a lesser-known X-Wing was worth a short post...

Estes solid-fuel tablet rockets with parachute - the parachute is hidden from view in a little compartment like the old Quercetti catapult-rockets. Compared to a Galoob 'Red-Five' (red? they're both orange-fives!), you can see there's very little in it size-wise, but the engine nacelles are a bit different and the rear of the main compartment is very different due to need to put the fuel tablets somewhere.

I would like to open this and 'muck-about' with it, but I'd need a second one first, and they are bloody hard to find and tend to go for a premium when they turn-up...too many sub-branches of collectors after the one thing! One day I'll just think "F-it, other collectors must have carded ones, lets get it out!".

The other obvious difference is the solid canopy.

Galoob's Red-Three and Red-Five; a few years apart and a few variations in decoration, also - I'm assuming it's later production - the 'five' has no cockpit stickers?

M is for Mortars and Missiles from Micro Machines

Not so much a lazy-post today as a close look at the minutiae of one small corner of the Toy Soldier universe, and it's nice sometimes to compare like with like...I was looking for something else someone was looking for, and found a bunch of Galoob photo's in the files, that I took a while ago, so a few posts from them coming-up!

Shoulder-launched hardware...at the back we have the poorer two, sculpting-wise; a MAW / HOT / TOW 'thingy' and in front of it something which is supposed to be an RPG-7! Then the out-of-scale accessory from earlier MM sets, a Milan ATGW, I think I've posed it facing the wrong-way, but it matters not as the operator is too busy hand-rolling a cigarette to pay attention!

Front-right we have Dragon TOW's on long and short poles, while the rear is defended from sneaky-beaky shitty-Sukhoi attack by a Stinger SAM.

Mortar line...three tubes were modelled, from left to right they are the early Micro Machine (unnumbered) 80mm mortar, the accessory mortar which does good service as a 120mm type and the slightly-oversized later (numbered base) 51mm/2" personal mortar, which is probably meant to be another 80mil (a lot of the late figures are mere blobs), but for war-gaming modern era, that's three mortar-classes done!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

E is for Eye Candy

Naff expression, naff title - I know, but sometimes it's easy to find a title; sometimes it 'aint! I'm no Shakespeare! This is the last of the non- 'Khaki Infantry' ( there's more to come on that page, from Barney and me) shots Barney Brown sent me, and while we have looked at the figures before, it's always nice to look at them again and the scenic items are new-to-blog.

The Speedwell Germans, some repainted, some original, some damaged, but collectively a nice sample with all eight poses and a nice flecked-green figure. Compare him with the similar pose in the damaged group and you'll see they are two different mouldings, common with these, most noticeable with the Trojan Germans and Japanese, there is some thought that it may be indicative of more than one maker (almost certainly true with the Japs).

We looked at them 3 years ago with the dying camera Here.

Trojan German Infantry and the 14th Army/Australians, of interest here is the Panzerfaust operator moulded in pink and then all-over painted. I don't think I have more than one or two of the jungle troops, but we looked at the Germans Here.

The 14th Army/Aussies are larger than the others at a reasonable 54mm, compared to the 50mm of both sets of Germans and the Japanese and in sand plastic are believed to be 14th Army, with the khaki/drab-green being the plain 'Australians' in the catalogue.

Scenic items, these are issued/included in sets by at least two of the 'khaki infantry' makers; Speedwell (who usually marked, and therefore are probably the originators), and UNA, Trojan and VP may well have put them in sets too?


Thanks to Barney for all the images in this post.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

M is for More Loose-ends

Specifically for Ed. Berg, but also anyone looking to collect/having trouble with the various generations of Britains Deetail 'standard' knights, or - the silver 'original' and black 'Storm' knights; I put this together to try and explain the time-line vis-a-vis the foot figures...


 It takes no account of colour variations, shield designs and such-like, the silhouettes have been drawn without weapons (694 being the only truly weapon specific chap) although they did leave the factory with the same 'chosen' weapon I believe?

[Couple of hours later - re-edited the thing for the umpteenth time, seems to be a little clearer!]

I've also not got bogged down with the thin versions as it's a new development which will require more work which someone else may do as I'm not volunteering at present! I've only identified the two knights and a couple of Turks so far and I think some of the mounted poses got slim-Jim versions?

All dates are very 'approximate', you can't trust the catalogues, and with other variables they may have languished in shops for some time or not been available when they should have been!

This is an earlier draft which may be of more use for printing out and using as a check-list, or to pin-up near the PC for when you are surfing evilBay? Left-click to enlarge.

