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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, October 9, 2015

S is for Soldier Magazine October 1951 - Adoption of the EM2 Bull Pup Assault Rifle?

One of the great mysteries of British-made toy soldiers has been why so many of the 'Khaki Infantry' produced in the 1050's have the EM2 experimental bull pup configured assault rifle instead of the bolt-action No.4 SMLE or its successor the conventional layout, semi-automatic, FN-licensed L1A1 SLR?

Now its never been a mystery to me, and I have explained more than once how it came about; here on this blog, on the HaT forum (when I was active there) and elsewhere on the Internet as well as in real-life, in conversation with fellow collectors and passers-by at shows. Yet there is still misinformation out there, I guess there always will be, but hopefully these following three articles will help?

The reason I've always stuck to my version of events - that it was due to press publicity, probably following a fire-power demonstration, probably at Lulworth Cove or on 'The Plain', probably given by the Demonstration Battalion at the School of Infantry in Warminster - was because I could remember reading the articles in my Father's old bound volumes of Soldier Magazine from the 1950's. I am glad to be able to report that thanks to that magazine (which is still going and is still a good read), and the C2 Business Manager Andy Clarkson, I have located those articles, and reproduce them here to help put this 'question' to bed.

The first article was published on 1st October 1951, the lead-up being almost certainly under wraps and protected by the Official Secrets Act, so this was probably the first time the soldiery had heard about it in their official magazine (the daily press breaking it a few days earlier) and it's the earliest article Andy could find. The article I remembered was the one we'll look at two posts down, these three posts going-up together in chronological order down the page.

I've copied the text as it is in the scans as some of it would have been unreadable, or hard to read as JPG's. All capitalisation and punctuation, hyphens and the like is reproduced faithfully and with several authors and only one byline; the hyphen rule particularly varies between articles. I have annotated in normal (pale grey) text with square brackets, and both coloured the original text and italicised it.

October 1951, Soldier, The British Army Magazine


Perhaps it is sensationalism to say that the fate of the world may depend on •02 of an inch. That is the difference in calibre between Britains new and widely publicised •288 rifle (or 7mm as it is now known) and the American Garand •300 which is the weapon of the other Atlantic Pact countries.

Either the calibre of the British weapon becomes the calibre of the Atlantic Pack countries, or it does not.

This decision may have been taken by the time these lines appear.
[in other words, it's all still up in the air] A recommendation was due to be made this month to the Defence Ministers of the Atlantic Powers, meeting in Rome, by the specialists of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

It is not so much the weapons that are the problem, but the ammunition. Member countries do not mind what rifles the other nations use, provided the same bullet fits all barrels. Firearms can be adapted to take a smaller bullet, but not a larger one. Hence the Garand could be made to fire a 7mm bullet; but the new 7mm rifle could not be adapted to fire •300.

At present, Britain is the nation out of step. Most countries in the Pact had already made plans to produce weapons of the American calibre, which like the British •303 has not been changed for 50 years.

No small arms weapon has had the grooming for stardom that the Enfield experts have put into their newest production. There has been no question of taking an existing rifle and 'sophisticating' it. The new weapon was devised from scratch.

What the designers did was to list the faults of earlier weapons: excessive weight; deficiency in fire power (this was responsible for the introduction of light machine-guns); inferiority in close quarters (hence the machine carbine)
[a problem retained with the long-barrelled SLR]; difficulty of mastering sights; smallness of magazine; inadequate standard of accuracy (hence the need for sniper rifles).

In the new rifle the barrel length has been reduced and the wooden butt abolished, thus lessening weight. The weapon is designed all in one line - from the muzzle to the shoulder rest. This has eliminated muzzle jump found in previous types. The kick has also disappeared.
[both problems retained with the introduction of the SLR]

Although there is a cocking handle the new rifle is self-loading; the gasses in the barrel have been taped to drive back the mechanism. The result is a greater rate of fire. A press button makes the weapon automatic. Thus the rifle has three roles: rifle, light machine-gun and carbine. [no talk of 'assault rifles' back in the 1950's?]

The reduction in the size of the round and the fact that its case is rimless enables a larger and straighter magazine to be used. Previously, because of the rims, magazines in both rifles and the Bren have had to be curved. The magazine has now been placed behind the trigger, thus fitting into the triangle mad by the trigger, elbow and shoulder. Should the firer want to aim downwards over a bank there is no risk of the magazine fouling the ground.[a problem retained with the SLR]

The trigger mechanism is so designed that the firer can change from single-shot to automatic without removing his hand. For men wearing arctic gloves which do not have separate fingers there is a special large trigger guard which can take the whole hand.

The rifle has a carrying handle on top of which rest the sights in a protective steel tube. That old rule of aiming which demands that the tip of the foresight shall be in the center of the backsight aperture no longer applies. Looking through the sight is like looking through a telescope which contains a guiding vertical mark and cross wires.

To the muzzle can be attached a healthy looking dagger bayonet and an attachment for firing grenades.
[the bayonet looks like it was retained/adapted to fit the SLR, the grenade would have been the Mecar Energa, an AT-grenade issued in '52 for the Lee-Enfield and carried over to the SLR, it's firing attachment was the reason for the unused pouch'lette stitched to the side of the right-hand ammo-pouch where we kept our KFS or 'cabby' racing spoon]

Last year the new rifle and ammunition - the bullets are lighter but have greater penetrating power - went to the United States where for seven months at a variety of military stations they were demonstrated by one of the best shots and ablest instructors from the Small Arms School Corps at Hythe - Quartermaster-Sergeant-Instructor Henry Thwaites. There is no doubt that the weapon impressed the audience, just as it did at the more recent demonstration at the School of Infantry, Warminster, before Members of Parliament, foreign military attaches and the Press. [this is the 'fire-power demo' I have alluded to in the past]

Again the demonstrator was Quartermaster-Sergeant-Instructor Thwaites, aided by Experimental Quartermaster-Sergeant F.A.Herbert of the Experimental Establishment, Pendine. There was something of the atmosphere of a first night at the theatre, and a little of the last day of the King's Prize contest at Bisley.

From the weapon pit a demonstration was given of the American •303 Garand. In a minute 43 well aimed shots, all hitting the target, were fired. Next came the British No. 4 Lee-Enfield, the present service rifle, Quartermaster-Sergeant-Instructor Thwaites drew applause for his prefect bolt-action and but for a round jamming he would have fired 30 rounds in the minute instead of 28. The Army expects the fully trained soldier to get off 15 well aimed shots in that time.

