In 1960 there were over 550 plastics factories in Hong Kong employing over 18,000 workers, with the subsequent changes in business practice, mergers and take-overs, the odd triad murder (Lucky Toys) and including the move of production to Mainland China in the last 20 years, then bearing in mind that the number only includes those legally registered.
Now that total is likely to be at least three or four-times its 1960 figure (and that was up from 30 factories in 1954). Add-in the former British colony of Singapore, the former Portuguese colony of Macau and the independent, non-communist, Democratic (as in: real elections) Chinese state of Taiwan and I'd hate to think what the final number is! Thousands.
In my archives I have - named - maybe 250, 300 of them? 380/400+ if I go through all the 'unsorted, bagged & carded' folders, books and old magazine-ads and again. Bear in mind that most of them didn't mark their products.
A drop in the ocean of the research still to be done, even if a lot of them didn't make toys (Hong Kong was the world's centre of the plastic flower industry long before it got a reputation for cheap toys) yet the job gets harder every day, as this set (another from Brian Berke) shows; we've looked at it once already and when we visited it that time I think I mentioned I had previously encountered it in another form?
These days you can get a single carded figure with two, three, sometimes up to five 'brands' on it, especially with licensed products, you have the image holder (DC say, or Warner), the licence handler (usually 'Somebody' International Inc.!) the FoB company; maybe Ja-Ru, the importer; say Greenbrier and maybe another Canadian, UK or European end-user.
Where do you place that in your archive? All five? The two, or three you already have entries for? Does it matter? In the age of the internet it will be blogged, eBay'd, Amazon'd, press-released and critiqued in a dozen places, traces of it will remain on the Waybackmachine or Internet Archive, probably forever and collectors will lay a few down like fine wine - never to reach the heady values of a good musty grape-juice.
And the collectors in that part of the world (and there are many), don't collect in the same way as people like me, they like clean, complete, preferably 'mint' objects in illuminated cabinets, old - but polished - tin-plate robots next to brand-new vinyl 'collector' dolls; they don't collect the history, and they don't seem minded to.
90% of them never marked a thing with more than the origin (Hong Kong, HK, Made In... &etc), Blue Box, Imperial and Lucky being the obvious exceptions and when there is a mark or a brand on the packaging, it's usually either invented or the importer's moniker (Giant). So if someone says to you "Chinese factories when selling under their real name ,mark the toy with it stamped or engraved 90% or generally", tell them they're making it up as they go along.
At the same time - on 'our' side the importers and FoB firms shared buyers, customers and clients, shared contacts in HK and shared salesmen or even offices in the Toy Building!
But there's the fun in the collecting; finding out by digging, comparing and searching. These Blackrock Castle sets will get three entries in the A-Z, they've earned them, still don't know who really made them though! As I said last time (I think) these figure poses were available in pretty-much every size, plastic type and paint variation from the late 1980's to almost the present!
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