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.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

H is for Hummer, Humvee, HMMWV, HumBug

The Hummer, which for some reason turned into Humvee (a slightly longer abbreviation?!) was based on the Lamborghini Cheeta, which Tamiya made a motorized kit of many years ago.

It has now been in use for 20+ years, and has had time to become a common plaything, with various accurate and not so accurate versions available. I posted the Supreme/SP Toys examples here a while ago, so lets look at some of the others...

Top to bottom, left to right;

Simply marked 'China' this hard topped troop carrier version is covered in markings, and looks like the sort of thing you'd find in a military parade somewhere in the Far-East. Next we have the Johnny Lightning/Playing Mantis open pick-up 'GS' version and was issued with a nice GMC pick-up in the same colour scheme. Another 'China' model finishes this row, an M966 TOW launcher.

These three are all by the same Chinese company, are much smaller than the others at around 1:87/1:90 scale, they are also quite crude models.

The bottom row starts with another Chinese model, a soft-topped GS, again covered in markings, most imaginary! Finally the two variations of the Hornby Railways Hummer as issued in the Battle Zone play-set. They are the only all-plastic ones in this line-up. [They are to be re-issued this year (2010) in the same play-set but with a new name; 'CODENAME STRIKEFORCE']

Finally - a few versions of the modern - made in HK/China - Matchbox Hummers, one civilianized as an H1 Hummer (not called a Humvee? even though Mattel have called it so on the box!), although using the same moulding as the military versions, along with three paint variants of the M966 TOW vehicle. Two with quite good US desert camouflage, and one in a sort of Giraffe pattern! These all came from Tesco over a couple of years for about 99p each.

The figure used for scale, is a new Chinese piracy of recent Revell production, being a 30mm copy of a 23mm American soldier.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

S is for Sobres - Montaplex Wild West Sets

As I was looking at pocket-money Wild West stuff the other night I thought it'd be a good time to cover these; Spanish Sobres, sold - like Hong Kong carded stuff - from corner shops, tobacconists and the little street kiosks you still get in the wider boulevards of some European city's.

The main producer and certainly the first to get wider coverage outside Spain, with the fledgling internet (HaT in particular covered these in the early days of their website) and Plastic Warrior (have you subscribed yet?) was Montaplex. Among the many sets they produced were a bunch of Wild West Forts, one being this Fort Apache, clearly it's loosely based on the eponymous Airfix Fort, with the raised quarters in the top left-hand corner as you view the gates, the lookout tower has been omitted,but...see below!

One figure is missing from the figure sprue having been mis-moulded, well, not moulded at all, but his scalp is just about present on the end of the branch!

Two slightly different designs of Fort Cheyen (Spanish for Cheyenne), and Lo!..the tower from the Airfix Fort Apache!, otherwise these are basically copies of the Hong Kong Fort Cheyenne's, the raging battle on the packet artwork leads to great disappointment when you open it to find two small and rather wooden wagons, unless you have a soft spot for small wagons, like me!

In the upper shot, we are looking at - from left to right - a Hobby-plast wagon, the two Montaplex wagons from the above set, and a wagon from a 1990's release by BuM ('Boom' in English apparently, although the fact their racing car system is called BuM-Slot, leads one to suspect an British hand at the tiller somewhere?), it's obvious that all three in the front row are identical, so the suspicion's are that Hobby-plast and Montaplex were either the same company, or buying-in stock from an independent source, and that further; BuM started life clearing the old stock from these two, before getting into less ethical stuff...frowns! I see Pirates!

In the lower picture a Montaplex fire engine - loosely based on the old Matchbox design but with astronauts as crew (One crew member is missing). [The proper place for the astronaut; Moonbase ]

H is for Hobby-plast - Wild West

More Sobres, this time from Hobby-plast, they have a lot of items in common with Montaplex, but also seem to have some unique items. The addresses on the backs of the packets (which are generally - with these two companies - thin, A5, printed envelopes, sealed until bought) would suggest the same company parentage. However there may have been different sorces, or marketing stratagies for the two arms?

This set contains the common stage coach in HO'ish scale, but accompanies that with 54mm pirates of Airfix cowboys, these are reasonable as copies go, certainly as good as Hong Kong ever gets!

Three more sets from Hobby-plast, the right hand set in the upper picture comes with twice the contents as laid out, while the left hand set gets one of the same sprues and a wagon. These figures are copies of the Airfix Ho/00 High Chaparral/Cowboys and Indians

The bottom set has to be one of the most disappointing ever, once you open it! No bucking bronco's, no clowns in barrels, no bulls...just the worst copies of 54mm Cowboys and Indians I've ever seen, they make 99% of all Hong Kong production look 'well detailed', although the horses are quite good in comparison with most HK hollow horses.

