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.

Friday, September 1, 2017

A is for Army Men - RTM '17 - Part III - Better Crappytoys!

Into the home straight with part three and I only hope some people have got something from some of these posts, because a lot of people write-off this stuff as half-a-carat shit, and they're not wrong, but intrinsically there is no difference between a mounted Swoppet knight and a cut-n-shut Crescent Mexican copy blob, from Hong Kong!

We return to those 14's for the first half of this post, but will also look at a few similar figures. I have in addition to the 14's a second set of very similar figures, the same pose is a little smaller and I think it's a size difference, not the differnet shrinkage rates of the two materials, but it could be?

Base-edge treatment, the plastic colour and the marking (less the numeral on the PVC figures) are all so similar as to point to the same source and neither sample is big enough to be considered 'all', which means the pose differences could even-out over time/with more finds? Hoever, see below.

The other common denominator is that they are nicely sculpted, well produced figures with lots of paintable detail visible, and apart from Chuck-Noriega with his linked-belt feeding out of his hip pocket, they are all pretty useable versions of figures previously seen in Parts I & II - I particularly like this version of the running M60 gunner, although I'd be the first to admit the SMG's both look a bit 1970's Italian police?

So . . . having looked at the Jaru set yesterday with the 18's and the same card-art as this larger set, we are faced with what looks to be a set with all-14's?

Firstly, although the picture is blurred for being a low-res publicity puff-piece, you will notice there are only two poses shown, one of which isn't in 14, 18 or 20 (yet) - the standing, no: 'running' firer ('a') in the sand sample, while in the green sample, some of the figures are reversed ('b')!

This is a Photoshop'ed mock-up! It proves nothing, but it gives clues, and is therefore useful nonetheless, providing you spot the 'deliberate mistakes' that is! The tank is the same as the Hunson set we looked at yesterday (very sharp 'boat-front' to the hull's glassis casting) which is one of the clues.

Now I have been seeing the Hummers in mixed, loose lots on feeBay for a few years now (there were at least two lots with them on there last week), and as it takes a year or two for this stuff to filter through, we can assume they have been around for a while now.

Next to the Jaru mock-up is a shelfie I took last week in the new Smyth's in Farnborough (farn-brer not -burroh!) of a set by, or purporting to be by a Shing Hing which has what looks like 20's with additional poses (standing firing ex-Matchbox GI is to be expected; given the rest of my sample!) but the tank/s is/are different, being the small ones we looked at the other day (from two sources with two sets of 'additives') and a scale-up of it with a more rounded front than the older one.

But, the colour of all the green components is another clue.

Shing Hing are also marketing a large tub with four armies (also currently in Smyths), and as far as these toys go it's a good one, we've got the GI's with ex-Airfix Japs and sets of ex-Matchbox 8th Army and Afrika Korps, so in one tub you have Tobruk and Iwo Jima - and for a 'tenner -  bargain!

But ignore the other three and check the GI's, there's the running shooter, along with most of the 20 poses, but with the 14 base marking, and having handled them I can tell you they were PVC.

Jaru claim to be one of the biggest middle-men in the importation and distribution of rack-toys (they don't call them rack-toys!), and there's no reason to disbelieve them and plenty of evidence of that being the case; indeed what we seem to have here, with yesterday's post and in among the truck and tank posts that preceded these, is evidence of that 'finger in every pie' position of Jaru's.

Reiterating a line from yesterday's post: "different contract: different mix", Jaru being the lynch-pin for all these pale-jade green toy soldiers, whatever the size, material or pose mix and whatever the accompanying accessories (which will be coming from different contract-manufacturers) and - ideed - whatever the colour of the 'opposition' if any.

I would put money on 14, 17, 18A and B and 20, all having some connection, with Jaru in the procurement chain somewhere? And going back a few years! In last years RTM post H is for Hangin' on the Hook! we saw that my 20's came in a purchase with PVC 8th Army, a different color from the Shing Hing set above and Brian B also donated the Ocean set with blue ones, but another two links between them all.

These (also from Brian Berke) are similar, and almost certainly PVC but will be either licensed or bog-standard'ish copies. The Soma (Mr. So and Mr. Ma) partnership was established in 1968 and was one of the bigger contract-manufacturers for the next 20-odd years before starting to use their own brand in the mid-1980's.

Unusually for Soma these are only marked 'CHINA' and while they undoubtedly use smaller contractors for sub-assemblies, they are big enough to have made these themselves - in their 'signature' figure-material.

I've highlighted the QA-coding both on the card (red arrow) and in each bag as a strip of 'ticker-tape' (yellow arrows), this is a trend that's here to stay.

Might as well have a look at Soma's other PVC output! I'd like to find the rest of the 40mm GI's, he's the only one I've found, the little ones we've looked at before, there were 12 and they were issued with generic push-and-go jets and prop-jobs - real infant toys; I sent them straight to charity (mid/late-1990's?)

As are their juvenile 40mm's which come as pirates, Wild West (above), Robin Hood (above) and the Sheriff with their men, Medieval and the Crusades, sports, Mermaids, cartoon/anthropomorphic animals, Ninjas, Manzinger-type Autobot things, Mexican/TV-wrestlers, fairy-tales and fantasy/ horror types (I think), in sixes or twelve's and often with a second, or subsequent issues in different colour-ways (there are three Hood's, yellow (above) cream and black - that I know of). I have a load in storage so we'll look at them properly one day, but there's plenty about them on the Wibbly Wobbly Way!

Loose-ends, left to right:

Marshall's were carrying these wholesale until recently, they look like figures in previous parts, but the tub suggests they are a tad bigger so they ended-up in this folder!

Bigger, better looking figures from XMT, follow the link for a made-up-brand! They look to be ethylene? It's not even an SMG is it; it's a hair-dryer!

These look very interesting, they seem to have some of the old Arco Rambo poses, along with a couple of the Jaru poses (including the running chap who's a very decent figure sculpt), along with the almost de'riguere these days Matchbox GI poses, along with a couple of helmet-swap Airfix paratroopers, all well-finished and looking to be at least 54mm, give or take, the bino-guy is a bit challenged in the height department!

♫♪♫Short People - They got little hands...And little eyes...And they walk around...Tellin' great big lies...They got little noses...And tiny little teeth...They wear platform shoes...On their nasty little feet...♪♫♪ - Randy Newman

Also I'd draw you attention to a letter from Tomas Korecek in Plastic Warrior magazine's issue 165 (March 2017) which shows bigger-still (75mm/1:24th scale) versions of the figures we've been looking at the last three posts, currently for sale in one outlet in Prague, but they'll probably be available elsewhere, in another colour, another card . . .


Andy B said...

Re. your query as to whether people find your posts on (for me it was Hong Kong) toy soldiers of interest- yes, as I had armies of them as a kid, and had great fun with them- although I get a bit lost over who produced what!

Hugh Walter said...

"although I get a bit lost over who produced what"...so do I Andy - so do I!!!