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 23, 2011

B is for Blue...Boxes

I have in past posts mentioned my theory with regard to the relationship to Marx’s Swansea facility and both their Miniature Masterpiece range and the fact I believe Blue Box was a primary supplier, and this post is another attempt to tie up the loose-ends of that theory!
Anyone wanting to read the original thesis needs to check back issues of One Inch Warrior, specifically issue 11, there is a follow-up with the Editor, but as 1W may not be resurrected, maybe I’ll see if Paul minds my putting it up here?

Also this post has given rise to two others, which if the internet is working and I have had time, you will find below this post, one on the Blue Box ACW figures (and Lido) and the other expanding on the wagon playsets from Hong Kong.

Three very similar (well; two are identical in all bar graphics!) sets, - in each case the contents are on open display in the image immediately below the box art.

On the left a Blue Box branded ‘Wagon Train Outfit’, in the middle a Marx set called ‘Covered Wagon Outfit’ with; to the right, a Hong Kong set of similar vein.

Thanks to Gareth Morgan (of Morgan Miniatures – Link to right) for the images of the Marx set

More box-shots; at the bottom are the two Ledapack sets we’ve looked at before, containing the same 30mm Blue Box Wild West stock as the other two sets. One further branded for/to Woolbro as ‘Western’, the other (with vac-formed ‘Fort Apache’) more generic as ‘Western Set’.

From the carpet patterns and duplicated HK set you can see these are all to roughly the same relative size as life, the inset is however larger and shows the ‘Sunshine Series’ box end. Not only are the contents the same as the Blue Box set, but the boxes are the same dimensions, have the same perforated push-out display panel, and similar stapled construction.

As Marx had their own Western range scaled-down from their 54 and 60mm ranges both in hard styrene and later soft ethylene, these must have come from Blue Box. The fact that Rado Industries (Ri-Toys) who seemed to inherit most of the Blue Box stuff (and other HK moulds) would later supply the Marx moldings to Marksmen, only says the moulds were probably always with Blue Box, and for whatever reason the Blue Box set here was issued in Marx branding to fulfill a contract while the Marx moulds were indisposed for some reason?

The Blue Box/Marx foot 30mm figures, being copies of Britains Swoppets, and from top to bottom;

Early Indians
Early Cowboys
Late Indians
Late Cowboys
More late Indians, with a paler brown one
Very uncommon unpainted coloured-plastic ones

The paint is a little finer on the earlier production, with slightly better attention to detail, while the unpainted ones are so hard to come by as they were supplied to and issued in; Christmas Crackers, therefore survive in very small quantities.

Moving away from the Marx connection and looking at the rest of the Blue Box Wild West stuff, these are the foot poses for the 50mm Cowboys and Indians. As far as I know, these are original designs to Blue Box, and while late production has a very simple paint scheme, with the feet ending up whatever colour the legs are, you can see from the early cowboy (running with green base), that like the 30mm range, they did have a better era, paint wise, in the early days!

The spear is not correct being what looks like a copy of a Britains ECW pike! The correct weapons for these figures will probably turn out to be the same colour as the rakes in the photograph below? Can anyone from the large-scale collecting community help with an image of the right weapons?

The 30mm mounted range are - again - copies of the Britains Swoppet figures, even to the bases and horses, with the same saddle-cloth slipping over a spigot under the riders backside. The pink colouration on the feet of one horse is caused by colour-bleed from the dark green bases, a common problem with HK production.

The mounted figures from the 50mm range, only two poses each, and while the figures are again original designs, this time the horses are pirated from Jean Hoefler of Germany. Again; the tomahawk is probably not the correct weapon, but it fits!

Notice again the early Cowboy with a proper paint-job, and - top left - late versions of both my early ones! Two horse poses in two colours seems to have been the order of the day, the same horses were used with the Blue Box Medieval and ACW (see post below) range, but not the mythical mounted Japanese officer.

The other main accessories in the Wild West Range, various combinations of red and brown were used with the 30mm wagon, the 50mm wagon was almost an exact copy of the Crescent 54mm Wagon, down to the horses and the way the canvas tilt extends over the sides.

The Fort Cheyenne however; brings us neatly back to Marx! Like the main vessel in the Blue Box Noah sets, there is little between the Marx corner tower and the Blue Box version, but as the animals were always poorer in the Noah sets, so the gate, ladder and wall sections are of lesser quality than the Marx offering. Here I’m not suggesting a direct link, these are straight piracies, the Marx range having been around for a bit when the Blue Box one appeared?

A few loose-ends!

Top Left; another Marx branded set containing Blue Box product, again - small-scale, actually I think this is from the filed 1W article.

Top Right and Bottom Left; Base marks on Blue Box stuff

Centre; is a bit of a mix, I’ve seen the figure on the left in a carded farm set and a bagged Jungle Exploration set but have been told he also comes in some Wild West sets. His Dog is often missing as he’s only attached to the base by one paw, and heavy play tended to part one from ‘tuther, as did chewing! In hunting sets he also comes with the ‘Great White Hunter’ and the Tarzan figure hence their inclusion.

Bottom right are some scaled up farm figures from Blue Box, the farm-hand came with either a detachable or integrated base (as a Blue Box monkey design also did). The tools are full of the unstable maroon dye, helping produce brown in this case rather than dark green, the Indian weapons will probably be this colour too?

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