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.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

W is for even more Wagons

Continuing with the 'theme de jour'...
These are nearly all marked 'Germany' or 'W.Germany' and are usually Manurba (Manfred Urban). The two upper ones are Hong Kong copies, I've only ever seen the HK ones with black wheels, but Manurba originals come with black or white. War-gamers and modellers only need to cut the horse off and add a new team. The Giraffe wagon is particularly sought after and harder to find. Other colours are white and dark blue, for some reason I absentmindedly duplicated the middle one? This is a copy of the other type of 'W.Germany'/Manurba wagon, I do have lots of these, mostly originals, but have lost the box (I saw it only the other day so it can't have gone far), the figures are actual 'Giant' figures, but neither the wagon or the packaging is, such is HK production! Most copies are of the one wagon, with the three pieces of luggage on the roof, although - again in the missing lot - they did produce copies of one or two others. The German ones run to about 12 variants including a Santa sleigh which is more sought after, my missing lot was the 'wagon display' at my old house, and it makes you wonder if you should only display duplicates, to ensure the collection is in one place and easy to find! These are probably late production/post 'Giant' Giant wagons, although I know if I unpacked them there would be faint traces of the 'G' and 'T' from Giant on the white Frontier Coach sets horses, inside the flank, and a faint Giant near the tail of the Blue card sets horses. Note also, that like the Guards I posted a while ago, one of the cards is overprinted with the W.H.Cornilius 'Success' trade mark. These could be Giant or immediate post Giant, the graphics shout Giant, and the contents are right, and given that these were bought in the UK, and that New York is not in the UK, there's no reason to expect 'Giant' to appear on our issues, although sometimes they do!! Also without removing them from the pack you don't know what the marking is in the underside of the wagons...Doh!

W is for Wagons by Kleeware!

The pictures can pretty much tell the story;

As well as these two kit sets, they also came singly (see below) and in fours, they were also used in plain packets as breakfast cereal and other premiums, both in the packs (cereal) and as mail-aways (boys comics).

Ox-drawn wagon, this holds its own against both the Airfix and Atlantic wagons, but predates them by some time.

The similarity between these very small scale and the 1:48/30mm kits by Life-Like/Revell are obvious in this photograph. Note also the difference in scale between the covered wagon and the coronation coach. The common colours are black and brown, which wouldn't register well against the chosen background, I have a whole covered wagon , so will make-up this blue one and scratch-build the missing mud-guard,

W is for yet more Wagons

Some of the odds and sods...

This is the stage-coach from JCT (Japan Toy Corporation?) and a covered wagon almost certainly from the same  (or a similar!) source. These are about 1:50, with 35mm figures, which means they don't get much bigger in small scale collecting, or much smaller in large scale collecting!

The Tudor Rose wagon against which the previous sets would seem to have been aimed. this was a particularly daft 'covered wagon' as it had one central axle! The horse appears without the locating holes for the wagon, I'm not sure what rode them, as the mounted Tudor Rose figures went on soft plastic versions of the horse used by early Airfix, Ajax, Archer, Bergan, Beton, Giant, Lido, early Riesler, T.Cohn/Superior et.al.

That's because it's a Hong Kong copy of the Thomas for Woolworth's/Quaker Sugar-Puffs mail-away wagon, the Tudor Rose wagon's have the same horses as their mounted figures! Likewise the un-pierced horses are from the same Thomas source.

Britains metal coronation coach for QEII, this was the cheapest, smallest version of several by this company.

Clockwise from top left, Life-Like circus wagon, these were also - I believe - supplied to Walthers (Terminal Hobby Shop) in the early 1960's? Prieser Circus living-quarter trailer as supplied to Aristo-craft. [The Life-Like wagon is also - I believe - Preiser] Two small wagons from Christmas crackers, Einco Indian Village wagon and horse, Del Prado wooden kit that came with the 'Build Your Own Castle' part work a couple of few years ago, and another mini-wagon from a Christmas cracker, of slightly different design/style to the other two.

