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.

Jig Toys - Puzzle Key Chains

I feel like a complete amateur and a bit of a fraud now! Read this first....

Robs Puzzle Page - keychains (Awesome)

...then come back here for a bit of a laugh if you need to! Blows my list out of the water and covers it in dust!

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This is the seven existing Jig Toy posts (as at 4th November 2015) from the 'home page' (main Blog) collected together with an import from a tractor post and edited to make sense as a page rather than 7 posts referring to each other, up-comings or past posts. A couple of things have been moved around and the 'master' list has been shoved to the bottom of the page and added to.

There is still a bit of duplication, both the tank and the fire engine get repeats as you scroll down the page, and I'm sure that repetition will continue from time to time as I had new stuff in. As such - from now on I will add bits here rather than posting new jig-toy posts, but the existing posts will remain for those who have bookmarked them in the past.

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These used to be common features of old toy, joke and gift shops back in the 1950's and 1960's, Christmas stockings would contain them with little printed-paper 'solutions' and Christmas crackers still have late-generation Hong Kong piracy's, while they became even more common once the Hong Kong contract manufacturers had started pirating them, consequently they now turn up on eBay a lot - usually as Key-rings.

It is through the Kellogg's issues that they are known in the UK as Jig Toys, elsewhere they are known as Puzzle Toys, or increasingly Puzzle Key Chains or 'keychains' due to the fact that most of them - and all Hong Kong copies - are fitted with a charm-loop and tend to be fitted with a key fob, or are ready for one.

As Hong Kong product they were to be found as carded items in multiples in the pocket-money section of toy stores, tobacconists and kiosks, could turn up in Lucky Bags, Iberian Sobres (surprise envelopes) and the like and were available in the larger capsules of 'gum ball' machines.

And when I say 'were'; many of them still are available from several of the above sources (gum-balls, carded displays and Christmas crackers), now exclusively 'China' though!

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This is one of the 1970 issue Kellogg's ones. They are easy to identify by dint of being one colour and manufactured in a soft soapy polyethylene plastic. He is missing his ears...they are always missing their ears...unless you are lucky enough to find one still of the frame/runner ('sprue'). The Ears are a very small piece which just wedged in the gap at the top of the mane, it was so small some people didn't even take it off the runner!

The racing car is quite an old one, the tank is a recent Christmas cracker toy, the car comes in at about 1:50 the tank is so simple it's barely a puzzle at all and always come with the stumpy 'Health & Safety' barrel.

These are a great favourite of mine, the one on the left is the older, probably British and late 60's/early 70's, the other two are later Hong Kong piracy's, note the hat size of the middle one. There are dealers regularly on eBay selling the modern version of this Guy and his Indian counterpart.

This is a less common cowboy variant who will not stand up, like the previous design he is about 30mm if he has a true scale?

The commonest puzzles seem to be those supplied to Kellogg's in the mid/late '60's, they being licensed from originals and easily available to pirates for endless copies.

Case in point - these are the Wagon, the instruction sheet may be the Kellogg's one, but it came with the top - multi-coloured - wagon which is not Kellogg's so I doubt it. This is an early English one in some sort of phenolic plastic which is starting to distort. The rest are all soft polythene and at least one will be Kellogg's, however if you click on the image you will see they are all slightly different so trying to work out which one is which....?

The wagon again, this is probably a Kellogg's one, there are so many differences with these it's hard to know what's what, I have several and the side detailing is different on all of them, so even if the Kellogg's supplier had several different cavities in the mould, it can't explain all of them.

The Lorry on the left is a soft plastic Kellogg's one, the other is either a hard plastic HK copy or a Bell/Merit original?. Another design of Lorry has the long bonnet (hood) of a Volvo type truck. There are also several versions of car around.

Jeeps; These are probably all Kellogg's, they actually had two tranches a decade apart, but they changed a couple of the items, there were six in each set giving 8 to look out for, always in soft plastic. It is my supposition that they were produced for them by either Cherilea or more probably Hilco, this is based purely on the plastic type and colours used.

Radcliff's 'Cluck' suggests J&L Randall (Bell/Merit), and I don't know the origins of this information but it's just as likely, whether either supplier or Kellogg's had a licence/permission to copy them from somewhere else is also open to question.

