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”.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

V is for Vitacup Update...

These have come in with odd lots over the last few months, we saw most of them last time; V is for Vitacup, but the reindeer stag and the eagle (Sea Eagle?) are new to the blog, and push the total number of sculpts up a bit.


I was also reminded the other day that Plastic Warrior magazine covered these years ago and identified them, so my still not knowing who they were by a few months ago was down to my PW's being in storage and the fact that Asperger's is partly a memory thing! Another reason to subsribe!

Friday, December 19, 2014

B is for Beware...

...Greeks bearing gifts, even if it is at Christmas and especially if the gift is made of wood!

Very quick box-tick tonight...

These are all Britains Herald from Hong Kong production, with the integral bases on the left of each pair and the 'swoppet' base on the right. I do have some of the better painted UK made Herald versions in storage, along with the mounted figure and some HK copies, and they were given tentative titles a few years ago in Plastic Warrior magazine, so we will return to them for sure, but for now, that'll do!

I will add that you can use hot water to straighten the bent spear, but don't use it straight from the kettle, if it's too hot the vinyl will shrivel-up like a sun-dried worm!

T is for Toy Town

So, failed AC/DC adaptor - and other things - have kept me away for a couple of weeks, back now, but won't post much over Christmas. Lucky I got that PW review out when I did as a new one turned-up a few days later! Also some reader contributive input (could I possibly have written that more highfalutin!) to come, for the MG post below this.

A quick look at a carded set Gareth sent my way the other day...

These are Hong Kong in origin, but are so architecturally German/NW European, I assume copies of something from Manurba or a similar producer, and I may have some better ones marked W.Germany in storage? Trying to replace the timeless wooden ones, they failed and while they were around for a bit in the late 1960-mid 1970's, they have disappeared now.

A little scenario, well you can't call it a 'diorama'; I forgot the scatter material, the baking-soda snow, the twisted wire trees and the Tiger tank having an engine-change! It's Christmas!

Comparison between the wooden design still going to this day and the plastic pretenders, plastic was not a brilliant material for what are essentially infant toys, and especially hard, brittle polystyrene, the wooden ones take a lot of punishment and don't cut your gums if you chew them!

There are two designs (front and back shown) and these are typical of the blocks of flats built all over Germany between and after the last war, and the lower design is very similar to the barrack-blocks we had in Berlin, although our blocks had two entrances and longer wings. The flat Dad lived in in Neuhausen-ob-Eck was very similar to the upper design, but with separate balconies.

These building also have long corridor basements in real life, with external exits via stars at one or both ends - unless they are side-by-side as town houses, in which case the access is via the central stair-case.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

News, Views Etc...Plastic Warrior 156 (at last...I'm hopeless!)

I've managed to procrastinate for so long in doing this review a new issue is probably due, but there's been real-life stuff recently. Still - there's no reason for my not having done it a couple of months ago?!!

Still available as a back issue though; last [quarter's] magazine featured;

* Supreme / SP Napoleonics reviewed and compared with existing figures by Ashley Needham.
* Brain Carrick studies the casein-based 'Ivorene' composition history and figures.
* OWN (Overall War Nation)  production is looked at by PW's guest reporter Paul 'Stads' Stadinger.
* Lone Star provides its RAC roadside service set and figures for inspection
* Large scale cowboys from Tudor Rose courtesy of Joe Bellis.
* Daniel Morgan's 'Notes and Queries' on Herald continues with the Highland figures (real eye-candy!).
* 'What's New' includes... 
  • Replicants - Mounted medievals
  • Publius - Figures for the Battle of Pipus Lake
  • Armies in Plastic (AIP) - Loads for military elephants of the colonial period (for the supplied Schlicht elephant)
  • Emhar - WWI American Infantry (I don't have much to do with new production but these look really nice)
* Part 3 of Andreas Dittmann's overview of Linde production reaches the Karl May cowboy figures
*Alwyn Brice continues with 40mm Elastolin...who knew!
* My favourite this month - Peter Evans looks at Tim-mee clowns (which I've spent the last two months looking out for on feeBay with no luck, as I have some HK copies to compare!)
* Editorial update on Cherilea-Marx-Tibidabo spacemen.
* Reader's Letters  packs an awful lot into three pages;
  • Some know-it-all's sent in some Khaki Infantry stuff!
  • Mathias Berthoux has contributed a timely letter on Publius to complement the above article, and ID's a Salza figure from a previous issue (which might have a connection with JSF)
  • P.L. Cunha reviews his recent purchase of A Call to Arms Normans
  • Andrew Pearce make an interesting point on Vietnam War figures
  • Thoughts on figure production with war gaming in mind from Fred Barrett
  • Notes on the PW show from Fred, Peter Spackman and Chris Owen
  • Antipodean feedback from James Peter Young
* Plus all the usual small-ads, news and views and some fine compositions from Andreas Dittmann (any HW's?)
* Cover images this issue are a shot of the PW compositions and a shot of the Battle of Lewes using Replicants figures from Peter Cole with a scratch-built Windmill by Daniel Morgan

All continuing to be presented in perfect technicolourfulness!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

T is for Two - Metal Machine-gunners

Quick box-ticking one tonight - literally; as it's a couple of boxed sets, photographed in recent months, one last week, the other a while ago;

Britains Set No. 198; Machine Gun Section 'Seated Position' (there were prone sets as well), four figures with Vicker's MG's, each having a little seat on the rearward leg which seems to be a Britains invention.

