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.

Monday, March 30, 2009

T is for T34 - Prolog; The Real Things

In advance of an article I'm holding over for a few days; these were taken at Beltring last summer at the War and Peace show.

Both T34/85's there's not much else to add. The upper one is a 'Gate Guardian' at Beltring, and wasn't moving anywhere in a hurry, the lower one is a runner, and once I work out how to upload video, I'll post some video footage of it to Youtube!

Note the damage to the rubber tyres and the three different wheel types. The vehicle behind is the FV432/B, a standard 432 Trojan with the top-heavy addition of the 30mm Raden turret from a Fox armoured car. This failed experiment was supplied (surplused!) to Berlin Brigade Where they were furnished with a fetching camouflage of chocolate-brown, battleship-grey and creamy-white interlocking irregular rectangles, not the green of this example.

T is for Torres

Miguel Torres to be precise, maker of fine Spanish wine and sherry, but in order to make it a post worth viewing, there are a few others...

Above are the poses I've found so far, I'm sure there are more, each time the mould wears out - a new one being made. The Gold colour variant is probably for a premier product, in the same way that Scot's Scotch over the years has been issued with premiums of horses or Scottie dogs tying in with their 'Red Label', White Label or Black label, home/export brands etc...Pointing to the possibility of all the poses being found in Gold - eventually!

Top left is a hard plastic bull I am assuming is an earlier (1930's/1950's?) version of the Torres drinks bull, perhaps one of the Spanish followers of this blog can help?

Then the Airfix and Matchbox bulls as a size guide, with the brown bull belonging to the yellow and red guy below. I have been told he is Kinder, but this is clearly nonsense, he is marked Hong Kong, as is his Matador and a small magnet hidden behind the red cloth and within the body of the bull puts them firmly in the Joke Shop novelty 'pigeon-hole' along with the kissing teenagers, or the Stag Toy nudes who will only get out of a bath or bed if you flick them in a certain way.

The rest of the bottom row shows a polythene Torres to compare with the hard plastic one above, a Kinder Matador and a soft vinyl-rubber bull similar to the bulls produced in 54mm by Charbens and Cherilea (not to mention most - if not all of - the Spanish plastics guys), I guess he's modern HK/Chinese production for the Spanish tourist market, I have yet to find his Matador.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

T is for Truck - Prolog; The Real Things

Nothing beats the real thing, all taken at War and Peace - Beltring, last Summer


Front and rear three-quarter views of the same wagon. GMC

A very clean hard-top with the standard trailer. Chevy or Studebaker?

Nice shot showing the difference between soft and hard-top cabs on the same manufacturers chassis. Mack's?

This has the most potential for a conversion project, it's an International Fire Tender.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

T is for Truck Part 1; Overview and Odd Sizes

There are trucks that are lorries, trucks that are vans, trucks that are wagons, trucks that are big cars and trucks that are rigs, there are even trucks that are small wheel assemblies on skateboards, and then there is the US Military 'Deuce-and-a-half' 6x6 two-and-a-half-ton General Service Vehicle...Now that's a TRUCK.

Made by everybody (GMC, Studebaker, Ford, International Harvester, Chevrolet, Mack etc...), they have carried countless body types, taken weapon mounts, towed everything and in so doing - have become an iconic symbol of American military power, as they growl past in a cloud of blue exhaust fumes.

Here are some of mine (one day I'd like a real one, but I'd paint it gloss black, I'm no combat wombat!)

From your 'six' going time-wise; Polistil, Marx, Heller/Airfix, Marx, Airfix 1st version readymade, Hasegawa, Airfix 2nd version readymade, Jonny Lightning, Roco Minitanks, Marx, Comic advertised flat, MPC 'Mini' and Skytrex/Davco (?).

Missing; The T Cohen truck (just colour variants of the Airfix 1st version readymade), the new Pegasus and Academy kits and a bunch of kits from the new Eastern manufacturers. Plus various resin/white-metal efforts.

The Marx trucks, two dime-store quality toys and a Roco piracy made in Hong Kong. The copy is almost identical, but is spoilt by having lose axles, that also - in the case of the front wheels - are far too long.