Monday, April 26, 2010

A is for Alamo, Fort Alamo

And how nice to find a model fort from the 1960's/70's that's not called Apache or Cheyenne, pity it looks nothing like THE Alamo! Made by Muri, and bought in Naples, Italy in the Summer of '69 this is a simple clip-together hard styrene fort with soft plastic/ethylene flats of the sort the Spanish were putting in their 'sobres' at around the same time.

Various views of the fort, because this is a border-line 'lazy post' (late at night, nearest thing to hand I haven't already covered - but more images than a standard lazy post!), I had trouble with the photo's so had to do a collage, as all the whole-fort views were orange again.

It's these new 'green' bulbs, the light is very odd and hard to photograph under, it also creates colour variants among my Airfix figures which disappear in the morning! Try it? Get a bunch of the old 54mm Marines, from more than one source, and watch some of them go bright green under these new bulbs?!

The various soft plastic components and the card, this was a header-bagged rack-toy, the flag is a simple doubled up piece of insulation tape with that sticky white goo one remembers from printed Christmas parcel tape of the period! The number could be twentieth in a series, or the first of a range that only ran to one? anyone know if other Muri stuff exists?

Continuing tonight's themes - Flats, Wild West and untypical production for the nation concerned comes this little bag from Hong Kong, the Plastic Set No. 101 contains hard plastic flats (uncommon for HK) with splashes of gold and silver paint (more like it!), and hasn't been decanted in case I don't find another.

I used to decant/un-sprue/remove packaging, but now I only do so if I have a second one to keep mint, or if it's post the year 2000 in which case it's never going to be 'rare' in the old sense of the word.

There are some purely coincidental similarity's between the Indian poses in the two sets, another reason I did them together and made a lazy-post into a proper post! [Just reviewing my past articles on flats and realised that not only is there a passing resemblance between the HK Indian poses and several of the Gibbs Indians, but at least one is a direct copy!]

Saturday, April 24, 2010

D is for Dragon, on St George's Day

Or, it would have been St George's Day if Picasa hadn't mucked me about until after midnight!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Mc is for McSomebody-or-other?!

Looking for help with these. Marked LF Mc 1973 or 1974, for years I thought they were McEwan, only because the 'Mc' couldn't easily be applied to anyone else and I knew he'd done Sci-Fi figures in his Starguard series. Anyway the other day I thought I'd sort the question out once and for all and had a quick look on Google, well the first thing was the names don't match, the figures are marked LF and McEwan is J for John.

Left to right; Minifigs Mystical Earth; ME100 Cetaur, ME101 Pan;
Science Fiction; SF3 Aquila Death Angel, SF 4 Vertos Robotic, SF8 Aquila Starman.


So next thing was to contact Mr. McEwan and see if he knew anything about a similar range from the same period by a McSomebodyelse....He kindly replied that....he didn't! So next stop; Lost Minis Wiki where it was going to take a lifetime to find them, likewise The Miniatures Page (TMP) was going to take three-and-a-half lifetimes!

In the meantime I had gone through the other 'Unknown Metal' boxes, thinking I had some similar ACW, I didn't! But I did have some Ancients, Medievals and Colonial Zulu's, two of which had a better mark...

Clockwise from top left; Egyptian foot soldiers, Roman archers, Lombard style crossbowman, mounted Samurai archer and Zulu's.

The horse and the Roman in green tunic are both marked 'Leonard Frances McQuirk', so who was he? and for whom did he sculpt? The complete lack of info. leads one to assume they were released by a better known 'name'? There is a McQuirk who's working/worked for the dreaded Games Workshop, but this is not their style, however he might have started out making well-proportioned figures before taking the path of the 'Dark Side'. Some of these also have earlier dates, 1971 and 1972.

Most of the figures are between 22 and 23 millimeters, however the two taller SF figures are closer to 25mm.

Any help greatly appreciated, and if we can get a definitive I.D. on these I'll get them uploaded to the lost figures Wiki in order that they don't get lost again. One of the problems with both 'Lost' and 'TMP' is that they are listed by maker, someone with some time on their hands needs to start something for metals like PSR, that can be searched thematically as well as alphabetically? A mammoth task I'm not volunteering for!

PS - Can anyone suggest a source for the metallic pink/mauve used on the Sci-Fi 'Witch-doctor'? It's not Humbrol or GW, it's a gloss, and I suspect it's a colour-matched Railway livery by Gloy, Joy or Precision or some similar brand?