A hollow-cast expert has come to the rescue with a better explanation...I'll hand you to Mike Niederman;

Britains Maxim-gunners with a Vickers to the far right

"Some info about the set to explain the seat: It was introduced in 1920 with the gun being a Maxim. I've attached a couple of pictures. A very few years later, Britains updated the gun to the Vickers, a slightly smaller gun. They didn't update the gunner, so they had to retain the seat. Why they also left his hands clutching above the firing handles is one of those unexplained (to me, so far) mysteries. The set expanded to 6 units in the late '30's."

  1904 Maxim Gun (with seat)

Returning to a perennial favourite, the Skybirds Set 9; Motor Cycle Dispatch Rider and Machine Gun and Crew, this time a Number 2 on the gun is supplied so hopefully no stoppages!

J is for Jig-toy

When I last looked at these back in 2008 I said we'd come back to them, and here we are - doing so! But these aren't the ones I was thinking of at the time, which are now in storage, these are some I photographed at Sandown park last Saturday (pine backgrounds), or that have come into the collection in the last year or two (black backgrounds), so we will come back to them again!

If you click on the above link, this post will reappear at the top as it's the same search tag.

 When we looked at them last time (days after I started the Blog!) I stated that Bell/Merit went from phenolic plastics to ethylene leaving Hong Kong to styrene (although pointing out that Peter Pan also used polystyrene), it's now clear that some intermediate J&L Randall stuff was styrene as well, such as with this helicopter - lower shots.

The upper image is two of the Kellogg's freebies, being copies of a Merit helicopter and a donkey/pony/foal/zebra? This is missing its ears, as was the one we looked at way back when, as are all my examples and most of those (of these) I've ever seen, it slots/clips into the little chink at the bridge of the nose and is easily lost. I would imagine 99% of the ears that ever left a factory have been found by vacuum cleaners and were sent to landfill/incineration decades ago!

These are all in the style of Kellogg's issues, but two of them probably aren't Kellogg's; the Fire Engine which is a Hong Kong copy and the two-tone car. The other three are Kellogg's. The car was one of the puzzles copied by an - as yet - unknown (by me) Hungarian maker during the days of the Cold War in polystyrene, along with a tilted army-truck.

Two of my favourites, the little tank has a stump for a gun-barrel, and a very simple action which is not so much puzzle as a click-together! But I keep buying them when I see them in order to make single colour ones from all the pieces- I've now got enough for an all-red one!

The rocket I'm really pleased with, it was not a lot, despite all space-themed toys commanding an unnecessary - in my opinion - premium just for being 'space' toys, and although styrene, I think it's quite early. Like the tank its mechanism is not so puzzle-like, and it's a bit loose and floppy, but for 50's pulp, it hits the spot.

We've looked at most of these before, but you can't have too many! I wonder if the duck/penguin thing is a cartoon character of the time (1950-60's), I'm pretty sure I've seen other toys/playthings in a similar style/shape? In the version found in America and those from Hong Kong he has an obvious duck's beak and is wearing a top-hat, but an early version with a thermo-printed face on what is otherwise a bowling-pin with feet was called Smook...does that mean anything to anyone?

The car is a new design on the blog, while the Scottie-dog is similar to both the elephant we looked at last time and a cat still waiting in the wings, but has a different part-order to the elephant. The cowboy is another favourite and this is an earlier version, as are all this group - bar the dog.

On the left are comparisons between ethylene, one-colour (Kellogg's) and styrene versions, which may or may not be Merit originals. The tractor is also Merit; a David Brown and the metallic mauve section is very unusual. The exhaust stack is broken and a slot on the seat hints at a driver figure I've never seen...maybe it was considered and then dropped?

The wagon, this is probably a Kellogg's one, there are so many differences with these it's hard to know what's what, I have several and the side detailing is different on all of them, so even if the Kellogg's supplier had several different cavities in the mould, it can't explain all of them.

Listing

Transport
Covered Wagon - cellulose acetate/phenolic resin - Bell/Merit
Covered Wagon - polystyrene - Merit
Covered Wagon - polyethylene - Kellogg's 1959 and 1970
Steam locomotive - cellulose acetate/phenolic resin - Bell/Merit
Aeroplane (twin-engine) - polystyrene - Merit
Aeroplane (twin-engine) - polyethylene - Kellogg's 1959
Aeroplane ('lolly-stick wings) - cellulose acetate/phenolic resin - Bell/Merit
Aeroplane (simplified version of above) - polystyrene - Hong Kong
Aeroplane (egg-shaped) - polystyrene - Hong Kong
Jet Fighter - cellulose acetate/phenolic resin - Nic-Nak Novelties (Freeport, NY)
Jet Fighter - polystyrene - Hong Kong
Space Rocket - cellulose acetate/phenolic resin - Bell/Merit
Space Rocket - polystyrene - Merit
Flat-bed Lorry (Guy/ERF flat-fronted cab) - polyethylene - Kellogg's 1959
Tipper-Lorry (Volvo long-bonnet cab) - polystyrene - Hong Kong
Tilted Lorry (Mercedes/Tatra rounded cab) - polystyrene - Hungarian and Hong Kong (Puzzle Top)
Ocean Liner - polyethylene - Kellogg's 1959 (might be the same as the next listing)
Ocean Cruiser - polyethylene - Kellogg's 1970
Destroyer - polystyrene - Merit and Albers Carnation (Men of Annapolis)
Battleship - polystyrene - Fairylite (larger puzzle)
River Ferry (two stacks) - polystyrene - Best (Hong Kong) and Lionel (US)
Ocean Liner (simplified version of above with one stack) - polystyrene - Hong Kong
River Cruiser - polystyrene - Hong Kong (like Monopoly boat)
Helicopter - cellulose acetate/phenolic resin - Bell/Merit
Helicopter - polystyrene - Merit
Helicopter - polyethylene - Kellogg's 1959
Jeep - polystyrene - Merit
Jeep - polyethylene - Kellogg's 1959 and 1970
Tractor - polystyrene - Merit
Tractor - polyethylene - Kellogg's 1970
Saloon Car - polyethylene - Kellogg's 1970
Sports Car - cellulose acetate/phenolic resin - Bell/Merit
Sports Car - polystyrene - Hong Kong
Racing Car with Driver - cellulose acetate/phenolic resin - Bell/Merit
Racing Car with Driver - polystyrene - (Hong Kong?)
Racing Car (large cart with driver) - cellulose acetate/phenolic resin - Bell/Merit
Racing Cart (looks like shoe!) - polystyrene - Hong Kong
Old Fashioned Car - polystyrene - Lionel (and Fairylite? Larger puzzle)
Jeep - polyethylene - Kellogg's 1970
Artillery Gun (25lbr?)  - polystyrene - Merit 
Artillery Gun (25lbr?) - polystyrene - Hong Kong (Action Puzzle)
Artillery Gun (6" Howitzer?) - polystyrene - Hong Kong
Fire Engine - polystyrene - Merit
Fire Engine - polyethylene - Hong Kong
Fire Engine - polystyrene - Hong Kong (usually single colour; pink or red)
Motorcycle Cop - polystyrene - Peter Pan Playthings