Here she is next to her originator, clip-together construction meant you could have it open or closed, cab and/or body. There was a tractor version as well, and various body types were issued over the years. As far as I know the Marx copy only came as a GS body.

The rest; The Politoys one is around 1:48, but the crew are 1:76/72, the Johnny Lightning version is a bit long for it's width.

The comic book flat looks more like the front end of a half-track grafted on to a farm trailer! MPC's Mini is a single moulding, while the Skytrex/Davco (I'm not sure which trade mark this is) one has a removable tilt, unusual at this scale (1:300)

T is for Truck Part 2; Kit Stuff

What those below will hopefully look like if I ever get round to finishing them! The Hasegawa tanker body with a Cooper Craft Taskers tanker-trailer. This is one of my more recent efforts...I finished it about 15 years ago, Hey, it's a fits-&-starts thing!

Weathering was thinned gloss chocolate and gloss black for the spillage and a quick dry-brush with pale sand. Taskers were still making trailers when I was a kid and my cousins had a few on the farm for hauling grain. I reasoned that trailers were cheap and easy to produce, and with the US shipping heavy gear like tanks over the Atlantic, they might have bought/sourced some stuff over here?

Not one but two unfinished projects (the Hasegawa's are one project the Heller is another!). The Heller/Airfix kit is really nice once you get it together, but it's not easy to produce, given it's a recent moulding with all the new technology available during the design/manufacturing process, it suffers (like the Jeep released at the same time) from very poor joining points, some of the stud & holes are barely visible, and while it's a while since I built it, I seem to remember the long 'shelf's' to run the glue down and rest the other/larger parts on were problematical.

The Hasegawa ones I'm building as differently as possible, so it's screen down and no tilt for one, full cover for the other, and one's going to be dark olive, the other olive drab.

Comparison shot of the Heller/Airfix truck and Hasegawa sandwiched between the two versions of the Airfix Polyhthene readymades. On a war-games table there's nothing in it, in a line there are differences but they are slight, although the Heller truck is a bit slimmer than the others. I lined up longest at the front, I should have put it at the back but I can't be arsed to re-do the photo!

The full range of the Airfix readymades, the two colour variations of the first version on the left with a carded example behind, on the right the three main colours and a boxed second version. For a guide to the two versions see Part 3 below.

T is for Truck Part 3; Airfix Readymade

How to recognise a diamond in the dirt, the Airfix ethylene 6x6 (called the 'poly' range by some, or more commonly the 'readymade' range) came in two separate versions, first the Attack Force one, then a cruder one in the redesigned range. There are always a few kicking around the bring-&-buy, but finding the earlier, better one needs a closer look...

1st version on the left, points to note; Cleaner cab lines, clearer rivet bumps on bonnet/hood, winch with rope not an accordion! and a grill over the headlights and radiator.

1st version on the right, points to note; diamond-plate on the foot-step/running board.

1st version underneath, points to note; 2nd version is shorter, 1st has rivet detail on the drop-sides, straps round the fuel tank, and a fuel filler cap.


1st version above, points to note; on the 1st version the tyres have a rounder profile and deeper tread, the dual-wheels are thinner and both the body and tilt are numbered. This also shows the difference in length between the two.

T is for Totem Pole

I've placed 'Totem Pole' in the tag list, so if you go down there and click on it, you'll get this above the original post, so it'll be more in context. These are the ones I couldn't find when preparing the original article.

And from left to right they are; Unknown modern Hong Kong/China, from a bagged play-set with poor copies of the Airfix Cowboys and Indians; JIM from France; Starlux, also French and an unknown tourist trophy similar to the Greg Wolf one in the original post, even down to the black resin material but smaller.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A rose, by any other name, is still a thorny bastard

Well, I finally tackled my first bird's nest! This thing (I'll try and find out what it's actually called - Latin/Linean, not common, I know it's a moss-rose!) has thorns on it as close together as the hairs on a Kiwi fruit, but much longer and much stiffer! I hardly ever wear gloves in the garden, I just can't be doing with them, I like to keep in touch with what I'm doing, even if it means I have to constantly super-glue the cracks in my right thumb and forefinger until they heal (Hey, try it - it works!), but for this I did wear gloves on and off, mostly the left hand to hold while I worked with the right, but it was three weeks ago and I'm still getting thorns out of both hands!!