Then came the new rifle. The movie cameras buzzed, microphones were switched on. The crowd counted - one, two, three,…27, 28, 29 …54, 55, 56… Altogether 84 rounds left the rifle before the minute was up.

The demonstrations that followed were equally impressive. Single shots and bursts were tried out by the new rifle. Steel helmets at 600 yards range were holed. (It is claimed the rifle can penetrate them at 1000 yards). Two new rifles and magazines were placed in a chest into which was fanned sand to give a sandstorm test. After five minutes the two weapons were taken out, the demonstrators blew the sand off the sights and then fired, first with the magazines already fitted to them and then with the magazines which had been placed separately in the chest. Even the thickly coated rounds were fired as if they had come straight out of the armourers shop. The Garand was not put to this test. It is known that it would not fire with sand in the works.

A test in which rounds from the three weapons were fired, from 100 yards, into a coffin-shaped chest containing a series of one-inch planks put the Garand ahead of the two British rifles, but it was pointed out that over longer distances the 7mm bullet sustains its velocity better than the other two. Tracer was also fired from the new rifle and the old.

A demonstration was also given of a new 7mm sustained fire machine-gun still in the development stage, which may eventually replace the Vickers [School of Infantry, Brecon would still have a Vickers on manifest in 1969]. Although the Bren gun can be converted to 7mm, there was not one available for demonstration. [this seems to be on the Vickers tripod, the GPMG (from the same FN stable as the SLR) would get a lighter version which folds-up to a smaller man-portable load, also; the one above looks like a reduced-size Polsten cannon!]

To show the use of the new rifle in action, two sections of Infantry (supplied by the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment) [who in 1951 were stationed in Warminster, home of the Demonstration Battalion as I've previously suggested], one with the 7mm and the other with No. 4 rifles, gave each other covering fire as they attacked "enemy" positions. It was simple to tell the 7mm men by their rate of fire.

The proudest man present was Mr. E. N. Kent-Lemon, who was in charge of the team which produced the new rifle at Enfield, The most enthusiastic was Quartermaster-Sergeant-Instructor Thwaites. He said: "This is the simplest weapon to teach, I was given a squad of 11 Infantrymen, not one with more than six weeks service. We had only one rifle between us, which meant that when I taught them they had to pass the weapon round. Yet in two days they not only mastered it, but were able to fire a course on range. The average result was 15 points out of 20".

Whatever the Pact countries decide about the standardisation of calibre, Britain reserves her right to go ahead with production of the new rifle.

Peter Lawrence [byline]

The article mentions 'the new rifle' umpteen times yet the opening lines make it quite clear this is more of an all-or-nothing roll of the dice than any policy decision.

The apparent shortage of usable weapons suggests this was still far from a 'service weapon' in late 1951 (as stated on the Wikipedia page!). The truth is 'PR' is being used to push this weapon and it's chosen calibre over the rival entries in the pan-NATO commission looking into both replacement weapons technology and a replacement ammunition round.

Assuming the two squads had no MG's so that they didn't upset the audio-effect sought, and allowing for two more in the sand boxes and another two for the QMSI and EQMS, with maybe one more on a display table, with spares there probably weren't 20 weapons present, and they probably represented the bulk of the production?

I would add, that as a user of the SLR I would rather have had this to play with - as you can probably tell from the notes I've added in the text! They [the points] were all also true of the later SA80 which I was issued in 1987 as one of the first units to get it, and we got it before the drill had been taught us, so for a while the arms cote had a pile of unloved SLR's in one corner just for drill/ceremonials!

The shorter length meant egress from vehicles and FIBUA were both easier, the position of the magazine meant you could replace an 'empty' without waving the thing all over the place, recoil was zero compared to the kick of the old gatt, the mag. didn't foul on the ground, or catch on things...

Many thanks to Andy Clarkson at Soldier Magazine
Wikipedia - EM2 page
Memories of 1st Btn. Harts & Bucks Reg.
Wikipedia - Other Bull Pups
Wikipedia - The Bayonet

Part two (post below, if scrolling/'older post' if browsing) looks at a late entry in the field...

S is for Soldier Magazine November 1951 - Belgian Spanner in the Works?

A month after the previous article (post above, if scrolling/'newer post' if browsing), this appears on page 23, almost hidden, getting only half a page and the constant 'the new rifle' phraseology of the last article becomes 'the British rifle' throughout this piece...notation is kept to a minimum, as it's all pertinent to part three...

October 1951, Soldier, The British Army Magazine

After the British (•280 inch) rifle, described in last month's SOLDIER, come a new Belgian weapon of the same calibre.
It is more conservative than the new British weapon, it has a wooden butt, is longer and slightly heavier (eight pounds nine and a half ounces compared with eight pounds) and can be used for standard ceremonial drill. There is a folding handle on the barrel, so the weapon can be carried at the trail.

The new Belgian rifle is like the British in having a 20-round magazine which can also fit a Bren gun and in firing both bursts and single shot.

Instead of the British 7mm's optical sights, the Belgian rifle retains a conventional type, but there is a telescopic attachment for snipers. The Belgian rifle also has a bipod which can be fixed to the barrel when the weapon is used as a light automatic.

Unlike the British 7mm the Belgian 7mm has its cocking handle on the left which and the manufacturers claim this leaves the right hand on the pistol grip ready for firing. The change-lever, for selecting single shots, automatic and "safe" is also on the left.

At a demonstration near Antwerp, the Belgian rifle was fired at the rate of 76 rounds a minute, compared with the 84 rounds fired at a demonstration of the British rifle. At 1000 meters (just under 1100 yards) its bullets penetrated British-pattern steel helmets and a plank of 1.7-inch wood (which was about the same resistance as a human body at that range). It also fired perfectly after undergoing a "sandstorm" in a box.

Naturally, there are competing claims. The Belgians say their 7mm is as efficient as the British but simple in design, making it cheaper and less likely to go wrong. British experts say the British 7mm is a revolutionary weapon and more than a rifle; with its short barrel it can be used as a machine-carbine, taking the place of the Sten gun.

Thanks again to Andy Clarkson at Soldier Magazine

In part three (post below, if scrolling/'older post' if browsing), we move forward 16 months... 

