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, June 21, 2017

News, Views etc . . . All Sorts!

It's funny, I thought I was doing too many 'News, Views' this year, but looking at the dates on some of these newspaper stories it's a while since we had one, I must have filled the Blog with other stuff? So anyway; well overly time for another!

In one of those synergic acts of coincidence which happen from time to time, and - indeed -have only recently happened to this very brand (Noki) on the Blog already this year, I saw the other set in a charity-shop window the other day (right-hand shot - the same one my Fontanini came from a few months ago!), which happened to be the day-after I found an old Amazon sales image of the same set it different packaging on the 'unknown' dongle - left hand image.

Seen before - just Picasa clearance!

They both confirm my assumption in previous posts that the bread 'soldiers' cutter would be the same as the one in the E1 tank we looked at last time; not the first time an educated guess has won-out here. Worth noting also that there are slight differences in the old sales image over the actual retail version (different spoon, sharper nose), this is often the way with catalogue images or press-release/sales shots, as they call upon pre-production items to photograph so that artwork is ready for the launch date.

The first catalogue image of Airfix's 1:32nd scale Stalwart amphibious artillery re-supply vehicle was very different to the finished product, as was the contents of their HO Waterloo Assault Set, even on the sides of early boxes; one of the reasons for the 'Items may differ' disclaimers many catalogues and packagings carry.

Colin Penn - who most of you will know from the pages of Plastic Warrior as a collector who uncovers some real treats in his searches - was corresponding with me the other day on a pretty special find of his which I won't detail here as it is destined for Plastic Warrior itself (so subscribe - if you don't already!) but if anyone knows anything about a toy company called (or logo-branded to-) F&G / An F&G Product; he'd like to hear from you (almost certainly not FG Taylor & Sons), and I can pass info on or you can go direct to PW.

He also kindly sent me the above two shots of Vitacup animals he's obtained, including a gazelle/deer (with curved horns) which wasn't in previous posts on the range, nor - I think - was it in the listing, so this set continues to grow! Thanks Colin.

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Having just looked at WHW's again, an interesting recent snippet in the press at the beginning of May concerns the auctioneer Breker in Koln (Cologne), Germany who were visited by the police with a view to removing what sounds like rare 70mm Lineol or Elastolin's from a forthcoming sale. The Nazi era figurines - including Goebbels and a moving-arm Hitler - had been flagged-up as banned Nazi 'memorabilia'. The auctioneers were ordered to 'cease & desist' the distribution of the sale's catalogue, while Astrid Breker, current boss of the company stated "Those were normal toys in that time - you cannot deny history", it seems however that the catalogues had already gone out and Breker now wait to see if they will face prosecution, as some of the toys had not had the swastika's obliterated from the images.

Also connected to WHW's is this, or at least it reminded me very much of the wooden flats issued as WHW's in such sets as the VDA (Verein fur das Deutschtum im Ausland - aid for Germans abroad) Schoolchild Collectors issue of 1935 or 1937's German Fairytales & Legends, both of which involved plain, block-painted, figural, wooden flats.

These however are life-size and of mostly Afro-Caribbean subjects, something that wouldn't have got past Goebbels! Actually these are by Lubaina Himid from her work 'Naming The Money' from 2004, Himid is one of the four shortlisted contenders for this year's Turner Prize, and the oldest ever nominated, being 62 years of age at the time of the press release.

Getting back to the Breker story and breaking in the tabloids today is the tale of a cashe of Nazi memorabilia found in the posh Buenos Aires suburb of Beccar, Argentina which includes toys "...used to indoctrinate German children of the time..." that's the language of the small-sheet press for you! But it does make you wonder if there is lickly to be a bigger backlash against the ElastolinLineol type toys?

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A good walk spoiled, but look at that trophy! I believe it represents the clubhouse at the Augusta club where the 'National' was held this year? I can only see it in use as a fine full-veranda 'Southern plantation house' for the centerpiece of an ACW war game! You'd have to chuck the plinth, and obtaining the - probably solid silver - piece of scenery might be problematical!

March of the PC brigade

PC's and Laptops are gaining ground again after a few years losing-out to Tablets and dumb-phones. Having recently inherited a iphone4 which seems unwilling to talk to my Laptop by either Bluetooth or USB cable, and which won't allow me to the save music files on it to my Laptop in a Windows compatible form, I do wonder at the use of it and am therefore glad we may see a return to the more established and trusted form's of bigger, easier to use, larger memory devices

Could we hope the next generation of Laptop/Desktop will have built in mobile telephony technology, rather than the clumsy VOIP? If I can download music or view smallscaleworld on a dumb-phone, why can't I use the keyboard of my laptop to make a call - it's not rocket science!

