About Me

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No Fixed Abode, Home Counties, United Kingdom
I’m a 51-year-old Aspergic CAD-Monkey. Sardonic, cynical and with the political leanings of a social reformer, I’m also a toy and model figure collector, particularly interested in the history of plastics and plastic toys. Other interests are history, current affairs, modern art, and architecture, gardening and natural history. I love plain chocolate, fireworks and trees but I don’t hug them, I do hug kittens. I hate ignorance, when it can be avoided, so I hate the 'educational' establishment and pity the millions they’ve failed with teaching-to-test and rote 'learning' and I hate the short-sighted stupidity of the entire ruling/industrial elite, with their planet destroying fascism and added “buy-one-get-one-free”. I also have no time for fools and little time for the false crap we're all supposed to pretend we haven't noticed, or the games we're supposed to play.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

F is for Fake Fops and Fainting Femmes!

Except they are not all fake, some are the Merten originals, but I think we did look at the originals before, so I've only shot a couple of the sets to compare with the interlopers from Hong Kong.

I took these a while ago, and they were sat in Picasa waiting for me to do something with when I picked up a few more the other day at the PW show, so now a post presented itself as being a bit more complete.

I always thought I was missing quite a few of the HK copies (a good 12mm larger at around 30-mil.), but it looks like the HK pirate took three of the adult couples from both sets as their Cake Decoration set. I don't know if Merten themselves did O-gauge versions - they may have been in the limited metal range?

The two sets I picked-up the other day, the one on the left had been mucked-about with, re-sealed in a too-small bag, with a shiny new staple and no parasol, so I opened it and added the contents to my loose sample!

I only have 'carded' in the tag-list, but these were sold like this from larger displays/dispensers, with no separate header or backing card.

The six poses; which I suspect are all of them now. There is some variation on decoration within the whole sample, but not stuff worth noting as it was probably dependent on the paint available on the day and/or the fancy of the painter/s.

I also managed to wiggle the parasol out of the sealed bag, get the photo' done and wiggle it back in without damaging the bag or the parasol!

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This is a bit of a small-scale Blog-fest today, as I have also posted the first article on the new Giant or What? Blog, and added what will probably be the last addition to the small-scale khaki infantry page, which may well see some radical surgery at some point, but may still get the missing entries as a simplified guide, with the fuller stuff transferred to the HK Blog as separate entries?

Monday, May 23, 2016

A is for Apparently….


...Salvador Dali once worked at the Dulcop plant!

Thanks to Brian Carrick for the figures (you see…I got a post out of them Brian!), and that Alpini is a ‘useable’ pose variant!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

M is for Mount Whomore...

It must be done...surely the next valley over? Further-up the range? And then the Simpsons!

Sent in by Blog visitor Jon Alderfer (who lives near Philadelphia in the US, has sold work to Heavy Metal magazine in the past and collects Disney, Dr. Who, Marx, and Britains [etc...!]), this is his own work and I'm privileged to post it here...talented stuff; thanks Jon.

Now; who do I see about hiring rock-drills...do you need a permit...is it in a national park....what will Smokey the Bear have to say about it...?

Friday, May 20, 2016

News, Views Etc...Err; news, views and etcetera!

Easing off on the Blog for a few days - weather's too nice to stay out of the garden. I know I still have to do a review of PW162 and with 163 due soon they may end-up together! There will - of course - be a show report forthcoming and a [show] plunder report in the fullness of time, but it's not a race and it's not a competition!

Brian Berke has sent some lovely stuff, from which I have already prepared two articles, with more to follow and some to be filtered-in over the years to come...while I have been sent the best ever picture of Mount Rushmore which I am downloading on this visit and should post next time...

Meanwhile, this JSB figure from Belgium came in at the show, it was in an advanced stage of disintegration, so throwing caution to the wind I brushed the worst of the crystallisation off the surface (which took a bit of paint with it) and coated it with plumber's solvent (actually Polypipe SC125) which is a very fast drying, noxious, clear, spirit-based, low-pressure/contact adhesive (incidentally: ideal for converting PVC figures as it's an instant-weld for things like Micro Machines or Wizards of the Coast figures), the main ingredient for which (if you want to buy it elsewhere in the world) is Bisphenol A-epichlorohydrin epoxy resin (industry number: AV MW<700).

