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, January 23, 2012

C is for Copies, Copies and err...more Copies

Thinking it was about time I did some more ACW stuff - I had meant to get more done last year, but the beauty of a four-year war is that we'll have the 150th anniversary for another three years! - I dug out the ACW box last time I was at the storage unit. I then thought I really aught to do the Airfix HO/OO ACW over on the Airfix blog, but that won't happen for a while due to the storage question, however I thought I could do the Giant ACW figures, as it's a while since I covered them in One Inch Warrior magazine.

Now; my Giant have been split into three in the move, with the box containing the Ancients, Mediaevals and Mongols along with all the 'stone' forts I covered back in the summer (Giant, Accoutrements, Lucky Clover) is buried deep in the storage unit (although I have a handful of Roman/Greek Giant originals here by a stroke of fate) so I won't be featuring them for a while. The carded sets might (big MIGHT) be in the attic here, and if they are I'll try and get some up here in a month or two. While the rest happened to be in sight when I picked up the large-scale ACW the other day (coming soon), so I can present them now...

Nine foot figures; one prone and eight upright, taken from the Marx 54mm range they come in various shades of grey and mid to dark blues. These are original Giant, and are of a reasonable quality and detail, some are a bit 'bent', sometimes this is curable with a little just-boiled (never 'boiling') water, however some are too far gone. This kind of damage is caused by removing the sprue from the mould too soon, leading to uncontrolled shrinkage - left in the mould for another second or two the figures would cool/shrink 'in pose'.

Six mounted figures (top image) are obtained by cut-and-shut of foot figure uppers onto a pair of mounted legs! This works reasonably well for all bar the 'Firing musket to the left pose' who remains one of the most ridiculous figure poses ever in any scale. There was an even more idiotic mounted pose in the Backwoodsmen range.

Their artillery seems to be relatively original in design, although - ironically - much copied by their fellow Hong Kong'ese! A rather clunky and slightly medieval carriage carries a piece of ordnance looking like an eighteenth century naval gun but - one suspects - wanting to be seen as a Parrot Rifle? A decent little limber comes between the gun and a couple of paired horse teams.

One of my samples (all Union foot figures) came with six Giant wagons, the covered 'GS', and both open and tarped stores loads. There were three with covers (all yellow) two red stores wagons and the single green tarpaulin covered wagon illustrated above.

As I wrote above, the Giant Civil War figures were much copied by other HK companies and here we have three samples by at least two different suppliers;

In the upper photograph the complete gun-team and all the figures in front of it are from one source/sample, the yellow mounted figure and the two foot figures in front of him are of another purchase (but seem to be late production of the previous source (?)) while the lying shooting in pale blue is a very poor sample from another maker entirely.

Note how the later producers have added red and yellow to the mix (I've seen mounted figures in pink), and also taken the Giant flag bearer from the Napoleonic (Wellingtonian) range - itself a copy of a Holgar Eriksson SAE foot miniature - and used him has a mounted cavalryman - Giant having mounted him in that other set which we'll look at another day.

The lower picture shows how the Limber has deteriorated; from the left (with the corresponding figure in front) we have the Giant original with a full Giant marking, the early and late production of the copies in the middle and on the right the copy of the copies, this last one (along with the late production 2nd generation limber) has a lot of mould damage to the interior walls and it would seem that the HK chaps were having problems with the male half of the mould?

I only have two prone infanteers and three gun-teams for this late/poor quality (?) sample, so don't know what their foot figures or cavalry looked like yet. The gun-teams however, for this set; were single-pairs like the Christmas cracker limber-less guns I looked at a while back (W is for Wagons ...again!).

Again; comparison/identification shots of the four samples I've so far identified, I have given all the HK horses names to help identify them and they were all published in a past issue of One Inch Warrior, so for now if the next bit loses you; don't worry - it's all farty, navel-gazing, rivet-counting, obsessive, hardcore-collector stuff!

At the top is the Giant original, this is the very best type of HK hollow horse I call 'Smoothie' as it's a well finished moulding. Next; the 'initial' copies have two horses, one sometimes associated with Giant which is used here to pull the gun teams; 'Mexican Small', the other - which the mounted figures came on (in several separate samples) is the horse I called 'Wavymane' because err...it's got a wave in its mane! This is actually a copy of the Crescent 54mm horse (which is itself similar to both the Timpo and Britains Hearald running posed horses) and is the commonest form of HK hollow horse encountered in the UK, usually with Cowboys and Indians and which are not Giant copies.

The later versions of the initial copy and the late/poor copies have versions of what I call 'Remould' as the moulding has had some serious re-engraving done, particularly to the mane and tail, the last one is barely hanging together detail wise!

There are also notable differences in the draw-bar/horse-furniture with the little locating-studs being the easiest way to tell them apart, Giant having quite heavy 'arrow-head' finials, while the late set are very lightweight.


Giant originals bottom left and then first (?) copies next to them and later ones above, as you can see the Giant figures are marked 'GIANT (P) HONG KONG', while the others are unmarked, but similar mould marks on both the flag bearers is the reason I'm linking both sets despite the different horses and lowering of detail to limbers and things, the foot figures - at least - were coming from the same producer.

It's likely that as the horse mould wore out, or the source/s of the two original horse types dried-up, they got the later horse from somewhere else, or maybe they just re-cut the mould themselves - it's very much swimming in the dark with the history and relationships between all these pocket-money producers from the New Territories!

It's all very well putting 'Giant' on everything for your New York office/partner/commissioning client, but it makes it harder to sell them where Giant (whoever they were really) don't operate (not that that stopped Giant-marked items ending-up in non-Giant sets as we saw with the D-Day sets (Barbed Wire) I covered a year or two ago!), some non-Giant, is actually late-Giant...sometimes, but not - I think - with these.

The 'P' is presumably meant to indicate 'Patented' or 'Protected' and is otherwise meaningless, further it was probably designed to resemble the (R) for 'Registered' used in the US sometimes. Otherwise the usual marks found on toys are; (C) for 'copyrighted' and TM for 'Trade Mark [registered]' worldwide or; Reg., Reg.Des. or; Regd. for 'Registered/Registered Design' here in the UK.

Finally the locating-studs on the legs of mounted figures are another good way of documenting and identifying Hong Kong horses and figures origins. Here we see that the Giant figures (top left) have some on the largest of all HK mounted figures with the exception of the officer illustrated, who has quite a pointed stud without the heavy flange of the other figures.

The rest are the early and late (?) versions of the better copies, with the earlier ones top right and the later ones below them, you can see the drop in quality on the silver flag bearer, despite the fact that the foot figures are almost the same.

The figure to the bottom left is a neat conversion done by the original owner (not me) to the 'Napoleonic' (or Wellingtonian) flag and makes a cavalry guidon by the simple expedient of cutting the flag-pole where it meets the flag, shaping the flag above the damage into a triangle and then threading the pole (no glue, no heat) through the loops made by the cords flapping against the pole!

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