S is for Soldier Magazine March 1954 - A Foreigner? In the Fusiliers!!!

Finally, over two years later (see two previous posts above, if scrolling/'newer posts' if browsing), we have a final decision and the EM2 has lost out to that last minute upstart, the Belgian FN self-loader, which would become the 'Ess-ell-arh', or Self-loading Rifle, L1A1 (SLR), also know colloquially as the 'Gatt'. The standard personal weapon of an infantryman for longer than the next three decades.

It should be noted that Churchill won an election in October 1951, and held the post of Minister for Defence (as well as PM) from October until march 1952 (when he handed over to Field Marshall Alexander), he is believed to have cancelled the EM2 during this period, some sources (link below) believe this to be in January '51.

March 1954, Soldier, The British Army Magazine

It may not lend itself to a snappy "Present Arms," but the new Belgian F.N. .300 rifle looks a beautiful weapon for the modern battlefield


In the last 50 years almost every weapon of war has been pensioned off and replaced by a better one - except the rifle.

The men who launched the Short-Magazine Lee-Enfield 
[in 1904] could never have foreseen that it would have such a record-breaking run.

Now, after many years of controversy,
[which Soldier itself has managed to avoid, doubtless there will be plenty in the archives of the 'Dailys' - and Hansard: the diary of the House of Commons] the Army's new rifle has been chosen: the Belgian F.N. (from Federation Nationale d'Armes de Guerre [sic] ) of .300-inch calibre. It is the British soldier's first self-loading rifle.

Five thousand of these weapons have already been ordered for troop trials this year. After the necessary modifications the F.N. will begin to replace the bolt-action Short-Magazine Lee-Enfield.

Why was a Belgian rifle chosen? In a series of exhaustive tests in Britain and the United States the F.N. was tried out alongside the British E.M.2 automatic rifle and a similar rifle of American design 
[presumably the T44 which would become the M14?]. Impartial observers found no difference in their performance, but the Belgian rifle was easier and quicker to make, maintain and teach. It seemed also the most likely to be accepted by other North Atlantic Treaty Organisation countries. By adopting it Britain will probably help speed the re-equipment of the North Atlantic Treaty forces [soldiers of my Father's generation have told me they were told it (the EM2) was too complicated for the servicemen of the day, National Service not ending until 1960].

In the tests of the F.N., stoppages were so rare that they had to be deliberately produced
[stoppages were getting common by the mid/late 1980's!]. The rifle has a very simple mechanism and the minimum of moving parts, so that the soldier will be able to strip and re-assemble it in a few seconds. It "breaks" like a shot-gun, allowing the body cover, breech-block slide and breech-block to be removed .

Showing the F.N. fitted with its optical sight. Note that the cocking handle 
(above the corporal's left fore-finger) is on the left-hand side of the new weapon.

The weapon has a high-rate of automatic fire - between 650 and 700 rounds a minute. A trained soldier using single shots from 20-round magazines can get off 60 aimed rounds a minute. Reloading from five-round clips, he should be able to fire between 35 and 40 aimed rounds a minute which is more than double the rate of rapid fire expected of the average soldier with the present bolt-action rifle. The soldier will carry spare 20-round magazines for use in emergency.

The rifle is fitted with a change lever to allow automatic fire, but when they are generally issued most weapons will be controlled to fire only single-shots. A few will have automatic fire, probably for use in the light machine-gun role.
[you could convert your gatt to fully-automatic using a piece of foil from the 24-hour ration pack's chewing-gum to wedge the firing-pin forward, but this then fired the whole magazine, very quickly, even if you took your finger off the trigger - it was quite dangerous and highly illegal!*]

The F.N. is gas-operated and an adjustable port in front of the centre of the barrel can be regulated to control the quantity of gas allowed to escape. The piston is built above the barrel and has its own return spring. The main spring is housed in the wooden butt which also has a compartment for cleaning material.

From the safety point of view the gun is almost foolproof. It cannot be fired until the breech-block is locked and the breech-block cannot unlock until after the bullet has left the barrel.

The rifle has two distinctive features not found on ordinary rifles: a pistol grip (like that on the Bren gun) which fits snugly behind the trigger guard, and a cocking handle placed (unlike on the Bren) on the left-hand side. In this position the cocking handle is easy to operate and the rifle can be kept roughly aligned on the target when remedying stoppages. Nor does the cocking handle move backwards and forwards while the rifle is firing, with the risk of distracting the firer. Because it is not permanently fixed to the bolt, it cannot be used to force the mechanism forward against a damaged round or other obstruction and so cause a jam which only an armourer could repair.
[a real plus over the SA80 (and presumably the EM2) where the action of the cocking lever requires the tipping of the weapon to the left as the left hand comes over the top of the weapon to cock the lever, while aim is lost. With the SLR you could - in the event of certain stoppages - keep hand-cocking and firing, all day!)

In its present form the rifle without the magazine attached weighs nine pounds three ounces (a few ounces heavier than the No.4 rifle). Its overall length is 41½ inches, three inches shorter than the No.4; the barrel is 21 inches long as against 25 inches. The weapon is well balanced and easy to handle, which is not surprising since its makers, the Fabrique Nationale d'Armes de Guerre [sic] produce some of the best sporting rifles and shot-guns in the world.

The F.N.'s magazine holds 20 rounds and weighs eight-and-a-quarter ounces when empty and one pound nine-and-a-quarter ounces full. However, it is intended that re-loading shall normally be done from five-round clips which the soldier will carry in bandoliers. For this reason the bold remains open after the last round has been fired. The bolt is closed either by depressing the catch after re-loading or by drawing the cocking handle back. [by the time I was serving the clips had all but disappeared, most people - including NCO's - didn't know how to use them and on the rare occasion they were issued (the bandoliers were a desert war colour) we'd just strip them down into our beret or helmet and load the magazines one round at a time in the normal manner]

Either the British-designed optical sight or the normal aperture sight can be employed. Troop trials will decide which is to be adopted.
[again I don't know the outcome of this, but my time we used the 'iron sights' for day-to-day work, with the SUSAT issued for field exercises and the SUIT sight (a hideous beast filled with special lead batteries) for night work]

By regulating the gas cylinder the rifle can be used to fire the Energa grenade.
[it was also stopped right down for the blank firing attachment (BFA)]

In a demonstration of the F.N. on a miniature range at the tower of London Warrant Officer Douglas Maber of the Small Arms School Corps engaged figure targets representing men 250 yards away, firing single shots and bursts of automatic fire at a rate of about 650 rounds a minute. All shots were on target.

