About Me

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No Fixed Abode, Home Counties, United Kingdom
I’m a 58-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”. 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, January 26, 2009

Frivolous Barack?

Barack Obama's first few days in office have been accompanied by some snide articles or radio pieces about the number of parties he attended after his inauguration, his trip round Air Force One and so on.

Well no one can seriously deny him the right to attend the parties held in HIS honour, by the people who not only funded his victory, but who will be needed to support, lobby for and - maybe - fund his policies.

Likewise, If I was reminded by one of my staffers that I had a big sky-blue Boeing 747 with built-in bath, bed, 'phones and Office, I'd want to take a look! Does this merit, not just the column inches it's received, but the tone?

No it's envy, pure and simple. Give the guy a chance, when you start a new job, you get a week or so to find your feet and sus things out, it just so happens he found his feet walking round a 'planes carpet!

F is for Frozen Landscape

These shots were taken round the garden during the recent cold snap, we woke up one morning to find that freezing fog in the night had turned the universe (or our particular corner of it) as white as if it had been sprayed.

The wonderful Cedar of Lebanon, the photograph doesn't do justice to the majesty of it all dressed in white, with the first tips of Crocus and Daffodil poking up under the canopy. We have a real problem with squirrels digging them up so I planted some new ones the other day round one end of the bench.

The Holly down the main drive, it had been given a halo of ice on every leaf. Pruning and cutting back in this sort of weather has to take a bit of a back-seat, as you can't damage or kill the most hardy of shrubs without meaning to, although we did take out 80% of the leaf and 50% of the wood from a Laurel the other day, and gave two others a bit of a kicking!

Winter blossom with a frosting of Ice, the Roses looked really lovely with each spine or thorn having its own icy overcoat.

V is for Vero

This is one of several examples of Model Railway stuff I have from behind the Iron Curtain, Vero seem to have been an East German concern, and while I first thought it would be a copy of Wiad or Faller or somebody like them, it seemed to be a quite unique design when I got it home. Dual language instructions in German and Russian were the pointers to it being from the 'wrong' side of the wire. Internal blackout sheet for electric lighting, this follows the practice of Kibri, Faller and co. in the West, although without all the curtains, screens and blinds that come on a separate sheet, for daytime displays. Majority of parts laid out, the three little paper bags contain two types of scatter material and all the small parts. The green 'propeller shaft' bottom left, is the sprue. Loosely assembled, in total contrast to most of the western manufacturers; there are no locating channels, stud-and-holes or anything, so the modeller would have to assemble the whole building 'by eye'. However there is the same attempt at a self-coloured kit we had over here - Airfix being the notable exception!

V is for Vemo

One of many European (mostly undocumented) HO/OO railway accessory manufacturers from the 50's before the likes of Busch/Noch/Preiser/Vollmer and Faller came to dominate the scenics market.

The parts laid out prior to assembly, this is a typical farm wagon from before the 1930's through to the 70's or later, and for an earlier period, the wheels could be replaced with spoked wooden ones. Likewise for a military unit the horse team could be replaced with a pair or a team of four.

It has a clip-together capacity, although for war-gaming or a diorama you'd want to glue it. I'm assuming it's a German firm, as it was bought in Herne at PB toys big show, however it could just as easily be Austrian or Swiss? Perhaps a European collector can throw more light on it?

Side-on view, the driver is a bit wooden and the horse doesn't look as if it has been bred for pulling! Then there is the 'Balloon' tyre question!!!! But for an early plastic kit, it's got real charm.

PS - No, I have no idea why everything's gone electric blue, when I go into the formating and change it back to pale blue, it says 'OK' and stays resolutely loud! [A fortnight later and it changes back all by itself!!]

U is for Ulrich von Hutten

There is very little to add to these images, the art of the tin-flat artist/sculptor at its very finest.

Depicting the German Ulrich von Hutten (1488 to 1523), the Lutheran Reformer and critic of the Roman Catholic Church, these are marked Plassenburg 1955; A large Schloss in Kulmbach, Bavaria which has a military museum of some worth.

