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.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

P is for Proes; Promociones Especiales

Sorting out old photographs today, well scanning them and throwing the paper copies away, I keep the negatives, but eventually they'll be scanned in as well. Found these, they're a bit lower-resolution than you'll be used to, but they get the message across!

Easier to just give the blurb from the old book manuscript;

Proes
Promociones Especiales, Ediciones Anceo, Apartado 23029, Barcelona, Spain
Mid-1970’s?
Another Sobre (surprise) issuer, selling 30mm figures in little envelopes, probably with some gum or sweets. There may be a connection with a company called Grafic 3 SA, but I suspect they are just the designers/printers of the envelopes. The figures are based on the Marx 6-inch range and are of superior quality to the output of Montaplex/Hobbyplast and as stated; larger.
Known Sets
- Grandes Jefes Indio (Indian Big-chiefs)
- Pistoleros Del Oeste (Western Gunfighters)

I suspect there is at least one figure missing from this bag, the Marx set was six poses, and the other set has five so one feels there should be 6, has any Spanish reader got these?

The other set, nice figures, but at 30mm they are hard to place with other products, they do sit well with Marx Miniature Masterpiece sets and the Blue Box/Marx Sunshine Series ethylene Britains copies. Again the Marx 6" originals were six poses, so there may be one missing, but I can't find them on the Sobre website/forum, so?

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

P is for Poundland, 99p Stores and so on...

Frankly I've begun to loose track of them, there is Poundland and Poundworld (get ready for Pounduniverse), where everything is a pound, then there's 99p Store, where everything is...err...99p, even though they've been bought-out by Poundland - except an in-depth investigation by the competition regulator has put everything on hold! Then there's another chain with '99p' in the title, one with '98p' in the title (or were they bought by 99p Stores?), and Poundstreatcher, where most things are more than a pound...doh!

Anyway, I tend to stick to the first two as several stores are local to me from both brands, and the items we're looking at today have mostly come from one or other of them, in the last 12 months.

The 'Combat' Bag of Soldiers from Poundland is an otherwise unbranded generic, with the same figures in a 99p Stores Army Group bag the same day, about a year ago.

They were so poor I shot them on the hanger and left them be! A few months later I shot the bag top right in case it was new (I can't remember everything in Picasa!), and although it wasn't, I noticed they'd added a helicopter or something (black lump?), but didn't focus on it.

I then picked-up the loose figures a few weeks ago in a mixed pile of something else!

The same 99p Stores 'Army Troop' brand, actually blamed on Top Toys of Northampton (whom I've previously suggested are the 'in-house' brand of 99p Stores), has more recently given up these three sets, the figures larger and a bit bloody crude really, but the vehicles...well, I thought they were worth the punt at £2.97p just to bring them to a wider audience, as they have potential...

Hopeless figures and the helicopters aren't much to write home about...in fact they're not much to write a blog about either! But...the attack heli, with a bit of a paint-job would be fine for old-school war gaming or futuristic role-play insertion mechanics!

The chinook/sea-knight thing doesn't even have matching rotor-blades, but again; pair pf replacement blades, or clear-sheet material discs, paint and a wash or dry-brush, would give you useful lift capacity for pennies.

These are where - I think - some of the war-gamers might show an interest? They are crude, a bit wacky and poorly painted, but they are also fun and usable. De-seam them, bit of filler, new paint scheme, cammo-nets/stowage and Bobs your uncle! The truck is particularly nice, I think - don't get me wrong, on one level it's the very worst kind of crap, but imagination only needs a nudge...again, dystopian near-future, or just old-school 'don't care - army builder, me!'...box ticked.

More shots of the vehicles, only one set had palm trees (standard generics) and the lookout tower in another set was really bad! Note the other MLRS chassis has a sort of FROG-SCUD thing! Well, it's better than a pair of giant Sparrow air-to-air missiles welded to the cab-roof!