Major-General F. R. G. Mattews, Director of Infantry, said the new rifle when mass-produced would cost £30. Probably arrangements would be made for factories in Britain to make it

 The one that got away: the British E.M.2 - a fine weapon, too.


Introduction of the self-loading rifle is likely to have far-reaching effects on the future make-up and organisation of the Army.

Because of the increased firepower which can be brought to bear by the F.N. and the L2 A1 sub-machine-gun (described in last month's SOLDIER), the battle organisation and tactics of every arm - particularly the Infantry - may have to be changed. The army will probably have fewer rifles and more sub-machine guns.

All arms will receive both weapons but in varying proportions according to their needs in action. The Infantry will have the action. The Infantry will have the largest proportion of rifles.

These new automatic weapons will not, however, oust the Bren gun. This weapon will be modified to fire the new .300 inch ammunition and will have a new magazine which will be interchangeable with that of the F.N. The future of the Vickers medium machine-gun is still undecided. It may be replaced by a new and lighter air-cooled machine-gun firing the new .300-inch round. [As I mentioned in part one; there was still at least one Vickers on the inventory of the Battle School, Brecon around 1969, but in fact the GPMG - also with FN parentage (MAG) and the same ammunition, was adopted and the converted Bren guns went first to the TA-TAVR-TA then the Cadets]

Because of the shape and mechanical construction of the new rifle drastic changes will have to be made in the present form of arms drill. As the main spring is housed in the butt the rifle must not be banged on the ground as the present bolt-action rifle often is in the interests of smartness and precision. This does not mean that the F.N. is not a sturdy weapon. A War Office expert says, "It will stand up top rough treatment very well, but continual banging on the ground could damage the mechanism." [you only had to sneeze on it and it lost it's zeroing!]

Guards and Light Infantry regiments and the School of Infantry at Warminster have been instructed to experiment with new drill movements. Until the method of handling is officially approved units will be forbidden to hold arms-drill parades with the new rifle.

The old rifle will probably be retained for ceremonial purposes in London. [which probably happened - for a few years at least?]

The rules governing rifle meetings will also have to be revised but the Army Rifle association are not returned. The necessary alterations can be introduced almost overnight, they say.

Footnote: can anyone suggest popular names for the F.N. and the L2 A1?

Dealing with the footnote first; The L2 was named: the 'Sterling', but was always referred to as the 'Ess-em-gee' [SMG] and wasn't named by the readers of Soldier Magazine after David Stirling, Stirling in Scotland (both with an 'i'), pound sterling or sterling sliver, but rather it referred back to the manufacturer - the Sterling Armaments Co. of Dagenham, East London, meanwhile the F.N. never got a name, as militaries everywhere used more and more abbreviations for all their new technology and the many sub-units that came with brush-fire wars and UN missions, it became merely the SLR.

So - the EM2 was never a 'service' weapon, although given an official service designation between August 1951 and January (?) '52, being only ever available in very small numbers, while the actual 'competition' or joint-nation commission/s and debates to find new weapons and a new calibre of ammunition dragged on for years.

The politics are dealt with ably here The EM-2, as is the technical and ballistic stuff, although he fails to mention the Soviet TKB-408 (which must have some part in this story), nor the fact that the reason the Belgians were so close to the Brits on this one (and why we were happy to junk the EM2 and adopt the SLR to please the intransigent Americans) is because the FN team were billeted on the Enfield boys for the duration of the Second World War, and both the FN-FAL and EM2 would have been common bedfellows to members of both teams. The two weapons were developed from the same coffee-break discussions!

All the talk of clips and bandoliers shows how the procurement system's bods were (as they still are today) always thinking of things in terms of the last war, not the next one! "Spare magazines for emergencies"? We all had an issue of five, we would 'purloin' a couple more during our service, so we had seven or eight - one on the gatt, four in the left pouch and two stuffed in with the cleaning kit, gloves, ear-defenders (we rarely wore because you couldn't hear orders and instructions - but the MOD were covered from hearing-related war-pension claims!) and other crap, in the right-pouch. You carried them all loaded and re-loaded at the 're-org' between objectives, faffing around with clips of five rounds never really entered into it.

I do remember one live-firing advance to contact when bandoliers were employed, as I said above they were a sandy-brown/true khaki with paler sand ticking and strap. Steve Beckala our platoon signaller was festooned with them like the Michelin Man, and ran round the position after each attack, throwing them at us (as in distributing, not attacking!). As we'd never been shown how to feed them through the working parts (as the illustration above), we just broke them down.

If you can attain "60 aimed rounds a minute" with pre-loaded magazines why would you even contemplate dropping that rate to "between 35 and 40 aimed rounds a minute" with faffing about...that's how their minds work in MOD! Also: The fact that there was a stock of bandoliers (and clips) suggests they had once had a more central role, presumably back in the 1950's, as not only did I rarely encounter them in service; I never saw them being used while hanging around Brecon and Aldershot or Germany as an army-brat either.

I don't think the light-support version ever really took-off, although there is discussion of it on the relevant Wikipedia pages and it may - like the clips/bandoliers - have been a feature of the early days (1950's). The conversion of the Bren in the short term and the coming of the GPMG 'Gimpy' in the longer term meant there was never a burning need for it, but the rod bi-pod in the second article (above; missing in the images accompanying this later article?) would have been bloody useful on the GS version (I guess it was a weight thing?), the French would get universal bi-pods with their Famas, it keeps the weapon out of the dirt for a start.

The Bren's 30-round magazine was another thing one tried to acquire after a year or two in battalion - friendly REME armourers always seem to have one or two kicking around if you bought them the odd pint! Although when used with the SLR it was better with 28 rounds, the Bren being - in part - a gravity-feed weapon, the spring was weaker, and used to run out of 'puff' on the last couple of rounds which could lead to a miss-feed stoppage!

Interestingly - digging around for these articles the bayonet note I put in the article I edited yesterday turns out to be not the EM2's (carried over to the SLR), but the bayonet from the earlier jungle version of the Lee-Enfield (the No.5 rifle), carried through to both the replacement contenders, with adjustments, I've now put a link on that page.