The reverse of the figures, they are 35mm and as to which figure is whom? Your guess is as good as mine. One day I hope to paint these, but whenever I see the efforts of the real pro's at the BMSS show in London, I seem to put back the start date by another year or two!!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

'Civil' War

I was going to write about Army recruitment tonight as they are advertising on TV again, however we had today the news that B.Liar/Brown Trousers 'Consultative Group on the Past' [In Northern Ireland] is likely to recommend that all families affected by a death in/as a result of the troubles should receive a compensatory payment of around 12,000 pounds...

When I first heard the headline, I thought WTF! However as the news story unfolded in more depth, I could see the vague logic in it, I was then worried that it would only apply to the residents of Ulster, but it seems that the family's of British soldiers and foreign nationals (like three members of a Miami Show-band ?) will also get a payment.

I guess the thinking is that if a 'Known Player' was killed by the other side, without having ever been successfully prosecuted, his family aught to be entitled to the money, however all those who's 'Player' died after he was legally implicated in militancy (whether Catholic or Protestant) would then feel aggrieved.

Another argument is that it makes it look like crime pays, so do you pay more to the Army and Police families? That is no different - in terms of fairness - from not paying some at all, and presumably the bean-counters have worked out that in the long run it will save some money down the line; the idea being that once everyone has had the money they will all be more likely to come forward with information on unsolved crimes, missing persons etc...

However - I believe - a similar approach was not that successful in South Africa, where those who agreed to co-operate only served to implicate those who chose not to admit their roles, thereby requiring the lengthy, costly investigations and trials that they were trying to avoid in the first place! Note that the 'Bloody Sunday' inquiry has so far cost over £200million - presumably they're burning the money to keep the courtroom warm!

In balance I think this is a poor compromise, but what else could they have come up with, the aim in all these situations (Bosnia, The Basque-separatist region of Spain, SA, Cambodia, Rwanda et al...) is to normalise the citizenry without alienating one or other small group. Ultimately - once you have decided to make payments, you HAVE to pay everybody and you HAVE to pay them the same amount?

And lets face it at £12,000 (less than a years wages for all but the youngest/least skilled of the workforce), this money's no more than a token gesture and is hardly going to change lives.

I was lucky enough not to serve in NI, but friends did, I suspect they would have a hard time accepting this suggestion as readily as me?

The Best Winter Job!

This was my bonfire about three weeks ago, it had been burning for about two weeks and would go on to burn for 5 weeks (and half a day!) in total! We compost a lot here but this winter there was a lot of annual leaf fall, and a lot of 'catch-up' clearance to do.

Once you have got a good centre of hot coals, you can pile wet leaves on the fire for ever if you have them! I used the old rotting stuff left in piles by the previous gardener to put a damp, muddy 'cap' on the fire over Christmas, and even though I thought it had gone out at one point and I saw no wisps of smoke for several days, through the first of the recent cold snaps, it burst back into life when the wind picked up.

At one point the fire heap was taller than me and 12-foot across at the base, after Christmas, barrow after barrow of raking from the beds and under the trees went on the fire, some days as many as 15 loads. There is a lot of mud and grit in this stuff and you end up with a quite heavy aggregate, which is full of orangey or pinkish stuff that is basically fired earth, this holds the ash together and stops in blowing away, some 20 barrow-loads of this sandy ash will go on the vegetable patch before it's dug over (a job already started)

This Frog was rescued from the fire twice in recent weeks, I'm quite sure he appreciated the fact that for days it was giving of a lot of warmth while doing very little, but from time to time it would flare-up and I only hope he/she didn't get caught out...

Already piling stuff up for another fire as soon as we get a south-westerly, which will take the smoke out over the fields. Yes, I know we had Northerlies during the cold snaps, but the village school had broken-up for the Christmas Holidays and the Church is infrequently used in turn with several others, so annoyance was minimal.