Animal and Figural
Cat (in profile) - cellulose acetate/phenolic resin - Bell/Merit
Cat (in profile) - polystyrene - Merit and Hong Kong
Elephant (chunk) - cellulose acetate/phenolic resin - (Bell/Merit?)
Elephant (chunk) - polystyrene - Merit and Hong Kong
Elephant (running) - polystyrene - Merit and Hong Kong
Scotty-dog (chunk)  - cellulose acetate/phenolic resin - Bell/Merit
Scotty-dog (chunk) - polystyrene - Merit and Hong Kong
Scotty-dog (chunk) - polystyrene -Roddy (Southport, UK)
Scotty-dog (chunk - scaled-down version of above) - polystyrene - Hong Kong
Bulldog (in profile) - cellulose acetate/phenolic resin - Bell/Merit
Bulldog (in profile) - polystyrene - Merit and Hong Kong 
Long-nosed Puppy (chunk) - polystyrene - Hong Kong
Dolphin - polystyrene (?) - (Fairylite? large puzzle)
Owl - polystyrene - Hungarian
Smook (printed face) - cellulose acetate/phenolic resin - (US make?)
Duck/Penguin (small beak) - cellulose acetate/phenolic resin - Bell/Merit
Duck (large beak) - polystyrene - Hong Kong
Horse/Donkey/Pony/Zebra (..of Troy?) - polyethylene - Kellogg's 1970
Cowboy on Bucking Bronco - polystyrene - US make and Hong Kong
Indian on Bucking Bronco - polystyrene - US make and Hong Kong
Indian on Standing Horse - polystyrene - Hong Kong (Chemtoy)
Cowgirl on Trotting Horse - polystyrene - US make and Hong Kong
Cowboy/Mexican on chunky horse - cellulose acetate/phenolic resin - (Bell/Merit?)
Cowboy/Mexican on chunky horse (with pigs head/face) - cellulose acetate/phenolic resin (US make?)
Cowboy/Mexican on chunky horse - Hong Kong
Baseball Hitter / Baseball Player - polystyrene - Hong Kong
Wrestler  - cellulose acetate/phenolic resin - Bell/Merit (and US make?)
Wrestler - polystyrene - Merit and Hong Kong (and US make?)
Wrestler (scaled-down version of above) - polystyrene - Hong Kong
Robot - polystyrene - Hong Kong

Firearms
Ray Gun (side-arm with telescopic sights) - polystyrene - Merit
Ray Gun (egg/rocket-shaped side-arm) - polystyrene - Hong Kong
Ray Gun (really fat side-arm) - polystyrene - Hong Kong
Ray Gun (clear sleeve over barrel, side-am) - polystyrene - Hong Kong (in capsule egg)
Ray gun (rifle) - polystyrene - Hong Kong
Tommy Gun (Thompson SMG) - polystyrene - Hong Kong
Revolver / 6-gun- cellulose acetate/phenolic resin - Bell/Merit
Revolver / 6-gun - polystyrene - Hong Kong

Geometric and Objects
Cube - polystyrene - Hong Kong
Ball (large) - cellulose acetate/phenolic resin - Bell/Merit
Ball (small, on lucky-horseshoe key-chain) - polystyrene - Peter Pan Playthings
Football (as above but sections arranged in football 'patches') - polystyrene - Hong Kong
Heart Shape - polystyrene - Hong Kong
Rugby Ball - polystyrene - Hong Kong
Egg - polystyrene - Hong Kong
Bowling Pin - polystyrene - Hong Kong
Pressing Iron / Steam iron - cellulose acetate/phenolic resin - Bell/Merit

Puzzle Puzzles (not really Jig-toys as they are sealed-units)
Rubik's Cube (3x3x3 cubes) - polystyrene - Hong Kong and Hungary
Rubik's Triple (3 in-line cubes) -polystyrene - Hong Kong and Hungary
Rubik's Drum - polystyrene - Hong Kong and Hungary
Rubik's Mini-Babylon (sliding balls) - polystyrene - Hong Kong and Hungary ('Magic Tower')
Ball (spherical version of Rubik's cube) - polystyrene - Hong Kong

Only one or two of these (following collage) are mine, the rest are hoovered-off the Internet for the archive, while they were all copyright-free or lacking any obvious copyright, I present them for research purposes, small, and cut-up to help you with the above list, not to be of commercial use to anyone.

