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.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

F is for Follow-up to Henbrandt

So, I've managed to track down some more of Henbrandt's little pocket-money parcels, and we'll have a quick shuftie at them now.

There was a new coral-reef, plant-animal, polyp-based, life form, coral thing (plantimal?) which will be as useful as the one we looked at the other day for alien backgrounds! This hasn't been there the previous few visits, so others may turn-up in the future . . . there's clearly a big box of this stuff 'out the back'! Or - is it supposed to be an anemone?

I don't know if these are part of the reef set, or a separate set of fishes, I have managed to miss a few, which they had had the other week (buying a medieval set instead!), but they keep topping the tray-up so they may yet reappear? Also these were in the carded blister-set MTC shots Brian Berke sent to the blog almost a year ago.

The alien got his fingers caught in the bagging-machine "Unexpected item in the melty-crushing area!" and is clearly related to the capsule toys we looked at ages ago from some Dutch import/wholesale outfit, so he too is probably findable elsewhere as a gum-ball capsule toy? The funny thing is - if you opened him carefully, with a hair dryer on hot, his hand might spring-back into shape?

While the dog is the only one to turn up and they've had several of the same pose, so does he belong with the 'Wild Animal' set we looked at last time (mammals), or is he the (pun alert)  tail-end (groan) of a dog set? I suspect the latter as he's larger than even the elephant and hippo of the previous set?

Friday, March 24, 2017

F is for Follow-up to Follow-up's Follow-up . . . or Something!

Truth being often stranger than fiction, and having got the reply to further purchases minutes before I headed-up to the shop last Friday, I went anyway, as I needed to get the rest of the Henbrandt stuff for their 'follow-up', only to find that a re-stock had produced a different set, which not only contained the figures missing from the top row last time, but confirmed my suspicions vis-à-vis the cannon!

Card is the same (as is the given date of 2006 - so clearance!) and number of figures/layout on the card is the same, but we have a catapult in place of the gun and the six ex-Esci poses.

As you can see the cradle/frame is the same machine, with the trigger and mounting brackets we saw the other day, however, the rest for the gun-barrel is absent so it would seem that the change was made to the mould-tool halfway through the production run?

Brian's 'big bag' presumably carries all the figures and both siege-engine types? Which will be something to look forward to in Plastic Warrior magazine and - painted-up - on his Blog maybe?

Thursday, March 23, 2017

P is for Peach, Not Pink; Definitely Not Pink . . .

. . . Pink is for girls, off-white is dirty, these are peach! Or cream?

Bill Nevins sent these to the Blog a couple of weeks ago, but they were a bit blurry, and then, last week he sent them again and they're now better than the shots I'm taking at the moment! They are also very interesting and raise a few points building-on what's gone before as Tatra have revealed themselves here at Smallscaleworld.

Well: what colour would you call it?!! I know Bill refers to them as creamy, and they're not really dark enough for full-on 'peach', but it's not pink, definitely not pink! They seem to be closer to the footballer's Tatra had on their website, which we've looked at before; it raises the tantalising prospect of them turning-up in apple green, as those footballers did?

Bill pointed out that a lot of the finer detail is miss-moulded and wondered if that was a clue to anything, on one level I don't think so as the delicate bits were often a bit poor with these figures, and while most of the flags in the first image are short, this one (left) is one of the best I've ever seen, so it is - at it always was - a bit of a lottery! However see the note on the Roman at the end.

Back when they were Rubenstein/Kellogg's, there was a common belief that Rubenstein issued them in red, white and blue, and while the red and blue remain findable, it's clear the white are harder to come-by, although at least two lots have turned-up in the interim.

The brown someone reported on the old post may be miss-remembered darker gold/bronze or the paler brown/fawn that Tatra also showed on their Blog as Magic Roundabout figurines? Does anyone have 'brown' ones to share, or white, or any other colour to add to the known red, dark red, ultramarine, silver, gold, bronze and now peachy-cream?

