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.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

P is for Plastic Warrior's 31st Show - Show Report

So to the Twickenham 'Boarders' in the posher hinterlands of South-West London, two-weeks ago, for the 31st Annual Plastic Warrior show, primarily organised for the readers of PW's magazine although the odd non-subscribers are allowed in!*

There was a slight delay with the arrival of the tables, but memory serves that with three shows, now, at this venue, the late arrival of the tables has become a time-honored, timeless, every-time tradition, to be much looked-forward too, again, this time next year! And it took less than three minutes to unload . . . and it's a 'club' event . . . and . . .

Welcoming committee: on the left PW's erstwhile editor Paul Morehead looking like he needs a coffee! With one of the 'seven pillars' of the readership on the right; Barrie Blood; looking like he's had too many coffees...you're not supposed to drink it through a straw, it goes straight to your head . . . I'm told!

The first stall you encountered was Barney Brown's, and having failed to get a good candid shot of him, I got him to pose and still failed to get a good shot, sorry Barney, I think the Macro was still on! He's holding the retro packaging he's developed for selling his better quality figures, which some of you may have seen on feeBay.

Peter Bergner had a large stall (well, better call it a 'stockade' did I do that joke last year? Doh!) in the centre of the room, and is seen here with his rummage boxes, from which I had earlier plundered a nice handful of eclectic stuff. He also had a lot of new boxed figures such as Technolog from Russia and other delights including a range of casualties and other prone or seated figures in resin, I didn't get the name of the company.

Down the bottom corner of the venue was to be found Peter Cole of Replicants, here looking very pleased with his new Smugglers (reviewed in Plastic Warrior No.160 - subscribe here) and even newer - 20th anniversary of Replicants - Highwayman, he also had a nice pair of equally new clerics (Medieval Monk and Nun), which I bought.

I believe the little vignette / dioramas he displays the new figures on are his own efforts, I didn't ask, but having seen his English Civil War work, I'm guessing they're from his hand as well; the church façade was particularly nice with its gothic windows.

Next to him were his agents for day-to-day sales, Steve Weston's Toy Soldiers, who also carry a lot of the newer company's products here in the UK. of course it's really Steve and Lynda Weston's Toy Soldiers! . . . and here Lynda is seen 'guarding the fort' [Kandahar!], but look at all those figures . . . I'm glad I wasn't the one tasked with setting them all up!

Adrian Little had these new-production runners of Timpo G.I.s on offer, they are from Steve Morris - one of the Brummie contingent (who always turn-up good stuff), and he has found the moulds and got them back into production, I don't have sales/contact details for him; if anyone does, let us know. But they will be turning up at shows and things I'm sure, or you can try Mercator.

Chatting to stallholders at the end, it was deemed a good day, and packing-up was a bit later than usual, so clearly some last-minute transactions kept the 'buzz' going, not that it's just about the plunder sales, meeting old friends, catching-up, being shown rarities, having more knowledgeable mates ID stuff, hearing the gossip and rumours, it all helps make the day. So it's roll-on the 32nd show - less than a year away now!

*Of course everyone is welcome as long as they have the entry fee, strength in their legs and a big bag, or bags - I needed three . . . and a bit!

For those who don't like show-reports, I've posted some aluminium below, or click 'older post'. I've also added a vintage plastic puzzle Humpty-Dumpty to the jig toys page.

1st June 2016 - Paul emailed me to explain: "The dioramas are built for Replicants by Dan Morgan, another regular PW contributor", so; Nice diorama's Dan!

W is for Quiralu...no! Q is for Wend-Al...err...

The likelihood is that these can be regarded as Quiralu; possibly Wend-Al, but a couple of them are probably Wend-Al; might be Quiralu! I did consult Philip Dean's book before preparing the blurb for these pictures, but it wasn't much help, not a failing on the part of the author, just a lack of information generally on the company and its product lines. The vendor feels they are probably all French, but he can't be certain!

Quiralu were named after a Mr. Quirin who started making aluminium toys in 1933, hence 'Quir'(in) +'Alu'(minium) = Quiralu. When they switched to plastics they added an X, he being from Luxeuil in France . . . which also (by coincidence?) brought them into line with the other x's: Bonux, Cofalux and Starlux!

