About Me

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No Fixed Abode, Home Counties, United Kingdom
I’m a 60-year-old Aspergic gardening 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”. Likewise, 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.

Saturday, May 25, 2024

E is for Ephemera - Plastic Warrior Show 2024

I really shouldn't be blogging right now, far too much going on in real life, of far more importances, or worry! And I will apologise to Jon Attwood now for putting the remaining railway figure posts on hold, when we were quite near the end, equally I've got to put Peter and Chris's donation-plunder posts on hold too (although I have taken the images, they aren't sorted/cropped/collaged yet), and the show reports might be a month or two away right now (I haven't even started shooting the thematic stuff), but I will pick at low hanging-fruit when I get the chance/time, and this is a few bits from the show, which have been shot, of a more ephemeral nature!
 
I picked-up a few pieces of ephemera at the show, in the 'paper' rather than 'semi-lost' meaning of the word! With three new 'special publications' from the show's organisers, Plastic Warrior, a useful guide to Leyla farm models, covering both the hard and soft plastic, painted and unpainted with packaging and other bit, and another set of the card figures, I know I've posted - but can't now find - before.
 
The important detail of the last one being, that on the previous occasion, I think I showed them without a maker, as they had already gone-off to storage, this time I can tell you they are by, and called - Kardsmen by Mackenzie, that is John Mackenzie Models Ltd., of London, and dated to 1979.

Now, last time it was two ceremonial sets, if memory serves, and in storage from a fair-while ago, I think I may have two or three more sets which came from the second-hand booksellers' in Wantage, which were also ceremonial subjects (and may, or may not be/include duplicates of those seen here last time?), but these are clearly more belligerent in depiction, being the battle of Culloden, and on the reverse of the card is a hint at a more esoteric output;
  • Nelson & Trafalgar
  • The Royal Family
  • Willian Shaspeear
  • Black Watch Pipe Band (seen here?)
  • King Henry VIII
  • Queen's Guards (see here?)
  • Royal Marine Band (possibly in storage?)
  • Guards Band (seen here?)
  • Yeoman Warders (possibly in storage?)
Which is quite a touristy/museum gift-shop type listing, I think you'll agree? As I say, I can't find the previous mention, which I think was a show report, possibly Sandown, or the London show, but when I find them, probably while looking for something else, I'll tag them to join these. The plastic bases always seem to be the same bright mid-green.

So, to the three specials, they are quite different from each other, being a technical treatise on the vagaries of engraving moulds and cutting detail into the tool halves and such-like (specifically, working 'in reverse' on the tools, not the masters), a more conversational piece on the early figurative Herald artwork and artists, both slim volumes, and a more substantial run through the Britains catalogues from 1965 to 1971, with reminisces of the author's thoughts at the time, and opinions now!
 
All penned by Peter Cole, with Chris Hawkins co-authoring the work on engraving, and both Barney Brown and John Rafferty helping with the artwork volume. While two are Britains specific, the third, technical work, is a wider look at how certain things might have been done to various early British-made figures.

They are available separately or as a package from Plastic Warrior (details below), and all proceeds will go to putting-on the next show (as I am reliably informed "I suppose we'll have to do another next year" due to the success of this year's!), because, let's face it, the subscription to the quarterly mag' is pretty-much 'at cost' given the prices of printing and post these days, so dig-deep, to support the hobby.

eMail - pw.editor3@gmail.com (pw.editor@ntlworld.com) 
Tel. - 01483 830 743

Finally less ephemeral, yet more so, and possibly needing a new entry/folder in whatever information storage and retrieval system you possess, if you haven't already done so from the back pages of Philip Dean's book on Wend-Al, is this, from when they wound-up the aluminium production and took to flocking in a big way, a Timpo ape with ball (as supplied by Prindus (Prison Industries) ?), beautifully flocked by a flocking flocker (well, you can't resist the opportunity when it arises!) and in Wendan packaging - presumably; Wend Animals as opposed to Wend Aluminium?

Saturday, May 18, 2024

W is for What Did I Say Three Days Ago?!!

 Hold it and they shall come!

Seek and ye shall find!

Leave peacefully with thy plunder!

Blue one!
Found today in Whitton, Surrey at the Plastic Warrior Toy Soldier Show!

Friday, May 17, 2024

D is for Don't Forget The Best Toy Soldier Show On Earth!