U is for Unknown Military - Pre 1900

This is another lot of unknowns, mostly Knights and Pirates, with a couple of Napoleonic subjects and a nice pair of Samurai. An Airfix Guardsman is used as a height/size indicator.

The first (top left) should be French, he certainly has a lot in common with plenty of French plastics but may only be a Hong Kong copy? To the right of him is a rubber figure which for some reason; I have a hunch is Spanish. Beneath him are two Samurai, I suspect these are Kinder, although they aren't in any of the Kinder catalogues, Kinder issue some items unique to specific countries [They are not from the MB Games 'Shogun' game]. Finally a Napoleonic officer who will not look out of place next to some of Italeri or Zvezda's latest 'tall' production.

I'm told these are from Italy, and the horses do display a passing resemblance to the Res Plastics horses supplied in two parts to kinder in recent years, but any idea on the maker? 15th November 2017 - PRB, after Manurba, two sizes, both now together in  their own post.

These were issued in 54mm by an Atlantic offshoot (Gigi? the one with a puppy and laurel wreath logo and/or Heller; see below) in two sets of 10 poses, showing Italian, Neapolitan and other states 19th/20th C ceremonial uniforms. In 30mm you only find the three poses although I have some orange ones somewhere - the colours of the Italian flag!. [The others have turned up, they aren't orange! (I think the orange ones were in the sample with these, which were split with the finder, he had one of each pose including the orange one's) they're yellow and they are closer to 25mm AND are three of the other poses! the 54mm sets were issued by Heller as a paint-your-own set with some phials of paint and a brush]

More Italians? The top three seem to be the ends of sweet tubes, or lolly-pop stick covers? I feel the sculpting is quite Italian in execution [they are similar to Bonito tube tops]? The guy on the left is - I suspect - a Hong Kong Christmas cracker toy, but quite fun, while the one on the right is obviously from a board-game, but which one? I can't find him on Boardgamegeek (a link is to the right somewhere). [Ron Chiasson did find him on BBG; He's a pirate from the board game 'Skull and Crossbones, by Paul Lamond Games, thanks Ron]

This is the complete strip 'F', after the figures have been separated, there is also a strip 'A', not sure if there were others. The 'A' strip includes a cartoon'ish captain similar to the one on the left in the previous group above, so they may be from a kids TV cartoon? I'm feel they were issued in UK breakfast cereal, but no one knows which? Equally they could be game playing pieces as they come in the four primary colours of red, green, blue and yellow.

Friday, January 23, 2009

P is for the Planet's Bankrupt, Great!

Did anyone else catch 'This Week' tonight? They had a piece on the new bank saving package with Will Hutton, it was quite riveting, the size of the problem is almost unbelievable, like giving serious thought to comprehension of the vastness of the universe.

I will try to explain...The 'bad debt' owed (owned) by the UK's banks is greater than the national GDP (Gross Domestic Product), I think we had all got that, but it is 550% bigger! Assuming that banking started to run - from tomorrow - on an even keel, indefinitely, it would take 550 years at today's prices to pay it off.

Or that's how I understand it. Now the HOPE (and it's our politicians and bankers who have their fingers crossed and are doing the hoping!) is that some of the debt will 'come good' [reducing the bill a bit], that the economy will pick up [further reducing the total] AND that earnings will eventually rise again, allowing the government to raise tax and pay off the bill a bit quicker, AND perhaps loose some of the debt by hiding it in future credit booms and, and, and....

Now, that was also the hope when we bailed out the banks in October/November, and the fact that we had to bail them out again this week would suggest to any idiot that it didn't work last time...WELL, there's no guarantee it'll work this time either.

The reason no one can say it will work, or come up with a new plan that might 'work' better, is because while we know roughly how big this hole in our bit of the global economy is, none of the long-snouted money-men or pocket lining politico's who got us in this mess will actually put a value on the debt in pounds-shillings-&-pence. Until they do, we can't buy it in (to the bank of England...the Taxpayer), nor can we nationalise the banks (purchaser being...the Taxpayer), all we can do is keep throwing (Taxpayers) money at it.