Bill's full line-up bar the two above and below, it's not a full set of 16, but has within it figures from both 'sets' of eight, so we can probably safely assume that all 16 got a shot in peachy-cream! Also while the height difference in the Cavalry shot above seems to be due to photo-angle; looking at some of these (FFL and Russian) there do seem to be differences, so possibly a set of duplicate moulds/cavities for faster production?

Bill got them from a source in Wales, quite a way away from Tatra's plant in Stevenage, Hertfordshire (North of London), in bags of the quantities seen above with the 7th Cavalryman; my thoughts - for what they are worth - are that they may have been ice-cream premiums or giveaways?

Back in the '70's the domestic sea-side tourist market was stronger than it seems today, both with day-trippers and week/fortnight holidaymakers, and a feature of Britain's sea-side towns and beaches were the various (often rival) ice cream-vans with their little jingle-horns; "I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice-cream!" (they didn't say!), and I'm sure some of those smaller companies are responsible for the numbers of 'euro' premiums (Tito, Olà, et al.) available over here, even before feeBay starting shifting everything, everywhere!

Another interesting aspect of Bill's sample is that both the peach and blue versions of the 'Mexican Bandit' figures are mere 'Mexican', having lost their status as banditos! You can clearly see where on the surface of the mould a groove has been routed over the edge of the base where 'BANDIT' was extant, leaving a raised 'worm' of excess (or 'extra'!) plastic where the second-half of the moniker used to sit. It seems that figures on French feebleBay are usually sans 'BANDIT' as are those of South America.

I did mention the name changes back when I first Blogged them (and they were still Kellogg's/Rubenstein!), but it seemed at the time (and in plotting the reports of the foreign commentators) that the change took place when the moulds went 'walkabout', but now we know they were still here for Tatra to sell a few years ago, and looking at these - it's clear the change took place here in the UK.

Returning to the question of poor moulding or damage on some of the peach figures; a quick study of the Roman's shield here shows a major shrinkage split, it might suggest that these were 'seconds' or rejects of some kind, but not rejected enough for trashing at the time? Maybe they were earmarked for recycling, or a charity?

Remember, also, we learnt about Tatra from the son of someone who used to give the 'spares' away to him and his school-mates, while the chap I corresponded with at the time of the Tatra 'reveal' said " We moulded these in the 70’s I think for Kellogg's and I remember selling them in school to my mates in the playground.", so maybe these were taken by/given to a member of staff and then forgotten about in a move to Wales?

However they came to be in Wales, a real treat for the Blog, adding more knowledge (and new mysteries!) to the Tatra canon - many thanks Bill.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

News, Views etc . . . All Sorts!

Blog
Adsense

How many of you remember when the Blog carried these? I had Adsence from the off (December 2008) and ran it for a year or so before I dropped it as being a bit pointless! Now, the first rule of Adsense is that you can't talk about Adsense - I'm only talking about it because I don't have it!

In the first few months it earned me about $12-something, which - at the time - seemed like pretty small beer, however I was only getting 40-odd hits per day, so looking back it was quite good! But the money doesn't seem to have ever made its way to my bank, and when the major layout and coding changes (by Blogger) hit in the autumn, it all disappeared? It was re-instated (from zero) at some point and accrued another 8-dollars or so, before I closed that account so I never received that dosh either.

1.5 million hits went-up a couple of weeks ago!

But now I get considerably more hits per day so I may well reinstate it soon. Those who don't like it can just ignore it, as it will be for those who come here on an ad-hoc basis from Google searches, not the regulars. My stats are such that the 'casuals' outnumber the hardcore toy soldier people by a factor of 3-1 or more.

Also I need a new camera and it seems like a good idea to see if the blog can fund its own camera, no?

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Background

I said I'd look at it, and having been using the Library, my mate's router or the free service in Café Nero, for a year now, I can assure you that the problem is with the screen it's being viewed on, not the chosen layout. Some older Dell's seem particularly prone to poor settings, but it is all about the settings, and if you find it hard to read the Blog - use it as a 'test-card' to get your settings right!

