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.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

C is for Chinacars!

There's no real point to this post other than things are hardly ever what they appear to be or claim to be when dealing with modern contract-manufactured rack toys, as while some of these are technically 'shelf-sale' items they are all priced at the pocket-money budget!

So we'll just ramble through them in no particular order, looking at the odd detail on the way...

I bought these a couple of years ago (in The Works), can't remember if I Blogged them at the time, but I suspect not as they became the kernel for this post, the folder for which I've been adding -to ever since. Both branded to High & Drive, you may recognise them as being otherwise the same as the previously Blogged Funtastic for Poundland vehicles.

Is it me or are there shades of the 'Stalone's Dredd' Land Rover in that Police SWAT vehicle? The other is VAB'ish, SAM-equipped and seems the commonest of these, being added to most of the 'ranges' below.

The aforementioned Funtastic in two packagings, same vehicle range though! When I say the same vehicle 'range', the 6x6 is probably an exception proving the rule, as it is in the same packaging as the little die-casts but A) we will see further down the page they have their 'own' 6x6 truck and B) this model is a larger scale, mostly plastic and of more complicated, multi-part construction.

Originally appearing on a blister card as part of a small line of three larger scale vehicles; we looked at the M48 Patton tank and the hovercraft at the time, but again see further down for how these are all part of the same 'whole'.

Here they are claimed by Little Angel on the left with some more shots of the Poundland's on the right, Little Angel use the star option for vehicle graphics, Funtastic take a winged logo and throw a few out-of-scale accessories into the box for added play-value.

Little Angel clearly makes sports equipment or peripherals too!

Another publicity shot from Little Angel, a Jeep from The Works with different wheels (also a pound), the old Zylmex half-track now owned by Tai Sang's subsidiary; Red Box, and an Israeli Merkava tank I photographed in the shop as it is too small to get excited about, especially at two quid to everyone else's pound!

It's not that I don't have smaller tanks/vehicles (I have every size and material) but just that it will turn-up at a pound sometime, or in a mixed lot from a car boot sale or charity-shop's 20p rummage bin! And I was purchasing two other vehicles for this post as I took the photographs, but was too tight to go over the fiver!

Kids Car and Avitalk (probably both made-up-brands) are both on Alibaba claiming the same vehicles as their 'own'! The Kids Car image is particularly useful, as it extends the extent of the line or range and ties three (or four?) wheel-designs into the same set. It also claims 1:87 as the given scale, patently nonsense as the jeeps are bigger than the lorries!

The tank is an M1-looking thing; the Hummers are a different rivet-detailed design form the common one while the VAB'ish vehicle with a full turret would seem to be a copy of a 1990's Majorette model.

Both Red Box but the upper one still has Zylmex on the base-plate, although the original Hong Kong has been replaced with a heavily pronounced 'China', recent examples are now Zylmex-free!

Tucked away at the back is a random incomer, from some half-forgotten charity-shop purchase, it is another VAB-ish design but four-wheeled and is equipped with a water-cannon! In storage I have several of these with different markings and/or different plug-ins, we may have looked at them here - before I got a grip on tagging - or was it the Hummers?

A rather fuzzy shot from an old .pdf catalogue from the recently deceased Marshall's; importers into and suppliers to the West Country and wider holiday/sea-side novelty trade (prior to their demise), with several of the vehicles seen above, although unlike the Kids Car set, these mostly have the same wheels as the Poundland/Funtastic versions.

Also, although unclear, it's obvious that more civilian vehicles have been militarised with khaki/green and camouflage.

To the right is a publicity shot from XY / Xin Yu, who might actually be the source for some of these given that they are claiming to be an 'alloy toys factory', but I suspect not for several reasons, the first that they are calling themselves an 'alloy toys factory' rather than the more obvious die-caster's. Second they aren't showing much of the range/s-line/s and third they have included the mostly plastic hovercraft from that 8-9-year-old Poundland set.

Spare photo's from the folder!                          

