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, October 10, 2014

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'

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