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, November 24, 2012

V is for Vinyl Villagers

And so we get to the last phase/current production of Hornby. These are my least favourite figures from them and also the longest lasting by a far, they are also not unique to Hornby having been issued under various brands at one time or another. Indeed they seem to be aimed at the American Market and I believe they were first issued by Life-Like.

They have always - under Hornby branding - been about the most expensive railway figures to buy (per head) after Preiser, who's figures might also be pricey, but at least give you the satisfaction of knowing you're getting top quality. These are soft, rubbery and slightly blubbery - detail wise - PVC vinyl-rubber, with glued-on rigid bases, probably in a polypropylene.

First appearing in the UK as Hong Kong carded generics (upper image), I well remember one Christmas when our Father was home unexpectedly (he was usually enjoying himself in some bloody jungle full of CT or some mountainous desert full of something equally unpleasant!), he announced a 'Mystery Tour' and we were got up in our best kit by Mum and toddled off the Winchfield station to get the train to London (slam doors and sprung blue stripey seats that swallowed you whole). We thought he was going to take us to the York Rail Museum (that had been a previous mystery tour, and he remains a steam fan to this day). But we ended up in "The most famous model train shop in London", which I can't remember...but it was in an arcade off Regent Street or somewhere eqaully posh?

He then announced we could choose our Christmas presents (we knew Mum had got us a home-made chipboard model rail layout [with gloss blue pond and brown roads) from the local auction house as we'd helped put it on the roof of the Morris Traveller!), and he gave us a budget, it was not large given the mountains of train sets on offer.

We ended up selecting a Hornby blue diesel locomotive with two coaches and some goods wagons, tankers mostly (better crashes if volatile chemicals and fuels are involved - it was a figure of eight track so crashes were a permanent feature!). There was a small quantity of the 'budget' left, and while my Brother had rather lost interest I choose some foam hedges and a header-carded bag of unpainted multi-coloured Hong Kong civilians (that we'll cover another time) and while I was umming and arring I remember also seeing the above card! Long story, short punchline...how it should be!!

Below the HK card are various shots of loose figures showing colour variations etc...note the guy in the straw Stetson and Levi jacket - clearly aimed at the American market, or at least not particularly British.

These figures are still being issued by Hornby after some 30 years, and it would be nice if they would design or commission some new ones, but as they now own or hold the rights to Bachmann Europe who were themselves issuing re-packaged Preiser in new paint jobs here in the Uk in the late 1990's, we'd probably only get more of the same anyway (news on new railway figures here on the blog in a forthcoming 'Product Review' and there may be discounts included?). The larger cards above are the older issues and the small one is the current packaging. The figures are getting a bit long in the tooth and showing their age, indeed the clothing style is 70's rather than the 80's Hornby released them in.

The lower shot shows the only 'new' figures from Hornby recently, sadly they weren't original either, having been issued as 'MADE IN CHINA' carded 'pocket diorama' type mini-sets a couple of years earlier by Dollar Tree and Toy Masters  on each side of the Atlantic. They were subsequently issued by Hornby in large play sets, first as Battle Zone (2000) and then a decade later as Codename Strike force (2010), both are still easily available.

A couple more angles on the fritz-helmeted GI's, and the fence units that accompany the farm animals, they again are not typically British in appearance, but are great for Eastern-European villages or ACW stuff! They have a simple peg fit sectional construction and are a manufactured in polystyrene, while the GI's are a modern rigid ethylene/hybrid or propylene.

Reviewing the photograph after publishing - the lying rifleman seems to have a British elasticated helmet cover from the late 80's, the running guy is all Fritz'd-up for eyerack, while the rest seem stuck in a Da Nang time-warp!...and is that a PIAT?

Thanks also go to Bernard Taylor for his help collating info for all these Hornby Triang posts.


tomholio said...

Do my eyes deceive me, or are 3 of the City People set (and the Lambretta) copies of Airfix Civilians?

Maverick Collecting said...

No...you eyes don't decive you! The Scooter is actually a little smaller, but the design of a scooter means that in this scale they will all look like either the Airfix one or the Lego one! But the similarity of several figures clinches it and they will end up as comparison shots on the Airfix blog!

Speaking of the Airfix blog, I added an image to early 'Bergan/beton' mounted figures entry over there the other day and might add a couple more tonight.

Uncle Brian said...

Hi Hugh,

Are the Battle Zone Hornby figures 1/72 compatible or are they a larger size? And if they are compatible, can they be purchased without buying the train set? Thanks for your time - I enjoy your blog greatly!



Maverick Collecting said...

Hello Uncle Brian

I don't have them to hand, but 'off-hand' so to speak, they are basicly 1:72, toward the taller end (say Zvezda not Caeser), but not the giants of the original Battle Space figures.

A comparison went-in here;


Uncle Brian said...

Thank you for the link to your post on size comparison. I shall keep my eyes open for them!