We have so far thrown the equivalent of three-and-a-half Trillion quid at 'the (unpriced) problem'. This week the people of Iceland - who's government have been throwing relatively similar amounts at their 'problem', decided to throw rotten fish and yoghurt at the parliament building! But one has to ask what a country with a population smaller than that of Coventry was doing getting into international banking in the first place? likewise the Republic of Ireland, who's government ministers - so far - have escaped an avalanche of rancid Kerry Gold, only a matter of time now the citizens of Iceland have spoken with such erudition!!

The real 'scary thing' is that these conversations, these desperate money drains, these hopes are being held not just in America, Britain, Ireland and Iceland, but in nearly every nation in the developed world, while the second world starts to suffer, as the three-mile long factories they built to produce the mountains of battery-operated plastic shit we bought with that credit, suddenly find we're not buying it any more.

So, Trailer-park Bob has, by failing to pay for his speedboat, bankrupted the entire planet, not that he's bothered, his clinically obese wife has triple cancer and no access to medical aid of any use, nor money for the drugs suggested by the Medicaid people and he's more worried about who's going to feed the five kids! [Yes, I watched Panorama as well!]

The final irony is not that cynics like me predicted this for decades, but rather that it was all invented/paper/electronic/future money based on hopes, gambles and predictions, it had no gold to back it up and really never existed, however, if the city could 'find its nerve' it would all be back there tomorrow, like it had never been not spent on interest free-for-twelve-months, buy-one-and-get-one-free, unsecured handouts.

To find their nerve, the guys in the city need to know the value of the problem to the nearest hundred million, but because they have lost their nerve, they won't give it a value!

Hold on, I think I hear Yossarian Hughs at the door...

No, it was an old man muttering about rubber boats...Can I humbly suggest that as bin-men do a more useful job than bankers even when the economy is doing well, and - as far as I know - haven't lost their nerve, that we start paying bankers £7.50 per hour and give the bin-men a £250,000 bonus in April.

It would also do more to kick-start the economy than throwing future Taxpayers money (Ultimately, however you slice it, the citizenry will pay to maintain the luxury the fat cats currently enjoy) down a bottomless pit, at least the bin-men will spend it on consumer goods rather than a third flat in Knightsbridge.

If you think this is an arrogant rant, consider that I've just shown I know as much about the problem as the retards in the 'Square mile' or their House of Commons School-chums! Because they don't 'know' anything for sure, all they 'think' is; it's probably never been this bad before, whatever it is, EVER!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

U is for more Unknown Military subjects

Another selection of hopefully more identifiable figures, most of these are more recent/current Hong Kong/China production in the larger scales.

These turn up all the time at the moment, 40mm'ish they come in Temperate, Arid and Urban camouflage fatigues with a separate set of Naval mouldings. Numbered under the base like Soma figures, I have a load somewhere and when I find them will try to produce a definitive list, or - at least - a numerical list with gaps, but it would be nice to know what the list is actually of! [Found the rest, all in urban camo. so will be able to produce a better pose list, but not show the other schemes. It struck me also, there is a forth scheme, the guy on the top-left looks more like an Australian soldier mid-1980's?]

Similar to the previous, but a bit older, softer vinyl or silicone rubber (?) and clearly Aircraft-carrier deck-support, the two that have bled-out under the camera are in fact different shades of pale blue. Any ideas? [The rest have turned up, another pose in a yellow deck-jacket with both arms up]

Clockwise from top left; the first three are 30mm vinyl, next to them are some hard polystyrene Germans in 40mm, I have a suspicion they may be New Ray, they aren't the same as the New Ray modern stuff, but I think they did a King Tiger at one point, did they? Did these come with it? [They are New Ray and were also marketed in Toy Mark packaging] Then a little guy similar to the Ideal clone in the previous post, he looks like maybe he accompanied a cheap truck model, or is a game playing piece? Finally 4 figures best linked with those Philippine tourist figures, mostly in national or theatrical dress, and usually in factory painted Ceramic or polystyrene. These are Colonial/WWI types. [Several New Zealanders have contacted me now with further information on these figures, they were produced in three colours, with two more poses, in a header-carded (bag?) set by the National Army Museum, a full follow-up article will be forthcoming ASAP, with acknowledgements, thanks]

A very odd group of base-less modern hard plastic (nylon/rayon?) figures, one with a German WWII helmet, one a mid-century GI, the other a US Cold War Warrior!!!!

The GI (with the two stick grenades - "See yuse! Jimmeh! Can yuse daan'ce like this!") seems to have the legs of the German exiting the Matchbox half-tracked Sd.Kfz 251, while the actual German also has a Matchbox connection from the waist-up, the third figure is standing around quietly being actually quite a good moulding! - 35mm the three.

U is for Unknown Military subjects

So, on to proper soldiers! I'll start with some sailors!

These are almost certainly Hong Kong manufacture, they came as a group of about 20, only the two poses, and before you ask; most have been given away or used as swaps. My feeling though is they must have gone with a larger vessel or play-set, with the hope that brings, of a 'Name'. [Beginning to think they might be policemen not sailors?]

They are not Delux Reading, nor are they from the Remco/Thomas sets, anyone know where they did come from?

These are modern, marked "CHINA" and are very soft PVC vinyl, a really nice set of US paratroops, including one with a Mohican's Hair-do! All this new production comes with some sort of play-set or carded vehicle, can anyone put a name to these?

This chap is quite unusual, when I first saw him sculling around in the bottom of a bag of mixed crap I thought 'Aurora 1:48 scale tank', but upon closer inspection began to think WWI Aircraft kit? He is a British or US WWI officer with pistol and puttees (or high riding boots?), in an 'Aurora' type pale-khaki coloured plastic, but the base - under the paint - is a perfectly bevel-edged clear polystyrene square. [He is in fact the Japanese Officer from the Aurora 1:48 scale Chi-Ha medium tank kit, lesson - always go with your first impression/gut instinct!]

A right mixed bag this lot - Top left is a factory painted US tank commander, probably from a battery operated toy, but which one? there were hundreds! Next to him is a soft plastic generic military figure, similar to the first figures Airfix produced, but I suspect Soviet Russia or an early Japanese toy. Below them to the left - is another factory painted crewman from a toy vehicle - looks like a gunner [he is a gunner - unpainted version now Here], and next to him is the same figure as made by Ideal, however they were red or Blue, with two little release-pin marks in the base, this fella is khaki and has a flat base, still - I'm guessing - another US manufacturer? [Ideal are linked with Auburn and Lido...and Galoob Micromachines!!]

On the right are 4 vinyl/hard silicone caricatures of London types, clearly aimed at the tourist market, but what/why/when. They could be pre-production samples of key-rings? [Painted one with attached key-ring/fob confirms suspicion]

U is for Unknown Animals - Domestic

More 'Unknowns', this time domestic animals, I have a host of these and most are generic Hong Kong things no one will ever put a name to, the only hope is getting the undamaged carded or bagged set they originally came with. However some are of more interest, or poses the likelihood of having a 'named' history, these are some of they! [Yes, I know it should be 'them', but I served in the Glosters, not the City of London Rifles!!]

Top left bears a resemblance to both the Hornby 'O' gauge and Tri-ang/Hornby 'OO' gauge Horse-box horse, but is neither, and in size is smaller than one, bigger than the other, so; another model railway manufacturer? Top right is a copy of the Matchbox horse from the Horse-boxes of the 70's (Both 1-75 and Superkings), but made out of a more rigid nylon type plastic, it is very similar to some stuff carried by Lidl a few years ago which I think originated with Simba Toys?

The other two are hard Polystyrene plastic, maybe one of them is Plasticville or something??

I'm guessing these are from Christmas Crackers or some form of food premium? Either way it would be nice to put a title to them...

These will I hope attract the attention of bigger scale enthusiasts, as, while they are quite good for HO/OO adult sheep, I think they are in fact lambs for larger scale figures, and - more specifically - hope at least one of them will be recognised as Bo Peep's from the Gem/Culpitts range. Indeed if the other is Mary's from the same range, so much the better, but which is which? either?...neither!! [The one on the left is NOT the Airfix one]

These are much earlier, the lower one is blow-moulded celluloid and so fragile (not to mention - a fire risk!) I keep him (no udders!) in his own little wooded box! I think maybe a tourist type vignette? The Upper two bulls are in a relatively unique type of plastic, but there are hundreds of plastics around and most were tried on/for toys in the late 1950's and 1960's. The brown one has an attempt at a two colour run, and I'm guessing- again - that the die-cast guys may readily identify them as wagon/Horse-box passengers.

U is for more Unknown Flats

Some more flats for you to look at, some from the 'Unknown Military - Foot' box and some from the 'Unknown Civilian, Farm & Animals' box. Some will be premiums of some kind, one I know but am confused!!!

First - because I got the photo's loaded in reverse - is the odds and ends with an Airfix Marine for scale, the one on the far left is a favourite as he has more than a passing resemblance to a Gurkha Bugler. The second might be Spanish? [Scratch that, I've just noticed the HK running down his leg in the enlargement (click on the photo.) so he's a Christmas Cracker toy at a guess!] Third is I think recent and the last could be Spanish again or Portuguese, also; I think that's factory paint?

The top row here were sold to me as Built-Rite, however the quality of the lower sample (who also have larger bases) would suggest that they are the originals, so any ideas which is which and who copied them? The standard and plastic type of the figures on the top row, while poorer than the lower sample, is better/different from that which you would expect from Hong Kong?

I hope these will be recognised by an American reader/collector, they are bigger than most European stuff and have the colours (Colors!) of a lot of the dime-store farm stuff in fully-round.

Again the top row are a different sample, with thinner lozenged bases, while the lower group have big oblong ones. This time however the quality of sculp is the same.

I'd really love to discover that these are Winterhilfswerk (WHW) figures! If not from a National Issue then one of the Gau, however I fear they are just post war premiums, but in a pale blue (the photograph doesn't do them justice and has bleached them out), anyone know where from? When? They are not in Peter Konrad's book.

Finally, there are two sets of six of these faux-ivory, ink-stained vessels, with vacuum-formed bases, I think maybe a board game Circa 1950/55, but others have said - without knowing which/when - breakfast cereal? They could just as easily be decorative, or some sort of card-game counter/marker? [They might be place-setting card-holders?]

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

H is for Hail to the Chief

Presentation flag - 502rd Infantry - Clay Alley, Berlin Brigade

So, Barack Obama is sworn in as the new President of the United States of America, He is - in my view - the last hope for the human race. A bit dramatic? It is my belief that if we don't sort out the despotic leadership of the Second and Third Worlds, clear-up the planet, cease our profligate ways in the First World and get a serious grip of the bankers and wankers who are really running the whole show within the next eight years, it will be to late to bother.

We have already pushed back all our recycling and emission targets, oil replacement technology seems to be a case of two steps forward and three back, and every time I buy something the layers of packaging have multiplied and increased in thickness, Free-market capitalism was bankrupted sometime in the autumn and we're letting them look for a 'New Capitalism' while taking their bonuses - if they've still got a job that is!!!!

So good luck Mr. president, you need it, you have a lot of your own hype to live up to, and we the people of this particular planet need you to live up to it.

U is for Unknown Flats

Well there were a shed-load of unknown trees in the last post, so we will stick with unknowns for a few days, looking first at Flats. If you think you can identify any, you can comment here or email me.

These are very similar to the standard European flat of the 1950's and 60's, but are near full-round rather than FLAT flats, if that makes sense. I suspect they may be early British cereal premiums, any ideas? 40mm, polystyrene hard plastic in a faux ivory colour, they may be Salvation army band, but I think they are more of a civilian concert orchestra type set-up, or part of a circus.

These are a good 20mm, semi-flat, soft green plastic with Airfix hunter for scale comparison. All four marching figures are slightly different and they seem to be Garibaldi types OR Spanish Civil War? I have another similar sized sample, but with two vignettes, one of which - I'm sure - is different, however - yes! you guessed it - I can't find them!! [Update - I found them, they are by the same company, but are Wild West, they contain several vignettes, and come both in the same green and in blue, I will therefore post them separately another day][Second update - both these and the wild west set are by Serjanboys, a Spanish 'sobre' manufacturer similar to Montaplex]

The real reason the Hunter was dug out; this set is again similar to European margarine or tobacco premiums, but are in white plastic, not cream/ivory, also they seem to be in a phenolic resin or Bakelite type material and came in a very large sample, suggesting old factory/out-painters/shop stock from here in the UK. A vague memory prompts the thought they were given away with biscuits in the early 70's. [Coke-Cola copies or reissues with thinner bases, a world-wide series of promotions, quite common, except a Springbok added to the South-African promotion...I'll come back to them one day]

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

T is for Trees

Clive over at the Hinton Hunter (link to right) covered the Merit trees the other day, so I thought I'd cover the originators and clones. Which is which is as often with early plastics, a moot point!

We start with the most likely candidate for original tree of this stacking clip-together design, the Faller fir tree. Faller started making papier-mache trees - I think - before the war, or very soon after, I don't know exactly when they first produced this plastic version (self seal bag on right) and it differs from the Marx/Merit design in having a separate base and trunk. I have a complete bag somewhere but like too many things it's lost in the heap and will have to be shown next time I do Trees or Faller!

The Marx set came in hard or soft plastic and was probably a copy of the Merit rather than vise-versa, manufactured in one of the Blue Box plants that seem to have produced most of the Miniature Masterpiece range. You would get a bag making six models in most of the larger play-sets.

Playcraft had most of their stuff made for them by Jouef, these trees however follow the Faller pattern and came in various colours, the Minitank trees again have the Faller Trunk arrangement but are soft plastic.

Some other firs, all but those in the second bag from the right on the bottom row follow the same design as the above. Best to click on the image to see the few notes attached to those I have a vague clue on.

Monday, January 19, 2009

T is for Thunderbird's are GO!

The best lumpy jerky stringed puppets ever! Hell the Americans loved it so much they let Hollywood screw it up with a lousy sequel/movie thing!

21st Century Toys, a company similar to Blue Box but working exclusively in the larger scales and with TV/Movie related stuff produced this, along with plastic models of T2, T3 and Lady Penelope's pink Rolls Royce. This is a bit tatty, but it still works!

This is the approximately 1:48th scale Tracy (Dick? ha Ha!) I neither know or care which, that lives for ever at a time, by himself in a space ship not much bigger than a long-wheelbase high-top Transit van! I hope he's got satellite TV!

These are the figures made for Kellogg's and Tom Smith by Crescent Toys. Lady P and one of the Tracy's are missing. The Tom Smith one's came in a set of 12 Christmas/Party crackers and were available for some time, and seem to have survived in larger numbers than the Kellogg's ones.

The only difference between them is that the base-plate on a three-block mould was changed for each contract. The markings are also inverted on one set, the above is a photograph of two Parker's - both facing the same way.

A few other bits and pieces I had in a tub of general space stuff, the top one is from a recent set of Carlton Toys, I think the Orange one is as well. The small T4 is a modern re-make of the old Dinky toys one, the two at the bottom are some sort of premium, issued about ten years ago to tie-in with some TV/Video/DVD/Satellite/Cable release/re-release/Digital remaster....Oh whatever!

The whole tie-in industry is - to plagiarise the immortal words of Andy Warhol - eating itself, it's got so hard to keep up with the endless issuing of regurgitated pap, wannabe classics, remastered shite, directors cuts and whatever that it's fruitless trying to keep up. Add 'Buy to Collect' or 'Adult Collectables' to the mix and you begin to see why the planet is in danger of being totally destroyed by the wants of needy people and the wish of the marketing men to serve those greed's!