About Me

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No Fixed Abode, Home Counties, United Kingdom
I’m a 51-year-old Aspergic CAD-Monkey. Sardonic, cynical and with the political leanings of a social reformer, I’m also a toy and model figure collector, particularly interested in the history of plastics and plastic toys. Other interests are history, current affairs, modern art, and architecture, gardening and natural history. 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, so I hate the 'educational' establishment and pity the millions they’ve failed with teaching-to-test and rote 'learning' 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”. I also have no time for fools and little time for the false crap we're all supposed to pretend we haven't noticed, or the games we're supposed to play.

Friday, September 30, 2016

B is for Biggles in the Drink!

I loved Biggles . . . to begin with . . . no, I was always a fan, but having found him in WWI with his mates Algy and Ginger (there was another one wasn't there? I've forgotten him!), flying string-bags over the trenches of Flanders, I did get a bit annoyed to find him apparently the same age in South America fighting Luftwaffe Condor's operated by some despotic mate of Batista, like, err . . .Tin-Tin, and then again, a few years later, still the same age in WWII!

But this isn't about me, Brian Berke was also a fan of Biggles, and his abiding fandom gave rise to the mini-diorama we looked at a while ago, to which this is a follow-up, to give an idea of how it was built. I'm also hoping to post a video, which will be a first for the Blog, as I'm editing this at home the day before, if there's no video, it didn't work!

Groundwork/formwork for the volcanic atoll/caldera is first built-up from layers of expanded polystyrene packing material.

Test-placing elements, an Airfix kit and a rubber squid (or is it a cuttlefish - they're real mean fuckers, they really are, barbed-torpedo for a tongue which fires-out like a chameleon's!) take centre-stage in the lower depths of the cone.

While up above the railway buildings went through a generation or two before Brian was happy with them, and I think the final hut was a better choice visually than the Nissen hut, although those Hong Kong Nissen huts have their uses and this is the first I've seen with window-stickers.

The pirate ship actually belongs to the vinyl villain with the vast vat of vino we saw here on the 19th of the month and you can see how the trees were sparser at one point.

Coming together now, and that's not three 'explorers', it's Biggles, Ginger and Algy! Brian forgot the other one too, clearly he wasn't very memorable . .  probably wore a red pajama top!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

M is for Mobile Reconnaissance

Continuing our look at the products of Ukrainian Collectable Paper Soldiers, and today it's the turn of the mobile reconnaissance groupp/element of the Border Guards, you will find by the time we have looked at the whole range it's mostly Boarder Guards of one kind or another, the regular army having been run-down by a crooked President who felt he needed to spend the money on a mansion, with zoo, and park, and fairground and full size pirate ship! Further split by the loss of Crimea, the weight of the incursions in east Ukraine seem to have fallen more heavily on the Border Guards.

These guys are like the Border Guard Special Forces, using 'Technicals' made by bolting a heavy-machine gun into the pick-up bed of a VW-Amarok truck, they look pretty badass to me!

They are facing to the East in all the pictures, because they'd be no good facing West would they? The Donbas is to the East, the insurgents are to the East, the not gay, oh no, absolutely, definitely, not gay, bear-wrestling, real man (did I say not gay?) Putin is to the East, the pirate-ship building ex-President is to the East, to the West - lies hope!

Each set comes with little scenic pieces, and this one as well as the trees has a road-sign . . . pointing to the East!

What I like about these is the almost South Park quality of the artwork, without the jokey side of things; these guys mean business.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

L is for Loose-ends in Liberation Land

Yes, we're back to the Men of '76; for the third time? But Brian Berke sent me two sets of the figures in his last (previous - another's turned-up!) donation to the Blog, which answers a few of the questions raised in the previous posts and turns up a couple of new things worth mentioning.

The first is that the header card artwork is - of course - the 'Spirit of '76' vignette we looked at the other day, both this artwork and the figures being taken from the famous eponymous painting by Archibald Willard.

The two sets Brian sent, the second (Cornwallis) had been de-carded in the past, so after I took these shots, I re-liberated them, but of immediate interest is that the two cards are of different sizes, and with no reason, as the 'extra' is added top and bottom of the white header, with similar margin extensions on the back. The 'meat and two veg' being the same on both cards. The other thing to note is that the card backs do differ from set to set, the Assembly Instructions are the same, but the blurb is card-specific.

Off the card, and glossy with the signs of the passing of the forty years between issue and release lost in the protection the blister gave them, that's a couple of scarlet jackets or my name's Marion! Sorry Mr Wayne!