Xaltotun of Python from Kingdoms of Antiquity has identified the Egyptian as Minifigs 'S' range, but thinks they may have been marked by the owner?

And I've now found the SF stuff on Lost Minis as Minifigs, see designations above.

Y is for You Can't Play Without Them

Friday, April 16, 2010

What to send to those idiots in Berkina Faso...



B is for Budgie Toys

Budgie were a maker of die-cast toy cars and the like in the 1950's and 60's, but they also produced a 'Wagon Train' boxed play-set, with three of these wagons and some outriders fixed into a large box.

Top are the three poses of wagon puller, they can have a receiving-hole for the draw-bar drilled into either flank, and come in the three browns shown and white. Bottom left are the outriders, one figure pose, two horses. Bottom right shows a complete wagon with rider. I think there was a female pose as well, sitting for the wagon, but don't have one.

These are beginning to suffer greatly from metal fatigue and usually have cracks in the body or tilt/cover/canopy, broken barrels, wheels etc and no locating-studs on the tilt, which can be found wedged in the wagon body. The figures were clearly designed by the same sculptor who did the Airfix Cowboys, Indians and other early sets (some argument whether it was Stadden or Nibblet, I veer toward Stadden), or someone copying his style closely, also the shades of brown are similar to Airfix and the Blue of the figures is the same blue Airfix was using around the same time for its soft-plastic (dime-store copy) motorcycle dispatch rider/motor mechanic, so maybe they supplied the plastic elements to Budgie...pure conjecture.

Went for a walk....

Well given the glorious spring weather and the beautifully quiet skies today (thank you 'Mount Unpronounceable'), I went for a quick walk at lunchtime, camera in hand.

Loved this twisted log, looks like it's fossilized already!

Another of my favorite Polyanthus, this is a hybrid gold-laced one which had been planted outside a back gate to the woods.

Closer to home, our Magnolia is bursting into life now.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

R is for Round The Bend!

One of my long-term plans is to reproduce the old Waddington's board game 'Formula 1' as a wooden inlaid coffee-table top. I think the game was also called Grand-Prix at one time and Ravensburger had a Grand Prix with 6 teams of three cars.

I also want to scale it up, so that there is room for 8 teams of two cars instead of the standard 6 teams of one. Scaling should be easy as Waddington's scaled it down for their pocket set 'Pit Stop' in the House of Games series. All I should have to do is work out the scaleing and reverse scale beyond the original to the point where I have a wider track and 8 pits! Ultimately there would be a faster racing-line with semi-fast lines either side, and rule tweaks to enable more pitting over longer races.

As a result I'm collecting micro-cars to make up the teams, I haven't decided whether to paint-up pairs, or wait until I get 8 similar coloured pairs? This is what I have so far and while Green, Red, Yellow and Blue are all well served, Grey, Black and Orange are looking poor, although - typically - just after I took these, a parcel arrived from Bill over at Moonbase Central with a beautiful Grey Jaguar similar to the old Lone*Star treble-o die-cast, but in plastic, so I just need a Black and Orange still.

Top Photo - L-R; 2 from Kinder; 3 from Grand-Prix (?); A colour variant, small space car (?) in yellow, and two slightly different versions of an early racing car, a blue Cellulose-acetate one and a green die-cast one, probably from early board games; The 4 cars from the Pit Stop set, although Boardgamegeek shows this moulding in 6 colours in some editions of Formula 1.

Bottom Photo has the Formula 1 cars in the first two rows, and then cars from two other board games, the first two possibly from a different issue of Pit Stop (?). The final two might be an early issue of Grand-Prix (?) and are plastic copies of the Monopoly car already on this blog somewhere.

Boardgamegeek fails to deliver when trying to ascribe these cars as it has several duplicate entries, and both F1 and GP are common to to many games, with lots of other car race and touring games over the years!

Monday, April 12, 2010

F is for Flats, unknown Flats

[Was being a tired (lazy) git last night and have edited the text and retaken the photo's!]

I've been meaning to show the first of tonight figures for a while, as they have been appearing on eBay a lot recently, and present a mystery or two. However in getting them out encountered the second lot, which seem to go together - after a fashion - so here they both are...

I'd always thought these were unusual (I've only ever seen the one pose?), similar to some early Marx or Thomas with the flat feet and solid construction, and they do pop up on eBay quite a lot, I've seen a bottle-green one (as I was bidding on the brown one) and there was a red-brown one on last week but in a junk lot at a 4.99 start price, which - not unsurprisingly - went unsold for the third or forth time.