The before photograph, the trick is to work very slowly, first take the whole thing apart, untie everything and pull out all the remains of the old frame (which was a couple of years old, this was given a half-a-job last year) and any fallen dead wood, at the same time cut-out any dead and weedy bits from this year.

Once it's all loose, divide it into four bunches and hold them out of the way with a bit of wood, then build the new frame. I used fresh-cut hazel and went for a basket of overlapping sticks, this left four arches that were in tension with each other and in compression with themselves (I knew that bridge-building project in First Year Architecture would come in useful one day!).

Then working round the bush, cut last years growth back to the longest of this years shoots, pull the shoot under the edge of the frame, then up-and-over and finally down across the basket and tie in. After you've had the best two or three from each of you four bundles, you'll realise you've still got far too much and you can start cutting some right out. Start with those that are silvery lower down, those that have short or weedy new shoots, and then those that won't bend over very gracefully or that will snap if they're bent that far, you'll be left with the rest of the good ones which you use to 'fill the gaps'.

It took about 4 hours. I'll post it again when it's in bloom.

T is for Triang Minic Part 1; Military Vehicles

Lines Brothers had as part of their empire the Trade Mark 'Minic' which for years was synonymous with British School-boys as a maker of large sized tin-plate wind-up/Clockwork toys. In the 1950's the range began to include Dinky type die-casts, and plastic followed in the late '60's. Eventually some of these would find their way into the Triang railway (later Triang-Hornby) range. Today we're looking at some of the Minic Plastics from my collection.

Here are both versions of the 'Tank', on the left the Triang/Triang-Hornby Battle-Space rocket-firing tank, with the Minic sparking tank on the right, the hull is identical on both, with different slip-on turrets. The hull is a generic cross between the prototype Conqueror and Centurion tanks of the 1960's, while the turret of the sparker is more Conqueror. Missiles fire about 3.5 meters!

The missile mechanism was also used on two and four-round turreted bunkers as part of the Battle-Space range, the larger turret also being fitted to one of the rolling stock wagons in the same series. The tank version was re-issued in a sandy colour in 1982 as part of a short-lived 'Task Force play-set, part celebration of/part tie-in to the action in the South Atlantic (reaching it's conclusion earlier the same year) which ensured that the will of the Falkland Islander's not to have their home renamed 'Malvinas' was upheld.

Triang Minic AFV's, both vehicles in both colour-schemes. The tank is a vague Centurion, while the A/C is a generic WWII thing with an AEC'ish body and Staghound'ish turret? All fitted with a 'pull-back' motor.

These vehicles also come in blue-grey as RAF equipment, with a Cole's type crane and low-loader along with an aircraft, in a large boxed set. Civilian versions also exist. Earlier versions of these trucks - especially the civilian ones - are subject to warping and were made with some form of phenolic plastic, later ones however; are a more stable styrene compound.

T is for Triang Minic Part 2 ; Civilian Vehicles

Three of the Civilian lorries with a military one for comparison, these were a 'mid-budget' range, more expensive than the Tudor Rose/Pyro end of the market and would have been competing with similar vehicles by Wells Brimtoy, Palitoy and Co. The cab is generic, but has shades of AEC/Guy. Note also; the two different wheel/tyre types.

Earlier versions of these trucks - especially the civilian ones - are subject to warping and were made with some form of phenolic plastic, later ones however; are a more stable styrene compound.

Civil version of the tracked tractor next to the military one, and two colour variants of the limousine, I think it's meant to be a Bentley or Rolls Royce?

The final incarnation of Triang Minic was these 'Minix' all plastic non-powered HO scale vehicles which were sold singly like Matchbox 1-75 series, or in sets of three and were also supplied to Triang Trains for the Motor-Rail coaches and flat-bed wagons.

There was also the Minic Motorway system in which vehicles similar to some of the above were fitted with electrically powered 'slot' motors, but that is a post for another day!

T is for Triang Minic Part 3; Rivet Counting Bit

Here we see the sparking mechanism, with the spark-channel - unused on the Battle-Space version. A simple gravity feed presses the flint onto a carborundum coated wheel revolving as part of the 'pull-back' motor.