Comparison between the details of 'officer' and 'trooper', two items of interest here: Firstly; the painted helmet-plate (forerunner of the cap badge) on the officers Busby has developed verdigris under some past damp conditions, suggesting a high content of real copper in the paint, but of far more interest is the sword . . .

. . . Correct me if I'm wrong, but that looks like the Officer's Katana from the Britains Deetail Japanese Infantry set (or copy of it!)? A set which although having the 1971 stamp on the - generic-to-the-range - base, Britains didn't actually catalogue until 1973. It would appear that the piracy reached the 'high street' at least a year BEFORE the original!

That was the problem with 'joining them' (by transferring production to Hong Kong), rather than beating them! Someone had filched a sword and run it down the road to Innovative's contract manufacturer (cooperative production partner, now OEM), who ran-up a copy, before Britains were anywhere near ready to add the Japs (and Brits) to the Deetail range.

Brian also sent the leaflet that came bagged and stapled to some sets, it doesn't add much to the posts, other than that there are only the 8 sets listed - from 1972 - in a 1973/75 reprint; however I will (eventually) scan it and add it to the A-Z post. As always; thank you very much Brian Berke.

Also worth noting that in the sham battle arranged at the top of the back page, all the Native American Indians have joined the forces of the legitimate government, a force of 25 which has flanked the 18 Rebels, who are short of gunners . . . Fort Ticonderoga might have been a push-over, but I suspect Fort Innovative will prove a tougher nut to crack!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

S is for Shite!

The Matchbox 'Heroic Rescue' vehicle Attack Track . . . 'cos you can heroically rescue loads of things with a tactical battlefield missile, loads of souls can be rescued by Beelzebub for a start!

It has the front-end/cab of a Soviet/Russian wheeled carrier, the tracks of a construction vehicle and a missile previously used by a Dong, as a nose! Jack Odell and the Smiths must be spinning in their graves . . . it's NOT Matchbox, it's Hong Kong shite! Poundland, one pound, now.

Monday, September 26, 2016

A is for Airfix Addicts Aided by Atomic Rocket Gun

It's been a while since I fed the Airfix habit, then this turned-up! How cool is this, too cool for Space-school, that's how!

The instructions seem to refer to double-point targets - missing from the board, so the blurb may have been copied verbatim from another game in [what would then begin to look like] the range; the 'W' suffix to the pattern number suggesting a similar situation - more than one in a 'range'?

A bit of reflection I'm afraid, but that's the downside of photographing stuff at a show! Very colourful and unusual in that it has an open front, most sets of this age/type (I'm reminded of our own childhood Marx Robin Hood set) were fully enclosed, with a spring-loaded firing stick and marbles which couldn't get lost.

This has a spring-plate firing mechanism (like the S-Boot we looked at ages ago), so the finger needs to enter the 'playing area'! There seems to be an incentive to cheat built into this set, shocking!

The bag of bits seems to have been mucked-about with, containing both composition and glass marbles in several sizes, I suspect the three white glass 'chinas' are the originals, with the composition balls added by the owner.

However; you can also see the clip-in stands which have to be removed to get the board back in its box, so something that might reasonable have been expected to have been lost (or broken) years ago.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

N is for Ninja Turtles - Ukraine Style!

This is the lead-in to several posts on the products of this Ukrainian company, eponymously titled 'Ukraine'! The full title is (or was) Ukrainian Collectible Paper Soldiers but I will tag them Ukraine.

Firstly a disclaimer; normally I don't cover new production from that part of the world, it invariably gets announced by the PSTSM as 'unknown Russian', then gets named, then turns out (99% of the time) to actually have a Ukrainian address, before being - sometimes - legitimised with an owner's interview in Plastic Warrior magazine.

Why don't I cover it? By the time it's been ID'd properly and/or legitimised it has also been covered-the-heck-out-of on Treefrog in Plastic Warrior magazine and on Stads,. Also; the bulk of the product will be sold to collectors, so is never going to have or hold either the rarity of vintage plastic, or the ephemeral quality of the rack-toy/99p stuff.

Whilst; before it's been legitimised, there remains a chance it may well be an exercise in raising hard cash for who knows what organisation in a place where people's grannies are regularly shelled in villages they've survived-in since the Panzers rolled. Not something I want on my conscience.

However, A) these have come from the owner, who assures me the very turbulence I refer to above has curtailed their production and B) they are not plastic, so Treefrog and PW are unlikely to cover them!

The first of several posts finds us looking at the least 'conventional' of the various items in the range, a range which I like the look of - and those who found the Blog early enough will know I do like paper-flats!