It's the 39th year - ignoring the hiatus of SARS-Covid19  - of the Plastic Warrior magazine's toy soldier show tomorrow, and I know for a fact a couple of new table holders have sorted out piles of new to market stuff, and other people have sorted out equally good stuff, so there's going to be lots of stuff! If you're looking for toy soldier stuff, you'll want to be there, you need to be there!
 
The next Twicker's match is first of June, so we should be safe from rugger-bugger's and there'll be plenty of parking. Gareth reported a rail replacement bus service to Whitton -
 
Replacement rail bus, Saturday.
If travelling on the train from London there is a bus service
from Feltham to Whitton

So worth setting out a bit earlier if that was your intended mode of ingress! All other details are on Brian Carrick's page - 


To get us in the mood, here's a few shots I found languishing in a folder in Picasa, taken at the 2018 show.
 
Vehicles.

 
Timpo and early British bits.

Gun-line!


Steve Weston's tables, he'd started packing-up.
I bought the chariot . . . the next year!

Elastolin fort and their 40mm figures.

Britains Herald & Deetail
 
Jean stagecoach and two East German sets
(Georg Blechschmidt KG or Friedhold Fischer KG,
I think it's GB figures in FF boxes?)
 
Hope you make it, I'll be there, and I shouldn't be, far too much, more serious stuff happening in real life, right now, but you can't keep an addict down!

Thursday, May 16, 2024

B is for Bounty-Hunter Brickmen

I'm not a great fan of Lego (the corporation, as you might have noticed), and don't buy it like I used to, having given most of it away to friend's kid's, who have all graduated from University now! One of my mates bought all the big 100+quid jobs, and became a fully-fledged AFOOL; Adolescent Fan Of Old Lego . . . I think, something like that?!!
 
But I archive the ephemeral Lego stuff I encounter, and look out for sets with a decent figure-count, nearer the budget end of the brand, not that it actually HAS a budget-end any more, but you know what I mean!

So when I saw that there were four Kardashians (or whatever they're called) in this set, which was on a post-Christmas clearance price in Sainsbury's, I grabbed one, and took a few shots which have been in Picasa for two years! The Disney logo just doesn't look right there, does it?
 
The three bags of bits and an instruction manual, which is so simple, they appear to be expecting people with learning-difficulties to be helping two-year-old's trying to violate the 6+ or 5-99 rules!
 
These are two of the - previously mentioned here at Small Scale World - bricks which came AFTER the equivalent Megabloks design, even as Lego was chasing Mega through the worldwide courts! Have you seen their Daleks? Next to the lovely Character Options one's, they are shit! And that's a very English 'shit' with the emphasis on that last 't'.
 
Contents of the bags, are quite confusing with the figures unequally split between the two main bags, while some bits in the same bags are smaller than the helmet details which get a bag to themselves! And because they use the same holes you can only have a peak or a periscope thingy, but not both?

I forgot to photograph the assembled model!

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

F is for Follow-up - MPC's Moon Mission Mouldings!

A few shots which escaped the post the other week, and which might as well go here, as I said at the time we'd return to them properly/more fully, in a year or two, which is still the plan!

The storage sample of the larger 'goldfish bowl' clones, so I think I'm still looking for a blue one? And the fourth pose is the guy with the weapon, which doubles as a very lightweight sextant . . . I think!
 
When they are not being sold as paratroopers, they came in various other packagings, of which this is quite colourful, probably one of the first, and seems to be a complete set of the four copied poses.
 
Another of the dodgy sets going though Vectis a few years ago, home-printed card, referencing the old Britains half-moon cards, all fake! We looked at another here, all believed to be from the same chap!
 
And I had the answer to the one with an added base, I can't read a brand, but suspect there may be an importer ID'd somewhere on the card, but it's such an old shot it won't enlarge clearly enough to see, another will turn-up though (if indeed, there isn't already one in storage), none of this stuff is rare!

Monday, May 13, 2024

F is for Follow-up - Dragonbird Whirlyflies . . . Well, Actually, 'Helicars' & 'Helijets'!

Just got in from work to find this treasure in the inbox from Brian B in New York, on the subject of Sikorsky S-51's (previous post, below) and their relationship to Dan Dare! In his own words:

"It was delightful to see the blog post on Tudor Rose helicopters, as I coveted them as a kid but never owned one. 

I remember being aware of the S51 from the movie 'The Bridges of Toko-Ri'

When Frank Hampson created the world of Dan Dare in Spacefleet, he based the helijet on the S51.


When I built my train layout 'Northern Heights', London in the 1950's, I had to have a hint of Spacefleet so adapted a model of an S51 into a Helijet, just as Frank Hampson did."


And obviously that's what I was remembering when I mentioned Dan Dare in the other post, you can see where Fairy were coming-from with their Rotodyne too, and the similarities betweens names and designs extends to the IM 'Rotorship'.

I really love the conversions of railway figures (?) to Spacefleet personnel, including two Treens! From the left I think we have Dan, Digby and Sir Hubert Guest, arguing about how to do the dangerously impossible, and save the World . . . again!

Cheers Brian, a real treat!

Two hours later - Brucey Bonus as the rabbit-hole provides!

https://downthetubes.net/unearthed-early-dan-dare-designs-by-frank-hampson-inspired-inspired-by-innovative-1950s-inventions/

Sunday, May 12, 2024

W is for Whirlybirds, D is for Dragons!

The Tudor Rose Sikorsky S-51 (company designation VS-327), the civil version of the R-5/H-5, (also known as S-48), and by Westland-Sikorsky as the WS-51 'Dragonfly', although we're actually looking at the Tudor Rose Dragonflies, as they made two, a posh one with metal parts and a budget one for the beach!

The smaller one on the left (from the 1955 catalogue) is the all-placky one, the larger brother is to the right with its box, although judging by the company codes (5089 [large] and 5897 [small]), the earlier would have been the bigger model, maybe 1953 or before, commercial operations of the real aircraft had begun in 1946.
 

Side-by-side the silver one (polystyrene and other materials) is about a ⅓ larger than the all-polyethylene yellow one, and redolent of old Dan Dare strips where similar machines of all sizes tended to be flitting around in the backgroun whenever the action moved to the spaceport apron/tarmack; this was once the future, people!

The machines themselves are very good, and there's not much loss of detail/accuracy over the larger one, by the smaller. However, the landing gear is a different matter, being redesigned for floors and carpets, not the roofs of skyscrapers, or the fledgling Heathrow Airport! There are also differences between the two in the wheel department, driven by the need to balance/operate (read - play with) very different beasts!

The mechanism which drives the propellers is similar to the old Thomas/Acme/IM (et al.) model, seen here passim at Small Scale World, but a more sophisticated crown-gear in steel and tinplate, on the larger Inter-City, and a less sophisticated, and less reliable, simplified bevel-gear on the Sea Rescue model.
 
Box art on the smaller aircraft suggests a cruciform arrangement of blades, but there's no sign of the other two blades, and I suspect the limitations of the box dimensions, took-over after the art-department had got to work? But it could be damaged?

The pilots are similar: semi-flat, double-sided relief 'carved' figures, in similar poses, but of different sizes and fixings, the BEA pilot being fixed in place by a slot-in baseplate, the SAR pilot plugging onto a spigot before the two halves of the fuselage are joined together. Neither is to scale with his machine!

A couple more shots of the Inter City Helicopter Service model and box, many thanks to Adrian Little of Mercator Trading for letting me shoot these back in 2019. Can you believe it's nearly six-years since I tried to cut the end of my thumb off?!

And a couple of the smaller Sea Rescue Helicopter. Our friends in the village had the bigger one I think, I probably would have preferred this one, but the gears are weak, and tend to bend-over/round-off, so it might have got frustrating! In the upper shot, you can see the pilot's 'feet' hooked onto the spigot.

Some old eBay images I had on the dongles, if you want the whole story it's here;

 

Saturday, May 11, 2024

C is for China Shite!

Currently doing the round of 'Flash Mob' listing on Amazon and evilBay, is this set of spacey bits from China, I always feel guilty getting this stuff, as it's sending hard cash to 'The Enemy', or one of them! But while it's always listed as 'China' as the location, it seems to be posted from Birmingham, so it's already here?
 
You get a very Chinese looking launch-rocket (Long March CZ-2F?), a set of main-tank and booster rockets from a Shuttle, a satellite, two dodgy fighters and a couple of NASA style astronauts, all in a sealed bag, which may be available elsewhere (gift shops etc.) as a branded or generic with header card, but as an online cheapie, it comes with no card.
 
The rocket. It's a two-part clip-together, with four small boosters that slot into the side-quarters, all held together with the red plastic engine-piece, and it's tampo-printed, quite accurately marked up as the real-life originals, unlike most rack-toy NASA stuff, which, back in the day, tended to get random black & white checked strips and large 'USA' or Stars & Stripes flag stickers!

Similar process with the shuttle main tank and boosters, while the fighter jets (chase planes?) and astronauts (40mm) are simple relief-sculpts with hollow-backs, the aeroplanes being (like most Chines stuff) copies of other peoples 'planes, and the astronauts, generic, but maybe more NASA than Chinese with the fuller helmets and chest equipment?

I think the satellite is a mash-up of several elements of real ones with a recognisable Soyuz spacecraft layout, elements of GPS and current military designs but rather fictional lateral solar-cell arrays?

The size of a satellite depends entirely on what planet you are from!

Friday, May 10, 2024

A is for And This is Why Putin Can Go Fuck Himself . . .

. . . up his perverted little hole, preferably after shoving some Bwreakshiteers and Neocons up there first.

We're better than we think we are, we're better than we know we are, but we need to make more effort, every day, especially in England.


Wednesday, May 8, 2024

G is for Get Arff Moi Laaaand!

I saw this on the side of a house in the hamlet of Mapledurwell near Basingrad, earlier this evening, and there was still enough light for a decent picture, so I leapt out of the cab and took one!

He literally leaps out at you as you come round the corner of a tight little lane, but the way the building is angled, by the time you've registered him, he's gone, and you're driving up the road thinking "Did I just see that?"! Hackle and buttons say Grenadiers, and he's pretty-much life-size! And it must be the Devil's own task to keep the Virginia Creeper clear of him!

Friday, May 3, 2024

L is for Last One For Now!

 I know it's not everyone's cup-of-tea, but I find this stuff fascinating, and there's plenty still in the queue, both from Alderney and closer to home, but this is the final part of the recent visit to Hazeley Heath and the cable-testing station of the Royal Engineers and their antecedents.


This is the building or structure the winding mechanism/s was/were housed in, it was far more substantial, but all the reclaimable steel and reusable elements are long-gone now, leaving the two outer walls, some floor mounting stuff and a protective plate.
 
There's enough roadway in front of the structure for flat-towing tests, as well as the extreme tests allowed for by dragging things up the ramp we looked at last time! The top of the ramp is in the far distance in both shots, in-line with the structure and roadway.
 
This was apparently the mounting for the main winch/winding engine, presumably bolted to the two rails with a drip-tray between them to collect all the gunk which tends to find its way out of such machinery!
 
Beyond it is what looks like an inspection-pit, all filled in, but the blurb suggests another machine mounting, so I assume someone has dug it and found it to be not deep-enough for inspecting things?

In front of them is this, which probably mounted a pulley to carry the cable a bit higher over to the ramp, where a similar pulley, and its mounting have long-since been removed.  Also, there may be a secondary function of preventing whip-lashing broken-cables from damaging the machinery?
 
Heavy steel RSJ remnants hint at a heavy-duty, or over-engineered roof/shelter, designed again, or primarily, to protect the machinery and operators/observers from snapping cables, rather than enemy action, having been probably build long before the Second World War?
 
I gave them a quick tug, and they are set-fast in the landscape, whether they are old telephone cables or the old three-phase power-supply . . . Your guess is as good as mine!
 
I either read somewhere, or heard as hearsay from some MOD-procurement chaps or BAE Systems bod's, that how it works with these things, is that you decide you want a 50-ton main battle tank, for instance, you give the job to Vickers Engineering, and if you’re happy with the prototypes, order, say 250, with ten driver-training versions, plus a number of recovery variants . . . and cables (etcetera!).

Those cables then get rated at 55-tons, by the Royal Armoured Corps, who will have to use them, the MOD-wallah's up in Whitehall, agree to 55, and add another 5-ton rating to be safe, that gets sent to Vickers, who tender-out the contract, because they've now got 260 tanks to build and some recovery vehicles to design, and can't be arsed to start twisting wire hawsers! They add 5-tons capacity to the contract!

GKN take the wire twisting gig, and add an extra 5-tons 'just to be safe', before their hawser and cable division plait another few tones of capability into the finished cables! You end up with a steel-rope, which is specifically designed to be carried by 50-ton vehicles, but which can recover 70-ton vehicles from sticky mud! All that early work seems to have been done behind a little village in rural Hampshire, in the 1930's and 1940's!