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, August 30, 2010

O is for Other Forts

As we seem to be working through the forts at the moment, I thought I'd post a few loose ends, being those of the right age but wrong design to fit the Giant/post Giant design.

I think I've shown this card before, but here is a close up of the fort, making a square less than three inches on a side as apposed to the 8 inches of those we've been looking at. It's gone for the same plug-in corner design, but with the towers fixed to the side walls and only plugging front and rear.

Meanwhile the early British companies went for two-dimensional relief designs, the largest (top) is by Cherilea, the one in the middle I suspect of being Speedwell, purely from the plastic used, it being very similar to the Speedwell Germans or their Sentry Box, although that was 3D.

The last two aren't really forts at all, but always strike me as being ruined dungeons? Again these are Cherilea, and they did three other designs like these, but clearly in a larger scale, and brick house construction not stone fort, so they'll see light on the blog another day.

Pudding!

I know this is supposed to be a gardening blog, which sort of became a wildlife blog, but with August turning into an early autumn, giving us some quite chilly nights, a bit of stodgy British fare is just what the doctor would order if he wasn't busy picking blackberries, so I thought I'd share this with you, not least because I'm really pleased with it!

I picked up some bright yellow Mirabelles (wild plums) last time I visited my mother, and had stewed them for a couple of nights, once with cream, once with custard. As a result they were starting to loose their colour and get a bit 'jammy', I also had two rather stale current scones which looked like they'd be blue in the morning if I didn't do something with them.

Now Mim's away at the moment, looking after her Mum, and keeps asking me - on skype - if I'm eating well (cum'on guys, if you've been a bachelor for a while you'll know exactly why she's asking!!) so this is to show her I'm feeding myself up!

I sliced the scones and layered them in the bottom of the dish, added milk (Mim's already said I should have added a beaten egg...Doh!) and poured the Mirabelle 'jam' on top, however the dish was still only half full, so I mixed up some custard and poured that on, but the gaps in the scone meant most of the custard sunk through and joined the milk - I was still only half full!

A handful of raisins, two slices of buttered bread, cinnamon and brown-sugar brought it to the top of the bowl in short order though! And then half an hour in the oven at 200°, it rose like a good'en until it pushed the top off the bowl, and I took a quick photo after sprinkling with caster-sugar.

Many calories per square-inch, go, make, winters coming!!!

A is for "A New Battle Game"

Somewhere toward the back (page 127) of his little 'Introduction to Battle Gaming' Terry Wise had a very small picture of a 'board game' which would turn out to be very large! With the caption "A new Battle Game introduced by Tri-ang", it had me captivated, and oh how I wanted one, well, one day I got one, had to wait until I was in my mid-thirties mind! This is it...

It's VERY, very big, about two foot by two foot by a foot - 8 cubic feet of my universe taken up with plastic and card crap, but my - what quality crap!! Check out that 60's artwork, the guy bottom right is my all time favorite...."Maaahhh Maaaaaaaaaa'haammiieeee!!!". I think he's being shot in the back, a lesson for anyone thinking of running away; Real men die with frontal perforations!!

In fact, it's so big, this one's been given it's own Pickford's label at some point!

Bottom center, with the lid off, there's a shed-load of stuff. This game? Play-set? Interactive tour-de-force, had so much going on, the mines (bottom left), barbed wire and trees, machine-guns, all sorts!

It actually looks far more complicated than it really is, and once you've got it all set up it's just a turn-for-turn game with lots of counters, and all the 'chance' cards replaced with 'action' pieces.

The figures have 'value', which is displayed by pose (they are the Almark figures with long spigots on the base, probably manufactured in the Minimodels plant in Havent, Portsmouth for Tri-ang) and the helmet colour; White is the Officer, with 2 brown Sappers, 3 red NCO's and the Grunts have green helmets.

One player set up, the machine gun turns using a football rattle type mechanism to make a shooting sound and the long tongues of the trees limit traverse. The two trenches above ground have mini-mines. With printed-card, styrene, ethylene, rubber, metal and paint, this is really the high point of domestic toy production in that immediate post-war era.