These are apparently affectionately known as 'Ninja Turtles', and are expediency-produced ('ersatz' if you like!) AFV's on a UAZ van/lorry chassis. Used by first line boarder troops in the early phases of the 2014/15 conflict as a stop-gap with both fire-power and personal-protection from fragments. The models are scaled to between 54 and 60mm

As I understand it the vehicles were produced by pro-government/pro-Independent Ukraine (pro-democracy - if you like!) factories or workshops with the technical know-how and/or tools/materials and were paid for by ordinary citizens, following the flight of the puppet President and the Putin-inspired insurgencies in Crimea and the Donbas. [Perhaps my blog will now be hacked by Little/Big Bear and the resulting 'secrets' sent to Trumptonville!]

Well . . . you're not going to escape politics on this one, and the sets wear their hearts on their sleeve! It’s a blue and yellow one.

It's ironic, that with all the hi-tech weaponry swilling around in a world knee-deep in such stuff, these would be recognised by the anti-Fascists of 1920's Ireland (oh yes we were - read-up on the Black'n'Tans!), 1930's Spain, 1940's Warsaw or 1950's Cuba (oh yes you were, mafia-sponsored regime - to a man - Fulgencio Batista!) all of whom produced AFV's from steel-plate, as did the Home Guard and - of course; famously - Clint Eastwood! Or for that matter, Ned Kelly, but his didn't have wheels!

Thanks to Mark Sergeyev at Ukrainian for the pictures.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

T is for Two - Fire Engines

Photographed at the same time as the ambulances the other day, well - inter-service rivalry must be met with scrupulous fairness! So thanks to Adrian again.

This one has some age, and like the one below was really photographed with the hope I will be able to ID some of the unknown figures in storage at some point. While their plastic figures were sold under the Hilco label, here they are marketed with the full Johillco moniker.

Toys of this age tend to be sold 'as is', but I would be tempted to try and straighten that ladder with a couple of metal plates and a flower-press, slowly tightening the butterfly nuts over a day or two, then re-wire the winding gear to the crank-handle so the ladder could be raised again?

Adrian didn't rate this one, I guess because it's a copy of . . . French Dinky? But I rather liked it, although the box doesn't do it justice . . .

. . . and again I know I have these figures in storage, might even have some upstairs! They plug-in from the feet rather than the more usual rump-spigot! The mechanism utilises the common Mettoy/Lone Star seat-plugging-into-cradle arrangement we've seen here before. This is obviously die-cast to the Johillco's lead, and therefore is more robust and holds better surface detail.

Friday, September 23, 2016

G is for Gap!

Hummm....I don't seem to have anything ready to to publish, not do I have a 'news/views' waiting! Having been first convalescing from a fall off a ladder (I knew I would and I did!) and then a few days absolutely, literally, like dying a man-flue death, I was keeping up with the posting, but now I'm back up the ladder (still snuffling!), it's all been and went a bit Pete Tong!

Never mind, I'll sort something out for tomorrow . . .maybe!

In the meantime...I have;

Found two more kits for the AA Model entry
Added another fire-engine and cube-eraser to the Jig Toys page
Updated the table for the Airfix Flats and added some blurb
Posted 3 more figures to the Early Airfix set

Fire-engines! I have some fire-engines in the queue, and some card soldiers, one of them for Saturday, then  -  the other on Sunday!
-------------------------------------------------
 
This hiatus also gives me a chance to post a meme I stole from the Facebook, which is of relevance to Pygmy-pecker Peter and his ilk!
 
It's easy to be a right-wing, reactionary, parochial, jingoistic, little-flag waving, drawbridge pulling-up, bigot, you just sit in-front of the TV in your underpants yelling abuse at the talking-heads and anyone you consider to look a bit 'foreign' or a bit 'girly', being a pinko-leftie, liberal, democrat on the other hand; actually requires effort as you have to fight you own prejudice as well as the prejudices of those around you and those inherent in all living things...liberalism is an active celebration of the full concept of 'civilisation', isolationist nationalism [in a global world - with ONE dominant species] is the lazy thicko’s answer to problems that frighten him because his brain's too small, and he will only magnifiy those problems or keep them burning for another generation!
 
Same for the Trumptons! Marine La Penn's lot on the other hand; just think they might get to sleep with her if they vote for her, simple men, simple thought-processes! While the Hungarians and Rumanians seem to have forgotten, mighty quickly, what they went through under the Germans and Soviets . . . or learnt too much?

Thursday, September 22, 2016

'76 is for Spirit Of!

