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.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Q is for Quadruple

Of course! What were you expecting? Quaker? Nah...I loaded them on my Imageshack account ages ago! I've had a quick look at the dictionary and there are several I can use and the South African Quadrupedal Quagger t'aint one of them!

So to give Flak cover to the Pz.Kfw.IV I posted the other day I knocked this up at the same time, it's the Esci kit with link-and-length track. The elevation mechanism works but it was a bugger to get right and I think this was connecting-rod No.3!!

Side skirts were cut from fine mesh, camouflage (from the mosQuito netting in the air-flaps of an Army marquee) was draped about and some sandbags placed on the front. Spare magazines were cut from a grooved 'washer' I cut from a thick sheet of Plasticard with a set of mariners dividers.

P is for still more Puzzles!

Continuing a theme...or tearing the arse out of it, depending on your point of view! 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 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), I do have a revolver but I will cover that when I look at the British manufacturers another time.

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

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). 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 will cover both these manufacturers and Merit in greater depth another day, but feel you've probably had you fill of puzzles for now!!!

P is for more Puzzles

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

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....?

Jeeps; These are probably all Kellogg's, they actually had two tranches a year or so 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. Whether either the supplier or Kellogg's had a licence/permission to copy them is open to question.

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

P is also for Puzzle

These used to be common features of the old joke shops, Christmas stockings would contain them and Christmas crackers still have late-generation Hong Kong piracy's, while they now turn up on eBay - usually as Key-rings.

This is one of the old Kellogg's ones, they issued two sets a couple of years apart with a few differences, I will cover the Western Wagon and Jeep later.

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!

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?

Monday, December 29, 2008

P is for Panzer

The German for 'Tank'. These are a bunch of plastic kits I made about 20 years ago, I am hoping to run the new Dragon Jagd.Tiger with Paratroops as a project just as soon as I have A) set up a modelling space in our new place and B) finished this daft alphabetical thing I started!

This is the Panzer I from Esci with the late link-and-length track. It's a command variant without revolving turret, built strait from the box with an aerial added.

Matchbox Pz.II with scratch-built fuel tanker/external fuel tank? (based on a photograph in one of the Panzer Colours books). The wheels and mudguards are from the towed Flak also by Esci, the tank was from a pen barrel with plastic strip and the chassis frame was built-up from .5 mil square-section .

Another Matchbox this time the Pz.Kfw III, this is done as a late war survivor with a tank-hunting crew on board. They are mostly from the Fujimi and Nitto infantry sets with one figure from the Hasegawa set. Jerry-can rack was added.

The Panzer IV was the workhorse of the German armed forces in World War two, and while this is the Esci mid-war version, I've given it a late war 'ambush' camouflage scheme.

These are all from the days when I thought a quick (damp-) dry-brush was all that was needed and looking at them now I can spot all sorts of things I would do differently, but there are only so many days in a lifetime!!

O is for Olá

Olá is an Ice Cream brand in Europe, who were (are?) part of or a subsidiary of Walls in the UK. Along with Tito, Kellogg's and others they issued a variety of premiums in the late 60's/early 70's including Rosenheim & Lippmann stuff and other products. Some of their give-aways were however unique to themselves.

Among which are these animals, not quite in scale with each other but all roughly 20mm. This is almost certainly not all the poses and they are all marked 'OLA' somewhere on their body.

These are among the hardest to find of all the small scale premiums (although eBay France and a cheque-book would probably offer up a reasonable sample in a week or two!), they are the small range of Tin-Tin figurines from the early 1970's, these are about as small and realistic as premiums come, being 30mm tall and very naturalistic.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

N is also for Noel

Last post before we go away for a few days (should be back posting by next Monday), these are Christmas cake decorations, and - again - I have a whole load somewhere in the box marked 'Unknown, Cake Decs, Christmas', which is full to bursting, simply because I don't know a single manufacturer of plaster cake ornaments (Chalkware), and even if I did, there is little information and no catalogues to find. Although there must be 'trade' paperwork somewhere? I have managed to track down some Culpitts still in the bag, but these aren't they!

Hopefully somebody somewhere is working on a reference work for these...if not someone needs to!! I have a real soft spot for plaster figurines, the 'Snow Baby' should be white, but has soaked up molasses from the cake mix. This is the problem with plaster production, so many of them have discoloured or softened and crumbled over the years, while others have Royal Icing on, so hard, removing it is like trying to chip marble!

Wherever you are this Christmas, whatever you're doing, whoever you're with -

Have a good one. (And don't let the boss work you too hard!)

N is for Nativity

I have lots of non-toy soldier related figures in my collection, among which is a large number of religious/Christmas themed figures. Most are still unpacked and will have to wait until next year, however I have picked up a few in the last two years which are accessible, and are presented here as my attempt at a seasonal post!

