About Me

My Photo
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, April 12, 2014

News, Views, etc...Khaki Infantry Page - Charbens, Cherilea and FG Taylor

I've now added Charbens, Cherilea and FG Taylor entries to the new page; UK Khaki Infantry

The Charbens section is no more than a bookmark at the moment and the Taylor entry is a bit frugal, but it's a work in progress and we already have some contributions to come for Reisler and Zang's entries when I get to them.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

News, Views, etc...Khaki Infantry Page - Britains

I've now added Britains to the new page; UK Khaki Infantry

News, Views, etc...Khaki Infantry Page, Benbros and Britains

I've added Benbros to the new page; UK Khaki Infantry, Britains will be next. Eventually it will have entries for Charbens, Cherilea, FG Taylor, Hilco, Kentoy, Reisler, Speedwell, Trojan, VP, various 'unknowns' and piracies from Brazil, Hong Kong and Poland.

While the Britains Swoppets have gone in on the homepage, below this entry.

S is for Swoppet

So the other main range of 'Khaki Infantry' not deserving of a place on the page I'm publishing the rest on is the Britains 'Swoppet' British Infantry. They did lead to piracies and derivatives, but they too are, or tent to be, stand alone, rather than mixed-up with all the derivations of the Herald and Timpo GI ranges.

There are basically four body types in this range, and while some arms are plug-in, others are fixed and the plug-in ones don't have much room for variations, so although there are technically six poses, this was quite a limited set.

The play value really came from the constructional aspect and all the little bits and pieces. Packs in PVC that could be removed from the belt, picks and shovels, separate SLR semi-automatic rifles, pop-on helmets and swivel-heads and waists. The medical sets and the mortar were also stunning with the 'extra mile' that other makers never attempted.

The Swoppets posed with their nearest rival in the Herald range. The similarity is another failing of this set, why didn't they (Britains) give them new poses? Though the fact that they all had SLR's rather than the experimental EM2 was a bonus!

Back in the summer I bought a Junk lot off a chap who collects Swoppet Knights and always contacts me with the pictures of what's left.The pictures included the one top-left here, a nice shovel and the standing stretcher with storage box were the high-points of a typical car-boot lot.

However, once the deal had been done and the stuff had arrived there were some bits not shown in the photographs, namely the plasma-bottle and another shovel. This 'missing' bottle allowed me to add the whole vignette to the collection, although the blanket is brittle and on the shopping list!

Another shot of the kneeling firers and a close-up of the exquisite mortar tube round-off the collage.

Typically - Hong Kong couldn't leave this set alone though, so there are various versions of both the 'swoppets' in the lower shot and the solids above them to be sought-out by the completist collector. The solids are also given an additional pistol, while the mortar bomb seems to have become a walkie-talkie!

The 'Regiment' by S (Star?), the upper torsos are soft synthetic vinyl rubber as are the packs (by both S and Britains), and there is a hint of Herald Khaki Infantry in the pointing officer and one of the poses is struggling to hide a Timpo bugler's heritage!

Monday, April 7, 2014

F is for; From Hollow-cast Mouldings

Further to the new page on UK produced plastic 'Khaki Infantry' I've started (see UK Khaki Infantry at top of the blog-page), some sets were stand-alone. We looked at some of the modern troops a few years ago, and Trojan's Germans and small scale have been covered, along with some of the 'swoppits'. Another set that suffered little plagiarism or derivative production, but was itself derivative of it's own hollow-cast forbears was the WWII British Infantry from Timpo.

Nine poses in plastic, from ten in metal, I don't know what the tenth one was, I suspect a motor-cycle dispatch rider, a casualty of some kind or a sentry/ceremonial marcher? These were all themes in the US set of the same era. Prone firing - see comments, thanks Dave.

There are two generations with the British in plastic, the first taken from the hollow-casts with little change, although the bases where beefed-up and given the same marks as the early plastic Wild West from hollow-cast range; 'TIMPO ENGLAND' or 'TIMPO MADE IN ENGLAND' in the recess under the base of most - but not all - the figures. They also had a gloss finish. The later versions have a matt finish and the mark is now on the upper surface of the base (like the later 'solids' from Timpo), reading; 'MADE IN ENGLAND' only.

The above shots show older bases/figures top left, and - from the top; left, right and centre of the right-hand pictures, with bottom left being the newer version, along with right, left, right of the smaller images. The left-hand figure in the bottom-right image is the hollow-cast original with the drain-hole showing in the helmet.

A couple of line-ups; Above being the earlier set in  a glossy plastic with gloss paint and the deeper bases. it can be seen that a couple of the figures don't have the deeper bases, but rather have the original 'puddle' of their hollow-cast brethren. The kneeling shooter has no base, as per the original and in contrast to the US GI's, where all the kneeling figures taken into the plastic range were given an additional base.

