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.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

D is for Dinky's Deutsche and Doughboy Dilema

A blog reader - Mathias Berthoux - got in touch the other day to ask me if he thought some figures might have been sculpted by Ron Cameron, a not unreasonable supposition, as he was sculpting for Airfix, Britains and Matchbox at around the same time (mid-1970's), however I've always thought they are more likely Charles Stadden's work.

My reasoning being that they bear more than a slight passing for those figures coming from the Lines/Tri-ang/Mettoy 'Minimodels' plant in Havent, Hampshire...to wit; hard plastic, minimum paint, round-ended bases.

And although one of them (the German gun-layer?) has a lot in common with a couple of the Matchbox poses and - indeed - a second type Airfix German or two (the poses not taken from the 54mm range), I think the clothing is more in the vein of Stadden's hand?

There were three German artillerymen issued with the Dinky 88mm Flak18, and another 3 US gunners issued with the 105mm Howitzer, around a prefect 1:32 scale, they are well animated and realistically sculpted poses. These Photographs supplied Mathias who runs the French Toy Soldier forum here;

Plastic Soldiers

Anyway, there is no guarantee that I'm right, and there are good reasons for it being either sculptor, so with Mathias' blessing I'm opening it up to the blog, in the hope that either someone knows for definite, or that a debate might ensue, leaving one a clear 'winner'? So what do you think, Cameron or Stadden?

Update - 3rd June 2013

Can I thank Andrew Stadden for looking-up the post, turning to his father's archive and confirming that these figures are indeed sculpted by Charles...

"These figures were the work of my father, and the pattern figures appear in his Invoices dated 28/04/1975 for a Company called Largrove Engineering. I don't know anything about Largrove, and they don't come up in any Google search, but I would guess they were doing the mouldmaking and production of the figures for Meccano."

I meant to add a picture of the full US crew but forgot to look for the figures, so maybe another time!

Monday, April 22, 2013

A is for All Fine!

Following a comment from Ed 'Ice' Berg with reference to likely Indian production, on the plaster figures post the other day; here is the only piece of plastic from my collection which I can say is definitely from India. The guy I got it from had had it for as long as I knew him, so this isn't a modern piece, and I would tentatively date it to the 1950's or early '60's at the latest and it could be much older.

As can be seen this is trying hard to pretend to be an ivory carving on an ebony plinth, and does so from a distance while close-up looking like a piece of cheap plastic...which it is! The base (which is non-removable) is from fragments of recycled plastic. and the lack of 'use' as something else such as a pill holder or snuff-box suggests it is intended as a plaything or a tourist keepsake aimed at youngsters?

The camels, which are in a brittle styrene polymer (as is the plinth and the base plate) would work with 28/30mm figures - without the plinth! If anyone has other early Indian toy (or plastic) production, let the rest of us know.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

News, Views etc...New Blog - Morgan Miniatures

Morgan Miniatures

A few years ago I helped my mate Gareth build a Homestead 'hosted' website for his then new range of 54mm Aztec Warriors and running into him the other day was asking after the site, he told me it had got difficult to manage due to changes and with him being busy doing other things (not least expanding the range exponentially!) it - the web-page - had rather been allowed to die!

"Well", says I..."why don't you put the range on blogger?"...cut a long story short; I popped round today to help him through the vagaries of a Blogger blog, which went well and after getting a blog stated, we had a fine roast dinner courtesy of Judy (thanks) , his long-suffering, who shares the house with every kind of figure you can think of!

I left him a couple of hours ago muttering "This is brilliant...left-click - another page!", so for those who have been missing the old website, here is the new one;

Morgan Miniatures

The range now contains all sorts of beautifully sculpted figures, most of which are from  - normally - less covered periods. The blog is obviously still a bit 'wet paint' or 'Beta', but will fill with wonderful things, so do keep an eye on it. I will replace the old link with the new one, and also put it in the blog-list.


Links

I hadn't noticed the old link to Morgan Miniatures was dead, but no one told me either, so again can I reiterate, let me know any dead links you encounter, I can't check all of them all the time.


Freebie

Don't forget you've got until midnight tonight to register for the set of Toy Boarders. There will be a much bigger competition in a week or so.


Airfix Blog

I've been updating the Airfix blog this last few days and seem to have found a way of getting them all back in order (scheduling?) so the newer posts may well migrate back down the page in a day or two. A Greek follower - Kostas - kindly sent me scans of all the figure pages from the 1975 catalogue and I've been processing them through Picasa and adding them to the published posts and using them to 'launch' posts that were still in 'draft', but were they were originally not as new posts, consequently the tag-list has changed somewhat, and stuff can be found there.