Unless you're some professional, returning to childhood with a bank full of money - in which case some bloke on eBay has got one you can have for 85 quid-something, my advice is don't pay a fortune for one, they can go for as little as £12, and I've never paid more than £25, so much is subject to loss or damage, you'll need to get a couple - at least - to make one decent one, and they DO take up a lot of space.

Tatty ones are always on eBay, there's usually one under a table at the Plastic Warrior or Birmingham shows and your local car-boot sale will chuck-up one or two a year, if you get there early.

Best play-set/game/toy ever and more nostalgia curtsy of Mr. Wise who's sadly not here, thanks again Terry...I GOT ONE!

T is for Tail-End

Toward the end, Starlux, looking around for ways to make a bit of extra dosh, started putting undecorated whole sprues in boxes. The boxes were double sided - artwork wise - so the various different sets could all be put in the one box.

Here we see the Foreign Legion sprue, with the side of the box that pertains to them, easy to see how you will also find sailor, marine or helmeted infantry sprues in the same pack. Likewise the Cowboys can be replaced by American Indians, I haven't seen cavalry in this size, but that's not to say they weren't available in France, they were certainly made in 54mm.

L is for Lucky Clover Toys

Hard to tell if these came before or after the ones we looked at the other day, they have the same title, but the mouldings are not the same, and the figures would suggest a later production. However they were on sale at around the same time, so piracy of piracies would seem to be the answer, as it often is with these HK guys!

There was a third set, a western fort which will be covered another day, when I try to make sense of them. Lucky Clover's artillery was unique'ish, being a copy of the Marx gun-barrel (as per. Giant) but with a different carriage (also Marx in origin) and heavier wheels.

These British ceremonials are the fixed-head ones as opposed to the separate heads of the larger carded sets the other day, again based on Crescent originals. Also like the other day's, these put the 'Mongol' tower tops on the 'European' fort design.

Chariot is a two-horsed articulated version with a smooth floor, as the figures - again - have the chariot mounting-hole filled in, of the two non-Giant gold plastic types, these are the more well-detailed mouldings with the 'HONG KONG' in a semi-circle round the 'scab' of the chariot mounting-hole.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

P is for Pencil Topper

Long, long ago...In a Galaxy far, far away...they had Mausers, Stirling SMG's and MG34's with extra bits stuck on...oh yeah, and they had inter-planetary and inter-system faster-than-light drives! Other than that it was all a bit Wild Wild West!!

In a galaxy a bit nearer home, like err...the former Crown Colony of Hong Kong; They had Polyvinyl-chloride, lots of it, AND they knew how to use it!

Wherever possible the one I believe to be the oldest is on the left, Darth - he got an ice-pick...in his legs, which were redesigned in later years, leaving him a bit of a mini-me-Vader!! R2D2 might be from another series of heads only?

Right, that's me running out of vague cultural references! I'm missing an orange-brown wicket, but then Pakistani bowlers have apparently been doing that for days and in my defence - I'm not trying!

Far from it, I keep finding them on FeeBay at a tenner a pop! Some of these dealers should be strung-up and run-through with a damp dish-cloth, bloody rip-off merchants, these things are 10/20p car-booty, and asking 20 quid for a set of six is marginally less criminal than paying an Ayrton Senna for a late production figure.

Apologies for the flare coming off the white/pale areas, I took the photo's twice, but the camera has started not recognizing when it's in Macro, so is giving a full blast on the flash at point-blank range. It's only three years old, nearly a hundred quid, it shouldn't be allowed, but that's about how long they last!

T is for Terry Wise - A Tribute

The recent news of the passing-away of Terry Wise came to me as a sadness for the slow demise of a more innocent age. Without his little book of war gaming, I probably would not have collected in the way I have, and this blog would never have come into being, although it must be said - if I weren't so disorganized, dysfunctional and savant-like it would have been here in around 2006!

