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, November 8, 2017

G is for the Great Grey-Green Greasy Limpopo River

? . . . I know!

I couldn't find an alliterative title/heading, and I thought it needed one, or should have one (mental block #1), I tried Tupperware Toys T... and Building Blocks B... and Great Green G... but couldn't get any further with any of them (mental block #2).

In the course of trying 'G' I arrived at the above (a favourite poem when I was a kid - How the Elephant got his trunk) and thought "Who says a title HAS to reflect the contents of an article" (mental block #3, or just mental conditioning)? Some English Professor I'll bet! So I though "Fuckitt, I'll go with an odd quote"; totally unrelated to the post!

But the mental blocks link us to today's post, which is the Tupperware Busy-Blocks and NOT the Limpopo River.

Tupperware by Dart Industries Inc.  - a range of predominantly plastic household goods, gimmicks and novelties, for the kitchen, bathroom, garden or (in this case ) toy box, was sold through a system of agents and 'parties' where someone (usually - it has to be said - a woman) would organise a Tupperware Party at her own or a friend's house, and people would order products from the catalogue, or take away any purchased stock the organiser had brought on the day.

Similar sales models were employed by Avon (perfume), Betterware (similar polymer and household products) and latterly the Adult-toy, marital-aid and kinky-costumier - Ann Summers! I also believe (and stand to be corrected as I've no evidence) that in the 'States (from whence Tupperware came) they were head-to-head with Rubbermaid?

Dart and their Tupperware  both still seem to be going; I'm not so sure about the parties?

These aren't that uncommon, Tupperware parties were big in the 1970's and while I have a bunch (incomplete) in storage I had none here until quite recently, when several lots came in, giving me an almost complete samples, the first three (1) came in a mixed lot a few months ago, maybe longer? Then the other day I got the bag-full (2) for a pound of your human money in a Charity shop, only to pick up 'I for Indian' (3) a few days later - more on that as we progress.

They fall into a basic classification of four groups, people (3), inanimate objects (7), animals (15) and fantasy - One! You can go further with wheeled vehicles, vessels, bird (singular!), mammals, marine mammals, musical instruments (2!) &etc.

I have highlighted the fantasy element here to make the collage . . . a 'U for Unicorn', they could have had 'unicycle' (done like the 'V for Violin' or with a rider) and kept the whole set in the real world?

A few days after I found the toys in their little bag, the same shop had the blocks, with the rather tatty remains of their original box, it was a state, but I trimmed-off all the shite, in order to scan the images in, and they will pepper the rest of this post.

And these were they; the blocks. There was one missing, 'G for Giraffe', I have cheated to get the total by opening one of the yellow ones and propping it either side to give the impression of two!

The funny thing was, although they came from the same shop, they were offered for sale a few days after the toy-bag, and when I bought them (after umm'ing and arr'ing for a day) I found the missing Indian in his block!

I was also missing the giraffe (still short) and 'D for Dog', which I had in the odd three.

You get eight-each yellow and blue blocks and ten red for the required 26-count. The picture sides reveal the contents of each block and are shown here with back-light to try and show them, it's not that successful and they are missing the giraffe, nor are they in alphabetical order and I seem to have left a couple of yellow ones (Indian and nurse) out! I think because I've used three photos' I didn't think would be - usable!

Working this out as I write it . . . I realise the 'Q for Queen' block is also missing from the above, that's because I shot these at a mates house after I'd bought them intending to keep the three figure blocks with the toys and chuck the rest in the recycling, shot the ones that were going to be chucked intending to then shoot ('legally held' firearm of course!) the close-ups with the three figure ones.

In the end I rescued all the above blocks from the bin the next day - they'll be no trouble in the attic - until I find the 'G for Giraffe' toy and block, do a follow-up post (which may be years away) and then they can all go to recycling or evilBay?!! As a result the 'K for Kangaroo' got chosen at random for the close-ups!

When you get nerdy and break them down, you find a repeat pattern, but one broken with two yellow's out of sequence in the middle of the alphabet and it's a repeat from 'A' rather than a mirror from Nurse - if that makes sense?!

Each block has two fluted-sides (which do interlock, albeit with a 4/5-mil offset) a letter-side, the letter concerned being shown in both capital and lower case type, with serifs, a picture-side depicting the toy enclosed and finally; two sides with a geometric pattern/design of smooth and stippled plastic; this can be built-up to make larger patterns or track-ways for the toys to follow.

I suspect each block has one straight and one X, Y or corner tracked side, but I didn't check; there comes a moment when the subject starts to be tedious and you can stop obsessing and move on to the next item of interest, the next post, the next whatever!

The blocks also interlock with a pair of simple shelf-like 'male' clips down one of the open sides, the other having similar 'female' receiving slots allowing for larger structures or firmer 'piles' to be formed, and for colour patterns to be created within those constructions.