The shot on the left shows the figure after quite rigorous brushing, on the right after a coating of the plumber's sealant; I actually gave the chest several coats to help fill some fine 'drying' cracks which were appearing. He will remain a bit shiny, and only time will tell if the procedure has saved the figure, slowed the death down a bit or totally wreaked it...It's in a polythene click-shut bag and I'll check on it from time to time.

Brian Carrick has a few JSB figures on his older site.

I did the same with a Captain Video robot, which was actually starting to crumble into pale powdery stuff as well as having the cracks developing in his back, but as he was unpainted, I pushed the boat out further with him and coated him in liquid polystyrene cement, let that dry (it restored the colour to some extent), and then gave it a liberal coat of the plumbing goo, I didn't take before shots, but I'll watch both figures with interest.

As a follow-up to the Bendy Toy/Plant-tie thing the other day, here are some actual (1970's vintage) toys, you can see there's no difference between them and the garden centre frogs we looked at in that post passim. The boxer is a design registered in the UK (and a PW show purchase), the Pink Panther I think we've seen before and is credited to United Artists; both made in Hong Kong.

The - unmarked - bear (is it Yogi, or a lookie-likee? Next day...'Smokey the Bear', see comments, thanks Ross!) has been hanging around since the last PW show a year ago and is smaller and of limited articulation, I guess he may have come with some accessories, a chair or [picnic!] bench maybe, to sit in or something like that, his body bends quite well, but the wires don't extend much beyond the shoulders and hips.

While I'm posting follow-ups, here are a few French figures from Cofalux which have come in recently, some may have been in the original posts in March/April (?...below!), but I got the factory painted flamethrower-guy in Twickenham at the weekend, so though it was fun to compare.

The other two are Belgian copies by Soldabar/Plasticom of the same French company's Foreign Legionary figure, we've seen the pose before here, but it's always nice to have a few colour variants!

Mucked-up a photo-session for the Airfix blog, so they can go here...piracy: it's a bad influence!

Finally, for MIB collectors, CTS have a fine group of Britains Deetail boxed samples in stock this week.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

L is for Look What You're Missing!

Plastic Warrior's Crescent Special...launched about the same time this appears here - if I get the 'Schedule Post' thing right...which I've never tried before!

If you are in Whitton this morning (or this afternoon) chances are you've seen this and snapped it up, if not - it will probably sell-out about 3 o'clock! But I know Paul will have more printed in the weeks ahead for those who couldn't make it to the show.

56 Printed pages, only one given over to editorial bumph (the outside back cover!), the rest being a comprehensive history of Crescent, an illustrated (lavishly illustrated) check-list of the plastic production, including many boxed examples, oddities, rarities and the like.

Full-colour throughout with the odd B&W archive image, this is the forth (?) edition of the 'Crescent Special' and it is the definitive word on the subject, being the culmination to date of all the contributions of PW readers over the years, interviews with company personnel, dips in the catalogue archive and observations on the empirical evidence left behind for us to collect.

Really: you can't afford not to have a copy if you collect 54mm plastic figures....40mm or 60mm plastic figures...farm...space or circus toys...Kellogg's...available for PW at all the usual sources;

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eMail; pw.editor@ntlworld.com


However...There's still time to get to Twicker's!

Friday, May 13, 2016

G is for Get Shorty...

...and Kill Billufssonne if he deserves it!


A too-early mould-release, heat-shrinkage Giant Viking clone'lette!


Show links:

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eMail; pw.editor@ntlworld.com

Monday, May 9, 2016

T is for Time's Running Out!

It's less than a week away now....cleared your calendar for the day yet? Wad of cash? Got fuel/fare ready? 'Wants list' polished? Big - empty - bag? Thermos cleaned from last year (bleach....overnight soak should do it)? Then you're ready...but others might not be!

 The better map of the venue

A little bird told me there will be a New Publication launched on the day...