Some of the pages that fired my desire to collect every pose of every small scale figure I could find, from the chapter 'Organizing Your Army' these were quite simple ways of using paint, or minor conversion with blade, thumb-tack, paper or wire to produce - primarily from the first 30 or so sets of Airfix HO/OO figures - any member of any army that ever was!

Thousands of modelers were, or following publication of the book would go on to be producing just such armies through the 1970's, and now that the turning up on eBay of such figures has slowed to the occasional dribble and a new generation of 'Internet bubble' war gamers spend their spare moments whinging about the lack of some esoteric set of mounted foot artillery catering executives (best parodied by the Pomeranian Piccolo Players, a running joke invented by Mr. Wane Wood over at the HaT forum) despite nearly 1000 new sets being issued in plastic since 1997, I thought it would make a fine tribute to Terry to show a few of his inspirations here tonight.

I am responsible for the Egyptian skirmishers here, from the American Indian set, with hair-cuts, truncated head-dresses and cartridge-paper shields.

All the rest have come in with mixed lots over the years, and if you recognize your work drop us a message in the comment box. Working anti-clockwise from above the Indians;

South American Revolutionary/Independence wars? From ACW Confederates
Foreign Legion MG crew, from WWI Germans
Colonial Marine Artillery, from WWI RHA
German East African campaign? From WWI Americans
Firer from crawler and cased ATGW
Napoleonics from Guards
Roman cavalry from Cowboys

Clockwise from top left;

Congolese soldier from two Russians (me)
Roman/US Cavalry marriage
Captain Scarlet from Cowboys
Various conversions of Robin Hood's men some by me
WWI German cavalry from RHA and US Cavalry
Mounted Briton from Romans
Light Infantry? From ACW Union and Japanese flag bearer
8th Army with tartan clothing, from one of Terry's contemporary's articles in Airfix Magazine or Military Modeling? More of my efforts! And no, I don't know why I gave them all Scottish football supporters hats, I'm sure it was in the original article though!!

As other makes appeared they got the Terry treatment as well, here are some of them; cut, shut, glued & painted into something else. Top left to bottom right;

Indians, some Airfix, some Hong Kong, some grafted!
Blanket-rolls added to Revell Prussian Infantry
Atlantic Vignettes divided into separate figures
Various ACW standards etc...(some by me, some by others) Pure Terry!
French 'Eagle' - Italeri
Romans/ECW Pike-men? From HK copies of Airfix 8th Army
Mounted Lifeguard from HK copy of Crescent and Indians legs
Giant Mongols given pin-swords

Hope that's tripped a few memories in the older followers of this blog, remains only to say goodbye Terry and thanks, you enriched my life with your inventiveness and enthusiasm, and leave us all better for having come into contact with your work. Caught by the final conversion, which comes to all of us.

[It's very rarely that I will publish something (other than packaging or advertising/catalogue material) that carries copyright, and - given recent events elsewhere - would like to point out that the leading image, a compound of pages from the - in my eyes - seminal work; 'Introduction to Battle Gaming' by Terrance Wise is reproduced here after clearing it with Chris Lloyd the owner of Special Interest Model Books (current holders of the rights to MAP Publications). The Copyright has reverted to Terry and if anyone is in touch with his widow, would they please pass on my condolences for her recent loss, and be assured that the image can be removed should she so wish.]

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Tale of Bilbo the Rabbit

Once upon a time there was a Rabbit, called Bilbo, who found himself billeted on the big house at the end of the village,

now; it happened that Bilbo was accustomed to traveling light, and had therefore only two thirds of his house with him when he arrived! However the gardener knew where he could lay his hands on the base of a bed from a certain Scandinavian furniture manufacturer, and grabbing a wine-crate in passing along with a piece of roofing-felt, had - within the hour - produced a suite of rooms which adequately met Bilbo's not-so-great expectations.

