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.

Monday, August 8, 2016

W is for Wing Lung

So, the day Rack Toy Month started (I haven't heard back from Kofi or Teresa yet, but I'm sure it's only a matter of time before it's properly recognised!) I got an eMail from Tom Clague, along with three images that were very useful (I also got 7 eMails from Brian Berke - the same day! A lot of which will be featuring in RTM - there; now I've abbreviated it, it's part of the social fabric!), he (Tom) also posed a couple of questions, so this post is half Tom's and half whatever I can give in answer to those questions . . . which is not much really!

Tom's contribution: Wing Lung; Pirates of Matchbox (and Airfix) to the gentry of the West. This is actually a set of Matchbox British Infantry clones, in around 40mm (or about 1:45th scale). Tom points out that one of them (bottom right-hand image) is a clever conversion of a Matchbox 8th Army figure, with the addition of fully trousered legs, and of note is that they seem to have done the work themselves, it kinda' shows round the gaiters, but it's not a cut-n-shut from another pose as no other pose has legs/feet in quite the same position.

Sold on the runner, as most (but not all) their sets were, there are 12 poses for a twelve-figure count. Missing are the 'alternate' prone crawler, the stabbing-down pose (clearly replaced by the conversion - which actually makes a better figure), radio-operator and AFV crewman in coveralls. Also missing are the No.2 for the Vicker's MG and the sten-gunner.

I suspect that it's pronounced Wing 'Loong'. They only seem to have produced a basic five sets of figures/moulds, but with packaging variations and a green set of British clones issued with US header-cards there are a dozen or so to collect, although if they were dedicated toy-manufacturers they will be responsible for all sorts of stuff hidden as generics or under the made-up or actual brands of European importers/chains.

They must have flourished after 1971 (when the Matchbox started issuing these figures), so reasonably recent in historical terms, and possibly still out there contract-manufacturing for the Toysaurus or Wallmart, or making kitchen-bowls for onward shipping to Peru or South Africa, such is the fate of makers who don't stick to toys!

I had actually posted Wing Lung a couple of few weeks ago over on the Hong Kong Blog, and having only one old scan of a photograph of four figures for the post had enhanced it somewhat with a bit of home-made graphical content! The above are those which are best carried-over to this post.

The three header cards are consistent across the 'range' with the US getting a greyish-white card surround (blued on later sets), the British; yellow and the Germans an orange-tan. And base marking in all scales and types was the same neat HONG KONG either lengthwise on longer/thinner bases, or up-and-under on shorter fatter bases, and all bases have 'rectangle roundness' settings of around 100%, that is to say perfect half-circles at each end with parallel sides between, whatever the length/width, a few have flat tips, but perfect 45% radius' on all four corners . . . in fact very easy to ID as loose figures in your 'unknowns' box!

One of Tom's questions was "Does anyone know if they ever did this set in 1:76...", well, no I don't think so. I have a load of these loose, in storage and it's a funny thing, but the above shots (taken from feeBay back in 2006) show all the poses I've found. Being: five US Marines, four German stormtroopers off to Belgium, in all their early-war finery and three Fallschrimjager, all also ex-Airfix.

I have them in green, brown and a silver-grey . . . basically the same colours as the larger figures. Yet while the larger figures are Matchbox copies, each equating to one of the three nations depicted, in the smaller scale you get the same Airfix copies for all three sets, nation being set by colour! And - They are tiny, about 17/18mm, smaller than the Airfix HO-OO figures, but look how many you got - 3 or 4 frames to a stack and three stacks, that's 108 figures minimum, 144 maximum.

Here being sold as an unbranded 'generic' imported by N. Davison and Co. of Sheffield (sometime in the mid-1980's from the 'CE' mark on the sticker), and off-the-runner, but still following the colour rule for the header-cards (except the US, who have gone blue), the plastic colour rule for the figures, the base rules and showing the other sets, badly; I photographed these on Adrian's stall at the Plastic Warrior show a couple of years ago, but the lighting/flash was all wrong.

You will also have clocked by now that they also stole the artwork of the original Matchbox sets as well!

This isn't much better, but helps to show that the Germans are also Matchbox sculpts!

Related to his other question, Tom was hoping the prone figure/s may have been in the small scale as they weren't produced by Matchbox in their 1:76th scale set, at all, either of them? As we've seen, they weren’t I'm afraid, but here they are in the full 1:32 of the originals. One of life's little mysteries!

Listing
Known Sets

HO-Gauge compatible (18mm, mix of Airfix piracies)
- American Soldiers
- British Soldiers
- German Soldiers
30/35mm (ex-Airfix 1:32nd scale figures)
Cowboys and Indians
40mm (ex-Matchbox)
Single Runner Sets
- American Soldiers (ex-Matchbox US Infantry)
- American Soldiers (ex-Matchbox British Infantry in green plastic)
- British Soldiers
- German Soldiers
Large Bags of Loose Figures
- American Soldiers (ex-Matchbox US Infantry)
- American Soldiers (ex-Matchbox British Infantry in green plastic)
- British Soldiers
- German Soldiers
Small Generic Bags on Larger Backing Card (loose figures)
- American Soldiers (ex-Matchbox US Infantry)
- American Soldiers (ex-Matchbox British Infantry in green plastic)
- British Soldiers
- German Soldiers


There is also a Wing Mau Trading Co., who carried/exported the same spacemen as Hing Fat and a set of factory-painted 60mm PVC/rubber S.W.A.T Team figures. But going on the number of Chinese restaurants with 'Wing' in the title, I'm guessing it's a common enough name and that there's no connection between the two.

Finally you may have recognised Tom's name, I've plugged his two previous albums and an EP, well, he has another out, it's free, downloadable now, and good. I would describe it as chill-out psychedelia and it comes with CD-scaled cover art, give it a go . . .http://theloveexplosion.blogspot.com

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