About Me

My photo
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, April 13, 2018

G is for Gem-erations!

I know, one of me' worst titles ever! And I've 'ummed and 'arred about whether to actually do this post at all, or wait until the rest are out of storage, but it'll do for a primer, and there's more to come with these so they can be returned to.

On the left is the first version Gemodels (GeModels, Ge-Models - et al.) footballer cake decoration, he has the little spigot which was designed to take a small football (I've never seen one but they must be out there somewhere). Second from the right is - at first glance - the second version, which was produced without the ball-spike, whether the balls were still sold along-side them or not is open to question, maybe in the small 'set' packets?

The two red ones (type 4 below) appear to be UK-originating copies, perhaps for a board-game; I think a Soccerboss (possibly not/pre- Ariel's version) carried figurines looking like Gem's. These two are quite good copies, but lack the finesse or facial details of Gem originals.

Also while I say cake decoration, it seems from the Gemodels game (Cup-Tie) shown to the Plastic Warrior team that the spigots of version one may be relatively exclusive to that game (no sign of the ball though!), and the latter - spike-less - issue being for onward shipment to Culpitt and Co., and he has paint which suggests a cake decoration; the Cup-Tie figures were unpainted in four colours (red and blue teams, green and yellow goalies)

There were UK-looking copies of the spigoted type 1's as well, they aren't illustrated in this post but I have them in storage and will include them next time we look at these. Type 1's and 2's are quite hard to find, but 21's are even harder!

As well as dropping the spigots, Gem tried over-moulding, and I'm calling them type 21 (for this post; it's more complicated than the small sample we're studying today) and this is actually one of them, I have more in the storage lot so we will return to them for a closer look one day.

Mr. Musgrave was quite dismissive of his firms over-moulding efforts his the interview with PW, but in fact this is a solid piece, which has stood the test of time; I'm exerting quite a bit of [bending] pressure to try to show the join line in the above shots

In order to obtain the upper cavity (red-polymer shot) you can see how the old type 2 mould was broken-up and then reassembled, in the course of the arc-welding (or braising) of what must have been quite small pieces of steel (or bronze-alloy), the player's left hand has been moved-out/slid-accross at the wrist and the right arm now looks as if it was reset by a quack after a heavy-tackle.

That has then been joined or merged (Musgrave tells of both colours having to be simultaneously injected) with the simpler lower-cavity, here shot in white-plastic. However the clear mould line round the whole figure suggests a four-part tool, all very complicated for a 1-inch novelty figure.

Also one of the reasons given for trying over-moulding was to reduce painting, so the fact that the figure has had his collar and cuffs apparently factory-painted is a bit odd to say the least?

The commonest version in soft polyethylene plastic are the second figure from the left shown here, they are slightly smaller that the type 1 / 2's (with smaller bases to match), no doubt due to the 'destruction' of the type 1/2 mould tools in the over-moulding experiments, so quite easy to ID. Loss of both size and surface detail suggests they pantographed their own remaining type 1 / 2's!

Years ago I used to wonder if they were Hong Kong copies, as they remained alongside the real HK copies (third from the left - polystyrene giant) in the older baker's shops, although when I say alongside, some bakers would have one type, some; the other. Also they tended to be glossy, both in plastic type and paint, next to the earlier chalky, matt-painted variants.

Both the gloss paint and glossy polymer changes were down to Culpitt who handled most of this stuff and used a sub-contractor to manufacture and paint - much to Gem's chagrin as we learn in PW's publication - see below.

The three are here compared to a much smaller Hasbro era [brittle type] Subbuteo figure on the right.

But over the years; as the other colours came in, it became clear they were the same plastic as Gem's Pop Group figures or the skateboarders for instance, or late issues of some of the other cake decorations. In all three/four Gem types (and type 3 may have been issued by or catalogued under 'Festival' as well?) there are only the three poses;

Goalkeeper - standing ready*
Striker - kicking with left foot
Running/dribbling - right foot off the ground

* Paint black for referee, add white stick for World Cup referee!

Now, when you find (increasingly 'found') these in those older baker's shops, you will/would often discover the outlet had a whole bunch of the kicking and dribbling poses in say; red and blue or red and white (with contrasting shorts) with green, yellow or orange goalkeepers, but in fact, all colours/poses turn-up, so I'm guessing that elsewhere another shop would be sent green and orange players and red/blue (more probably all-white) goalkeepers?

This applies to the latter Culpitt years though, who were releasing both Gem and HK stock well into the 1990's, Gem themselves had a complicated issuing system, which is reproduced below.

Hong Kong's hard plastic ones (type 5 here) created another pose (b), achieved by varying the running guy (a); firmly placing both feet on the base, closer together. These can still be found around, but - sadly - less and less independent bakers exist, and of those who do, many are new businesses with little interest in stocking this stuff, some can still be found from on-line suppliers.