A comparison shot, front to back; Roco-minitanks Conqueror, Minic 'Tank', Airfix Centurion and Roco Centurion. It seems that the Triang vehicle has the wheels of a Conqueror, and a hybrid deck that's more Centurion than Conqueror, with a turret that's more Conqueror than Centurion!

For 'Old School' war-gaming you could use it as a 1:87/HO Conqueror, or a 1:76/72 Centurion.

[The Airfix example was painted by me in about 1976, and if anybody can guess the colour (from a photo' - which is never easy!) I'd love to track down a tin, it's an old Humbrol Authenticolour in a yellowish-olive and along with the Azure Blue, was one of my favorite tins as a kid. I used the Azure for German Paratroop helmets!]

The three types of 'Pull-back' kinetic/stored-energy/flywheel motor used in the Minic plastic range. You can see how the carborundum was just adhered to the main flywheel.

Earlier versions of these trucks - especially the civilian ones - are subject to warping and were made with some form of phenolic plastic, later ones however; are a more stable styrene compound.

A comparison of the scales used, the Minic/Triang-Hornby/Battle-Space tank is big at around 1:72 and had a tendency to collide with track-side accessories, particularly if you placed them on an inside bend, as the low-loader that carried it would 'cut' the corner! The truck range and limousine are approximately 1:76 (a bit narrow in the case of the lorries), while the little tank and armoured car were 'silly size' say...1:100'ish. The Triang-Hornby/Minix cars are a reasonably true 1:87/Ho scale.

Monday, March 23, 2009

U is for Underwater

Only the one photograph, but a lot in it. Centre top is the lose Mini-submarine from Manurba with the driver/pilot underneath, to the left is the same machine issued as Scuba Diver Set by Gordy in the US (another company that remains unsung under Giant's shadow, despite producing a similar sized range of similar products?), while below it is the more common Hong Kong copy, note the full-round cross-section. This is a hard plastic model with soft diver, the Maurba one is all soft.

To the right of the lose ones we see the carded presentation of the HK one, entitled Frogman Set with colour variants below.

The bottom of the picture shows from left to right; Baking-powder divers from Manurba (these are different from the Kellogg's one's and I will look at them all later), while next are a couple of Hong Kong Mini-sub's in soft plastic that have kept the Manurba hollow hull, and came in Christmas Crackers, Sobres etc..

Finally, the same card as above, but with different contents and marked L.I.C. (Laramie Industries Corp.) Philadelphia. In the very centre is a Manurba rubber boat (sans engine) to compare with the HK copy of the Airfix US Marines boat.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

U is for Unknown Wild West

More unknown figures, this time it's the Wild Wild West! I've used an Airfix ACW artilleryman for a scale comparison throughout.

Top row, left to right; Hard polystyrene - German premium? Early British soft polythene, has the arse-spike of a wagon rider but the legs of a horse rider? A fully articulated soft plastic figure, looks like the sort of thing Kinder would have produced, but as far as I know, this is not Kinder. maybe one of the lesser makes like LZ/Zaini? Finally a HK type figure but in a dense nylon type plastic, maybe French?

The next row starts with three Italian production very similar to the space men I posted yesterday, but still no manufacturers name. Then a figure I've left in even though I now have the library here and can tell you he's been issued by Nadi or Negrita (both French coffee brands) the other 19 can be seen on page 96 of Piffret's excellent 'Figurines Publicitaires'. Then the last figure seems to have a German or American feel to him? I think he's peeling potatoes!

The final row starts with two mounted figures I suspect are Italian, they're very similar to all the other Italian stuff I have, being hard plastic, I'd like to team them up with the correct horses? Then two (unrelated) figures one mounted and one probably designed to be either mounted or on foot, both quite ridged ethylenes, the yellow one on the left being so dense he appears - on first inspection - to be hard polystyrene. Finishing with a rubberised figure, this is one of those figures I suspect I have identified, but then forgotten the origin/lost the note! German?

The green guy is very like the largest version of the Siku figures, but is not a pose known to that set. Also; all the 45/50mm Siku's I have are a dun/fawn brown under the paint, not green, but I suspect Germany or France for this guy's origins?