Following Gareth's gleeful use of 'pages' I will be looking to adding some to both the Airfix and this blog when I get a chance.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

New Product Review - Toy Boarders - Free Draw

I loved these first time round and I love them again, and this time there's a girl! And she's cool, laid-back and just a little bit sassy! So not so much a review as a sycophantic slobber!! No - that's not strictly true, but there's nothing bad to say about these.

The second set of Toy Boarders, supplied by AJ for my perusal, and having perused I am as impressed as I was last time...OK, so they aren't soldiers, but they are very well sculpted figures, of an unusual subject that really should have been done decades ago, and they are FUN!

The new set overlaying the older ones, I really hope these do well - snowboarders and surf-boarders are still on the drawing board and also I notice from the website that BMX'ers are in the pipeline...there's an extreme sports pun in there!

I took them out in the garden on the first true day of Spring (we only had to wait until the middle of April!), and had a play...look; if you didn't have a bit of a play - you'd collect something else...oriental ceramics perhaps? Red Kangxi finger-bowl for $9million anybody?

They play well and are quite infectious, it's nice to have stuff that isn't 'packing heat' or dealing death and destruction! See what I mean about the girl - she's tak'in no nonsense from the lads and one dude's so impressed he's got his camera out!

A group shot above with the 8 poses below, you get 3 each of the eight for your money and they aren't dear. They are - from top left to bottom right;

Filmer, Bomber, Tail-grab and Switch
Front Lipslide, Girl Cruising, Backside Boardslide and 50-50

Links
Website - Orders
Facebook Page


Competition...

Al sent me a second set of the first issue, and as I have a set from last year, they are up for grabs...this is only open to UK/EU/Turkey as they aren't worth posting back to the US (the planet, think of the planet!), so US residents will have to contact the website!

It's a names-out-of-the-hat type job, so leave a comment here or eMail, all names received by Sunday night (21st April 2013) at 21.30hrs will go in the draw, winner takes all. 'anonymous' commentors will have to eMail me contact details if they win though.

Draw was held in CAD this afternoon, and the lucky winner is Lurking Angrily for his prize, but he won't get it until he sends me his address...Mr. Fran Lee, first in first out, that's how it works, your details if you please. Radman was second, you get nothing I'm afraid...Woodsey was third, you get, er...less than nothing, so I'll expect something nice in the post!!!!

Thanks for entering - all, and keep an eye out for a special competition any day now.

R is for 'Sanchez'?

I've seen these described as being made by 'Sanchez', but this one is marked Ruiz, so that's what I'm going with until someone puts me right!

I'd been after one of these since I saw them in - I think - Akela's Kiosk about six years ago, and a chap had a load at Sandown a couple of years ago (and I mean a 'load'), but - as always - I had no dosh; he said he's bring them next time and I haven't seen him again! Then the last NEC I did another chap had 4 in pretty mint condition so I grabbed a sample colourise; he had no tow-truck bodies.

Although marked as a Santana, the licence-built Spanish Land-Rover, these have the same wheel-arches as the UK vehicles and will pass for a basic Series III, and around 28mm are really useful for the larger figure sizes - if wargaming/role-playing...Zombie skittles, anyone? To be honest, I've just Googled them and most Spanish made bodies seem to have rounded wheel-arches, so it must have been the early ones from my childhood that had angular ones.

There were several body types for these toys, apart from the aforementioned Wrecker/Tow-truck and hopefully - now I've started to pick them up - we'll return to them when I encounter others.

The little animals that went in the back of the cage version, there are others, of course, but I like that while well out of scale the Giraffe sticks out of the roof! You can also see the 'spare' hole for the lifting-arm/boom of the tow-truch and other body types.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

News, Views Etc...Airfix, Forthcoming Attractions, and Admin!

Airfix Blog

In the last couple of weeks I've added posts for the HO/OO Astronauts, Civilians, Cowboys and High Chaparral sets, with a further update to the Astronauts tonight. I will be adding new posts for the Wagon Train and Confederate Infantry over the coming days and will be posting more images on the existing ACW Artillery post, with Union Infantry and American Indians as soon as I've had another photo-shesh (a couple of weeks or more). I'll also be getting some 54mm/1:32 scale bits up, but they will be minimal 'page-holders'. So if you are an Airfix nut; pop over there for a shufftie.

Also - if anyone has something they'd like to submit to that blog, I'm happy to take 'donations' credited or not as you prefer, it's aim is to be a series of 'scrapbooks' set by set, so any conversions or painted armies/vignettes that can go under one of the old set headings will always be welcome.