I think we've seen all three of these as plastics from Quiralux before, but these are the aluminium versions, two being Timpo'esque, the third having shades of the German make Domplast (shared sculptor?), although Wend-Al did list a paratrooper, so he may be from Blandford?

The baseless bazooka-operator may well also be Wend-Al as they removed bases toward the end of their existence to save money on what was becoming an uneconomical material, although the pose looks designed to stand-alone anyway, so toss a coin! The other two look a bit French to me?

The Tommie throwing a grenade looks like he ought to be Wend-Al, and they did catalogue a Machine-gunner, so there could be some Dorset in this shot, but all the figures have similar paint 'signatures' and the US troops were Quiralu/x poses in Aluminium and plastic so who knows.

Another angle on the two prone poses and a figure which I feel must be a naughty piracy from Wend-Al? I've added him to the Khaki Infantry page as well; Britains kneeling firer in aluminium.

Thanks to Adrian Little (Mercator Trading) for letting me photograph these at Sandown Park the other day, he might have a few copies of Philip's book left as well.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

F is for Fake Fops and Fainting Femmes!

Except they are not all fake, some are the Merten originals, but I think we did look at the originals before, so I've only shot a couple of the sets to compare with the interlopers from Hong Kong.

I took these a while ago, and they were sat in Picasa waiting for me to do something with when I picked up a few more the other day at the PW show, so now a post presented itself as being a bit more complete.

I always thought I was missing quite a few of the HK copies (a good 12mm larger at around 30-mil.), but it looks like the HK pirate took three of the adult couples from both sets as their Cake Decoration set. I don't know if Merten themselves did O-gauge versions - they may have been in the limited metal range?

The two sets I picked-up the other day, the one on the left had been mucked-about with, re-sealed in a too-small bag, with a shiny new staple and no parasol, so I opened it and added the contents to my loose sample!

I only have 'carded' in the tag-list, but these were sold like this from larger displays/dispensers, with no separate header or backing card.

The six poses; which I suspect are all of them now. There is some variation on decoration within the whole sample, but not stuff worth noting as it was probably dependent on the paint available on the day and/or the fancy of the painter/s.

I also managed to wiggle the parasol out of the sealed bag, get the photo' done and wiggle it back in without damaging the bag or the parasol!

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This is a bit of a small-scale Blog-fest today, as I have also posted the first article on the new Giant or What? Blog, and added what will probably be the last addition to the small-scale khaki infantry page, which may well see some radical surgery at some point, but may still get the missing entries as a simplified guide, with the fuller stuff transferred to the HK Blog as separate entries?

Monday, May 23, 2016

A is for Apparently….


...Salvador Dali once worked at the Dulcop plant!

Thanks to Brian Carrick for the figures (you see…I got a post out of them Brian!), and that Alpini is a ‘useable’ pose variant!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

M is for Mount Whomore...

It must be done...surely the next valley over? Further-up the range? And then the Simpsons!

Sent in by Blog visitor Jon Alderfer (who lives near Philadelphia in the US, has sold work to Heavy Metal magazine in the past and collects Disney, Dr. Who, Marx, and Britains [etc...!]), this is his own work and I'm privileged to post it here...talented stuff; thanks Jon.

Now; who do I see about hiring rock-drills...do you need a permit...is it in a national park....what will Smokey the Bear have to say about it...?

Friday, May 20, 2016

News, Views Etc...Err; news, views and etcetera!

Easing off on the Blog for a few days - weather's too nice to stay out of the garden. I know I still have to do a review of PW162 and with 163 due soon they may end-up together! There will - of course - be a show report forthcoming and a [show] plunder report in the fullness of time, but it's not a race and it's not a competition!

Brian Berke has sent some lovely stuff, from which I have already prepared two articles, with more to follow and some to be filtered-in over the years to come...while I have been sent the best ever picture of Mount Rushmore which I am downloading on this visit and should post next time...

