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, November 1, 2015

L is for Livonians Laid-out on the Lake

Just as the Americans obsess about the Alamo, Custer's last stand, Pearl Harbour and Iwo Jima, the French;  Jena, Camarón, Bir Hakeim and Diên Biên Phu, the British; Agincourt, Crecy, Trafalgar, Waterloo, The Charge of the Light Brigade, Rourke's Drift, Gallipoli, Dunkirk, Dieppe, D-Day, Arnhem, the Falklands (we obsess a lot don't we!) et al. The Russians have their favourite bits of history for making toys of...

We looked at the Revolution and Chapi's chaps the other day, here is another recurring theme in toy soldiers of the Soviet Era: The Battle of Lake Peipus, and the hero of the hour Alexander Nevsky.

Hero if you are an Eastern-orthodox Russian that is; I look to the Crusader types (silver/green below) as the 'good guys' but to a patriotic Russian, the figures in the pointed ('turkic') helmets (gold/red below) are the good guys!

Before anyone bursts a blood-vessel: they're toys, I'm generalising, and I don't care who celebrates what, or why! Except...Custer got his, well and truly!

10-piece mould tools - one for each side, both with three mounted 'knights' and seven foot soldiery - with the figures joined together by short sections of runner or frame ('sprue'), the actual sprue entering from one end. These came in  polythene bags that were missing their header cards and in such a state they went the way of all flesh a long time ago.

However; I believe it represents a later issue, as there's a certain laziness involved in leaving the separating to the customer, and modern commercialism (in all its forms) seems to be about a gradual reduction in quality/service over time!

Close-ups of both sides of each row of both sets...that's it really, nothing I can add here...if you've followed the link you know as much about the battle as I do, if you're a student of uniforms you know more about Teuton/Livonian and Turkic/Slavic armour than I do, so, just pictures of the frames!

I also have a few loose ones, the green are a part set of the Northern Crusaders, the red being a set of Nevsky's Novgorod forces. The box seems to be correct, it has a standard Soviet-era checkers/QA-label stuck on the back, but it came with incomplete forces from both sides, so I've made-up a full set with a loose figure (the archer is a pinkish batch) assuming the greens had been stuffed in there (the lid sat high) when their own box ceased to be? I'm assuming this is the earlier issue?


Mark Sergeyev said...

As a kid, I used to play with and collect these Russian vs. Teutonic Knigts sets. It was back in the 60-ies, so these sets have really lo-o-ong history. Rumors were, they were made in a variety of colors, though they always came in Green and Red in my part of the world.

The set you have is just one of the many different variations, each differed by their level of details, and now we here call the two main variations "Chain-mailers" and "Heavily-armoured Guys". Yours is a chainmailers' set :-) These sets were published in billion copies, even then they were rarely cut apart from their sprues... The modern sets (recasts), in silver and red, rarely - in blue and red, are not separated from sprues, they usually came in PA transparent bags with the paper insert reading the details of the manufacturer etc.

What is the origin of your box, I do not know in fact, as, as far as our collectors' knowledge goes, this set NEVER was packed in any sort of boxes... Anyway, this is the great set, the level of detail as well as the general legendary look of the figs gives the original vintage idea of what were the toy soldiers we Soviet kids used to play with :-)


Hugh Walter said...

Hi Serge

Thanks for all that, it's nice to get feedback from the people who where there!

Now you pose a conundrum with the box question, as when it came into my possesion, the lid didn't quite fit and there were a couple of the green ones (two to the left) in there with the red set. Knowing what i know, it was obvious that the two green ones didn't belong, and as i had the part set, i just added them to the bag which left the red set sitting pretty.

But if no one there has seen them in this box, it may well be for something else? I do visit the two Russian forums, but my Russian language skills are zero, so it's a case of enjoying the pictures! if any one in that group know what goes in the box (which is i think both contemporary and of the Soviet sphear, I'd love to know, as I have more loose stuff from the same lot.

I also have a lot in storage, so will return to the whole genre one day!


Mark Sergeyev said...

BTW, Hugh, the greens having some deeper green color are - yes - of earlier issues. The salad green guy with long sword may be both - from very early sets (even earlier than deep green ones), and from later recasts, to be more specific one should compare the stands, and the thickness of figs should be compared, too.

The box looks familiar, although my memory denies telling me what there was - maybe checkers... I asked the same question in our experts group :-) Let us wait for the verdict.

So far, I could only assure you that soviet manufacturers traditionally packed metal sets in boxes, these always were sets of Red Army (Revolutionary Seamen and Cavalry - Budyonnovtsi, and mostly Soviet Army soldiers). The only one Peipus Lake Battle knights vs. Bohatyrs metal set stands apart. The latter was packed in a box with transparent lead to show the inside. Now it is the mostly desired set with collectors, and it costs a fortune :-)

As for your Russian...
You may easily contact me in case you need some sort of translation etc. :-)
Here is my mail: m_serhiy@yahoo.com

Do you happen to have some more Soviet era "flats"?
There was one more great set - The Battle of Kulikovo.

This unique set (from the point of its perfect sculpting view) was created by an artist who had no hands (he lost them during the WWII), but he was a great sculptor, a living legend!!!


Mark Sergeyev said...

Hugh, could you show the logo/emblem or sticker to this box???
You may post it to my mail as above, could you?


Hugh Walter said...

Mark - very limited for time this afternoon and no Internet on Sunday, I will take everything home, try to check box and get back to you Monday! Thanks for all the input . . .I will reply!


Mark Sergeyev said...

No prob, Hugh!

Stay tuned, looking forward to hear from you soon,
For the time being I've got the info the box (I felt this, I swear) originateS from the USSR confectionary - seems to be the usual chocolate sweets package, you know, we soviet kids kept these as treasure, and obviously put all other treasures in it :-)

This means the box is an artefact by itself - no worrying about!
I wish I had something like this just now to touch the dust of yesteryear...
Take care,