The twin-cannon 'tank' is amusing as Bluebird produced one in their Zero Hour line a decade or two ago, and there is a twin-gun Pz,Kpfw. IV - in a similar style to these - kicking around, so you could build an alien army where all major-unit armour was twin-boom!

Then this brand reappeared in Poundland with new figures in half-empty boxes blamed on Funtastic, but; for only a pound? And I have a wide range of Matchbox clones so a purchase ensued!

I'll check the tag-list as Funtastic is starting to look like an in-house brand for Poundland? I know I've bought some elsewhere, but that could be explained by the laws of wholesale and clearance at the end of the market where both are already rock-bottom!

The three figure types (30 and 45mm approximately) looked at above, middle have been around for a while, the left had ones are in 99p Stores at the moment and the right-hand figures are recent to Poundland, but from tired 1980's moulds somewhere in China!

The truck is the third in what seems to be becoming an occasional series (we've looked at the hovercraft and M60 in the past) which goes back some years on the blog, I bought the first one in Poundland Newbury in 2009? 1:48th'ish.

While the Combat Force generics (around 54mm) are another really poor offering from the same store, and remain on the hanger!

Sometimes you see evidence of the strange phenomena with these discount store; they make their money by getting customers to buy things for a pound, or 99p or whatever, which are actually cheaper elsewhere, this is a case in point; The three majors (Tesco, Asda [Walmart] and Sainsbury's) sell these for 98p! I was suckered, Poundland got my extra two-pennies!

Matchbox Oshkosh M-ATV combat weapons platform/armoured reconnaissance, and not a bad little moulding of a piece of modern design. Is it not funny, indeed more ironic how service stuff is becoming indistinguishable from items found in Sci-Fi movies and games from only a few years ago...Avatar, Halo...I suspect Mike Creek will have given this a thorough grilling on his blog?

This cruder High & Drive casting (finger-cutting window frames!) is a 99p Stores bargain and with me having a s oft spot for Hummers the little gold coin had to be given-up in exchange! Supported by some Blue-Box for a sizing - it can't actually tow a trailer!

These are a question mark, more than a year old, came in a mixed lot from somewhere, but if I don't put them here, they'll never conform to Mr. Warhol's rule of '15'! Tank (old Matchbox-Airfix hybrid/copy) is about right for 15mm figures; 1:144 gaming?

And the only non-military in this post, still in Poundland as I type, these are for the LRG guys - about 40mm and still on the hangers, I'll get them as loose figures in mixed lots in a few years! Funtastic again.

Monday, June 29, 2015

G is for Gift Eggs and Capsule Toys - Part I - Last year or so...

Like gift horses...they sometimes have figures in, but won't sack your city or put everyone to the sword!

This one is very disappointing, unless you like stickers, fridge-magnets or jelly-beans...I like jelly beans so I was a third there, perusal of the sheet revealed that no matter how many you bought you would only have got a fridge magnet and a sticker! Which is why I only ever by one if the contents are unknown. This was from an independent sweet shop last Christmas, and they are probably still available from the Great Character Candy Company.

These packs of three are from the 99p Store chain, following the pattern of the original Kinder, they have the bonus of no sickly white-chocolate layer, made by Balaban Guida and imported into the UK by Gateway Sourcing, toys are a bit hit-and-miss, much like Kinder really!

Similar but not the same container as the Star Wars one, this was a bigger disappointment, a strange biscottii type thing, lenticular card and a basic rubber-disc pencil-topper! From Uno-Foods and/or Candy Planet out of Poland.

This was given to me at Plastic Warrior's 30th show in Richmond back in May by Peter Evans, he may have had it for a year or so, and it's from the Zaini family of chocolate eggs we've looked at before here somewhere. This is lovely, a dynamic pose being achieved by skirting the undercut problem with multiple clip-together parts. There are three other stand alone figures in the set and five looped for use as danglers, key-rings or charms.