Anyway, when I saw the metal one back in Jan. I thought, 'Oh Wow, they're taken from an old Hollow-cast mould', but with nothing in Joplin, bid 'blind' and waited with baited breath (that's a bit over-dramatic for a 99p lot in the post!) and was interested when it arrived to find in was a solid (probably why it's not in Joplin!).

Still believing it was the original, I was even more surprised to find it's quite a bit smaller, and must - in fact - be a home-cast (or commercial) copy of the plastic one! So...who, where, when? For either the metal or plastics! The plastic is a real UNA/VP/Kentoys colour?

The figure on the right is a mismould, taken out while still too hot, he has contracted forwards, but has still made a reasonably usable figure/pose variant. Metal figure is 70mm, the plastic 72mm.

[Peter Evans has identified these as being by Li-lo, which means the metal one is almost certainly a home-cast copy, if they keep turning up on eBay, I'll flag them as a dodgy set-up!]

Looking for the British 'Tommy' led me to the box 'Unknown Flats - Military', where the next biggest are these 65mm hollow-backed German 'Fritz' characters, I'm guessing they were from lucky-bags, or a shooting game? It's only a guess, anybody have any idea on these chaps from the wilder fringe of Toy Soldiers?

[20th Nov. 2015 - They were branded KM, came with a spring-loaded pull-back action pistol and six orange ball projectiles, blistered on a card, they are targets in a shooter game! The 'Combat Force Military Action Gun Set']

Saturday, April 10, 2010

A is for Addict, Toy Soldier Addict.

What follows is a sorry tale first published on the HaT Forum under a thread titled " Toy Soldier Collectors Anonymous " started by Patrick Deck on the 6th July 2008, it is sobering reading and apart from a bit of a spell check and the odd tweak remains unchanged...

My name is Hugh and I'm an addict, I started light, the same way most do, you know....the odd Airfix "because I had them as a kid", but I mixed Esci to match, then Revell teased me from the back of Concord Models, it was late on a Friday night, I was tired, vulnerable, I had an overtime payment in my pocket, it was too easy. I'd barely tasted the full flavour of the new mouldings when there was A-Toys packaging all over the place, I didn't care they were the same as Esci, I 'needed' them all, looking back it's easy to see; I was hooked already. But even if I wasn't, it was too late. I entered that years BMSS show in Aldershot (a Fujimi SdKfz 222 and Scratch-built 221), some guy in the bar got talking to me - he saw me coming - "Pop up to my place in Hartfordshire, I've got some Atlantic you can have", I was a fool, less than two weeks later I had a car-boot full of it. It gets worse, it always gets worse...I discovered premiums, I was getting them as chasers for the other stuff, started safe'ish, with a little bit of Kellogg's and some Nabisco but it wasn't long before I was hitting-on to Ola, Tito and those strong French one's, then came the German Flats (Andreas Dittman pushed those to me!), I wanted more, there were more, 300 companies. Andy Harfield and Peter Bergner kept supplying me with cheap gear, then I found quality stuff from Giant; 'Blues' & 'Greys', followed them with well-cut pirate junk from their brothers in Hong Kong, it was spiraling out of control, some weekends I'd take so much I couldn't fit it all in, I had to start an 'Unsorted recent purchase' stash in the back room, then another, then another. The names, Almark, Subbuteo, Blue Box (she had several sisters and was related to Marx, he had connections to Dunby Combex and through them Triang, Minix, Frog eventually - via Hornby - back to Airfix but I didn't care, I'd take 'em twice), then the new ones, HaT, Imex and Pegasus from the States, Emhar, Accurate and ACTA from nearer home, then the 'Eastern Promise' of Odemars, Orion, Strelets*R and LW via the mystery of Kervella/HYTTY, but I was beyond help, I'm on the hard stuff now....Chas Stadden, Comet/Authenticast, Wille/Suren, Ral Partha, McEwan, Hinchliffe, et al....and real gut-rot; Games Workshop, Marauder, Mini-figs........The Horror!..........the horror!............

It is unknown what happened to the chap, but I fear deliverance eludes him to this day...

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A Bit Of Colour In The Garden Now !


Primulas and Polyanthus, among my favorites since I was a small boy.

Daffodils and Narcissus, Spring is really sprung, when these are lighting up the lanes and gardens, I have to admit, a couple of these are from last year and won't come out for a week or so!

Other colour in gardens this weekend, the Tulips and Viola's are in Berkshire, the rest are North Hampshire.

More Spring Wildlife

This one's definitely got a hookah somewhere!

First Bumble-Bee of the new year. I also saw an Orange-tip butterfly 3 times, but he wouldn't settle for the camera, neither would a Brimstone male in shocking green!