We will return to these one day, as they are a favoured side-collection of mine and I will photograph most of the rest in close-up then!

Monday, November 17, 2014

News, Views etc...Welcom Trojan Fans, Cross-pollination, Prices and Books etc...

Welcome Trojan Fans

I had a little spike in traffic yesterday and noticed that a dozen or so hits had come from the same place..."Ay-oop!..." I though; "...there's a link been posted somewhere on't'interwebnet thingy". Sure enough, I followed it back to Cigarette Card Collecting Dot Com, where not surprisingly, they were talking about Cigarette cards! But, toy soldier fans...what cards? Go and look for yourselves;

CCC - Trojan 'Gen' Cards

Now obviously they are going straight to the post they've linked to, but some of them might then click-on the Trojan tag and find this at the top of the search-results, others may click the home button or the banner title to find themselves here, so...

Welcome to you Card Collectors, I'm sure you'll find something here to press a nostalgia button.

Now, those regulars among you who just followed the link back to the visitors site, will have though what I thought..."Hell, another string in the Trojan/Shipton bow!! Obviously I then spent a few hours trawling the web for more details, and while there wasn't much forthcoming, there was a bit more than our visitors have on their thread.

So in the hope that someone from CCC will email me [maverickatlarge(at)hotmail(dot)com] with the complete list from their two-volume 'bible', here's what I found. If one of the CCC guys could send me the rest I'll update the list part with acknowledgement of both individual and reference work!

Trojan Gen Cards by; W. Shipton Ltd. 1959
(and Quaker Oats Ltd. up to at least Group 9 'Stars of Sport')

In 'Series 1' there are five cards in each 'Group' of a 75-card set and there are - therefore - 15 groups of cards. They were sold in their sets of five, in small waxed-paper envelopes. Certain sets were issued with Quaker Oats (in Quaker Oats graphics), they seem to have followed the same numbering system, and the wax-envelopes might suggest that all were issued in cereal, whether they were all issued with Quaker Foods and some got overprinted and others not is a moot point? I'm assuming all 15 'groups'/75 cards were available?

There never seems to have been a 'Series 2', nor any subsequent series'.


Series 1 - Group 1 - Beautiful and Scarce
1 - ?
2 - ?
3 - ?
4 - ?
5 - ?
(Bird? Golden Pheasant?)


Series 1 - Group 2 - Characters of Fiction
1 - Robin Hood
2 - Robinson Crusoe
3 - Sherlock Holmes
4 - Mr. Pickwick
5 - Long John Silver


Series 1 - Group 3 - Stars of Entertainment
1- Lois Armstrong
2 - Pat Boone
3 - Elvis Presley
4 - Tommy Steele
5 - Perry Como


Series 1 - Group 4 - Fight Against Crime
1 - ?
2 - ?
3 - ?
4 - ?
5 - ?


Series 1 - Group 5 - Prehistoric Monsters (?)
1 - ?
2 - ?
3 - ?
4 - ?
5 - ?
(Pterosaurs?)
(Archeopteryx?)


Series 1 - Group 6 - Railways
1 - ?
2 - ?
3 - ?
4 - ?
5 - ?
Flying Scotsman


Series 1 - Group 7 - Racing Cars
1 - ?
2 - ? (Green car)
3 - Maserati
4 - ?
5 - Aston Martin


Series 1 - Group 8 - Insect World
1 - ?
2 - ?
3 - ?
4 - ?
5 - ?


Series 1 - Group 9 - Stars of Sport (definitely also issued by Quaker Oats)
1 - W. [Billy] Wright, Soccer ('Wolves' - Wolverhampton Wanderers)
2 - W. [Willie] Pastrano, Boxing
3 - Peter May, Cricket
4 - H. ['Herb'] Elliott, Track & Field/Running
5 - (Judy Grinham, Swimming OR J. Graham, Motor Racing? [Probably the later])


Series 1 - Group 10 - Animal World
1 - ?
2 - ?
3 - ?
4 - ?
5 - ?
Giraffe
(Bird?)


Series 1 - Group 11 - Nursing
1 - ?
2 - ?
3 - ?
4 - ?
5 - ?
(Male patient in bed with nurse next to him)


Series 1 - Group 12 - Under the Sea
1 - Fighting Fish
2 - Blue Whale
3 - Sea Anemones [described as fish-eating 'plants'!]
4 - Hammerhead
5 - Globe Fish


Series 1 - Group 13 - Ballet
1 - ?
2 - ?
3 - ?
4 - ?
5 - ?


Series 1 - Group 14 - Wild West
1 - Buffalo Bill [Colonel William Frederick Cody]
2 - ?
3 - ?
4 - Wild Bill Hickock
5 - Billy the Kid [William H. Bonney]
Jesse James
("Cowboy")


Series 1 - Group 15 - Motor Cars
1 - ?
2 - ?
3 - A Two Wheeled Car
4 - ?
5 - ?
Cross-pollination

The other thing that struck me about this little series of serendipitous events/links, was that there's not enough cross pollination between the various branches of toy collecting and collectables in the wider sense - one of the lists I found was so 'off the wall' I'm not posting  a link to spare the blushes, but he was a sports cards only guy, and didn't know about the other groups at all.

While I didn't know anything about them as I don't 'do' cards, or, if I do; it'll be regimental colours, or uniforms of all nations or something like that. And at the same time the CCC guys didn't know about Trojan's Toy Soldiers or the other products by W. Shipton/A.J. Novelties, despite all the work done by Paul Morehead and the other chaps and chap'esses at or subscribing to Plastic Warrior magazine (YES! I know, I promise to do the review in the next day or two, or the next issue will be due!), nor the Quaker link...so it's definitely worth spending a few hours idly browsing Google with 'random' search terms, as it will turn up all sorts of stuff you don't think you're interested in, that is linked to stuff you are interested in!