The 'type 6' is a second set of HK pirates, they are just as big, but skinnier overall and have lozenge or 'biscuit'-shaped bases. I only have the one here at the moment, but there is a bunch in storage, mostly the more conventional red/blue types, this one is a tad older maybe with his primrose-yellow strip! They sold alongside the British 3's and HK 5's.

In a 1979 Ge-Models pricelist shown in the PW Gemodels Special (ISBN 1 900898 32 2,  - and available from the editior at the above link) the sale of footballers (probably/likely type 3's) is broken down as follows -

Ft1A - Footballer (pose 1, plain – hair and flesh painted)
Ft1B - Footballer (pose 1, shorts or shirt painted)
Ft1C - Footballer (pose 1, stripped shirt)
Ft2A - Footballer (pose 2, plain – hair and flesh painted)
Ft2B - Footballer (pose 2, shorts or shirt painted)
Ft2C - Footballer (pose 2, stripped shirt)
Ft3 - Goalkeeper
Ft4 - Goalposts x2
FTT4A - 2 players, Goalkeeper and Goalpost, (plain – hair and flesh painted)
FTT4B - 2 players, Goalkeeper and Goalpost, (shorts or shirt painted)
FTT4C - 2 players, Goalkeeper and Goalpost, (stripped Shirt)
FTT6A - 4 players, Goalkeeper and Goalpost, (plain – hair and flesh painted)
FTT6B - 4 players, Goalkeeper and Goalpost, (shorts or shirt painted)
FTT6C - 4 players, Goalkeeper and Goalpost, (stripped Shirt)
FTT12A - 10 players, Goalkeeper and Goalpost, (plain – hair and flesh painted)
FTT12B - 10 players, Goalkeeper and Goalpost, (shorts or shirt painted)
FTT12C - 10 players, Goalkeeper and Goalpost, (stripped Shirt)

And orders were taken for individual team strips, I believe some of the four chaps in the goal-mouth's are from such orders - but they could as easily be home-paint conversions. I think the type 3 one on the right of the UK goal is the 'stripped shirt' variant, and as the chap below him has shorts in the same green-paint he may also be a factory 'shorts or shirt' job, top left of the four is a mess over-painted at a later date, lower left is a tatty standard or default paint.

To be fair, striped figures, or 'odd' colour-ways are uncommon, with most bakers seemingly taken what they were given (by Culpitt), which as you can tell is mostly 'hair and flesh' [and boots], with 'shorts' as common and 'shirts' rarer paintings.

While we're looking at painting, the 4th red, green and blue type 5's on the far right of each of  their respective rows are all stencil/sprayed against the commoner hand-painting of the rest. And the size of the HK copies is down to their having been copied from type 1/2's before the moulds were lost, to which you have to add deeper bases

Hong Kong play six-a-side on a very odd-looking pitch!

I was regularly buying type 3, these 5's or - occasionally - 6's in retail outlets until around 2010/12, but they are starting to dry-up as the older stores close-up. The HK ones are still findable, and another source for them is catering or kitchen suppliers/shops, although they are all slowly going-under, or on-line only!

We've lost three locally in the last few years (two in Basingrad and one in Aldershot - where I often picked-up stuff), and while a couple have opened in the same period (one in Basingrad the other in Woking), neither of them stock/ed this kind of thing and the Basingrad one has closed already. They did both have Christmas stuff including the Culpitt plug-together 'swoppet' Santa - a couple of Christmases ago though!

The 'Hong Kong' (see next paragraph) goals are really a bit shite, but once they have been anchored in royal icing, or oozed into cream or fondant they are stable enough to survive the whole cake-carrying-in-and-candle-blowing-out shenanigans, I suppose!

And - they only follow the Gemodels originals in not being very good at standing-up, although with the Gem originals it was down to a pair of very small bases! Indeed - the 'HK' goals may be UK-sourced - by Culpitt? They are a very crude moulding in a cheap, bendable polymer somewhere between polythene and polypropylene, and could have been located locally for just over or near cost-price? Perhaps from the same firm handling Gem's moulds for Culpitt?

None of my goals are marked, but then none of my type 2's or 3's are marked either, only the type 1's have the GEM ENGLAND 'post-mark' type moniker on the bases. However I may have some marked ones in the storage sample, I feel type 1's should/may have come with them? If I have; we'll see them next time

Heay - if you're on Subbuteo turf, you have to use a Subbuteo ball, that's the rules, that is! Ooof!

All late production of the sort Cupitt handled or carried with the exception of the Mary (who had a little lamb) figure which is an earlier transitional-piece in chalky plastic but with glossy paint. More of a size-guide than an attempt to prove the colour thing, if I wasn't sure of the origins of the type 3's there'd be more question marks in the text above - and there's quite a few anyway!

Previously seen but new layout; I've yet to see brown-plastic footballers, then neither have I seen red pop'sters, but their drum-kit is always red, so maybe that's why they didn't get red costumes from Gemodel's 'wardrobe'?

As far as size goes, with the footballers' there is quite a variation from the smallest (dribbling type 3) to the largest (Hong Kong goal keepers) giving a range of around 23mm to 28mm with the different bases.

No comments: