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.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

A is for Accident!

This came in the other day, quite by accident, and not much of a cautionary tale as most collectors have 'been there' at least once! Saw a lot on evilBay, biggish, mixed lot with one or two nice pieces in it, three tight-wads had bid it up to 3-quid-something between them.

So I though (as you do!) I'll do the seller a favour by bidding it up a bit! Whacked in a £25 shot and forgot all about it...several days later found a demand for payment of nineteen-odd quid in my in-tray!

There were various other useful bits in the lot, so I'm happy with the hammer price, and this was in the lot - Timpo 'solid' knight (King Richard III, the Lionheart)...it's lost a fair bit of the transfers, but equally it's retained a fair bit of the transfers, so?

The colours - even on this tatty one - are so vibrant, they must have looked stunning originally, some lucky collectors probably have them near-mint, but this will do me...well happy!

The shield is the problem, the flag just looks a bit battle-worn! Funny thing is; I think I have a shield with a near-perfect transfer in storage somewhere without the mounting spigot, so at some point in the future I'll have to bite the bullet and try and swap them, which risks ruining them both, but will make an interesting post in a few years time!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

H is for Hong Kong Romans

A new page has gone up looking at the Hong Kong 25mm'ish Romans (Trojans?) from Giant and their ilk. it's at the top of the page, or here; Hong Kong Romans

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

S is for Solpa's Senior Size

Blog follower Kostas from Greece kindly sent me a load of stuff to help with the Airfix Blog, and that is slowly being introduced or used over there, he also sent me a batch of Solpa images for the same purpose, some of which are more mixed in origin or subject matter, so I'm popping them up here for the general collector to peruse.

'Wild West', around the 54mm bracket, these would have come seperated into Cowboys and Indians I believe, and seem to be 'based on' rather than straight piracies of other makes figures, The Blue one; front, right, is intesting as I have several of this figure in different sizes, from Italy? Possibly a board-game piece? Possibly another maker?

Copies of Airfix and Britains WWII and Modern infantry types with a copy of a Lucky Products astronaut, who would have provided a slightly oversized enemy for the robots we looked at here.

Close-up of three of the figures, Solpa must have been quick off the mark to get the copy of the Airfix modern Russian into their range! I wonder if the Britains copy is from another source, he looks a bit crude for Solpa?

There are single-set images of these piracies - in more realistic colours - waiting in the queue for the Airfix Blog, but I almost prefer theses 'wacky' colours! A mix of clones; Airfix Japanese and Paratroops are the donors this time.

Some of the accessories that accompanied the boxed sets of figures, very 'Hong Kong' in execution, Solpa seemed never-the-less to produce domestically, or - if they did import - it was through a pretty exclusive contract-producer in the (former) colony?

Thank you Kostas!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

D is for "Dad...I 'fink I got it wrong again!"

Well, I've finally committed myself to the ultimate madness, I'm putting my archive on-line. I've spent the last week or two preparing 11 new Blogs, which - while 'live' - have mostly got nothing on at the moment. I have posted about 50 listings/cross-references on the 'A' page, and last night got 30-odd on the XYZ-Numerals page. More will come!

The numerals are easy, there's only 70-odd and while they are going 'at the end' now, I've always archived them at the front, before 'A', so they've had the most work, and are closest to ready!

The reason it's got to go on 11 separate Blogs is simply the tag-limit Blogger imposes, which is 2,000 tags per blog. With at least 880 'A's, and all the cross-references and individuals to be added, letters like A, M and S needed a blog to themselves. At some point some Blogs (I'm thinking of them as pages!) may be combined - or split - that remains to be seen.

At the current rate of progress, it will take about 20 years to get the estimated 22,000 entries up...so this will remain an ongoing work for the rest of my useful life! Contributions, updates and any relevant information will be welcomed and can be left in the comments, or eMailed. Obviously the more entries that are published the longer it will take to update them, but we'll see how it develops!

I'm checking everything as I go, some folders haven't been visited for years and it was in updating the 50-fifty entry last night that I found a new catalogue, had a flick through it and found these...

I don't think much of the fridge magnets, the red-force seem hopelessly outnumbered with nowhere to go, but the bottle-opener is an absolute 'must', but for the toy box, not opening bottles...I can see those arms breaking after not much use? They should both be in gift shops or catering-equipment shops by now, or certainly; will be in time for Christmas?

It also makes for a good example of what's happening here with these new Blogs; it's a simple listing, of a current company...