The lower group are the second versions, they are matt-finished, and the plastic has added chalk to help the paint adhere, as a result these suffer far more from brittleness than the earlier set. They've now all got the larger base with the upper-surface marking, even the chap steadying himself on a substantial rock...a really nice pose as well, by the way! I haven't tracked-down a kneeling firer from this second batch, so don't know if he got a base, he may not have been kept, I believe some sources think the second set only went to 8 poses (?), although I would drop the crawling guy if I had to drop one...

From left to right on both images; lead hollow-cast original, intermediate glossy plastic and final incarnation in the matt scheme. Note how time also lowers the quality of the painting from 7-colours, to 5, to only 3, with the gaiters, bayonet frog, chin-strap and eventually waist-belt & yolk falling by the wayside.

It goes some way to explaining why the old hollow-cast collectors always viewed plastics people with a little pity, the figure on the right is but a shadow of the figure on the left. A mass-produced plastic 'scrap' with a stab-and-hope paint job in three colours, as opposed to a figure hand-cast from a scoop of molten-lead - a carefully measured scoop by an experienced eye, hand-finished (fettled) and hand-painted to a high degree!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

N is for New Finds, Pt.7 - Gold Daleks and Pencil Tops

Or...B is for Bluesky, Blueprint and Bluw Ltd...

So, this little lot of interrelated things were all coming in to the collection over Christmas just gone, as I went about seeking things out for other smaller people, the linking trends being names with blue in the title, gold Daleks and/or pencil tops!

So the first purchase (back in the late summer/early autumn?) was the Bluesky pull-back motored, hard-styrene space-shuttle pencil-top and astronaut rubber (that's 'eraser' to those so childish they can't say rubber without giggling), there were other designs, I can't remember them but I know I then found more on the Internet but this was the one with a figure, so this was the one I got. Can't remember where either, but it was a cheepie shop - I think?

Then at Christmas I was passing through Basingrad and found a little old model shop clinging on to the pile of new precincts joined together with poured concrete. In a mug on the counter he had white, yellow, blue and orange Fatleks along with a TARDIS as pencil-toppers, this time by a company called Blueprint out of Harlow, Essex (importers I imagine), I bought a yellow one.

At around the same time Dr. Who Adventures were re-running (?!) their pencil-toppers, so an issue was acquired.

This meant I needed to go back to Basingrad to get a TARDIS (for comparison!) and another - blue - Dalek...because it was there and er...the orange and white ones had gone! The TARDIS is a pen top, not a pencil top.

A week before Christmas doing last-minute shopping for jelly window-stickers (a tradition) I found this die-cast key-ring of the new-old-shape gold Dalek in Robert Dyas (UK hardware chain) and had to have one...for comparison! I also couldn't resist taking it part to see how it was put together. it's a very robust little model but the eye stalk is the softest PVC ever. This is the Bluw contribution.

Then just after Christmas I got this big one in Waterstone's bookshop, it's part of the range of little boxed games and 'executive toys' they do on a rack near the tills. I've previously bought the little set of foam aeroplanes. I suspect it's a re-boxed toy from the action figure lines but is unmarked?

Comparison shots include the Character Options minis in black and gold, a styrene Fatlek from Dr. Who Adventures/HMA and another of the Basingrad Fatleks - in orange, because...

...in January I returned to see if he'd been restocked and he had, so red, orange and white were added t the growing pile of approximately 35mm Fatleks!

The shots to the right are the final comparison for now and include two colour variations of the DW Adventures pencil top, the Blueprint pen top and a resin Police telephone-box from Harburn Hamlets.

Now when I wrote '(?!)' above, that's because when I was putting all these away I realised that the Christmas Adventures TARDIS pencil top (which came with a note book) was different from the one issued with a Fatlek and other things a year or two ago (see blog passim), so HMA have issued two different TARDIS's (what IS the plural - Tardis, Tardii Tardises or Tardis's?), but that will have to wait for another day when we can also look at the Dinky and Wardie/Mastermodels Police boxes!

Relevant Links;

Church Street Models - Basingrad
Bluw - Daleks
Blueprint Collections
Bluesky Designs Pullbax

Friday, March 21, 2014

N is for New Finds, Pt.6 - Dr. Who Adventures Magazine

A return to this publication, which we have looked at several times already, and despite its having gone to fortnightly - meaning you have to wait 6 months for things to come round again, rather than the three or four you used to be able to count on! - is still issuing useful stuff from time to time. I don't have all the dates of these and because I've published some of the items in-between; means that these might be up to 18 months/2 years old, the latest (bottom of this thread) is still on sale today!

Left - bog-standard Dalek and Cyberman 'army' card, this is issued regularly in this format. Bottom Right - another build-your-own Fatlek, this one in blue...previous issues have been white and red? (I think). Top right - about a year ago the Fatleks appeared in a metallic blue and vermilion, I think I said something at the time (but it might have been in an eMail to an interested party), the upshot being that I'd missed them in the shops, but managed to get a late set, which I will split with the other party!