If anyone would like the original Word .doc, that's doable, but with 12 jpg's embedded, it may not be eMail-able, so some cost for disc and postage would need to be worked out...I'd probably do all the jpg's (30-odd) and the AutoCAD file - if you can use it - as well?

News, Views Etc...Usual Round-up

There is a seemingly never-ending stream of these now, but I never tire of them and they all give you that 'I wish I'd thought of that first' moment!

Tanaka Tatsuya - playing with food



Soldiers in Siloth, a museum of Toy Soldiers is mounting a WWI exhibition, their own website isn't as clear as the press release, so here's the press release!

Cumbria Crack (not sure that's how you spell it Cumbria?)



Nice small-scale dioramas in Belarus

Minsk Museum



And finally...

Giant Toy Soldiers

Sunday, August 10, 2014

L is for Loose-ends

Beginning at the end...or ending at the beginning (unless you're coming to this via 'next post' in a few months or years time, in which case it's in vague order in the dozen or so posts below this one!) we'll look at the early figures and some of the minor variations, and then the final - to date - incarnation.

When I took the initial pictures for the book project, I didn't bother with the commoner figures, and being late to large scale collecting and still not too bothered by common stuff like Deetail, I can only cobble together what's come in, in mixed and junk lots.

The originl 'silver' knights, consisted of six poses on foot and six poses mounted, the standard for a set of Deetail, and most Britains plastic production. First appearing in the 1973 catalogue, they would - along with the WWII Germans - get a second set of 6 foot figures in 1978 ('77 for the Germans), the two ran alongside each other for some years, with 6 poses (3 from each set) being dropped in the early 1990's. Two of the poses would re-appear in the five-pose reissues of the 2000's.

From the mid-1980's the production decision-making process seems to have been moved by degrees to the Hong Kong facility, leading to the realistic paper shields being dropped and replaced with laminate plastic/foil designs with a chromium finish, the advent of the black 'Storm' knights and the oddity of second 'slim-jim' mouldings, and we see two above, in the image top left and the archer on the far right of the lower line-up.

I don't know the reason for this other than demand? The figures are smaller and all external detail (crests, bow, sheaths, feathery-frippery) is thinner or truncated. Also I don't know how many poses were affected, although a couple of the Turks have thin versions as well.

I've never seen information on this, so input would be invaluable for other collectors if you do know something, or have half an idea? The thinnish ones weren't used in the 2000's reissues.

Above - a box of mounted figures as they came into the retailer, there are 3-each of the six poses, each three decorated the same, so when you encounter colour variants they were from other boxes from other out-painters or other production batches.

Below - comparison between all bar the swivel-waist and Robin Hood figures, you can see how big the Gold 'Great Shield' knights are, next to the others and also how the black 'Storm Knights' are compared to the blueish-charcoal of the original Turks.

Toward the end, gimmicks came in and they are rather fun! Running alongside the Robin Hood sets in blister-packed carded pocket-money ranges were various tilting or 'Tournament Knights' with pull-back motored jousting horses and a dragon.

The other image shows a mounted version of the gold knights we look at a few posts below, with the black helmet and grey mail highlights.

Slight colour variations exist of at least three of the horses (the blue one wasn't present - on the day - in a large enough sample to present a variation, but I'm sure there will be some), and the horses visible areas (tails and a bit of neck) could be black, grey or a pinkish-brown.

The most resent issue, nearly a decade ago now (2006/7?) were the realistic-paint version, with only 3 mounted figures each for knights and Turks, all 6 foot Turks but only 5 knights, two of which were among the poses dropped from the consolidation - from 12 back down to 6 poses - years earlier. Also, the old large sculpt/moulding of archer was present in the five, suggesting that the skinnys were second moulds - not replacement moulds.

When I was working for my dealer mate, we retailed these straight from the UK arm of Britains, and I think they ran for just  two or three years around the dates above? Have there been other issues?

R is for as Rare as Rockinghorse-shit

Speaking of George Erik as I was...er...n't (Reamsa figure in next post below!); as well as designing for Reamsa, George also designed for various UK manufacturers and often re-used a pose. One of the more original poses from his hands was the crawling figure from the Turkish WWI set, and it also got re-used for the Reamsa US Cavalry set...

...and for the Kentoys set of three Space Police Commandos. This is a hard lot to track down, I photographed this on Adrian's stand at a show, the set was only three poses, with a further three 'Terra Nova' figures, the whole to enhance the Dan Dare set. The Terra Novans don't seem to have left the factory for retail (they can be seen in one or two of James Opie's books - as he owns the test-shots. and the Plastic Warrior Kentoy special), while the Space Police Commandos only got a limited distribution.