They (Zaini) are currently doing a set of Frozen characters - see next post (below).

G is for Gift Eggs and Capsule Toys - Part II - Current or Recent

This would have been 'the last three weeks if I hadn't just lost two weeks to real life crap AND tonsillitis? At fifty-effing-one...what's that all about? The UN's 2011-declared planet-wide carcinogenic atmosphere, that's what!

Anyway penicillin's kicked-in and these are from late May-early June now, so all still findable!

£1 gum-ball machines (no chocolate!) at the moment, from Tarco International and of the choice, I got the one I'd have most wanted, first shot! It's (robots don't have a sex...not even sex-robots!) around 54mm compatible so I might try and get another for a UNIT dio/vignette with some Deetail or Airfix para's, although; with only 6 in the set it would be worth trying to get the set, I don't know how the maths works out on a random pull, but it'll be maybe as few as 11 purchases?

The others look to be more 30mm size wise, and the Tardis would join a growing collection of small-scale police telephone boxes! From the fact that the K-9 is 'exclusive' suggests the other five have been available previously or elsewhere, it's a very nice little model anyway.

Mimi is slowly collecting these and the first 6 had no duplicates (a baby Rottweiler has been added since the photo-shoot), they are also in sans-chocolate £1 machines, but it states they are series III and I haven't noticed series's one and two anywhere?

Imported by Idea Vending, an outfit called A&A Global Industries seems to be the master behind the throne, and they go quite well with the current Schlich puppies, size-wise.

Back to Zaini and chocolate; these are available about the place (One-stop convenience-store for this actual one) and again I was lucky to get one of the more useful figures, as again there are half-heads looped as charms and some less useful figures!

I feel this is my reward for getting through a Christmas day round my Brother's where small relatives had a doll which played the Frozen theme on an eight-second loop endlessly...and if you tried to sabotage the thing it switched to Spanish until the little ones used tech-magic to 'reduce' the torture back to English!

We looked at the Fravend Alien in a new production round-up a while ago, and I've since found a traditional yellow 'smiley' and this blue one and stuck them in the archive without testing them to destruction like the first green one!

And from the same machines we have that old 1960's perennial; Trolls, the licence is held by Russ Berrie, I suspect these via Brabo-CBG of Belgium are not sending many royalties back to East Rutherford, Nujoisey! Both these are in 40p machines (definitely no chocolate!), or were they 20p? I'll check next time I do the rounds!

D is for Doh!

No, not Simpson's toys, although there are plenty...back on the 12th of this month I stated "...not something I'll be in a hurry to track-down the rest of..."

Well, inside a fortnight, they went from ten, to five, to three pounds, so I couldn't turn down a bargain of that level, could I? I doubt it'll go any lower - at 3-quid it's practically being given away!

The Undertakers Set from H. Grossman's Deadstone Valley play set, still in The Works, but not for much longer at 3-quid a pop!

Note how the back of the box and the contents seem to include lots of figures not mentioned on the website or smaller cards we looked at two weeks ago, clearly a range that's being cleared before it's had a chance to find it's feet, just like the Horrible Histories stuff, and the concurrent Star Wars Commanders range. There is a clear and damaging disconnect between the marketers or publicity people and the actual 'toy' people in the industry at the moment.

Two corpses and three dodgy-looking characters from the graveyard/burials team. The graves are the rather lame vac-formed moulds sprayed green and given two anachronistic rock-wall stickers?

The headstones are interchangeable so once you've got a few duplicates you can start mix-and-matching your graveyard...hey, don't knock it - if you're a goth; you're probably wishing someone pointed you at this range a while ago!

Separate shovels and moving arms, this had the potential to become a great series...add a zombie element, a game-playing mechanism, themed sets of corpses...clowns, dancers, teachers, school kids? Note also the slot-fixing for these 'dead heads' that the ballet-dancer didn't have.