...so I just need to update my folder with a download of the catalogue, keep the link, shove two previous edits of the 'main entry' together, add a cropped out logo, hyper-links & tags, and it's done!

Someone like Marx on the other hand...

...looks quite neat on the dongle, until you delve into the folders...

 ...some don't look to bad...

...some are going to take weeks of work...

...while others need a lot of sorting out!

But there are some hi-def treasures in there still waiting for the full light of day...that sequence of images in the 'kins folder is a complete 'book' format set of fairykins. But you can see that while I'm throwing-up some easy ones to get the ball rolling, a full Marx listing will scroll of tens of yards! And Blue Box are in three different places!

But...now you know where I am if I'm not blogging here on the 'Home' Blog for the next few years! I'll get back to the numerals now...still 30-odd to do.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

G is for Good Gun, Gormless Guys...

Quick box-ticker from the Winter photo-session. With everyone doing the dreaded '88, it was a nice touch for Nitto to provide a model of another Flak type.

This model is now in Fujimi's stable, and still has the horrid figures attached!That's it really, should make it up, but haven't got round to it yet.

C is for Cedar (of Lebanon)

Saving the best 'till last! Actually my favourite is the large fir tree, but I don't have one! When I was sorting them out a few years back I did get to check-over the fir and like the poplar it's a superb example of the Britains sculptor's/designer's art, with a realistic outcome...but the cedar is a close runner-up...

This picture was taken back in 2008 when I was sorting those trees, I wish I'd done all of them but I didn't. This is the correct distribution of foliage fronds/sub-branches in a mint, boxed example.

What the whole pile looks like straight out of the box...or click-shut bag in this case! The cedar uses the trunk design of the oak tree, but with different plug-in branches and with a new surface-detail applied to the bark.

Each branch takes three fronds, two underneath and one on top, overlapping the other two, the system is more random with the oak...less symmetry. These are - like the Scots Pine - a harder plastic to help keep them rigid and give the layered look of a real-life cedar.

Then the branches are applied to the trunk, as with the other trees, there is very little fowling, the positioning has been carefully designed to allow pretty much random placing of fronds on branches and branches on tree.

Done

From the side

Bird's eye view

Monday, July 27, 2015

T is for Two - Soft Metal 40-mils

Another excuse to shift a few pictures from the lap-top! The old 40mm standard of the 19th century, which has held-on by dint of the model railway hobby using it for O Gauge, or Scale 7, which can equate to anything between 1:40th to 1:45th depending on what's being modelled.

Bassett Lowke produced a small range of 'character' figures for their O gauge range and this is one of them (!??). Unfortunately he's in a bit of a state, and might be Charley Chaplin, or he might be Neville Chamberlain, both of whom featured in the set (apparently - I can only find Chaplin).

I'm guessing Chaplin, but with those trousers? The seller told me he was Chaplin the first time I saw him, but Chamberlain the next time...doh! And my Googleing has found a different Chaplin pose, no Chamberlain and figures with thinner green bases, so it may not even be what I've just told you it is! Life huh? Gets Bassett Lowke in the tag list, even if under false pretence!

These are by Heyde, the famous old German firm and represent 'Balkan' bicycle troops from the turn of the last Century...Serbs? Croats? Serbo-Croats? If I know one thing...best not go there...they're lovely figures, wonderfully made and an unusual subject, that's enough.

W is for Willows - Wispy and Weeping

I don't know which came first, and haven't checked which of the two ran when, but the 'Willow Trees' had an illustration that showed weeping willows, yet the supplied foliage, despite being soft PVC, didn't really do the weeping job very well, probably why the were called plain 'willows'...

Wispy...

My only box, rather; a carded bag! But it will suffice to give an idea of the others. You got two trees in this set, always matching vis-a-vis plastic and vinyl colour batches.

The component break-down is similar to the others we have looked at, with the vinyl foliage replacing the polyethylene of the other trees.

There was a vast range of colour batches with this set, bases, trunks and foliage varied enormously from pack to pack. The fact that this was one of the cheaper sized sets, and was also included in some of the larger farm play-sets, means that more were produced, so more colours were tried.

A mid-green one made-up and photographed from various angles.

My childhood ones, actually I bought them as a teenager, in a toy shop in Alderney in the Channel Islands, where they were at the back of large wooden selves among all the inflatable toys and Bucket & Spade sets. Often a source of old toys, these seaside gift-shops.

