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. I will 'bite the hand that feeds' to remind it why it feeds.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

W is for World Dolls/World Dancers Part 2

Actually the first subjects are called 'Dolls of Our World' but like the 'Dancers/Dancers of the World/World Dancers' they are known as World Dolls. Clearly meant to be touristy keepsakes, sold individually from tourist attractions and gift shop/kiosks, they would - most likely - have been marketed by salesmen and through wholesalers catalogues.

The original figures as sold by the Commonwealth Plastics Corp., Leominster, Massachusetts, USA, in a phenolic resinous flesh-coloured factory painted plastic (top row) from - I would guess (from the nature of the rest of the contents of the collection they came with) - 1930's-1950's. Later production was unpainted (bottom row, far left 1950's?) and finally the figures were made available in multi-coloured polystyrene (rest of bottom row 1960/70's?) with thinner bases.

Commonwealth seem to have been owned/operated by/as part of the Aero Plastics group by the Catalucci family, who's decendents have recently opened another plastics factory in Leominster called Phoenix Inc.! Research however leads to an apparently unrelated high-tech plastics company with a near-dead website called Phoenix Co.Inc. (rather than plain 'Inc.'!!) in Texas!!?!

These are copies of the Commonwealth Plastics, almost certainly from Hong Kong and came either in the ivorene plastic of European giveaways (top row) or in various shades of off white (bottom row), pantographed from the originals they are slightly smaller.

Here we have some World Dancer figures, as well-moulded as the Commonwealth ones, but by a company called Van Brode, operating out of Clinton, also in Massachusetts (so - given the size of the States - some clear connection there!). The strange lozenges are missing from the base underside which is now smooth, and they are clearly marked, most on the rear edge, but the West Indies guy has a larger marking on the underside, so at least two issues?

The connection hinted at above is not quite as clear as say - they bought the Commonwealth moulds. First; the Van Brode figurines are in pairs (like the Britains 54mm/1:32 Ethnic Dancers) with one being the musician the other the dancer. Second; the Van Brode figures are reversed (where similar to) Commonwealth poses. Footnote; Van Brode manufactured C-Rations during WWII and these figures were almost certainly a premium given away in the breakfast cereals from their mill in the (late?) 1950's. [Kent Sprecher (toysoldierHQ - link above) now has them actually putting the figures in ration packs for the Korean War - Given the number of Asian looking figures in a full set and speaking as an ex-soldier; I can think of nothing worse, while freezing in your fire-base on the Imjim River, than finding a Koren looking figurine in your Chili ConcarneMRE!!]

Here are more modern copies of both manufacturers products in 30 and 20mm. Top row; Four hard polystyrene Commonwealth poses, two with a chrome/silver over-spray, an unpainted and a basic factory paint-job. Bottom row; a soft polythene Commonwealth, probably from a Christmas Cracker, a vinyl factory painted doll I'm told is a Portuguese food premium and a baseless copy of the Van Brode Hawaiian reversed version.

Size Comparison shot of some of the above, top left to bottom right they are; Commonwealth; Early, late and 20mm copy, Commonwealth; Early, mid, late, 20mm copy and lastly; a copy of Van Brode's reversed Hawaiian dancer.


Anonymous said...

OMG! I can't believe I found this! I have those exact "dolls of our world" with those little info cards! My neighbor back in the late 60's/ 70's died and Somehow I ended up with this collection. I have trying to find out about them all my adult life almost. Are they worth anything do you thinjk?

Maverick Collecting said...

They are likely to have only the value; 'What people are willing to pay'...what I mean is that they are not sought-after like say...Matchbox Cars, or Lallique Glass, yet have an intrinsic value to people like me as being part of the 'whole picture'. Hope that helps!

Slictoys. said...

I have 2 different sets of the ivory white Van Brode dancers of the world and 1 set of the shorter, stockier, unpainted 'cream' colored international figurines. Only a few of the figures in this last series are actually dancing. The set seems to have more of an international occupational theme, and the pieces have no marking indicating the manufacturer, so I have no clue as to WHO actually made them. I do know that I acquired all 3 sets as a child of 4 or 5 years old, one figure at a time, as cereal box premiums in the early to mid 1960's. If I am not mistaken, the Van Brode figurines came in Puffed Mini Wheats cereal, and the 'cream' colored figures came in boxes of Raisin Bran. And, that's really all I know about them, other than them being a kind of cool vintage collectible.

Hugh Walter said...

Cheers Slictoys - it all helps. Did you find the updated page on them? Look for 'Dancing Dolls!' at the top of the page.