However...the heads of the three living poses don't fit the dead ones (quality control), in fact one is loose in it's owner's neck but still won't fit in a corpses neck. And why is the undertaker 70mm+? These missed opportunities to build a figure-based toy range are becoming annoying...speaking as a toy figure collector! I'll be looking at the Star Wars sets soon!

B is for Bricks and Morter...or...err...Timber and Stone!

Struggling there, I know I've had F is for Forts...probably more than once...hay ho!

While I had the Marx odds and sods box down the other day, I shot a few comparison shots between the two main designs of fort in the Miniature Masterpiece range.

The - possibly? - commoner version is the lozenge or diamond shaped one, which fitted into into a smaller square box, which therefore sold for less that the larger oblong boxes. Seeing one of these mint is a real treat, and one day I will undo mine on the blog, it's in storage at the moment, but the way all the trees, accessories, knights (and sometimes Vikings), horses and the rest are stuffed into all the little gaps between the parts of the fort, stuffed into the smaller towers (which are stuffed into the larger towers) and stuffed into the castellated tower battlement 'drums' is quite extraordinary, and I'm sure that once it's been unpacked it will never go back in the box again!


The oblong version is different in a number of ways other than just the layout, elements of the model are less robust than the other design, the base is a landscaped hill-top with a mote'lette (invented word for the puddle) under the drawbridge, three of the towers have very European style 'pinnacle' roofs with soft ethylene flags, the castellated battlements are completely different designs and other subtler changes are also present.

One of the few pieces which is pretty similar is what passes for a barbican between the two gate-towers, which has a nice winding mechanism (chains missing on lozenge one) to raise and lower the drawbridge over the paddling-pool.

The Disneyland Fantasyland play-set contained a clear-plastic version of this fort, with pretty-much the whole Disneykin range and lots of useful accessories.

Close-ups of some of those changes, even the short wall section is a very different design when you study it. Whether one replaced the other or they both remained in the mould-bank is not something I've given much thought to, a study of when the sets were available in US department store Christmas/gift catalogues should answer that one if someone wants to do the 'legwork' from an armchair!

A few more shots, the towers of the lozenge design are clearly marked with the standard MARX-X mark. Some ladders; the one on the left is from the wild west sets and the log-fort, and finally playing around with the pieces and thinking of a glue-project with all the bits and pieces in the spares box!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

T is for Tanker Truck

The 1956 Ford F800 V8 Big Job with 'Conventional' cab to be exact...I'm informed? By Aurora. The same tanker-trailer 'semi' ('artic') was made available as a gasoline (petrol) tanker with a 1951/3 White's CoE (Cab-over-Engine) unit which now looks like a 1930's Sci-Fi movie model rather than a real truck!

In this configuration it was sold as a Milk Tanker and I have the transfers, but feel wont to use them when they are probably of more value/interest remaining on the backing paper...and they've yellowed quite severely so would probably break-up if I tried to slide them of the sheet?

They were sold as 'S-scale' (actually a gauge; 7/8ths of an inch between rails representing 4'8"s) which equates to 1:64th (one of the two US 'HO' sizes!), with figures around 27mm, this was a popular gauge between HO and O, with American Flyer being one company that specialised in the size.

Chunky parts, wheels turn, hood (bonnet) opens that's about it really, bit of a box-ticker, due to it's size it could be seriously 'Mad Max'ed' for Road Wars or something in 28mm Role Play...but find your own...vandal!

Friday, June 26, 2015

O is for Other Bits...Bunkers and Barriers

Looking at more Marx Miniature Masterpiece play-set accessories tonight, mostly what would be considered 'defence stores', but also the little bits that make the sets such a joy to open.

The face-bunker! What was that all about? And a few of the many Hong Kong copies, in the end the 'nose' was dropped from the copies and a sort of covered side-entrance/trench thing added, but by that time the moulding was a bit of a blob!

There were other versions of the low wall thing, I have a couple in pale-blue from a Disney set somewhere.