Close-up of the metallic Fatleks, really nice colour, ties in with no known TV/Movie Daleks and they were issued after the new-old Dalek shape - All these magazines appear to have gibbons for marketing personnel; whether it's the original (1990's) Lego comic, the current one, the Horrible Histories or this, they are missed opportunities time after time?

On the right the inner tray from the pre-Christmas issue Advent Calender. There is no Auton, no Minotaur and no Weeping Angel with arms out (packaging restriction), some of these figures are becoming far less common than others?

Outer wrapping, box and playing board for the game to play with the pieces as they come from the box, one at a time over 24 days!

Three weeks ago we got a polypropylene build-your-own Weeping Angel with clockwork motor, this was a bugger to put together, but the judicious application of a No. 3 Swan Morton blade soon took care of that. Comparison shot with the kit figures issued back in the Autumn (which have been blogged) and the little PVC rubber ones from the figure sets. They are approximately 70, 59 and 38mm receptively.

Last week's (and still on sale) was a blind bag...I took a punt (after feeling through the plastic what I thought might be the pencil tops - Dalek blister is Dalek blister!) and found moulds for a non-branded 'play-dough', it's fun, but I'm not recommending it to figure collectors...although...at some point I'll try the Cyberman and Sontaran with an oven setting modelling compound!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

N is for New Finds, Pt.5 - Kit Lot

At Sandown Park the other week I encountered a chap who had a stack of kit boxes, mostly AFV's but a few aircraft and a ship or two. Checking a couple of boxes it was clear they were not what one might call mint! The seller leaned over and said "They've been given a good seeing-to, make me an offer!"

Well, I started sorting them into stacks of 'apparently mint' and 'buggered about with' and asked him what he wanted for the buggered-about stuff, which included a couple of bags of bits and all the either empty boxes, or boxes with signs of tampering, plus an envelope of header cards and transfers. A deal was done...

Top image is how they came home, the lower image is sorting in progress. It turned out to be a reasonable spares purchase, not least than because there was a complete Airfix Matilda and Bren/6lbr in their bags, five Midori squeezed into one box with the wheels, tyres and gear-cogs in the other box...no casings for the pull-back motors though, just loose cogs!

The header cards will have to be checked against the collection as there are two distinct printings of the 2nd type 'full-artwork' cards. The early 1:50 Tamiya Crusader was pretty much absent, but the box is good and all three instruction sheets, the parts for wiring-up the motor and the plastic motor-housing were present along with the transfer sheet, so I may get something back on evilBay one day for that?

Further investigation revealed that the little tin of bits for a Cole's Crane suspension (and front mudguard) was from another kit, and this one is complete on the runner, so I feel a couple of conversions coming-on there, one day! The bags of bits contained the missing turrets for the Midori tanks and most of the 'medium sized' parts for most of the kits in the Airfix inventory (no JS.III or modern armour), along with a complete Bloodhound, launcher and transport trailer.

But...no AFV hulls or running gear (clearly in another bag, 'bagged' earlier in the day) and few wheels. The wheels aren't a big problem I have a lot in the spares dept., but turrets without hulls are a bit of a pain! There were also several floor-plates for the 5.5in Gun Paul posted on Mystery Model Monday, but a week when I wasn't on-line, typical!!

There's something very reassuring about a well stocked spares dept. no?

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

N is for New Finds, Pt.4 - Sci-fi and Fantasy

These are all all less than a year old I think (the insects may be a slightly older purchase?), and again should all still be in the shops if not on the Internet somewhere.

Could have been in the Works post, as that is where they came from, but I was looking for ways to divide up all the pictures in the 'new stuff' folder in Picasa and a Sci-Fi/fantasy post seemed a good idea.

Really these are 'action figures' of the type I don't usually bother with, however I saw in the carry-cases a potential for Bamiyan Buddha/Petra style rock carvings for use with small scale figures,...a quick dry-brush, marbling and wash should have them looking like Easter Island monoliths in no time, or set them in a cork or plaster 'wall', so I grabbed the two when I saw them...they were also dirt cheap...they were also Blue Box!

These are still available all over the place, I bought two blind bags when they first came out and ended up with two of the better figures so stopped! Mainly because they will be turning-up loose for pennies in small groups at shows or on evilBay for the next few years - should I fell the need to get a full set.

The marketing ploy here is three different antiqued-metallics for each figure (gold/brass, silver/pewter and a copper-bronze), but that's no different to various colours, so hardly a whinge! About 60mil, the deep, plinth-bases make them awkward for playing with, but you could try to create a chess-set or something? I also think they'd paint-up nicely.

I've seen various versions of both these exact models (the same Poundland carried them a few months later is realistic finishes) and other brands of giant insect, but thought these - with their charcoal and chrome plastic - would make excellent robo-sects for my LP spacemen to battle one day?