And the question now is what will turn-up next for this prolific mews-stable/coach garage of a factory!

Prices

If you did follow the link above, you may also have followed their link to the buy-it-now (BIN) listing in the US for a graded Wild Bill Hickock at US $499.95...yes-surrr-ee! Fahhvehun'red Dollars!

Now I know I do bore people with my "It's all mass produced shite and it's not worth anything!", but it's true, don't shoot the messenger! Even the poxy yellow caparison on the mounted Swoppet Knight's horse from Britains was mass-produced, in the 20th century, from an relatively indestructible, washable PVC by the biggest company of it's type at the time. Swoppets themselves; they're always on evilBay, only the ACW cavalry are truly rare'ish, as they have gone brittle, but it means their carbines are as common as muck if you know the right dealer!

Paul Stadinger (of 'Stads' fame) brought something to peoples attention the other day, I took a screen-capture of the finished lot;


The same week this happened;


The ugliest robot I've ever seen! It looks like a chocolate-bar dispenser from the 1970's Underground...with arms, that's had a fancy hat-box left on it's shelf!

What these three have in common is A) Modern! Post-1945, mass-produced modern shite! We love it, it's lovely shite, but it's shite...intrinsic value of the above three items? About a tenner the lot, that's five' ninety-nine for the robot, three-fifty for the proof card and fifty-p for the cigarette card.

B) They are also worth what peole will pay for them! There are a lot of very rich people out there among the austerity-starved, there are also a lot of idiots out there with more money than sense AND there are quite a few very rich idiots...most of them working in banking it would seem!

I know - "But it's a 'proof card', they're as rare as rocking horse shit" - Er, yeah...because?

Because they are a sub-stage of the printing process, they are rubbish, they go in the bin when they are approved and they never get attached to a toy, it's exactly the same as selling old sprue or runner.

In recent years we've seen the value of pre-production sample figures fall, because there are so many out there, most being sent straight from the factory to trusted 'reviewers' and often de-based in the process, so the fun of tracking them down has faded. Yes; it's still nice to find those kinds of variants of vintage figures though, but they turn-up in mixed lots at car boots as happened to a friend the other day.

The point is - The cigarette card is currently in a London dealers list for 20 quid (with 39 other Trojan's), while the robot will come-round a local show for £50 or so if you keep looking and the proof card is still rubbish! Let the rich guys and idiots pay the silly money, there's so much out there you'll never have all of it (even if you win the double-rollover Euro Lottery), and you can build a nice collection of anything from cheapies, bargains and swapsies!

Books

At Sandown this weekend, three new books were launched, the second volume of 'FiM' or Farming in Miniature, from Adrian Little, Robert Newson and Peter Wade-Martins, the first volume was issued over a year ago, and I will review them both properly, together in the next week or two (they're gorgeous...it's toy-porn!). Also there was a new book on Hugar buildings published, I had a quick look at it and it too seems sumptuous (but only page-3!) while a book on model villages/towns was also published.

I was busy, so apart from a quick perusal of someone's Hugar tome, I have no details on either of them and will endeavour to follow-up with better 'gen' (Ha-ha, back to Trojan!). If you can't wait try Potter's Fairs, as they were obviously the show promoter on the day and facilitated the launches. I don't even know if the second book is about 'toy' models or the sort of Model Villages you got taken to in the car with a picnic as a child!

Other Bits

Finally - I have been working on a mini-'book' of composition for over a year which I was going to publish as a page, loaded-it the other week, spend three weeks editing it, tweaking it, sorting out a couple of hundred photo's into about 30 collages, saved every time I was in there...Blogger/Google lost the whole F*****g thing the other day! Blank sheet of white-screen and no answers to my exasperated eMails!

Of course the photo's have been filed to six dongles, the text I've got with me is an early edit...yada-yada...so I seriously 'got the arse' and disappeared for a week or two as you may have noticed...upshot is, I've added a few images and a lot of text to the Airfix Blog, but have more to do, and that's where I'm at for a while, but I'll try to put some fresh copy up here, and - of course - the PW review!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

M is for Micro, 'Mini' and MPC

MPC mini-planes which were mentioned the other day; Harbert is for MPC!

We've also looked at the Mini-tanks (still one of the most popular posts; or at least the - rather fuzzy - group image is one of the most downloaded!) here; Military Miniature Minis

And, this is a bit of a request post, as I've had a couple of eMails about both these and the ships in recent days! Also, once I'd posted the Harbert ones from Italy it was time to get these up, the shots were taken an age ago! I did cover them all on a forum a while back but they've long gone and generated little interest at the time. The ships will come too - one day!

So they come in four colours (the same colours as the ships and cars) and there is a little variation between batches. Size is odd, as they are clearly all different scales, but there's no attempt at 'box scale' uniformity, with some actual models being markedly larger or smaller, whatever their original real-life size relationship? Were I an aircraft geek I might recognise an attempt to keep them all to three or four 'scales' but I don't!

They have a fair bit of marking both on the undersides and upper-surfaces of the wings and tails in raised detail, which includes the MPC circular logo, the aircraft type depicted, the length and width of a full-sized original, and main nation of service with national markings.

The second lot are marked as per MPC, except the logo is replaced with IPA, presumably a Hong Kong outfit, and the same mark on my green version of the Mini AFV range's Stalin Tank.

