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, 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!


Greyson De Saye said...

Hello sir I have been looking for these sets for a long time could not rember the name :-( but now I have it could you list the sets that were made ? Was there an NVA set and US army set for Veitnam? I was sure there was ? Thank you Grey .

Maverick Collecting said...

Hi Greyson

I haven't got the codes on me but there were 8 sets, 4 WWII and 4 Vietnam. They were available as stand alone figure sets, folding vinyl play-sets and - possibly - paired in larger play-sets?

German Inf;
German Para's
US Paras

Vietcong Guerillas
US Marines
US Special Forces

...I think! Like I say - I haven't got the relevant page to hand!!