About Me

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No Fixed Abode, Home Counties, United Kingdom
I’m a 56-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.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

News, Views etc...Museums...

Two in a row? Well, there's a certain symmetry to these...

In less than a week, the ACW Soldiers National Museum in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania will close its doors for good, due to falling interest, a victim of both tighter belts and more museums...

...while a Mr. Phil Collins, a crooner with a beat combo of some repute - I believe, has given a boost to another; The Alamo, which should secure its future for another generation. See...symmetry!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

News, Views etc...Around the Web

Lots of stuff coming into the Op's Room recently, so a dissemination post is well over-due!

Starting with a brilliant Blog which has escaped my radar for it's first 100-odd posts, a fantastic resource for that intermediate period between the vintage and the modern (although he does cover the modern), and a subject that doesn't get the coverage it aught to. I'm definitely going to be identifying a lot of my unknown fantasy and sci-fi figures over there, and can't believe he's only got two followers, so buckle-up people and support...

Fantasy Toy Soldiers by Shaun Christensen

Sticking with Blogs for a second; I loved this Battle Report, it's very old school! While for the politically-minded, there's a quite cerebral, yet very funny Blog at Scarfolk Council

 Meanwhile; back in the real world you can't make it up....Council Meeting or Ork hoards?

I mentioned these the other day, I'd bookmarked them some time ago, and then a couple of weeks ago they pop-up on Facebook! They've since gone viral, more than doubled the sought funding and will go into production;

Yoga Joes!


An alternative look at Toy Soldiers and the world they represent over The Pond here; Bay Area, last day today for the exhibition (sorry!), if you're in the neighbourhood over there, you've got a few hours to drop-in, but some nice images with the article...it's a slow-loading jerky page due to to much advertising shite!

And missed This One by half a year...doh!


Wall Stickers - we may have looked at these before, but this is a UK outlet, I think it was dollars last time?
Swarovski Crystal Ear-Rings - Lovely, they couldn't be anything else despite being a stack of 'random' beads!
Mugs - Every war-games club should have a couple of sets of these!
Cards for every occasion.

That'll do for now!

Monday, October 27, 2014

M is for Minotaur

This has been in the not finished zone for so long, I can barely remember when I started it! I wanted (want!) to do a little vignette of the mythical creature belonging to King Minos of Crete, being despatched by Theseus.

The base is a Hong Kong copy of a Gulliver 40mm piracy of an Atlantic American Indian, to which I have added a real Stag Beetle's head...no I didn't, it had been hit by a car! The head is a loose fit, but a bit of filler will help get it looking right and blend it into the body.

Placed next to a 1:72 scale figure (Zvezda?) for scale, he is intended to be Theseus goading the beast. For accuracy I suppose I should be looking at a bulls head, but I like the slight fantasy element of using something else, which still has 'horns'!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

D...eluxe is for Reading...

Continuing to box-tick all this American made American GI stuff, we come to a 'minor make'; Deluxe Reading. The vehicles are in a bit of a state; the main gun is missing, the rocket-launcher is in bits and its half-track is missing etc...but all the figures are on show, or at least they are now the kneeling firer has turned up!

I say 'turned-up' - we saw his base here a couple of years ago and he's the only one I've got, the rest were photographed at a mate's place back in 2007 and are from the 'archive'. That's it really - similar sculpting to the Marx 54mm late production, maybe the same sculptor? Four foot poses and the driver, 54mm 'ish soft polyethylene...1970's...set was called 'Armoured Battalion'...that's it.

News, Views Etc...Dan Dare Puzzle Post

Visitor Andy B has sent a lovely scan of the box-top for the puzzle I blogged at the start of the month, the vastly improved post can be re-seen here;

D is for Dan Dare - Pilot of the Futurepast

Saturday, October 25, 2014

H is for MPC!

Harbert...a really Italian sounding word isn't it! These were going to be part of a larger post on the various copies of MPC mini aeroplanes, but closer investigation (to see which of the Hong Kong piracies they were, revealed they were in fact MPC originals, repacked for the Italian market, so; as I haven't done the photographs for the other article, and still need to clear tons of stuff from Picasa, they can sit here under their own name!

There are a number of aircraft types named at the bottom of the card, but A) the blister doesn't contain all the listed 'planes, B) the list isn't a complete list of the MPC range and C) there are other types not printed on the card contained within, so I guess the list is just to attract attention, and that they were random-packed, a few purchases or some playground 'swapsies' being the best way to get a full set. Can any Italian visitors add anything?

P is for Plastic'o is for Osul

I bought this about ten years ago now, maybe longer? I have this thing about not buying everything I see or not being 'greedy', which is a bit bollocks really, as I do have piles of duplicates of things and often will buy stuff I've already got, yet I often leave things on the dealers table, thinking to myself "Leave it for the next chap - you only need a sample!"...well this was on a table with another cow card and a card of kneeling shooters in helmets, and I bought this; not the shooters!