* The firing-pin trick was illegal twice, once because it just wasn't allowed and again because playing with the firing-pin was part of a REME 'armourer's strip' not an infantryman's 'field cleaning strip', it was the same with the sear & pin on the GPMG, but we all did it anyway!

Finally can anyone ID the shoulder flash of the corporal in the third image down?

Thanks to Soldier Magazine and Andy Clarkson for digging these out for us
Wikipedia - L1A1 SLR
Wikipedia - FN FAL
Wikipedia - Fabrique Nationale d'Herstal
Wikipedia - L2A1 SMG

Monday, October 5, 2015

News, Views Etc...

I love a single issue website that really nails the subject and here for fans of rub-down pictures is a brilliant site for the old Lettraset ranges...


Used to love these when we were kids...I have an unused Star Wars one some where, which came in a mixed lot of crud from an auction!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

N is for Not Butter Nut!

Having touched on the Britains Swoppets the other night while looking at the 'other colours' in the collection, we might as well tick this lot of the list at the same time.

The confederacy, sans butter nut, there were actually very few parts in total and the both concept of 'swoppet' and a bit of paint gave the full range its apparent diversity of poses and 'official' 6-pose count.

Another ACW rule is established here; unique to Britains though, and easy to ignore...Confederates have butter nut packs and white blankets, the Union - grey and red respectively. Less easy to deal with is the Union have long-tailed jackets, Confederates don't rule!

Britains 'pocket' catalogue illustrations from the end of their run, the Confederates are shown with the 'Stars and Bars' but the 23rd Alabama Regiment flag with my sample was just as common and widely pirated in Hong Kong. These figures have a value today which seems to me to be greater than their availability would suggest, as they are not that rare, but they are lovely figures and clean examples are always in demand.

The Union's forces, you can see how simply moving the arms would change a firer into a 'ready' pose and how the bottom row are all on the same legs. The prone firer is probably the most expensive figure to produce - per retail unit - as both his legs and torso are unique him, with no real swap'ability vis-a-vis the other figures.

Play-wear leads to the red-paint of the blanket-rolls getting very dirty, sometimes a bit sticky (it was almost impossible to successfully paint PVC's in the 60's with paint technology where it was at the time), or rubbing-off the ends 'till it's easier to oven-clean them back to the bare white.

B is for Bubble-gum Battle-wagons

We've looked at these before I think, and we will return to them one day, because I like them and it's my blog!

The one nearest to the camera is the one I remember from my childhood as far as colours and turret shape goes, but there were two turret designs and various colours. The pellet or pastille of gum contained within looked like a slightly over-sized pencil-end eraser, was the same pink shade and tasted absolutely disgusting!

These are Hong Kong products and I always thought they were copies of the Manurba ones which are in more primary colours with polystyrene turrets (these are all-ethylene polymer), but I'm beginning to wonder if the Manurba ones weren't that rare thing; reverse piracy, with a Western company copying an HK product, the detail on these is very sharp, my Manurba one - if memory serves is not so well defined...that's the excuse to look at them again - when the Manurba ones come out of storage!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

B is for Butter Nut....and Brown...

...and red and yellow and orange and green and blu'hoo! No, not blue, blue and grey are another rule of ACW, but today we're looking at the other colours - well; the few in my collection!

Starting with everyone's favourites; the Britains Swoppets and Herald ACW confederates, although the rule is Blue for Federal Union and grey for Confederate, they being the typical colours of a mass body of either side's armies - despite both sides having units in the other colour scheme - it is also accepted that 'butter nut' is a confederate colour, as they tended to have the greater logistical and financial problems when equipping their forces, and the fall back neutral colour was commonplace, particularly among poorer units or later in the war.

As the civil war is a lot older than the First World War, and people are already arguing over badges and patches from that war it's no surprise that there's a lack of consensus over what butter nut was, but suffice to say the three main sources seem to have been (and in no particular order); sun-bleached/sun-burned grey following summer service or other weathering, late Confederate Government issue 'suits' in a nut-dyed grey that rapidly turned a brownish shade and home-spun neutral fabrics.

Above we see the butter nut versions of the Swoppet figures on the left and what I'm assuming is a home-painted Herald figure on the right.

The blue/grey 'rule' (with its butter nut addendum) is allied to the red for Zouaves, Mounties and Garibaldi's red-shirts rule, with minor - obvious - rules like the red shirts for post-ACW cavalry, yellow for Confederate artillery and cavalry, green for the Irish Brigade &etc...being the norm of the gaming table.

However the above are wacky colours because I think they are Kiosk toys and Kiosk toys were always wacky colours. They seem to be copies of Reamsa 7th Cavalry (another rule is that post-ACW cavalry can be used for the earlier conflict!) rather than original Reamsa figures.

The lower figure is a Cherilea 'Custer' from a small range of single moulding solids they did (others were a knight, American Indian, Life Guard etc...), his Confederate colour may be original (sans paint), but I suspect he's one of the unpainted, 1990's re-issues? His horse has lost it's tail!

Top left is a Hong Kong copy ('copy' is paying it too much credit!) of a Timpo solid in a fetching brown with yellow saddle - so gotta-be Confederate! Next to him is another HK pirate, except this pirate is a Deetail ACW figure.

The Italian 'Kit Carson' could be a Kinder figure, but equally could be a little boxed pocket-money toy by Giodi, we looked at his true Confederate pal at the bottom of this post here.

The last group are re-issues from the Marx moulds of the late 1980s (?), and for unpainted war gaming give us four Confederate figures in three shades of butter nut, an Union Irish Brigade figure, a Union Artillery out-rider and err...a ghost!
The more modern/current companies have a four-colour, blue, grey, red and butter nut rule, producing all or some of each range in any of the colours. Above some of the lovely sculpts done by Peter Cole of Replicants for Marksmen which we looked at in small scale last December.

Below them are one (middle) from Accurate, and two from Imex - but they may be commission pieces run in these shades for the likes of CTS or Weston's?

Saturday, September 26, 2015

U is for Ubisoft

Credited to Ubisoft, a French 'games' manufacturer (originally Ubi Soft) - I use the inverted commas as it's 'games' as in interactive, on-line, X-Box type stuff, not Parker, Spears or Waddington's type stuff!

Presumably to support one of their gaming titles...Combat of Giants, Dragons. These were on clearance in The Works back in March/April, and - at 99p each - didn't last long. The bi-lingual spelling looks like these were originally also destined for the Spanish market?