Friday, February 27, 2009

W is for still more Wagons

Some more horse-drawn stuff from the archive;
These two are the same, but one (yellow) came from a Hobbyplast 'sobres' envelope, the other came from a Montaplex envelope, an identical green one has fallen from a BuM carton, proving that before they got into their current low-grade, poor quality production and knock-offs, they were clearing the old Montaplex factory stock. Various presentations of Preiser wagons, the 900 series were sold as kits, the 400 series were sold assembled and painted. The cattle-drawn wagon may well be Noch or Pola, or even Vollmer, as they have all used Preiser products to enhance their buildings or scenics, or just to improve their catalogues/ranges. This shows Hong Kong copies of Preiser wagons and another view of the Preiser/Noch (?) cattle-draw hay wagon. The hay wagon - less load, and the small wagon in the middle along with the one in the foreground are all issued by Prieser, most recently in the big sprued set 'rural workers', the HK piracy's are of equal quality, but marked 'Made in Hong Kong'. Finally - revenge of the headless coachman! One of the early separate/press-on horse wagons, from 'W.Germany' (probably Manurba). I will cover the rest of the Manurba/Manurba-type wagons later.

W is for more Wagons

Following on from the W&T post, and the realisation they copied the Britains Lilliput horse (itself a scale down of a hollow-cast 54mm horse, latter produced in plastic!), I thought it was time for some more wagons.

Here the Britains Lilliput are the green hay (Tumbrel) cart and blue dairy cart/milk float in the centre, the two - also metal - copies are probably someone like Morestone or Budgie, while the log-wagon is - I think - Benbros. The chariot is probably the French penny-toy make of 'SR' and the little Handsome-Cab at the front was probably from an early Christmas cracker.

The larger of these coronation coaches is by Hill / Johillco, the broken thread was originally threaded through the rings in the horses flanks as a rein arrangement. The whole thing is sort of 28/31mm or around the 1:48/1:56 mark. The smaller coach is totally unmarked and could be by any one of several dozen companies, as this coach has been mass produced in various scale/sizes for three coronations and a trillion tourists, not to mention one cancelled coronation, all in the period when lead/die-casting was the predominant technology! A lot of that production actually taking place in Hong Kong or Japan.

What can I add? Coach, check; Hong Kong, check; No. 505 in a probable range of one!...er that's it!

Ultra modern production, head for the pinky/mauve area of your local toy shop or Toys'r'us and you will find dozens of these fairy tale, Cinderella, pumpkin type things, trouble is they're always attached to a massive grate pile of heliotrope castle with blue towers! Still they turn up at car-boot sales a few years later, very cheap!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Spring is sprung!

Well, once the snows had passed (Bets we have another lot?...mid March?), and underneath were all sorts of pretty things...

A far better spread of Snowdrops than the other day, there seem to be three distinct types in the garden and I'll try to find out what they all are! There are big 'drops' that hang down, medium ones that may open in a day or two, and smaller traditional one's that have opened and are touched with little green flashes and edges. These are all the big 'Drops', I don't know if they open or hang, time will tell!

Off to one side of the same patch (under the twin Hornbeam's) is this little patch of bright yellow aconites, which are better in the flesh than the photo, and shine from the other side of the meadow. We had snow for nearly a week after the rest of the south, and even the bottom of the hill, but when it did melt, these were out in 24 hours.

Finally some Crocuses, these are a small 'Old English' breed, and have come out first, but that's first for the Ridgeway, down the valley in Chieveley or over the hills in Wantage, the commercial yellow and purple ones have been open for a few weeks already!!

Monday, February 23, 2009

W is for W&T (Wyatt and Tizard)

Classic small run production or 'after market' railway modellers accessories, W&T seem to have made a limited selection of horse-drawn farm implements and accessories, packaging hints at 1960's/early '70's and when I get my files down here I'll see if I have more on this company and a complete listing.