 Various wooden fences and palisades, the barbed-wire entanglements which would never stay together - strangely, some of the HK versions are better at standing up than the original!

The pile of rocks is probably the commonest accessory after the sacks and barrels, and came in hard or soft plastic, in many colour variations, and was - like a lot of these items - scaled down from the larger scale sets.

The commoner flag-pole I mentioned the other day, a soft-plastic crater from a late space exploration set, and the smaller of the tent designs. I have the larger ones somewhere, but couldn't find them the other day, so I suspect they are with the loose figures in storage?

Bottom left is the basic Wild West range of accessories, there are three versions of the hitching-post, a bark-sculpted one (front) with a sag, a smooth, straight one (back) and an intermediate one. Most of these can be found in hard or soft plastic, and luggage was apparently evenly distributed throughout the wild west!

The main shot is the other common-to-most-sets stuff, with the exception of the two model railway items at the back, which are not common at all - unless you're a vintage US HO Railroad collector? The sacks are a Merit lift and along with the barrels in the Wild West shot came in most sets...indeed, the Charge of the Light Brigade set we looked at the other day was notable for not having a bag of sacks and barrels.

The shot at bottom-centre is not really belonging to this post as it's a more set-specific collection of bits, but is interesting because my Battleground set which we looked at back at the start of the blog and which was a sealed set, had no recoilless rifles, leading to my confusion with all the ammo trays/bogies. That with 700-odd visitors a day now, no one has spotted the omission enables me to correct myself! Someone forgot to put the two weapons in the set! Also of note is that the mortar in this lot has a painted base.

Both the Crescent sand-bag sentry-posts were pantographed-down and copied by Marx in painted polystyrene and then blow-moulded by Blue Box, we have looked at them here on the blog somewhere.

The little 'shell-scrape' revetment/defence to the right is actually from the 54mm swoppet-type figure with all the accessories, but is missing it's .30cal mount legs, so is more usable for other things, though damaged.

The redoubt!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

I is for Iwako

Right...total surfeit of vintage crap in the last few days so lets have a look at some modern crap! This crap is - on one level - real crap, but it's also trendy-crap which means that in about 15 years time you'll have 30-somthing's on whatever replaces Facebook, or whatever Blogger's morphed-into going "Ooh, I remember collecting them back in the twenty-teens!"

Take the Deiner Industries robots I posted right back at the start of this blog as a minor make, they now have several web-pages and a couple of forum threads across the Internet, dedicated to them by the LRG (little Rubber Guys) collectors, who are a generation below me.

Anyway lets look at them...

 ...except of course - you've already seen them...there are great piles, tables, racks, tubs and other displays of them in WHSmith, Paperchase, Staples, Rymans, all the toy chains, most of the independent toy shops, Wilko/Wilkinson's and most supermarkets!

You just saw them out of the corner of your eye and dismissed them as crap - correct, well done, move to the back of the class and muck about!

But a massive collectability-factor with endless colour variants means they are taking-off like Loom-bands did last year (readers in the US had the bands craze a year or two earlier...I won't be covering them here, nor Hipsters with Merman hair-do's!!! Planet's going to the dogs...), and as new packaging types come out the older ones get reduced - and they're not expensive to being with - so collecting on pocket money budgets is a goer.

The above are the two standard formats from Iwako themselves; carded sets of 6 or 7 items and individual bags with a header card.

Ty have re-packed some in the hope of repeating the success of their now fading Bennie-Babies, but giving them a name and doubling the price hasn't helped when the originators are flooding the market with their originals!

There are non-animal subjects around like these trucks, although these might not be Iwako originals, the Wilko ones seem close but not quite (see below), however they are cheap, with the three cats being offered for 49p

Anything coming from the Far East is soon copied in the...er...Far East! these are fakes, found in an Independent toy retailer and were also only pennies. They (Playwrite) are quite poor, with daft colours and a poor register for the components, the Wilko ones are closer to the originals but made in China, not Japan

A comparison between various Iwako and non-Iwako giraffes, some dice (also Wilko) and a nice Battleships game from WHSmith wihich was around five or six quid I think, but I couldn't resist it. Wilko also do three larger stacking space-ships, but I forgot to photograph them!