Nothing to get excited about here, a transparent plastic jewel (presumably part of the game-play?), a points card and a collectors card or two...I think, I didn't study any of it, just took the shots and kept the figurine! This stuff is becoming two-a-penny, both games companies and pay-per-view TV companies try new lines all the time, like prepared meals in supermarkets, some work and become household names, some disappear after a few months or a few episodes, and occasionally there's a tie-in toy line, this is one of those! I haven't even Googled the game title...I really don't care!

The animals are OK and useful for 20/30mm role-play or sci-fi/fantasy war-gaming, but they are pretty crude as well as being distorted by the packaging, also the pinky-orange one is more robot or rock-like than he/she is dragony or dinosaury!

I don't know how many different sculpts there should be either, I'll have to look it all up for the A-Z one day, but that day's not today!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

D is for Dulcop

When I covered some of the ACW stuff back in 2011, I indicated my intention to keep posting ACW-related things as the 150th unrolled over the 4-years of the conflict. When thinking the other day; "Hummm...didn't it end in '65, I better get some more posts out" I turned to Google (where else? This is 2015, not 1865!) and found that I'd missed the boat, the whole falutin' shootin' match was over by April...so here, for no reason at all is an ACW article!

These are by Dulcop, an Italian company, and while by no means a full sample - I have only one mounted and five foot poses across both belligerents, they nevertheless are a reasonable sample for anyone who hasn't encountered them before. Although as they are mostly clearly marked on the upper surface of the base, they are easy to ID when you do encounter them!

The top left image shows early and late paint styles for the Union/Federal forces, with the other shots showing an early painted Confederate officer and unpainted versions from a few years ago, these were part of the accidental lot the other week, so my sample was even poorer a couple of months back!

The bugler and mounted rebel came in the other day too, top left shows the whole sample without spares, it'll do; these are not that rare, should I get a sudden urge to track them down, but like a lot of Italian stuff, they are a bit gawky-looking in the sculpting, and these will do for now.

The mounted Confederate bugler, this is one of the many sets which follows the plastic colour rule for ACW toys, allowing the manufacturer to 'get away' with one set of sculpts, making them in blue for North and grey for South.

Dulcop are still around in some form, I shot these this afternoon in Poundland, but they've also got some 'Frozen' ones in The Works, so if someone had a bit of cash and was minded to, getting a production-run commissioned from the ACW or any other moulds should be quite easy - I imagine?

L is for Lucky Luke

This is an unusual set, branded to Novalinea (Comansi), it contains what I think is a complete set of the Lucky Luke bubble-gum and ice cream premiums made by (and still marked;) Tito.

Obviously with these premiums there was always a search for other ways to market them once the promotion they were originally commissioned for has come to an end, and you often find them turning up elsewhere - as with the Tatra Warriors of the World. But to get the whole set, nicely laid-out is a treat.

A close-up of Luke and his near neighbours, I have most of these loose in storage, so we will return to look at them in grater detail another time. Indeed, I may have all of them, as I think I've got the vulture in another place with the rest of the known or suspected Spanish/Portuguese premiums?

Around the same time as I took these into the collection I also picked-up this copy of the smallest but eldest Dalton brother - Joe, he's a very poor-quality copy, but without any obvious mark, not even an HK so he remains a real question mark.

The copy Dalton's feet compared to the feet of the Indian female - I had trouble getting the mark to show, purely down to the plastic colour, but you can see how poor the copy is, unmarked, without the two little holes all the originals have, but with tons of flash.

Because this is the only copy from the whole set I've found in 30-odd years of seriously collecting, especially small scale (and as a stand-alone piece he is 'small scale'), I wonder if he was the only one copied - because of his size (maybe the vulture as well?) - as a gum-ball gift, he's certainly small-enough for a capsule machine of that era - the Kinder-egg sized stuff is more modern. But that's all just musing or pure conjecture?

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

C is for Chad Valley via Chap Mai

When I bought this at the PW show in May, neither me nor the seller knew what they were from, but we both agreed they were interesting and well done if a little esoteric, uniform/equipment-wise! A bit like the SOMA figures, but actually Chap Mai.

Well a quick Google revealed tons of 4/5-inch action figures at the budget end of that market, but no little figures (these are 23/25mm), but I was sure I'd seen them somewhere, and an Argos catalogue was the saviour on this occasion.

Foreign readers/visitors will want to know Argos are a catalogue shop, where a small counter with several ordering/paying stations fronts a huge warehouse and the stuff comes up a  conveyor to the hand-over point (I don't know if you have something similar where you are so forgive the egg-sucking explanation!).

As well as the action figures, Chap Mai made two Micromachine type play sets, an Aircraft Carrier and a heavy-lift C130 Hercules type plane, both of which were the carry-case and 'playmat' for a handful of Micro AFV's/'Planes and this frame of figures.

Originally sold in Chap Mai packaging as two separate sets, they are now combined as a contract-product under the Chad Valley label Argos bought from the Woolworth's fire-sale. So anyone wanting these figures can have them for £19.95 (two for thirty quid), with a load of free plastic and die-cast tat thrown in...actually the carrier looks quite good...just the turret looks silly....still Chap Mai and separate sets elsewhere/on the Internet.

Argos Listing

They are OK figures, although as I hinted above; the uniforms/equipment are a bit all over the place. Also unlike the Galoob precedent, they are unpainted and a bit bigger, having the appearance of a last minute chuck-in-the-box for added play value. They would go very well with the Bluebird Zero Hour/Code Zero figures though...very well indeed, look at the frogman...and the heavy bases.

News, Views Etc...Plastic Warrior 159 (Yes! Totally hopeless; me!)

I've done it again...next issue through the door and last one not reviewed! I'm not going to do both of them, I'll do 159 now and try [really hard] to do the new one (160) in a week or two. The thing is (in my defence!) ... I try not to do the review as soon as the issue arrives because it's either been covered in the last few days on the PW Blog and Facebook pages (as 160 just has), or because sometimes I pick it up from Paul and it's a few days before the subscribers get theirs in the mail and it wouldn't be fair to wax lyrical before they've seen it!

As a result it gets read a couple of times, put to one side and buried in crap...usually quality toy-related crap, but once I can't see it...so anyway, here's the contents of 159, which was issued back in July sometime and is therefore now available as a back issue!