Boxes, substantial heavy card, but off -the-shelf with adhesive labels rather than custom made with full print graphics.

Contents and instruction sheet for the roller (model No.4), the instruction sheet covers 5 different kits, and points to their being 8 in total?

Parts for the Haycart (model No.6), click on the image to look at it in close-up, the detail is quite fine and these were nice castings, the horse is very good, having the look of a specific breed which I think Britains made in 54mm. [Correction; The horse IS a copy of the horse provided with the Britains Lilliput cart, in factory painted metal.]

Y is for Yachts

In collecting small-scale, I have always trawled up all sorts of other items, among which are these yachts, most from Hong Kong, being Christmas cracker novelties or pocket-money rack toys. The red one with the blue sails, top right is marked 'Made In West Germany' so could be Manurba or Jean (or any of their subsidiaries/partners; Big, Tallon et.al.). Top left has two receiving holes which may be for the deck of a motor boat - which I will cover another day. While the two at the front are also missing their sails, bottom right is marked 'England' and may be Tudor Rose or Kleeware? These are mostly sub-20mm in scale/size. A whole card of the Rado/Ri-Toys effort, not their finest hour! The sail is plug-in however so you could change them around for a bit of variety. Also Hong Kong production, sold in the UK by Culpitts as a a cake decoration, I think I'm right in saying this is a copy of an early corgi accessory, but the Corgi collection is still buried so don't quote me on this one, and don't take it as gospel! Close up of the two figures, the Corgi originals may have come with a motor boat rather than a sail boat?

Y is for York

A lot of the Hong Kong 'toy' production consisted of copies of Matchbox, Dinky and other European manufacturers core range die-cast toys, but in plastic. York Toy was one of them.

These are both copies of early Matchbox 1-75 series toys; the Road Roller and the Cement Mixer, the boxes are near enough the same size as the Matchbox originals but more colourful and less like an actual matchbox, dimension wise.

Close up of the road roller, these machines were made by many companies and the design was similar for most, this could be used for war-games, the figure is about 20mm, and diesel rollers were used by the engineers. I would never take this out of the pack for such a Philistine act, but from time to time this type of thing appears on eBay in large numbers as ex-shop stock (only recently a large box of the Blue Box versions went for £80-odd quid), and with a number of spares, you could indeed cut-up or paint a few.

Box end Illustrations suggest that scenic items and building bricks should also be out there and findable, with the York moniker, for the more general toy collector?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Z is for Zulus

And other African warriors. Not actually much covered outside metal war gaming figures. Most of the early British plastics producers had a set of 'African Warriors' and Esci produced a reasonable set I'll probably cover another day, but I thought I'd look at what we have vintage wise.

These are 15, 20 and 25mm figures by (from left to right) Stadden, Hinton Hunt (I think, there's a HH mark on the base and it's his style) and God knows, in fact who cares, stumpy little scaled down 28mm Ork!!

Two 40mm Hong Kong or possibly minor European maker and a HK copy of the Lone Star African warrior in 35mm.

Marx African exploration set, this is a late set in the 'Battleground' style box, with soft polythene parts. The contents of these sets vary as there were more poses than the bean counters would allow in a single set. Most of the accessories are standard, but the pile of boxes in the centre is unusual and may be unique to this set (Unlikely though, Marx would throw anything in anyset!!).

Kinder have also marketed some nice African/Zulu warriors in a swoppet style, produced by Res Plastic (RP) in 54mm. I have them somewhere and will post them one day, when I find them!!

Winter Wildlife

I've seen Earwigs in Autumn apples, but this was buried deep inside a pine-cone from the Cedar of Lebanon which lost a branch in the recent heavy snow. I was crushing the cones in my hand to break them down for the compost heap when low and behold, the twin pincer of an Earwig!

Ratty raiding the bird-table, when I rap on the window, he feigns fright, leaps of the platform, climbs down to this little step waits a few seconds and then - when death fails to become an immediate likelihood - climbs back up again! What with the fox, the poor birds are getting a raw deal from this table...

