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.

Friday, October 20, 2017

E is for Elfie's Elfy Elfish- Shelfies!

Actually; Elfie had nothing to do with it, I don't even know an Elfie - stop following me crazy woman!

Couple of quickies today, both shelfies, not because they don't have some merit - I wouldn't photograph them if there wasn't something acceptable about them - but because they are still a bit pricey for what they are, and what they are is that difficult 65-70+mm size of all this modern PVC and it's not something I'm tripping over myself to garner in quantity; it'll all turn-up in mixed lots soon anyway!

Disney's Frozen, in TK Maxx now, Bullyland clearance and sized to go with all their other stuff, paint out the 'Anime eyes' and they'll mostly make half-decent medieval-folk wandering around at some jousting tournament!

Not the snowman; don't be silly, he needs to be added to the cake-decoration side-collection's snowman zone!

Dodgy close-ups; dodgy focus, dodgy lighting, and that's after cropping and cropping again!

This was also in TK Maxx, but a few months ago; Simba's range of Magic Fairies, the figure is lovely, very Tolkienesque, but the accessories are double-plus Barbie shite in metafleck transparent plastic with battery-operated messaging!

There's no place for imagination in any of this type of stuff, there's a corporate-approved storyline and a talking boat/bird/whatever making sure you stay on that line! Fussa-russa . . .

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Y is for YM which has become YC, could be used as YG and might pass for YFNX, YFU or YRST?

So, following-on from the two Gilmark AFV's the other day, the 'meat and two veg' of the parcel from Ed Berg the other day (which - incidentally - took about two days and five minutes to get here from Nevada and cost about half the postage sending similar mail the other way - and we're not even in full Brwreaksit mode yet!) was this . . .

. . . it's the Pyro Dredger! It's missing a crane (apparently), so becomes more of a miscellaneous lighter or harbour utility vessel, but having blogged the Kleeware version of the Ferry Boat a while ago, when Ed indicated that he was not that enamoured with it when he Blogged it last year, and given we were looking for a swap; I said "I'll have it!" . . . and here it is, it's brilliant!

The two compared, the hull is identical - with separate superstructure mouldings, glued-on to make the different vessels. Unlike the water-fast hull of the ferry-boat, with the dredger the doors above the rear wheel-well and crane hole 'forward' of the dredger both allow some water in, so it sits lower in the water than the ferry, but the cargo compartment still displaces enough water for it to float happily.

I have no idea which end is aft, or forwards, but I'm guessing the location of the floor/carpet towing-eye is my permission to assume! Crane forward, bridge aft. The ferry boat has one (towing-eye) at each end, presumably because it's a roll-on-roll-off configuration and the idea is for you and your sibling/friend to tow it between each other!

Comparing the marks; it's a straight mould-swap between the US and UK . . . there will be a separate metal drum or rod that slides into the female half of the tool, which can then be replaced with the borrowing-maker's own mark-stamp.

With the crane absent I experimented with a bit of weaponising, the 'Brown-Water Navy' needs some more firepower! Twin Bofors 40mm from the Tudor Rose truck and a turret from the same maker's Churchill Tank both fit nicely.

I wonder if you can get 3D-printable D-Day type rocket units, put one of them in the hold, and 'Old School' beach-landings would be sorted! Go earlier and I reckon this could pull 60/100-odd troops off the beach at Dunkirk each visit!

Quality 'Dime-Store' boat - thank you so much Ed!

"Your mission Captain Willard; is to draw-out two Tudor Rose artillery pieces,
and proceed up the Nung River in a Navy Lighter.
Pick up Colonel Kurtz's path at Nu Mung Ba, follow it, and shell the
living-bejesus out of his compound of neh'kid, druggie-hippy wackos."


YC - [Open Lighter],(non self-propelled)
YFNX - [Lighter], (special purpose, non self-propelled)
YFU - [Harbor Utility Craft], (self propelled, lighter)
YG - [Garbage Lighter], (self-propelled)
YM - [Dredger], (self-propelled, miscellaneous)
YRST - [Salvage Craft Tender], (non self-propelled, miscellaneous)

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

F is for Follow-up - Henbrandt

Third post today and we're back to Henbrandt, and the current cheepie-bin stuff from The Entertainer, I went again, I saw more, I purchased . . . 3-for-a-pound! I buy this shite so you don't have to . . . but they're paratrooper-aliens, and jumping monsters, why wouldn't you?!