I suspect these are made from the MPC moulds, and are always found in silver plastic, I sub-set them 'MPC+1'

I call these MPC+2, although they are poorer than the next lot down the page, these DO have the MPC logo, in the correct place, but all also have 'HONG KONG' somewhere, the low quality of these suggests that they are pantographed copies of the MPC ones, and are trying to be the MPC ones, hence the primary colours?

MPC+3; these would appear to be late issues of the originals, they are the commonest found of all the 'planes on this page, having been included in all sorts of bagged and carded HK stuff in the 1970's, but only ever these five aircraft.

I guess they were the best surviving moulds after the MPC years, transfer to IPA and years of 'careful' maintenance of the mould bank in the New Territories! They are marked only with a 'MADE IN HONG KONG' across the under wings and we looked at the Mosquito in greater detail here; M is for Miniature Mosquitoes

MPC+4 are almost certainly Christmas Cracker or Gum-ball machine types, going on the fact that only 3 have turned-up in 40 years! These are also copies of the originals and have all been given 'Allied' Stars, even the German and Italian bombers!

This lot (MPC+5) has a poorer quality than the others; copies-of-copies, heavy re-cutting of panel-lines and so forth makes them look like models of model aeroplanes! But the range seems to be larger than MPC+3 or +4, again always found in silver...so far?

Clockwise from top-left;

I have 3 F4-D Skyray's, two of them have miss-moulded tail-fins, the other has snapped along almost the same line suggesting a fault with the mould, it's also one of the 'chunkiest' models.

The re-tooling of the +5's can be clearly seen in this Messerschmitt 163 'Komet'

MPC+3's come in a shiny silver and a duller aluminium shade.

Comparison shot between IPA (+1) and MPC+2 versions of the B58 'Hustler' nuclear bomber.

Treatments for the Junkers J87 'Stuka' from three of the issuers of these little aircraft models, the real beauty of them was that they were sold like rack-toy soldiers, by the box, header-carded bag, a blister-card of all 58 or a mail-away of 116, and as they fit in the fingers, an air battle was instantaneous!


 This shot is for the guys at Moonbase Central who like their 'planes fast and wingless!

Listing - Alphabetical by maker. MPC announced 116, but only managed 58 different airframes, but 2x 58 IS 116, so maybe the mail-away was two of each, or ended-up being two of each?

Avro Lancaster 'Lanc'
Avro [Canada] CF-100 'Canuck'
Beechcraft M-35/F-33 'Bonanza'
Bell X-1 'Glamorous Glennis'
Boeing 337 Stratocruiser 'Clipper'
Boeing 707 Airliner
Boeing B-17 'Flying Fortress'
Boeing B-52 'Stratofortress'
Boeing P-26A 'Peashooter'
Convair B-36 'Peacemaker'
Convair B-58 'Hustler'
Convair F-102A 'Delta Dagger'
Curtiss P-40 'War Hawk'
Dassault MD-452/2-C Mystère (Mystery)
De Havilland DH-98 'Mosquito' (Wooden Wonder)
De Havilland DH-106 'Comet' Airliner
De Havilland DH-110 'Sea Vixen'
Douglas B-66 'Destroyer'
Douglas DC-3 'Dakota'
Douglas F-4D-1 'Skyray'
Fairchild C-119 'Flying Boxcar'
Fokker E-V/D-VIII 'Flying Razor'
Ford Tri-Motor 'The Tin Goose'
Grumman F9F-8 'Cougar'
Grumman S-2F 'Tracker'
Hindustan/HAL HT-2 Trainer
Junkers JU-87 'Stuka' (from Sturzkampfflugzeug - dive bomber) 'Aunty Ju'
Junkers JU-88 'schnellbomber' (Quick Bomber)
Lindbergh 'Spirit of St. Louis'
Lockheed F-80 'Shooting Star'
Lockheed F-104 'Starfighter'
Lockheed L-049/C-69 'Connie' Constellation
Lockheed P-38 'Lightning'
Lockheed U-2 Spy-plane
Lockheed-Vega 'Winnie May'
Martin B-10 'Air Powered Wonder'
Martin B-26 'Marauder'
McDonnell F-101 'Voodoo'
Messerschmitt Bf-109
Messerschmitt ME-163 Komet
Messerschmitt ME-262
Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 'Faggot' (NATO reporting code)
Mitsubishi A-6M 'Zero'
North American B-25 'Mitchell'
North American F-100 'Super Sabre'
North American P-51 'Mustang'
North American X-15 Speed-test Aircraft
Piper J-3 'Cub'
Republic F-105 'Thunderchief'
Republic P-47 (F-47) 'Thunderbolt'
Saab J-29 'Flygande Tunnan' (Flying Barrel)
Savoia-Marchetti SM-79 'Sparviero' (Sparrow Hawk)
Sud Aviation SE-210 'Caravelle' (small light vessel) Airliner
Supermarine 'Spitfire'
Tupolev TU-110 'Cooker' (NATO reporting code)
Vickers 'Viscount'
Vought F7U-3 'Cutlass'
Yakovlev YAK-25 'Flashlight-A/Mandrake' (NATO reporting codes)

See the 'older post' (next post down the homepage) for more of this type of toy including a few more MPC derivatives.

M is for Magnificent Men in Their Micro Machines!

So, to other teeny tiny 'planes in the same vague size range as the above MPC (previous) post. A lot of them tend to be one-off's or small ranges of - often - MPC derivatives, used for lucky bags/sobres, Christmas cracker toys, cake decorations and such like, but others are from similar 'sets' to the MPC ones...

The first - definitely pre-dating MPC - seem to have been from the States; Irwin making a set in a phenolic resin or plastic sometime around the 1930/40's or very early 1950's, shown to the top-left in a dark salmon red.