I don't regret not getting the shooters, but do wonder sometimes why I didn't get both and leave the other cow card, I know why I didn't just get the shooters, my reasoning was that the shooters were probably more popular and would 'turn-up again'...they haven't!

Portuguese 20mm plastic flats.

T is for Tobler (or SR?)

This was being sold by the dealer as an SR item, but I suspect it's Tobler, only because it matches the illustrations in the Tobler catalogue doing the rounds a while back - I'll leave you to decide! Is it a Renault?

As with a lot of early metal makers, Tobler's range was given as being 55mm, but the vehicles were sub-scale, presumably to keep them within a price bracket? As a result this is perfect for small-scale/25mm WWI and inter-war stuff, as shown by the Blue Box German officer flagging it down!

Right...and err...wrong! See comments, it is SR and it might be Tobler...wondered what all the points were for! Got Tobler in the Tag-list though...

L is for Lido

Mentioning Lido the other day and not having the Wild West figures to hand, we'll have a quick look at the GI's. As I was late to large scale collecting (figures not info) I only have three originals, but because I'm known for the collecting of small scale Hong Kong stuff, good chaps like Trevor Rudkin, Gareth Morgan and Peter Evans who previously saved the small ones for me have now developed a tendency to pass-on HK tat (thankfully) in the 45/50mm range as well, along with bigger ones in the odd mixed lot, this has led to a shot with most of the poses, just not all Lido originals...

 ...or at least; nine out of ten of the commoner ones - according to Kent Sprecher's experience! I'm missing the crouching ex-Marx officer and if you follow the link you'll find the other five poses - one or two of which I may have in the mixed, base-less, Marx or 'might be Marx' box!

The originals are tagged '1' in the three corners, 2 are the nearest copies, being slightly smaller pantographs, 3 have lost detail and been given new helmet nets, 4 is a crappy thing that won't even stand-up and 5...well he's the business!

He's the only one I've got, so I'm guessing/supposing either Christmas crackers or gum-balls, usually if they came as rack toys they turn up in larger numbers or more frequently, One found in fifty-years suggests they (he? It may have been the only pose so pirated) were thin on the ground from the get-go. We will be looking at the commoner Marx HK small scale shortly.

A bag of type 2's which Gareth sent my way the other day to share with you, there's an opaque sticker over the old price (on both sides of the card), which I think is in cents, so imports of imports, and late 1960's?

A right old mix branded to Petrel here, mid '70's I'd say; I think - from the belt/water bottle detailing - that these are the ones I've tagged type 3, and come with two out-of-scale vehicles and a piracy of the Action Man/GI Joe binoculars!

Does anyone know if the other two poses are 'from' anyone or just cut-and-shuts of the one on the left? I think the card-art will reappear on the blog as I'm pretty sure it was used on more consistently 'small scale' set contents.

Friday, October 24, 2014

M is for Might be Märklin

And they might be even more 'Märklin' than these which we looked at the other day. Not least because they all came together with the metal ones.

Like the funny Welsh lady we looked at a while ago, they look to have been styled for composition, particularly the rail staff in the middle shot. There are no similar figures in composition in the Schiffmann guide, so I guess either further afield than Germany, or new sculpts in the old style, but for the new material?

18-20mm each, they are 7/10 black and pink plastic, so possibly from two batches, the black ones getting the pale flesh paint, the pink ones having the bases painted black.

I know Märklin are supposed to have produced a set of plastics, briefly, after their metal flats and I've never seen them, only an unillustrated listing in - I think - a US market MAERKLIN catalogue from the late 1960's? Does anybody recognise them?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

News, Views Etc...

The P is for Premiums faff-up is now back up with 3 new pictures and 7 collages, all K's changed to Q's and the text revised!


Or about 11 posts down the page!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Z is for err.... ZZ!

An unknown maker, or at least; we know it because it marked all its stuff with a very distinctive logo, but it's unidentified, in that we don't know the whole name of the company, or whether or not it's extant like Blue Box, or gone for good like Lucky Toys?

A year ago I still thought they might be an East German outfit, as they were always turning-up in Germany, and seemed to have a Soviet-bloc 'quality' to them - i.e. better than Hong Kong, but not up to the mark of West European toy finishing.

The distinctive logo being two letter 'Z's superimposed on each other, which I put up here a while ago, the serif is a bit lumpier than I CAD'ed, but the basic idea is there. Sadly there was no feedback that time, maybe these will trip a memory or two...

These are some semi-swopett Indians I photographed on Adrian's stall a while ago, they are around 70mm, and I say 'semi-swopett' as they only have a swivel waist and plug-in bases, or the foot figures do, the mounted figure doesn't even get a base. The figures are copies of the Elastolin swopetts, which were more articulated, with separate weapons etc...

They also copied the cowboys (see the Figuren Magazine link at end), and I suspect knights? I've also read/heard somewhere that VEB Plaho might have been similarly plagiarised by ZZ, but have seen no evidence?

