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, September 22, 2011

F is for Further Follow-up A

Not the post(S) I've been struggling to edit for two days now and which will have to be redone again! But a little something to follow-up the Rafael Lipkin tank transporter I posted the other day.

The big Dinky die-cast in 1:60 was quite a beast and in my day only the rich kids at the end of the village or up on the heath had this, there was a civilian version in red and yellow (?) with a transformer load, but this baby was 'The Kiddy' in my hood!
Various smaller ones, top left are SP-Toys/Supreme and have been covered before, next to them is a 1:300 micro-armour Scammell, probably GHQ, but could be Scotia, below him is the 1:87th scale 'Dragon Wagon from Roco (with a few bits missing I fear!) and bottom left is a Hong Kong Ford or ERF type low-loader from the 1970's with an Imperial Toys staff car...yes the same people who produced Poopa-troopa's
Finally the small-boys from Matchbox (near, 1-75 range) and Budgie (far), the Budgie one is not inaccurate, just purporting to represent an International tractor unit not a Mighty Antar from Scammell.

Before-and-After's

Pretty self-explanatory stuff, but I'm in the job market and it helps to show I can do what I say I can, otherwise you might find some Knight of the Realm lying to a Tribunal that I can't or something, which would surely upset Her Madge? Perish the thought...

Friday, September 16, 2011

A is for Anchor

A recent (1980-90's?) premium, I've had the calf for ages as he came in a small scale 'job-lot', but his mum turned up in a bag from a charity shop last week, after I blogged here!

Here they are; not much to say, based on Britains designs, made in 'Jersey' plastic and there may have been more? For years I thought it was just the calf!

Close-up of the marking. That's them done and ticked-off then! Given away with butter, Anchor is (was?) a major brand here in the UK, probably Kraft or Dannone now!!...United Conglomerate Holdings Co.Ltd. part of the Shipping (Utrecht) & Mfg. Int. Corp......

P is for Panther - Black Panther

When I used to help a large-scale guy with his shows and sorting his collection I discovered that the 54mm people get quite excited by black panthers, truth is...shusssh...they are not very rare!

I think everyone has had a go at a black panther at some point and these have all come from charity shops in the last 18 months. Most are Hong Kong, including the friendly one with his paw up and the small one at the front which is a copy of the Britains panther which itself was a black plastic version of their leopard.

Back left (with all the paint on his face) is the Timpo one, he's far more common than the Britains one, while opposite him (with his left paws joined) is one I assume to be Cherilea, he has an ENGLAND mark and sculpting similarities with that firm's otter.

My friend?...he had a tub-full in one of the sheds, a box-full upstairs and a few 'special' one's secreted about the place, like I said; they were mass-produced, in plastic, they're NOT rare (anyone got a spare Britians original...I'll give you two eggs and a cup of sugar!).

I saw one of these back in 1985 - watching our truck from the other side of a river in Kenya. Just his head, for a fleeting second, but the local guide confirmed that there was a black leopard in the area!

F is for Follow-up -1

Following-on from the hunting stuff I published a few weeks ago with all the early railway and military stuff, there is this quandary - I don't know if I'll be helping to clear-up an old mystery with this post or further muddying the waters!

Norman Joplin attributes this set as being an import from Germany for or by Hill/Johilco as set number 735 in 1935, and he also states that Charbens imported it as well, and I have no reason to doubt one of the great experts on these matters...were it not for the additional plastic ones that keep turning up in a very 'British' chocolate brown, and the label on my box stating 'Made In England'?

Could it be that the German Imports are in fact the broken ones (bottom left) which have a lot of the characteristics of 'Cold Cast' bronzes, not least the matt finish. While the more common set is in fact a UK produced piece?

The box is very Charbens or Taylor & Barrett while the plastic IS Hill 'ish

F is for Follow-up - 2

Following up from the set of posts I did a month or so ago, looking at early - mostly - British Plastics and a bit of metal; here is some other metal bits to tie in with them.

The semi-flat metal bathers issued by Aristocraft in the US in the post-war period are made in West Germany and bare some resemblance to the figures Marklin were issuing at the time, but are a little larger and a little cruder.

The Dyna-Mo forklift was still in the Walther's catalogue as an unpainted casting in the last few years, this one go's back to the 1950's. and is a single colour all-over paint-job on lead/white metal.

The 'Selly Road Gang' could be Comet/Authenticast, but I don't think so, and any help would be much appreciated in identifying this early US railroad item...which may have been made-up and titled by the owner from the products of more than one company - as they do look a bit like Comet?