I can't remember if the instructions called for heat to be applied, or if it's in an old war gaming book or magazine (Terry Wise?), or if I just had the thought, but I took a cigarette lighter to the right-hand one to make a proper weeping willow by literally 'brushing' the flame over the point where the fronds meet. I think it works quite well?

All right...hidden in a hedge with other trees from mixed makes and having a Tiger Tank placed in front of it; it looks OK!

Weeping...

Britains did have a go at a full-on 'weeping' willow, note that all the components are different. Getting the fronds to attach to the little keys is a nightmare, and the effort is, well...

...wasted...

...utterly wasted!

Looks good with Dinosaurs though...

Sunday, July 26, 2015

News, Views Etc...Bits, Bobs, Blue Box and a Battleship

I've so much for a 'News, Views' post that I'm going to hold back the links for another day, although I've been sitting on them for so long now, some have been published elsewhere, so I'll get this one out of the way...

Takara-Tomy (assuming everyone has a smart 'fone and high-speed link, this takes ages to load)
Japanizer (quicker loading Blog)
Little Plastic Man (has adopted them as his banner image and taken new pictures)

Little Rubber Guys, Plastic Warrior magazine and others have also covered them and evilBay dealers are selling complete sets.

Andy Warhol once said that "Pop will eat itself", and this is a prime example of what he was getting at. Minions or Turtles? I know, lets make Super-dooper Teenage Hero/Ninja/Mutant Minion-turtles! You can't have two sets of characters from two imaginary universes combined, it dilutes both, and to a certain extent....breaks the fantasy.

There's a lot of this around, I've seen Star Wars Turtles, Simpson's Minions, Super Hero Minions of the Marvel/DC variety and almost every day there is a new take on a couple of old memes.

Those who think I'm being a humourless stick-in-the-mud are missing the point that it represents a lack of imagination, a lack of new ideas, a need to regurgitate two old ideas to sell more crap to consumers in order that the 'Bread and Circus' take their minds off the coming storm of likely extinction within the lifetimes of people already born...because of that consumerism!

Weird search-terms department: Concept Art Foreign Legion Buckets! Brought someone to this Blog! I hope they found what they were looking for...

Many thanks to Nazar Marchenko of Russia, who kindly sent me these two, back in March; the missing poses from my sample of Blue Box Japanese Infantry. He didn't want anything in return, just thought I should have them in my collection! I have got a 'wants' list out of him and will try to find something nice to return the favour...Thank you Nazar.

Andrew Boyce emailed me with images of a ship he's looking for a maker's name for. I've run the usual suspects past him conversationally; Comet/Authenticast, Trafalgar and Wiking, but it's not really detailed enough for them I feel?

It's quite large, and hollow-cast at about 12cm long. As Andrew points out the profile is quite good, but from other angles it's toy-like with a single gun moulded on the axis-line of each turret.

Can anyone suggest a name/maker for this rather nice looking toy. Could it be a board-game piece, or an under-scale accessory for a boxed-set of flats?

In Andrews words...

"The original was in about 3 colours, grey, green, brown sprayed on. It may have been original. I have repainted it in a water-based grey paint which should be removable. I have seen about 3 other models in this series.

Suggestions for it have included a wartime toy, a recognition model (the profile is good, although the top view is not- one gun in turrets where there should be two) or a model used on a plotting board as seen in many old war films.

There are lengths of wire for the masts. I actually like it for its crudeness!"

So do I Andrew!

Having slagged-off their ridiculous pricing of the old (and simplified) gun emplacement in a rant a while ago, I feel I should balance my neutral credentials by pointing-out that this new play-set reissue is a bargain, only by a few quid, but nevertheless it is a cheap way of getting the whole Napoleonic oeuvre from Airfix, including the farm and the accessory set.

The various links to this set on press releases and the Hornby website don't make clear that the accessory set is included, but it definitely is.

Finally - some toys in advertising and promotion seen recently, magna-whatevers used in some financial 'vehicle' bollocks and toy soldiers on a book.

S is for Scots...Pine

Capturing the look of the real tree quite effectively, the Scots Pine gives a bit of height to a war games table, and with no low branches can have 'stuff' parked under it, a radio-shack truck or sneaky '88 Flak always looks good!

Standard list of parts, base (ethylene), bough  & branches in a harder plastic that can be bent into shape and a set of foliage, with this tree the foliage seems to be made out of the same denser-plastic as the trunks, not so it can be bent, but rather to retain a level of rigidity?

Made-up.

Another angle.