Yeahp! It's those damn pesky insurgents again!

You will by now have noticed that one Brian Burke of New York has been mentioned quite a bit since he first contacted me back in April/May, and with very good reason, he has contributed hundreds of useful, interesting, relevant or rare images to the Blog (or for the Blog; there's plenty to come), and well as sending three donations, the last of which contained this set for which I owe him much gratitude.

Obviously in our eMail conversations things are mentioned as being likely to be in the next parcel, but with this it was a complete surprise, more so as I had raised it as a query in conversation about the smaller cake decorations (which I'm still after if anyone has a spare set) along the lines of 'if you see...' and he had replied with several good images and a 'Do you mean these?'. He then went into town (the above named megatropolis!) and checked what he described as the 'motherlode' without luck!

I thanked him, and got ready to write-up a post round the images, only for the whole set to turn-up a few weeks later! Really I can't thank Brian enough, and because he sends things to be shared, the best way to thank him is share it with you - the other readers.

Appearing in Plastic Warrior magazine not that long ago (issue 153 try here for back orders) courtesy of Chris Goddard it should be familiar to some, and won't need much blurb, just nice pictures of a lovely set.

Given the state of some 'New World' flags, and I'm thinking of Mexico, Brazil and Argentina here (with all that busy stuff going-on in the middles!) among others, the Americans chose a very clever design, which not only allows for the endless addition of stars, while the 13 stripes remain - boldly proclaiming their heritage, in three contrasting colours (yes - I know white isn't a 'colour'!).

The combined use of which (graphical elements and colours) can instantly render anything recognisably 'American' in a way the same colours can't do for say Britain or France, without the whole flag, or a proportional design of such, being included. Thus, even from 100-paces, the thin red lines on a white ground with a few stars on blue and a splurge of red, especially in 1976, would have screamed "We won the Revolution - buy us now"!

Proudly striding down the road, isn't the packaging nice - for Hong Kong? These figures have a lot in common with Lucky Toys and their civilian race-goers, mechanics and officials, so I wouldn't be surprised if there was a connection, but there's no actual evidence for such.

A close-up of the three figures, the drums are particularly good I think - being a more realistic size than most? As well as the Timpo knock-off wagons mentioned in the aforementioned PW article, Award International also imported sets of Kung-Fu swoppets in similar boxes to this one; but with plainer outer-graphics, the equally nice interior card being of a martial-arts gymnasium.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

T is for Two - Mulberry's Poitiers Figures

We've looked at these before and it only earned me a bit of sideways opprobrium in the comments, so I'm not saying much this time, they have their - rather spartan - A-Z entry here to which these two will be added.

Sir James Audley 1356
Battle of Poitiers

Bohun, Earl of Nothampton 1356
Battle of Poitiers

I would only add that painting is again poor (see cancer comment on A-Z entry) but these were offered as kits so may be home-paints, and while the figures are well animated, they are the same leg/body sculpt with different heads/arms.

Bubble-jet printed label, yuck! Another ten years and that will be totally illegible! Don't shoot the messenger; that's a fact.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

R is for Rome

The box-ticker I mentioned the other day - and it really is only a box-ticking exercise; I'm not keen to post too much Cherilea as it seems to be the only Plastic Warrior 'Special' not to get a colour update, so having sat on last May's exclusive, I don't think it requires much rocket science to guess what surprise might be waiting visitors to the show next year!

And while I don't know for sure (I haven't discussed it with Paul), whenever it's released it will be worth the wait as Cherilea had a prolific and eclectic range of production and a history complicated by the Hilco and Phoenix connections, more recent re-issues, bought-in HK stuff and etcetera!
So, the Romans who came in with the recent 'Junk Lot' that turned-out to be anything but junk . . .

Most of these Cherilea 60mm sets have eight poses I think, so I seem to be short two figure types, although I have one or two in storage, I don't remember them differing from these. The number of axe-armed legionaries is odd, perhaps they are 'building camp' rather than bashing heads!

Cherilea sets tend to have both plastic colour variations (if that's the right word . . . just 'different coloured plastic' batches!) and variations in painting, although there seems to be a gold/silver rule across the set?

Some sets have a smooth-based 'third variant', I only have the commoner two, and I suspect the hollowed-out one with the reinforcing stripes is a latter version designed to save a bit of plastic, over a couple of hundred mould-runs, you'd save enough plastic to do a couple of dozen more to make-up your clients 'grosses'?

Monday, September 19, 2016

B is for Bonus Buccaneers!