All these are made from a new hybrid synthetic rubber, which is a softer version of the stuff HäT used on their Assyrian Chariots, it is gritty, easy to tare and not very good at the job it's earmarked to do...erase pencil lead!

However the old PVC and soft styrene that made the best 1970-90's erasers were very damaging to the planet and the UN are keen to get PVC phased out completely in time, so this stuff is presumably a step toward that goal?

Some more shots, it's all self explanatory. Apart from a bear that was blogged here a while ago; I was bought the first few as gifts, and since last autumn have been building up a small collection specifically for this post, that's them done and I won't be seeking any more, but they will start to come in in mixed lots in a few years - guarantee it!

Link:
Iwako Company Website

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

F is for Foliage

This is more of a page filler than a full post on the subject, but will help identify some of the Marx Miniature Masterpiece stuff if you're new to the hobby - now or at some point in the future when in image search or 'Google' bring you here.

When they weren't copying Britains trees, Marx turned to another maker in the mother-country; Merit, and stole theirs!

This is the Marx fir with the Merit original on the left, to be fair to Marx, it's questionable who did a stackable tree first, but it doesn't let them off the hook, just that Merit may well have copied Faller before Marx copied them, we looked at them back in 2009 Here.

There are two main difference between the brands, the first is that Marx didn't carry the largest section, so included 16 of the next size to help make taller trees. Secondly; Marx had four trunk sizes to most people's three. Luckily both have marked their bases clearly, so unless you get both in one lot (in which case you have to start peering at the leafage with a magnifying glass to separate the makers fronds!) it's easy to keep them apart.

These tend to be found in the Jungle, Zoo or Arc related sets and are quite nice, clip together soft ethylene (although both types can be found in styrene), like the larger Date Palm we looked at the other night, they are tending to be a tad brittle, but some are still fine, all good tropical stuff for Marine Amphibious Landings!

We looked at the dead tree the other night too, I can't decide whether there are different sculpts, or they are all just poorly made, I'm afraid the latter seem the more likely truth! The hard styrene version of the tropical plant and the stump are from the Troll Village set - among others.

The Cacti are a great favourite of mine and they can be found with or without painted bases, I've only ever found them in polystyrene plastic.

Then we're back to Merit for more piracy, these of the Elm tree and here they have taken the lower largest section as well.

This pic. has been in the archive since 2009! And may have been posted on the blog somewhere already? Sorting Merit originals; there is quite a variety in plastic colour of the foliage, but the trunks have subtler shade differences. It's far worse than it looks, there's a bunch, sorted and bagged, out-of-shot and a few in the attic here that have come-in in the last few years! One day I'll cut them down to one of each variety...I will!

J is for Journey Into Space

We haven't had any poured-metal for a while and when it comes to poured-metal it doesn't get much better than this.

Thanks to Martin Hills for letting me photograph this find before it went off to its new owner...

Journey into space...with Cherilea! I've seen smaller sets of these figures before, one each of the main poses, a rocket and two robots, that sort of thing anyway, but this is pretty special.

Better shot of the contents, I'm afraid they're not my best photographs as it was a hurried opportunity at the last Sandown Park toy fair, and I wasn't quite in focus with them.

These figures were later run (by Hilco?) in a very chalky white polyethylene which is now very brittle, and therefore even bags of broken bits exchange hands for a fiver or more!

To get two-each of most of the elements is quite enough, but there is a pose here I've never seen before...

...the prone figure in the centre; totally new to me.

The robot on the other hand is one of the most common figures out there and it would repay the effort just to collect them. Well...I mean he's not that common, but there are many versions of him to track-down and collect.