Meanwhile, this JSB figure from Belgium came in at the show, it was in an advanced stage of disintegration, so throwing caution to the wind I brushed the worst of the crystallisation off the surface (which took a bit of paint with it) and coated it with plumber's solvent (actually Polypipe SC125) which is a very fast drying, noxious, clear, spirit-based, low-pressure/contact adhesive (incidentally: ideal for converting PVC figures as it's an instant-weld for things like Micro Machines or Wizards of the Coast figures), the main ingredient for which (if you want to buy it elsewhere in the world) is Bisphenol A-epichlorohydrin epoxy resin (industry number: AV MW<700).

The shot on the left shows the figure after quite rigorous brushing, on the right after a coating of the plumber's sealant; I actually gave the chest several coats to help fill some fine 'drying' cracks which were appearing. He will remain a bit shiny, and only time will tell if the procedure has saved the figure, slowed the death down a bit or totally wreaked it...It's in a polythene click-shut bag and I'll check on it from time to time.

Brian Carrick has a few JSB figures on his older site.

I did the same with a Captain Video robot, which was actually starting to crumble into pale powdery stuff as well as having the cracks developing in his back, but as he was unpainted, I pushed the boat out further with him and coated him in liquid polystyrene cement, let that dry (it restored the colour to some extent), and then gave it a liberal coat of the plumbing goo, I didn't take before shots, but I'll watch both figures with interest.

As a follow-up to the Bendy Toy/Plant-tie thing the other day, here are some actual (1970's vintage) toys, you can see there's no difference between them and the garden centre frogs we looked at in that post passim. The boxer is a design registered in the UK (and a PW show purchase), the Pink Panther I think we've seen before and is credited to United Artists; both made in Hong Kong.

The - unmarked - bear (is it Yogi, or a lookie-likee? Next day...'Smokey the Bear', see comments, thanks Ross!) has been hanging around since the last PW show a year ago and is smaller and of limited articulation, I guess he may have come with some accessories, a chair or [picnic!] bench maybe, to sit in or something like that, his body bends quite well, but the wires don't extend much beyond the shoulders and hips.

While I'm posting follow-ups, here are a few French figures from Cofalux which have come in recently, some may have been in the original posts in March/April (?...below!), but I got the factory painted flamethrower-guy in Twickenham at the weekend, so though it was fun to compare.

The other two are Belgian copies by Soldabar/Plasticom of the same French company's Foreign Legionary figure, we've seen the pose before here, but it's always nice to have a few colour variants!

Mucked-up a photo-session for the Airfix blog, so they can go here...piracy: it's a bad influence!

Finally, for MIB collectors, CTS have a fine group of Britains Deetail boxed samples in stock this week.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

L is for Look What You're Missing!

Plastic Warrior's Crescent Special...launched about the same time this appears here - if I get the 'Schedule Post' thing right...which I've never tried before!

If you are in Whitton this morning (or this afternoon) chances are you've seen this and snapped it up, if not - it will probably sell-out about 3 o'clock! But I know Paul will have more printed in the weeks ahead for those who couldn't make it to the show.

56 Printed pages, only one given over to editorial bumph (the outside back cover!), the rest being a comprehensive history of Crescent, an illustrated (lavishly illustrated) check-list of the plastic production, including many boxed examples, oddities, rarities and the like.

Full-colour throughout with the odd B&W archive image, this is the forth (?) edition of the 'Crescent Special' and it is the definitive word on the subject, being the culmination to date of all the contributions of PW readers over the years, interviews with company personnel, dips in the catalogue archive and observations on the empirical evidence left behind for us to collect.

Really: you can't afford not to have a copy if you collect 54mm plastic figures....40mm or 60mm plastic figures...farm...space or circus toys...Kellogg's...available for PW at all the usual sources;

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eMail; pw.editor@ntlworld.com


However...There's still time to get to Twicker's!

Friday, May 13, 2016

G is for Get Shorty...

...and Kill Billufssonne if he deserves it!


A too-early mould-release, heat-shrinkage Giant Viking clone'lette!


Show links:

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eMail; pw.editor@ntlworld.com

Monday, May 9, 2016

T is for Time's Running Out!