Also - if you follow the blog regularly - you'll know my love of Stag beetles and Rhino Beetles meant I was never going to leave them on the rack....at a pound a piece? Not sure if Funtastic are the same as Fun-Tastic, but I'll give them the same label for now.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

N is for New Finds, Pt.3 - Here and There

Some other bits that have come in over the last 18/24 months or so (it's all got a bit behind!), some of which I can't even remember the source of, but they should all be available off a Google search!

These (Homade iSoldier) were reduced somewhere, designed to be some sort of a ipad/ifone/isnob prop thing, I couldn't see how they would work that well but hey, I wasn't buying them for an ithingy, I was buying them as a couple of GI's on pitchers mounds!

The four on the left all came from Wilkinson's before Christmas, the natural successor to Woolworth's, they often have useful toys, and these were obviously meant to catch the eye of parents looking for stocking-fillers. The bag of China rip-offs was a mix of ex-Matchbox DAK poses in herb-green, While I can never resist a bag of paratroopers.

The space vehicle erasers were broken when I go them home but a bit of glue sorted that and the wooden guardsman was a trip down memory lane. The two to the right...did I say I can't resist paratroopers...top from Asda a year or so ago, the lower from a discount store in the Autumn.

The two to the left here were both bought from a new cake decorating supply shop, sadly the shop has already folded, but they managed to find two interesting items; The Goofy is a late Culpitts vinyl with the Culpitt moulded into the rear of the figure, while the other one looks like Grandmother Stover, the character for a brand of cake decorations and dolls-house accessories from the US of the 1960's? How they ended-up in the window of a new unit is anyone's guess.

The blind box was one of the last (?) and came from what used to be Esdevium Games in Aldershot - again - over a year ago and I can't remember what the new name of the store is . The angels came from a Christian Charity pop-up, just before Christmas and went on to special people.

More Toy Story (check the link-list) GI's, I ripped into the silly train with a small tool kit and scalpel and ended-up with three nice 70mm 'Disney' figures for the collection and a pile of bits for the spares box!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

N is for New Finds, Pt.2 - The Works

I've mentioned this shop before quite a few times, but they do keep finding stuff through the global clearance system and then offering it for next to nothing...all these are currently available in one store or another; I regularly check four now; Basingrad, Fleet, Newbury and Woking and they don't always all have the same items at the same price so it's worth searching about, although there is a web-store as well.

These two came from the Fleet store, B'stoke and Newbury were out and Woking still had 7.99 on them. Forgetting that Airfix only produced a 1:32 scale Cromwell in the olden times, the real times, the before the evil Heller times, then getting further confused by the fact that Matchbox did make a Cromwell and Airfix made a Crusader with similar track guards (well, they look similar in my memories!), I assumed they would be the 'old kit' with an added wading sprue!

The modellers and WWII war gamers among you will know, I was being an idiot! It is in fact a brand-new and very good tooling (there seem to be some photo-etch and resin after-market detailing sets out there as well) with solid track units in a new style. Anyway my retarded assumptions aside; well pleased and will do one in wading gear with new barrel for D-Day as a Royal Marine  Centaur IV and the other with hedgerow-device and camo-strips as a later Normandy/Bocage slugger.

The Works also have 1:72 scale aircraft and larger scale car kits in the same promotion.

This is actually branded to (or at least; 'Imported by/for') The Works and is a bit poor. It was cheap and I bought one specifically to show here and so was expecting something a bit basic. It's really aimed at smaller kids and has a clip together construction and no traversing of the turret due to the turret basket mounting sockets!

I say 'clip-together'; you have to force the hull halves together and force the turret on and then find all the other parts are too loose! However...if you are gaming 28/32mm Sci-Fi and you want a cheap source of vehicles it has potential and is cheap enough to cut-up and/or convert to a hover-tank, SPG or turretless APC? Or it'll put some bits in the 1:48th scale spares-box!

Then this turned-up about four weeks ago...you may remember we looked at the blind-bag clearance nearly four years ago World of Warcraft, how the starter sets can be released as clearance four years after the collectables is beyond me, but maybe it was a one-off that fell down the back of a radiator at The Works warehouse! Worth Looking out for though.

N is for New Finds, Pt.1 - AC Models and Modelscene

I was visiting my friend Jimijames down in Chandler's Ford the other day, during one of our big storms, needless to say when I got to Eastleigh the trains were all shot to buggery and so - having a few minutes (!) to spare - I went for a wander. A few hundred years found me out side AC Models, an old-school model shop, redecorated to a modern standard, filled with goodies and staffed by really friendly, helpful and knowledgeable staff.

I wandered in, had a mosey-nosey about and found that Modelscene are now issuing the old Merit figures unpainted on sprues consisting of three old sets together. I bought two straight away!

Further study (ha! Further 2 minutes on Google!) reveals a third set (5200); being the various passenger sets. I assumed they must be the original sprues from the Merit days, but Paul (Morehead - Plastic Warrior) reminded me that the Army were produced in khaki plastic at one point and the other two sets weren't, so it would seem that Peco / Guagemaster / PPP have made up a new mould with the old cavities from the three old mould-sets brought together. The Boy Scouts cart is loose in the other card's blister along with a steel axle, cut to length.