This set is complete - as far as I can tell - having all the elements, Mary, Joseph, the little baby Jesus, 3 kings an Angel and a Shepard and the donkey (Mk 1, son of god, transportation, for the use of). This set is probably Hong Kong, but may well be Italian.

Definitely Hong Kong, I have the complete set in a box somewhere, with a little simplified stable, the box is green with gold scroll-work and the usual 'Made in Hong Kong', but hints at being Blue Box.

This little putti is probably from a larger scale set, in the larger scales there are loads of Nativity sets, Marx produced a fine set in the US, and the Marx subsidiary in Germany produced an even bigger set of Biblical figures in the style of the US Presidents. In Italy companies like Fontanini have produced a vast number of sets over the years in many sizes for the non-toy soldier market.

Monday, December 22, 2008

M is also for MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!

This is our Christmas Tree, which was dressed by the lovely Mariya, and is offered-up as our Merry Christmas to all who visit this blog. I come from a family where the tradition has always been to dress the tree on Christmas Eve and take it down on 12th Night (6th Jan), however Mariya is Bulgarian and there they put-up the Thursday before Christmas, so I get to put it up earlier!!!! Bargain.

One of the other things I collect is old glass baubles, and below are a couple from the 'Gay' tree, we haven't put up the big tree, so only the Pinks get to come out this year!

The best Glass decorations come from Poland, Czechoslovakia and a small region of Germany, and we still have some original Polish ones from before the war (WWII) which my mother's family brought back from India in the late 1940's after my Grandfather relinquished command of the Indian Navy to his successor. The above is one of them, the one below was found in a box of mostly broken ones at a car-boot sale about two years ago.

Anyway, wishing you all the very best for the festive period, and may you have good fortune and much happiness in the coming year. If anyone would like to see something I haven't covered yet, do please ask, and if I've got it I'll post it.

M is also for "Miniatures Miliataires"

This rather nice set came to me via Harfields (link above) and is a set of the three commonest versions of Starlux modern French Infantry (I say 'modern' - Post War is probably the better term now!), being Helmeted, Para-beret bedecked and sporting the Kepi of the French Foreign Legion.

I suspect that in the 1950's or early 60's when this set was issued it would have caused a bit of a disappointment, containing more air than product! Now of course, it is a fine example of early French small-scale production, these being the 25mm variant of figures produced in 25, 30, 50 and 54mm over the years. It also contains three hard to get (in good condition) support weapons and a complete example of the man running with bayonet, a pose who - like his Marx ACW brethren - is always damaged!

[Note; I have given these the search 'label' of "Nitrocellulose/Acetone"; However like LEGO and others, Starlux used various plastics including Phenolics, so this search term will cover all those that aren't polystyrene or polyethylene, which will continue to be found under "Plastic"] - Tags changed 2012, now listed under both!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

M is still for Motorcycles

These next three are all by or connected to Eidai also marketed as Grip, all are also German army, WWII.

This first shot is of the first version motorcycle and side-car, the nearest is strait from the box, the second is after a bit of a clean-up, extra tyre and a new head, the third has been given the head treatment and will be left without side-car...if it's ever finished!

This is the second version by the same company, it comes with the MG, and a proper helmet on the rider, but he still has semi-flat arms and the spare-tyre has a mudguard?

Finally - This is a cardboard flat I made by cutting the - in scale - artwork off the side of the box the above came in.

M is for More Motorcycles

These are the early LEGO people, there is a motorcycle and side-car I haven't tracked down yet and two bicyclists I will save for another day, along with a small range of HO gauge vehicles.

My brother - who knows a thing or two about them - thinks the two in the middle of the top row (and the brown one) could pass for a DKW so below is my started attempt to convert one into a German WWII dispatch rider, by adding the torso of a Hasegawa artilleryman, handlebars and arms will follow one day...?

The next one shows two die-cast game playing pieces from old board-games, both are 'flats'.

The one in the foreground is quite common [2018 - Monopoly, post war sets] and comes in various colours with a Bulldozer, Airship and other means of transport, the rear one is less common. They probably date from the early 60's as prior to that, this type of playing piece was usually lead yet by the mid 70's most game's were using plastic for everything.

I'm pretty sure this little chap is very early Viking, they also produced little strips of break-off figures for railway layouts and such like. Size wise he is totally compatible with the LEGO and manufacturers like Roco and EKO.

M is also for Military Motorcycles

There are so many motorcycles it was hard to know where to start, so you're getting a few military ones first!

This is the Kettenkrad - not really a motorcycle! Rather a small tracked vehicle with handlebars. I think this is by Fujimi or Nitto (now the same company) but I can't remember. The Airfix para was painted by me in about 1980, and was always the last man standing in my Pontoon Bridge river crossing assaults! Thinking the older guys cut the bases off (with no evidence), I cut his off, which is why he ended up ankle deep in mud - if he wasn't he'd come off the stand!!

