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.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

P is for Poopertrooping, Parachuteing Para-Jacks and Paratroopers!

One of my oldest and favourite 'side-bars' or side-collections, and I've mentioned several times that I would do a post on them - when I got the rest out of storage! However, I've picked-up enough in the last few of years to not have to wait, and while this sample is a bit light on the older, vintage ones which are present in the main (in store) collection in greater numbers, that just leaves the excuse of our returning to them again one day!

Picked this up this year somewhere, but I can't remember where, which is a bit daft as I've bought very little this year so it must have been either a Plastic Warrior show acquisition or in a box of mixed stuff I got back in the summer at Sandown?

There's nothing in any of the main 'turn-to' sources on Fairchild, but a quick look in my already well thumbed FIM Vol. 2 by Adrian and co. reveals a nice model tractor and the DNA of Robert Newson's researching of the 'phone-books of the world all over it. Further help then came from Google, and at the risk of accusations of plagiarism, a thumbnail sketch follows...

The company appears to have been formed in 1963, incorporated with company No. 769862 and was dissolved (as Fairchild) in 1978 (FIM 2 states that Selcol closed in '68, so presumably the decade '68-'78 were the Selcol Fairchild years?). They seem to have been polyethylene based manufacturers while Selcol were into the brittle-setting polymers: the polystyrenes of their toy instruments and the set resins they used for their records (mostly 6" children's works); shellac/Bakelite (if they were still being used for records when Selcol formed) and poly-acetate.

The bringing together of the two therefore would have created a rounder whole (geddit!) with both halves complementing each other and the new group doubling its range of options within a still pretty nascent industry.

FIM 2 gives the Selcol/Selmer side of the story and I'll list both the Selcol and Selcol Fairchild stuff I've found in the A-Z pages, along with Fairchild and Gala Goldentone entries and a Selmer cross-reference.

The only other toy items I've found are a rather nice motorcycle 'Speed Cop' (Selcol) and a Tudor*Rose'esque fire engine/ladder-truck ('Mercedes International Giant Fire Engine') from Selcol Fairchild based on a Mercedes Benz LA 328/4 (? hey - I'm using Google here; don't shoot the messenger!) or LF 3500 with short cab - the front bench is enclosed, the rear-facing seats are open.

There's also an interesting story (I'll flesh-out in the A-Z with links) of a piece of blatant plagiarism that Fairchild delivered on Louis Marx, pertaining to toy dogs (possibly the food premiums which people struggle to ascribe to various sources?), which Fairchild won ['escaped'] by dint of dates/times of registration, not because they weren't Marx's designs, they were!

The case is now used by litigation students as a classic study in that angle (timing) of corporate law and the importance of registering your designs before you give a handful to a passing Brit!

Here he is on the top left, showing how he has been copied and reduced over the intervening 50/60-odd years. The blue one being bought in Asda a couple of years ago, Asda being a subsidiary of Walmart, the US jobber Jaru has got it's product into the UK high-street....or out-of-town shopping plaza!

In storage I'm sure I have several of the Fairchild sized ones in early, unmarked, British-looking plastic, so it seems they were plagiarised themselves or - given the Marx case - copied theirs from someone else?

The similar (holding spare 'chute) pose in orange and blue, came in pairs from - I think - 99p Stores (over a year ago) and represent value for money, although they look like the android cops from THX1138!

Apart from the ubiquity of the above pose down the years, there have been several other sculpts that went the distance, the Lone Star pose was copied by one of the other early British makers and several other manufacturers but they are in storage so will have to wait, but here: the two upper pictures show other common designs, the GI jumping with rifle ready - No messing with him! - and the S-shape, possibly the commonest pose, with a myriad examples carded, boxed, bagged and stuffed into gum-balls, lucky-bags and Christmas crackers, in various sizes, the smallest I have in the main collection is only about 25mm; these are around 35-mil for the blue one.

Below we have in the left hand picture the Trojan blow-mould we looked at here with a Hong Kong copy of an Ajax spaceman fitted with a loop for shroud-lines, and an original 'Pooper-Trooper' in synthetic rubber from Imperial.

To the right we see a standard HK figure of a seated GI (from a US original?), again with a loop added, aimed at the pocket-money purchaser of the late 1960's.

Here we see two of those commoner designs, in various sizes, on carded examples from the 1960's. As kids we had the catapult-plane, but as a separate loose item from the glass-partitioned, waist-level bins in Fleet Toys, and given that it's made of polystyrene, it took a lot of punishment, in the end it lost a flap, and would just bury itself in the ground two feet in front of you at full speed! The artwork on the left-hand card is shared with several smaller HK rack-toy's cards.

Back to modern production, the movie Toy Story 3 has produced various parachute sets (this one by Giochi Preziosi for the Italian market), not only tying-in with the film, but also promoting the 'Ride' of similar ilk which has been put into all the Disneyland theme parks.

Below them we have a mix of ex-Airfix and more original poses, in two sizes sold as 'Party Favours', singly as the smaller ones from Playwrite and x6-carded, larger, from Unique Industries of Philadelphia and Ontario.

The card to the top right was from Tobar via Hawkin's Bazaar and appears to be polystyrene, hollow and in two parts, glued together like some of the current kids magazine freebies we've seen (Octonauts and Night Garden)

Old and new, the Timpo chap is far more common than his prices on evilBay and at shows would suggest, he was obviously a premium-priced (compared to single figures from a stock box) member of the WWII 'toy soldier' ranges, available as Brits, Jerries (storage!) or - this - Yank (stuffed in a bag). But, he was also a member of a popular 'general toy' group...the parachuting figures of this post.

As such it was produced and shipped in vast quantities, I've seen boxful's of these with dealers over the years, boxful's - there are a couple of boxful's on evilBay tonight.

Worth a side-collection of their own, due to figure variation (nationality/plastic colour, early/late heads, headdress, mould differences) and the number of different parachute designs that they were issued with*.

You do still find them for sale occasionally, in smaller rural general stores out in the 'Shires', away from the cities, where they haven't been snapped-up by holidaying dealers, that is, to be shoved on feeBay for ten times what they were asking in the backwater store!

While the final entry in tonight's round-up - BJ Toys Skydivers -are a modern take of the old Imperial Pooper-Troopers, being silicon-rubber caricatures. Currently available somewhere but I can't remember where - The Works maybe, they haven't been mentioned yet

This post has only scratched the surface of this subject, remember Action Man (GI Joe/Gyperman) came with a working parachute! Well worth a bash at collecting these if you're looking for a small-space collection that will cover different scales and materials, ephemerals and the odd big name!

* Off the top of my head...

- Black/white radiating stripes
- Black numbering on white (with lettering?)
- Black on clear radiating stripes
- Black on clear rings
- Black on clear ringed-chequerboard
- Blue/white radiating stripes
- Blue on clear radiating stripes
- Blue on clear rings
- All blue?
- Red on clear rings?
- Yellow/white radiating stripes
- Yellow numbering on white (with lettering?)
- All yellow?
- Khaki on clear radiating stripes
- Khaki on clear rings?
- Khaki on clear camouflage (large blobs)
- Khaki on clear camouflage (liner/string blobs)

That's up to a 'maybe' 17, can anyone confirm/add to the list?

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