They (AC Models) also had a 50p rummage bin, and the next day I returned and bought another Triang cable-drum flat and some accessories from the recent Hornby military sets along with a set of bear-naked ladies! We've looked at the Hummers already Here, while the - full-price - Preiser rudie-nudie beach-babes will feature in a post one day with the Noch naughties and one or two other items in a similar NSFW vein!

The cable-drum carriers are for a retirement project and I have collected (amassed?) various flats in tin-plate, die-cast and plastic with Matchbox, Elmont and other road vehicles, along with the Airfix telegraph pole set, and various cable drums painted and transferred, kit and commercial, it is intended to get one of the big steel-mill kits from Atlas/Terminal/Walther's, cut it down the centre-line, mount it against a painted backdrop and have a marshalling-yard for all the cable-drum lorries and rail wagons laid out in front...one day!

While I was there I also grabbed a few Zvezda sets, they are simply exquisite, and while you only get four or so figures or a small AFV, AT or Flak-gun, they are only 1.99! They are made out of a very pure (?) styrene, which looks and feels at first like an ethylene, soft'ish to the finger-tips and very shiny, but when you apply a spot of glue you get a neat and instant weld, and realise that it's actually a hard plastic when you have to mend the grenade!

Old fashioned high-street model shops are as rare as rocking-horse shit these days and so to find a new one is a nice surprise and given that my childhood memories of model-shops is one of them all peopled by miserable sods who sighed all the time, it's a double bargain to find such nice staff and pleasant atmosphere.

AC have a website here AC Models, but try and visit them, these few survivors need all the patronage they can get, I'll definitely be going again! They have a second half next door which may have been Gaming/Role-play or R/C stuff - I don't know because I didn't have time to visit it!

L is also for Lyntek (ЛИНТЕК)

Coming from Yekaterinburg in the Urals, this set is hard to age, but I think quite recent, the quality of detail and sculpting being easily as good as anything Zvezda or Engineer Bassevich are producing today, and the material is an advanced polypropylene or modern ethylene 'hybrid' not the soft ethylene of the Soviet era, nor the brittle styrene of that period.

Three troops and an officer - who is slightly taller - and a nice painting guide based on an old print, whether the other poses were available is something I don't know, these four constitute a complete set, nestling behind the card in a heat sealed bag just big enough for the card and figures. It would be nice if a drummer was included in some bags, anyone know for sure?

Thanks to Steve Vickers for the sets in the last three posts and Mimi for translating!

L is for Leningrad Forging Factory

These are an interesting set of figures - I had been picking up grey plastic sub-machine gunners since before the fall of the Berlin Wall and the tearing of the iron Curtain in 1989, to which a decade or so ago I managed to add a grenade thrower, all in hard styrene plastic to a standard 40mm compatible with Elastolin and Lineol smallies.

I then ran into fellow collector Chris Smith who carried a very wide range of Soviet era figures at the Plastic Warrior show in Richmond for several years, he had a few and we got chatting, he told me there were silver versions (I may have bought one at the time?) and that there were also an officer and flag-bearer but that they were quite hard to get.

The reason for that rarity is simple to see when you get the set complete, there was only one 'commander' and one flag-bearer per set and only two grenade throwers for every six 'automatic men'. With the flag easily damaged it's no wonder they are impossible to locate!

The title of the set is simply 'Soldiers' and you can see from the underside that while so-called experts might mutter "vac-metallised" under their breaths, the figures are just sprayed silver on a conveyor of some kind which prevents the paint covering the base underside, revealing the more common grey plastic colour.

Monday, February 24, 2014

P is for Progress (Пpоrресс)

This set came into the fold a couple of weeks ago, made by the Soviet Russian 'development company 'Пpоґресс, which I'm assured translates to Progress, it is a lovely set of 'Rus' warriors through the ages. The direct translation of the cover is 'Glory to Russian Weapons', I suspect the meaning is; Glory of Defence of Russia, or; 'defenders of Russia'?...Russian defence...something like that.

Painted to a basic standard on red polystyrene flats and tied in with plastic coated wires - a practice the Chinese were also adopting at this time (1991) albeit with clear or black plastic casing, rather than the coloured sleeves used here). They have not been placed in any particular order, but from the left (ignoring the biro'd numbers) are believed to be;

Dragoon - War of 1812
Hussar - War of 1812
Partisan - War of 1812
Ulan - War of 1812
Warrior of the XVI (16th) Century
Warrior of the XIII (13th) Century
Infantry - War of 1812
Militia (Volunteer?) - War of 1812

The two early ones are open to question and could be the other way round, the difference seeming to be length of coat and number of buttons! I love this set and was going to blog it with those little dancer/ethnic dress plastic flats from the Far east, but forgot the were in storage, but they are very similar and when I do blog them I'll link back to these for a direct comparison.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

J is for Jeep & Gun from J & L Randall

A quick addition to the small family of much copied 1950's pocket money toys we looked at Here which I picked-up a while ago from Adrian, in fact he couldn't find the gun so I held-fire on posting it for a month or two, but it turned-up in another box the other day!