Next is a nylon type plastic figure who shares sculpting and pose clues with a game called Bonanza, which I've recorded as being by MB Games, yet there is nothing on Boardgamegeek, apart from a note referencing a German game; From BGG - "Bonanza is an old German board game based on the famous TV-show. The game is a simple roll and move affair, players try to reach the Ponderosa with their four cowboys as quickly as possible." which was made by Noris Spiele. However the figures I have for that game are smaller.

Now it may be that the German arm of MB took over the game or that there was another game with this figure, or that the four cowboys were each a different size, OR that the others I have are a kid/teenager from the series and that this is an adult? Each player haveing four chacters from the TV production? I'm not familier with Bonanza, I grew up with The Virginian, and graduated to The High Chaparall and Alias Smith & Jones!!

The third figure is almost certainly French, minor make, and in the same phenolic plastic as Starlux, Jim and Clairet. The last figure in the row is a soft plastic copy of a character figure from Hausser/Elastoline's 'Old Shaterhand' line...licenced premium?

The next row are all similar to Dom/Maurba 60mm figures, I assume they are Dom/Manurba, as supplied to the German equivalent of Spanish 'Sobres' or the UK's 'Lucky-bags', but would like confirmation/denial before I label them up.

The last row has two faintly metallic soft plastics on the left, again the suspicion is German origins? While on the right three figures with the same release-pin marks as a lot of US production, but in a very rigid nylon type plastic?

Top left are two with MPC type bases, below them are poor quality copies with 'China' type bases but no mark (both Hong Kong and now China have always been happy to claim their production!). Back on the top row is a polythene wagon rider and small unrelated cowboy, any ideas? Below them is a guy in yellow with US production style base (release-pin 'holes') [Just appeared on Kent Sprechers 'News and Reviews page, he is from the Marx 45mm line; TSHQ/News], and a US cavalryman in a very soft polythene, again; I've no idea, have you?

Bottom row starts with two Native American Indians, unrelated but both rubberised, the one on the left a soft silicon the one on the right (who I think is German) in a more rigid PVC. Finally more Italian production, but this time children rather than adults, again can we tie these in with a manufacturer?

These are very similar to Tudor Rose, but equally very different! The horses are not those produced/supplied/licensed/copied/pirated to/by/from at least 5 US companies, 1 Danish, 1 Spanish and of course Airfix, and while the figures are similar, they are not the same. My feelings therefore are that they are a smaller UK company like Poplar, Fairylite or Kleeware. The painted one will probably be an earlier one.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

U is for Unknown Space

Well, we're back up to 'U' so I get to ask for help!! All these have a space theme but remain unidentified vis-a-vis origin, whether manufacturer or importer/distributor.

This first photograph shows - clockwise from top left - Three hard plastic astronauts [Now known - MB (Milton Bradley) Star Bird], which annoyingly, I have seen somewhere, in the last few years, but instead of jotting down the details, thought I could rely on a mental note, needless to say; I totally forgot what they came with!! The red guy is very similar to some Italy-produced children dressed as Cowboys & Indians I have, but he is bigger then the two spacemen in the bottom row? [Ervino Cus confirms Italy and a thread on Danefield/Alphadrome suggests permiums?]

The three silver spacefarers are in soft polythene and have the look of a Hong Kong product, but no HK marking? [Left and Right are from the Thunderbirds International Rescue board game and should have blue helmets, they were also sold in tray-sets and by Linde as coffee] The guy in the middle remains 'unknown' and from a different series/set Thanks to Ervino, he is identified as Italian maker Dolcificio Lombardo and sold in the USA by Astral Bubblegum, sometimes passed-off as Texas (another Italian maker) in the UK, he should be plugged into a star/shield base a' la Timpo] While we tried the Bike-gang member on the readers of One Inch Warrior the other year with no result. I'm sure it's from a board game, it's hard styrene, but too small for Games Workshop?

The guy in the corner is soft vinyl, and probably modern? Then the two previously mentioned, approximately 1:72 spacemen similar to but not CO-MA [Thanks to Ervino again for confirming they are Coma/Co.Ma./Co-Ma!] and their green, sub-scale saucer, which I know are Italian but any idea on a company name?