Bilbo moved in immediately, and soon discovered that his arrival led to some excitement among the junior members of the local populace who quickly had him drowning in carrots, dandy-lion and lettuce leaves, crab-apples and all manner of Rabbit-fare!

Here we see Bilbo working his way through a pile of lush greenery, it's an arduous life; being a 'kept' Rabbit!

Unfortunately, a certain Sandy-Whiskered Gentleman had got wind of the new resident, and thought to have a close chat with him, about this and that, mostly about red-currant jelly, and decided that through the wire was not as close a chat as you could have if - for instance - you were to get under the wire...

It has to be said, that much as Bilbo liked his rooms, he preferred not to bothered by unannounced guests, especially at 3 o'clock in the morning, digging! So alternative non-daylight hours accommodation had to be provided at rather short notice. So thanks indeed to Messrs. Fortnam and Mason for the wicker hut in which Bilbo now resides after-dark, in the wood shed!

Here we see Bilbo licking logs, he likes licking logs, he also likes licking hands, sleeves, the outside of his water-bottle, noses...in short; he'll lick anything within reach!

Sweetpeas

Last year the Sweetpeas were a bit girly and pastel for my taste, but this year's batch have a bit of gravitas about them with dark reds, blood-scarlet and imperial purples, so - especially for Mimi - here they are, on a rather damp August afternoon.

Humming-bird Hawk Moth

Clearly I need a camera with a narrower focusing 'beam' and a faster shutter-speed! This is a Humming-bird Hawk Moth, going 99-to-the-dozen on our Lavender bushes, a rare visitor to these parts - I'm told, but the second year in the last three that it's put in an appearance, pity I couldn't get a better picture, but it would not stop!

C is for Cat (& Mouse)

Clearing the Wisteria from the front of the big house, and getting it back into shape the other day, went off for lunch and came back to find the hacked shrub had fallen away from the house revealing this rather sweet - if slightly violent - Gargoyle. Apparently in 'olden times' they kept down the mice with very small lions!!!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

U is for Unknown Aircraft

While sorting out the Photograph for the Battle of Britain memorial piece last night, I shot these two as well, now I have lots of unknown aircraft I wouldn't dream of boring you with, but these two are worth a more public forum in the hope of identification...

The first is presumably meant to be a Czechoslovakian-service Russian Mig fighter, but is managing to look more like a V1 on it's launch-skid! It is missing the top tail-plane, and from time to time I consider making a replacement, but feel one shouldn't bugger-about with what may be a rare thing! Any ideas? It's about 1:90, 100% wood with paint, the red disc on the tail-fin is on both sides, there's no markings underneath.

The second one is even more interesting, a polished perspex model of - I think - a Messerschmitt Me.109? Could be a modern western 'collectable' from Franklin or Danbury and co.? Or, a post-war corporate desk model from Spain, Finland, Switzerland or Roumania? Either way, I suspect it's having been attached to an ash-tray or similar 'objet'.

Secondly - Could it be a Master, for a range of white-metal models?

The other alternative is that it is from National Socialist Germany. around 1:100/110 and obviously missing a propeller and tail-planes it also has a small hole for a mounting-wire (?) underneath, forward of the cockpit, under the cockpit itself is an air-scoop. No other details or markings. Again - any Ideas?

T is for Tower Fortress (with Soldiers!)

Thanks go to James Opie for both these sets, neither of which is the Giant brand! There were thousands of these Hong Kong sets produced from the late 50's to the switch to 'China' marks in the early 90's as HK geared up for the return of the colony to the mother country in '97.

Very few were ever marked Giant, or of Giant quality, and because Giant was nothing more than an American trade-mark, even when it's from Giant sources, the packaging is as often-as-not unmarked. These two however aren't even of Giant quality.

Bought by Mr. Opie in Islington in March 1967 for the then princely sum of 3 shillings and eleven-pence (no wonder my mother would never let me buy them!), a quite good 2nd generation copy of the Giant fort, with the 'mongol' tower tops and flags, and a set of Greco-roman warriors based on Britains and Marx originals.