Paint's poor on this survivor, and the disc shaped badge on the shoulder should be yellow.

M is for 'Mostly' Unknown!

When I did the WWI post the other day I nearly included this image as a source of potential WWI figures, but realised it needed a toy soldier related text, and as that was a PPE rant, I held it over. These are all either unknown or of an early 20th century style that makes them potentials for WWI.

The first figure on the top row is a Bata figure from Czechoslovakia, he's really a later figure, but with the pack and puttees looks the part for WWI, he's also that rare thing, a true rubber figure who doesn't melt into a puddle like so much of the contemporaneous Italian-made rubber production.

Next to him is a Marx re-issue - probably polypropylene, from the old hand-painted 'Warriors of the World' mould, and while technically an 8th Army/North Africa WWII figure, could just as easily be marching to Baghdad in the First war.

Then we have a complete unknown - definitely polypropylene, I think he's from a construction site toy, but the little tin safety-helmet looks like our old piss-pot, so he could be painted up as a WWI chappie! I have a mental note that he's from New Zealand, but suspect that's actually bollocks and he's just a Hong Kong 'generic'?

Last one in the top line-up is the Reamsa Turk, falling wounded in the Dardanelles - defending his homeland, the best way a soldier should die, not attacking some god-forsaken shit-hole thousands of miles from home. This is a late unpainted example; he's a nice figure and I wish I had the rest of the set!

Bottom left would also seem to be a Spanish figure, but buggered if I could find him on Google the other night, even trying search terms like 'Spanish Ceremonial Cavalry Modern', Spanish Lancers, etc...Included here as he would paint-up to a nice German cavalryman of the immediate pre-war period? Anyone know who made him, or what unit he represents?

The final figure would make a nice British officer from either war, and could be in WWI Palestine/Iraq, Gallipoli, WWII North Africa or even Burma. He turns up quite a bit, in charity shops and vintage toy soldier shows, he's metal, and while it's probably an alloy, it's not the granular Zamac/Mazac of die-cast toy vehicles, being a heavier material which holds fine detail. I'm sure he is actually a tourist keepsake of a Hong Kong Policeman from the pre-1997 period, and must have been quite a common purchase.

B is for Black Storm

No - not today's unseasonal weather, pointing to permanent damage of the ecosystem caused by yours truly and his fellow monkeys, but rather the first major change to the Deetail Knights range, the simple expedient of changing the colour! Actually the first change was from realistic to silly-chrome shields, but that move seems to have occurred at the same time as the new vinyl colour.

We're only looking at the mounted poses here as - eventually (a day or two) we will have looked at the foot figures above! Just a few colour variations and an unpainted one who sneaked through.

Sorting for a dealer friend (which kicked-off the original book idea), and all six bursting-forth upon the stakes of the English long-bowmen....Well? They've got black armour...they've gotta'be bad guys, and none badder than the Fr...we're all friends now!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Q is for Quandary

Can anybody help with information on these, they keep turning up in bulk, this is a shot of the contents of two lots and I have a third larger sample in storage. Clearly designed like Christmas Cracker or Gum-ball machine charms, and probably to be pined to a lapel through the loop of the tail.

The thing is; I suspect a corporate link to them, I used to think the British Rail 'unicycle' lion (hence the photo!), but he was arched, the British Lion egg lions also doesn't fit as he had a crown, as do 'royal' lions...does anybody know where these keep appearing from and what they were intended for? Staff? Flag-days? Premiums...if so for what?

They are made of a dense glass-like polystyrene or a late phenolic resin polymer and are sculpted with a clearly defined collar. If it was the odd one or two I would dismiss them as the above mentioned charms, such as the little black cats that have been put in Christmas Crackers for the longest time (in glass, coal, slate and all polymers), but the numbers that turn up sugest something more...intriguing?

Other similar lions I've ruled out include the lion of Judea (crown with cross and standard on pole), the Rhodesian Forces lion (facing forward, holding tusk) and the Wesley collage lion; other paw up, tail curls round, under itself.

L is for Limey

Corr'blimy lauve-a-duck [there are laws against that now] Meh'reey Pop'uns...it's a box-ticker and no'ew mistake!

Marx - smaller 54mm size, WWII British Infantry with early above and reissues below (if I'm not mistaken?)...that's it...click on the image and it gets bigger, click again and you need to scroll to see it all!