Full venue details; Plastic Warrior

Saturday, May 7, 2016

OD is for Operation Dynamo

Olive Drab and 'Orrible Disaster...I finally got the images from Brian sorted out/downloaded as .jpg's and without further ado present them here for your enjoyment. No 'blurb' as such, the scene depicts the small boats or 'little ships' [ships carry boats, boats can't carry ships...apparently, but...little ships carry the strength of a nation] returning from Dunkirk to the London docks of the East End, and benefits from several viewings, with new little things showing themselves each time!

I like that some units have clearly been rescued in good order and with little trouble, ready to march away for a hot meal at Greenwich Arsenal, while others are looking very shot-up as they await the fleet of ambulances - no doubt hurrying toward them - just out of frame!

Notice also how the diorama can be plugged-in to a larger model railway layout. Brians words...

 "The loco was a clockwork Hornby Percy. Truncated it is on a motor bogie now..."

 "...built in 2010 showing troops returning to the UK from Dunkirk"

"My grandparents were in London's East End through WW2 and visiting my grandmother in the 50's Dad would take me past the Tower of London and we would watch the tugs and sailing barges go by."




 "...some of the infantry are wearing later helmets and equipment. I was going for the chaos ..."


"Rivet counters [might] complain... ...that the landing craft were sunk on their supply ship while on the way to France..."


 "...and [I] wanted to show off the sailing barge which is a childhood image from days watching them below the Pool of London."


 "...the MTB is a later version (I left off the rear torpedo tubes)..."



Some of the .png's, they won't open well, but give an idea of the overall effect...





Thanks again to Brian Berke for sending these to the Blog, all the way from New York! And I bet the odd landing craft was pootling around the lower reaches of Old Father Thames!

Friday, May 6, 2016

P is for 99 of 'em....or 64? They're a Pound now!

So to the death of 99p Stores! Happens all the time; retail fails, and this one is no different to many, a takeover by a rival (Poundland), and a rival charging 1% more for everything at that! However, once the regulatory authorities had cleared the merger just before Christmas 2015, the subject of the takeover promptly reduced all toys to 64p! I wouldn't say I hoovered them up; too many other pressures on my limited funds at that time of year, but through to March I did throw a fiver or so at them, 64p at a time!

What may prove to be my last example of the Deadstone Valley toys, which - though I said I wasn't go to indulge after the initial post a while ago - I've been steadily adding to; to the point where I have more than a good sample!

This chap has suffered one of the worst fatalities of all the surprisingly alive looking corpses in the sets; some low-down, dirty, rotten, no-good, red-necked, hooch-guzzlin', snake in the grass, gunslinger has shot him firmly in the family jewels...ouch! 64p with coffin and not really suitable for kids?

[I notice Ozbozz are behind a range of very large, blow-moulded, PVC dinosaurs currently in The Works again, Ozbozz (previously a web-brand) seemingly being what HGL are becoming after their own sale/purchase last year]

Remember when I showed the large 6" G.I. type figures I said there were other sets, well I'm still not too sure what they [all] were (police and road workers?), but one other set was firemen and at 4 six-inch figures for 64p it would have been rude not to.

The most interesting thing about this set was the two-part hose-operator, leading to quite a sophisticated pose, the other notable detail is that unlike the combat set which was a very cheap plastic - these are a higher quality dense ethylene or propylene polymer.

There were a bunch of these Zhong Jie Toys 'The Big Animals' in box-scale (I saw a moose/elk thing, Lion, possibly a domestic cow, maybe a kangaroo?), the bear being a larger overall scale (slightly bigger than the Britains one), while the elephant was only got because it's an elephant! Otherwise it's a stupid colour and not very captivating pose...but only 64p each!

I was going to blog these as a separate post ages ago, forgot I'd taken the pictures, took another set and then decided to add them to this post, thinning a whole bunch of images down to one collage, if you could sell pictures like this I'd be rich!

Bog-standard chinasaurs, only notable factors with these are that A) they are made of the new crumbly, powdery, PVC substitute which those pencil-rubbers/erasers we looked at a while ago are made off and B) most of them have been given the same single colour, single pass, single-direction blast with an airbrush that their silicon-rubber forbears received back in the 1960/70's! 64p for the whole bag.

