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.

Friday, July 25, 2014

M is for McMystery Figures

Back in 2009 a member of the Treefrog toy soldier forum asked the assembled experts if they could identify his Mystery Figures, sadly, the experts were all off for the day (I'm joking!)...and it's taken me a while to track down the images I took in 2007 of an eBay lot I'd just bought.

If someone on that forum could direct the chap to this post, his query can be answered...to an extent!

They are made by a company called Highlander, not - as one might expect - from Scotland, but Boca Raton, Florida! How a swamp came to be associated with the crags of Caledonia is anyone's guess....I know, I know...I've got Google...it's the beach!

I'm guessing this was a short-lived venture, probably launched off the back of the 1968 movie 'The Green Berets', short-lived because A) they don't appear often on feeBay and B) the popularism of the Vietnam war would soon become the silence of the war that dare not speak its name, and selling any war toys, let alone specifically Vietnam War related became an uphill task! Probably issued in 1972 as US troop numbers in-theatre were already being reduced, the pull-out being completed in '73, these would have been a heavy-sell.

A 3-page commercial catalogue (Build Profits While Your Customers 'Build Battlefields' with Highlander) was published in 1978, and later sets were issued unpainted, unassembled and - judging by one recent feeBay listing - missing the MG! they do appear on feeBay regularly, usually with ridiculous BIN's. Look out for the A/T gun released without figures as code; HT-105 and the 2-man MG team as HT-106 (painted or unpainted).

I'm not sure how many Pak. 40 75mm Anti-Tank guns the US special forces employed in Vietnam, but my guess is none! However, toys is toys, and this is not a bad little model of one. Of far more interest are the approximately 40mm figures, some painted as African-Americans and all wearing the green beret.

I don't know how many poses there were in total, or whether there were ever any North Vietnamese 'enemy'? The cards apparently cost 25C back in the day and both the vehicles and figures are in a hard styrene plastic - another reason for their rarity?

I had an SPG as well, also carded but it had no figures included and I gave it to Paul for PW, but he seems to have misplaced it - one of the reasons I've held-off on blogging them was the hope of a photograph of it! It was - if I recall correctly - one of that 1950's family of M53, 54, 55 vehicles, but I can't remember which one and didn't think to photograph it at the time; I'd only had a digital camera for a few weeks (these start at photo number 148, from zero). Another reason for the delay, as I'd yet to suss-out the 'tulip = macro' rule and was hoping to get them out of storage and re-shoot them better...one day I might!

There is very little about these on the 'net', and a bit of research from someone in Florida might reap a list of products, or a better company history? There is a Highland Toys in Scotland....they make stuffed animals!


Paul Foster said...

They are very cool Hugh.

I have never een anything like them down here, but wish I had when I ws a kid.

Good luck in your search.

Hugh Walter said...

Cheers Paul

I've emailed the Law Firm responsible for the company's remaining dealings, but don't hold out much hope!

It's like Tatra, the PR company wanted my help promoting their 50th, but never delivered on their undertakings.

I just wish I'd photographed the AFV, as 1:48th is right back in the mainstream these days...hayho!


pylgrym said...

I had a 175mm gun on the card by this firm, and on the same (FMC) Chassis a 203. So this would fit the Vietnam era as the venerable M-110! As soon as I dig them out of storage, I will shoot!

Hugh Walter said...

Please do Pylgrym. I had an SPG (maybe the same one) but I gave it to Paul at Plastic Warrior magazine before I photographed it and he's lost it! The Law firm never got back to me, but I'm now chasing a catalogue, if I ever get it I will do a follow-up and your pictures would be an ideal marriage!


pylgrym said...

http://www.companies-florida.com/highlander-toy-and-miniature-military-hobbies-inc-1g4ph/ Meanwhile, you could google the company principals from 1972. All passed on to the Next World, I would suppose?

pylgrym said...

Here is that M110. Very good piece for the price. http://www.ebay.com/itm/HIGHLANDER-still-sealed-self-propelled-HOWITZER-M110-Military-toy-1960s-/400866107382?nma=true&si=mfw%252FOE8v8cfwgNlkYvsfsruEA0A%253D&orig_cvip=true&rt=nc&_trksid=p2047675.l2557

Hugh Walter said...

Cheers Pylgrym...I've got all the company stuff in the A-Z (not on-line yet!) but I've copied the SPG pics!


Uncle Brian said...

Hi Hugh,

I was recently looking at this article;
That is on WW2 equipment that has been spotted in the recent fighting in Syria, and came across this tidbit of information and immediately thought of this post.
"The USSR sold a small lot of PaK-40s to North Vietnam in 1955 (the Soviet army itself was still using captured examples as late s 1954) and possibly dealt some to Syria in the same timeframe. Along with the North Vietnamese sale was a mixture of ammunition from WWII German manufacture and postwar Soviet production, so it would stand to reason that Syria received a similar blend"
Something I didn't know, and thought you might find interesting!


Hugh Walter said...

Cheers Uncle B, I knew that when the Israelis took the Golan Hights there were a few Px.Kpfw IV's in evidence, a plain stone colour with a green Islamic flag prominent on the glassis (if I recall correctly - it WAS a long time ago! But is in one of the Osprey's I think?), however I didn't know about the towed artillery.

There was a story a few years back, during the 'Arab Spring' of a bunch of spare barrels found lying by the side of the road, on pallets! I seem to remember the incongruity was accentuated by their being Panther barrels - which never served in Libya? Or something of that ilk? Rare Tiger barrels maybe?