The three guys at the top might be Timpo, and either pre-date or be replacements for; the Zang composition mechanics that timpo carried in the late 1940's-1950's?
Below are definitely Comet/Authenticast, with a broken unpainted and group of painted ones from tow different sets (I'm working on a complete check-list of HE/Comet/SAE/Maleable stuff at the moment).
The bottom shot shows the late-issues of Wardie/Mastermodels with tiny bases designed to be as unobtrusive as possible on a model railway layout, compare with the ones shown last time.

Below the size-comparator shot we have an unknown 35mm pilot and two (probably home-cast) copies of the Dinky gun-crew.

K is for Kit Sprues - as a Marketing Tool!

For the longest time now Paul Morehead over at Plastic Warrior has run the feature 'Soldiers in the Media' finding the uses people put toy soldiers to in order to sell you something else. I too have always collected toy-related stuff in the more general media and here are a few on a single theme...Kit Sprues.

This was a 'Quick-fit' insurance leaflet from about two years ago, and pulls heavily on Airfix iconography for everything from the logo to the paint tins!

This is a bit older (10 years or so?) and is full of fascinating stuff worth reading (it should be an o-level text!) as well as having recognise able bits of an Italeri or Tamiya (?) sprue...I recognise the guard dog and the officer's map-case!! But I don't know what the sow-weaster hood looking thing is middle left?

This is more recent, and a very good bit of Sci-fi 'near-fiction'. topical as well; Radio 4 have had two programmes devoted to 3-D printing in the last few weeks, one of the biggest tech-con's is currently featuring 'Rapid Prototyping' as the trend du jour, and we (toy soldier people) had two or three very interesting debates about the subject only a couple of three-years ago.

Held on the HaT and Strelets forums if you fancy looking for them, the general consensus was we'd all be able to design our own set in Dreamweaver and take the disc down to Prontoprint for a new set of killer-caveman space-marines before tea, within a year or two! that's er...now!

However a quick read of Makers leads you to spot potential problems even the author hasn't covered, such as a rougue robot-copier vindictively covering the planet in a grey plastic layer of Airfix Drum-major's because the toaster rejected him with a stolid silence!!!!! Be afraid, be very afraid...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

W is for Wings...French Wings from the Rostebiffs

"The Wings of France" it says...on two early British-looking jets with er...British roundels!! Still the RAF did keep helping to save them in the last century so I guess it's some sort of subtle or back-handed compliment!
The maker is unknown and apart from a small 'MADE IN FRANCE' under a wing (in English) there is no clue, but clearly a company in the same mould as Pyro, Kleeware, Manurba or Osul, carding cheep toys at the pocket-money end of the 1950's (?) toy market.
I love the figures though - clearly a very French looking paratrooper with his loose-bloused trousers and a couple of matelots with their bell-bottoms!

F is for Frogs!

OK, despite my love of the French, they do produce the odd piece from time to time! Majorette are (were?) the French equivalent of Matchbox and occasionally they include figures to increase play value, these are all from the last few years...

From the top; A common type of Hong Kong/China copy of Airfix Germans, they came with military vehicles, but whatever nationality of the prototype - or era! - you only got three random Germans circa 1941.

The vinyl racers came with collectable sets of sports or Formula-1 cars about 6 years ago, two per set, but the pairs were always the same so you only needed to buy two to get all four poses.

The workmen and firemen obviously came with emergency or construction vehicles.

Some of the vehicles under discussion, the Helicopter is a bit earlier as is the Renault 'Safari' pick-up

B is for Blood-brothers

Following a discussion over at the Moonbase the other day, I'm just putting this up to show how the original Matchbox Battle Kings figures were issued.

Locked into pairs by a length of plastic, which - if memory serves - was held down by a piece of the internal packaging? Here are shown from the top; Germans, Americans and 'Modern' troops. They came out before the 1:76 scale sets and were clearly reduced slightly to be included in the later sets of 50-odd figures, which I will cover one day, but PSR does this war gaming stuff so much better than I could! I'll also cover the Battle Kings in greater depth soon, but they were covered in the first or second issue of One Inch Warrior by yours truly!

Friday, September 9, 2011

M is for Mean Marine Machine

I think I have Peter Evans to thank for two of these, I say 'think' in that grudging way, what I mean is I know I have to thank him for at least one of the carded sets, but can't remember if I picked the other one up or whether he in fact gave me both...but thank you Peter!
Baravelli were to Italy what Giant were to the US...no they weren't, they imported all manor of stuff, and held franchises for Fujimi and other household names, so were much bigger than Giant ever were. However in the Toy Soldier world, they were very similar; a limited range of Hong Kong imported figures in various packaging formats produced between sometime in the 1960's and the late 1970's.

Before the Airfix rip-off boxes similar the the Atlantic 'blue' boxes, they used rack-cards like these, and a peer into the gloom of ancient worn bag reveals a right old mixture of figures, but we'll look at them in detail below.