E is for Elven Folk by Games Workshop and Mithril - Part 2, Tweaking

Thought I'd do a bit of detailing before I started the paint, tried adding the shields (in the previous post on this) to those figures without them but the cloaks got in the way, I was going to have them strapped to their backs in some way, but might have them lying on the bases or something?

I've strung the bows, the girl's - being fired - needn't be taught, but shouldn't really be so loose either, so I will try to tighten it a bit with a coat of dope. The LOTR guy is not too bad and were it not for the angle of my drill-hole he would be holding the string centrally, but both the GW figures suffer from the fact that they are 'pulling' through their heads, even with a bit of heat bending of bows and arms, the 40K guy is going to A) cut his own ear off, and B) shoot himself in the foot if he's not careful (hold the string high and the arrow drops - I used to do archery), while the LOTR dude would keep getting his helmet crest caught up in the string as he drew back.

Lack of thought from the sculptors!

Friday, April 2, 2010

S is for Soldiers Of The World (SOTW)

Not 'Warriors of the World' - a Marx moniker, although Kellogg's did call them Warriors Through The Ages & Famous Warriors. A while ago in Plastic Warrior (PW; Here, subscribe, now, that's an order! ) issue no. 134 there was a very interesting article on these figures, which dispelled a few myths while creating a few questions and kicking-off a major response which PW published as a readers feedback section in issue no. 136 back in February.

Definitive base-marks solve debate.
ORIGINS - Nationality/Sculptor
One question which has always been debated is; from where did they originate? And with people suggesting both the US and Australia as the probable country of origin, it was a question to which I knew answer, if only because I had several marked MADE IN ENGLAND. A Highlander, Egyptian and Viking. At least 5 or 6 Highlanders have now turned up out of 10 or so marked figures, all told.

I photographed them and got them off to the editor in the Autumn, only for Kent Sprecher of ToysoldierHQ (link to right of page) to publish a 'spoiler' to the 'exclusive' a week or two before the issue hit the doormat - hey, them's the breaks! These are rare (if anything plastic is ever 'really' rare) and seem to occur in a ratio of about 1 in 300 figures. Now, as mine are from both 'sets' of eight (more later), it may just be that all sixteen will turn up marked, in the fullness of time? [Apologies to Kent, his link wasn't to the right, it is now, nestled with the other main dealers, and here; Toy Soldier HQ ]

So that question can be put bed, or can it?! There are also the questions; who designed them? & who manufactured them?

Well, the next myth to dispel is that Charles Stadden had anything to do with them, this myth (pretty much quashed in the PW 134 article [subscribe - you know you want to]) seems to go back to 1981 and the publication of J.G. Garrett's The World Encyclopedia of Model Soldiers, where he writes, and I quote; "(dare we to think they were designed by Stadden?)", in other words, he [Garrett] didn't really believe it himself, but thought he'd mention it!

If there is a single set or group of soldiers - toy, model or connoisseur - anywhere in the world that resembles the SOTW, you will find them in the manifest of MPC, USA. Their larger set of knights in red, white and black, the US Cavalry or the G.I.'s. Likewise some late production Marx 54mm sets seem to have the same similarities. I would imagine the SOTW were designed by a jobbing sculptor who also designed for MPC and Marx, whether we will ever know his name is the only mystery there.

Comparisons between SOTW, MPC & Marx.
ORIGINS - Maker/Manufacturer
Not just the sculpting of the figures, the bases scream MPC/Marx, apart from the absence of the little hole and mould-number indentation that sets MPC apart from most production while confusing them with the above mentioned late 54mm Marx! The SOTW Highlander is a classic MPC/late Marx production pose. I'm thinking Jap's, Russians, G.I.'s & jungle natives here, plus the Marx 54mm Saxon/Norman charging pose, Marine officers, G.I.'s, WWII Brit's, Russians & French, also; all these late sets are 16 cavity moulds, and we have 16 SOTW??!!....

However, don't think I'm suggesting they came from MPC or even Marx factories...humm...see below. The moulds must have spent some time in the UK, or they wouldn't have the mark they do. So myth 3; Rubenstine/Bowman (Ratcliffe) or Rubenstein (Stadinger)? That they came in the latter's bags is not in question, Paul 'Stad's' Stadinger (link also to the right and here; Stadstuff .) is a long-time documenter/researcher of this stuff, and would have held them in his hands before ascribing them. I believe Ratcliffe takes his "Bowman" reference from Garratt, who refers to 'Bowaters' as having been recipient of some of Stadden's work. Bowaters are now a global conglomerate in paper pulping and paper re-cycling, but back in 1970 seem to have been more closely involved in the production of finished product, such as...cereal boxes and board games.