Some close-ups of markings and some more shots of the figures, you wouldn't know the mounted figure was a ZZ if it wasn't found in situ with the foot figures. Equally; if you find foot figures without a mounted figure, there's nothing to indicate that they are from Hong Kong!

In addition they made farm and zoo animals taken from Britains' 1:32 scale range and Elastolin's 1:25 scale range, along with some unique designs (see also the STS link at end). I suspect from the logo's on the cards that they were premiums for the chocolate brand; Riesen [Giant, Colossal], but due to the size of each carded bag, possibly a mail-away, or token-save exercise to be exchanged at the retail outlets counter? If not; they were definitely trying to link themselves to the - rather lovely - chocolate-coated toffees. However, they were also distributed in the USA by R. Dakin and Co., San Francisco...claiming to be a product of West Germany? And Skyline of Milwaukee "Made and hand-painted in W. Germany"

I also have two (or three?) small tin-plate toys with the mark on, basically either copies or modern designs of old penny-toys, one is an airship, the other a WWI type 'plane and there may have been a third, but I might have let it go as being well outside the collections range (interactive toy? clicking frog? something like that), but they are in storage so we'll have to look at them another time, the thing about them though, is that they seemed brand-new about 6 years ago, and it's very hard to fake newness with tin-plate, you can fake age, but that shiny, mint paint is err...shiny and 'mint'! So they may well still be manufacturing, now 'Chinese' not Hong Kong per se, but Google's no help.

Couple of Links

German language Figures Journal page - the 54mm mounted Indian with base and bag of Cowboys near the bottom of the page are probably not ZZ originals, they're more common Hong Kong 'generic' figures.

Riesen Zoo and Riesen Farm on STS Forum

Can anybody add anything to what's been found on the two links? It may well be that they ARE a German company, copying animals from closer at home, while buying-in the Cowboys & Indians, and sourcing the tin-plate from a third company? But then why the ZZ logo on the HK bases? I think they've got to be HK and the Dakin packs were (deliberately?) misleading...help!

Y is for Yee-Hah!

I mentioned the Ertl Farm Country range the other day, so we may as well look at my small sample. Like the die-casts I shot them with on that post, they are sculpted to the relatively unique (some modern Japanese and 'China' stuff is to the same size) American 'large' HO of/or 1:64th scale.

This is what I have of the Rodeo, the full set was quite nice with stalls, arena and bleachers (what they call temporary stands or scaffold & plank seating in the States), this is a fair sample, the bucking base for the bull went the way of all flesh, and the seated figures aren't represented...but I might have sorted them into the 'Unknown Seated Civilians' box before I knew what they were?

There were also lots of more standard farm sets, and here are a few animals from them, along with studies of the Rodeo bulls and horse. The vagaries of scale, mean that the calves would actually make nice dairy cattle on a European (or any!) true HO model railway layout, the Rodeo animals, long-horns and adult dairy cows are far to big, but could be used with 28mm role play set-ups. Also a close-up of the bases for this range - where present.

A couple of the cards, these being with pigs on the left; a very disappointing set of eight identical animals with identical paint, and the other much better value with a figure, six piglets, some poultry and a really nice dog; is it a coon hound? I think it's meant to be.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

X is for.....there isn't one really is there....?

Xan Miniatures
XB9 / xB9 Games
Xcel Concepts LLP
X Concepts    
Xebic Toys
Xeno Games
Xenos Minis / Xenosmini / Xenos Miniatures
Xiloplasto / Xiloplast
X-O Facto
Xth Legion (10th [Tenth] Legion)
X-Toys / X Toys
Xtreme Hobby
Xyston Miniatures

Have I missed any?

X was always going to be harder than Q, and Q was always going to be harder than Z, so looking at the bottom of the tag list, I think I've managed quite well, but we'll put X to bed for a bit. One day I will do listings pages, and at the moment the above is the list of X's to be covered, seriously...have I missed one!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

W is for Waiting

I haven't forgotten that I am halfway (closer to a third of the way) through the look at small scale copies of Britains combat infantry I started back in...checks his own Blog...February...was it that long ago? Blimey!

The images for the next section (where Crescent desert troop piracies join the mix) is sat in Picasa, where they have been since err...February (it says March? Ignore the 2003, that's how I move stuff around in Picasa, change the year to an empty one!), and I have cropped them and started to do the collages.

Once we've got this A-Z out of the way, I must do a Plastic Warrior new issue review, and a 'News, Views' as some of the things I've bookmarked for it have got old hat, not least the yoga-troops Kickstarter which went a bit viral on Facebook the other day (Google them, they're amusing, if nothing else!), then I will get back to the Hong Kong stuff as I need to finish them before the years out, so I can reschedule them all together (I'll stick them in March) without upsetting the years total!

V is for Vending Eggs

'Capsule toys' by another name, gum-balls in the States, because they are dispensed from the same machines that are also stocked with balls of bubble gum. Indeed the gum came first. Often very tacky little looped charms in plastic or plated jewellery, early ones came in base-metal. The same little trinkets were also used in early Christmas Crackers and there is still a cross-over with the lower priced crackers today.