Plunder; I popped in as I thought there might be other colours/poses in the parachuting aliens box; when I went there last time I DID dig around, but the box was full, and it's the same sort of box Bic Biro's used to come in; tall but with a small opening at the top, and as it was full, I couldn't dig too far down without spilling paratrooper aliens all over the shop!

So, it was slightly less full, and I had a dig, found two new poses and a new colour and was going to make a six-lot when I happened to look across at the jumping monsters box, now; I dug to the bottom of that bugger last time, double checking with what was in my hand and mentally wondering if I should get another multi-eye - just in case it was different from the one I'd found in the road - but no, I missed one! Thus: I left with five aliens and one monster for the six.

After I'd taken the group shot on the right and was putting them away, I noticed there was a third pose (four in total now), so we have a guy in a waistcoat holding his head, a guy with boxing gloves and a girl in a Tutu or Ra-Ra skirt, and I'm going to have to go back and dig some more as it's such an eclectic mix there's bound to be more, while in the meantime a metallic aqua-blue has been added to the colours.

The sixth Jump-up Monsters pose is a smiling, red Cyclopean, or should that be cyclopean, red-smile?

F is for Follow-up - Fish!

I know I said it'd probably be a while before we returned to fish, clearly I lied - one should never assume! Nor 'do' policicticicic . . . Apparently! However; it's nice when you're proved wrong if it means an earlier return to something!

And with the Wade / Not-Quite-But-Probably-Irish-Factory-Wade Leprechauns fresh in the mind when I saw these in a charity shop for 50p-a-piece, it would have been rude not to!

These are definitely Wade (Whimsies) and - guessing again! - Brown Trout (Oncorhynchus) and Common Carp (Cyprinus Carpio)?

F is for Follow-up - Nibariki

I still haven't looked these up on the wibbly wobbly way, but I have picked-up another, I assume it is connected to the little girl running gaily through the skull-strewn medow we looked-at the other day, but it might be another Anime / Manga thing altogther?!

The new addition is basically two sort-of-Moomins, with short-to-no-legs sitting on an upturned toadstool while a little black worm burrows out of it's umbrella, if it is related to the other Nibariki item I really want to find out more about it because Moomin-likeies  and skull-strewn meadows are a pretty off-the-wall mash up!

Four views turning anti-clockwise from the left; that's it, follow-up!

PS 1 - They are called Totoro from Studio Ghibli {straight into the tag list and we'll return to them when I know more}

PS 2 - While uploading, or at approximately the same time I can report Brian Berke has eMailed me something equally esoteric I still have to process - I was going to add it to the bottom of this post, but the sky's gone dark-orange (Caribbean sand?) and I must get back to check if we still have a chimney as the remains of some oh-no-not-human-caused-global-climate-change-related-storm-and-that's-a-Donald-fact hits the British Isles! Ironic; we only started naming our storms a couple of years ago and already we're adopting someone else's - out of sequence . . . still, look on the bright side, if it didn't have hundred-mile-an-hour winds it would have taken AGES to get here!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

M is for More on the Margarine Menagerie - from Malta

These came as a bulk lot from the excellent Swagman's Daughter, and for a very reasonable remuneration, so many thanks to her, and they/this post help answer a few questions, left from last time, along the way.

One of each pose/item in each of the two new colours, it's a odd selection, with a couple of question marks (in my mind at least), such as is the horse supposed to be a Zebra, which is the American Buffalo and which the Eurasian Wisent, are they both buffalo or are they both bison, is it a seal or a Sea-lion and how do you tell without a given scale, why so many deer . . . and etcetera! And while Google would help with some, I'd lose the paragraph and I've lots of images to provide copy for here!

Useful for backgrounds and narrow-shelf displays, these new ones are all in soft polyethylene plastic and two wishy-washy colours which don't photograph that well, but by the end of the post you'll be pretty familiar with them! The 'Birch' is a bit of a guess but the only obvious alternative is those trees in the Southern US states with that mossy stuff hanging in them?