I then thought I'd lost it somewhere on the rail network getting my ticket out, but I'd 'tidied' it into the wrong box and it turned-up for the second time a week or two later! It's now firmly all together in a self-seal bag, waiting for the Merit box to come out of storage.

A similar card to the 'jig-toys' that Randall sold, both as Bell and Merit. I managed to label this Randell with an 'e' but couldn't be arsed to change it as there's a cost to reloading this stuff if you're stupid enough to rely on Vodafone for your internet!

Friday, February 21, 2014

News, Views Etc...All Sorts

Since I've been diagnosed with Asperger's I am able to be both more critical of myself and more self-depreciating...while remaining arrogantly self-assured underneath!

One of my foibles is....I like order...and it was my intention to continue with the Hong Kong small scales until I'd finished the British from Britains and Crescent sculpts, then after a week or so - once everyone had seen them - was going to use the new time-of-posting change feature to stack them up in reverse order so 'Type 1' was at the top of the page with the others in numerical order below them! In the past I would have loaded them in the right order and published them all at once!

However the need to pop a panicked message up here last night re. the hacking of my eMail means that that plan is now untidy, it's not going to look right (in my head - you can only ever see one or two posts on the screen!), so I will publish a few other thing that are stuck in the queue, and return to HK Brits next week or so after I've taken a few more photographs. Having mentioned Giant at the end of the last post I know a few of the incurables will be twitching, but they'll just have to sit on their proverbial for a day or few!

In the meantime there are a few bits and bobs to clear so we'll have a quick News,Views etc...

One Inch Warrior Magazine

Paul Morehead at Plastic Warrior dropped me a line the other day pointing out that there are still a few back issues of the old small scale sister magazine; 1W.

Limited numbers of issues 3-11 are still to be had of what was (and remains) the only magazine dedicated to small scale figures. This author contributed a certain amount to the publication and I have published an index for it on here somewhere.

Anyone looking to fill their missing numbers should eMail Paul directly at; pw.editor@ntlworld.com

Plastic Warrior Magazine

I also popped round to see Paul the other day and drop off the Doctor Who kit figures I'd grabbed for him and mentioned the website wasn't working before Christmas and he pointed out it was a temporary measure in the Autumn and is now up and running again, but will eventually be dropped in favour of the combined new Facebook/Blogger platforms.

I've checked it and it is up and running again! Link is to the top right of this page.

Horrible Histories

Paul also mentioned that Peter Evans (PW's roving reporter) had dropped into the UK Toy Fair in January (I used to go and aught to start doing so again?!!) where he had seen the second tranche of HH blind Bag figures, these were said to be due to have an April release date I believe.

Yet I also believe it won't happen - The entire range was heavily discounted in the run-up to Christmas as I reported at the time in my attempts to track down the last few figures. And they were HEAVILY discounted - sets that were previously around 12-odd quid were going for £3 in Toys'R'Us as well as the Entertainer chain, while on-line everybody - including the traders on Amazon - was shifting all sets and figures for next to nothing.

Now it may be that the profit target had been met and they just wanted to clear the selves, but they were discounting the core and starter-sets as well, so I think it was 'claerance'. Equally, while they may have taken them to the show for real, I suspect it had more to do with saving face (they won an award at a previous Toy Fair) or because they had designed the stands and had nothing else to fill the gaps?

I hope they do appear; as you know, I've done what I can to promote them, they are a lovely bunch of figures, but I've heard nothing from the PR company since the late summer of last year and there's nothing happened on the website for the longest time?

What it does mean is that the new figures have been down the production line of some vast factory in China and - even if they don't see the light of day under the current marketer - will turn-up as clearance somewhere in the next two or three years for sure...lorry-loads of them.

Help Needed - I

Can anyone help identify/put a name to this company, it's a Hong Kong producer, copying German and Italian figures, tin-plate toys and animals.

Shown is my vague attempt at the logo litho-printed (tin-plate) or raised (plastic) on the toys/items produced by them...

Star Wars Names

This was passing round Facebook the other day....take the first three letters of you last name [Wal]ter and add the first two letters of your first name [Hu]gh to get your Star Wars first name.

Then take the first two letters of your mothers maiden name [Ha]ll and add the first three letters of the town or city where you were born [Ald]ershot to get you Star wars second name.

Walhu Haald is mine, what's yours?

Some Links of Interest

Jean Pierre Seguin This is a bit old hat now, and while some of the previous artists we've seen have used their imagination, this guy seems to have jumped on the bandwagon with a pixellation programme in tow...or am I being unkind?

