Giant and other Hong Kong Romans
Except...most of them aren't giant at all, they're only 25mm...Bah-boom-Tishhh! I mean - of course - most of them aren't figures associated with the issues (or packaging) of the Giant Plastics Corporation, of New York, who were actually importers of contract-manufactured toys produced in Hong Kong, what the Americans call jobbers, selling 'jobbed' product. See also: notes on dates and 'corporate entity' status at the end of the article.*
However, they did clearly establish for themselves a good relationship with a maker who's quality control was a bit better than most of the other companies making this stuff, but not always, their astronauts are pretty disappointing. Anyway, we'll start with the Giant-imported product, and move away from them as we go down the page
Again a smaller HONG KONG mark, this time to the left of a larger GIANT, reading from the tail to the head. The horse is really a conglomeration of three horses, the aforementioned Crescent horse, and the near identical charging horses by Timpo and Britains
Of note is the set with foot figures, if you click on it to blow it up, you will see about half the green figures, several of the red figures, a yellow figure and the silver figure are actually type one knights from the medieval range! Hey...if you haven't got the figures on-hand and the filled contract has to be on the last 'plane to New York tonight....or the last train to Californ-eye-ay!
Hard to photograph, I've included a couple of shots above and turned the figure (bottom right) with a duplicate of the shot (bottom left) super-imposing the original markings. This interim figure was - as you can see a mess, and after a batch or two had gone-out to fill orders, the base was cleaned and the full 'second type' base mark was produced with the Giant-P and the original marks properly centred.
Foot figures are taken from Britains-Herald Trojans and two Marx poses, the swordsman standing with 'republican' shield and the standing spear-man.
While one or two foot poses would be dropped by the odd cloner, all three of these mounted figures were issued by everyone who had a stab at this set/range's riders.
I say "for now", as there is a horse page in preparation, and with Giant probably the first to issue these small-scale Airfix rivals, and then continuing for some time, there are a lot of variations of horse marking, but they can wait for another day!
Above is the bog-standard, typical, second-type, Giant Roman horse, with a Giant-P.
I think it's fair to say that Giant's contractor produced this set, probably as a favour to another contract-manufacturer in the colony, or for a bit of work 'on the side' (unknown to their New York paymasters?) after the GIANT had been removed and before the mess was produced we saw on the left-hand yellow figure in the image above, so this bit of the page could be slotted-in up there, but makes more sense sitting here!
Depending on the number of figure-cavities in the mould-tool and the conditions on the day re. stoppages, it would only require running the mould for a few hours to produce vast quantities of these, which could then be shifted as a lump, or filtered out over time?
These fonts are not an absolute match but are as good as I could get and the differences between them are representative of the differences on the samples. The three markings suggest that the originator of the cards was a finisher, using product from various sources.
Also featuring genuine Giant stuff, before we move-on (some of it from the stuff now in storage) are these older posts from the home Blog
Previously looked at and here only for completeness-sake (correct figures still to be identified) is the horse and chariot combo I call 'Big Ears'.
Their packaging is trying particularly hard to be giant with the double-skin laminate holding the blister in place and the figures/chariots displayed in the same fashion as Giant's own New York assembled sets. I have seen several of these sets over the years, in addition to the two I've ended-up with, so they were presumably quite common once?
The horse is one I call 'Dog Face', being one of many cruder copies of the Giant smoothie. The head and mane is not a patch on the original, having probably had detail (lost in the copying process) carved into the mould directly. The result is a slightly squashed Staffordshire Bull Terrier look, hence dog-face!
The Yellow one bottom right is an infiltrator and belongs elsewhere, although he makes for a useful comparison, being one of the interim type 1/2 Giant originals with the mess on the base, you can see he's larger and better detailed.
looked at here, I seem to have re-used some of the images...sorry, but now we're over 1,200 posts and pages that will happen from time to time, I loaded these from a friends server, while off-line myself and didn't have time to check the Home Blog!
Interesting to see the effect of the oil crisis on pricing in the early 1970's, the 12p bag (then about 25 cents US?) contains over fifty figure/horse pairs, the 18p bag (35¢?) has no more than twenty-five, that's about 120-something% inflation, in what was probably only a few months or a year or two at most?