The Sets were;

1959
Covered Wagon
Aeroplane
Flatbed Transport Lorry
Ocean Liner
helicopter
Jeep

1970 (*new)

Tractor*
Covered Wagon
Ocean Cruiser (same as 'liner'?)
Saloon Car
Jeep
Horse (of troy?)*

On the left are comparisons between ethylene, one-colour (Kellogg's) and styrene versions of the Jeep and lorry, which may or may not be Merit originals. The tractor is also Merit; a David Brown and the metallic mauve section is very unusual. The exhaust stack is broken and a slot on the seat hints at a driver figure I've never seen...maybe it was considered and then dropped?

Sadly this isn't mine; although I'm keeping my eyes out for one! Shot at Sandown Park a while back, this is a French (CIJ) soft-plastic clip-together kit, rather than a jig-toy per se of a Renault Tracteur Agricole! Isn't it a peach? Nothing to add; it's all in the picture! If it wasn't for the card you'd think it a cereal - or other - premium, but I suspect just a pocket-money toy?

This would appear to be the Bell/Merit moulding; certainly it's in hard polystyrene plastic, following the colours known to have been used by Randall's. Sold here as a generic with a hanger-hole, possibly also destined for inclusion in Christmas crackers, or on a larger 'pick-one' backing card; this example apparently turned-up as one of a number on a South-American auction site.

Merit Destroyer escorts three Kellogg's Liners (or Cruisers?), the Kellogg's give-aways were mostly equipped with a ring for a key-fob, again all these colours were also used by Hillco!

'Battle Damage' Battleship!

I picked this up at Sandown Park a few weeks ago, it's a lot bigger than the Bell/Merit jig-toys supplied to Kellogg's, and the seller stated it was Fairylite, but there's nothing to indicate whether it is or not actually, so the attribution is to be considered provisional until I see a boxed or carded one somewhere?

Fairylite were importers from HK (and Japan) but also combined, sourced toys closer to home and seem to have made some themselves, so 'you pays your money' with them sometimes in trying to attribute origin!

The interesting thing about this is unlike the others mentioned, which usually have a guessable system of construction with a central 'key' that actually does all the work, this has a serious element of puzzle to it, which seems to be based on the common mechanism of the wooden cubes, balls, barrels and pyramids of my childhood. Indeed you can still get them and they make excellent presents for kids at that difficult age, where kid is not yet teenager!

A couple of years later finds this in the same venue . . .

. . . this is of a similar age to the 'possibly Fairylite' and uses the basic globe/ball/barrel mechanism of all these toys, but with a simpler wedge to finish, age has made him a bit loose now, and he looks more like a cartoon hedgehog than a naughty boy!

Nice surviving box, the mechanism is so simple it's more of a construction-toy than a true puzzle-toy, but still a nice example of the genre, and an early one at that.

The most sought after by collectors are those with a space connection, or the various weapons, these would all appear to be by the same manufacturer, an unknown Hong Kong producer, the Robot and 'plane are both set-up as key-rings, the ray-gun (a copy of the Merit design) is one of two designs I know of, while the Tommy-gun is damaged and glued (there should be a bit of the orange sticking out of the bottom and twistable).


Here's an incomplete one (the pointed tip is missing) carded, this Bell would have become Merit at some point and is now commonly available from the piracy pixies of the Far East! Instructions should print larger than lifesize if you ned them, but do have a rubber-band running across them...Photoshop!

Two of my favourites, the little tank - as mentioned above - always has a stump for a gun-barrel, and a very simple action which is not so much puzzle as a click-together! But I keep buying them when I see them in order to make single colour ones from all the pieces - you can see: I've now got enough for an all-red one!

The rocket I'm really pleased with, it was not a lot, despite all space-themed toys commanding an unnecessary - in my opinion - premium just for being 'space' toys, and although styrene, I think it's quite early. Like the tank its mechanism is not so puzzle-like, and it's a bit loose and floppy, but for 50's pulp, it hits the spot.

These are by Peter Pan Playthings and Bell, the Elephant by Bell is in the same Phenolic plastic as the multi-coloured wagon in the previous post, hinting at the origin of the otherwise unmarked wagon (and unmarked instruction sheet).

Bell were a previous trademark of J Randall, who would become J&L Randall upon marriage, at about the same time as the trademark was changed to Merit.

The Peter Pan toys are in Polystyrene - hard plastic, the motorcycle cop is about 35mm, the traditional ball puzzle is also a key-ring with plastic fob, not something designed to last much beyond Christmas day!