Another set, only two figures this time along with the quite common HK ships they turn-up all over the place and a couple of hard plastic MTB's

The later boxes for 50460 American Marines, I don't know where I got the Blue-box artwork from but if you recognise it let me know and I'll remove it if you wish, sadly it hasn't reproduced well but the later 'red' box is a lot better, being a direct scan.

The full set of poses as found in the upper bag, all 7 of what would (at the time) have been the 54mm Airfix US Infantry, along with a couple of Russians and a German also from the 54mm range. The others are a French WWI standard-bearer and one of Monty's Desert Rats.

The contents are all the more confusing as they - Baravelli - did produce a set of the 1st version Marines in the later boxes? The real similarity with Giant is that they used one supplier (apart from those ships at least!) so they have a certain Baravelli 'feel' to them, slightly better than the average HK figures and with decent Airfix style bases, glossy plastic which rarely brittles- if at all?

D is for Dunkin, Disney and Deutschland!

Reader/follower 'Gerhard' of Germany sent me some interesting shots the other day and although he's missed my return email and plea below somewhere, I've cobbled together a couple of posts round what he sent.

This is entirely collage'd from Gerhard's images, and is very interesting as it shows the Tito logo on an Americana gum envelope. It also states MADE IN SPAIN when the Americana company is centred near Aachen south of the Ardens (although Munich is stated on these packs), so I guess they were all part of a bigger multinational that also involved Dunkin, Tylers/Mundi and Jopar...all part of the Sanchez group????! - In the end it does your head in!

Anyway - nice shots of the envelope and a full set of the Disney figures, as Gerhard stated in his eMail; these were originally Marx Disneykins, manufactured in Hong kong in hard styrene. At some point the Marx arm in Europe; Heimo got sets of moulds for a fair few of the TV, Movie and cartoon character sets in various sizes and produced them in unpainted softer ethylene's, even shipping some back to the states.

Somehow they - the 'kin' moulds - seem to have gone to Tito (and/or Ola?) where they were supplied to all sorts of bubble-gum, ice-cream and other food companies as premiums from the mid-to-late 1960's until the early 1980's, after which some (Tin Tin) ended up in Mexico, others got as far as Taiwan (Asterix) where some of the original Marx Miniature Masterpieces had been made!

I meant to knock-up the notes for this post at home and forgot so I can't remember the name of the show from which the characters in the two lower left shots come from! It was an European TV cartoon though! Some kind person chuck the name in 'comments' if you know it, I won't be back here till next Wednesday! Added 24th Feb 2013 - Jan Koolen has let me know they are from the European TV cartoon Nils Holgersson, thanks Jan.

The other shots are either colour variations from Portugal (Ola) or Spain (Tito) or other characters from the old TV Tinykins range, taken from the oeuvres of Warner Brothers or Hanna Barberra.

Although distorted by my collageing them together these are pretty much all between 25/40mm. Again - because I didn't pre-load the article, I'm sitting here doing it off the top of my head in the Library and will NOT attempt to name half these critters!

Marx originals; Top is a Swansea large scale ethylene Panchito and two colour variants of the Disneykin.
Below him we have various Peter-pan characters, again all Disneykins. The last shot shows Hong Kong and Heimo treatments of Captain Hook in both Styrene (small) and PVC vinyl (Large) respectively.

Larger Vinyls at top, these are mostly unlicensed HK copies of Schlich, Bully (Heimo's modern trademark) or Papo, Daisy Duck is Heimo to the left and Marx to the right, Gerhard mentions getting the Schlich ones every time he went to the Dentist, any other German readers remember freebies. Also it wasn't clear if he was talking about the larger vinyls or the smaller ethylenes?

Below are some more old Marx figures to the right and a Heimo character who's name I've forgotten, but she was a US TV cartoon from the 50's (Little Orphan Annie, Dagwood? - something like that!)

Pecos Bill - one of the most pirated figures in the history of toy figures; Top row are all Marx/Heimo (Swansea ethylene is the unpainted yellow one on the left), bottom row are all Christmas Cracker/Lucky bag giveaways, with various stages of remoulding or decrepitude from 4 different sources!

M is for Miscellaneous

A bit of a follow-up on previous posts and some new stuff, which came about after a follower; 'Gerhard' from Germany - sent me a few pictures the other day...

These are both from him, in the upper shot a handful of the Mundi/Dunkin type animals we looked at, ooh....over a year ago now? New colours and they apparently came 3 to a bag from Tito, who seem to have generated a lot of these 'premiums'.

Below is a near full-set with the various Deer/Antelope that were missing from the original post so we can now compare them with the bag-art shown then.