In the follow-ups in PW 136, Philip Hamilton of the Hamilton Toy Collection (details here) mentions the nearby location of the Tri-ang works in Merton as being a possible source of what appeared to be sell-through of factory overstock of SOTW figures in the late 70's. This is significant, as Tri-ang were part of the Lines group, they would end up as Dunbee/Combex/Marx and Marx were just mentioned by me above?

Not only that, but Bowaters, was one of C.J. Parker's companies, and he became Lord Parker of Waddington...Yes, THAT Waddington[s], another company connected to Lines Brothers, as I mentioned in the Marx/Blue Box articles that I wrote for PW's little brother; One Inch Warrior. Minimodels in Havant (Lines Group) and Subbuteo, East Grinstead, along with Waddington's were three companies that Stadden DID work for, but I think that coincidence is as far as Stadden goes in all this.

Ignoring the above leaves one going down the Rubenstein/Bowman route another way, and while there is a Charles Bowman making Popcorn (which may have had a need for small military premiums/giveaways) in the US, his partner was Reden../Reddenbacker/..bacher not Rubenstein/..stien/..stine!

So most likely set up - at the moment - is; Member of the Lines group or Bowaters commissions (for Peak Frean's initially?) a well known (to the industry) sculptor, probably American, to produce a set of premiums (1969/70'ish), which are then hawked (as finished product or moulds) to the international food premium/giveaway and rack-toy market around the world, with possible stays - for the moulds - in Australia (mid 1970's) and with Rubenstein (late 1970's) in the US.

UK production might (big MIGHT - don't want to start a new myth!) have been in the Marx, Swansea unit or equally - if not more - likely; Tri-ang's Merton plant and were probably lost or destroyed in the massive round of toy industry amalgamations, takeovers and bankruptcies in the late 1970's/early 1980's. Or; They could still be in the States somewhere? [Or Canada, Bowaters had big plants there then and bigger plants there now, the fact that they concentrate on pulping doesn't mean they know the total contents of every shed or store room...Ohh, is that a new myth started?!]

[I notice that several of these images and some of the subsequent images below have been stolen by Ghislain Oubreyrie and poorly 'Photoshoped' for his mostly plagiarised website, there's nothing I can do about it at the moment, the man's a thief, but one day I'll sue his arse, and the more he puts (of mine) on his site the more I'll sue him for, at his current rate of thievery, I'll be getting the price of a small house off him one day...any French Intellectual Property lawyer fancy an easy case? It's just comparing images (with originals) and site-editing dates! meantime; the high quality originals will always be found here]

Variations in shade and colour.
RARITY
- Colour & Pose
Rarity of colour variations; top shows the 4 'main' colours as a line of Highland Reavers coming to 'mayhem' a farmstead near you! Bottom left shows the comparison between the commoner gold, and less common bronze and between the silver and milky silver/brushed aluminum, with - on the right - the two reds, these tend to wash together under flash photography, but are clear to the naked eye. There appears to be only the one shade of blue which is a mid-blue somewhere between powder-blue and ultramarine, not the navy-blue ascribed somewhere. Neither - to my knowledge - has a cream coloured one ever surfaced.

The real rarity seems to depend on how long you've been collecting, how diligently you have sought these out and which country you live in. In the UK - for instance - Silver was considered common, with the other colours being 'rare', in recent years plenty of red and blue have surfaced and the gold are getting easier to find.

As to rarity of pose; the same applies. In the UK, Cluck Cereal Surprises (Ratcliffe) lists the British Grenadier, FFL, Roman and British Tommy as being "...harder to obtain", my own collection suggests that the Zulu and Swiss Bowman are the 'rare' ones, some believe that all those on the 'second' Nabisco list (Tommy, FFL, Musketeer, Cossack, Egyptian, Crusader, Spaniard & Zulu) are rarer, while the photo of painted figures from my mates collection below would leave the casual observer to believe the Tommy, Cossack and US Cavalryman were the uncommon poses.

Alan Copsey in PW 136 gives Roman, Crusader, Conquistador and Highlander as his list, but goes on to give a reason why they might be rare in his sample but not really rare at all. PW editorial say the Roman appears the rare one while P. Manninen in the same issue states that the second list of 8 is negligibly/marginally harder to locate...and so on.

I personally suspect the bronze and darker red are slightly less common being a shorter run, while the marked versions are quite hard to get, but I now know of at least 9/10 in three locations, so compared to the Lone*Star musketeer, they're not RARE, just relatively uncommon - for now! While, with regard to pose, none are more or less common than others.

