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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.

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!

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