* Steve Morris reports on a Blue Box fort repackaging with the small-scale Wild West figures as Reddish Maid
* Colin Penn digs up new information and a new [old] figure from Lone Star
* Hearld 'Notes and Queries' by Daniel Morgan covers the Khaki Infantry, including the Zang variations and the 'Enemy' issues over 4 well illustrated pages
* Les White looks at the US Toy carded blisters - some very interesting sets
* P. Lopes Cunha covers the Regimento TV serial premium figures from Raja Ice Cream
* A very interesting article on the UK/Lines Bros. end of US maker De Luxe Reading (here; De Luxe Toy Co.) is penned by Stephen Dance
'The Mexican 'Dime Store' maker Amex is brought to wider knowledge courtesy of Paul 'Stads' Stadinger
'Converters Corner' also from Les White shows how to make Crimean War Russian infantry, using a mix of Timpo and Armies in Plastic (AIP) figures
'What's New' is covered by Stads' and Les White's coverage above and the letters section where the following are mentioned...
  • Funtastic (Poundland) - Wild West - Stuart Asquith
  • CTS - Korean War - Stads again!
  • Lod Enterprises - Greeks and Trojans - yes...Stads!
  • Takara-Tomy's 'Panda's Den' - 'Fat Cute Soldiers' - Mathias Berthoux
* Frank Langcaster looks at the pricing of Timpo knights colour variations on evilBay (lovely pictures, but the text went over my head like an aeroplane...you know my views on prices!)
* The diorama's of a company called Giocattoli Bambole are looked at by Andreas Dittmann, and fascinating they are, with figures from Elastolin - in the main - enhanced with Lineol, Isas and other pieces, along with shots of Cherilea figures in an Elastolin catalogue
* What the !&*$? seeks answers for some question-marked Wild West figures and horses from Dave Scrivener's collection
* The rest of the Reader's Letters section includes
  • Horrible Histories (Eric Chapman)
  • Timpo Displays (Barney Brown)
  • Starlux (and other makes) Prehistoric Diorama (Alan Copsey - illustrated on the front cover)
  • Bergan/Beton (Jack Shalatain, who's second letter is a show and tell...Trojan, VP, Miniplast and Gem)
  • Corgi (George Nixon...who follows up on my letter in an earlier issue...thank-you George, I picked-up a couple more the other day, if you need a pair eMail me...free to you)
Plus all the usual small-ads, news and views including sad news of the passing of Geoff Ambridge, a call for feedback, new on back-issues and the latest Eurofigurines magazine
* Cover images this issue are Alan Copsey's dino-rama (my pun!) on the front cover and a 1977 'trade' publicity card from Britains on the back.

I will try to get the next review out in a more timely manner, look out for 160 in a week or two...or order one anyway!

Monday, September 21, 2015

N is for Novelty

Novelty? How would one define a novelty? Something which has not been designed as a plaything but which has play value? Something with a practical application that leaves the user feeling amused? A household or garden product with added playability?...goes off to Google...

novelty ˈnɒv(ə)lti - noun - 1a. the quality of being new, original, or unusual. "the novelty of being a married woman wore off" synonyms: originality, newness, freshness, unconventionality, unfamiliarity, unusualness, difference, imaginativeness, creativity, creativeness, innovativeness, innovation, modernity, modernness, break with tradition "they liked the novelty of our approach" antonyms: conservatism - 1b. a new or unfamiliar thing or experience.
plural noun: novelties "in 1914 air travel was still a novelty" denoting an object intended to be amusing as a result of its unusual design. modifier noun: novelty "a novelty teapot" - 2. a small and inexpensive toy or ornament. "he bought chocolate novelties to decorate the Christmas tree" synonyms: knick-knack, trinket, bauble, toy, trifle, gewgaw, gimcrack, ornament, curiosity...

...I think that covers tonight's trio of recent acquisitions!

These were £2.50 a set (that's 62.5p each!), and while branded to Hawkin's Bazaar's 'Tobar' label, where actually in a clearance book-show a hundred yards from the nearest Hawkin's! They are the same stretchy material as the Alien I tested to destruction a while ago, so I'm being careful...I intend to base them, but silicon is hard to glue, so I will try bathroom or window sealant! Baubles.

An ABS type polymer Massey-Harriser [of pencils] (geditt!), imported by Strawberry Design...also available in John Deer green, Ford/New Holland blue and 1970's Local Authority yellow. But with that bonnet (hood) shape it had to be the red one...£1.25, clearance, now. Trinket.

Previously seen in Plastic Warrior magazine and bought from fellow blogger Brian at the PW May show in Twickenham; how cool are these? I intend to find a second pair and cut the cork/plinths down until they're bases and add burning cotton-wool wicks for a bit of off-the-cuff urban house-clearance! One ex-Airfix pose, one ex-Matchbox. Knick-knacks.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

W is for Wehrmacht Series...&etc.

This is a follow-up article to some developments on the original listing post, and I thank Alex Keery for his input. I had originally listed the Century series with an impertinent note about someone's claim to them having metal parts (or being all plastic...or something...I edited it out a few weeks ago), Alex than stated he had them, and I said I was happy to be proved wrong, which he did with images (seen below here!).

I then dug deeper (on Google), but Alex was digging deeper into his stash of the old Modelworld magazines and it turned out that everyone was right, There were three series of Almark 54mm/1:32 scale figures, each series has three 'entries', one is all metal, one is all plastic and one is a mix of the two (the above link having been edited twice in the last few weeks is now correct), so we'll look at them all...

...starting with probably the first sets, the three Minimodels national troops from the Lines plant in Havent, issued as 'Almark Kits' but still on the runners, unpainted. the Japanese figures were set 2 and the US troops made set 3...

...which were enhanced with the 'Century Series' which are part plastic (figures) and part metal (weapons and personal equipment - including helmets)...

...and gave the infantry in the boxed sets their support weapons; the third card was holding an LMG (light machine-gun) team...

...to which further additions came in the form of the Wehrmacht Series of three stand-alone figures in all-metal. Like the 20mm range, these new figures are Charles Stadden designs, he having designed the originals for Lines/Minimodels.

Only the Germans benefited from these additional ranges, something that has bugged fans of other nations since the dawn of modelling, and from most manufacturers...it's all about the Germans!

