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.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

R is for the Rest of the Rabble Regularly Re-Registering

The bulk of the Connoisseur Range designed by Barry Minot for Ron Spencer Smith (see Wednesday's post for the Napoleonic quad) were aimed at the American War of Independence, although they covered other conflicts of the era; the Seven Years War, 'French & Indian' wars etc.

As sculpts they have carried at least four sets of stock codes, so they are not the easiest to label-up, either for the collection, or for this post, so bear with me. The figure pictures following have a large-font code which is the code given me when I ordered some from the maker in 1996, and a small-font code which is the code they now carry as metal castings on the old metal website.

There are also three generations of material, not including the current white-metal; the early figures (red and blue here) were in a quite tough polymer, which could be soft polystyrene or a harder polyethylene, intermediate production after the move to Norfolk was shot with a more brittle material which could be an ethylene, polypropylene or even a nylon/rayon type, they would have been buying relatively small quantities, and price would have been key, those figures are the white, fawn and neutral/granule colours above, while the grey ones (late production) are in a pretty standard polyethylene of the same soapy softness as current Russian/Ukrainian figure production, think Strellets*R or Orion.

When I ordered the figures back in 1996 I asked Peter Johnson (who inherited the range) if he would label the figures, which he kindly did, but there is now one glaring difference between those late plastic numberings and the extant metal versions; B3 vs. B6 who have apparently been switched? I don't know if this was a kind of 'typo' or just 'one of those things', given some of the other number-changes over the years, it doesn't really matter, but the annotation above is how they've 'happened' to me!

Other than that, the numbering for the metal range is the same as the late plastic range up to B5, then there is the B6 query, B7-metal is another switch (see below), but from B7-plastic, the metal version is one digit higher . . .

. . . through to B15-plastic/B16-metal. I have yet to find a B14 in plastic but he is listed as B15 in metal, and I guess he was around - you just can't have everything! Again, the red and yellow are early, the grey is late, the rest intermediate production.

The last figure is the other query, he is now listed as B7-metal (American Light Infantry Firing), but was never apparently in the listing of the late plastic range, however, there is a 'missing' figure or two from the original 1970's listings, one of which is 'German Fusilier' - as I have a picture of a Hesse-Cassel fusilier in similar head-gear; I wonder if the current B7 is he? And might he have been B16, given that he was clearly made in plastic?

However the preceding was only half the confusion and Wednesday's table with the arrows was cropped from this larger table, where the arrows for the AWI are a lot busier!

[And it's only a few days since I stated "I don't usually obsess to this level"! But then these aren't modern, contract-manufactured,  mass-produced vinyl crap from the world's biggest toy-seller; they are vintage, collectable and an important part of war-gaming history - a whole different kettle of ball-game fish!]

This table will get worse before it gets better! Most of the arrows from the left-hand (pink) column to the next (raspberry, early 1990's) have yet to be worked-out, I could add a few from the descriptions, but that's not empirical research! I'm hoping that when I get my Military Modelling magazines out of storage there will be a few more illustrated in the review sections of the older issues, from which I can work out a few more of the connections.

Likewise there is a hope that the early-90's column can be more closely tied to the later 90's column (mauve), and I can then move stuff around in the first two columns to run back from the current metal designations (green) - simple!

The other 'missing' figure (I think the rest in the first two columns will 'shake-out' eventually) is the German with espontoon/M-figure (sergeant with halberd) who seems to have been lost in the mid-1990's - tearful emoticon!

Note also that I was - in the 1996 purchase - also sold B13 (what is now B14-metal) as B1-plastic, this points to a possible/similar 'typo' with the 3/6 thing, but also; in John Mollo's Uniforms of the American Revolution, (Blandford - Macmillan 1975 then Stirling 1991) it's clear that different regiments have similar headdress, while headdress' differ between companies, or troop types, or are the same between different troop types, so they were always going to be open to interpretation and remain open to future re-numbering . . . nooooooooo!

The point is that most of the figures can be painted-up for all sides or all of the figures can be painted-up for most sides - in several wars!

Indeed - sticking with the old Blandford for a second; although I've never been - particularly -an aficionado of the period, it's arguable that the uniforms of the later period (the earlier 'Marlborough' seems to have been all about facings with Infantry and Cavalry otherwise similarly clothed?) are actually more colourful than the following Napoleonic period? Is that anathema to the nappy-fans?

Having nearly three complete sets of B15-plastic (40+ figures), I may paint a bunch of them up in a variety of the nations/units one day, one of each - Yankee insurgents, Minutemen, Mountain Boys (lovely green & cream combo.) Provincials, Loyalists, Saxons, Hessians, Brunswickers, French and the Brits; line and marines!

Comparing B4 (plastic and metal) with the B7-metal, the figure with a pack makes sense for the German, as he has to carry his home around with him, the terrorist insurgent can go home occasionally (or raid a farmstead - I know; they all raided farmsteads!), so only needs a blanket-roll for short-term comfort.

