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.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

M is for Mystery Motorcycle

All research into old, unknown figures is best conducted via the medium of 'teamwork' and this post is a prime example. Following-on from a 'What The !&*$?' submission from Joe Bellis in Plastic Warrior issue 162, which he had-down as an unknown, possibly early British, plastic soldier, probably from a gun-crew.

Now I recognised him because I knew I had some, which I thought were in storage, but that a couple had come in since the move, so went into the attic to look for them with all the other seated unknowns in the 'misc' civilians box.

I couldn't find them anywhere, but remembering I used to keep them with the unknown military (I'd come to the same conclusion as Joe; but thought carrier deck-crew, I had the other coloured jackets see!), I had a look there and found all of them! Why they were still there being added-to I don't know as I had begun to suspect they weren't military, but one gets stuck in routines I guess!

So I fired off some images and sent them to Plastic Warrior's editor Paul Morehead, with the following blurb . . .

"Probably not military, I suspect a Hong Kong set of two or three motorcycles, one with or without a sidecar? Equally could be a bobsleigh or dog-sled team, or futher [sic] adrift: a racing yacht or a tractor pulling a reaper/binder with two opperators [sic] (I'll go though the FIM's and see if they are copies of early British anything?). In addition to Joe's pose, there is a standing with plug-in feet, and a sitting with rearward locating-spike, on his posterior! I have good reason to think the two 1950 Northern European-looking traffic cops are home-paints, if not, they'd give more weight to the motorcylce [sic] solution?"

. . . which - if nothing else gives you an idea as to the effort I put into my spelling here! Paul knows me and is a good editor. He also has deadlines to work to and space considerations, both of which I'm not constrained by, so A) he gave me credit for more than I came up with, and B) we can (with his blessing) look at them in greater detail now.

My images reminded Paul of some shots sent in by another contributor to PW years ago, of a motorcycle with the same rider, so he sent me the shot (upper image above) by way of 'is this it?' - it was!

This then in turn reminded me I had posted the same motorcycle here, in the novelty-posts last Christmas, so I went back to the attic and dug it out, sent him some more images just in time for the Printers (see page 8 of PW issue 164).

This seems to be the correct configuration of two of the figures with the motorcycle, the one riding the PW sample, is actually the passenger, hooking his foot over a plug on the left-hand side, the the 'ack-ack' guy being actually the driver. Although Joe's had a mounting-hole in his bum missing from all mine, so he may have accompanied whatever the third guy comes with as well; which would account for his coming in more colours?

The painting style, the paint colours and the plastic type - various shades of chocolate brown - all point to that apparently closely-related 'family' of brand-marked (and unmarked) figures from CM, CMV, HK and ABC (some sold by Past The Post).

A further mystery with my sample is the two 'policemen'; yes, they are painted like 'Europolice' of the era (1960/70's?), yes, they are painted as badly as the others, but . . . I got them at about the same time a mate of mine was off-loading a whole collection of poorly made, scratch-built ambulances through the ages, and some of them were as badly painted. I can't remember if these two (left shot) were part of that particular lot?

The motorcycle is a 1910/20's design I think? Probably early British and possibly based on a kit motorcycle? I wondered maybe Pyro, Strombecker or early Monogram, someone like that . . . or is it a copy of an Italian clip-together model . . . or older tinplate clockwork? Doh!

Also there must be a second vehicle for the standing guy as he has plugs on his feet - for a separate base, and looks to be holding-up another machine?

More images with three other figures in two poses, I suspect they aren't linked, the two Edwardian-dressed figures are probably from an 'old fashioned' car, and look to be early British in a chalky brown plastic (12th June 2018 - which is what they turned-out to be!), but both Joe and I thought that about the bikers, and the paint is just as poor, so your guess is as good as mine?

If no one here knows, I'll sent them into PW's 'What The !&*$?' and the circle will be complete! If not the knowledge . . . but someone knows! There are collectors of HK stuff and someone, somewhere, will have the set/sets mint in box/on card, it's a question of getting them to fill the circle now! And I know I've seen that base, with its flange and texture of neat sand or pebbles; somewhere . . . but where?

Researching the UPS post the other day I can across this lot astride their newly-purchased (by UPS) fleet of American Yales (Huffington Post). The motorcycle is quite similar, not the same as the HK one which is a V-Twin, but the fuel-tank and general arrangement are similar - Yales.

If you study this picture though, you'll notice that the last two on the row have been mocked-up for the press-release, they have no headlights or horns, no cylinder-thing above the handlebars, and the front mudguard is actually only the left-hand plate only, held-on with a piece of wire.

Also their number-plates have been stuffed in the forks and don't follow the sequence of the rest of the line-up, and both riders are A) in brand-new uniforms and B) looking a little bemused, I think? Who says the camera never lies? That's a piece of corporate, fake, PR-fluff from 100 years ago (1916), right there!

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