It should be pale grey text on a dark-chocolate/purple-brown background, with muted prussian-blue hot links which go heliotrope once you've visited them. If the layout gives you a migraine (as it does for one poor chap on one of the die-cast forums) every time you visit it, it may be a sign of deeper problems which should be discussed with a doctor or optician.

If you have problems with it loading, you have slow broadband speeds and will have to wait! If you have to wait more that 30 seconds for a page to load, you're probably still on dial-up? The electric blue of hotlinks on older pages is a glitch in Blogger's coding I can do nothing about, but seems to be limited to posts/tag-results older that around 2011?

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Plastic Warrior Show

Don't forget it's only a month and a half away now, and the latest PW magazine is out with news that the table prices are down this year so if you are still thinking of taking a table, now's the time.


And they are on Paypal.

The old website is to be run-down/retired.

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A Year in Toys
The British Toy & Hobby Association's press release for 2017 included:

Toy sales in the UK were up 6% at £3.5bn quid in 2016.

Approximately 415-million toys were sold in the 'toy year'.

Shopkins (similar to those Fungus Among Us we looked at here, but one I'm trying to avoid!) were last year's best seller for under a £enner.

Collectables were the big trend with Star Wars and Lego 'minifigs' leading the way.

250 firms stalled-out at the fair.

The UK is the fourth largest toy market in the world after the US, China and Japan, Lego was the most popular brand.

Nanobloks (a mini [and bloody expensive] version of building block) sales are growing at 20% year on year!

Altogether it was an upbeat forecast/report, but then it would be - it was showcasing their annual get together!

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Real Toy News
Culled from the newspapers recently:

Did anyone else notice Transport for London (TFL) using Mr Men and Little Miss's in their advertising over Christmas?

In January the Character Group who we know from their Lego-like figures of British serviceman and Dr. Who (a license they seem to have lost to Lego), but who also hold licences for Pepper Pig and the (fading?) Tellytubbies announced that the fall of the pound due to Brexit would lead to higher prices for their toys, consequently their share price fell 5.8%! Cheers, Brexidiots.

Nestlé also posted negative results with a slowdown in growth to 3.4% from 4.2 in 2014-15, not that interesting but they do still contribute a few premiums through some of their subsidiaries.

Nintendo's [Apple] i-product compatible mobile 'app' version of Super Mario Run was the fastest ever download, with 40-million in its first three weeks (up to christmas) which may lead to a renaissance in the character's popularity, but - thankfully - there have never been many toy figurines of the little twat!

Hasbro have buggered-about with the playing pieces in the standard Monopoly set again - dropping three oldies for - among other things - a mobile 'phone! Obviously the 20-odd versions I saw in the Toysaurus last visit, just aren't enough!

 
Ex-Marx figurines in vinyl
From Disney Store play set

Disney is buying a controlling stake in err . . . Disneyland Paris! People said when it was announced in the late '80's that it was a bad idea, and it's struggled to make serious money ever since it opened in 1992, making a €102m loss in 2015 and ending-up €858m in the red last year. Disney plan to develop the unused sections of the site (nearly half the original area) and inject €1.5bn into new attractions and an overhaul, but first they have to purchase a 95% stake in order to get it off the Euronext Paris financial market. It may be that Europeans are just not that keen on a mouse in shorts with a girly voice! It's one thing to make a 'proper' go of it with [young kids and-] a trip to Florida, it's quite another to visit France and deal with traffic 'flics' on the Autoroute to and from Calais - in the rain!

Tesco PLC (Supermarkets) have obtained/resurrected the old Sindy Doll brand, taking a licence from Pedigree (who knew they were still going? Google reveals a small holding-office somewhere - presumably a Hornby subsidiary?), however the new Cindy isn't the stick-thin rival to Barbie of old, but a rather more realistic, rounded, 'buddy' doll.

The brand manager Iconix is contemplating a sale of its property Snoopy, if it is sold we should expect an injection of energy which ought to include new toys, whether any of them would be in our 'sizes' or formats remains to be seen. Chinese companies are apparently interested.