In the US he appears in various sizes in hard and soft plastic, in the UK as well as this figure and the Hilco plastic shots (which tend to survive due to the sculpts 'chunkyness'), there are larger versions, probably from the US moulds via mould-sharing deals?

Then there are the arm-down versions from the Bell/Merit magnetic 'Answer Robot' games, which were reproduced three Christmases ago by House of Marbles, and literally dozens of versions of the same game existed all over the world, over several decades - lots of which are on that BGG link.

In addition to these there have been many rubber and plastic gum-ball machine prizes, key-rings, erasers and the like coming out of the Far East, the robot would make a nice, compact, single-subject collection.

S is for Short's Soaring-ship 'Sunderland' Sinks Slinking Submarines at Sea

Finally - the last of the Palitoy 'planes...

The maritime LRRP (long-range reconnaissance patrolling) and ASW (anti-submarine warfare) aircraft; the Short Aircraft Company's Sunderland 'Flying Boat'.

One of my first ever kits was the Airfix 1:72 scale version of this beast, basically a box-full of portholes, most of which I foxed, sticking them first to my fingers, then the carpet before stuffing them - un-trimmed of flash or gate-scars and complete with their new furry covers - into their cavities, leaving the crew with no vision whatsoever...I was about 7!

I was given it by a girl I hardly new (she was the brother of a primary-school mate...Ben someone or other?) who had been invited to my party to make-up the numbers (and because her brother was attending and it was 'fair' - Britain used to aspire to fairness!). Anyway, it was the best present I'd had from an invitee to any birthday, and I decided she must fancy me! I was - as it happens - in bed with a temperature, so the party was carried-on in my absence, for the benefit of my brother (?!%!#!?&?!), and when she came up to give me the parcel (clearly - whatever I had - it wasn't contagious!) she stuck her hand under the covers and I decided we were in love...I never saw her again, the little hussy!

Still, how shallow am I that I can be bought with a Sunderland! No, really...35-odd years later I told the story to a lover and she found me one on Amazon, when I still didn't know what Amazon was! It arrived out of the blue with a gift card and little personal message, brilliant!

Again an early-war 'type', although serving-on for many years, as the Palitoy toy, it also came as a clockwork version with a small clockwork motor fitted into the body cavity, it's winding handle sticking-out of the fuselage under the port wing. If I ever get one (these aren't mine) it'll be an excuse to return to these again.

Previously on Small Scale World;
- Boulton-Paul Defiant, Wellington and Lockheed Hudson with main blurb.
- 'Flying Wing' from Alfred
- Two versions of the Spitfire

C is for Charge of the God-Knows Brigade!

Published the battle shots immediately below this post already, so quick blurb production on this post needed.

The Americans in the 1950's and 60's had - generally - much bigger houses than your average European, and consequently they developed a different approach to toys, specifically 'boys toys' with the play-set (or playset, but spellcheck's never liked that!). A whole box full of stuff, everything you needed; figures and any relevant vehicles or animals for two sides, accessories and scenics all together.

Marx and MPC were the masters of the art, the sets being typically 54-to-60mm in scale/size and for the most part; unpainted. However, Marx decided that they could produce pocket-battles in a smaller scale and also, that paint would be useful, so the Marx Miniature Masterpiece range of 'HO' sets was born.

Only - they can be a disappointment, especially in the jaded eyes of a modern adult! Firstly they are not HO, HO is a model railway gauge equating to somewhere between 1:86 and 1:76th scales or 18-23mm for compatible figures, whereas the MMM's (as I shall refer to them from now on because I can't be arsed to keep typing the full rigmarole) are between 25mm and 30+...but I'm getting ahead of myself, the figures are further down the page...

So...the accessories (we're looking at the Charge of the Light Brigade set by the way...I've started this all wrong while in a bad mood so bear with me!); rocks - OK, but common to a lot of these sets, dead trees - hardly the pinnacle of the sculptors-art are they?

