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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.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Arco is for Noah's Ark!

I received these fascinating images from Brian a while ago, but they got put on hold (along with a load of other stuff) for the passage of Rack Toy Month, and now they can have their 'fifteen minutes' on the Blog.

I only vaguely knew of the Arco ark from the odd mention elsewhere including Rudik's book I think (although these are 'large scale') and had therefore assumed that they would be another Marx rip-off like the Blue Box/AJP types, however, it's quite a nice little set-up and it turns out I've got the figures, although they are in storage; under 'unknown ethnic-dress/religious/nativity' figures!

Anyway, like the Men of '76 we looked at in July (and more on them soon), there is more to the sets than the 'Arco made an ark with animals in bags as a petrol premium' story, one usually finds. Not least that there were more than one version, two tranches of animals and several header-bag variants. Let's have a shuftie at them . . .

. . . as supplied to the Wisconsin Toy & Novelty Co., Inc. We have a much larger ark than the Marx ones, even the large scale one we saw on the Blog is not as large as this, and the barn/hut/superstructure is very different. The overall shape is similar to most of the others mentioned, but the ends (bow and stern) are more ornate or substantial.

Nothing on the box to indicate Arco, but then as FoB agents they would have procured for other clients. A study of the pictures will reveal that before Photoshop was invented, there was err . . . the photo-shop! Reversed images, kids plonked-in later and a bit of airbrushing on negatives . . . what I love is that they moved a few of the animals to hide the fact that they reversed the image, just move a few more and take a second photo, you idiots!

The giveaway is the contents, as we find both Noah and his wife, but no kids (or their wives . . . all drowned!), and 15 bags of paired animals, in Arco packaging, but 'New' Arco Ark Animals. While I said it was unlike the Marx ones and bigger, you can see that there are - at the same time - a few similarities (there's only so many ways to build an ark!), with the long ramp to the top deck being one of them and the clam-shaped hull; another.

Brian's usual berserker from Crescent reveals the size of the thing, and the animals that go in it, 'one inch army' they 'aint, but to be fair they aren't really to a constant or consistent scale either! The 15 sets of animals are all new from the petrol premium (listing that is - see note on cards below), and the two biblical figurines are in the accessory bag, they were bagged as a pair in the earlier issue I believe?

While the animals are similar to . . . or correctly; While some animals are similar to some Blue Box sculpts, others are stand-alone sculpts. Obviously - Britains and Elastolin feature heavily in influence as they do with all these '1970's' Hong Kong zoological specimens!

Easier to just reproduce the listing as it is so far, from the A-Z entry, which is awaiting a rewrite! These animals (pictured above) are the second lot listed below;

Noah Sets (for and/or including some of the below-listed animal pairs)
- Noah and Wife (cartoonish caricatures)

Boxed Play Sets
- Noah's Ark (Arcotoys Inc., with 14 pairs of animals and Noah bagged)
- Noah and The Ark (Texaco (?) Petrol premium with 9 pairs of animals on separate larger card and Noah)
- Noah's Ark (Wisconsin Toy and Novelty Co. Inc. with all 15 pairs of '3rd tranche' animals and Noah)

Animals Pairs
Arco Arc and Toy Animals (1st/2nd tranche cards, bagged in pairs with header card)
- Alligators/Crocodiles
- Ant Eaters (great hairy)
- Deer (European type, 2 different sculpts)
- Elephants (crude, sub-scale, 2 different sculpts)
- Giraffe
- Gorillas (1 copy of every other HK copy of Britains, 1 sculpt has 1 arm down)
- Hippopotamuses (2 different sculpts)
- Lions (2 different sculpts)
- Monkeys
- Ponies (heads up, see also; Horses - below)
- Rhinos
- Sealions
- Skunks (2 different sculpts)
- Tigers (female issued elsewhere, in black plastic, as panther)
- Zebras

New Arco Ark Animals (3rd tranche cards, bagged in pairs with header card, numbered to above photograph - not Arco numbering; corrections welcomed vis-à-vis species!)
1 - Ant-Eaters (Aardvark, 2 different sculpts)
2 - Brown/Black Bears
3 - Buffalo/Bison
4 - Camels
5 - Donkeys
6 - Gazelle/Antelope (? one brown, one black, long straight horns)
7 - Warthog/Wild Pig/Boars
8 - Horses (heads down, see also; Ponies - above)
9 - Indian/Asian cow (or water buffalo? Gia or something?)
10 - Kangaroo/Wallabies
11 - Koala Bears (much larger scale)
12 - Moose/Gnu/Caribou (? dung-yellow plastic ruminant over-sprayed brown)
13 - Polar Bears (2 different sculpts)
14 - Squirrels (much larger scale, possibly still around as PVC cake decoration?)
15 - Turtles (1 black, 1 white, or 1 each green and brown paint on yellow plastic)

Other Animal Sets (for/including the above animals)
- 9 Sets Eighteen Hand Painted Animals (backing card with nine smaller carded-bags of animal pairs, as issued with petrol premium sets)

Whether the petrol premium promotion extended into the second set of animals is a moot point at the moment, there is or was a set of 'all nine' on a card somewhere on the Internet, but as it clearly had header-cards from three print-runs and both issues, two pairs of elephants and different staples, I think it was an evilBay dealer's 'cobble-together', so not useable from an evidential/conclusion-drawing point-of-view.

And these are the header cards, now: I did have them collaged with the middle one at the top as I figured with it being a mock-up (look at the 'barn' and the height/angle of the giraffe sticking his head out of the window!) it must be first? However, I then noticed it contains animals from both tranches, so might be a later version of header-card?

Also while I have pencilled-in Texaco, I know the star in the bottom corner of the card I've now put 'first' isn't a recognisable Texaco star, nor is it a Caltex, White Star or Star Line Gasoline star, so that's still to be sorted! It appears to have I-T-U (or similar) written in-line down its centre-line?

In other words; until more work is done on these, the cards could be in any order. To further confuse, there appears to be two sheep and two pink, domestic farm pigs on the deck of the middle card's ark! Indeed if you remove the pigs, sheep and two camels (from the second set) you pretty much have a mock-up for the painted card above it with monkeys replacing the camels, and Noah standing in for the pigs! As the camels are pretty bog-standard Britains piracies, it may still be that the middle card is actually the first?

While it makes sense to put the Blogged set's card last (as a second 'line' within the 'range'), one might argue the photo-version with both types of animal must be even later as a combined issue?
Can anyone shed some light on the darkness? For instance - the brand of the petrol company running the premiums, which should be easy, we're talking the 1970's here, not the 1870's, but there's nothing online?

There are also different print runs of the cards, so there must have been a fair few of these shifted over the years.

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