I need to crop these and spellcheck the post so i will edit it tomorrow, but shiver-me-timbers as I just checked my Hotmail before leaving the Libary and found these! So a late bonus (I'll shed-yule them for 16.00, it's now 15,33 and I know the 4th post has only just published!) courtasy of Brian Berke; they look to be the Ja-Ru figures painted-up, with scaleing 'Beserker' from crescent!



TLAPD is for Travel Like a Pirate Day

So, loosening the ties on the curtains that will draw across ITLAPD just after a nanosecond to midnight, and answering Jan's (Ye Old Site of Curiosities) call a while ago for better images of the Kinder vessels, here are those briny-battling behemoths of the carpenter's art.

These are those best suited to the era of the classical 'boys own book of . . . ' type pirates. I stress that Kinder (or its many suppliers - the upper four are from RP / RES Plastic SpA) have produced loads of wooden war-ships, cargo cutters and other tall ships over the years and these are only a few; we will return to them one day.

I'm no expert on these things, but the French-flagged one has a gun-deck, while the other from the same series (with a block-plinth) would seem to be more of a cutter?

Above are four vessels from a different series (each set of Kinder vessels typically has between 3 and 6 models), and the series consists of different front-halves and back-halves of the vessels with different sticker-sheets and different coloured plastics, to provide several vessel variants, which you have to look hard at to differentiate. The instruction sheet is the same for all the models!

Components and made-up model together from this 1993-issued ship; construction is relatively easy (see also final picture), with clip-together parts and there is nearly always a sticker-sheet of the paper type. The Ancient Egyptian/Phoenician vessel (below) is around 90mm, with the rest between 50 and 60-mil, from spar-tip to rudder-edge.

[Does that make them useful for your kind of gaming Jan?]

Slightly more medieval-looking vessels above and the ancient one already mentioned below. In the sample in storage I think I have the rest of this set and it included a Roman/Green type. There have also been larger-scales fishing vessels, leisure-craft and the like, with smaller-scaled vessels like the ferries we looked at the other day. Note how one vessel has paper sails.

It was only when I was wording the blurb for the second picture that I realised there was a shot missing from the folder? Turned-out it had been deleted by mistake and as I'd finished the collages for the other images, I took the opportunity to scan the little instruction sheet!

From Corplast via Ferrero comes a slightly more complicated one with a frame-check image like a Japanese or Esci AFV kit, so you can check all the small bits are there! This also has paper sails and is one of the larger scaled, smaller vessels.

TLADP is for Talk Like a Drunken Pirate

This was one of the first things Brian sent to the Blog, and I've had to sit on it since early May, but he was the first image in the folder with all today's images, so sort of 'senior sailor'!

If the small barrel is full of 'Vino', I hate to think what's in the large one, I hope it's beer, not whiskey! Brilliant, a roughly 54mm pirate with his own barrel of wine, and he's looking pretty determined to defend it against all-comers.

Below him is a size-comparison shot with the smaller figures we looked-at earlier this morning.

Brain later sent this (cropped-out of a larger image, for another post), it's the ship that came as part of the play-set with the above drunken pirate and his very important porterage!

Here he is compared to a couple of Yolanda 60mm pirates, which got me thinking - Gog of the Toys From the Past blog sent me a bunch of images of Yolanda stuff ages ago; I mean like right back. at the start of the blog.

I never used them as I thought he would use them on his blog, but he's more of a die-cast and card game . . . action figure [bit of everything!] blogger so - with his permission - I will put them together into a post or two soon, but anyway, I went looking for the images and . . .

. . . found a third pose! Thanks Gog! That's it for figures on this International Talk Like a Pirate Day, but there's still a post to come . . . Ah'Haarrr, That'ull be a secret, thaaaat'well - Wait'n'see yerrr scoundrullss; orse I'll keellhawwlll the lot'o'yerrrs...hic!

H is for Talk Like a Hunson Pirate!

Imported into the US by JPW International and branded to Hunson, Brian Berke sent these in to add to the publishing itinerary of ITLAPD, and I can't say much about them as I only know what you can see. Brian shot them on the rack, in a store in New York, about a month ago . . . enjoy: yurrr dirrrt-dwellin' scallawaggs!





They are approximately 90mm, and I would assume some kind of PVC-vinyl? The cactus that accompanies this guy has been included in Hing Fat and other brands' sets in the past, but it's been a common-enough design - in several sizes/finish-qualities - kicking around Rack Toys since the mid-1990's, so it's presence doesn't prove much, just hints! The boat looks useful, but check out the captains sword . . . not so much 'no prisoners' as: no survivors!

Thanks Brian.