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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.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

V is for Vasily Ivanovich Chapayev

Also Chapaev or 'Chapi', and his soldiers: Chapayevtsi - Followers of Chapi, were a popular subject for infant toys in the Soviet Union (and it's post WWII satellites), among which were the ubiquitous flats. They are the subject of tonight's post.

Chapayev the Man

Four sets following or copied from the same original mould-tool. Three are probably Russian in origin, the forth (second row down) being Bulgarian. The fifth set (bottom row) are a separate set, with all new poses (one being similar or derivative?) and a thicker semi-flat look, but they seem to be another set of Chapayevtsi.

These seem to be the originating set, their detail is the best, the sculpting/moulding the smoothest, and while they are not really semi-flat, they are the fullest figures of the four sets of flats. Given the branding of the next set down this post: I think it's a fair bet to assume these are from the Progress factory, some other figures from which we looked at a while ago.

I think this is near the full set (of eight sculpts), but it may be that the machine gun coach (tachanka - Russian: Tача́нка), was to be purchased separately. I've seen several of these toys, each a little different (i.e., enough for each of the sets presented here), yet they never seem to accompany the sets - this blue one, while matching the sculpting style, base design and plastic type of the red cavalry (Hahah! Reds!) was a separate purchase, years after the mounted figures.

Tachanka's were designed to keep-up with cavalry, and while shown here with one horse, usually employed the famous Russian Troika or three-abreast arrangement for the draft animals, with some having four horses abreast like a Roman chariot!

Chapayevtsi - it reads! The reason for the 'Progress' assumption above is that these are 'also' from Progress, but spelt Проƨрес rather than the original Пpоrресc, the difference being down to the fact that while Bulgarian and Russian both using the Cyrillic alphabet, they are as different as English versus Danish to the users!

These are from a plant in Sophia which we can further assume was a subsidiary or branch of the parent country's company, in the puppet country? These are not exact copies, there is a loss of overall quality, with re-sculpting evident, particularly on the grass rising from the bases to help the horses with their dynamic posing. So licensed or simply a 'second set' of moulds?

Probably back to Russia (but could be another satellite country?) for these obvious copies, loss of quality of the sculpting has been matched by a loss in quality of material which is a tinier plastic.

These are the poorest of the sets, being both poor quality, and made of a dodgy plastic, which may be recycled from off-cuts of something bigger, but poses are still mirrored, and one has to assume that all 6/8 will turn-up eventually.

This set is very different, as hinted at above. The figures are semi-flat or demi-rond, and the poses are all new, although one of the figures can be matched as I have in the first image (middle of the row there, top right in this shot), it's more a coincidental similarity that any continuation of the 'series' that contains the other four sets.

Comparison photo's showing the different types of base, a comparison between flat and semi-flat and four figures in the same pose; the fact that the third set down the page has replaced the rifle with a sabre, suggests it might be the last set made, so take the order 'down the page' with a pinch of salt.

Finally: a marbled effect, probably caused by dirty plastic or an 'in production' mould-purge of a previous colour, rather than a deliberate attempt at such a finish. It could even be burning; if you let the injector-head get too hot you will get dark streaks in the plastic.

This set is also likely to be representing Chapayevtsi, but is in a different style altogether, there are lots of these silver figures with the heavier bases (in a more Polish or East German toy-soldier style) which slotted into little trays you could buy separately - to move them in blocks/units and we will look at the Napoleonics another day, but I thought I'd slip these in here for completion's sake! All new poses and a slogan on the flag I;ve not had translated yet.

The weirdest thing here is that they are flat, yet plastic...it goes back to the point I made the other day while looking at the die-cast 'slush-cast'...people using the new technology to produce toys that resemble the old technology. And it's not something we can regard with self-satisfied superiority as being a sign of a backward failing totalitarian state's industry, as we (in the Coca-Cola 'Free West') were doing the same thing with margarine figurines, Cracker-Jacks, World Dolls and 100-soldier sets! Just a daftness, but I like plastic flats and we'll come back to them!


Ross Mac rmacfa@gmail.com said...

Probably not a conscious attempt to copy but the final, grey set has a few figures at the back whose poses, horse and man look verrrrry similar to a couple of older Holger Ericson semi flats.

Flats do often seem to often have more natural looking dynamic poses, esp vs 2 part rounds.

Hugh Walter said...

A tough call Ross, but I imagine some HE stuff did find its way into the USSR (through Finland?), so it's not fanciful, and influence/homage could well be at play! But also there is a style to flats and semi-flats dictated by the 'tech', so...

...but a point worth making, we need a couple to compare side-by-side!

Cheers - Hugh