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.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

A is for Airfix (and Craft, Dairylea, Tehnolog, Humbrol, Robogear...)

Ringing in the changes with the old and the new I thought I'd look at a couple of Aifix rarities.

Among the first sets issued by Airfix was the Farm Stock set, and in common with other early sets it was snapped up by the food industry as a premium, in this case by Craft Foods for their Dairylea Cheese Spread. The Cowboys and Combat Group had both been used by comics and the Civilians were issued on the cover of a Railway modelling magazine. The Astronauts too were used for a mail-away promotion.

The box (big enough for a whole set!) clearly states 'Three Animals' yet this is the second set I've seen with 4 animals, both times it's the very small animals, and the conclusion is that they felt three weren't enough if using the smaller one's so included an extra without reprinting or printing a new box graphic.

Just before they went bust for the umpteenth time, Airfix bought-into this system from Russia. At the London Toy Fair in about 2005 or '06? I ran into the Airfix stand (first time they'd had a stand for a long time) and they were showing these with their own label.

As they had only just appeared in the Pocketbond catalogue in the Russian graphics, I was impressed by the speed Airfix had got on what could have been a profitable bandwagon and told them as much - anything anybody does to break Games Workshop's monopoly is OK by me!

The box art, they weren't designed to be 'multi-pose', but the judicious use of glue, stretched sprue and spare bits of plastic soon made them as versatile as anything GW have produced. Sadly once Heller had taken them under, this range failed to survive the Hornby takeover! The Robogear website was last updated in January 2007 so I'm afraid the promising range is dead?

C is for Camel Cigarette Ephemera

H is for Hong Kong Copies of the Britains Lilliput Trooscale Figures

I have dozens of these old HK carded sets, but thought I'd put up a couple of 'typical' examples, just to finish this sequence on Britains Lilliput Khaki Infantry.

Early sets tend to have smaller figures with more 'extras' - in this case Marx/Blue Box bunkers, a micro-scale clip together wharf, bridge ("One at a time please!") and tank traps. The micro-scale armoured cars go so well with the 54mm barbed wire?

Later, larger figures probably taken from the Britains 54mm originals, these figures often come with similar copies of the Crescent 8th Army/Desert Infantry.

Close-up showing the glossy appearance of these figures, and poor detail, some miss whole limbs or body parts, these date from the mid-late 1970's, the beach-assault from the '60's.

A is for A Call to Arms Reissue of Britains Lilliput Trooscale

As pointed out below, A Call To Arms (ACTA) obtained the moulds for the Britains Lilliput Trooscale figures and reissued them in the early 'Noughties'.

The eight poses as reissued in a dark green plastic, to the left is an early 'Empire Made' piracy from Hong Kong of the 54mm originals. He has no face!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

E is for EKO copies of Britains Trooscale Lilliput

Further to the article below and the comments resulting; long before A Call To Arms (ACTA) got their hands on the mould, EKO in Spain had indulged in a bit of 'homage'!

Seen here is a complete set of the EKO figures with both the common types of packaging/'Header Card' associated with them. Very true to the originals, detail on this later set is markedly less clear than the figures accompanying the earlier red and white card.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

News, views etc...Airfix, Eric Williamson

Eric Williamson's Airfix website does seem to have finally died, so I've removed it from the link list but I'll keep an eye out and an ear to the ground and if it reappears I'll re-link to it. Shame; it was a good grounding in the subject, but maybe someone is working on an updated listing? I would, but I have too much else to cover, and - shamefully - am sitting on a couple of Airfix unique'ees for the long planned book!

Recent Snow

With reports of more snow tomorrow, I guess I'd better get these images up before they become dated, taken last week during the first cold snap...Global Warming...what global warming?

Lone tree lit by the setting sun.

The double Hornbeam likewise.

Ratty is still at it despite my best efforts to send him to a better place! I think the fresher the poison, the more he likes it!


M is for Mugs

Monday, December 28, 2009

B is for Britains Trooscale Lilliput (Truescale)

Well, as it's Christmas I thought I'd cover an oldie but a goodie! Issued in 1958, these were supposed to be the first of a range of plastic figures to be added to the metal range of Trooscale 'Lilliput' model railway figures by William Horton (for William Britains).

They were first issued in this slightly 'Toblerone' shaped triangular prism packaging, and a counter pack of 48 figures (6x8 poses), fully painted in the same scheme as their 54mm brethren (upon which they were based, if not just pantographed down from!).

They were also sold as an unpainted set in this small 'envelope' sized pack with eight separate windows, the range/series/set (?) was pretty much dead at birth as Airfix had already started producing 40/50 figures/items per set for about the same money as these!

The eight poses. As can be seen they are not only the same size as their larger donors, but bare a remarkable resemblance to the Airfix Combat Group issued a few years later. They are - like most 1950's toy 'khaki' infantry - modelled on the School of Infantry 'Demonstration Battalion' down at Warminster, being equipped with the experimental/trials EM 2 Bullpup design Assault Rifle, the - then - brand new '58 pattern webbing with large pack, 'bum-roll' & kidney pouches and the late WWII helmet, which would soldier-on (excuse the pun!) until at least 1987 (when I surrendered mine for the itchy-piss-pot that was/is the Kevlar replacement!).

Rear view of three different colour treatments, some collectors think the gloss ones were not issued by Britains as the 54mm never got such a painting, but as they keep turning up in different shades - as above - I think they did, probably toward the end of their period of availability, to try to make them stand out on the shop rack and sell?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy Christmas All

Mimi drew the line at another year with the pink gay tree, so we had a blue one this year, with the promise of a green one to look forward to in 12 months...hey, it's nearly spring already! Take care and have a fine New Year.

Just looked at the post, there's been an earthquake in Bethlehem! Was there one last year? I think there was...maybe next year I'll get it right!

S is for Snowmen

I couldn't leave killer skeletons on top for Christmas, so have a good one and normal service will resume in a week or so! Thanks for visiting.

U is for Undead part 1 - Overview/Comparison

At this time of year, snow on the ground, family in our thoughts, friends round, cards, food, gifts and a real fire, carols on the radio in the background and your favorite comedy on the flickering Cods eye, I find there is nothing quite as festive as the blood-curdling screams of skeletal warriors hacking each other to the last scrap of DNA.

Being serious; when I did the unfinished projects a couple of three weeks ago, there were a few other 'back burners' I'd forgotten and this is one of them. I love the Undead, but I hate Games Workshop, so this group pulls me both ways.

They used to give you 8 warriors for around a fiver, now they give you 5 figures for what? £12-odd? Someone like HaT will sell you 40+ figures for £4.99, yet GW have the global empire...as the Americans would say - Go Figure!

The entire contents of one set, 3 poxy poses, no animation, no arm variations and; are the two on the right injecting steroids into their heads? The whole set appears to have been sculpted in Plasticine with a toothpick and GW are so sure you'll f**k-up the basing, the only spares they give you are 3 extra bases. The kids who buy into this stuff are being taken for a ride by an over confident, arrogant 'Corp', and I sincerely hope the proliferation of new 28mm producers spells the end of their (GW's) hold on the market.

The old sprue, gave you 4 poses, 5 weapon/arm positions (one a spare), separate shields, positionable heads, 5 weapons...did I say 5 weapons...

...sorry, I of course meant 13 different weapon arms, at various angles and attitudes.

The fact that I have a set of the new ones at all is down to GW's reliance on that Corporate American trick, the 'Contents are subject to change or may vary' type thing. I won't make that mistake again. The old one's I buy on eBay as I've tried never to pay full whack for GW.

U is for Undead part 2 - Infantry

Infantry are the backbone of an army, even if it's a rather odd backbone!

The real beauty of the old set was it's almost Historex/Airfix Multi-pose aspect, the little ball socket joints at neck and shoulder made it very easy to produce variation without all those angle joins and filler you would need with more 'solid' figures.

"Cu'mon Mo, drop the sword, putt'em-up, putt'em-up, what's with the helmet woose? I'll take you with one hand behind my back, eh dude? One-on-one, Mano-et-Mano, you Lilly-livered son of a Siberian shit-shoveller"

"Will you just wait there while I find you arm and beat you to death with it"

'Two legs good, four legs better'. I will - one day! - get a bit of filler in his hips to make a better join. Once he had four legs, the head was a natural progression!

Comparison between the grace of the old design and the clay like clumsiness of the new product. QEII is laid up, Concord no longer flies, Digital is no better than Terrestrial with less coverage (Channel 5 will be twenty years old before half the UK are able to get a good picture!) and GW are pedalling backwards with this set!

U is for Undead part 3 - Cavalry

I don't know if cavalry were ever part of the GW 'vision' (another thing I hate about GW, it's their rules or no play today kiddo!), I've certainly never found mounted legs, but as they are skeletal all you have to do is bend the legs in a bit, add a touch of glue and Bob's your fleshless Uncle!

Defending against Cavalry attack, I wish now I'd left the shield off, it's going to whack his leg when he brings the sword over his head! The other guy cowers quite convincingly though.

If you're going to put a horned horses head on a four legged man, you might as well put the mans head on the horse/cow body...No?

More of the same, sadly there was only the one pose of this animal and I didn't try much with it until I started the chariot.

U is for Undead part 4 - Armour

Some pictures of an Undead Chariot

Some more (with the pose changes to the draft-animal)

It's...yeah, more pictures of the same!

Monday, December 21, 2009

A is for ACW Armies All right After All this time

This is my old war gaming army, dating from when I was about 13 and Humbrol Authenticolours were mythical things other, older, richer people possessed! I played with mys......er...it was an exercise in solo war gaming!

These are the two armies in their drawer, they were small, but then by the reckoning of all these DBA, DBB, DBC and CBEEBIES that people play now, they look a little on the large side!

Confederate Volunteers skirmish irregularly, while more formal units form up behind, the Terrance Wise school says use union for confederates, as they wore what they could, and both sides had kepi's, a fact thankfully reflected in more recent issues by newer companies.

The gun/s (and crews?) have been here before, but if I'm blowing the dust from an old closet, you might as well see it warts and all, massacred the Hinchliffe British Colonial Gatling Gun, gave the Union cavalryman a Napoleonic saddle AND check out the cowboy!! I was always quite pleased with the CSA General from the Civilians set, Grant was Hinchliffe...but not necessarily their 'Grant'! Crews were converted from Atlantic Gold Diggers and Hong Kong Cowboys

Scratch-built transport. You see, it was about wagons all along! The union force got a sort of engineer/blacksmith/tool shop wagon made out of heavy-duty poly-strip, and another old man from the civilian set, not to mention more Napoleonic horses! Confederates were issued with a prairie schooner and a water-cart, I also built a small cannon mount, which would probably look more at home on the walls of the Alamo.

Union troops stand firm, I would find a colour scheme I liked the look of - usually from a Blandford Colour Guide, which explains the 34th Right Royal Leprechauns in the second row! But I'm not repainting them now, they're part of my childhood!

The last thing I did before '...putting away my childish things' and going off to join our army was buy a box each of the two then NEW Esci sets, the officers, flag bearers and buglers all joined my army first!.

Cottage in the Village

Well, a years gone by and I haven't fed this blog as I intended to, hey-ho, maybe this year! Took this about 20 minutes ago at the other end of the village, picture postcard or what! Happy Christmas to those still reading this...?

The Worlds Favorite Airline!

We all shoot ourselves in the foot from time to time, but shooting yourself in both feet? and then using the holes to nail yourself to the floor? Well done BA management, here we are thoroughly pissed off, with Bankers (most - if not all of them!), Politicians (after Copenhagen most, if not all of them), the weather, the Channel Tunnel (and EurotrainnottunnelCoLtd.), raising taxes, higher charges for water and electricity (after two decades of payments to Shareholders), roads that are as bad as they have ever been...and what do you do? Fire the first shot in a potential 'Winter of Discontent II' while what's left of the armed forces (who did or delivered everything last time) are over-worked and underfunded, thousands of miles away!

Browntrousers - You really think you're gonna get a second term?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Pink Lego

Three cheers to the person who put the pink Lego brick, in James May's house, the programme hasn't finished yet and he's all ready annoyed me at least 3 times...It's a Kiddycraft design and they won the court case to prove it! Stop using taxpayers money to produce 1 hour adverts for companies who's products you don't understand!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

L is for Like LEGO - But Impossible!

Bought this on eBay the other day, I have a soft spot for Lego, and having been talked into selling half mine for bugger-all-money following a flood in my storage unit, I'm now clearing the rest on eBay, but still have a vague interest in the stuff and things related to it.

First inspection looked promising, hard to tell whether it was German or Swiss, but my guess is one or the other (so - knowing my guesses it's probably Dutch!), very well engineered but immediately it became apparent that for such a simple looking vehicle (in the photo on the box it seems to be more simple than the classic 1970's Legoland trucks) there were an awful lot of very small pieces.

These are they. The pile of tiles and number of white junction-bricks led me to believe they had provided spares to help the budding Lego traitor explore his imagination with this new system, I was wrong, although the instruction sheet tried hard to keep me in the dark!

To build one of the old Legoland articulated trucks would take me five or ten minutes, I would use everything in the box except the one or two spares they always provided of the very smallest pieces, and the finished model would look just like the pictures/drawings on the box.

This photograph is the result of about 8 hours work over two evenings, some of the bits left in the pile of 'spares' should actually be on the vehicle, but where is anybodies guess. It took over an hour to get the layer of protective wax off the 6 tyres (and the carpet will never be the same), the fifth-wheel arrangement is not right, and the whole thing was 30% guess work as the instructions are clearly - less than clear.

Add to that, the wheels stick out like a wide load and the whole thing is less realistic than the crudest of eary 70's Lego vehicles.

Yeh...Baks...or Herbert, or Herbert by Baks, the system you've never heard of because they produced an over-engineered product with instructions you couldn't follow, aimed at an age group who couldn't have dealt with it, and hoped it would knock Lego off it's perch!