These are rim-saddle type four, which is identical to type three apart from the fact that type three always comes with Cowboys and Indians (when they are all marked), while type four comes with Romans and about half a typical sample have no marking on the horses at all. With both types you will find the occasional double-printed mark, but that will all be looked at in depth on the forthcoming horse page.
Some extra shots.
...not shown here (because they are among the main collection in storage). The earlier (?) better versions of these gold figures, which have the HONG KONG mark arranged in a circular fashion, around the chariot-hole, but we did look at them in the early days of the blog...Lucky Clover.
Indeed, the figures above are so crude compared to the figures in the link, they will be rivals by a lesser maker, seeking a slice of the jobber market, by pretending to be the better product and can be taken to be contemporaneous with the Lucky Clover sets, but not of them!
Here, and in a show report. Mine are all in storage now, but I picked this up the other day from a nice chap called Ash, who seemed very pleased I'd bought his lot, and had nice things to say about the Blog!
These are probably copies of the Lucky Clover output, or from the tired mould-tool, post LC. They are smooth and blobby, with unmarked thinner bases. Memory suggests they only managed 5 poses, but I can't remember which of the poses is missing and this example contains all archers and javelin-men!
Incidentally one of my favourite header-cards the apple-green and purples trying (probably in the early 1970's) to hark back to the 'groovy' graphics of the late-sixties' psychedelic pop-culture. The Woolbro Mobile Task Force with copies of Crescent and Britains combat infantry had similar graphics.
I think of Interesting Toy as a separate marque as they keep turning-up on evilBay with different contents and different artwork but the same moniker, who the actual maker was (or the main jobber) remains a mystery!
Sorting for this page, some of 'King Authurs' men rub shoulders with minor samples, most of which I haven't posted here yet. This is because they are such small samples they can't be taken as meaning or telling anything significant...yet.
Mostly it's a case of waiting for a larger ('clean') sample to establish 'rules' such as whether certain foot figures go with certain mounted figures, or which horses go with which riders, or to obtain a bagged or carded set which presents the rule/s on a plate!
Foot figures particularly; are under represented here, as I have about 10 sub-types in storage to be looked at, along with the glossy Baravelli sets, and even in the box I have here there are three exapmples I haven't added to this page. And the chariots are squadroned in store, so we'll definitely come back to them here eventually.
One of the figures I've got on hand but not shown is a larger size of figure of the mounted Roman with large square shield, he came with two similar horses in an otherwise non-HK mixed lot. He's probably from a Christmas cracker, but such a small sample can't be taken as read for anything.
And for what purpose? Was he the General-Commanding in-charge of some unpainted war-games army of old Hong Kong Trojans, facing-up to Airfix Ancient Britons perhaps? Or a rainy-day time-waster on holiday in a grey-sky'ed Welsh sea-side caravan park? He remains in his own bag - who am I to undo the effort that went into him, just to put him and his (now damaged) horse in the correct bags!
Not covered here yet, but seen on the main blog are one of the later sets of foot figures with the chariot hole filled-in, there are half-a-dozen of these, and they will be added in a block when I get them out of storage.
* There is some debate about the history of Giant, and I'm not sure all of the information in the public domain is as accurate as it appears, indeed sometimes it contradicts itself. I will do a full entry in the A-Z now it's up and running, but for the time being I think it's fair to assume that prior to the setting up of Arco in 1970 (and the 1971 PMC debacle), they were only jobbers, although it's clear they had a management office in Hong Kong to oversee the contract-manufacturer/s (as other US companies did), I don't think they can be stated to be makers in their own right.
As there seems to have been little or nothing of the Giant '25mm' line left in circulation - as up-to-date or 'current' retail units - by 1970, it's fair to say they (Giant) weren't the manufactures, and a factory or factories 'unknown' were the originator/maker/s of these sets... either in the West of the island with the main toy-production hub, or on the Eastern end with the Chiu Chow refugee community's toy makers?
Where the Rosenthal's seem to have stolen a march on the other jobbers was in the packing, they had the product shipped over in bulk and did all the packing in their New York finishing unit. The money they saved on shipping could then be spend on US-level wages, and the superior packaging.