Forthcoming Attractions

Tatra

News on the maker of the iconic Soldiers of the World/Warriors Through the Ages in the next day or two.

Product Reviews

There will be three product reviews in the next week or so, two of which will include free figures, that's FREE figures, names in the hat for one, a more competition-oriented approach to the second, but the manufacturer is putting up several nice prizes, so keep an eye out for those.

Admin.

eMail

Some of my eMails have been going straight to 'junk' - this is not a 'switch-to-outlook' problem, it's been going-on since at least December and has affected 'safe' senders, eBay seller updates, and commercial catalogs, so if you have emailed me recently and think I'm ignoring you - try again. I am now checking the junk folder, but with 300-odd mails going in there every day I may still miss your message, so give me - say - three days and try again or let me know through a comment here, I'll delete the comment after I'm aware of the situation.

Begging

I need two followers to make the magic 'Hundred' (which will be a bit of a 'Triple'; more on that later), so while I've never asked for followers before...if you like the blog...or regularly visit it?

Sunday, April 7, 2013

W is for Wittrock, H Wittrock

Another contribution from our reader/follower in the snowy North, and before I get on to the W of H Wittrock A/S, the company who produced the X-300 below, the first image is of a new and interesting version of the X-100 Scout.

Having two forward wheels and no tail wheels, it also has no window voids, due to the most surprising feature, a second skin or liner in a flecked greyish plastic which runs the whole length of the fueselge, fitting snuggly in the nose and tail. I can only assume this was to reinforce the whole model and keep breakages to a minimum, lowering the amount of negative feedback at the time?

Three views of the box for a Finnish produced X-300, the Finnish title is Avarus Raketti, while the Rymdraket is the Swedish version of the translation for 'Space Cruiser, I suspect actually they both translate back as 'Space Rocket'? The same ship also sold in Denmark as Rumskib.

Another box in a brighter yellow graphic, Telex was the brand, but the contributor states that Wittrock were the actual maker. The shorter, blunter profile of the lower tail fin is a deliberate feature of these and given the damage the Pyro/Tudor*Rose ones get suggests this was a good move!

Another major difference between the Pyro one and this Scandinavian beast is the long probe coming off the front canopy...well; if you've taken the breakage-susceptible bits of the back - why not add one to the front!!

News, Views etc...Plastic Warrior 150th Issue

A bit late with the announcement this quarter but busy doing other stuff! The 150th issue of PW plunked through the postbox the other week, if you are still not subscribing...now's the time to do so!

Features this month include;

* Supper Detail Paratroopers by Britains - Dispelling a few myths!
* An overview/musings on Replicants by the owner/sculptor  Peter Cole
* Yuri Zazlavsky introduces his new company Pvblivs (Publius)
* The second of the set of articles about Linde Wild West figures by Andreas Dittmann
* A look at Marx WWI soldiers by Debbie Stevens
* Report covering US Cavarly sets by Atlantic courtesy of Karl James
* Daniel Morgan's Herald 'Notes and Queries' reaches the Household Cavalry and solves a few questions thrown-up here; Household Cav.; not least that one of my trumpeters is on the wrong horse!
* There's a brief look at the output of little known company HR Production
* Fred Barratt's 'Converters Corner' features Airfix Aussies from Dave Morris and more conversions (US Cavalry Rough Riders/Boxer Rebellion and desert raiders/Arabs) from Mike Blake
* The 100 Toy Pirates of comic book fame are covered by Brad DeSantis
* What the !&*$? has a wooden fort this month
* Updates on
- Marx (Swansea)
- Cherilea
* New products covered this month include figures from
- Armies in Plastic (AIP)
- Tiger Hobbies
- Toy Soldiers of San Diego (TSSD)
- Ivanhoe
- Classic Toy Soldiers (CTS)
* Plus all the usual small-ads, news, views and letters on figures from around the world (Heritage Toy Figures [HTF] and Trojan/BMS (?) Arabs ), with  a Lone Star Mexican on the back cover and a nice boxed set of Spanish Civil Guard on the front.

Get it before its gone!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

P is for Pink Buds of Spring

Well, we nearly had a nice day yesterday, which would have made three [days] in five weeks! But it just couldn't find it in itself to be that little bit warmer.

The blossom is struggling, the wild cherries have been flowering for a few weeks now and some have almost finished, but with few bees or other pollinators flying, there won't be much fruit again this year, the Mirabelle next door lost all it's blossom after a couple of the colder nights...

Frodo has decided that Spring is still 'months' away and has returned to the fireside, where he is clearly in seventh-heaven, only opening an eye occasionally to say, more logs - NOW please!