If I didn't lump the sea-life in with this shot it would be a kangaroo (or wallaby - no scale again?), but all the sea-life are common in the Southern-oceans or Antarctica so we have a four-shot!

North American doesn't fare much better! I've called it a Buffalo Bison to differentiate it from the Wisent and used the bigger model for the North American version, but are they the bigger, are they Bison Buffalo? Does anybody care!

Yeah! I should perhaps have not bothered with the labelling, or got a biology degree first! Reindeer are bigger huh? Red, Roe, doe , fawn, Hearts or Harts, are they a species 'white hearts' . . . too many deer!

The horse should probably be a Zebra but he's too big and the mane's too long and the tails too fluffy so I've made him a steppe-pony; arbitrarily! The fox and the pig are straightforward, but see above for the buffalo notes!

Small ears and round back make him Asian! The Rhino looks Asian too actually? Is a Dromedary a hybrid? Having recently watched a program of the Bactrian originals - which are very different - and remeberering research we did on the HaT site years ago; I've chickened-out of going firm on that one, most are hybrids weather one hump or two! Haven't the faintest which Gazelle-Impala-other one is depicted, but 'gazelles' leap about!

Plastic colours and types so far found; the original margarine and other premiums were in various shades of off-white, cream and pale-beige polystyrene and the same material has provided the oxide red, scarlet, blue and jade, while the same blue can also be found in soft polyethylene along with the green and yellow (prompting today's post) and black.

However all but a few of the creamy-white ones I have here come from the Swagman's Daughter (there are more originals in storage), as well as the people thanked last time (Paul Morehead and Brian Carrick), Peter Evans gave me another handful at May's Plastic Warrior show, while I've purchased a few of the smaller lots along with the bulk clearance 'bundle'; and they all came - originally - from a wholesaler's stock in Malta.

They are used on religious high-days and holidays (and other civic events?), wrapped in little paper twists and thrown from the houses to the children in the street 9nowadays it seems to be mostly confetti streamers and balloons), if you've followed previous links to the Swagman's Daughter you'll have seen all sorts similar novelties previously associated with gum-balls, Sobres, Christmas cracker-prizes and so on - a lot of them came from the same vendor in Malta.

Clearly this was another outlet for such stuff; I guess a 1970's piñata would have contained the same little novelties alongside the sweets they also carried [and which are also thrown in Malta, were among the first items ever in Christmas crackers and often found as part of the mix in Sobres, Wundertutten and Lucky Bags], it's another source for the mould-owners to sell product too, and another source for us collectors to mine!

Now last time I mentioned that people had named both Jean and Manurba as the origin of the larger versions, they are in fact Manurba as seen by the catalogue image provided by Andreas Dittmann here, but only some of the poses have been scaled down for this set, while other poses in this set are either original sculpts or taken from elsewhere?

I've since picked up another hard plastic one from the Manurba set, a Llama (missing from the small set) although his Prickly-pear is damaged I notice! Whether Manurba were the holders of the original tool, back in the margarine-premium days, is still anyone's guess, but I wouldn't bet my shirt on another brand at the moment, although I think the moulds had been passed-on by the time they were building-up in a warehouse in Malta?

Another question which arose, not in the last post, but in the sorting of the ethylene batch was; why have a set with a 29-count; 28 or 30 being more obvious targets for the sculptor and tool-makers? Well, there are more fence pieces in either colour than there are of any other sculpt, with most animals outnumbered in both colours, the clear inference being that a full 'set' or mould-shot contains two cavities of the broken-down fence, giving a likely 30-count after all?

And they are bloody useful when you have them in such numbers!

I know what you're thinking Giselle -
have I used six; or only five?
Well, in all the excitement I clean forgot to count...

Adjusted set-count; the numbering is arbitrary I think.

Two of the animals have suffered from miss-moulding or short-shot, the elephant and the fox, the fences also suffer, but they are bound too with all the thin channels which make-up the moulding.

As well as suffering short-shots the same three sculpts (along with the two palm trees and leaping 'gazelle') also have some very flashy examples, which was probably because the pressure was turned-up or the heat increased - to prevent short-shotting - with the result it 'over-flowed' it's designated parameters!