Speaking of China, at the beginning of February Jack Ma the head of Alibaba, while opening a new hub in Australia warned President Trump that 'the world needs globalisation, it needs trade' and went on to add that while he would try to create one million jobs in the US (bye-bye Amazon!) "Everybody is concerned about trade wars. If trade stops, war starts".

Finally - last week a local (Guildford) firm; Vivid Toy Group, was sold to private equity investor Privet Capital for an unknown amount.
 
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Other Lego News

Image courtesy of Brain Berke
Similar publications are available in the UK

Lego pushed Disney off the top spot in Global Toy Brands last year, the success is put down to the DC license and Lego Batman Movie, helped by continuing sales of Star Wars stuff and the tail-end of the Harry Potter craze.

They also pipped Tomy and Hasbro to No.2 toy seller worldwide, behind Mattel at No.1

Sales grew by 6%, which was a slowdown on 2015's 25% to hit $4.4bn while profit remained flat over both years.

They sold 75-billion bricks and launched 335 new lines or ranges, with the large 'scale' Millennium Falcon being the best-seller.

One of only ten 2x4-stud Lego bricks known to have been made in solid gold (14ct) recently sold for £12,000 on Internet auction site Catawiki.

Lego opened a flagship store in Leicester Square, London in November just gone.

In August of this year they will launch Lego Boost, the next level in their interactive PC/IT-based electronic product range with a user-coding element.

They also plan to enlarge their London offices making them some of the main offices outside Billund.

They still stole the idea from Hestair-Kiddycraft and Hillary Page though!

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Return to the 1970's?

Has anyone else noted these adds in papers and magazines, they are just like the old Sunday supplement 'Home Farm' and 'Funnimals' add's of the 1970's, an early sign of things to come in the Brexidiot economy no doubt. Both these are claimed by The Happy Puzzle Company (THPC), but I've seen others.

So far no figures or Noah's Arks, but it may only be a matter of time so keep an eye open. There are also the Corgi and Atlas Edition flyers, but they've been around for a while and are a different concept - same goal though; getting your personal/postal details on a saleable, mail'able list!

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I know - not enough pictures of figures in this 'News, Views etc...' so I hope this will do! I'm still working on the Hong Kong hollow-horse articles for the other Blog, these are some of the Giant or Giant-like on the 'Smoothie' or 'Mexican' horse types during a sort out/photo-sesh!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

ID'd is for Indentified - 2 KM - Gun Set, & 3 - Milton Bradley - Star Bird

A couple more from old WTF posts that have since been ID'd, one ages ago by me courtesy of a rack-toy on evilBay, the other by a reminder from Plaid Stallions the other day.

So those funny hollow-semi-flats we looked at back at the start of the Blog were from a rack-toy shooting game called Military Action Force Gun Set by a - probably - madeupbrand; KM, but it could be a Kader [Manufacturing] brand/subsidiary?

The figures (one each of the three poses) came with a plastic toy pistol modelled after a Luger Parabellum and six balls which might be a silicon/rubber type or a blow-moulded type? The figures providing the targets to be knocked over!

Milton Bradley's TV advertised toy came around the time we moved house and while I vaguely remember the adverts on telly, I better remember the contemporaneous Big-Track which has also been on Plaid Stallions (an excellent nostalgia hit of a blog) alongside this Star Bird Command Base.

And when are 70's fashions coming back, I want a pair of high, five-button waistband, purple, brushed-cotton flares . . . with orange pocket-flashes and five inch turn-ups!

I had ID'd this years ago, but failed to leave a note where I could find it, so it's been stuck in the MB folder on the dongle! However cropped out of those old eBay shots (not watermarked) are some figures I think are home-painted on orange plastic - the orange seems to be commonest with the white and yellow less so, Kent Sprecher has one somewhere which looks redder?

Also a shot of earlier box art showing what seems to be the Tim-Mee 30mm downscale appropriated by Milton's design studio with the power-pack the original was carrying, removed.

By the time of the German language edition (Supervogel Operationsbasis on Plaid Stallions), the MB figure had replaced the better looking one in the artwork. Box-art and catalogue art often contains models that never actually leave the factory, either 'as advertised'; or at all!