The Matchbox Motorcycle and side-car combination, built strait from the box (it was the only thing worth having from the box!) in it's three colours. I can't think of a single kit for which the two/three colour thing actually worked, but I guess if you were 10 and you 'planes wings were a different colour from the body you wouldn't be too bothered?

Roco-Minitanks little DR rider, you got two to a pack, this was painted when I was about 10, then repainted when I was about 13, I was more interested in my ACW!!

The US Harley is from Fujimi and I lost the windscreen so had to make a new one, this was only made a few years ago, and it's surprising how awful the painting looks in the harsh light of a digital camera.

M is still for Merit

This set also dates from the early days of Merit, although this one is in a later box. minimum clip-together construction leads to a charming little toy.

Wheels on the underside allowed for movement and a draw-string provided a link to the motive power; Junior!

Five pairs of animals were all Noah saved in the Merit universe! with three sharing identity with the previously covered circus set, there are however some differences suggesting a separate production line for each set.

Circus elephant on the left, Noah elephant on the right, note the repositioning of the trunk, this is found on all examples. The other difference is slightly more subtle, but a quick investigation of the underside shows the circus version of all three animals has the mould join-line in a different place, so they were new/different moulds.

Colours so far identified for both the sets. I must thank Mecator Trading for the two boxed sets presented here and in the previous post. They can be found here;


M is for Merit

This is one of Merit's less well known sets, and is one of the few things I remember having as a kid. The Traction-engine has a push-and-go 'motor' using kinetic (or stored/fly-wheel?) energy to keep going after junior has let go, and each wagon has an animal. The animals are the same as the animals in the Merit Noah's Ark (with certain provisos; see next post!). Colours varied and the engine is approximately 1:48th scale

As with anything in the '50's and 60's, once the guys in Hong Kong got their hands on one for five minutes and fired-up their injection moulders there were more to choose from! The larger one has copies of the Crescent/Kelloggs circus range in 22/25mm, while the smaller set is a copy of a copy with the pulling horse being based on an Elastolin or Starlux medieval horse, and the cage-wagon being the one not copied by the other firm, but the card is a direct copy!

M is for Manurba

Manfred Urban was a German Company, producing cheap plastic toys at the time Germany was going through it's 'Hong Kong' moment, they produced the whole gamut; 54mm toy soldiers, figural pencil sharpeners, premiums for confectionery companies etc...

There is a forth tank, a Russian one, probably a T54/55 and the various chassis were also used for some space vehicles. The US tanks are about 1:72. the Panther is small next to the Airfix ready-made, The track unit on a space tank marked 'Russian tank' is also on the small side for a 'T' series so both about 1:87th a popular 'Euro size'!

All the military vehicle range were issued in a dark green, olive green (and most shades in between!) and also silver. Sometimes they are marketed under the Dom trade mark, while in the UK they appeared in Tallon branding as a 'pocket money' or rack-toy. Sometimes wheels/tyres are pale grey or charcoal rather than black.

The large scale (approximately 1:72) truck is - I think - based on the post war Jupiter used by the Budeswher, the little trucks ('N' gauge) which had a range of different rears/loads were more fictional.

This is a classic matchstick-firing gun mounted on something resembling a Mercedes truck, with a simple pull-back action it would keep a young you amused for minutes until the polystyrene gave, broke or came apart somewhere!

Other items which with the exception of the 'trench mortar' (rear right) are Manurba, the other may be; I've been told by a German collector that he thinks it is and it's certainly the sort of thing they would make for gift bags or some such. The Jeep and trailer are a bit on the big side for war gaming, the little gun (rear left) also fires matchsticks

Friday, December 19, 2008

M is for M8/Greyhound

The M8 Armoured car (Greyhound in British service) is another vehicle I have a soft spot for and this is one of my more recent kits, I built this about ten years ago (Yeh? At my age it seems like the other week!!) after seeing it at a show and 'having to have it'! It's a metal kit, I haven't kept a note of the manufacturer but it's a good quality kit of about 12 pieces.

The trailer is from the old Airfix Half-track kit and we were still using them in Berlin Brigade in the 1980's. The double-sided board (unfortunately not clear in the photographs) is two map-board/black-boards stuck back to back, which I cut from a Verlinden advert in Military Modelling...Well if they won't produce the stuff in 1:72?

I think I ended up hand-painting the Allied Stars as there was no surface smooth enough to take transfers, and some of the small transfers I did use have 'blown' and need re-doing. A dry-brush and some ancillary kit finished it off.

I used an aircraft mascot to give it a bit of an identity and an old Atlantic cowboy hat was hung on the turret. The figure is from the Esci Iwo Jima vignette, for years the closest you could get to 'multipose' in brail-scale