They used to be a few pence when I was a lad, now they start at a pound, with the banks of Tomy/Takara supplied machines in the bigger stores being £1.50 or two-quid, I think. Obviously for those sorts of lost-deposits you want a bit more than a chrome-plated ring with painted jewels, so some of the toys are quite fun, and there's a whole sub-branch of collecting out there that caters to the gum-ball/capsule enthusiast.

Sometimes, the toys are figural, or other-ways grab my attention and this machine at the pound-end of the scale (The Meads, Farnborough) managed to wrestle a pound from me last Christmas!

This is a Beaver machine, resupplied by toys from Fravend, a company based in Kromstraat, Delft, Holland. As you can see I quickly tested the Alien to destruction, conclusion; destruction is easy!

U is for Unknown HO Railway Flats

Straight into the image I think...

...right; these are a mystery. They look at first glance to be Märklin, same size; HO, same design; flats, same slightly lozenged oblong bases, but then you notice the colours, far too bright for Märklin, so next thought is did Märklin produce a 'budget' range in simpler colour schemes? Well, there are as many colour changes on these as on Märklin originals, just a brighter - more primary - pallet, so that doesn't really wash.

OK, turn to Schiffmann's catalogue, volume 12...nothing, not under Märklin or anywhere else, what does become clear though is that these aren't Märklin poses either, similar to but not the same, to the point where you think that they are trying really hard to look like Märklin?

I'm guessing they aren't German, so early French? Jouef liked some bright decoration? Two of the poses who might be mistaken for railway staff seem to be a postman and a wagoner (wagoneer? Spellcheck's not happy), so they might be for enhancing a wooden toy village or something and nothing to do with model railways? Although the guy in blue buying a paper seems to be rail staff.

So does anybody have any idea who made these and when?

Added the next day; I'm going to suggest they are by Spielwaren [Hans] Wettig, who were apparently the supplier of the Märklin flats, and who made a set of their own 28mm flat civilians (see the above mentioned Schiffmann pp.196), and might therefore have also produced an HO range, despite the Märklin contract. The fact that some of these figures are similar to both Wettig's 28mils and the 18mm Märklin's helps?

T is for Tractors

Definitely had that header before! We have visited Tractors on more than one occasion and will doubtless visit them again, as I like tractors, I used to drive them...Massey's* of course! These aren't Massey's though...

This is a boxed set of Matchbox 1-75 type small scale models, die-cast with plastic wheels and plug-ins, otherwise available separately. The indivdual boxes simply being dropped into a larger liner.

All represent John Deere machines, a brand which has the same kind of fan-base among American farm kids as Massey Ferguson inherited from Furguson's 'Fergies' over here. Ertl made their name as a toy company with their relationship with 'JD' and there's a very good book on Ertl tractors kicking around with all of them in it.

They are nominally HO Gauge sized, but...the American toy industry has two HO's. The HO gauge they use for model railways (or 'railroads' over there) is - as far as I know - the same as everyone else's (maybe closer to the UK's OO in the modelling of passenger cars?), but basicly what you think of as HO in Europe, but - through the radio control hobby - they have a slot-racing HO size, which is actually aiming for 1:64th scale...these are they! [Potato Pottarto, Tomato Tomartto!]

I'm not going to show you all of them for three reasons, first, we might look at some another time, second, they look like the drawings on the boxes above and thirdly...I hate row-crop tractors, I really do, it's irrational, I know, but really?...holding your legs together like a virgin on a crowded-train is not macho, tractors should be macho, and row-crop tractors are stupid-looking! "Ooh, get me! Tip-toeing through the tulips like a ponce!" is what a row-crop tractor says to [shouts at] me!

Luckily, the early models and later beasts have their wheels where they should be - so here's one of each to give a flavour of the set. The figures are from the Ertl Farm Country range, specifically the Rodeo sets.

* There was a short while with an all-white David Brown I like to draw a veil over...Tractors should really be red (or green at a push!), with WIDE front wheels...have I told you what I think about row-crop tractors...

S is for Sacul

I think I photographed this back before I started blogging, but it's sat in Picasa, being moved to each 'new toy images' file, every time I have a sort out, and for some reason never got blogged and never got stuffed in the archive dongles...anyway, here it is, a colourful little thing!

Sacul was one of the smaller firms making hollow cast toy soldiers in the post-war period, and along with all the usual guards and highlanders illustrated on the box, made some larger TV character toys and such like. These are chrome-plated with little feathers for headdresses.

With the paint; there's enough lead in this box to produce a whole cabinet of retards, given that Sacul were apparently over-priced (Garrett), clearly only well-healed Conservative types could imbibe, which explains a lot...I'm not sure pink is a true heraldic colour though!

R is for Rocketry

A couple of poorish images for you in this post I'm afraid, but it gets a new tag in the list and clears some stuff from Picasa, so win-win for me!