Sd.Kfz. 8/DB 10 Rare as rocking-horse shit armoured half-track recovery and restoration.

Haribo - again! Where will the stupidity end!!

New Pages

The pages I've added so far have been up for a while now and had a few hundred hits each but little feedback - I take that as a good sign! If anybody would like me to produce other pages let me know and I will see what I can do, likewise corrections or additions are welcome and will be credidted.

Pages coming soon include; Gauge/Ratio/Scale/Size, Polymers, Other Materials, Manufacturing Terminology, Marks and Markings, Abbreviations and a 'general glossary', can anyone suggest other subjects they might like to see?

Help Needed II

Can anyone identify these....I know they were early premiums in - probably - breakfast cereal over here (UK) and always assumed they were Siku mouldings, but now I'm not so sure, can anyone tell us who made/supplied them and where else/with what else they were given away...margarine? Soap powder? There were wild animals as well and domestic/woodland types and they are a dense hard polystyrene 'Ivorene'

That's it for now, thanks for visiting, following etc...H

Thursday, February 20, 2014

E is for eMail

At some point in the last 24 hours my Hotmail was compromised and some stuff has been sent out to people in my address book...don't open it, it will be some sort of spam. I seem to be back in control now? Anything with today's date is suspect as I've only just found this out (18:40hrs) H


So I think I've replied to everyone who got the spam-mails, it was the most bizarre hacking, they seem to have sent quite innocuous links to Mining Companies, Good Housekeeping and a Stationary Wholesaler!

The lesson for everyone is change your password occasionally (I haven't changed mine for years) and make it complicated (mine was geographical, numerical and had punctuation), but don't rely on it because it's a good one, in the end a robot-programme  will get through.

I was hacked at 6.40am while asleep with the laptop turned off, so this was an automated attack on Hotmail's servers, by 6.44 they had sent 10 emails from my account to 60-odd people from my address book, and moved-on...to someone else's account no doubt!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

I is for Intermediate Imposters

So holding the link with Blue Box - but generations beyond them - come the intermediate sets, the first two having the BB poses, the third; the penny bases.

There are penny bases on some of the poses in the type 15 sets, but not all of them, and while the sculpt quality is similar in both sets there are notable differences making the two sets separate and I wouldn't be surprised to learn that either the originating factories were close rivals OR close co-operators, perhaps owned by relatives!

The first set which I'm calling 15a come in a wide range of subdued greens, oranges and yellows, quite a dune-like or desert palate methinks? I have a soft spot for these, they were common when I was a kid (in both versions) and have the toy charm that can only come with bright colours.

The second version (15b) are slightly smaller, have a more limited palate of colours and different base markings, it's as if they are trying to be the others, but whether that is to fulfil orders or to steal market share has been lost in the mists of time

Comparison with both types, 15a, green; to the left in all shots. You can see how chunky yet smaller the type b's are, with the larger markings and broader rims to the bases.

The other interim design doesn't get numbered in the sequence at all, this is due to the fact that while they have penny bases, the poses are nearly all new, there are no Crescent poses present and I remember these being on sale in the late 1970's (the two jade ones came in a Lucky Bag from the newsagent off Pleasant Valley road in Saffron Walden in 1978!), so they are quite late for this type of figure...the 1980's and 90's belonged to the Matchbox and 54mm Airfix piracies!

There are two base sizes for each of the 8 poses - some obvious some just a tad, all being the Britains Herald figures with the exception of the kneeling firer, who looks more like the Wend-Al figure! there is also evidence of multiple moulds with difference in size and etched detail.

Therefore despite the bases, this is a stand alone set, copies of copies, poorly executed and belonging neither in the penny based sequence nor the coming family of Britains/Crescent from the source of Giant.

B is for British Boys by Blue Box, Pt. II - Penny Based

So we move to the figures I call - for obvious reasons - the 'penny-based' family. These start with Blue Box 30mm originals, move through the Hornby-Triang commission and then get into the realms of copies and copies of copies until we're looking at 20/23mm blobs that could be used to reinforce the old Combat Group from Airfix.

I would suppose that in order to fulfil the Triang contract for Battle Space figures a  permanent change was made to the bases, which meant that when green figures were required by BB for their own issues, they too appeared with the new discs.

The top row above are the hard plastic (polystyrene) figures from Blue Box that replaced the older kidney-based figures. The figures themselves are exactly the same as the older ones, in the same five Crescent poses, led by the Britains Herald officer.

Eventually, like the US troops there was a soft (polyethylene) issue - unlike the US troops though, these were painted as the older figures had been. The shade of green varies so I've shot a darker group and a lighter group to give some idea of the variation.

Decoration on  these was crude, as with all BB figures, what I call the stab-and-hope school of painting - the impressionist period! There was a variation; smaller figures on smaller bases, so far I have only found three, in two poses - the figures bottom centre; standing firing and the radio operator.