I stated above that Bell/Merit went from phenolic plastics to ethylene leaving Hong Kong to styrene (although pointing out that Peter Pan also used polystyrene), it's now clear that some intermediate J&L Randall stuff was styrene as well, such as with this helicopter - lower shots.

The upper image is two of the Kellogg's freebies, being copies of a Merit helicopter and a donkey/pony/foal/zebra? This is missing its ears, as was the one we looked at way back when, as are all my examples and most of those (of these) I've ever seen, it slots/clips into the little chink at the bridge of the nose and is easily lost. I would imagine 99% of the ears that ever left a factory have been found by vacuum cleaners and were sent to landfill/incineration decades ago!

These are all in the style of Kellogg's issues, but two of them probably aren't Kellogg's; the Fire Engine which is a Hong Kong copy and the two-tone car. The other three are Kellogg's. The car was one of the puzzles copied by an - as yet - unknown (by me) Hungarian maker during the days of the Cold War in polystyrene, along with a tilted army-truck.

I wonder if the duck/penguin thing is a cartoon character of the time (1950-60's), I'm pretty sure I've seen other toys/playthings in a similar style/shape? In the version found in America and those from Hong Kong he has an obvious duck's beak and is wearing a top-hat, but an early version with a thermo-printed face on what is otherwise a bowling-pin with feet was called Smook...does that mean anything to anyone?

The car is a different design to those above, while the Scottie-dog is similar to both the elephant above and a cat still waiting in the wings, but has a different part-order to the elephant. The cowboy is another favourite and this is an earlier version, as are all this group - bar the dog, which is a later Hong Kong version.

The ball in one of several geometric shape puzzles you can find out there while the other two are not really puzzles, being more 'clip-together' stacks of parts with a single key-part. The ball harks back to earlier wooden toy puzzles, but with a lesser part-count and simpler mechanism.

The ferry boat comes in two sizes, this is the larger one, both sizes have the same number of parts and same method of construction. The locomotive may be a British (Merit?) original, the other two are Hong Kong in origin and polystyrene against the train's polyethylene.

How fun is this? It's small, looks nothing like a monster, or a dinosaur, and - like the French tractor - has no real puzzle element to it. The capsule is clearly aimed at the Christmas Stocking market, as it's disguised as a tangerine! They also come in Christmas crackers at the budget end of the market.

I took it off the runner and made it up, sacrilege - I know - but it's a mass-produced, ephemeral piece of soft-ethylene plastic shite, of which I'm sure another will turn-up.

Looked at above, I'd also obtained a redder one and the dun-yellow beast behind it (missing a rear axle), only to then pick up a bagged one in proper fire-engine red, so they get a second wind further down the page!

I once saw a monotone carded one at the big toy fair in the NEC, Birmingham, but the dealer wanted silly money for it so I passed. These are hideously over-hyped, over-valued and over-priced, there are literally millions of them out there, and if you wait, they turn-up in mixed lots for no money at all, or you can $26+post for a BIN on feeBay?

Reverse of the pocket-money carded one with instructions. They also come in gum-ball machines, fairground grab-machines, Christmas crackers and any other source of small, inexpensive, plastic tat!

Just as in the UK the 'originals' are credited to Bell/Merit (J then J&L Randall), so in the States Lionel seem to get the credit for the better quality samples. I think that while these are all HK, the yellow one may be based on a Lionel original, while the red ones are lesser quality copies of copies.

The ladder is the wrong way round on the dusty yellow one giving it even greater visual difference from the red one, but it is taller with a bigger cab, better details and has cleaner lines.

Cropped from the corner of a much larger image, this is a hard plastic (polystyrene) engine with a small plate and drilled hole for a key-chain, at the rear. In storage at the moment and forgotten about until I found the image, I'll post a better shot one day, or a group shot of all of them!

Currently [Autumn 2015] available from The Works (cubes) and Sainsbury's supermarkets (pyramids and star polygons) these reflect back to larger wooden puzzles (commonly with a lot more sections) that have been made since long before I walked this earth! Made of the grainy, soft polymer which is slowly replacing vinyl/PVC in the novelty end of the toy industry, and supposedly also for use as erasers, they have quite simple mechanics.

Another, this one (top left) finished to a higher standard and available for a while now from Wilkinson's (Wilco), but otherwise the same as and interchangeable with the cheaper-made pair. One wonders, if with only the six given plates, it would be possible to make a much larger cube?

The corners would be easy, the edges would be unfolded 'runs' of small cube's components, the question is - could you fill the large blanks of the faces; so there were no gaps? We need an advanced mathematician, or a clever algorithm!

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Listing

Transport
Covered Wagon - cellulose acetate/phenolic resin - Bell/Merit
Covered Wagon - polystyrene - Merit
Covered Wagon - polyethylene - Kellogg's 1959 and 1970
Steam locomotive - realistic type, 2-6-2 wheel arrangement - cellulose acetate/phenolic resin - Bell/Merit
Steam locomotive - puffa-puffa type, 2-4-0 wheel arrangement - unknown
Aeroplane (twin-engine) - polystyrene - Merit
Aeroplane (twin-engine) - polyethylene - Kellogg's 1959
Aeroplane ('lolly-stick wings) - cellulose acetate/phenolic resin - Bell/Merit
Aeroplane (simplified version of above) - polystyrene - Hong Kong
Aeroplane (egg-shaped) - polystyrene - Hong Kong
Jet Fighter - cellulose acetate/phenolic resin - Nic-Nak Novelties (Freeport, NY)
Jet Fighter - polystyrene - Hong Kong
Space Rocket - cellulose acetate/phenolic resin - Bell/Merit
Space Rocket - polystyrene - Merit
Flat-bed Lorry (Guy/ERF flat-fronted cab) - polyethylene - Kellogg's 1959
Tipper-Lorry (Volvo long-bonnet cab) - polystyrene - Hong Kong
Tilted Lorry (Mercedes/Tatra rounded cab) - polystyrene - Hungarian and Hong Kong (Puzzle Top)
Ocean Liner - polyethylene - Kellogg's 1959 (might be the same as the next listing)
Ocean Cruiser - polyethylene - Kellogg's 1970
Destroyer - polystyrene - Merit and Albers Carnation (Men of Annapolis)
Battleship - polystyrene - Fairylite? (larger puzzle)
River Ferry (two stacks) - polystyrene - Best (Hong Kong) and Lionel (US)
Ocean Liner (simplified version of above with one stack) - polystyrene - Hong Kong
River Cruiser - polystyrene - Hong Kong (like Monopoly boat)
Helicopter - cellulose acetate/phenolic resin - Bell/Merit
Helicopter - polystyrene - Merit
Helicopter - polyethylene - Kellogg's 1959
Jeep - polystyrene - Merit
Jeep - polyethylene - Kellogg's 1959 and 1970
Tractor - polystyrene - Merit
Tractor - polyethylene - Kellogg's 1970
Tractor - simple clip-together - CIJ
Saloon Car - polyethylene - Kellogg's 1970
Sports Car - cellulose acetate/phenolic resin - Bell/Merit
Sports Car - polystyrene - Hong Kong
Racing Car with Driver - cellulose acetate/phenolic resin - Bell/Merit
Racing Car with Driver - polystyrene - (Hong Kong?)
Racing Car (large cart with driver) - cellulose acetate/phenolic resin - Bell/Merit
Racing Cart (looks like shoe!) - polystyrene - Hong Kong
Old Fashioned Car - polystyrene - Lionel (and Fairylite? Larger puzzle)
Jeep - polyethylene - Kellogg's 1970
Artillery Gun (25lbr?)  - polystyrene - Merit 
Artillery Gun (25lbr?) - polystyrene - Hong Kong (Action Puzzle)
Artillery Gun (6" Howitzer?) - polystyrene - Hong Kong
Fire Engine - polystyrene - smaller - Merit
Fire Engine - polyethylene - smaller - Hong Kong (usually single colour; pink or red)
Fire Engine - polystyrene - larger - Lionel?
Fire Engine - polystyrene - larger - Hong Kong (usually single colour; yellow and ?)
Motorcycle Cop - polystyrene - Peter Pan Playthings

Animal and Figural
Cat (in profile) - cellulose acetate/phenolic resin - Bell/Merit
Cat (in profile) - polystyrene - Merit and Hong Kong
Elephant (chunk) - cellulose acetate/phenolic resin - (Bell/Merit?)
Elephant (chunk) - polystyrene - Merit and Hong Kong
Elephant (running) - polystyrene - Merit and Hong Kong
Scotty-dog (chunk)  - cellulose acetate/phenolic resin - Bell/Merit
Scotty-dog (chunk) - polystyrene - Merit and Hong Kong
Scotty-dog (chunk) - polystyrene -Roddy (Southport, UK)
Scotty-dog (chunk - scaled-down version of above) - polystyrene - Hong Kong
Bulldog (in profile) - cellulose acetate/phenolic resin - Bell/Merit
Bulldog (in profile) - polystyrene - Merit and Hong Kong 
Long-nosed Puppy (chunk) - polystyrene - Hong Kong
Dolphin - polystyrene (?) - (Fairylite? large puzzle)
Owl - polystyrene - Hungarian
Smook (printed face) - cellulose acetate/phenolic resin - (US make?)
Duck/Penguin (small beak) - cellulose acetate/phenolic resin - Bell/Merit
Duck (large beak) - polystyrene - Hong Kong
Horse/Donkey/Pony/Zebra (..of Troy?) - polyethylene - Kellogg's 1970
Cowboy on Bucking Bronco - polystyrene - US make and Hong Kong
Indian on Bucking Bronco - polystyrene - US make and Hong Kong
Indian on Standing Horse - polystyrene - Hong Kong (Chemtoy)
Cowgirl on Trotting Horse - polystyrene - US make and Hong Kong
Cowboy/Mexican on chunky horse - cellulose acetate/phenolic resin - (Bell/Merit?)
Cowboy/Mexican on chunky horse (with pigs head/face) - cellulose acetate/phenolic resin (US make?)
Cowboy/Mexican on chunky horse - Hong Kong
Baseball Hitter / Baseball Player - polystyrene - Hong Kong
Wrestler  - cellulose acetate/phenolic resin - Bell/Merit (and US make?)
Wrestler - polystyrene - Merit and Hong Kong (and US make?)
Wrestler (scaled-down version of above) - polystyrene - Hong Kong
Robot - polystyrene - Hong Kong
Monster/Dinosaur - polyethylene, small - Christmas crackers

Firearms
Ray Gun (side-arm with telescopic sights) - polystyrene - Merit
Ray Gun (egg/rocket-shaped side-arm) - polystyrene - Hong Kong
Ray Gun (really fat side-arm) - polystyrene - Hong Kong
Ray Gun (clear sleeve over barrel, side-am) - polystyrene - Hong Kong (in capsule egg)
Ray gun (rifle) - polystyrene - Hong Kong
Tommy Gun (Thompson SMG) - polystyrene - Hong Kong
Revolver / 6-gun- cellulose acetate/phenolic resin - Bell/Merit
Revolver / 6-gun - polystyrene - Hong Kong

Geometric and Other Objects
Pyramid - hybrid synthetic rubber - Sainsbury's
Polygonal 'Star' shape - hybrid synthetic rubber - Sainsbury's
Cube - polystyrene - Hong Kong
Cube - hybrid synthetic rubber - The Works
Ball (large) - cellulose acetate/phenolic resin - Bell/Merit
Ball (small, on lucky-horseshoe key-chain) - polystyrene - Peter Pan Playthings
Ball (small, on metal key-chain) - polystyrene - Hong Kong
Football (as above but sections arranged in football 'patches') - polystyrene - Hong Kong
Heart Shape - polystyrene - Hong Kong
Rugby Ball - polystyrene - Hong Kong
Egg - polystyrene - Hong Kong
Bowling Pin - polystyrene - Hong Kong
Bell - polystyrene - Bell/Merit
Bell - polystyrene - Hong Kong?
Pressing Iron / Steam iron - cellulose acetate/phenolic resin - Bell/Merit

Puzzle Puzzles (not really Jig-toys as they are sealed-units)
Rubik's Cube (3x3x3 cubes) - polystyrene - Hong Kong and Hungary
Rubik's Triple (3 in-line cubes) -polystyrene - Hong Kong and Hungary
Rubik's Drum - polystyrene - Hong Kong and Hungary
Rubik's Mini-Babylon (sliding balls) - polystyrene - Hong Kong and Hungary ('Magic Tower')
Ball (spherical version of Rubik's cube) - polystyrene - Hong Kong

[Additions to the above list always gratefully received and credited to source]

Links
Kellogg's Cornflakes 1959
Kellogg's Frosties 1960
Kellogg's Frosties 1970

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Only one or two of these (following collage) are mine, the rest are hoovered-off the Internet for the archive, while they were all copyright-free or lacking any obvious copyright, I present them for research purposes, small, and cut-up to help you with the above list, not to be of commercial use to anyone.


There is more work to be done here, it will be edited!
And added to...

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