Monday, March 20, 2017

ID'd is for Identified - 1 Tombola - Space Wars / Space Collection

For that is they! We have looked at these twice here (as a/with an attached question mark) and I know someone is looking for them elsewhere (LRG forum?), while somebody had asked me if I knew what they were in an eMail about seven years ago (which I can't find now?), yet (like Tatra - you read it here first) the answer has been there all along . . .

. . . on the side of the box! And the reason I kept saying I know [knew] who made them but can't find the note/evidence was because the figures were sorted out of the box (a 3-egg multi-pack), into a bag and labelled-up separately (storage - I only have the A-D's 'minor makes' box here).

Although to be fair, the storage ones included Star Wars figures and vehicles (some of which we've looked at here I think, back at the start), in a Star Wars box (also a 3-egg multi-pack), this box came from a show in the last few years, but the clue was there when I posted them last time!

My Image for the third time! Along with the image of the person who was asking about them. Tombola call them 'Space Wars' on the box, but the 'papers' state Space Collection, whether this points to separate issues or not I don't know.

There seem to have been 9 poses-each of both sides for an eighteen-count, with 12 ships to make up the '30 to collect' total, but even that is partial conjecture on my part as I have only found evidence for about 9 space vessels so far!

The 'Greys' are clearly the bad guys - they have Darth Vader-Imperial Stormtrooper-German Army of WWII type helmets . . . and orange 'rank' shoulder pads! Yet if you spray the 'Blues' black, they will look just like Star Wars Imperial pilots!

Although, the 'gladdy' washing-up gloves and wellington-boots make them all look a bit comical! Like as soon as they finish shooting each other, they're tasked with masturbating a prize-bull into a jam jar!

The three papers for my ship models compare with the shots below and you will see there was clearly some variance over what you got in the egg colour-wise both with plastic and paint. From the way these turn-up - I'm assuming (don't worry, he follows shadows the blog closer than I do!) they were always in 3-egg multiple buys and that you either got a figure box (three figures) or a vessel box - three ships.

Also you can see that each ship bears a resemblance to better known ships in the sci-fi cannon, here being (top-to-bottom) Bobba Fett's ship from Star Wars, a USS 'Something Class' Star Trek Federation Starship and something that looks to be between a Star Wars Star Destroyer and a Rebel Transport from the same franchise.

My Scorpion is a different colour-way but seems to be the same colours as the illustration on the papers, so all components in each colour of plastic, shared between three models? While my Galus is unpainted in silver/gunmetal plastic, and at only three parts one of the simplest.

While the model Navigator has the paint in the right places, but a different plastic/base colour. If you return to the top image, that funny little red Bronco/Bird-Dog thing looks familiar as well? Is it a Deep Space 9 influenced vessel, or something from Tron? And the silver thing also looks 'Trekkie', some kind of Bird of Prey?

Follow this link (hey, once you know what you're looking at it all comes out of the woodwork!) and you'll see he has several more, also recognisable from 'Trek, 'Wars or other well known Sci-fi movies, along with the paper from the figures.

Here's a couple of the Star Wars figurines from a display (pheasant feathers, resin gods, Shermans and bags of dogs?!!) in an old flat from ages ago. But . . . if I'm taking the photograph, why can you see my camera in the shot . . . doo-doo, doo-doo . . . doo-doo, doo-doo . . . We have entered . . . the Twilight Zone!

Tombola seem to have faded from view (in the UK at least) and I don't know much about the immediate parent (De Jongh) although I will by the time I come to writing the A-Z entry, while the group's parent (Chuppa Chups) is very much alive. This set was run/dates from around 1996-8, I think the officially licensed Star Wars set was a little later - around 2004/6?

Two days later - following emails elsewhere, Paul Morehead of Plastic Warrior says these were sold as party favours with AFV's by Party Pig back in the early 2000's and same size not the 54mm I mentioned in the comments!