Not sure if this was happy being woken in the middle of winter, he/she...it? was hiding in the moss I've been clearing from the Tennis Court, I suspect a moth rather than a butterfly, just by the time of year, anybody recognise it?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Z is for Zizzle

Or is it? Carried in the UK by Vivid, marketed on behalf of Disney. The problem with a lot of this usually short-lived movie related stuff these days, is that by the time half-a-dozen marketing companies, have issued licences to several producers, who've passed them on to their subsidiaries in Kowloon it becomes very difficult to work out who makes what for whom. My A-Z is full of cross-references from two groups, European food premiums of the 1950/60's and modern tie-in production!

These figures - very much in the Galoob 'Action-Fleet' mould - came with two issues of model ships tying-in with the 'Pirates of the Caribbean' franchise. The second issue having two ships from the first issue with an additional Chinese Junk. The figures are around 28mm.

A figure on the deck to give some idea of the size relationship between the vessels and the characters.

The four vessels bobbing about on the briny bed-sheet!

Z is for Zang

One of the 'Holy Grails' of not just small scale collectors, but all toy soldier collectors. Before they went into plastic injection moulding, Zang experimented with European style composition, supplying Timpo with 40mm and 54mm figures to accompany their lead aeroplanes and slush-cast civilian vehicles in boxed sets.

The figure in question is a 30mm Highland Infantryman in Khaki dress with a red kilt, I have seen them with green kilts. Mine was broken across the ankles, and in order to glue him as invisibly as possible without using super-glue which leaves a tell-tale pale white 'scar', I bled liquid styrene glue into the open ends of the ankles and rifle, and then used a thinned-down household clear spirit-based glue (Bostic - I think) to hold the pieces together, which seems to have worked as it was several years ago and he's still in one piece!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Y is for Yolanda

I have few examples of this company, for two reasons, firstly they don't come up that often, second they produce mostly in the larger scales 60/100/150mm etc...

However, an interesting company that needs greater research, preferably from one of the Spanish collectors? The real reason for the interest is that their logo - Yolanda in a TV screen shaped frame - is to all intents and purposes the same as the logo's of Comansi and Novalinea. As the company is Spanish (believed to be based in Barcelona), the inference is that it was the TV/Movie merchandising arm of Novalinea, who were themselves the re-birth of Comansi?

Here we have a robot which I believe to be a character from MazingerZ (also known as TranzorZ), a Japanese kids TV cartoon in the Animé/Manga mould. Next to him is a DragonBallz character, they are both around 30mm.

Three of the four Teenage-Mutant-Ninja-Hero-Turtles, these are 25mm and with no name on the figures I haven't the faintest which one is missing!

Yolanda also made figurines for Barrio Sesamo (Sesame Street, large scale), Inspector Gadget (60mm) and The Phantom (150mm?), along with various 10cm Manga Figurines. These latter figures are all factory painted, I believe the smaller ones were 'collectables' in gum capsules or Sobres, or Kinder type chocolates. The Turtles were given away - in the UK - in TMNT Lucky-Bags, with a few generic boiled sweets/lollies and some sort of interactive paper shite such as a puzzle or sticker set and a few collectors cards.

Can any of our Spanish collecting brethren shine more light on them or their relationship with Comansi/Novalinea?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

W is for Woolbro

Woolbro were one of the few Hong Kong names holding their own against Giant, others being Hagemeyer/Haglon, Gordy, Imperial and Empress, though none were as big as Blue Box. I used to think they were - like Winfield - an 'in house' brand of Woolworths, but it's clear they sold to anyone who'd buy their products, and that they sourced product from all over the colony, including the Blue Box/Rado/Ri-Toys empire.

This contains the commonly found mini-trucks based on the old Lone*Star/Dinky post war Humber trucks, along with copies of Britains 54mm khaki Infantry.

This set has similar contents (but with the later less detailed figures on ovoid bases - click on both images to compare), divided into two compartments, so you could divide them up with you brother and have a fight (no, not a war-game, a fight over who's figures were who's!).

An under-scale Saladin armoured-car is the 'highlight' of this set, along with copies of Airfix first version 8th Army and German WWII Infantry. Deliberately made to look just like a Blue Box play-set, it's nice to know they were cutting each other up, as well as ripping-off the European manufacturers. Even more interesting when we look at the next photograph;

Both these contain figures/products from Blue Box or Ri-toys, I have bags identical to the one on the left but with the Ri-Toys tree symbol where the Woolbro logo is on this header, while an unmarked vac-formed tray like the one on the right, contains more of the Blue Box cowboys with a little fort. The figures on the left are multi-coloured versions of the - usually green - French Resistance Fighters originally by Blue-box in factory-painted pale-blue hard polystyrene. The 'planes came in all sorts of HK sets. [20 NP = Twenty 'New Pence' dating this set to 1969/70]

W is for World Dolls/World Dancers Part 1

Right, sorry for the delay, but personal stuff has kept me away for the last few days. Having learned to do the second part first in order that they run in sequence I should have done this the same night as the Commonwealth/Van Brode post, but hey, better late than never. Tonight's post concerns the World Dancers/World dolls known to those in the States from the adverts in comics which ran from the 50's through to the late 70's/early 80's? To Europeans from the margarine give-aways, and to the citizens of the UK from, er...I don't know what!!

The first to make an appearance were the 'Tanzerinnen' or; Female Dancers. A set of ten different figures given away as premiums with K's, Schipka and Voss (not Fri-Homa as stated on the US Comics Website [link to right], nor is there any evidence that they were among the sets manufactured by Siku), these figures (above) are not from those sets which tend to have different bases and greater detail, but have been separated from the US comic set to give an idea of the European sets. A further word on origin; While Siku did produce a lot of the premium flats in Germany in the 1950/60's, there were many other companies in Germany, France and the Low Countries producing these, selling the product, selling/leasing the moulds and the designs and copying each other's work. Moulds (both originals and copies) ended up in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Mexico and Brazil, Singapore and Macao/Macau. Not forgetting that the early plastic flat history includes the WHW winter/war relief sets, and running plastic through 'Nuremberg Flat' moulds!

They next turn up with the US comic 100 World Dolls set, with the addition of 20 new poses, missing from the above photograph are a clown and Santa Clause on a sleigh. The US issue additions are a less quality sculpt, being much chunkier. Over the years they were sold by a number of (apparently) different companies, which are all on the US comics website.

During their lifetime the figures have turned up elsewhere, and here we see a few, on the left are two factory-painted examples, the Chinaman had an umbrella glued into his hands, both figures have the remains of card/paper and glue on their bases, and probably came in little tourist gift-shop type vignettes (these two were found separately, several years apart). Then the two on the top row - centre and right are different colours, hard plastic and may have been premiums or Christmas Cracker novelties. Centre of the bottom row shows a figure who's release pin has become stuck mid-way through the moulding process, leaving a rod of plastic sticking out of his back. Finally a soft plastic Cracker gift. [And I covered some other copies of this set under 'B is for more Betterwear' in November '08]

  This is the real mystery, containing 7 of the ten dancers, and 13 of the twenty US dolls. You might think "Well the others are just lost in the mists of time?" but the group 'as found' contains exactly two of each of the figures present, making a total of 40, those two neat numbers add-up to more than a slight coincidence, so I think it's a complete 'sample'. The question is what? There are undocumented rumours that these may have been issued in UK breakfast cereal or biscuits, while the possibility remains that they could be the unsold (complete) contents of a shop-stock box as supplied to a bakers or cake-decorators? They are in a pinkish plastic. Indeed, the pink flesh colouring of this set and the subject matter of all the sets are the main links with the sets discussed in part 2 - Below.