The blue Bear (third from right - bottom row) and the brown Kangaroo seem to be from other sets/sources.

The Photographs have loaded the wrong way, but I can't be arsed to sort it out or re-load them, so this was going to be the last image (a bit of a 'round-up') but is here instead!

Three Bonitos tube tops, there were 5 in total I believe, and the full set can be seen in one of the Konrad books. Above them are some larger (nominally 54mm) Tom & Jerry character models, the First Tom from the left and the Jerry from the far Right are the common versions, made by Marx probably in Hong Kong for the Swansea works. The Jerry on a block of cheese, is not marked with a makers logo, but has the license info clearly displayed, he also looks as if he was designed to be standing on a pencil sharpener but there is neither a sharpener in situ or the hole for one, so I suspect he's more the sort of thing you'd find in a card shop like Hallmark or 'Birthdays'. The other Tom I used to think was a shrinkage variation but closer inspection reveals he's quite different, and may be a re-sculpt following damage to the original mould?

Below them is a Jecsan Yogi Bear from Spain and a Boo-boo from - I don't know where! He is clearly supposed to be holding an umbrella which is missing the parasol and looks like he could be Blue Box or Lucky?

The last shot is a Hong Kong Christmas Cracker toy using pirates of the Marx Fairykins Jack and Jill to produce a see-saw 'action' toy! The originals are the painted ones.

Apparently these are mostly Nabisco Foods cereal premiums, the four Flintstones characters to the right are from a more modern set, maybe a pocket-toy fold-away diorama/play set thing? The Disney Robin Hood set is factory over-production and a shed-load were doing the rounds of shows a few years ago.

One of the reasons I'm always saying this stuff is not rare is that once you've made the machine-tool/mould it's easy to churn them out until you're blue in the face, they then pile up at various stages of their life cycle...producer factory, packer, distributor, outworkers (if they are painted) etc...and depending on when or why they are withdrawn, you can guarantee someone will find a box-full 15 years later!

07-01-2013 - Both the above are now identified as Tatra mouldings.

More Tatra for Nabisco - I think (input on all the last four sets appreciated) with two Tito marked characters from the same movie at the bottom right. I though they were from 'The Lady and The Tramp' but apparently is something called 'Aristocats'...showing my age again!!

So there are a few curiosities from the land of food premiums, mostly 1970's or early 1980's, and thanks again to Gerhard for the images.

Friday, September 2, 2011

News, views etc...

Second of the points raised by the Littlewoods Catalogue page first shown over at Moonbase Central; below.

Sheriff of Nottingham given an overview over at the Airfix Blog.

Also updated the old Heller Figure post again.

New Plastic Warrior is out now, second part of the history of Crescent, more on Jean ACW, a second pose of Lone*Star Musketeer (No! I won't describe...subscribe!)...mind you; while I've been boring people with my "one day a whole shop-stock box will turn-up in six colours" mantra for years, no one imagined more poses would start to turn up!!!

Book reviews of a couple of nice-looking French Titles, don't bother asking Waterstones they've no record of either ISBN!!!

A potted History of Accurate and some new figure reviews...small add's...all the usual stuff...buy it!

Shows;
Sandown Park - This weekend
Old Toy Soldier Show - Holiday Inn, Bedford Square - Next Weekend (10th, see Mercator Trading website for details)
Birmingham - October

P is for Plagiarism - the sincerest form of flattery

This is the second half of the article that was born from the Littlewood's catalogue page that the Moonbase boys published the other day. I was not so sure about these as being also Raphael Lipkin, and suspect the are actually Triang 'Minic'. The main reason being the large amount of tin-plate involved. Based on the Bedford RL of the 1950's (some still in service in the late 1980's!), the real surprise is that it blows my Blue Box 'unique designs' claim elsewhere out of the water! And looking at the pictures I do vaguely remember a friend having the Radar truck when we were kids. The figures I thought were Lone*Star are - in fact - a slightly different design, clearly copied from LS, but in the same colour of plastic as some of the Spot-On's I looked at a while ago. It would appear that Minic based their figure on the Lone*Star figure, and Blue Box then used the Minic figure with the Lone*Star mounting position to make their HO'ish figure, giving him a  helmet net/cover to get over the straight-copy issue! The Lone*Star crew came in three poses and two base colours as seen above, the rear pose being closest to this truck pose, but with the feet together on the Lone*Star originals. Comparison between the two figures, Lone*Star is the dark green one in both shots. The main difference is the mounting spigots, which come out of the small of the back of the Lone*Star figure, and the nether regions of the other (Triang?) figure.

Blue Box took the second figure, re-positioned the mounting spigot to the LS position and gave him a helmet net.