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.

Monday, June 4, 2018

T is for Thunderbirds Are . . . Hung on a Hook with the Car Keys!

The best'est thing EVER! . . . err . . . since the last/'till the next Best'est thing [ever!].

Another Sandown purchase, also from the Belgians, although I've put an American brand to them, they might be Spanish (careful Hugh - you know how excited TJF gets when you mention Spain) in origin; Hong Kong being the other obvious choice.

Scott Tracy doing some plumbing!

The American company being Xandria-Holland of New York, however, they themselves used the tag-line '100 million sold in Europe' on their trade add (itself typical corporate hyperbole; I doubt there were many more than 400-million people in Europe in the 1970's and these weren't distributed on a 1-in-4 ratio), which rather suggests they were carrying something previously popularised elsewhere first, as importers (jobbers) or agents.

Brains with an early design-model for T1
"When it's erect, it'll look like this!"

And while they (Xandria) also state 'Designed and manufactured in our own factories', they don't state where those factories are, so they could be anywhere - US companies tend to sing from the rooftops if their products are made in the USA!

And 'our own' can hide a multitude of corporate contracts - some people think Arco had their 'own' factories in Hong Kong, but there's no actual evidence for more than an office, it's all about the contract, an exclusivity clause for a product (or a sales-territory) with a contract-manufacturer will give you the [technical] right to use 'ours'!

Footnote - Arco were probably using Soma, which may be why Soma is the primary manufacturer of Hot Wheels for Mattel these days?

Paker! He's a bit tasty, he's the 'Daddy' now!
He's got a little black box with his gun in!

Bill (at Moonbase Central) thinks he was told they might have originated in Spain and there are certain pointers to that possibility; both Spain and Portugal (along with Italy) seem to have used PVC more often than the other European figure makers, they had the TV series (and other ThunderBird related products - bubble-gum canisters, Comansi sets, &etc.) and the 'build quality is good, but it's not top-notch, so HK are still in the frame.

Lady Penelope. If the stiletto doesn't get them...
...the pink pearls will!

My brother and I were given two of what Xandria called their 'Pixies' (another reason for eschewing the US as origin, they were non-Disney style fairy-tale and children's story characters) in about 1974 - possibly later, no later than '77 though, I had the mouse on a piece of cheese, my Brother either had the tramp dog in raincoat and straw hat, or a chef dog with a cake? They were clearly bought in Sheffield, Retford or Doncaster, or somewhere around there.

So while the seller thought they were Belgian, the American Xandria state 'our', Bill has been told Spain and I know they were 'British'. I suspect they are in fact a better quality Hong Kong (or Spanish - for the reasons above) product, a 'jobbed' novelty, taken up by various wholesalers and popular for a while just about anywhere in what was then referred to as First World countries, or nations with 'disposable' wealth!

The very large rings (also seen in Xandria's press-add') may be a clue for key-ring experts or collectors?

Virgil Tracy with a ray-gun!

I don't know if all the characters were available, or any of the bad-guys or episodic 'walk-on' characters, but there were 41 Pixies in Xandria's list, with the possibility of ordering corporate logos, so I suspect the rest of the Tracy brothers should be out there as a minimum 8-count for this set?

They are fascinating figures; part swoppet, part over-mould, part 'stackable' by pulling from all three techniques.

The ring-chain loop is at the end of a central core which - whether long or short (as a rod) ends in the bottom [visible] moulding/piece or main body of the figurine. With the exception of Parker where the legs are attached-to/formed-with a longer rod; the boots painted, these are simpler than most of the Pixies, having short rods attached to whole-body (one colour) mouldings, with only head/hair as separate mouldings.

The other components are 'strung' on that rod, like beads, shaped to fit together snugly (like over-moulding, but without being fused together), allowing limited movement where the joint is in one plane, waist and neck (as swoppets) the whole held in place by the loop for the last link of the chain, which is fatter than the diameter of the rod/threading holes (stackables) - all very clever.

Accessories are polyethylene; glued firmly into holes in the PVC, which being a tough and flexible polymer takes a lot of punishment. Brains' little model (has he bought the Rosenthal C21 toy?!!) seems to be polystyrene though? Parker's Gun is PVC (integral to the body-moulding) with his violin case in ethylene, while the two Tracy boy's sashes are die-cut, adhesive-backed, vinyl-sheet stampings which have gone - predictably - sticky over the years, but are over-printed nicely with the Thunderbirds logo.

Although they could take a lot of punishment, my mouse lost his block of cheese (and feet) while I was playing in the big barn's bale-stack (it was an additional PVC component added to the legs with a separate heat-weld), and while not exactly as small as a needle, I was upset enough for my Uncle Bob to mail me the found item about six months later when the last straw-bales went off to stables - it's hard to find a needle in a haystack, but not impossible!

Also discovered - digging for this post;

Thunderbirds' Tracy Family / Staff
Identifying / Sash Colours

Alan - Grey/off-white/cream
Brains - Bronze (Once? In Thunderbird 6)
Gordon - Orange
Jeff - Gold (but only in a commercial for Bernardo's - the Children's charity)
John - Lilac/purple/mauve
Lady Penelope - Always wears pink, or something pink (scarf, hat, pearls etc...)
Scott - Light blue
Virgil - Yellow

Finally - I've taken all these shots with the dying camera, so I've had to stop down shadows and pile on contrast, when the new camera arrives I'll take a second set of images and send them to Moonbase Central - where they really belong!


Brian Artillery said...

Have you ever seen the bagged set of PVC Thunderbirds figures that originate in Spain? I had a set when I was young, and recently, in a fit of nostalgia (very harmful for the wallet), bought some from ebay (other internet etc.), and have to say that they are very, very good indeed. If they were moulded in styrene, then they'd be perfect. However, the plastic they are made of is very flexible, and the fact that they have been sitting in polybags for probably 30+ years means that some are quite distorted. The sculpts are spot on, but the plastic lets them down a bit. But I still love them.

Hugh Walter said...

Yes! Blogged as Comansi (or Novaliniea?), not all of them but a reasonable sample over the years.

They alternate with normal spacemen and some sort of horror characters, and while I think you can find most of them as painted or unpainted ethylene, the Thunderbirds seem only to be in that wobbly PVC or even a dense silicon?