So, that's 99p Stores gone, but what of their posible 'in-house' brand: PMS. Well...this story was in the papers back in March and is of interest for several reasons in addition to being about toys.

Firstly, the appeal was conducted by PMS, not 99p Stores, and I don't think I ever saw Kiddie Cases in 99p Stores (at 99p...or 64p!), so I'm assuming this was being defended by the larger parent discount store we found last time I looked at these stores in any depth, running higher-value items from the site I found on Goggle-maps, like Poundstreacher stores.

However it could equally be the case (geddit!) that either 99p Stores, their new owners Poundland or some faceless contract manufacturing Chinese corporation have used the/a PMS shell (company?) to defend the case, in the hope that should they lose, fines could be paid by the shell without any opprobrium falling on the old/new parent; or back in the East? After the recent divulgences of what's going on in and with Tax Havens, it's easy to see how some 'brands' could be hiding a multitude of sins - in my own personal opinion...don't want to get sued here!

Also - and probably a red herring so don't quote me! - the PMS logo is vaguely similar in some respects to the graphic form of the old Blue Box rival (and one time partner of Arco): PMC. Just a thought but could PMS be one of the modern trading brands of Plastic Manufacturing Corp., or another, similarly large, contract-manufacturer back in China, only shared with 99p Stores in an exclusivity deal?

Secondly, I tend to agree with the appeal court, while Trunki has clearly had their design 'lifted' (again - in my own humble opinion) the fact of the matter is that the Trunki itself is only really an old Poplar Plastic blow-moulded London Bus (as we looked at here) with the addition of hinges and a separation of the two halves. Indeed, the Poplar bus was only a smaller version of various ride-on ones we had as kids, some with handles each side to hold on to, some with a steering wheel in the roof and direct/forward-control steerable front wheels.

So Trunki didn't have a patentable 'new thing' they had what is known as an exploitation of an existing 'thing', ergo; The Kiddee Case is only a further exploitation, and not an infringement, the appeal court made the right decision, and Trunki's losing of the case, while it may well affect their bottom line, won't lead to a sudden collapse of intellectual property rights in the West.

Basically the battle is similar to the Lego/Mega Blocs one which has been ongoing for years now with each brand wining small victories in different places at different times, always enriching lawyers at a cost to the consumer, while they both remain free to ship product world-wide.

As to what will happen to PMS as far as Poundland is concerned only time will tell, but a lot of the 99p Stores had shed-loads of PMS-branded stock when they converted to Poundland, it all went back to somewhere and it's bound to reappear at some point, whether re-branded to Poundland's Funtastic, cleared to third-parties or tuning-up in Poundland, still as PMS, remains to be seen.

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For overseas readers:

99p Stores were a discount store possibly using PMS as an in-house toy and household goods brand, all products were 99p.

Poundland (in-house brand for toys and novelties only: Funtastic, all products: £1) have just bought them (99p Stores) out.

Poundstreacher are a discount chain with variable prices and larger items like interior furnishings and garden furniture, they do sell toys but usually 'name' brand clearance; we looked at a Heroclix set from them once.



Because this use of imagi-brands, shells and holding companies is so widespread, I'm working on a post about it, but - I can assure you - it will only further muddy the waters!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

R is for Reminder…

Nuff said...week and  a bit to go!
 
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Also; Brian Berke sent me a couple of pictures to show how the Super Heros we looked at the other day (which Brian sent me...thanks again!) can be painted-up to resemble various familiar Superheroes, clearly my imagination needs work! [And I've sorted the Operation Dynamo pictures, so in a day or two...]

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

B is for [not] Bendy Toy!

Interesting little post today: any toy collector, especially toy figure collectors will instantly recognise these as 'Bendy Toys', those daft elongated caricatures of people, cartoon characters or anthropomorphic animals with little pairs or triangular arrangements of holes at the joints and a wire armature buried in the PVC to enable manipulation of the figure, as part of the play value, or 'play element' of the toy.