These seem (from the website pictures) to be the original infantry from the non-Connoisseur range of Spencer Smith, which we will look at shortly. Taken from Holgar Eriksson (Comet/Authenticast, SAE and Tradition) sculpts, now sold individually in metal, the image is included here for completion; just in case you're copying the tables into your own files.


Listing - Connoisseur AWI-SYW Only

Mid 1970’s Production (approximately 1974)

- Bag of 48 American War of Independence

Early 1980’s Production (approximately 1981)
- Bag of 30 American War of Independence
Press Listings
AWI1 - Staff Officer
AWI2 - British Grenadier Officer
AWI3 - British Light Infantry Officer
AWI4 - Company Officer
AWI5 - American La Fayette’s D.I. (?) Officer [L.I.?]
AWI6 - Loyalist Light Infantry Officer
AWI7 - British Grenadier Private
AWI8 - British Light Infantry Private
AWI9 - British battalion Company Private
AWI10            - Loyalist Light Infantry Private
AWI11            - American L.I. La Fayette’s Private
AWI12            - American Ranger in Hunting Shirt
? - German Officer with Espontoon
? - German Fusilier

The 'Old Rectory' Years (circa 1992)
Plastic Sample Packs (contents differ)
SP5 - Connoisseur - American War of Independence/Napoleonic (10 AWI, 4 Napoleonic, all foot)
1st listing, 1991/2
D - Officer in Advance Position
E - Officer with Sword and Pistol
F - Private in Firing Position
G - Officer with Sword
H - Private at Ease
J - Private in Firing Position
K - Officer with Sword in Air (became B11)
L - Private Advancing (became B15)
M - Sergeant with Halberd
N - Officer with Cloak (became B7)
O - Private with Slope Arms
2nd listing, 1995/6
B1 - British Grenadier Private Firing
B2 - British Grenadier Officer
B3 - British Light Infantry Officer
B4 - British Light Infantry Firing
B5 - British Battalion Company Private Firing
B6 - American Light Infantry Officer
B7 - Staff Officer in Cloak (was N)
B8 - American La Fayette’s Regiment, Light Infantry Firing
B9 - American La Fayette’s Regiment, Light Infantry Officer
B10 - American Ranger in Hunting Shirt
B11 - French Officer Sword Raised (was K)
B12 - Company Officer [any army]
B13 - German Grenadier Firing
B14 - German Grenadier Standing at the Ready
B15 - French Infantryman Standing at the Ready (was L)

Internet Era Plastic/Metal Changeover Years
B1 - British Grenadier, private firing
B2 - British Grenadier, officer
B3 - British Light Infantry officer
B4 - British Light Infantry firing
B5 - British battalion Co. private firing
B6 - American Light Infantry Officer
B7 - American Light Infantry firing
B8 - Staff Officer (in cloak)
B9 - American La Fayette’s Light Infantry firing
B10 - American La Fayette’s Light infantry Officer
B11 - American Ranger in hunting shirt
B12 - French Officer, sword raised
B13 - Company Officer (any army)
B14 - German Grenadier firing
B15 - German Musketeer, standing at the ready
B16 - French Infantryman, standing at the ready

Current (June 2017)
B1 - British Grenadier, private firing
B2 - British Grenadier, officer
B3 - British Light Infantry officer
B4 - British Light Infantry firing
B5 - British battalion Co. private firing
B6 - American Light Infantry Officer
B7 - American Light Infantry firing
B8 - Staff Officer (in cloak)
B9 - American La Fayette’s Light Infantry firing
B10 - American La Fayette’s Light infantry Officer
B11 - American Ranger in hunting shirt
B12 - French Officer, sword raised
B13 - Company Officer (any army)
B14 - German Grenadier firing
B15 - German Musketeer, standing at the ready
B16 - French Infantryman, standing at the ready
B17 - Private advancing (AWI)
B18 - Grenadier advancing (AWI)
B19 - Light Infantry advancing (AWI)
B20 - Hessian advancing (AWI)
B21 - Highlander advancing 

2 comments:

johnpreece said...

Just to add to the complexity, somewhere along the line some of the moulds became entangled in the Garrison line along with original Rose 30mm castings. They were cast up in metal by Rob Young during the period he was selling the Garrison Range. I cannot remember al the cades but there was a good range of highlanders (8 or so figures) which I bought and painted. None of those figures are in the Peter Johnston range.

Barry Minot was well ahead of his time in his use of vignettes and variety in his ranges. Also some of his castings are of incredible complexity, but he never did horses. Maybe he just didn't like them.

Great post, thank you I feel well rewarded for having religiously read all of the Christmas Cracker crap.

Hugh Walter said...

Thanks for that John and . . . I hear you, but there is a market for that Christmas Cracker crap!

More Spencer Smith in the next week or so, I'm just working through the box!

H