Finally a nice group of Galoob type figures in 20mm, again soft'ish vinyl, but no makers mark, just number codes prefixed with an A or a B? 2015 - There's a chap on Benno's Forum also keen to ID these, and while they are listed in the smallscale doorstep by Vic Rudic (pp 811), he's just taken them from here without credit! Indeed, he's taken all the pictures in this thread, cropped-out all the smaller ones (and the larger silver ones?) and passed them off as his work!- 2017 - Tombola Chocolate egg prizes!

Again clockwise from upper left, a 50mm vinyl robot with the look of a Japanese cartoon about him? [JCC in comments identifies him as a Bandai 'Power Rangers' figure] In the centre are two harder Nylon-like polyethylene robots from 'Lucky Bags' with a distinctly European look to them? The brown one is clearly based on Batman! Then two lick and stick robots in rubber, which - to be honest - are probably HK Cracker-toys or party favours and unlikely to be linked with a maker!

A nice articulated robot is next, similar to some Kinder production but too small, he is equally too big for the Galoob/Matchbox type 'Action Fleet' and similar animated figures. The three painted robots could be Galoob or similar?

Finally; two silver robot/android types with the influence of Fritz Lang's Metropolis oozing from them? Both in a stiff but soft plastic. [Yes; the bigger one - the male? - has had his head chewed! [Possibly Bandai/Popy from Japan - see comments]

These three were also tried on the 1IW readership with no luck, but the play-set wasn't included on that occasion, it's in the style of Mighty Max or Polly Pocket (both previously by Blue Bird Toys here in the UK, now and worldwide; Mattel), but in this case no markings of any kind?

The two little rock carvings are the same ones carved out of the South American deserts, that Eric vonimadickhead Daniken used to 'prove' his case in those risible books (Chariots of the Gods...et.al.) he made a small fortune with in the 1970's. The black thing is a micro-scale lander/atmosphere craft. And should be accompanied by a green speeder I have somewhere and a forth figure I haven't! 

22nd Nov. 2015 - Now identified as Uni-King with catalogue page here

27th Nov 2015 - Ervino Cus' input, much appreciated. More on some of these: here now

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

V is for Volkseigener Betrieb (VEB) Part 1; Introduction

Years ago (1990) I went back to Berlin, where I had been stationed in the Cold War, to stay with friends and attend Roger Waters 'The Wall' concert, on what had - in my day - been the large dog-run infested minefield to the left of the Reichstag, down at Potsdammer Platz.

The day after the concert I was bumming around the flea-market that grew up in the shadow of the Brandenburger Tor (Brandenburg Gate), when I chanced upon some little Soviet era AFV's by a company calling itself MAB Mobile. I bought them!

When I returned to Britain I wrote to the company, asking them if they had an importer, and if not - could I be that man! They sent me one of everything gratis and I put in an order!!!

Since then - as my AVF collection has grown - I've linked the little die-casts to various plastics, both civil and military and these next 5 posts are that story, it's not complete, it's not totally accurate, but it (hopefully) gives a flavour of the thing!


My Advertisement for the civil trucks, carried in Model and Collectors Mart, until my modest investment was eaten up, and I wound-down the company, braking-even but with stock left (so a mental profit!). The Fire Engine sold so well I never ended up with one for myself...Doh!

P.S. Given that Roco Minitanks were charging between 6 and 12 quid for their models at the time, I think I was quite cheap!

A lot of East German toys have the VEB prefix on their box end labels and/or box graphics, it means; 'People-owned [ie; STATE-owned!] enterprise' and would often refer to a group of older independent companies, who - producing similar products - were lumped together. One of these was VEB Kombinat Plasticart Annaberg-Bucholz (Plasticart Berlin).

First selling as Mini Car, they then marketed under various guises, handed over to VEB Kombinat Metallaufberitung Halle (MAB Mobile) and were finally swallowed by Western concerns.