It's less than a week away now....cleared your calendar for the day yet? Wad of cash? Got fuel/fare ready? 'Wants list' polished? Big - empty - bag? Thermos cleaned from last year (bleach....overnight soak should do it)? Then you're ready...but others might not be!

 The better map of the venue

A little bird told me there will be a New Publication launched on the day...

Full venue details; Plastic Warrior

Saturday, May 7, 2016

OD is for Operation Dynamo

Olive Drab and 'Orrible Disaster...I finally got the images from Brian sorted out/downloaded as .jpg's and without further ado present them here for your enjoyment. No 'blurb' as such, the scene depicts the small boats or 'little ships' [ships carry boats, boats can't carry ships...apparently, but...little ships carry the strength of a nation] returning from Dunkirk to the London docks of the East End, and benefits from several viewings, with new little things showing themselves each time!

I like that some units have clearly been rescued in good order and with little trouble, ready to march away for a hot meal at Greenwich Arsenal, while others are looking very shot-up as they await the fleet of ambulances - no doubt hurrying toward them - just out of frame!

Notice also how the diorama can be plugged-in to a larger model railway layout. Brians words...

 "The loco was a clockwork Hornby Percy. Truncated it is on a motor bogie now..."

 "...built in 2010 showing troops returning to the UK from Dunkirk"

"My grandparents were in London's East End through WW2 and visiting my grandmother in the 50's Dad would take me past the Tower of London and we would watch the tugs and sailing barges go by."




 "...some of the infantry are wearing later helmets and equipment. I was going for the chaos ..."


"Rivet counters [might] complain... ...that the landing craft were sunk on their supply ship while on the way to France..."


 "...and [I] wanted to show off the sailing barge which is a childhood image from days watching them below the Pool of London."


 "...the MTB is a later version (I left off the rear torpedo tubes)..."



Some of the .png's, they won't open well, but give an idea of the overall effect...





Thanks again to Brian Berke for sending these to the Blog, all the way from New York! And I bet the odd landing craft was pootling around the lower reaches of Old Father Thames!

Friday, May 6, 2016

P is for 99 of 'em....or 64? They're a Pound now!

So to the death of 99p Stores! Happens all the time; retail fails, and this one is no different to many, a takeover by a rival (Poundland), and a rival charging 1% more for everything at that! However, once the regulatory authorities had cleared the merger just before Christmas 2015, the subject of the takeover promptly reduced all toys to 64p! I wouldn't say I hoovered them up; too many other pressures on my limited funds at that time of year, but through to March I did throw a fiver or so at them, 64p at a time!

What may prove to be my last example of the Deadstone Valley toys, which - though I said I wasn't go to indulge after the initial post a while ago - I've been steadily adding to; to the point where I have more than a good sample!

This chap has suffered one of the worst fatalities of all the surprisingly alive looking corpses in the sets; some low-down, dirty, rotten, no-good, red-necked, hooch-guzzlin', snake in the grass, gunslinger has shot him firmly in the family jewels...ouch! 64p with coffin and not really suitable for kids?

[I notice Ozbozz are behind a range of very large, blow-moulded, PVC dinosaurs currently in The Works again, Ozbozz (previously a web-brand) seemingly being what HGL are becoming after their own sale/purchase last year]

Remember when I showed the large 6" G.I. type figures I said there were other sets, well I'm still not too sure what they [all] were (police and road workers?), but one other set was firemen and at 4 six-inch figures for 64p it would have been rude not to.

The most interesting thing about this set was the two-part hose-operator, leading to quite a sophisticated pose, the other notable detail is that unlike the combat set which was a very cheap plastic - these are a higher quality dense ethylene or propylene polymer.

There were a bunch of these Zhong Jie Toys 'The Big Animals' in box-scale (I saw a moose/elk thing, Lion, possibly a domestic cow, maybe a kangaroo?), the bear being a larger overall scale (slightly bigger than the Britains one), while the elephant was only got because it's an elephant! Otherwise it's a stupid colour and not very captivating pose...but only 64p each!