Second from the left on the bottom row shows how smaller constructs can also be stacked.

The limits of my photographic skill meant it was almost impossible to show the track-ways/patterns in their best light, so I'll leave it to the original publicity material, but I'm sure you can see how it works, and anyway we're more interested in the toys!

I wish my mum had gone to a Tupperware party and got us a set, we had lots of wooden one we were fond-of, and some blow-moulded HK ones (probably piracies of these - he wonders), but these are really very good - almost what plastic was invented for (along with handles and buttons on WWII weapon systems!) - and you can see that unlike so many of the 'posed kid' images on 1960-70's packaging (and up to the present; witness the kids playing with 3D stuff in News, Views... the other day) these guys are really enjoying the product.

If you had a set of these; you must have had a lot of fun!

Here's the manufacturers explanation, that's just for completeness, but the image on the right which is an old (2007) evilBay crop-out is interesting for showing the headless 'N for Nurse' (back right), who has a small penny-base, and - along with her head - is missing the medical cabinet we see . . .

. . . here. The three people; all with large cruciform bases, the nurse having had a little first-aid cabinet (or overnight/flight bag - they had been invented by 1973 I think?) with red-cross . . .or at least 'a cross' on it!

'Q for Queen' is probably the most useful, all three are in that difficult 35mm'ish bracket, but it makes her perfect for the old-school war gaming scale of Suren, Stadden and Eriksson's stuff, much of which pertains to the Marlburian period, to which she can be painted-up, despite the medieval long-sleeves!

'I for Indian' being available to join Merten/Elastolin 40mm Wild West outfits, leaving 'N for Nurse' to O-gauge railway layouts! Between the people I've sandwiched the two marine mammals and the only bird; 'O for Owl'.

The people are all realistic, while the animals are all a bit cartoony or caricature-like - the pig especially.

Here again we see the small penny bases, with my storage sample (which had a few of the figures as I would pick them out of lager samples when I was a small-scale only collector, before I knew the significance of the 'whole', so have a few now) and the new acquisitions I have no penny based ones, so they can be considered rarer than the chunky-based versions.

As the penny-based versions do turn-up occasionally and were clearly available for all the pre-launch publicity and packaging imagery, I think it's fair to conclude that several of the models (and all three figures) were identified as choking hazards, and later given bases which don't even encourage sucking, some being very sharp 3 or 4-pointed stars!

The queen I had in the odd-three has been converted by de-crowning into a mere lady-in-waiting! You can also see the remains of the penny-bases in the centre of the - almost - Maltese-cross. The Indian also shows the remains of his penny-base, and both would have been easy to accidentally swallow while sucking, but large enough to trigger the gag-response, causing them to get stuck and lead to suffocation, although there's no findable history of it ever happening?

It may even be that the change happened so early in the set's run, you can only find them in the USA, or Canada?

There is a slight colour variation between batches, but it's of no significance and I've never seen them in another colour, as it was the obvious choice after already choosing the three primaries for the blocks.

Mammals - the funny thing is; the missing giraffe is probably the least cartoony of the lot! While 'E for Elephant' hasn't been down to the Great Grey-Green Greasy Limpopo River to talk to the crocodile yet! Method in the madness! Does that mean I made-up the first three paragraphs as I went along? I'm not telling!

Looking at the pig and the elephant - is it fair to suggest that the easier the animal is to swallow, the larger the base?

The inanimate objects/vehicles, the yacht is a poor model I feel, I would call it a pleasure cruiser and it's too similar to the 'B for Boat' they should have had a sailed- 'Y for Yacht', a big 'S for Ship' and a 'B for Bolrog'; to eat . . . err . . . play with the 'U for Unicorn' - of course!

Finally - I identified these about 12 years ago thanks to Kent Specher's website, where - in his study of the bases - he identifies two different bases for the 'S for Seal' (should have been 'Ship'!) sculpt/s; this appears to be a third! The base being not as small as the one with the ball (also visible in one of the packaging scans), but having a longer or sharper nose to the corner/angle of the base-front than Kent's other example - so it would seem there are interim designs of at least some of the changed toys.

Link to Kent's post  - it's easier to go to the bottom and scroll up, but if you scroll down you pass all sorts of other interesting stuff on the way!

A - Aeroplane
B - Boat
C - Camel
D - Dog
E - Elephant
F - Fox
G - Giraffe
H - Horse
I - Indian
J - Jeep
K - Kangaroo
L - Lion
M - Monkey
N - Nurse
O - Owl
P - Pig
Q - Queen
R - Rabbit
S - Seal
T - Train
U - Unicorn
V - Violin
W - Wale
X - Xylophone
Y - Yacht
Z - Zebra

And this is the 2000th visible post on smallscaleworld!

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