I love this, branded to Lyvia, this Hong Kong made money-box has a mechanism which allows you to fire the coin into the cone, how long before it would crack the cone or knock it off is open to question, but what a fantastic, practical 'toy'! I also love it because it has a combination lock at the bottom; when I was a kid, I had a post-box money box, also made in Hong Kong, so there's a nostalgia hit in this. I occasionally see the post-box one on evilBay, but so far have managed to resist!

I never saw one of these when I was a kid, if I had some serious badgering and car-cleaning would have ensued! A forerunner of the modern Estes rockets, and slightly safer, this seems to rely on 'Epsom Salts' tablets and the instructions are interesting reading, comparing what was acceptable for sale as a plaything 40/50 years ago with what is acceptable today...

Friday, October 10, 2014

Q is for Quack, Quack-quack...Quack-quack-quack!

I call Ducks Quack-quacks, so this little lot had to be 'Q', only taken into the collection today, I was going to cop-out with something quadrupedal! I found them in a local charity shop (Shelter, if you're wondering), no price and I can't tell you what they cost as they had whatever was in my pocket as shrapnel, over four quid, because the shopkeeper counted the four and threw the rest in the counter tub for another charity!

The lot included a porcelain goose which might be Wade but is a bit small, and too well painted (for Wade) and a resin chick for a tit-bird (non-native so I can't give more, like a colourful long-tailed or grey-tit!) both of which have gone in the TBS (to be sorted) box, where they will be joined by these as soon as this is up. But I'd like to ID these if anyone has a clue.

All ducks, the large one (top right) is terracotta, hollow (slip-cast?) and not so needful for putting a name to, but the others aught to be identifiable, and are within the scope of the collection, being a clay or composition duck (bottom left) and a set (or part-set) of dark brown or black plastic ducks, not much bigger than 1:32, and usable with Britains farm figures.

I say part-set with a question mark as there are three pairs as far as mouldings go and two singles, I suspect there should be ten - 5 pairs. I thought they might be Marx, but they are unmarked, I'm assuming Hong Kong, and the sort of thing Marx would have sourced over there and sold on a card as an adult collectable for cabinets or mantle-shelves. Google is no help, nor is STS on this one, so if anybody knows these; let the rest of us know.

The composition duck also failed the STS search, being too small for Elastolin or the other obvious candidates, and as I say, I'm not sure what it's made out of, and with total paint coverage I can't do my usual exploratory scrape-test! Again; if you recognise it, please comment.

P is for Premiums

New text

Despite the fact that it was one of my 'big' posts - gathering everything I know about something together with a decent spread of photographs,it was hopeless! So this is a big re-write, and should now offer the student of toy figure collecting a little more than it did, not least that the figures were given away with Quaker Sugar Puff's and not as I had pencilled in (with black ink) in the absence of the Cluck disc Toad sent me; Kellogg's!

We will start with that Cluck entry;

It's not bad for what was available to Wayne Ratcliffe back in the late 1990's, and is mostly correct. The question marks will come out in the wash below. he has made the Tudor*Rose error, or has he? He also tracked down an old comic-book advertisement for them which I'll also show for reference sake;

Old - now heavily edited - text

In America, these figures are easy...Thomas Toys, end of! In the UK, it's more complicated, although Thomas are likely to be the main originator, in the past both Kleeware and Tudor*Rose have been in the frame, Quaker carried most of the range, the variations we will look at below raise their own question marks, Manurba seem to have been responsible for lifting at least one of the mouldings, a few years ago people would tell me they were from Lido or Pyro moulds (they weren't), given away with Kellogg's (Doh!)...they weren't...and...and...

...lets have a look at them;

So, the figures, the upper row in each shot are those listed in 'Cluck' as being BOTH cereal premiums and the figures wholesaled to Woolworth's here in the UK, which are probably Thomas Toys, except that in the first edition of Cluck (above) he doesn't credit the canoe or paddler to Quaker?

The lower rows are those not so listed, with the Indians divided further into the two poses on the left listed as Woolworth's but not Quaker, the one on the right not listed as either, along with the backwoodsman/wagon crew, who's the passenger in the larger canoe below, not part of the Quaker giveaway, but definitely part of the Woolworth's issue, suggesting the other one have just been left of the list a swell but - see note under the colours shots below - the three Indians may be something else, and seem to be UK exclusives?

The blue not-listed-at-all Indian is a factory variation of the similar posed red one to his left (as we look at him), but with the tomahawk attached to the headdress and the body pulled about a bit, making the sculpting a little cruder. Oh - and the paddler is a girl, according to the Thomas Toys paperwork on Bill Hanlon's site!

The reason for the small size of some of the figures has always been given that the figures were to be collected and set-up in front of the card backdrops supplied by Quaker, to give a sense of depth or perspective and I think the blurb on the packets said as much? [now confirmed in edit, although the advert only talks of creating a 'film set' not the figures size or 'perspective'] However, this was Quaker either looking for an excuse for the truth because they didn't want kids involved in a shootin'war, or because they didn't understand the product and didn't think to ask Thomas after they'd ordered/received the batch?