I was going to blog these as a separate post ages ago, forgot I'd taken the pictures, took another set and then decided to add them to this post, thinning a whole bunch of images down to one collage, if you could sell pictures like this I'd be rich!

Bog-standard chinasaurs, only notable factors with these are that A) they are made of the new crumbly, powdery, PVC substitute which those pencil-rubbers/erasers we looked at a while ago are made off and B) most of them have been given the same single colour, single pass, single-direction blast with an airbrush that their silicon-rubber forbears received back in the 1960/70's! 64p for the whole bag.

So, that's 99p Stores gone, but what of their posible 'in-house' brand: PMS. Well...this story was in the papers back in March and is of interest for several reasons in addition to being about toys.

Firstly, the appeal was conducted by PMS, not 99p Stores, and I don't think I ever saw Kiddie Cases in 99p Stores (at 99p...or 64p!), so I'm assuming this was being defended by the larger parent discount store we found last time I looked at these stores in any depth, running higher-value items from the site I found on Goggle-maps, like Poundstreacher stores.

However it could equally be the case (geddit!) that either 99p Stores, their new owners Poundland or some faceless contract manufacturing Chinese corporation have used the/a PMS shell (company?) to defend the case, in the hope that should they lose, fines could be paid by the shell without any opprobrium falling on the old/new parent; or back in the East? After the recent divulgences of what's going on in and with Tax Havens, it's easy to see how some 'brands' could be hiding a multitude of sins - in my own personal opinion...don't want to get sued here!

Also - and probably a red herring so don't quote me! - the PMS logo is vaguely similar in some respects to the graphic form of the old Blue Box rival (and one time partner of Arco): PMC. Just a thought but could PMS be one of the modern trading brands of Plastic Manufacturing Corp., or another, similarly large, contract-manufacturer back in China, only shared with 99p Stores in an exclusivity deal?

Secondly, I tend to agree with the appeal court, while Trunki has clearly had their design 'lifted' (again - in my own humble opinion) the fact of the matter is that the Trunki itself is only really an old Poplar Plastic blow-moulded London Bus (as we looked at here) with the addition of hinges and a separation of the two halves. Indeed, the Poplar bus was only a smaller version of various ride-on ones we had as kids, some with handles each side to hold on to, some with a steering wheel in the roof and direct/forward-control steerable front wheels.

So Trunki didn't have a patentable 'new thing' they had what is known as an exploitation of an existing 'thing', ergo; The Kiddee Case is only a further exploitation, and not an infringement, the appeal court made the right decision, and Trunki's losing of the case, while it may well affect their bottom line, won't lead to a sudden collapse of intellectual property rights in the West.

Basically the battle is similar to the Lego/Mega Blocs one which has been ongoing for years now with each brand wining small victories in different places at different times, always enriching lawyers at a cost to the consumer, while they both remain free to ship product world-wide.

As to what will happen to PMS as far as Poundland is concerned only time will tell, but a lot of the 99p Stores had shed-loads of PMS-branded stock when they converted to Poundland, it all went back to somewhere and it's bound to reappear at some point, whether re-branded to Poundland's Funtastic, cleared to third-parties or tuning-up in Poundland, still as PMS, remains to be seen.

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For overseas readers:

99p Stores were a discount store possibly using PMS as an in-house toy and household goods brand, all products were 99p.

Poundland (in-house brand for toys and novelties only: Funtastic, all products: £1) have just bought them (99p Stores) out.

Poundstreacher are a discount chain with variable prices and larger items like interior furnishings and garden furniture, they do sell toys but usually 'name' brand clearance; we looked at a Heroclix set from them once.



Because this use of imagi-brands, shells and holding companies is so widespread, I'm working on a post about it, but - I can assure you - it will only further muddy the waters!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

R is for Reminder…

Nuff said...week and  a bit to go!
 
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Also; Brian Berke sent me a couple of pictures to show how the Super Heros we looked at the other day (which Brian sent me...thanks again!) can be painted-up to resemble various familiar Superheroes, clearly my imagination needs work! [And I've sorted the Operation Dynamo pictures, so in a day or two...]