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.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

New Product Reviews

Well - we've got the 'New Look' without a choice and already I'm wondering why? Orange text with pale grey? Readable? And what's happened to images (shut-up Hugh, at least they're getting them in the right order now!)...the only way I've found of getting this paragraph written is in the HTML window as the old 'compose' window won't let me start writing above the image?!

Anyway. I'm sure there'll be more whingeing from me on this score (why is the 'stats' page less wide than it was a week ago, despite the fact that the whole world is trending toward wider screens?!!), so to this post...a new thing for the blog; new product reviews.

A few words on the subject - I've never asked a company directly for 'free stuff', as I've seen how it can lead to sycophantically false copy, however, like just about everyone I like to get something for nothing, and if people want to send me things I'll look at them and post a review here. My budget only goes so far and is primarily dedicated to vintage figures and old ephemera, new production being very much an afterthought...So eMail me (top left of page) if you'd like to send me free stuff! But bear in mind that I will be honest.

So paragraphs now centre automatically do they? Here are today's review items, the book was supplied by Pen & Sword publishing (thanks to Rachele there) while the figures came from a new company; AJ's. (thanks go to Jim who is - I suspect Mr 'AJ'!), both items are easy to review as both are really good at being what they are - a book on war-gaming and a new concept in toy figures.

We'll look at the book first;

This is a timely book as I've noticed in the four years I've been Blogging that this period is not only gaining in strength, but is also popular in the larger scales, where it can involve 'Toy Soldiers' as several of the blogs I link to attest. Written by a Neil Thomas, who I don't know from Adam, it is a good primer on the subject, and covers the period between the end of the Napoleonic Wars and the later part of the nineteenth century.

About half the book is put over to historical battle 'scenarios' with each receiving a potted history, suggested number of moves played, disposal of forces, special rules if applicable and so on. There are also various appendices; a very useful annotated bibliography, a guide to the various figure scales and a list of useful contacts. I found this third one to be a bit thin, but I'm coming at it from the angle of someone archiving ten-thousand-plus toy and model figure companies...for someone interested in this period I suspect the list is a good guide to the main publishers and figure/accessory suppliers..

I wouldn't say it was 'profusely' illustrated, but it has all that is needed with regard to maps and diagrams, lists and tables with the added bonus of a colour section in the middle.

As the period was one of great change the most useful sections for me (as a non-wargamer) were the historical background, time-line and army lists. I also liked the fact that throughout the work provision is made for converting those relevant pieces of the rules for use in different scales.

The reason for the strange date is that this book is specifically about Europe, and therefore ignores the American Civil War and the various colonial adventures in Africa, Asia and further afield. Starting with the congress of Vienna and finishing with that in Berlin following the end of the Russo-Turkish war and the formation of Bulgaria. In fact; the most fascinating period of recent European history and a period not taught well in school, if at all?

So - Very happy to recommend this book. I believe the author has also published a book on the Napoleonic era, and one hopes he will complete a 'trilogy' with one on the foreign wars of the 'colonial' period mid-to-late century? It is also so rare to get an entirely new book on the subject it's nice to read one that doesn't have the familiarity of the old in a new jacket!

Our second sample for review is just fantastic! Soupie covered these on his blog a while ago (MinifiguresXD/Toypedia) and Plastic Warrior covered the 'rival' set from Kid Robot the other month (Plastic Warrior, subscribe!). Clearly a trend toward non-military 'army men'...Green? Check!...54/60mm? Check!...small bag with header card? Check!

But that's where the similarities end, these are very well sculpted/finished figures, and with 3 each of eight different poses you can produce a small skate-park of fun  in seconds. Obviously they are not aimed at me or my generation, but if they bring the younger collectors back to model figures so much the the better. And with snowboarders and surf-boarders on the way this is shaping up to be a fine range of figures.

One needs also to bear in mind that two of the best 1950/60's sets for holding on to their value and/or commanding a high price are the Mettoy/Playcraft hospital figures and accessories and the Britains ballet dancers, so it's never been only about killing and guns...or marching up and down the sqway'er!

Here we see (from the left) front and rear views of the figures described as; Tail-grab, Nose-grab, Cruising 2 and Ollie. The figures really are very good, with some having the awkward 'gangly' stance of a teenager growing faster than his wardrobe can keep up with him, others having the 'too-cool dude' attitude of the guy with the pink kryptonics at my own school 32 years ago!

This really is a 'new concept' and with Kid Robot producing Brake-dancers and street-performers, there is mileage in them if they prove popular, with the whole gamut of teenage-culture and 'extreme sports' to pick from...how about a set of Italian Lambretta-kids showing off down the sea-front promenade? BMX/Griffter-kids? Also for the older readers; a couple of these will make excellent message 'runners' for your middle-east scenarios!

If you have a young lad between say; 6 or 12, buy him a pack and see what he does with them?

The other four figure poses; Manual, Smith, Pushing and Cruising 1. 'Pushing' is the annoying one we've all seen careering down the centre of the pedestrianised town-centre oblivious to the 'No Skateboards' signs and everyone else!

There's a website at www.toyboarders.com and also a short stop-frame animation;

Toy Boarders on Youtube

These are made of one of these modern hybrid plastics and while being I suspect - mostly an ethylene type polymer, there seems to be  a bit of a softer material like a PVC included, giving the figures a slightly rubbery surface texture like some 'posh' kitchen knives, hand-tools or cigarette lighters these days and I think they will take paint very well. Certainly the detail is worth the effort with a paint brush and so - 2 out of 2 on tonight's reviews!


Scott B. Lesch said...

My son turned up his nose at toy soldiers preferring trucks, and later skateboarding. He still skateboards at 23 and we are just so "proud." (disappointed sarcasm icon here)

These look like a source for heads and arms for converting plastic figures.

Maverick Collecting said...

Hi Scott - I won't disagree! They also have a useful number of open hands ready to take weapons and with a judicious cut between soles of shoes and boards will make very nice 'irregulars' and revolutionaries!!


Paul´s Bods said...

This awefull rubbery plastic!! It´s getting everywhere..Hat use it. Murder to cut for converting, to glue it needs industrial strength nuclear waste based glues. Takes paint well though :-D
I still haven´t got this new look Blogger thingy...I´m using the Mackta stealth chant (Galaxy Quest):-D

Maverick Collecting said...

I'm using no Internet! But that only makes the look worse when I do get logged-on!