The truth being; the two smaller figures and the canoeist ARE children! And were sold as such in Woolworth's and the States. I'm listing them all as a 45mm range.

Because I'm trying to get the alphabet done in a week, have lost the Cluck disc Toad sent me, and because this 'set' needs more research; I'm not going to dwell on it too much here [now edited and dwelt on at length!], just raise the questions rather than try to prove the answers, to which end I'm not going to get involved with the wagons or the mounted, as the wagons will be another post another day and the mounted will probably end-up on the Airfix blog, for reasons obvious to those who know the Bergan/Beton figures post on that blog! I'm also going to ignore (for the time being) the transport questions posed by the two seated cowboys [just prior to hitting 'Publish' - actually it does all make some sense, with a few question marks!].

The canoes.

The yellow one on the left is the common one issued to everybody by everybody...Quaker, Woolworth's, Thomas and whoever else!

The green one next to it is the 'double' canoe which is a Thomas/Woolworth's/whoever piece, but not Quaker.

The blue one seems to be a different version of the double, it's to be found in original ad's on Bill Hanlon's site (I should have looked at it again instead of just posting the link!), whether it came first or second I don't know, but the features in the bottom are to hold the figures a little better, so I guess it was the second version? This means the smaller silver paddler probably is the Giant copy?

The last two are hard polystyrene; everything else - apart from the family group below - in this post is soft ethylene and I've highlighted the longitudinal planks in the bottom of the far right-hand boat in the right-hand image.

Now I had a conversation with Andreas Dittmann (my 'go to' expert on all figures German, and most figures European!) about six years ago with the possibility that some of these were Manurba and he not only confirmed that they were, but sent me some images (thank you Andreas)...

The dark red one (which matches some of the darker 'Thomas' figures, is soft ethylene, and indistinguishable from the US/UK originals (a slightly poorer join line maybe?), while the others are hard plastic, and mirror the US/UK design apart from the 'MADE IN W. GERMANY' mark and a bowsprit, a left-over from it's use as a yacht, in which guise it has a receiving collar in the centre of the boat for the spigot-end of a small mast with plastic sail - for another day!

As you can see neither of them is either of the other two canoes, so there are still question marks over both of them, see the family below for one answer? This means that if you include the Giant and Manuba versions there are at least 8 to collect, 9 with the yacht, 11 if you consider the US produced ones 'separate'.

The one with the two longitudinal ribs is also to be found on Bill's pages, so I guess it's a US Thomas one...see edited note on the family below.

Colour studies, there are translucent (lower row of yellows) and solid-colour variations (upper row of yellows) in most of the main shades, and the pallet is basically red, yellow, green and blue, in bright primary 'infant toy' colours, with darker red's (they are much darker - maroon - under natural light) probably coming from the Woolworth's batches, not Quaker, but that is my unscientific personal opinion and should be ignored! A lot of the variation in the reds and yellows was lost with camera flash, they are all quite different to the naked eye in normal daylight.

One thing to note about these though, there are a smaller number in a sharper, more matt or chalky 'powder' blue or yellow, all from the three lower Indians in the first image above, the seated backwoodsman doesn't appear in this guise, suggesting that the three may be from a different range, set or even manufacturer? All these colours are common to most of Tudor *Rose's output, Poplar, Rafael Lipkin and early Merit...among others!

Top left finds the left-hand of the two hard plastic canoes with the figures that came with it, you will notice that there are no war-like poses in this group, I think they would have been sold as an Indian Family (like the proposed group on Kent Sprecher's page - link below) but with the canoe and paddling girl replacing the diminutive archer? As Thomas went from a PVC vinyl-rubber to polyethylene with both the Romans and the Spacemen; I find it hard to believe they suddenly made these in styrene. So; I reason (with no evidence!) that the mould was in the hands of Kleeware or Tudor*Rose OR someone similar for the moulding of this (maybe incomplete) lot? Or [added] that it is an import from the US, where they were issued in hard plastic at the beginning?

Top-right shows a couple of nice mould shrinkage variations that have come-out usable, the boy is just smaller (and more childlike I think...click on the picture to enlarge), the man appears to be walking toward the viewer as he looks for a target to his left!

The other two shots show the papoose and baby, and compare the two similar largish cowboys.

No more than an overview, we will return to these one day and try to nail things down a bit firmer, in the meantime I would be interested in your views. A couple of links starting with Bill Hanlon's...


...and Kent Sprecher's site, scroll down about three-quarters of the page for the Thomas;

Cowboys and Indians

Bill's added a lot of content to the site than when I last visited (helicopters!) [and I would have done well to read it!].

Then the other canoes on this blog;

Giant - Thomas copy
Post-Giant - long with figures

Concluding; probably mostly Thomas Toys, a smaller range issued to Quaker, a larger range supplied to Woolworth's, with three extra Indian figures, seemingly designed to fight the larger Cowboys (new info in the conclusion - English Lit fail!), moulds maybe handed-on for later polystyrene production, at least one piracy (Giant) of the double canoe, another unexplained and Manurba copying, licensing from Wales or maybe getting permission from Islin Thomas in the States on the smaller one? Seems clearer than when I started a hour or so ago!