Another set which I'm identifying as Airfix (subject to change!) may have only included four aircraft types (Lancaster, Mosquito, Spitfire, and US Lightning), but they turn-up quite often, so seem to have been numerous at some point, possibly included with a larger toy (as load or cargo), perhaps as a beach-toy?

As early as the Irwin 'planes, but of much higher quality is the blue Beeju 'EVB' Mosquito (top right) we've already looked at here, I don't know how many were in this set/range.

While a small set from China is currently doing the rounds as cake decorations. The DC-3 in blue (bottom-left) is smaller than the MPC version, but of high production values and may be one of a larger set, possibly an American maker, any ideas? [17-11-2014 - It's from the 1957 Air Fleet set from Nabisco's Shredded Wheat Cubs, smaller ranges with 5 or 6 of the same model aircraft were also issued by Empire/Caldwell in the States/Canada in hard styrene and Lido in both styrene and softer ethylene, so possibly supplied to Nabisco by Thomas Toys]

The Irwin types so far encountered by this author, marked 'IRWIN' on one wing and 'MADE IN U.S.A.' on the other, the push-prop (top-left) is an interesting addition (possibly meant to be a Bell YFM-1 Airacuda?) helping to date the set?

Bottom-left is the current cake decoration group, also used for Christmas crackers of the budget variety, there are three aircraft types so far found, in three colours, with the - provisional - Airfix group to the right, these can be seen in full over on the Airfix Blog.

Other examples in the 'Mini Aircraft - Odds and Sods' box! The entire top row are MPC derivatives with the red (and damaged blue) polypropylene and silver polystyrene ones all marked made in Hong Kong (MPC+6), the white and yellow delta-wings having different marks (+7 and +8!).

The large green one to the right is a Hong Kong ancestor of the China cake decorations, The yellow Concord may go with the DC-3 above, same level of detail/production values. The two little yellow ones (top centre-right) are from a Kinder toy.

The red one bottom-left; may be a rocket/missile from a Manzinger type robot or Transformer type toy? The four silver ones along the bottom are Blue Box and others. The dung-yellow one is a Montaplex - I think - and the red and yellow pair bottom right are phenolic and probably quite early, one being a simplified twin-engined fighter/bomber type, the other - possibly a helicopter's body?

The hard plastic gold and orange rocket-planes are similar but not the same as the yellow one to their left, also hard-plastic. The white jet-fighter is a plug-in probably from an aircraft-carrier toy, while the Spitfire in green seems to be a scaled-down copy of the one included in an Airfix board-game and in the same (ABS) material and colour, but with a mounting-hole in it.

The rest are unknown mongrels from Christmas crackers, sobres, lucky-bags or premiums, can anyone give us details on any of them? [17-11-2014 - except the large blue Navion  bottom-left; It's from the 1957 Air Fleet set from Nabisco's Shredded Wheat Cubs, smaller ranges with the same 'plane were also issued by Empire/Caldwell in the States/Canada in hard styrene and Lido in both styrene and softer ethylene, both can be found on Toy Soldier HQ, the unmarked blue MIG/Lightning next to it (far lower-left) is a copy from the Nabisco set]

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

S is for Supreme / SP Toys...and Titan...Ackerman et al.

We looked at the vehicles for these sets (or at least the military sets, some of which had militarised versions of the civilian or police vehicles) a while ago Here [I've linked the 'Supreme' tag, so this post will be at the top of the page after you click it], so it's about time we looked at the figures!

As this is a Toy soldier blog, we'll start with the military figures;

The very large '800' series sets that contained all the really quite nice vehicles found in the above link came with a number of figures, the contents of three of which are illustrated above, with a shot showing some of the colour variations. Camouflage blobs were a dark olive or dark chocolate brown going onto a yellow or tan field, weapons were black and flesh varies from a pale tone to a bright candy-pink.

There were only four poses though! And the figures are not award-winning sculpts, being generic 1970's infantrymen, who can presumably be marketed anywhere, including at home in China! As can be seen there was some variety between contents, but with each figure in a shaped coffin-section of the larger tray, the contents of each numbered set was always the same.

These sets were all either green vehicles or 50/50 green and 'desert'. As I stated in the original posts, I have seen desert versions of some of the vehicles I only have in green hinting at what the contents of some of the missing numbered sets were, the rest may have been civil versions - in the large size - of the smaller sets...

...which can be broken down into Police, Fire, Trucking ('Road') and Mechanics 'Speedway' as well as the military themed sets. All the above being '900' series; there are medical/ambulance sets as well, while the '600' series included space sets - in storage!

The truck set and the garage are both over-stuck with an Ackerman sticker, they are Still Going and are an import agent for cheap toys, household and other 'bargain' goods. As I recall the three large sets were all 'Ackerman' despite being bought in Wilkinson's two years running, where they were only made available at Christmas (mid/late-2000's), these smaller sets can still be found on the odd 'dollar tree' rack about the place - and not just under the Ackerman, Titan (see below) or standard Supreme labels.

Note the close-up, about 25% of the figures carry numbers; the numbered/not-numbered figures sharing space in the same sets.

On the left are the numbered figures, all poses can be either A or B, and each pose is then numbered 1-4, so the guy with binoculars is either un-numbered, or he has A1 or B1 on his base. All the civilians I have found so far are smooth-based, but numbered ones may be out there?

The smaller accessories from the larger sets are real gap-fillers in the insert tray (compare with the other vehicles we looked at way back when), but I guess the top three have some use, the semi-flat, detail-on-one-side-only motorcycle is however a complete disappointment!

