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.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

V is for Variants

We first looked at these as part of the round-up of the Hornby-Triang-Minic figures a year or so ago (18 months - where does the time go!) here; B is for Battle Space, but here they are again with the later sub-types and piracy's...

We'll get the medics out of the way first. These weren't issued in the larger 50mm range so are pretty unique. Five poses of foot figure and an ingenious stretcher that could be carried or stood-up as a field surgery-table/gurney type thing; two long metal 'staples are held in place by a piece of glued-in plastic which allows the staples to rotate.

This set also included another female military subject (the Blue Box French Resistance having the other). Above we can see various shades of blanket from a dark grey through to a dirty white. Bottom right shows a couple painted-up by someone for war gaming.

While top left has a stretcher-bearer who never got his red-cross armband...while in the centre we can see that they didn't always get their yellow cross belt, this is the only pose that consistently gets this variation, so it must have been a deliberate - or change of? - painting policy at some point. I suspect (like to think!) that 'with'; they were Infantry and without; medics?

To accompany the Medics (and provide them with casualties!) are the fighting soldiery, and at the top we see the Blue Box originals from the from and the back with a paint variant of the radio operator we'll look at again below.

Below them are the unpainted ones we also looked at last time and then the smaller ones given the same silver and yellow paint scheme, these are early Ri-toys and were soon being issued unpainted, this is the commonest form you'll find them in (2nd to last full row), the yellow ones are not so common and tend to be a bit heavier so might be by another maker, they were around in about 1974 as I remember buying them about that time. The three figures to the far left are a glossy home-paint and two heat-shrinkage variations.

Then we have the lesser copies of copies; first another scale-down (the painted guy is a home paint) and finally a whole new base design. These will not be Ri-Toys but one of the many little family businesses in the colony (Hong Kong) who took product from the bigger boys up the road and chucked out the poorer products.

A comparison of all the variations and their bases from 30mm on the left of the line-up to about 25mil on the right. You can see how the soft ethylene Ri-Toys figures share a common design through the painted and unpainted generations but the yellow ones have a new base marking which could suggest another maker while the last two are both smaller and quite different in execution.

The Ri-toys painted figures were clearly designed to deceive, as they follow the silver/yellow painting of the styrene BB originals, and I'm still not sure what the relationship between the two was. The links to Marx and Triang, the Merit piracy's and the supply of some of these moulds to Marksmen decades later all muddying the water! It may well be that they worked closely with Blue Box, equally they could have been straight copyists?

 So - to red and yellow helmets etc...

When I was a kid I know I had some of these with red and yellow helmets. In my present sample I have a radio operator with a red helmet, I also have a guy with a black helmet and a silver badge (German?). In addition I have the chap with all the red piping and another guy with a yellow badge. I suspect the yellow badge is just a careless yellow brush movement as the painter has also covered half the base in black boot-polish!

But even discounting him, the others have the 'smell' of genuine about them and with my memories it would seem that some out-painters would get a bit creatively artistic...maybe on a Friday afternoon!! See also the top left stretcher-case in the first image, he's been given a dressing from nose to chest!

There is one other sub-type of the Blue Box US figures and they are interesting for coming not with copies of the Blue-Box Germans, but with four of the similar Marx figures.

They came in two main tranches, the standard army greens (various shades) and a multicoloured set in brown, red, blue and silver. A sub variant in a muddy brown-green swirl are shown about the main line-up along with one who's retained a section of mould-tool runner (sprue!). At the top are three OBE's with a decent paint-job.

The only set I have on me with any of the above are these as the are small enough to go in the same bags I use for all the smaller samples so they have ended-up being filed with them. The name of the importer/jobber being Nadel and Sons of New York. You got eight poor quality figures, there would be a dozen or two attached to a larger card and sold near the till/check-out like sweets or nuts - impulse purchase/nag-buy!

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