Now all the above edited/re-written, here are some other relevant images, after which we'll leave this subject alone for a while, it's a mess now, but it'll do, I can rewrite it in a year or three!

So....new conclusion...We can't be 100% sure of the actual '16 different styles' talked about by Quaker or their comic book advert PR writers. If the wagon and horse mail-away doesn't count, should the mounted Indian count? We know the two cowboy riders aren't in the mail away, but their horses are so we must assume they were in the packets, to utilise a finger, any spare horses the child had or go twos-up behind the mounted Indian...no, he's only in the mail away?

There is another list on line - Here

But he's included a Lido figure and makes the Tudor*Rose mistake? He also leaves the canoe and paddler off the list, including one of the chalky axe-men along with his Lido interloper.

The above is my 'take' on what the 16 count probably consisted of, I know the canoe and girl were part of the promotion, because they are about the commonest of these to find from the set, and if they were Woolworth's only, they'd be as rare as the other non-Quaker pieces today, which they're not!

But it's my take only, and open to new evidence coming to light?

Now we'll look at everything else, the horse is the same design all round, with the moulded-on Indian's horse getting a nice fringed blanket, while the stand-alone's (and some of them don't stand happily, leg bending with hot-water gets them to behave!) have a sort of blanket/saddle 'hint'. The wagon horses have an oblong hole right through them.

These are most of the colours I have encountered over the years, the dried-ink blue ones being from a Hong Kong set, we'll look at (and open!) below...

...we have actually seen this before on the blog, but in taking some close-up shots of the contents I noticed the axle was through the bag, so I prised the staples carefully and built the 'kit'! I wouldn't normally do something like that to a one-off in the collection (I'm not so fussy about second or subsequent examples), but it'll last better with the bag and card in a click-shut with the contents the other side of a stiff card.

This is actually a Hong Kong copy; it's very good until you get up close and realise there's a marked fall-of in the finer detail, but size-wise it's hard to tell, so cut by someone who know how to compensate a pantograph properly!

At some point, someone at Thomas (or Poplar? They had some of the moulds made in the US for both of them, see the spacemen story on Bill's site, or in back issues of Plastic Warrior magazine) said something like "You know what...our smaller cowboy wagon; the one we sent to Quaker...it's a bit shit isn't it?!", at which point someone more senior said "Yes, let's redesign it with more wheels".

The result was a much-improved look to the same wagon which now has two drain-holes mid-way along the body! They just drilled four new open-clip axle-mounts, into the old mould.

The front wheels had come from (or were used on?) the other member of the transport fleet, a reasonable stage-coach. All these come in all four body colours, but always with yellow wheels. Thanks to Michael Melnyk for several of these wagons.

While the waggoner (spell-checker doesn't like wagoneer?) fits into both the two and four-wheeled (and Hong Kong) wagons with a rather painful-looking retaining spigot between his legs, the spigot is missing on the Stage, and in experimenting I found the canoe-trapper actually fits much better, pose-wise. I don't know if he actually came with it, or if - maybe - it came without a driver at all?

From the left; The two versions of the Thomas wagon (albeit one of them from HK) next to a Tudor*Rose wagon of the same size range and the Charbens one I picked-up a while ago.

Below them - also from the left - are the Thomas and Tudor*Rose drivers, a HK copy of the TR driver with a longer mounting-spigot and a polyethylene chap from one of the bigger wagons with an angled spigot, who's wagon I've yet to identify.

Literally as I was going to press this afternoon, I had an email from David Scrivener with the above shot showing the larger versions of the Thomas wagon drivers and mounted figure, with a standard (THE standard) 54mm control sample from Britains! Thanks Dave.

These larger wagons were often sold at the seaside in the kiosk that also sold sand-castle paper flags, the castle-shaped buckets for the paper-flags and blow-ups, and Merit, Poplar, Tudor Rose, Kleeware, Rafael Lipkin and others all had them, I have a few in storage which we can look at another day.

Last of the loose ends; Clockwise from top left shows the sample I've been working with, another shot of the two left-off all the lists, a shot of the blues which I forgot to do the other day and a close-up of 'The Three Axe-men of the Appomattox'!

As I say, this page is a mess, but it'll do for now, still don't know the story behind the other three Indians, still don't know the definitive listing for the '16', still don't know why everyone thought they were Tudor*Rose...but then I thought they were Kellogg's!

Couple of hours later...several typo's corrected and another email from David! He's only gone and sent us a picture of the Quaker mail-away boxes...

Interesting that they are both the same colours...new question - was the whole Quaker batch blue with brown horses and yellow riders? Thanks again Dave...that's wrapped it up for a while!

20-01-16 - This was sent in by a contributor who wishes to remain anonymous...

