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.

Friday, May 6, 2016

P is for 99 of 'em....or 64? They're a Pound now!

So to the death of 99p Stores! Happens all the time; retail fails, and this one is no different to many, a takeover by a rival (Poundland), and a rival charging 1% more for everything at that! However, once the regulatory authorities had cleared the merger just before Christmas 2015, the subject of the takeover promptly reduced all toys to 64p! I wouldn't say I hoovered them up; too many other pressures on my limited funds at that time of year, but through to March I did throw a fiver or so at them, 64p at a time!

What may prove to be my last example of the Deadstone Valley toys, which - though I said I wasn't go to indulge after the initial post a while ago - I've been steadily adding to; to the point where I have more than a good sample!

This chap has suffered one of the worst fatalities of all the surprisingly alive looking corpses in the sets; some low-down, dirty, rotten, no-good, red-necked, hooch-guzzlin', snake in the grass, gunslinger has shot him firmly in the family jewels...ouch! 64p with coffin and not really suitable for kids?

[I notice Ozbozz are behind a range of very large, blow-moulded, PVC dinosaurs currently in The Works again, Ozbozz (previously a web-brand) seemingly being what HGL are becoming after their own sale/purchase last year]

Remember when I showed the large 6" G.I. type figures I said there were other sets, well I'm still not too sure what they [all] were (police and road workers?), but one other set was firemen and at 4 six-inch figures for 64p it would have been rude not to.

The most interesting thing about this set was the two-part hose-operator, leading to quite a sophisticated pose, the other notable detail is that unlike the combat set which was a very cheap plastic - these are a higher quality dense ethylene or propylene polymer.

There were a bunch of these Zhong Jie Toys 'The Big Animals' in box-scale (I saw a moose/elk thing, Lion, possibly a domestic cow, maybe a kangaroo?), the bear being a larger overall scale (slightly bigger than the Britains one), while the elephant was only got because it's an elephant! Otherwise it's a stupid colour and not very captivating pose...but only 64p each!

I was going to blog these as a separate post ages ago, forgot I'd taken the pictures, took another set and then decided to add them to this post, thinning a whole bunch of images down to one collage, if you could sell pictures like this I'd be rich!

Bog-standard chinasaurs, only notable factors with these are that A) they are made of the new crumbly, powdery, PVC substitute which those pencil-rubbers/erasers we looked at a while ago are made off and B) most of them have been given the same single colour, single pass, single-direction blast with an airbrush that their silicon-rubber forbears received back in the 1960/70's! 64p for the whole bag.

So, that's 99p Stores gone, but what of their posible 'in-house' brand: PMS. Well...this story was in the papers back in March and is of interest for several reasons in addition to being about toys.

Firstly, the appeal was conducted by PMS, not 99p Stores, and I don't think I ever saw Kiddie Cases in 99p Stores (at 99p...or 64p!), so I'm assuming this was being defended by the larger parent discount store we found last time I looked at these stores in any depth, running higher-value items from the site I found on Goggle-maps, like Poundstreacher stores.

However it could equally be the case (geddit!) that either 99p Stores, their new owners Poundland or some faceless contract manufacturing Chinese corporation have used the/a PMS shell (company?) to defend the case, in the hope that should they lose, fines could be paid by the shell without any opprobrium falling on the old/new parent; or back in the East? After the recent divulgences of what's going on in and with Tax Havens, it's easy to see how some 'brands' could be hiding a multitude of sins - in my own personal opinion...don't want to get sued here!

Also - and probably a red herring so don't quote me! - the PMS logo is vaguely similar in some respects to the graphic form of the old Blue Box rival (and one time partner of Arco): PMC. Just a thought but could PMS be one of the modern trading brands of Plastic Manufacturing Corp., or another, similarly large, contract-manufacturer back in China, only shared with 99p Stores in an exclusivity deal?

Secondly, I tend to agree with the appeal court, while Trunki has clearly had their design 'lifted' (again - in my own humble opinion) the fact of the matter is that the Trunki itself is only really an old Poplar Plastic blow-moulded London Bus (as we looked at here) with the addition of hinges and a separation of the two halves. Indeed, the Poplar bus was only a smaller version of various ride-on ones we had as kids, some with handles each side to hold on to, some with a steering wheel in the roof and direct/forward-control steerable front wheels.

So Trunki didn't have a patentable 'new thing' they had what is known as an exploitation of an existing 'thing', ergo; The Kiddee Case is only a further exploitation, and not an infringement, the appeal court made the right decision, and Trunki's losing of the case, while it may well affect their bottom line, won't lead to a sudden collapse of intellectual property rights in the West.

Basically the battle is similar to the Lego/Mega Blocs one which has been ongoing for years now with each brand wining small victories in different places at different times, always enriching lawyers at a cost to the consumer, while they both remain free to ship product world-wide.

As to what will happen to PMS as far as Poundland is concerned only time will tell, but a lot of the 99p Stores had shed-loads of PMS-branded stock when they converted to Poundland, it all went back to somewhere and it's bound to reappear at some point, whether re-branded to Poundland's Funtastic, cleared to third-parties or tuning-up in Poundland, still as PMS, remains to be seen.

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For overseas readers:

99p Stores were a discount store possibly using PMS as an in-house toy and household goods brand, all products were 99p.

Poundland (in-house brand for toys and novelties only: Funtastic, all products: £1) have just bought them (99p Stores) out.

Poundstreacher are a discount chain with variable prices and larger items like interior furnishings and garden furniture, they do sell toys but usually 'name' brand clearance; we looked at a Heroclix set from them once.



Because this use of imagi-brands, shells and holding companies is so widespread, I'm working on a post about it, but - I can assure you - it will only further muddy the waters!

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