Clearing last year's tomatoes (toe'mate'ohs!)

Except that . . . in a brilliant piece of capitalist marketing (or creative 'out of the box' blue-sky thinking?) someone has decided to re-invent them as plant or garden ties! It is a very clever use of what may even be an original 1970's  moulding (?), but what rankles is that you can now get four to a card from the gardening sections of discount stores for the same money (in real, inflation adjusted terms) as you used to have to pay for one!

Have we had this shot before?

I have several of these and we've looked at them on the blog before I think . . . pretty sure the Pink Panther had his moment here, there are some Cowboys and Indians from Italy via-Hong Kong (image added above) and I know I have a 'combat soldier' type in storage, but there were loads of them back in the day, whether this frog was one of them, I can't say.

Mysterious holes

Giving thought to the little holes: I can only assume that they are left by holding 'pins' for the armature?

They could just as likely be due to the volatile nature of PVC; that when being moulded over cold wire as a hot semi-liquid, gas or condensation of some kind forms and the holes are to prevent larger blisters or blemishes' being created by letting such a build-up escape as the moulding is released from the mould-tool?

Another explanation would be that the holes allow for movement at the likely points of articulation (elbows, knees, wrists etc...) chosen by the child-user; to prevent stress cracks appearing too early in the toys life. But that seems even less believable and would seem to require more holes than are usually present.

All explanations are only my own thoughts on the phenomena, and anyone who knows for sure; please let the rest of us know!

If you collect bendy toys and haven't found these yet, try a search with 'garden-tie' or 'Plant Tie' in it, I'm sure there must be others out there!

Saturday, April 30, 2016

B is for Battle Ground...or is it?

Having now decided to have a Hong Kong small-scale Blog (which I tried back in 2008, but I thought I had to trick Blogger with a separate ID and it all got too complicated!) these will appear on that Blog at some point, both singly and as a group comparison (mirroring this post), but as I loaded this here back in January it can stay.

So; to the nature of 'Generics', a post that could almost as easily be done with 1970's bagged or carded small scale Cowboys & Indians or 1960's dime-store 'penny-whistles', but I'm using these as they were pretty much the swan-song of small-scale 'army men', also: having got out of the army and decided I was old enough to blow my money on what I wanted, I spent a few years hoovering them up as they appeared, so - hopefully - should have most of the variations!

I say rather pompously "so; to the nature of generics" as if I'm about to deliver some great treatise on a grand secret of the Hong Kong toy industry...I'm not! There is no secret, basically, all the figures in this post came from the same source, we just don't know who, and - in point of fact - it's probably not an HK source, it's probably a Chinese one! Indeed, because these appeared as the run-up to handover was looming, they carry neither HK nor China on any of the packaging; itself unusual, nor on the figures bases.

These first four are all 'branded' to Battle Ground; the clear 'generic', although several have stickers on the card or reverse with another ID entirely, while the same sets can come with different cards, and the same brands carry alternate and different-sourced products. All importers (jobbers) - to a man.

The shot shows single and double-pouch header-carded bags, and both single and four-blister bubble-packs. I'm sure that elsewhere other formats could be obtained - as Battle Ground - to order, but these were available in the UK between 1988/9 and about 1998/9 and I should also add that other products in other scales also come in packaging with both types of the Battle Ground artwork - again: as generics or with over-stickers.

As well as stipulating different formats (or accepting them 'off the shelf'), end-users/clients could have customised artwork, again to their own design using the Chinese company's designers, or off-the-shelf graphics or from their own art workers, and here we see the same four-pocket blister attached to three different cards, the French artwork seems to have been lifted or part-lifted from somewhere else, see the white areas round the hand/butt of the gun, this was before digital patches and colour-matching, and as they were budget toys: cheap-cost artwork - whoever was responsible for it - was the order of the day.

Here we see the contents of the single pouch, now with new header-cards and a squarer bags - which are softer PVC. One colour, or several, and note how with the multi-coloured set each colour has been dumped in the bag on top of the last, but the first (bottom) layer seems to be the dregs of several batches!