Although...in the original Minimodels range, I've not [yet] found a German flag! The Japanese and Americans being the ones who liked to claim each other's bare-arsed volcanic atolls with flags! These were not - as far as I know - issued by Almark either, but you never know?

The original source was correct to suggest they were plastic with metal parts, I was correct in remembering all-metal ones and we'd all forgotten they also re-issued the plastic Minimodels figures. Hopefully that's put the subject to bed for a while, and thanks again to Alex Keery for his efforts and the four upper images, the flags were shot by me years ago, but I don't seem to have put them up here before!

H is for Her Madge and Hangers-on

As I'm looking at the tackier end of the toy and model figure spectrum (see magazine article below this one!), we might as well cover this quality shite while I'm at it.

In the past I think I've posted a quite sportive article on the subject of our monarch...or at least a post with supportive comments, but the truth is that as time moves on and and I see what a iniquitous world we have created since 1979, and watch how ex-soldiers are as good as forgotten by their nation, I find myself increasingly less enamoured of the cosseted, privileged old bint, sitting in her ivory towers, saying nothing!

But she gets the odd model of herself made, so we do have to pay lip-service to her here, from time to time! I guess 3D printing will lead to some narcissists getting more models of themselves made than there are of the likes of QEII, the 'selfie' generation!

Cavendish Miniatures had these solid lumps of polystyrene made at some point in the....late 1970's? Don't think they are rare, some chap had a whole box of them at the London shows a few years ago, warehouse clearance, in various finishes, from a near-unpainted flesh or white'ish plastic, to these silver and chromium-polished types.

I bought one of each to show both while taking up the minimum of space in the collection as they are big! He's a flat, sprayed, silver, she's had the shiny mirror treatment with an 'antique' wash.

These obviously date from the Wedding, and are hideous, they are also quite accurate, yet remain hideous, if I discovered that some American firm like Franklin or Danbury Mint were behind them I would not be in the least surprised...hideous! Computer-painted, factory-tampo'ed polypropylene, or an ABS type polymer?

These are a little more interesting, they seem to be from a kit, yet have the feel of commercial painting in two colour schemes? A soft white styrene like 1970's Airfix kits, but not Airfix (I'm pretty sure?), you can see they've both been glued to something dark, whether it was the same thing or two similar things I don't know, does anyone out there?

Sizer-shot; the 'kit' figure is about 60mm? (They're in the attic again!), making the naff, detailed one about 90-mil and the Cavendish at the equally popular 120mm. If anyone knows the origins of either of the smaller ranges, let us know.

M is for Magazine Mash-up

Just a quick round-up of recent (and not so recent!) magazines with a figural element, it is a fact that any time you glance at the kids section of a newsagent of supermarket's magazine racks, you will find several carrying figures or animals. We have seen magazines dedicated to dinosaurs already on this Blog, and have covered the Dr. Who Adventures mag on several occasions, but there are others.

Magazines specific to cats or kittens, dogs or puppies, farm animals, horses or ponys, wild animals or TV and movie characters go around and come around again, they often have figurals on them as premiums, if premiums is even the right word, they are now an intrinsic part of the 'package', with something small, cheap and plastic or paper on every cover, were - in the past - it was maybe one in ten issues that had a 'freebie' or the first two or three issues of a new title.

The 'premiums' used to build the title, or as a bonus to prop-up sales through the slow summer, or during the christmas period when pocket-money was being spent on other things, now they are an intrinsic part of the cost from the inception of the magazine, with specialist companies manageing severl dozen titles, and running the 'gifts' in sequence, or on rotas!

Snowmen Skittles last Christmas (or was it 2013?) on an infants publication were fun, I actually bought two copies so I could have a decent 4, 3, 2, 1 line-up for something I did on Facebook, the Octonaut's - aimed at slightly older kids - have a whole series of these toys, styrene they will prove ephemeral and I notice they are already appearing on FeeBay with imaginative descriptions and equally imaginative buy-it-now's!

The Thomas I photographed on the rack a while ago, these horses will appear in mixed lots, years for now, and no one will know the origin, leading to all sorts of ammusing forum comments; "....probably...look like...same as...similar to...IIRC...a friend told me...", in turn leading to; "...I think you'll find...I Know for a fact...I went to the factory...I've got somewhere..."!

Also last Christmas; the Dr. Who Adventures issued thier advent calender again, look out for it this year, but the mag has gone from weekly to fortnightly to monthly as we've followed it here on the Blog, and earlier this summer I thought it had gone for good, but saw an issue the other day (nothing useful on the cover), so it may stagger-on 'till November?

Like the Star Wars Command range from Hasbro and the Horrible History figures we covered here, this has been poorly managed by 'pretty young things' who have the degree in marketing, but no clue as to the real world, and follow algorithms that tell them what to do and when to do it, rather than using life-experience to decide when to boost a product, or when not to issue a rival title in the same stable!

The two new figure poses added to the range last year (or the year before? It all goes so fast these days!), and the classic Dalek sculpts (both advent calenders have reverted to the traffic cone 'new shape') meant that this was beginning to look like a fine set, and it should be expanded. Boxed or carded as a stand-alone, tied into specific episodes of the TV series and promoted, instead it's just an ephemeral add-on to a crappy magazine, being strangled at birth.

From the same source as the Octonaughts come these BBC characters, same polystyrene construction in a blow-mould style (but actually two halves glued together before decorating), with the odd accessory.

"One banana, two banana, three banana - four..." A 'swamp-hog' may prove more useful, de-stickered and repainted that as issued? The set of fish inclued larger styrene lumps and smaller PVC animals. As with the shark-submarine in the next image, these would work well with 28mm role-play, especially 'Steampunk'.

More Octonauts, note the breakables, especially on the rabbit-thing, these are very ephemeral, and while I excuse the purchasing of the ones I do buy as 'rather me than you', as in - I buy them for the blog so you don't have to...in twenty years these will be uncommon and worth having stuffed in the attic, if only as examples of cultural history/mores?

Sometimes even I can pass on the tat, and just fire off a photograph in passing, last week I shot this in a store, there was another mag with sheep and lambs , a dinosaur magazine (there's always a dinosaur magazine!) and another one with a horse. I don't advocate buying any of this shite, but it's worth keeping an eye-out, as sometimes the stuff is useful...scenics or buildings for instance, semi-flat trees are often included in these not-so-freebies.