There's also a great variance in colour across both colour samples with a lot of washed-out semi-transparent examples, where not enough pigment has been added to the raw material and the neutral granules haven't picked-up enough colour to go fully-opaque or 'solid'? That last lot was a mouthful wasn't it . . . the vagaries of 'getting technical'!!

'Image 13' my notes say - unlucky for some? I think the combination of the three problem areas is what decided the Swagman's Daughter to offload them for a reasonable-sum in my general direction, and I in return for a bargain said I'd only swap them . . .

. . . so while I have a few complete sets of these for swap, it'll be on a no money, no pack-drill basis! Therefore; if anyone would like a complete example (with two fences) get in touch and tell me what you've got to offer in exchange, early applicants can stipulate green or yellow, or get a default 50/50 mix.

Monday, October 16, 2017

G is for Gilmark

These were one of the 'surprise extras' in a Parcel from Ed Berg the other day (I have to clear the pond before I can show you the 'main attraction'!) and they were the best thing to find in a parcel - two of the Gilmark AFV's.

This is the M4 Sherman; thermo-printed U.S.Army with the allied star down one side and marked Sherman M4 on the rear-plate it is definitely in need of a turret redesign, but for what it is, a dime-store toy of the 1950's it's fantastic! And, apart from the turret is not a bad rendition of a post D-day Sherman with the distinctive patches of appliqué armour on the hull-sides.

I've been after a Gilmark example for ages; you may remember we looked at a 'maybe' Tudor Rose (or Kleeware) version back at the Blog's beginnings, so I'd always wanted to place them side-by-side, as I knew the Gilmark one had black-plastic running-gear . . .

. . . while the 'British' one had body-matching plastic. However, the surprise - and what makes this present from Ed all the more gratifying - is that the track-units is where the differences start, not where they finish?

The 'copy' and the Gilmark differ in lots of subtle ways, the glacis-plate is at a different angle, giving the copy longer nacelles coming forward of the driver and observer hatches, the Gilmark has wider mud/track-guards, Copy has better carpet-wheels, redesigned to be less wobbly and therefore less likely to break-off . . .

. . . while more obvious differences also exist; the Gilmark has an stub-aerial on the rear-deck making full-traverse of the turret impossible, copy has no title block across the rear-plate . . . there's more (track teeth, headlights, taillights, smooth interior), you'll notice others in the photographs.

However . . . having compared all sorts of copies, homagé and obviously pantographed piracies over the years, I'm going to stick my neck on the line here and state I still think they are related, part of the 1950/60's mould-swapping than I mentioned again the other day and that Gilmark were aware of/involved in/with both versions.

The reasons for my thoughts on the matter are thus; that if a UK company was to copy (illegally) such an iconic vehicle (they were still in service all over the world at the time) the first thing they would do is improve the turret? Instead of which they have improved (obvious?) faults with the Gilmark original - hidden-wheels and aerial, while keeping the overall 'lines' of the toy intact?

I suspect that when the UK firm wanted the Sherman M4 removed from the mould it was found to be technically difficult as the 'S' and '4' are too close to the edges of the angled corners of the engine deck to get a decent grinding-tool in there without doing damage, so they were either given permission to produce a duplicate-mould tool . . . or sent one?

And that therefore, the differences were produced 'in-house' - as it were - the major ones being deliberate improvements, the minor-ones as vagaries in the final engraving/tool-finishing? If you don't study them both side-by-side (to an obsessively nerdy level!), they are intrinsically the same model.

Ed also sent me the armoured car and it's lovely! It's a bit fictional, the hull is quite Staghound-like, but the turret with its twin cannons is way out there. But for 'dime-store', 'old-school' war gaming, having two or three of these race up the MSR to retake the pontoon bridge before the other guy can get his lumbering Tiger's through the French village . . . quality toy!

And - let's be honest - it's more realistic (as an AA-Staghound!) than its nearest rival; the Tudor Rose Armoured car which is a Humber/Daimler/Rolls Royce hybrid with an egg-box turret!

Thanks Ed, a lovely present and the Tiny Trojans get to come out again! By the time the Blog's 25-years-old, they will have followed all the vintage, ready-made, small-scale AFV's into battle at least once, along with the odd space tank!