I don't usually deal with value, but as I'm trying to cover everything here, I don't think they are worth more than a quid ($1.50) unmarked and have been selling all colours for 99p recently. Marked, they should fetch about a fiver ($7/8) .

The full 16 poses.
FIGURES
I have shown them in a vaguely chronological order above, but will list them as per. the Nabisco adverts, which illustrates them as two sets of 8. Text is from 'CLUCK', taken from Tiger & Jag comic - Neither set being the same as the Kellogg's 8? Reference to the photographs will be row, from the top, then figure from the left giving the Legionnaire (bottom, right) as 4/4.

Also, as a couple of them have 'common' names given them by collectors over the years, it struck me that in fact most of them could be given a character/moniker, and have done so in {parentheses}. I wonder if that was ever the original intention, and why they were given the more every-day names they ended up with?

FIRST 'SET'

US Cavalry - 4/2 {Custer}
Lieutenant Dixon of the 7th US Cavalry helped open up the West. He protected settlers and fought the Indian and Mexican armies. [One thing I forgot to mention, this figure is very uncommon with a full flag as pictured, usually it is a truncated blob.]

Mexican - 4/1 {Pancho Villa}
Pancho the Mexican bandit fought many battles against the United States, including the battle for the Alamo. Base mark believed to have been changed to 'Mexican' from 'Mexican Bandit' when the molds were moved to Mexico? [Fontes]

Turk - 3/2
Hasseim the Turk believed that to die in battle was the most glorious of all deaths. he fought for Saladin against the Crusaders. **[In Ottoman dress!]

Swiss Bowman - 2/2 (sometimes referred to as {William Tell})
Fritz was a Swiss mountaineer who fought the Hapsburg Austrian armies. with [sic.] William Tell.

Roman 1/2 (sometimes referred to as {Caesar})
Marcus the Roman belonged to an army that conquered and ruled the world for well over 500 years. He fought in Caesar's victorious legions.

British Grenadier 3/4
John Cartman was a man with great strength. He fired the heavy cannons for the early British army. [Not in that Miter-cap he didn't!]

Scots 3/4 {Wallace}
McGregor was a Scottish Highlander who joined Bonnie Prince Charlie's army and was defeated trying to win back the English throne for him.**[Kellogg's call him 'Highlander']

Viking 1/3 {Erik Bloodaxe}
Eric the Viking sailed the seas on a huge long-boat. He was a merciless, ferocious warrior and a great explorer. He landed in America...(the rest is missing in CLUCK and unreadable in PW, anyone got the last line?).**

SECOND 'SET'

The British Tommy 4/3 {Tommy Atkins}
The British Tommy fought alongside the Australians in the First and Second World Wars.

Foreign Legion 4/4 {Beau Geste}
Henri Gaston of the French Foreign Legion fought in the hot deserts of North Africa against fierce Arab tribes.

French Musketeer 2/3 {d'Artagnan - which they use}
D'Artagnan was a gay cavalier, an expert swordsman, a skilled rider and a keen shot with his musket.**[Kellogg's call him plain 'Musketeer']

Cossack 3/3 {Bohdan}
Ivan the Cossack was a fierce fighter and joined Russia's Imperial Army to help defeat Napoleon.

Egyptian 1/1 {Ramses}
Sihue the Egyptian wore a water bag on his arm for long desert marches. He fought in Cleopatra's army against the Roman Legions.** [Except he's not in Ptolemaic garb, but wearing stuff from 1500 or so years earlier]

Crusader 2/1 {Richard I}
Sir Robert de Courtney [maker of fine medievals?] journeyed to Palestine to capture the Holy city of Jerusalem. His leader was Richard I, King of England.**

Spaniard 3/1 {Co'rdoba, Alvarado or the given Cortez}
Miguel the Spanish Conquistador sailed with Cortez to Mexico and conquered the land of the Aztecs.**[Kellogg's call him 'Spanish Infantryman', in Canada; 'Infantry']

Zulu 1/4 {Shaka}
Ibuktu the Zulu warrior was a tribesman of South Africa. He fought many fierce battles with British and Boer Troops.**

** denotes Kellogg's UK 'set' of eight figures

The other thing to note about the full 16 is that with a bit of stretching, you could pretty well pair them up, biggest stretch being the Imperial Roman with the Biblical Egyptian.

Six of a possible seven.
EXTRAS
Peak Frean's offered a fort for 17/9d (p) + a token from the pack as a mail-away with cannons and flags "..etc."? this was probably stiff card or hardboard and it goes on to say "...you'd have to pay much, much, more" [in the shops], and most forts of that ilk/era were pressed, stamped, screen-printed (on one side) hardboard.

