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.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

L is for Little Livestock

Sorting the stock . . . mooooo!

Yet another of my pet projects is making sense (trying to make sense) of the dozens and dozens of copies - of mostly ex-Merit and Britains - farm animals in - or even consciously aimed-at - HO/OO model railway scales. As pet projects go, it's not going so well and yet, it's not going so badly. But, they are commonly found as rack toys and this is Rack Toy Month!

These are almost certainly Blue Box, a conclusion drawn by the fact that Marx carried them in their 'Majestic Series' which matched their 'Sunshine Series' which was Blue Box Wild West small scale - rebadged! Also the plastic colours match other larger animals and figures from Blue Box, however, without the smoking gun of a Blue Box logo'd set, they stay apart from the main collection, especially if they are overprinted with a WH Cornelius' logo!

The main sculpts of the range, in storage I have a few seated/prone calves and foals (and possibly another item of poultry - single goose or turkey?), but they seem uncommon and must have only been supplied in larger sets.

Likewise the unpainted sets - which have the cows in 'horse' plastic, and the additional ex-Britains lambs and the sheep -  would seem to have been from a later tranche.

The sample here is about a third of the size of the sample in storage; for years various friends like Trevor Rudkin, Gareth Morgan, John Begg and others have saved this stuff for me, from long before anybody knew anything about any of it, or if it had any value (it still doesn't really!), yet without that collective effort, drawing any conclusions would be almost impossible.

Below are two question mark samples, one (on the left) being almost certainly just copies of the Blue Box, but with a newer mould-stamp, that just happens to look like the Blue Box one. On the right though are better painted figures, but with a poorer stamp, again the same design. Until they turn-up in an unsealed rack-toy or boxed 'Home Farm' type set, any conclusion is pure guesswork.

The next most numerous type of these is similar; same ex-Britains figures, same ex-Merit cattle and horse poses, but new pig and [larger] sheep designs and different markings. So far there is no clue as to maker, and both sets are unmarked generics with graphics that might be later 1970's?

You can see the animals are cruder sculpts, but plastic colours are richer, yet chalkier. I'm not going to get too bogged down in markings today, although we will look briefly at all of them in a minute. It will take an in-depth page to do them all justice when I get the rest out of storage.

So with only the above two (the commonest two) ID'd, and then only to small packagings, you can see why I say the project is going not so well, but then this bag turned-up a while ago (Trevor or Gareth!), and helped to ID (as far as you can) one of the minor samples, which means it's going not so badly!

Almost certainly a Christmas cracker insert, it may also have seen service in a larger capsule or a crane-machine, but seems to have been designed to roll-up and stuff in a cracker. These are late, monochromatic versions in a dowdy range of colours, brightened by the orange and yellow of the bagged set.

While we won't look at large scale sets today, this mid-size set might as well shine for probably its only outing on the Blog. Piket Toys of Birmingham anyone? Thought not! [Apparently - two years in the late 1980's!] It's also trying to look like it's by both Imperial and S for Star (visual shelf-recognition!); when really it's a generic with a local importer's name on it.

Again the numbers in storage tend to be larger, but not always, and I have some single-item samples in storage as I have here (capsule toys and such-like undoubtedly), also I have some samples here I hadn't yet encountered, and more examples in storage than are here overall.

While my handwriting was the reason everyone thought I was dyslexic for 35-odd years, (when in fact I was an Aspergic retard/genius!), all the typo's, reverses and inversions here are deliberate.
There are two types of engineer's stamp; those for stamping ownership or data on the outside of a machine, which, like typewriter-keys; leave an impression which is readable in the normal way. Then there are mirror-reversed stamps for marking the mould-cavity, so that the reverse impression will be readable on the moulding. Then: there are menkind, and menkind, like Brexit voters; can be stupid.

They use the wrong stamps on the wrong thing and it all comes out a bit wonky, like the current affairs of the UK! Sometimes they mix the two sets of stamps, so some letters are inverted, some read normally, or trying too hard, with too few brain-cells (Brexit again) they try to mentally reverse the word when they don't need to and you get 'Kong Hong' or Honk Gong!

These can be clues, tying some of these animals to, say, some of the combat figures, or rubber aliens or whatever, but really they are a starting place for sorting the myriad copies, and copies of copies that turn-up.

The HK and H[dot]K here are joined by H[dot]K[dot] and reversed examples in the storage samples for instance. And while I have a bag with about 7 of the charm-loop tailed cows in storage, I hadn't clocked that that was what they were, these came in with all the other charms, from the December 2015 posts, but escaped the camera then!

The other thing about all these marks is that from time to time, like when you find a carded or bagged example, you often find that a couple of sub-marks actually go together, so you can combine a couple of bags. More of that kind of work will be on the New HK Blog. As we look at sorting all the many non-Giant small scale figures.

The real problem lot - some of these will turn-out to belong to other marked samples, where someone forgot to stamp one cavity in a multiple-cavity mould, all have to be sorted very carefully, using little signature marks.

The green girl with bucket for instance, had a release-pin ridge under her base and I know I have a bunch in storage, so she doesn't belong to the bag with the white farmer, who has a smoother, thinner base and may be the same as the Plasty ones we looked at in 1" Warrior magazine, I won't know until I find another Plasty set, or get mine out of storage! Painting - as in the spray-painted ones - can also be a signifier.

The lower three are Airfix copies and they have been looked at, not here; but on the three relevant entries on the Airfix Blog, with the storage samples (and bagged farm versions) included, these are what's turned-up in the last four years . . .where has it gone; four years!

Nearly ten years ago I was active on HäT Industry's forum for a while, and one of the guys there (known only as 'B') was asking about ancient cattle for a little project of his, I said these might be useful, as their poor sculpting meant they could be from any-old era, sent him a few and about a month later he sent me these images, showing what a bit of paint and some consummate scratch-building can do . . . good; aren’t they? Not mine - Brecht's!

Then China got involved and it all stops being fun! Crap copies-of-copies . . .of copies, several or no 'China' marks, mixed scales, a poor quality copy of the Britains Hen House, a moulding which started life as a lead casting I think; 70, 80-years ago?

Horrid, careless, loveless, flash-ridden, sink-hole ridden, miss-moulded crap, imported by House of Marbles and sold through a local department store in a market town about four Christmases' ago. Nasty.

Three figures for the collection-total though . . . got to look on the bright side!


Jan Ferris said...

I love the set that includes a small shed structure; fifth image down. Any idea on it scale?

Hugh Walter said...

Scale is varied in that one Jan, mostly a generic HO-guage compatible size, but I'm afarid the artwork decieves, they are UK style 'feather-edge' suburban garden fence panels, copied from Merit (now Model Scene)!