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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.

Monday, February 1, 2016

H is for High Flying Catapult!

I received a very interesting set of photographs as a submission from someone who wants to remain anonymous! He further posed the question as to who might have copied who? Or: whether Trojan might have bought-in their 'Red Devil' paratrooper from Hong Kong, given that this looks to be the same beast, but it is clearly 'Empire Made' that old euphemism for Hong Kong.

Pretty standard box with end-flaps, but a bit upmarket for HK, compared to the normal bagged or carded stuff, and with people (like the importer's WH Cornelius or Cecil Coleman) re-packing loose product after importation in the mid-late 1950's or early 1960's; it's likely this box will have been made in Britain, a theory to which weight is added by the clear instructions…not that the citizens of HK couldn't turn their hand to decent English with a little more efficiency than most Japanese model-kit producers of the time!

A stick of 6 or 7 have jumped out of that engineless 'plane!

The person who sent these can't remember what the back looked like, but from the front photographs it's clear that this is the Trojan pose…but better. It is a heavier but neater sculpt, the webbing straps for instance are squared-off and the three waist-belts are closer together. The obvious differences are a quick-release button on the chest 'box' - missing on Trojan's - and the winding mechanism. So…first answer to the contributor; Trojan were pirates!

We know that - of course - because their khaki infantry and Wild West range were all knock-offs, it makes you all the more grateful for the Japanese and Australians/14th Army! But the Trojan Red Devil could have been an HK copy, imported, from another company; by 1960 there were more than 500 registered toy factories (and many un-registered!) in the colony, so there was plenty of scope for piracy between pirates…although this appears to be a better quality 'original' design.

I'd like to think the Trojan one was UK-manufactured though, if only because the company (as the Shipton group) was also dabbling in polyethylene solids, cards, metal components for their 'planes &etc… and one feels that in those pioneering times, purchasing a little one or two-ounce blow-moulding machine alongside their similar injection caster, and playing with them both is the sort of thing a small but diverse company like Shipton might have done?

The instructions; there would appear to be a button or bracket or split-stud 'finger-pinch' of some kind down on err…'the small of the back'…or a bit lower.. his bum! Alright…it's on his arse! This is then used to attach the elastic band, rather than on the winding arm as in the photographs of the figure. The instructions also explain the strange elf's hat copied to the Trojan version, on this one it's a mechanism for holding the elastic while you fire the figure from the rod included.

When I first saw the photographs I thought the winding arm was removable (from holes in a polyethylene blow mold - increasing the parallels with the Trojan version) and it may be, but as it's for 'soaking-up' the shroud lines, one might assume some form of retaining lips or rings hidden in what would need to be a more substantial piece and is therefore a two-part polystyrene model, glued together (carefully - to leave the mechanism free) after the strings have been attached to the winding arm and the whole revolving-assembly set in place?

The drawings would also suggest that there is a large disc-like area on the back giving him his distinctive shape and shoulders, the Trojan version copies the body-shape but gives him a back-pack. While it looks nice and shiny and polyethylene-like, the paint has not flaked, another pointer to styrene? Has anyone else seen one of these, or handled one?

While studying the photographs, writing this up and pondering the thoughts of the person who sent it in, it also struck me that if Trojan had produced a copy of this toy as their Red Devil, they probably produced a similar figure for the 'Air Commando Tommy Gunner' seen in the same catalogue/list in Plastic Warrior's Trojan 'Special' publication?

And it further struck me that the [missing] figure may be one of the bigger blow-molds holding a rifle across his chest we looked at here?  But - perhaps enhanced with a bit of that Victorian drawing-room wall, pea-green paint Trojan used on many of their figures?

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