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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, February 14, 2009

W is for World Dolls/World Dancers Part 1

Right, sorry for the delay, but personal stuff has kept me away for the last few days. Having learned to do the second part first in order that they run in sequence I should have done this the same night as the Commonwealth/Van Brode post, but hey, better late than never.

Tonight's post concerns the World Dancers/World dolls known to those in the States from the adverts in comics which ran from the 50's through to the late 70's/early 80's? To Europeans from the margarine give-aways, and to the citizens of the UK from, er...I don't know what!!

The first to make an appearance were the 'Tanzerinnen' or; Female Dancers. A set of ten different figures given away as premiums with K's, Schipka and Voss (not Fri-Homa as stated on the US Comics Website [link to right], nor is there any evidence that they were among the sets manufactured by Siku), these figures (above) are not from those sets which tend to have different bases and greater detail, but have been separated from the US comic set to give an idea of the European sets.

A further word on origin; While Siku did produce a lot of the premium flats in Germany in the 1950/60's, there were many other companies in Germany, France and the Low Countries producing these, selling the product, selling/leasing the moulds and the designs and copying each other's work. Moulds (both originals and copies) ended up in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Mexico and Brazil, Singapore and Macao/Macau. Not forgetting that the early plastic flat history includes the WHW winter/war relief sets, and running plastic through 'Nuremberg Flat' moulds!

They next turn up with the US comic 100 World Dolls set, with the addition of 20 new poses, missing from the above photograph are a clown and Santa Clause on a sleigh. The US issue additions are a less quality sculpt, being much chunkier. Over the years they were sold by a number of (apparently) different companies, which are all on the US comics website.

During their lifetime the figures have turned up elsewhere, and here we see a few, on the left are two factory-painted examples, the Chinaman had an umbrella glued into his hands, both figures have the remains of card/paper and glue on their bases, and probably came in little tourist gift-shop type vignettes (these two were found separately, several years apart). Then the two on the top row - centre and right are different colours, hard plastic and may have been premiums or Christmas Cracker novelties. Centre of the bottom row shows a figure who's release pin has become stuck mid-way through the moulding process, leaving a rod of plastic sticking out of his back. Finally a soft plastic Cracker gift. [And I covered some other copies of this set under 'B is for more Betterwear' in November '08]

This is the real mystery, containing 7 of the ten dancers, and 13 of the twenty US dolls. You might think "Well the others are just lost in the mists of time?" but the group 'as found' contains exactly two of each of the figures present, making a total of 40, those two neat numbers add-up to more than a slight coincidence, so I think it's a complete 'sample'. The question is what? There are undocumented rumours that these may have been issued in UK breakfast cereal or biscuits, while the possibility remains that they could be the unsold (complete) contents of a shop-stock box as supplied to a bakers or cake-decorators? They are in a pinkish plastic.

Indeed, the pink flesh colouring of this set and the subject matter of all the sets are the main links with the sets discussed in part 2 - Below.

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