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.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

M is for Marx and MPC...and Multiple...and Model...Military Men!

A funny one (the title) as for years some people thought MPC meant Marx Plastics Company (or Corporation), a misnomer that wasn't helped by JG Garratt putting the 'fact' in his encyclopedia! It actually stood initially for Multiple Products Corp. (still sometimes erroneously referred to as Multiple Plastics Corp.), but the abbreviation became a corporate logo in its own right and was retained on packaging after the company had changed its form of 'address' to Multiple Toymakers.

However it's not as simple as that! On the model kits, they tended to call themselves 'Model' Products rather than Multiple which has some thinking there are two or more companies.

The trouble with researching toy companies is that it's often a reversed 'family tree', with lots of branches [children] below [past] and one or two (sometimes separate) trunks [grandparent] above [present]...and it's easier to quote the not always reliable (but here sufficient for the point) Wikipediea on this one:

"Ownership of the MPC name - About 1970, General Mills bought MPC from Toteff, who stayed on as president. General Mills also had purchased Lionel and the MPC name and logo even appeared on early 1970s train sets next to the Lionel logo. After [-which] these two names was stated, [as being] "...of the fun group at General Mills"
In the late 1970s, General Mills created a separate identity for its toy and hobby arm, CPG Products Corporation. During this time, MPC kits were marketed as part of CPG's Fundimensions Division. General Mills' ownership lasted until 1985 when it sold off its hobby companies. General Mills then floated its remaining toy division as Kenner Parker.

In 1985, MPC was purchased by The Ertl Company, which had also acquired AMT in 1981. Ertl, in turn, became part of RC2 Corporation in 1999, and was subsequently absorbed into TOMY International Inc. From 2008, MPC products were re-issued under license from TOMY by Round2 LLC, which ultimately acquired MPC's assets outright in 2011 (along with those of AMT and Ertl)."

Which is why for a while in the early 1980's you got Airfix/AMT/MPC/Ertl Star Wars kits, with different box'ings in different countries/regions, and you find companies like Britains and Waddington's are in the mix above as well.

Marx (Louis Marx and Co.) thankfully let us off a repeat headache here, they really only abbreviated to Mar- on some lines (Mar-toys, Mar-lines), while collectors have tended to use Mx in check-lists and catalogues. Marx did carry lots of other peoples stuff but tended to either ignore the suppliers origin/branding (Blue Box/Marx Sunshine Series), or sell as the sub-brand without a clue to Marx's ownership (ELM Disney-themed mini-vehicles and four-wheeled trolly thingies).

That's an awful lot of waffle about the post header/title! On to today's subject, which is the GI's from both companies.

Above are the 54mm US Marines from Marx, as issued in the play-sets. I am no expert on these (see links at bottom), but suspect some of them are later re-issue colours, from after the heyday of the Play Set as an American toy standard.

This should also be a complete pose sample - of the 1st version GI's. Of course the way American soldiers dressed in WWII, Korea or Vietnam means that the 'Marines' and GI's are  quite happy fighting alongside one another in a homogeneous unit, but that was how Marx sold them, and great that they did as it means more poses for your battles!

This is a shot of some of the new poses in the '2nd' set of GI's, which Kent Sprecher calls the 'medical' set for obvious reasons, in that the set contained a stretcher team and casualties. It also contained a few of the earlier figures from both the original GI set and the Marines.

The Stretcher team and wounded man, the actual stretcher is a Hong Kong copy, I don't have an original, but it fits!

Below is a shot to show the reused figures in that 2nd set, while to the left are a couple of compatible figures from other sets/sources, the marching chap is from an occasional addition to some play-sets, you got six marching with an NCO and Officer (neither in my collection I'm afraid!), while the seated chap presumably came in sets that had suitable vehicles (the Jeep?)

Good quality Hong Kong copies exist, here the darker green ones and the kneeling figure in pale green (although he may be an unmarked re-issue from the old moulds?), the other kneeling figure with the Tabs is - I think - the Brumberger/Superior/T-Cohn copy?

The MPC GI's, 54mm above and 50mm below, although as we'll see in a second; there's not much in it. When I looked in depth at the Soldiers of the World, I suggested that the MPC and Marx figures shared a sculptor, when you look at them all together it's obvious that they don't, just that the one (probably MPC's) sculptor was - shall we say 'influenced'? -  by the other!

I could go back and change that, with some more salmon pink, but there's plenty on that post already. Since all the speculation on that post was clearly shown tp be speculation, and given that the whole debate was rather ended by the Tatra discovery following a comment on that thread (amazing how many people then accidentally found the Tatra website - which had been there for years - without reference to this blog!), which negated the original debate;  it's all a bit academic really.

Also; the point I was making back then - given that at the time people where still trying to establish a link with the US as originator - was valid and stands, all three sets of figures are similar, but I'd say the closer to the Tatra in sculpting style are the MPC's, the Marx lend the base!

Colour and moulding variations in the 54mm set from MPC, I don't know if they were in a multi-cavity mould or had a complete re-sculpt at some point, but the differences vary from slight to almost a new figure?

Comparison shots between all the sets, like I said: "...not much in it." really, the smaller MPC's are smaller, but on a battlefield not everyone is the same size and thanks to the sculpting style of most of the figures they go together well - I think? The Marx are undeniably more accurate in dress/equipment/webbing, but it's not noticeable in a group or when you're 12 and/or not an 'Army Brat'!

This is one of the posts that's been sitting in Picasa/Desktop for ages (two years?), and I used Kent Sprecher's excellent pages to help with the line-ups in the photographs, I've just been back to get the URL's for the following links, and he's added tons of stuff to both pages, so do please follow the links and read carefully, he's got more than I've given! Although the MPC GI's are currently not up there they were, so he's probably sorting them out?

Toy Soldier HQ - Marx WWII
Toy Soldier HQ - MPC Military
Toy Soldier HQ - Superior-T-Cohn/Brumberger

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