Nabisco had a 'posing panel' on the back of the box, different for each figure.

Kellogg's Finnish issue had a three part cut-out fort on the back of the box, with each part requiring one of three different boxes.

Typical packet/dry-food delivery container.
ISSUES - Known or Suggested
Australia - (?)
Kellogg's Factory (?), silver, 16 poses.

Australia - 1976
Nabisco, Shredded Wheat & Crispies breakfast cereals, Soldiers of the World, silver, 16 poses

Canada - 1960's (?) [I would imagine 1969 at the earliest. Actually- boxes dated 1968!]
Kellogg's Apple Jacks, Cocoa Krispies, Froot Loops, Honey Smacks, Puffa Puffa Rice, Raisin Bran, Rice Krispies and Sugar Pops breakfast cereal,  Soldiers of the Ages/Soldats de Tous les Temps, Silver, 16 poses, Boxes have cut-out scenery (8 boxes make a whole fort) and collectors cards (1 per box). [Mr. M. Purchase via Stad's and Dan Humar, Plastic Warrior Magazine No. 151]

Finland - 1972
Kellogg's Raksuja (Frosties) breakfast cereal, Sarja Historian Sotureita (Warriors from History/Historical Warriors Series), Silver, 16 poses.

Ireland (?) [mentioned by Hamilton as being noted by Garrett, I can find no mention of Garrett writing this but I've only got two of his four books?].

Portugal? [Miguel Fontes, Plastic Warrior 137 letters page]
Kellogg's? Translucent Brownish plastic, 16 poses

Portugal - 1970's [Bourbonese Braga - Parai'so Artificial Blog]
Ajax, Washing powder, Soldados Historicos (Historical Soldiers), silver and gold, 16 poses

UK - 1970
Kellogg's, Puffa Puffa Rice breakfast cereal, Famous Warriors/Warriors Through the Ages, silver, 8 poses only - Conquistador, Zulu, Egyptian, Viking, Highlander, Crusader, Musketeer & Turk.

UK - 1969 (Garratt ?), 1959 (Hamilton ?)
Peak Frean's, Pom Poms biscuits, Soldiers Through the Ages, Gold, Silver, Red & Blue (Opie thinks Gold only?), 16 poses, mail-away fort 'with cannons'? [I'd have to go with Garratt, they don't say 1950's to me. Actually 1968 - James Opie via Plastic Warrior Magazine No.152]

UK - ?
Petrol/Gasoline premium [mentioned by Ratcliffe as being the source for the non-silver figures, I think that this was probably the Peak Frean's Pom Poms?].

US - late 1970's/Early 1980's
Rubenstein, [about 4 conflicting titles - anyone know the correct name on the cards?], header-carded, bagged rack-toy, Silver & Blue (?), 16 poses (?)

I have seen these at the German show in Herne, and would assume they were issued somewhere in France, Germany or the Low Countries, by someone?

Various attempts at painting the figures.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS / CREDITS

Looking at the above, taken from one dealers stock, I'd better start by thanking all those unknown Toy Soldier Collectors, Modelers and War-gamers who painted (or part painted) the above!.

Also this article is the result of many years research by me, and all those listed below, oldest source first;

John G. Garratt, The World Encyclopedia of Model Soldiers, 1981, Muller Publishing

Wayne Ratcliffe, CLUCK (Complete Listing Un-completed [of] Cereal Kollectable), Issue I, 2001, Private Publication

Plastic Warrior Magazine No's 134 (2009), 136 (2010), 151 & 152 (both 2013), Subscription Publication (so subscribe!)

John Begg, Bourbonese Braga, Alan Copsey, Miguel Fontes, Philip Hamilton, Dan Humar, Pekka Allan Manninen, Paul Morhead, James Opie, Michael Purchase, David Pye, Kent Sprecher, Paul 'Stads' Stadinger, Kevin Strood, Terry Westlake, Jan Yarzembowski (hope I spelt that right! - I have now!) and others whom I've chatted to, bought from or - recently - sold to.

The amount of time people spend talking about these figures at shows, the interest shown in even common silver figures on eBay and the uncommonly large feedback to PW would suggest that you can forget the Airfix Tarzan, you can forget Britains mounted War of the Roses 'Swoppet' knights, these guys have a piece of the heart of every collector of a 'certain' age! So if you can add anything to what is still only conjecture and an incomplete list, email or comment...

112/10/2012 - Sadly; the mystery seems to have been solved - see last comment (funny this is the 4th most popular post of all time, yet comments diametrically thin on the ground?), they were made by Tatra and an update will be forthcomming any day now. 

Now full update is Here