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, April 30, 2016

B is for Battle Ground...or is it?

Having now decided to have a Hong Kong small-scale Blog (which I tried back in 2008, but I thought I had to trick Blogger with a separate ID and it all got too complicated!) these will appear on that Blog at some point, both singly and as a group comparison (mirroring this post), but as I loaded this here back in January it can stay.

So; to the nature of 'Generics', a post that could almost as easily be done with 1970's bagged or carded small scale Cowboys & Indians or 1960's dime-store 'penny-whistles', but I'm using these as they were pretty much the swan-song of small-scale 'army men', also: having got out of the army and decided I was old enough to blow my money on what I wanted, I spent a few years hoovering them up as they appeared, so - hopefully - should have most of the variations!

I say rather pompously "so; to the nature of generics" as if I'm about to deliver some great treatise on a grand secret of the Hong Kong toy industry...I'm not! There is no secret, basically, all the figures in this post came from the same source, we just don't know who, and - in point of fact - it's probably not an HK source, it's probably a Chinese one! Indeed, because these appeared as the run-up to handover was looming, they carry neither HK nor China on any of the packaging; itself unusual, nor on the figures bases.

These first four are all 'branded' to Battle Ground; the clear 'generic', although several have stickers on the card or reverse with another ID entirely, while the same sets can come with different cards, and the same brands carry alternate and different-sourced products. All importers (jobbers) - to a man.

The shot shows single and double-pouch header-carded bags, and both single and four-blister bubble-packs. I'm sure that elsewhere other formats could be obtained - as Battle Ground - to order, but these were available in the UK between 1988/9 and about 1998/9 and I should also add that other products in other scales also come in packaging with both types of the Battle Ground artwork - again: as generics or with over-stickers.

As well as stipulating different formats (or accepting them 'off the shelf'), end-users/clients could have customised artwork, again to their own design using the Chinese company's designers, or off-the-shelf graphics or from their own art workers, and here we see the same four-pocket blister attached to three different cards, the French artwork seems to have been lifted or part-lifted from somewhere else, see the white areas round the hand/butt of the gun, this was before digital patches and colour-matching, and as they were budget toys: cheap-cost artwork - whoever was responsible for it - was the order of the day.

Here we see the contents of the single pouch, now with new header-cards and a squarer bags - which are softer PVC. One colour, or several, and note how with the multi-coloured set each colour has been dumped in the bag on top of the last, but the first (bottom) layer seems to be the dregs of several batches!

Mini sets were also available, each with the flag and there is no relationship between the colour of the figures and the design on the flag's sticker, with the same flag accompanying bags of different coloured figures, and different flags being put with the same coloured figures! I have to thank German collector Andreas Dittman for most of these, and they were a bit later than the above dates, he picked them up on the continent about ten years ago, and I then found a few others in one of those glass-shelf partitioned 50p pocket-money displays at/around the same time.

Some of the logos/trademarks connected to these figure's 'brands'. The LB sets are almost certainly from the Glasgow-based Levy Brother's LB Group (correctly: Levy (LB Group) Bros. Ltd.), I seem to recall that they were bought a few years ago by H Grossmann/HGL (their postcodes were a few streets apart!) who have themselves recently been sold, but I'll check that.

The figures are all copies of Matchbox German Infantry and Airfix US Infantry, to which is added a crude version of the old Monogram radio operator, although see the note on the Japanese (2nd following paragraph).

The bases - as mentioned above - are blank, which is as uncommon for Hong Kong products as it is for modern/current Chinese products, suggesting that the originator was either an HK-based company, obtaining finished product from the (then still slightly 'enemy' Communist State) mainland OR already producing on the mainland themselves, but not wanting to admit it (for the same reasons) until the handover of the colony, which actually/eventually happened as these were drying-up in UK shops.

As an exception to the rule, the smaller two-pouch bag has some ex-Airfix Japanese added; these are earlier figures, which I looked at in One Inch Warrior magazine's 7th edition. They are the same size and style (but with sharper-edged bases), and share the wacky colours so will almost certainly come from the same source (which is why they're in the bags!), but were definitely originally issued earlier, as they had been turning-up as loose figures for years(#) before these 1990's figures. Their original HONG KONG mark has been removed for this issue, although the scar is visible on the base. [# When they turned-up previously (and with the full base mark) - it was usually in small numbers, so probably from Christmas crackers, end-of-pier crane-machine bags and/or vending capsules &etc.]

The loose stuff is all in storage at the moment so we'll have to re-use these old pictures from something else to just show that: A) as loose figures they are not that rare (upper arrow - both stacks), but they are not as common as some of the 1960-80's small scale, and: B) they come in various other colours or shades, but green and blue remain the commonest (from the big bags!) also: C), there is a second issue (lower arrow) which are of poorer quality with thinner bases and lots of flash which I haven't tied into specific packaging yet, but they may just be from late versions of some of the sets listed here. These points are - of course - UK-centric; it may be a different story elsewhere.
Known Sets
As Battle Ground
- Single blister pack (J.A.Phillips, 1992)
- Quadruple blister pack (HCF, 1996)
A7/521 - Single pouch bag with header card (Herbert Kees, early 1990’s)
- Double pouch bag with header Card (late 1990's with older 1980's Japanese figures)
As Bestoy (generic)
BES142 - Soldier Set (quadruple blister, an earlier logo was written in baby-blocks)
As HP (Hans Postler, France and Germany)
51353 - Small header-card Bag (French language version
As LB Ltd. ('Super Toy Packs'
ST-11-2436 - Mini Army (Clown and 3-balloon graphics, blue figures, 1993)
ST-11-2436 - Mini Army (4-balloon graphics, multi-coloured figures, 1994)
ST-11-2436 - Mini Army (4-balloon graphics, blue figures, 1995)
As MGM Super Toy International (France?)
Ref. 2295 - Les Minis Armees (quadruple blister pack)
Other (generic)
- Attack Force Set (multi-blister with AFV's and scenics, late 1980's
- Title-less mini pack (France/Germany? Mid-2010's)

* The same packs came with the larger Airfix piracies with striated bases; each bag also has a small-scale Saladin-type armoured car.
* * The same bags were used for very poor 'last generation' Airfix piracies (Russian Infantry and Paratroops) in a pale blue crumbly kind of polyethylene, almost 'scrap plastic'.
*** The same card was previously used for Airfix piracies of an earlier 1980's type, which may make this the earliest use of the later figures - from the artwork re-use.


Jan Ferris said...

Interesting post!

Hugh Walter said...

Thanks Jan...I try!