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.

Monday, May 3, 2010

L is for La Legion Etranger by Marx, Marksmen, Rado-Ri Toys.

One of the problems of having over a million figures in 12,000 click-shut bags, and a thousand plus boxes, packs and larger crates is that from time-to-time I confuse myself! Case in point, the other day answering a question over at the Airfix Collecting Forum on the following figures, the answer I gave was - while not inaccurate - not as comprehensive as it could have been, in that; I gave the impression that there was only one set of Foreign Legion, and that the Arabs had been given a similar release pattern to the FFL, the truth is that there are two mouldings of FFL, and the Arabs were only carried by one source...certainly in the UK, at least!

So - I threw the whole lot on the kitchen floor last night and sorted them into what I hope is a definitive history...for now at least, if you know different, comment!

These are Arabs/Bedouin, based on the Marx Arabs, issued in the US in large scale with the Captain Gallant play-set. In small scale they were sold in factory painted styrene as Indians/Afghans, for the Marx Miniature Masterpiece play-set; Charge of the Bengal Lancers.

Now, this set poses a sort of mystery, The first three and the sixth poses were not issued in the large scale sets and a quick study of them reveals that the four 'unique' poses, are based on existing figures. 'Man waving rifle over his head' is based on the (inset) advancing pose, The first figure is based on the standing firing pose, with the 'waving dagger' mans upper torso and he also provides the body for the other two figures; 'Carrying rifle' and waving dagger' and the 'Advancing with rifle across waist'.

These were supplied in the two colours shown to Marksmen by Ri-Toys (Rado Industries) a company with close links to Blue Box, or at least Blue Box moulds!

To fight them they got copies of the Captain Gallant TV show tie-in French Foreign Legion; the Grass-green and Navy-blue figures above. The paler figures are the later pocket-money carded/bagged rack-toys, and are a smaller size. They also didn't come with Arabs to fight, but rather the good old piracy's of Airfix (pictured below). Again these figures were available originally in Marx Miniature Masterpiece play-sets and again we seem to have a unique figure in the small scale; the sixth guy in the row with his rifle accross his waist. This time however we loose a large scale figure, the 'Lying firing' pose.

Captain Gallant is the forth figure from the left (and provides the bulk of the extra pose) and 'Cuffy' is the little boy/cadet. They are a right old mix of summer and greatcoat uniforms with Gallant and his doppelganger wearing a tie, but all have that 'Toy' charm.

[I have posted the Captain Gallant Comic on my other blog; Everything Collectable ] 12/10/2012 - Now integrated with this blog and appearing a post or two above this one in a 'Marx' search or immediately above this one in an 'FFL' search.

Modern issues of the FFL and Airfix copies, these should still be findable, as they were all bought within the last 10 years. Note they are not marked Ri-Toys, leaving one to suspect they are from another source, a feeling which is reinforced by their having a smaller size, however see below for my theory on this.

Loose-ends and packaging. Close up's of the combat infantry, size comparison with Airfix Bedouin, and my kitchen floor mid. photo-shoot! There were several boxes on the table behind me as well, yet I still managed to forget the green FFL officer in the main line up and the white Arab who is inset in the first photo! Also a shot to show how the blank base of the marksmen supplied figures was replaced with a 'CHINA' moniker for the HK issued versions.

All sets were approximately 30 figures, however Michael Ellis of Marksmen tells how these 'HO' figures came loose in huge boxes of thousands (if not; tens of thousands?) of figures and he had to sort them into the little cellophane bags he used with his header-cards. Obviously there is a big difference between an obsessive collector like me sorting loose Airfix into complete sets and a commercial operator getting stock together, so he tended to count loosely up to thirty of the same colour/type and bag them, consequently you don't always get every pose in every bag, or lots of one pose and one each of others. On the up-side however, you usually get more than 30 figures, Bargain!

These are earlier 1970's or early '80's sets by Ri-Toys, and you will notice that the vehicles and accessories are the same as those in the generic's marked Ackerman (UK) and Wentoys (Germany) above. I know there are lots of variations of the copies, but these are the same, so I'm confident they are Rado. I guess, they scaled them down to fit in with the existing Airfix copies, thinking that carded sets of Arabs and FFL wouldn't sell well?

The lack of a Ri-Toys logo on the modern packaging reflects the changes in the toy business since the '70's. Salesmen used to hawk these round the old independent newsagents and corner shops, now import companies do the selling over here and they want their logo/sticker on the packaging. Ackerman is a common rack-toy name and I have all sorts of cards/bags by them with figures from a half-a-dozen sources.

As a footnote, the mounted poses (two Arab and one FFL) were never issued to/by Marksmen/Rado but were in some of the old Miniature Masterpiece sets.

There are vagaries in the issuing of the large scale between the US and the UK, but anyone wanting to know them should get Plastic Warrior (link; top right) Volume's 130 and 132, where Debbie Stevens has covered them in depth.


GEM Team said...

Over a million figures????????
Sorry I was to shock for further reading. You have to tell me how do you get around with the missus!!!I want a million figures too....

Maverick Collecting said...

[I want a million figures too....]

No...you don't! you lose a large room! I'll be putting half of them on eBay over the next year or two, 1 of each is all one requires, perhaps another boxed or bagged...a third to paint...forth to photograph...it's a slippery slope!

eugene Law said...

Oh my god...I hope you can see my word....

I'm a 32 year man from Hong Kong, I'm a plastic toy soldier collector, I just saw No.3 and No.5 photo on google search and then came here.

I'm very shock now, how did you got this plastic soldier set? No.3 and No.5 is my childhood memories....

About ten years ago, i have a lot of small soldier toys, but one day, my cousin go to my home, at that time he was only a few years, an i gave all my soldier to him.

After ten years, i want them back to me, so i asked my cousin about my toy soldiers, he said
"lost them too many years already." "..................."

This toys is gone on this world already, but i don't want that, i want this toy can spread to next generation, people need to remember this memories, kid need to remember..

But isn't make again in hong kong already...