Other names which may or may not be/have been associated with Plasticart/MAB mobile;


VEB Kombinat Plasticart Annaberg-Bucholz (taken over by MAB in 1984)

Modell-Fahrzeuge/VEB Berlinplast (part of Plasticart? production ceased)

VEB Prefo Dresden (now Hruska-Permot)

Hruska-Permot (have MAB moulds)

MEG; Modell Eck Gäuer (made accessories for Espewe trailers)

Mini Car; (VEB Plastspielwaren, Predecessor of SES)

SES; Schmidt Electronic Systeme (had some of the Espewe moulds, now called...;)

Modelltec (ex SES since 2003)

IMU Motorsport GmbH/Interspeed Modellautos Ülsmann (supply SES/Modelltec)

Only useful link I can find on the web...and it's a good one;

Espewe.

V is for Volkseigener Betrieb (VEB) Part 2; History & Boxes

Various boxes illustrating the passage of the company/companies involved, after the heliotrope-pink Minicar graphics they switched to the pink and yellow Plasticart, although these boxes are far more common with the Espewemodelle trade name. Item 72, the BTR-50P actually has a metal superstructure and heralds the final E.German incarnation prior to sub-summation by the West.

The Minicar boxes differentiate between contents with the aid of paper labels, while Plasticart boxes are dedicated to their contents, like Matchbox 1-75 series. The MK-modelle box is designed with multi-lingual product information for export to other Warsaw Pact states, while the pink & blue box of the Icarus 260 bus are less common.

Variants of box-ends, with or without over-printing or paper labels, note how the BTR makes a feature of it's die-cast parts with the 'Zinkguss' moniker, translating literally as "good zink", this would continue with MAB Mobile.

Model 82, an Icarus 31 omnibus, the only real difference between the un-doctored box and the doctored one is that the price is no longer on display, presumably this was the less than subtle way they put up state prices (which in a glorious 'Peoples Democracy' - that is of course a 'social' democracy!!!) weren't supposed to rise, inflation being a Western weakness!

Russian and Czechoslovak wording on the export packaging, as we will see further down the page, the E.German stuff was far closer to Western qualities than Russian production, so these would probably have been quite sought after in the neighbouring states.

The final incarnation; this packaging was in use in 1990/91 when I was the sole importer of these models to the UK for a short while. The same box was also used for three versions of the Opel Kaddet (Vauxhall Astra) in 1:43 scale, a clear attempt to tap into the West German market.

V is for Volkseigener Betrieb (VEB) Part 3; Civilian Plastics

A selection of bus models from VEB Plasticart, Espewemodelle and MK, they are all Icarus prototypes, although the company did manufacture other makes.

Modernisation in the East consisted of new bolt-on features, a system that was easy to reproduce in braille-scale. Here a new radiator assembly is all that's required to update one model from the range.

As economics improved prior to reunification, peoples diet also improved, this is reflected in the larger driver of the later issue!!! (This is a humorous aside and should not be taken as a serious social (or socialist!) opinion of anything). Also; in the East you either got a coupon to get your hair done, OR, your face made up, but not - apparently - both! And; Can someone tell me what Herr. Hitler is doing driving an East German bus?!!

The little 1:120 scale model (TT gauge) Icarus 'Reisebus' (coach) from MK, halfway between 1:87 (HO gauge) and 1:160 (N gauge).

The MAB Mobile Tatra 815 truck model, sold in three versions, this one with a plank load, as a flat-bed with no load, and with a canvas tarpaulin. The chassis was also used for a fire-engine. The plastic cab assembly was sourced in the West and actually supplied by Wiking, while VEB Kombinat Metallaubereitung Halle produced the die-cast body. A small sprue with the rear-view mirrors was included for home assembly to prevent damge in transit, a very Western practice, which shows how the East were trying to 'raise their game'.

Tie-ins like this were quite common with West German companies like Herpa and Brekina supplying parts or whole re-packed models to their Eastern brothers. As E.Germany was a sealed economy there was no real competition and it was a useful way of getting a slice of a market they were otherwise unable to penetrate.

As an aside; The West Germans did whatever they could within the Soviet structure to help their fellow Germans in the East, and the Berlin senate - as well as picking-up the tab for three occupation armies (Brit, French and American) - made regular 'donations' to E.Berlin, either financial or as more practical technical aid, as did Bonn to the wider E.Prussian 'Lander'.