There are also a few Polypropylene figures in a tinny-sounding rigid 'soft' plastic, there is no visual difference at all, but I've shown one bottom right for the hell of it! Other shots are colour variations and a shrinkage figure who appears to have gone to the Airfix Paratrooper training school!

There is no real reason for numbering the soft plastic ones as type 3, but with the extra bases it sort of makes sense. The Battle Space figures on the other hand only get a 'b' as they are to all extents the same as the green styrene figures, but in brown! There is a type 2c, the unmarked based figures that come between the BB set and the grey set, which being all new poses (albeit very similar to the Blue Box figures) deserves a number outside the sequence.

All the above types were also looked at in the previously referenced earlier post Here, so apart from lining them up there's not much new here.

Close-ups of a size variation or two and the bases, along with decent views of the two type x prone poses. The smaller grey officer seems to be standard mould shrinkage (his chest has swelled as it fills with the plastic withdrawing from the extremities), however the smaller (unmarked) type 2c brown figure is a separate moulding, and - along with the smaller based type 3's - would seem to point toward mould damage leading to the x type being developed to replace the old Blue Box moulds?

However, before the mould was replaced it was run with various colours of soft ethylene by Blue Box and a seventh figure was added (type 4 above), namely; the standing firing pose from Britains Herald, similar to but distinct from the Crescent firer who had been run since the kidney based days of the late 1950's/early 1960's.

As this was all happening around the time of the Triang figures, the shrunken officer and the smaller bases, it all points to the moulds coming to the end of their useful life, although these figures are very clean and well detailed so they were probably cleaned-up at the same time as the additional figure's inclusion.

Type 5 are pretending to be Blue Box, but are smaller, and made from a more modern glossy polymer. Probably Ri-Toys, they came painted (a) and unpainted (b) and there has been a slight loss of size and detail.

The subsequent types listed above take us firmly into the realm of sub-piracy's, ie; those figures form small Hong Kong manufacturers, who rather than bothering to go to the source material (Crescent and Britains 54mm figures), just copy the copies from their 'rivals' down the alleyway, across the road or at the other end of the industrial park!

7a and 7b are the same mouldings with different base markings, they have yet to come together in the same lot, so can be considered different 'sets'.

A closer look at the type 4; Size differences point to a second set of mould inserts and as can be seen from the officer this is not a case of the coloured ones being later, both sizes come in both colours in the same lots and were clearing running together...by the 1970's there was more wealth in the west and greater demand for pocket-money toys. The second mouldings are clearly both smaller and thinner than the first and will have been copied from the earlier set. Along with the problems already covered it's another pointer to the death of the Blue Box/model railway's penny-based British Infantry.

There's also a close-up of the new Herald pose and the grenade-thrower on the far right has been caught by the machinery and pinched in half!

Comparison between the above figures, excluding the Triang-Hornby sets, with a size comparison and the various base markings. Photographing the bases is - to put it mildly - an inexact science!...trying to get then all readable, in focus and out of glare or flash-back at the same time is not easy. Also, these three shots are not to the same scale.

A heat-shrink top left and the marking variation of the 7's. Also shown here is a close-up of type X2, this is not actually a true member of the penny based family, as it is a throw-back from some figures we'll be looking at in about three posts time (if I've got my head round these!). As a pose it seems to be the torso of the Britains Herald charging with pack attached to the Britains Swoppet mortar crewman's legs!

The final true penny based figures based on the Blue Box offering (we will look at the 'interim' sets next) are mainly in small samples of poor quality and were mostly issued with Lucky Bags or in Christmas Crackers, in small quantities - often only one or two. As a result they are hard to find or amass in quantity, and there will almost certainly be other poses missing from the above samples, and other types/sub-types still to be annotated into the family/oeuvre.

Another size-comparison shot - the final figure (type 14) is every bit compatible with the contemporary Airfix 23mils and most of these late figures can be painted-up and used with that size of war gaming figures. Some of these - if not all - will be copies of copies of copies.

The weapon used by all the British Infantry figures in the penny based family - and the later figures we will be looking at soon - is the EM2, a bull-pup designed automatic weapon which never saw service. Wikipedia EM2 page states it did, but uses few references, mostly a single Canadian work. The fact is that it was given a designation; the Rifle, Number 9, but outside of the Demonstration Battalion at the School of Infantry, Warminster saw little or no 'real' service.

The Demo. Btn. would have provided the troops for press-days (and the Lulworth Cove fire-power demo's) in the Cold War, from whence it (the EM2) would have garnered column inches in the tabloids, and through them the boys magazines and annuals. This coverage of it led to Britains, Crescent, Lone*Star and Taffy Toys adopting it for their toy and model soldiers.

Interestingly, the first Zang Herald figure was equipped with a Lee Enfield and the latter Swoppets had SLR's.

The beauty of these small scale copies is that the external appearance of the weapon is similar to the modern SA80 and when painted these figures make better late 1980's figures than they ever made 1960's troops!