Flags; the British tended to use square flags in battle at the time so the oblong is a bit out and the lines...am I really going to pick a toy flag to pieces? Lets look at the other one...anybody care to guess? I think it might be the flag of a hotel on the French Riviera? It's close to flags of Barbados and Ukraine!

Cannon-ball piles and Ceveaux-de-frise, are standard for these sets but the flag-poles are more uncommon with the Western sets getting a scale-down of the tree-trunk in  a pile of rocks. However their uncommonness is tarnished by their complete inability to stand-up on a carpet!

I love the cannons, even if they too are a bit dodgy, the larger one is OK really, with its solid carriage and parrot-type barrel, but no one has ever offered an explanation for the smaller design with its duck-scoop breech and its cast-iron looking, curved carriage sliding up and down its axles, very odd!

The horses are fine for 30mil giants, but don't look anything like mid-Victorian cavalry mounts with colourful Indian blankets under a vague, small, hunting or racing-saddle. I've opened two of these sets over the years and sorted a third and the horses are the only non-consistent element of the contents. The count is always the same, to match the riders, but the number in each pose and/or colour scheme/plastic colour varies from set to set.

Each MMM play-set tends to have a stand-alone Pièce De Résistance - usually a fort, or ark, or something, in this set it's a big rock, a really big rock and two not so big rocks!

There are hardly any polyethylene components in these sets but there are always a few bits, here the two not so big, big-rocks are blow-moulded, one - having been held in the cavity longer than the other - has a much more rock-like disposition, the other being a bit melty-rounded-off.

Trees and coconut palms, because I'm sure we all know what a problem coconuts were for the Allied Expeditionary Force in the Crimea! The two trees are nice knock-offs of the Britains design, similar to the beech/birch trees from that company. This is the rest of the ethylene in this set and the palms (from all MMM sets) are tending to brittleness now.

The 'meat and two veg' in this set...at the same time brilliant and a bit silly! Brilliant because they are pretty unique figures, silly because they're, well....silly.

The 'Lancers' are in late-Victorian infantry uniforms (sort of) with helmets they've clearly borrowed from one of the nations bordering the Trigan Empire, or some of Flash Gordon's enemies? While the Russians are not as bad (there were Cossack troops at the end of the valley), but with five guns in the play-set...no gunners!

The ACW get enough gunners to squabble over who rides the limber (but not really enough to man all the guns!), but here we have no gunners, and the uniform of the Russians at the guns was grey greatcoat and cap...and FOUR buglers? The British don't get any? So, you see; a bit silly!

Of interest for completists; the four lances carried by the foot Russians are sculpted in relief with folds, while the single lance carried by the mounted figure on the Russian side has a flat flag (as are the different shaped British lances), so must have been on a separate mould-tool (?) and needs to be present in a 'mint' set.

I originally posted elements of this set on my old Imageshack account to illustrate a point on the HäT forum and here are a couple of those images re-used as an afterthought with a comparison shot to show how Marx recycled poses - I think all the British foot figures are based on other figures from the MMM range...off the top of my head: the kneeling Jap, advancing Marine and ACW or US cavalry officer (?) making up the set of four? Something to come back to one day!

Box and play mat; a paper sheet. I thought it was the same sheet as the Battleground set we looked at ages ago, but it isn't, that was one of the forts I found while taking this set of shots, I didn't shoot the fort sets, but I did shoot a few of the forts, so they will appear here in the next few days/weeks.

Why are the 'British' holding the guns against a Cossack charge on the box lid?

Charge of the Light Brigade by Richard Caton Woodville, Jr.

So, short-fuse leads to bitty, bitey post, but at least I avoided that jumped-up despotic corporals thingy the other day! Huh? We won, that's all you need to know, close-run thingy but we won and Blownapart apparently shat his pants!

See post below to see how much I really love this set...