T is for Two...Bagged Spacemen

Comparison between an American hard plastic (polystyrene) original and a soft plastic (polyethylene) Hong Kong generated copy. Neither gives a brand, and while the original is unpainted, the clone is given a three-colour stab-and-hope scheme of pink-flesh, black and silver 'highlights'.

The note on the back of the Hong Kong example - in James Opie's inimitable hand - tells us it was purchased in Islington (London) in March 1962 for the princely sum of sixpence - we (my brother and I) were still getting sixpence pocket-money in 1969, and it went a long way, especially if they were a few weeks in arrears when the Bank of Mum & Dad paid-out!

I think the 'A-OK' is by Ajax, a little smaller that the Archer space family, and distinctive by dint of the concertina elbow and knee joints.

B is for Beech: Young Copper Beech

Britains did do a green 'standard' beach, but it was sold as a 'silver birch'! Basically this is the silver birch, with red-brown leaves and - usually - a darker truck, my example seems to have been put-together from bits and has the silver-grey trunk of a birch and some non-matching foliage.

Twistable tree moulding and integral branches in a dense plastic, probably a polypropylene, with an ethylene base and foliage.

Given it's dodgy heritage, it looks OK for a younger tree, but not quite one of the the mighty boughs you see in those woodlands on the downs around Hindhead or Haslemere in Surrey! To be fair: it was sold by Britains as 'Young Beech'!

Colour variation of the foliage.

R is for Rosedale

Another Box-ticker really, large scale (120mm figure?) farm tractor from (or marked) Rosedale. Actually an 'imprint' of and the parent for Tudor*Rose, and I really only photographed it because I thought it identified the pieces I've been digging-up at the bottom of my Mother's garden, but in fact they are from a similar-sized but different model!

Rosedale used to be a confusing moniker to me, as while it is not a 'Smith' or 'Jones', and seems unusual (as a brand name) there seemed to be several users of the title and for years I couldn't work out who they all were or if - for the most part - they were related or not.

1 - This Rosedale was one of several brands used by Rosedale Associates the company started by Norman Rosedale and one of the companies close to Islyn Thomas/Thomas Toys (see FIM Vol.II for more). This is the one I think of as Tudor*Rose.

2 - There was a Canadian branch (Bonar Rosedale Plastics?) who seem to have used Rosedale in preference to the Tudor*Rose more common over here, and continued to do so later (1980's?) than the T*R mark became ubiquitous in the UK.

3 - Rosedale Figurines, now part of Fleurbaix Toy Soldiers made soft, poured or centrifugally cast, white-metal figures in various larger (54mm-up) scales.

4 - Rosebud...where the confusion stemmed from, and (I've just Googled it) still seems to. Rosedale/Tudor*Rose seem to have had a 'Rosebud' doll, but a company called Rosebud near Northampton also made toys and dolls in plastic. A listing on the Internet right now describes "Vintage sweet little tudor rose or rosebud hp doll 1950s in darling outfit". Rosebud - the company - was responsible for the model train kits in HO gauge taken-over by Airfix. The rest of the company was absorbed by Mattel in 1967 becoming Rosebud-Mattel for a while.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

P is for Poplar (Lombardy not Plastics)

Continuing with the Britains trees, we look at the cleverest. The construction of the poplar tree is very ingenious, bears little relationship with the other trees in the range, obviously the materials, base and foliage are in the same pattern, but the way it's all put together to look like a poplar tree - which it does; is just incredibly clever.

The truck is broken down into small interlocking sections, like swoppet figures, with specialist sections at the tip and toward the base, while  another moulding for the base of the trunk is employed where it meets the base of the toy.

The four components lined-up ready for final assembly, different types of foliage are used on the different sections in order to further enhance the look and get round the difficulties presented by the challenge of producing a toy poplar tree which looks like a real-life poplar!

It works! There is a slight flatness to the sections of foliage, but my Grandparents had a row of poplars in the drive when we were kids and from memory I know this is pretty good.

A few years ago (nearly ten!) I had the job of sorting a load of trees for a dealer and remember these suffering from brittleness in the foliage, but mine seems OK still (fingers crossed), so it's probably a luck-of the draw thing with them?

N is for Nom-nom-nomnivore!

Yes! Back to figural edibles! Picked these up in a conveniace store in Basingrad the other day, but don't know how widespread they are.

Jungle Buddies from Au'some, there is a parent company in the 'States, these are courtesy of Au'some UK Limited, made of the same soft, slightly floury jelly of the original Jelly Babies (Bassett's?). believe it or not, the one on the right hand side is supposed to be a monkey...they are very nice. Box Ticked.