Check-out the artwork, a Roman Centurion is yelling expletives at a Mongol warlord while two rather cheeky looking (not allowed to use 'gay' anymore!) Guardsmen smile rather too-knowingly, are they wearing make-up!?!

A year later and Bristol is going all ceremonial, the price was the same (Ah! the days before the oil-crises!), but the card had been changed to a printed courtyard you could set the fort up on, nice added play value but who was going to be that careful removing the staples!

This set includes the guardsmen with separate heads and swivel waists, based on the Crescent 60mm set, and first seen here as 'Royal Guards' (click on 'Ceremonial' and it's the third post down), and the card is sometimes found over-printed with the Woolbro label, under which guise it appeared a while ago (Click 'Carded).

Close-ups of the figures, the ancients are not bad compared to Giant, but the detail isn't there and they are more glossy than the Giant Originals. For those trying to identify all the variations of these, this is the lot with a very small, neat 'HONG KONG' and the chariot mounting-hole blocked up.

Friday, August 20, 2010

C is for Churchillian

Never in the field of human conflict
was so much owed by so many to so few.
All our hearts go out to the fighter pilots,
whose brilliant actions we see with our own eyes
day after day…

Winston S. Churchill, 70 years ago today.


Thursday, August 19, 2010

T is for Tactical Strike by Corgi

As I mentioned these in the last post I thought I'd better chuck them up here as a comparison, They are described as "The only 1:64 scale military die-cast collection", and are the same 25mm as the Monogram set from 15 years earlier.

Two sets were issued, the same six poses of generic post-Cold War US ground troops ('Grunts'), one set being painted in the green temperate combat fatigues of a USMC unit, the other; Army Infantry in desert combats.

Tied into a small vac-formed base, they have stuffed behind them an offer from Osprey, two painting guide/thumbnail sketches - also from Osprey and an introductory leaflet, who's chief novelty is a photograph of a mini-diorama which seems to include several bare-metal pre-production vehicles which never saw the light of day and an EKO or Roco M8 WWII armoured car sprayed green????

Checkin' out the check-point (actually an Airfix Desert Outpost), a close up of the 6 figures going about their business, nice figures and still readily available being only a few years old, and from the time when Corgi was churning out stuff in a mad rush to one of it's periodic bankruptcies!!

Monday, August 16, 2010

P is for Pocket Force; and Battle Links by Monogram

I tend to look upon these as being, like the various Bluebird issues in the UK at around the same time, a nice idea, but - if not actually daft, certainly born in the wrong time. Issued in 1990, when the small scale (non-war-gaming white metal) market was pretty stagnant, Esci/A-Toys were phasing out and Revell had barely got started with a few down-scaled Hausser/Elastolin.

However, like Bluebird and Galoob further afield, there was this piecemeal, drip-drip attempt by the established toy guys to re-capture the electronic computer-game generation with Toy Soldiers and/or wrest people away from action figures and back to something more traditional.

This was Monogram's stab at the impossible task (not that impossible as within a few short years (1996 onwards) A Call to Arms, Accurate/Imex, HaT and the Eastern sculptors would create - very quickly - the renaissance we are in the midst of and still enjoying), being sets of 5-each, factory painted, die-cast zink-alloy (mazak) 'Pocket Force' figures from World War Two and the Vietnam Conflict.

Unusual, but then we are talking about the company that produced the 'Monogram Merite' 54mm lead figures - while ostensibly remaining a Plastic Kit manufacturer - in the late 1960's! No scale is given for these but they come in at 25mm exactly, plus depth of base.

There were two main product ranges, the figure sets themselves in a substantial styrene carry case with built-in magnifiers to see detail of the figures (well executed, but a flat and basic paint-job) and a thumbnail sketch 'Collectors Card' of the troops on the card reverse, which - I guess - you were meant to cut-out and place in the box, although this instruction wasn't given.