Ed's covered the photography much better than I can, here;
Sherman M4

Sunday, October 15, 2017

T is for Two - New Production Figurines

An eclectic pair today and; as both were reduced to clear; a slightly misleading header-title; as they are new-old production; if I'm going to be pedantic about it! Did I just get four semi-colons in one sentence . . . correctly? Get In!

Picked this up for 50p in that Eastern import shop in Basingrad I mentioned a while back, it's marked Nibariki on the base (new name in the tag list!) and is probably/presumably a Manga or Anime character I know nothing about, she may also be a de-packaged Gashapon type thing? [My Neighbour Totoro by Studio Ghibli]

This was 'end-of-line' in The Works, is marked to Nintendo, carried by Goldie/Goldie International in the Antipodes/US respectively and Together Plus (T+) in the UK and some of you will instantly recognise it as a Super Mario character, I don't know what he's called having avoided the whole video-game phenomena since its inception as 'Soma for the masses'. I'm calling him mushroom man!

She may look a little saccharine-sweet but she seems to be striding boldly around a post-apocalyptic wasteland, or Hades? Anyone know her identity? He has a full set of marks but for Nintendo, not the issuers.

They are from different sets, different formats, they are both '1: No Scale', their anthropomorphism/anthropology doesn't match, yet they look like the best of pals, happily starting a big adventure upon which the future of the universe may rely!

This 'aura of similarity' may be due to the fact that A) they are both PVC and B) are manufactured in several parts, welded into one with invisible glue-joints before retail sale, leaving them both with similar dynamic poses. Or that they're both grinning so happy they make you happy!

Package is tatty as this was literally the last one in the shop!

If I had a shelf with all of my favourite figures on it, next to the PC (as I know several of you do), these would both be going there as stand-alone, 'nice' figures of interest, I don't love them, but I do like them both - they're different!

Saturday, October 14, 2017

F is for Far, Far Away . . .

. . . in a shop near you! Just a quick one covering a few Star Wars bits which have come in with a couple of mixed lots recently, along with a sale item at Sainsbury's which might tickle the fancy of UK viewers.

These came in with that Gogo's Crazy Bones lot the other day (along with some Zomlings - you can look forward too!). Same size, similar shape, mini-deforms; I've seen them around in toy shops and paid no heed to them but I assumed Hasbro, however Google seems to say Flevens but it's not clear?

They look to be pencil tops, but the hole is too small and along with similar things (like the forthcoming Zomlings) it's probably something to do with the production process?

Look at the two clone-troopers and you'll see scale is not strictly adhered-too, and while the figures are all PVC rubber, the two lumps below are a styrene, Perspex or similar hard plastic.

The two lumps being in fact dice, D6 dice following the rules with 6 opposite 1, 5 opposite 2 and four across from three. However due to the nature of the sculpted head between the two plates, they are in fact weighted dice which you wouldn't want to chance-your-luck with . . . except the Darth Vader is weighted to produce sixes!

Kinder? Or something similar . . . mini, clip-together, three-part, Han Solo caricature 'big-head', decorative, Millennium Falcon, novelty hanger-thing, it will go back to charity with the next cast-off's bag!

Currently on sale (???) in Sainsbury's, are these Data-Stick/Flash-Drive/USB-Dongles; either Darth Vader was cheaper to begin with, or the sale items (red labels) aren't much of a bargain? And sixteen-quid for sixteen-Gig's is a bit steep these days, but I do like the R2D2, even though they've left his third 'foot' off . . . again!

A stop press! I remembered Brian Berke sent a Star Wars shelfie-item a while ago; this is the post for it! Disney-Hasbro 'Galactic Heroes' deform action figure of Darth Vader! He's got better 'gripping-hands' than Action Man, which is even more ironic when you remember what he did to one of his son's hands! And he's so mean; he's punched his way out of his packaging!

"Loouke - I'um yoor fathurr!"


Imagine what sales would be like if you issued a set of camp biker toys, a Clint Eastwood (looking impossibly young) and an orang-utan (called Clive)? Yet Star Wars was released 40 years ago this year and somehow the characters have been kept fresh in our minds so we instantly recognise them as up-to-date! And our grandchildren want toys of them too - clever trick!

Although . . .the 'Hoff' is talking about resurrecting Knight Rider! Bleargh!