Another probably made-up name for wholesale purposes on Alibaba; Wellye advertising four of the commoner casts in the upper shot, with a colour-change for the tank and a few 'lesser' casts in the lower shot, note two different Jeeps - not just the plastic accessories but the whole design - one a chunky-Willy's, the other more a sort of Wrangler.

The other two I bought when photographing the Merkava, imported by Kandytoys the truck having the same wheels as other vehicles seen here, the MLRS been seen as a blur in the Marshall's shot. The truck is - I think - a reasonable copy of a Chinese copy of the late/post-Cold War Russian Ural truck?

However; I'm trying not to get bogged-down in vehicle types here (hence VAB'ish!) as they are all cheap, simplified or fictional pocket-money toys, and as far as war-gamers might be concerned, are what you say they are or paint them to be!

Comparison between a High & Drive from Poundland, a Works 'Metal Car' and the Pioneer Pro-Engine (previous shot - Pioneer toys manufactory Ltd) boxes, it's pretty clear to me they all come from the same place, they even take the same Pantone red for their graphic-design's starting-point!

Now we have Sunny Kids (sounding a bit like Kids Car) claiming them as their own and adding a bus which looks like it's been stolen from a Brio set! They go with a Micro Machines style folding play set and more realistic street-furniture than the Funatastic 'big boxes'.

To the right - more spare images!

Halsall's HTI have the Merkava and the two-axle VAB'ish in better paint (still with a water-cannon!), on a nice if civilian-looking tank transporter in their Teamsterz range (we looked at the firemen and policemen at the start of RTM). I did go back to buy this but they were sold-out!

Which is a good point to place a quick link to Uncle Brian's post the other day, a brace of lovely all-plastic transporters, which although modern Chinese designs, could be painted to look like Faun's rushing your Roco-minitanks Leopard's up to the Fulda gap from Putlos!

Following the link Brian provided - in the comments - leads to mention of Maisto in the product details but a quick Google for "Maisto Tank Transporter" fails to deliver the goods, so I think it's more of a click-bait thing?

To the right - another spare image!

The Army version from 8/10 years ago with the more recent (3 or 4 years back) boxed police one. The blister-carded vehicle has generic artwork front and rear with a consumer information sticker for Funtastic on the back - however if I recall correctly, the Patton and Hovercraft didn't, I bought them a year or two earlier and from a  different Poundland, so obviously the sticker came in with tighter legislation following the big lead-in-paint scandal of . . . err . . . 2010/2011 . . . later?

Although both trucks were a pound of your Earth-money the earlier blister-packed trio all had pull-back motors fitted while the later window-box truck is a free-wheeler, this is reflected in different wheel-hubs and tyres.

I guess, if there is to be a point to the post it is that while a dozen (or more - I haven’t looked that hard) or so brands can be associated with these vehicles, which seem to be from three main sub-sets, the fact is: that they all come from the same place (or three places?). There are fourteen lines/brands/issues above (ignoring the Zee Toys/Zyl half-track).

Whether you are a chain-store, an importer (jobber), an Alibaba-platform wholesaler, a shipper/marketer from Hong Kong or Shanghai or a middle-man running around the big toy-fairs in a shiny suit with a shiny brochure, you can 'pick & mix' your line/range/set/'offer', mix or match your packaging to previous efforts or rival's orders and the often faceless, usually nameless contract-manufacturers will do what they can to help you.

You can choose markings, colours, wheels, whether or not to have window-boxes or blister cards, white or clear trays. you can buy in a few accessories for the 'value added' factor, they can be cheap and nasty (Funtastic boxes) or more realistic (Sunny Kids), you can take the decoration from an off-the-shelf menu or stipulate something better (HTI's matt camouflage) and when the profit margin's been hit you will dump the remainder as clearance and move on to something else!

Or, you may wait a few months and come at them again from a different angle, Funtastic have tried three packagings/assortments in less than ten years now, The Works; two boxings, in five years.

Ghosts in the machine...

[tags have been heavily curtailed by the imposed limits on this post - so if this is 'your thing' bookmark it before it disappears down the page!]

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