Still on computing - I've seen (and heard) stories about the new Windows X-Box One-X, Nintendo Switches and the other things, along with the news that Atari (who have been out of the game - pun intended - for years) are to stage a come-back; so I guess we're about to go back to the console wars of the noughties? Can't say I'll do much but ignore the whole over-hyped business - as I did last time; but an ear will be kept to developments!

Other News

No longer a significant 'player' in premiums anymore, so a bit leftfield, but some may be interested to hear that Weetabix have just been sold again (to Post Holdings of the US), for £1.4bn, that's more than you can spend in a particularly extravagant lifetime!

As a fair few of you carry-out your hobby from your sheds, you might want to know that Cuprinol - the wood treatment people - have narrowed this year's entries for 2017 Shed of the Year, more info can be found at readershed.co.uk where voting is now over - sorry! I voted for the Tardis!

The Muppets - or fans of them - are seeking funding for their continued existence, albeit only as museum exhibits. New York's Museum of the Moving Image is seeking crowd-funding for a preservation package of around 32,000-squids at current exchange rates.

Stanley Gibbons have been in the news with three angles on a sorry story of the 'fallen mighty' in recent weeks, first it sold its stake in Masterpiece London (organisers of the Art fair) through it's subsidiary Mallet & Sons in order to restructure, then about three weeks ago it announced it was in takeover-talks, then - as they fell-through - it announced last week that it was putting itself on the open market.

While for teddy bear fans planning summer-holidays with younger children; the Spanish rental site spain-holiday.com is offering a reuniting service for teddies left behind (quite common apparently!), see details on their website for #NoTeddyLeftBehind.

Hornby Hobbies are expected to reveal profits down 6% this week, but given their tribulations over the last 18 months (specifically) and in recent years more generally, that will be a good sign of the restructuring going according to plan! However, the slim-line stock marketing-model is set to continue for some time, so no new lines for a while I'm afraid.

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Alibaba who have a retail platform model and are under-reported in the Western media and all but ignored by our hobby despite being bigger that eBay and Amazon combined; have seen their share-price rocket on the news of strong grown forecasts for the next twelve-months, around 47%! Coming on the back of a revenue increase of 56% (below expectations!) in the year to March; Trump and Brexit won't stop the march of China. The machinations surrounding Yahoo/Altaba are also interesting but I won't bore you with them!

However I will suggest that the news should be read in conjunction with China's new 'big idea' the Silk Road trans-continental rail link. At the moment there is a delay adding a day or two to the journey as gauge-changes lead to trans-shipping of each train's load twice en-route and locomotive/driver changes to boot. However, with The West pushing Russia and China closer with every speech, it's only a matter of time before a new correct-gauge direct route is established, and seeing how quickly they've (the Chinese) built the first part of their East African railway - we need to look out.

On the loss of Western hegemony and the rise of the - no-longer - 'Sleeping Dragon', a computer has played Go better than a human, a Chinese computer, that is; winning a complicated Chinese game (one of the last games to be bettered by AI) against a Chinese champion (Ke Jie, 19).

Which leads us neatly on to chess, also beaten by computers, but a while ago! The Association of Teachers and Lecturers have called for Chess to be taught in all schools in England as a 'mind sport'. This follows a similar call three years ago which fell on deaf ears in Westminster - too busy wreaking the country and flogging everything in the larder to their mates?

A story itself linked to one stating that school lessons should be broken-up with periods of juggling or Plasticine model-making! The research revealed that learning is best carried out in 15 minute bursts of information, with periods of ten minutes of 'unrelated activity'. This is a non-scientific study but seemed to gain results for schools in Sheffield under the Hallam Teaching School Alliance.

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No additional text needed! Seeemples!

The only event I've noticed recently is that the medieval fayre and jousting tournament which featured in a  pre-Easter 'News Views' will be at Herstmonceux Castle for the bank holiday weekend of August 26/28th with falconry, fire-play (?), costume and folk music, tag line: Party Like it's 1499!

Leo Baxendale, creator of the Bash Street Kids and Minnie the Minx for The Beano comic has sadly passed away. He was also responsible for Sweeney Toddler, Little Plum, The Three Bears, and Willy the Kid along with the co-creation of both Wham! and Beezer comics.

We've also lost Adam West the proper Man Bat, Peter Saliss (voice of Wallace from Wallace & Grommet), John "Down Shep, DOWN BOY" Nokes from Blue Peter and Play School's Brian Cant - the passing of the five all serving to make me feel a little older - but no wiser!

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Finally - who remembers these? On the backs of early-to-mid 1970's era Britains Herald long boxes, we have panels depicting - from left to right - Mini Sets, Herald, Herald, Eyes-Right and Swoppets, although - from the scenery - the second one can't decide whether it is depicting Herald Khaki Infantry or Mini Sets US Infantry?

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