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, February 11, 2013

S is for Stars and Bars and Stripes...

Continuing with the results of a photo session I had a while ago now on some of the Marx Miniature Masterpieces, we come to the American Civil War...The Beguiled, The Good the bad and the Ugly, The Red badge of Courage...stirring stuff from a childhood both more innocent than today's...yet somehow more bloody for having it's violence steeped in historical fact rather than the extra-planetary futures of today's 'gamers'?

The set we're looking at tonight is a mint set and one of three I've documented over the years, the contents barely differ between them, even down to the odd duplications.

There are various boxed sets in the 'Wild West' range and this is one of the more popular - and more common. Costing 22 shillings and sixpence back in the day; Blue and Grey Armies did exactly what it said on the box. Also showing the UK issue paper label over the US/Hong Kong message underneath.

The bag of rip-off Merit fir trees, Marx had a lot of Merit stuff in these sets and while it's difficult to research who copied who when it all happened half a century ago, I've always felt the Merit were the wronged party here. Their (Merit's) barrels are far better finished than the Marx ones, while Marx would have had no need for the mail-tags on their sacks if they came first as military play-set supplies (not that the Marx copies have 'MAIL' in raised letters like the Merit ones, their tags are smooth), so the conclusion is that Marx/Elm or one of the other Far-eastern partners of Marx (there was a unit in Taiwan for instance) were doing the copying.

Artillery and the command/staff elements of both armies - the Confederacy suffer a shortage of gunnery troops, with one of the few duplicates in the set, but have an outrider to deliver ordnance to the battlefield with more accuracy! While the limber riders seem to be shouting obscenities at each other!

 "Can you help me live a little more? I expect good news"

Casualties and Confederates - one of the things I've always liked about this set is that where another manufacturer (most!) would/will produce both sides from the same sculpts in two colours, Marx didn't, and not only did they not do so for the fighting poses, they even produced two completely different stretcher-teams and casualties. And - three different standing firing poses..."With these figures you are really spoiling us Mr. Ambassador"

Clockwise from top left - The accessories, if there is a slight difference between sets it tends to be with the sacks, chavaux-de-fris or - sometimes - the ammo-piles. This set also has less of the small accessories than a lot of the other sets in the range which would get a whole bag of sacks or barrels, or more boxes.

Union cavalry get the advantage every time, having had the foresight to draw their sabres before entering the forward edge of the battle area! Three slight colour/paint variations of the prone figure, you only get one per set though. Finally - the Union foot figures advance to contact together.

This collage is a bit of a muck-up...the lower shot is of the other contents of the set described above, while the upper shot shows the mint contents of the cavalry version of the sets described below, if you can get your head round it! Too late to re-do the collage.

The other popular Wild West set in the medium-box sized Miniature Masterpiece range was (is!) the Fort Apache set, which came in two versions; Cavalry & Indians or; Cowboys & Indians, the only clue to the purchaser being the quite subtle change in box artwork illustrated here. Again we can see how the Swansea sets had the paper slip glued over the US message.

This only really proved to be a problem if you had seen a friend or sibling receive the 'other' set and after requesting the same opened something that er...wasn't! Otherwise the play value of the contents Marx packed into these sets meant that receiving either at Christmas or on a birthday was a real treat. We'll look at these in greater depth another day.

The other common form of marketing these figures (they could be bought boxed singly - like 'Tinykins', vac-pack carded or in card trays) were the crystal boxes that started this little on/off series of posts. As with the others so far posted here I don't have all of them, yet do have a few swaps. Seen here are four of the larger 7/8 item sets; 5 and 6 above and 10 and 9 below with the smaller sets sandwiched between in order - 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12.

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