And then (Never start a paragraph with 'and' Swany used to say...sorry Mr. Swan!) they were issued with the fold-up rubber 'Battle Link' fire-zones! This was the probably true downfall of the range, mine is mint and I can't get it to fold-up or stay folded for five seconds; you're not going to buy a second example of an 'interactive' toy that refuses to interact!


So, with 8 sets of 5 figures and eight Battle Links there are only 40 figures or 16 mint items to locate, and these do turn up relatively inexpensively, quite often. Distributed by Revell Plastic GmbH in Europe, they were licenced from Dixon-Manning Ltd, the UK toy design firm started by ex-Marx/Aurora guys John Dixon and Peter Manning.

One slight mystery - around the mid-naughties (an awful expression but 'the twenty-hundreds' is a right-old mouthful!) there appeared a pre-production shot of a then forthcoming range of Corgi military sets with figures, and I'm sure they showed some of these guys - complete with the oxide-brown bases.

However; I now can't find the catalogue or flier I saw the original in, indeed it may have been something like an issue of Die-cast collector, however if it turns up I'll add it to this post. I definitely remember mentioning it to Paul Morehead during one of our chats, but I don't want to be a Barry Bullshiter, if it's some false memory, the Dixon-Manning link though, is a likely clue, they may have had a set lying around that could be used for pre-production press release photo-shoots, especially if they were involved in the birth of the new Corgi range. In the end Corgi issued new, vinyl sculpts titled; 'Tactical Strike'.

I'll try to get a Monogram list up on the A-Z this evening, but don't count on it!

Mookies


"So, er, what you doin' over there mate, cutting the hedge huh? Don't spo'se yer'd like to wander over 'ear a mo and pop some of that grass over the wire fe'rus wouldja? We're gern'na make cutlets yer know? Yeh, we're being trained up ter make cuttlets...sumin like fairy-cakes in'ey, sumin you eats any'ow!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

R is for Romans, Rospaks Romans

Continuing with the Rospaks coverage I started the other week, here is the rest of their production, they did advertise Persians being released in the last two trade Ad's but I don't think anyone has ever seen them! Nor did they ever star in the illustrated adverts. They also stated forthcoming Napoleonics, a catapult and a War Elephant...such plans, such plans...

The standard Legionary set for Imperial Rome, 9 each of two soldier poses and a three figure 'Command' group. You got 5 of the accessory sprues so lots of spare arms (in glue-able plastic!) and the odd spare shield. A Transfer sheet was - again - originally included, but later sold separately and flash was niggle-some with this issue.

Cleaned-up and equipped with right arms & shields, the advancing legionnaire is a reasonable figure. On the right the same figure is given a home-made shield from melted/squashed sprue and with a cavalry arm fitted makes another auxiliary skirmisher.

Set AR2 was born Roman Light Infantry and would go on to become AR2a - Auxiliary Javelin-men, and AR2b Western Auxiliary Archers. Left-hand of each row is the original, the rest have had a little work with spare arms and stretched sprue, there was so much potential in this, and I wish we could have, today, more hard plastic/styrene figures...that aren't 28/32mm!

The cavalry set, again the transfers would eventually get separated, but with 12 shields in two designs and 6 arms this was good value for the 99p being charged in 1982, although our friends across the water might have had more to say about $2.75 as - at the time - 99p equaled no more than 2 dollars?

The range was withdrawn about ten months after it's announcement, and nothing has been heard of it since, Plastic Warrior approached Heroics prior to my original article in 1 Inch Warrior, but elicited no reply and various myths abound, mostly around inter-industry rivalry, however they themselves stated it was for "Economic reasons" to 'Observation Post' in Military Modeling, and the splitting of packs, selling of transfers for an additional 35p and painting instructions for a further 5p would suggest they were still searching for a successful sales model?

This was - after all - the time when half the toy and modeling industries in the developed world were going to the wall, so it's no great mystery! I've added a complete product list below.