Mini sets were also available, each with the flag and there is no relationship between the colour of the figures and the design on the flag's sticker, with the same flag accompanying bags of different coloured figures, and different flags being put with the same coloured figures! I have to thank German collector Andreas Dittman for most of these, and they were a bit later than the above dates, he picked them up on the continent about ten years ago, and I then found a few others in one of those glass-shelf partitioned 50p pocket-money displays at/around the same time.

Some of the logos/trademarks connected to these figure's 'brands'. The LB sets are almost certainly from the Glasgow-based Levy Brother's LB Group (correctly: Levy (LB Group) Bros. Ltd.), I seem to recall that they were bought a few years ago by H Grossmann/HGL (their postcodes were a few streets apart!) who have themselves recently been sold, but I'll check that.

The figures are all copies of Matchbox German Infantry and Airfix US Infantry, to which is added a crude version of the old Monogram radio operator, although see the note on the Japanese (2nd following paragraph).

The bases - as mentioned above - are blank, which is as uncommon for Hong Kong products as it is for modern/current Chinese products, suggesting that the originator was either an HK-based company, obtaining finished product from the (then still slightly 'enemy' Communist State) mainland OR already producing on the mainland themselves, but not wanting to admit it (for the same reasons) until the handover of the colony, which actually/eventually happened as these were drying-up in UK shops.

As an exception to the rule, the smaller two-pouch bag has some ex-Airfix Japanese added; these are earlier figures, which I looked at in One Inch Warrior magazine's 7th edition. They are the same size and style (but with sharper-edged bases), and share the wacky colours so will almost certainly come from the same source (which is why they're in the bags!), but were definitely originally issued earlier, as they had been turning-up as loose figures for years(#) before these 1990's figures. Their original HONG KONG mark has been removed for this issue, although the scar is visible on the base. [# When they turned-up previously (and with the full base mark) - it was usually in small numbers, so probably from Christmas crackers, end-of-pier crane-machine bags and/or vending capsules &etc.]

The loose stuff is all in storage at the moment so we'll have to re-use these old pictures from something else to just show that: A) as loose figures they are not that rare (upper arrow - both stacks), but they are not as common as some of the 1960-80's small scale, and: B) they come in various other colours or shades, but green and blue remain the commonest (from the big bags!) also: C), there is a second issue (lower arrow) which are of poorer quality with thinner bases and lots of flash which I haven't tied into specific packaging yet, but they may just be from late versions of some of the sets listed here. These points are - of course - UK-centric; it may be a different story elsewhere.
 
Known Sets
As Battle Ground
(generic)
- Single blister pack (J.A.Phillips, 1992)
- Quadruple blister pack (HCF, 1996)
A7/521 - Single pouch bag with header card (Herbert Kees, early 1990’s)
- Double pouch bag with header Card (late 1990's with older 1980's Japanese figures)
As Bestoy (generic)
BES142 - Soldier Set (quadruple blister, an earlier logo was written in baby-blocks)
As HP (Hans Postler, France and Germany)
51353 - Small header-card Bag (French language version
*)
As LB Ltd. ('Super Toy Packs'
**)
ST-11-2436 - Mini Army (Clown and 3-balloon graphics, blue figures, 1993)
ST-11-2436 - Mini Army (4-balloon graphics, multi-coloured figures, 1994)
ST-11-2436 - Mini Army (4-balloon graphics, blue figures, 1995)
As MGM Super Toy International (France?)
Ref. 2295 - Les Minis Armees (quadruple blister pack)
Other (generic)
- Attack Force Set (multi-blister with AFV's and scenics, late 1980's
***)
- Title-less mini pack (France/Germany? Mid-2010's)


* The same packs came with the larger Airfix piracies with striated bases; each bag also has a small-scale Saladin-type armoured car.
* * The same bags were used for very poor 'last generation' Airfix piracies (Russian Infantry and Paratroops) in a pale blue crumbly kind of polyethylene, almost 'scrap plastic'.
*** The same card was previously used for Airfix piracies of an earlier 1980's type, which may make this the earliest use of the later figures - from the artwork re-use.