So - the above were all 30mm, but there are also given 'HO'  (23mm) and '1:72' (25mm) figures from the same source (Supreme / SP Toys), while Titan also carried unpainted 35mm figures in other sets (yellow figures above). As can be seen in the top left image, Titan were/are another importer, but they prefer to have their sets printed-up as Titan, rather than accepting generic Supreme sets. Although, as we can see bottom left, so did/do Ackerman - sometimes!

Titan Toys International (one of at least four Titan's in toys!) seem to have ceased trading, while FunFings has been usurped by a craft jeweller's on Etsy!

Some of the small figures have a similarity with other Chinese makes like New Ray or Soma, but there are differences and in the larger scales Supreme have issued some interesting 'toobs' we can look at another day!

The various scales, with the exception of the yellow figures - probably not sourced from Supreme - and the numbered soldiers, all figures have smooth bases, no more than four colours and usually a glossy appearance, and there are a few more civilian poses in the 30mm range, and probably many more in the 23/25mm ranges.

The figures in the Cargo Express set from Titan have squared-off bases more in line with the 23 and 25mm ranges, not the ovoid ones of the other 30mm civilians illustrated loose above with the soldiers. Note how the 'Germanic' fireman, is a copy of the better detail - also Chinese production - figures with flesh-coloured bases issued in various sizes, in imported play-sets sold by Tesco's and others from the late 1990's through to today (Carama? Yat Ming?).

C is for Carabinieri

Or...how all good things come to an end!

I first became aware of Micro Machines in 1993, when I found them in Betties in New Oxford Street, I thought they were silly, however the Star Wars figure sets caught my eye and I started collecting them. But the 'normal' sets left me cold, little squashed out-of-scale-with-each-other cars and trucks and stuff, just silly! And a half-mile long Star Destroyer having less mass than a twin-pod Bespin taxi? Silly.

Clearly though; the guy who came up with the idea understood the 90's kid, as they took off and became very popular and not just the Star Wars and military sets, the really silly stuff did as well! Poor old Galoob can't have had the funds to keep up with demand, so deals were done with the sharks, Kenner started to muscle-in and eventually the little guy got eaten by his partner, who then got swallowed by Hasbro.

Hasbro didn't seem to understand the concept or the customer base (or maybe the customers had changed?), and some pretty risible tie-ins resulted with Action Man being a notably forgettable one. Increasingly desperate to make the line work again led Hasbro to produce these...

Exclusive to Italy (well, who else would buy them?) where Hasbro was also getting into chocolate premiums by putting figures from their UK Subbuteo purchase into Kinder-style eggs. They must have made vast quantities of them though, as a warehouse full was issued in the UK last year as clearance through independent discount stores.

The bulk of the range were simply repaints of old/existing moulds - I bet half these vehicles have never been seen in Carabinieri livery, nor indeed been seen in Europe in any guise...not-yellow school-bus anyone?!! However, someone obviously realised something would have to make Italian kids want to buy them, so a few motorcycles were painted-up (always a good seller) and at least one new casting was knocked-up.

A mounted Carabinieri with cloak. The two officers on foot are also old sculpts, but again figures definitely add to the play value of a set like these. there were in fact about 7 sets, but I've already opened the ones with figures in!

A perfect size for HO railways as seen by the comparison with a Preiser ACW Union officer, it's a pity they didn't make the vehicles to match?

I have lots of the motorcycles from the 'silly' range, and we looked at the military one way back at the start of the range, we will look at them all one day (they're currently in storage) but my collection tells me these are also re-paints. And would the Carabinieri use a Harley-D Elecra-Glide in the country that makes Ducati? I don't think so!

That was pretty much it for the Micro Machines, there was - at about the same time - a re-issue of some Action Fleet Star Wars stuff - the AT-AT in a stupid snow-splashed paint job was one - but somehow Hasbro had killed a golden goose!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

News, Views etc...Museums...

Two in a row? Well, there's a certain symmetry to these...

In less than a week, the ACW Soldiers National Museum in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania will close its doors for good, due to falling interest, a victim of both tighter belts and more museums...

...while a Mr. Phil Collins, a crooner with a beat combo of some repute - I believe, has given a boost to another; The Alamo, which should secure its future for another generation. See...symmetry!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

News, Views etc...Around the Web

Lots of stuff coming into the Op's Room recently, so a dissemination post is well over-due!

Starting with a brilliant Blog which has escaped my radar for it's first 100-odd posts, a fantastic resource for that intermediate period between the vintage and the modern (although he does cover the modern), and a subject that doesn't get the coverage it aught to. I'm definitely going to be identifying a lot of my unknown fantasy and sci-fi figures over there, and can't believe he's only got two followers, so buckle-up people and support...

Fantasy Toy Soldiers by Shaun Christensen

Sticking with Blogs for a second; I loved this Battle Report, it's very old school! While for the politically-minded, there's a quite cerebral, yet very funny Blog at Scarfolk Council



 Meanwhile; back in the real world you can't make it up....Council Meeting or Ork hoards?

I mentioned these the other day, I'd bookmarked them some time ago, and then a couple of weeks ago they pop-up on Facebook! They've since gone viral, more than doubled the sought funding and will go into production;

Yoga Joes!



Exhibitions

An alternative look at Toy Soldiers and the world they represent over The Pond here; Bay Area, last day today for the exhibition (sorry!), if you're in the neighbourhood over there, you've got a few hours to drop-in, but some nice images with the article...it's a slow-loading jerky page due to to much advertising shite!

And missed This One by half a year...doh!



Consumables

Wall Stickers - we may have looked at these before, but this is a UK outlet, I think it was dollars last time?
Swarovski Crystal Ear-Rings - Lovely, they couldn't be anything else despite being a stack of 'random' beads!
Mugs - Every war-games club should have a couple of sets of these!
Cards for every occasion.



That'll do for now!