Rospaks Product Listing
25mm polystyrene war-games figures from the Heroics & Ross stable, sold in header-carded polybags. Range Lanched in November 1981, finished by October 1982.
Greeks
AG1 - Greek City Hoplites
AG2 - Greek Light Infantry [November 1981 to April 1982]
AG2a- Thracian Peltasts [from April 1982]
AG2b- Scythian Archers [from April 1982]
AG3 - Greek Cavalry
AG4 - Macedonian Pikemen/Phalangiter/Palangites
Romans
AR1 - Roman Legionaries
AR2 - Roman Light Infantry [from February to April 1982]
AR2a - Roman Auxiliary Javelinmen [from April 1982]
AR2b - Roman Western Auxiliary Archers [from April 1982]
AR3 - Roman Cavalry
Persians
AP1 - Persian Archers Kneeling Firing, (probably never issued)
AP2 - Persian Spearmen (Kardakes), (probably never issued)
Transfers
T1 - Greek City Hoplite Shield Designs
T2 - Roman Shield Designs
T3 - Macedonian Shield Designs
Painting Instructions
Sheet A - For packs AG1 - AG3
Sheet B - For packs AR1 - AR3
Announced - Never Issued
- Persian Cavalry
- Barbarians (Celts)
- Napoleonics
- Roman Catapult and Crew
- Greek Elephant

K is for Kommantoe! - Solpa Commandos

While the Cowboys and Indians turn-up quite a lot, along with the various larger scale sets putting in the occasional eBay appearance, most of the small scale Solpa sets are quite hard to locate, and I must start by thanking Thanassis for finding me these, he'd been looking for several years when this turned up, and though the box is quite worn. it's all there and in one piece.

First thing to note is that the artwork hints at all sorts of Hong Kong favourites being available, the Crescent/Blue Box WWI gun, the Nissen-huts and tents, Britains Palm trees, Marx barbed-wire etc...but not in this set, so they might be in other sets?

This is what was in the box, all standard HK fare, there was also the windscreen of a - missing? - Jeep. Not actually marked HK, but I'm pretty sure that's where it came from, the trucks have different wheels to the usual HK ones, but the remains of the mould numbers of the HK mouldings are under these so it looks like they were produced in HK for Solpa. Trucks are ex-Kleeware models while the boat seems to be a new design.

The figures, again we have a mix of the usual fare and some newies; top row are the old Britains Khaki infantry poses, bottom left sees two Airfix Germans while the other three are relatively new and dealt with below.

As before no hint at HK, but - with the exception of the last three, typical HK figures, and the plastic seems to be HK style. The black marker pen on the officers helmet (sorry, I cropped his hand off! Rough justice indeed as he was already missing the other one!) seems to be a factory thing, two out of four trucks, half the figures and the boat all have crude 'detail' added with the pens, an enemy force?

The three 'new' poses. The one on the left seemed familiar and I posed him with the hard plastic Hasegawa kit-figure, but think - upon reflection - that he is based on the similar radio-operator from the early Esci-Revell GI's kit. The middle figure is the old Crescent 8th army pose, much copied by HK, however he's been given a vague German helmet!

The last pose is the wackiest! He seems to be based on the Fujimi kit-figure from the Japanese Infantry set! An interesting set of non-HK, HK production, if you know what I mean, and size as you can see is about 24mm. Arlin Tawser points out that it's more like the Marx WWI German of similar pose, and he's right, the elbow is all wrong for the Fujimi figure (and the legs are too close together), next question; Did Fujimi copy Marx!!!

News, views etc...Absence

Sorry, been without Internet for a week or so, I've added pictures to the Rospaks and Res/Kinder articles below, and a new colour of diver to the LP (part 2) article and will be posting a few other choice things in the next few days.

Will also catch-up with eMails (Bill, Ken, Timmy...) this evening!

It's all getting a bit mad over at the HaT forum at the moment, August = Silly Season! I'd like to point out that I am NOT, nor do I know, nor am I connected in any way with Huw, huw, or Hew Williams, unless he is in his mid-40's and lives in Lower Chappel, in which case I might have played in the River with him once, but that was 40 Years ago!