I've just tried to navigate PP's website and it would be easier to commit suicide by eating broken glass, but I'll add the importer to the tag list!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

B is for Baby Boarders

News, Views... was a bit of a 'thin gruel' today, so here's a bonus post, courtesy of Mike Harding, who came sidling up to me at a show a couple of years ago like a drug dealer and murmured "Can I interest you in some Gemodels  skateboarders, Hugh?"

And like the polymer addict I am - I said "Oohh-Yes!" He went off and came back seconds later with these three jelly-beans, too tempting they were, and now shared with you!

Late Gem for Culpitt's (Gem catalogue code SP19), they share the plastic colours of the rock band and late-production footballers, so yellow, pale blue and brown may be out there to track-down?

They are smaller than the current Toy Boarders from AJ's but would still look good next to them as younger kids.

News, Views etc . . . Blue Box + Generic

Brain Berke sent these shelfies with the news that they are back in K-Mart . . . if you are lucky enough to live over the other side of the pond! They never got a release over here the last time (as far as I know - but I'm a retard!) and I haven't seen them over here recently either.

However; I haven't checked the Toysaurus since Christmas and will also have a look in the new Smyth's which had its 'grand opening' in Farnborough last month and the re-ferrb'ed Entertainer in Basingrad, which is due to re-open any day now!

Under the wider BBI - Elite Force branding, Blue Box's tub-set; Battle Group - available now!

Meanwhile I was taking shelfies of my own in Basingrad the other day, at £10.99 it's staying on the shelf and the - roughly 65mm - figures have been around for a while in various sets; branded and unbranded, so just another format.

The toy tank actually looks like a reasonable model of an M46-47 type - road wheels a little small maybe and it's big; better suited to 4/5-inch action figures, but if you've got the space and a spare tenner; it looks like fun!

They say;- "Famous Wind Speed"!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

N is for Novelty Erasers

We saw a couple of these the other day with the motorcycle post, so we might as well tick the rest off and move on to something more acceptable to the conservatives!

Another of my purchases from the new Pound-Plus shop, there are about five or six sets, all aping the oeuvre of Iwaco; the others are beyond even my interest; household objects, food, that sort of thing. They all come in the same box/liner, with a different tray insert.

To go with the bikes were four other micro-vehicles; van, ship, 'plane and helicopter, they are all slightly cartoony, a bit short or 'deformed', but I like the way the liners yellow-bit makes a row of lifeboats!

The delivery truck and the helicopter both have plastic parts for the difficult/stressed pieces, these are in a dense ethylene or polypropylene.

Seen the other day and far more realistic, they were the reason for the purchase, along with the fact it was only a quid for the six.
 
They won't be finding their way onto the jig-puzzle page, as like all these multi-part erasers are only clip-together, there is no mystery to their construction.

I've also obtained the other set that comes within the remit of the Blog (and the collection) in part because I thought it was amusing that two months ago I had no sea-horses, now I have three - remember; more than a pair of anything is a collection!

Again there is a slight cartoonishness to a couple of the models (sea horse and shark) but the basking shark is very good, as it the manta ray, while the turtle will look quite acceptable in the bag of turtles and tortoises currently in storage - not next to the Britains version maybe, but against most of the others.

Only four of them have a constructional element although the sea-horse has a pale plastic tube to hold the plastic eye-rod it shares with the shark's design. The coral will be useful as background scenery for Sci-fi photographs in the future!

Friday, March 17, 2017

S is for Star Wars V - "I am not your father"



I'm afraid I have to report that Darth Vader wasn't Luke's father, he was a robot!

Routine maintenance!

My attic toy-finder general ran out of puff! While he was on the slab I re-programmed him to be nice to little animals and cry when Bambi's mother gets it!

S is for Star Wars IV - Comparison Shots



It took me a while to find the other two in the pile, but here are all three of them together!

The bodies of the vehicles are all pretty much of a muchness, but it's the way Mattel have slid the guy forward to the tip which grates, but - as I said in Part 1 - I haven't seen the movie, so it may be the correct configuration?

With the stands they're a less effective sight!