It shows the UK version (I think) of the US set shown in Plastic Warrior magazine a while ago, the 'Fort' is actually titled 'Trading Post'

Thursday, October 9, 2014

O is for Ougen (by Elastolin!)

'O' is another difficult one to come-up with! And I've already got this out on STS the Animal collecting forum, but it's an interesting shot I took two and a half years ago and which has been sat in Picasa like a proverbial turd ever since!

A quick Google reveals that what little there is about Ougen is all Elastolin related, so not premiums (as I had thought - getting mixed-up with Onken I think!), rather the French marketing arm of Elastolin (Germany - the old enemy!). I'm sure Plastic Warrior has told us all about them in the past, but mine are in storage and Garrett says nothing!

Really just a packaging comparison shot, for what will have been late-1970's-mid '80's? With an Elastolin original on the left (contents aren't original though! Or; very 'played with'!), the Ougen item in the middle and then an 'HEIA' header-carded bag to the right, not sure if it was a brand as in Heia, or just an abbreviation for the information in the yellow disc...Hausser Elastolin International...Animals?

N is for New (Production)

Who'd have thought 'N' would be as difficult as 'X' or 'Q' (Z's easy!), nothing in Picasa I could easily hang the N hook on, checked the dongle for archive stuff; nothing there...not many N's in the total master-list either! So, bit of a cop-out with 'New'! But they are new, new but not nice maybe...

I photographed these 65/70mm figures on the store's rack, as although I have a side collection of paratroopers, they had plenty, so I'll grab one next time I'm passing! they are what they are, multi-generation sub-piracies vis-a-vis poses, but 'new' sculpts, that is - a bit thin and lacking the detail of the parents, but 're-cut' if you know what I mean!

These two 'toobs' were among the last and with these discount stores there tends to be a 'when it's gone it's gone' system of stock control, so I thought I'd better get them before they disappeared altogether. Indeed the military one had been raided through the bottom of the tube and may well be incomplete?

Marked-up to 'Top Toys', as are the paratroops, one suspects this is the store's (99p Stores) own branding for a generic toy and the true maker will - like most Far Eastern production - remain unknown.

These poses are quite common, and can be found in various sizes and materials from soft PVC's through to this hard polymer, probably propylene, or a dense ethylene? Bachmann carried several of these poses in a set about 15 years ago in HO, and the figures have turned-up in Italy, unpainted 'on-the-sprue' (Majorette?), while these are about 50mm and I've seen them at 60mil. Note the release-pin holes which mar most figures in both sets.

My ruling with these modern equivalents of the old rack-card toys, is to keep one of each figure pose in each colour, marked up with all the brands or importer 'marques' they are found in, with the photographs of the packaging cross-referenced (in the case of more than one source) in the archives.

Thought for the day; Course (with an s) and Source (with a c)...what's that all about? Bloody English!

Monday, October 6, 2014

M is for Mounted Medievals

Halfway through the alphabet! I'll leave the rest for Wednesday or Thursday, but to finish for now, a rather nice set of mounted knights from Crescent. Crescent always did their mounted figures in threes and the trick for a collector is to get one of each of the three horse poses, in each of the three colours...

...I fail, with two dark brown and no white, but that'll be easier to correct in the future than the figures themselves so not too shabby! Note how the lance plugs-in to prevent loss, the pose though is a bit awkward for that figure.

L is for a Little Lone*Star

One of which may not be...a sort of bitty post, but like the rest of this weeks A-Z push, designed to empty the Laptop of all the stuff I've been squirreling away!

Starting with the probably-not-lone-star figure; This is a Lone*Star pose, from the 'Harvey Series', but is believed to be a Harvey original. Like Britains taking Herald in-house, so LS (a mazac die-caster) took Harvey in-house for the production of their plastics (although they got the Bakelite type wheels and nylon linkage for the Treble-O Trains made elsewhere), or - at least - that's how I understand it, this figure is therefore thought to be one of the very early Harvey originals.

Lone*Star also made a very small range of 'swoppet' farm animals, the trick being to collect them with the original tag intact, seen here on the rear left leg. Both the above were photographed in that show-and-tell a while ago, and don't belong to me!

We looked at these a few months ago, I shot them on Adrain's stall at the Plastic Warrior show in May (new PW to revue, will do soon!), but he had them out again the other day, and although some have since been snapped-up, I had more time to sort them out and take new images of the various colour variations. Both of paint and plastic - it seems each figure has a reverse-colour plastics version, while paint variations are confined to the evil elves or pixies...or whatever they were; see older post!

K is for Knights Knot Known

I think we may have had that heading before too! Also; I DO know something about these, I know they are Portuguese and I know they were premiums, but beyond that I don't know who made them, or what product they were presented with?

These are about 40mm, and go very well with the Starlux knights and medievals by Merten and Elastolin, in fact they look like they might have been sculpted by the same hand that produced the Starlux figures? Anybody know who made them or what they were issued with? Ajax washing powder?

Added 17-06-2015: More  on them in Portuguese here.