About Me

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No Fixed Abode, Home Counties, United Kingdom
I’m a 56-year-old Aspergic 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.

Friday, January 22, 2010

B is for Battle Ground, by Marx, a Miniature Masterpiece!

Generally I am not much of a fan of the mass hysteria and rivet counting that surrounds the bigger companies on the toy/model soldier horizon, the reverence in which some people hold Airfix, Britains & Timpo here, Starlux in France or - in the States - Marx, is while not a mystery, none-the-less an example of the sheep-like mentality of human beings. To regard half (or more) of all known production as nothing but rubbish, ignoring the cultural significance of most of it, to lose track of so many companies they become forever-after known as 'unknown', is not only to lose a valid part of our heritage, but if in doing so we elevate certain companies to god like status, it is to help devalue our own intelligence.

I say "Not a mystery", because while these companies often produced an awful product, or historically inaccurate examples (for how many more decades are the owners of Airfix going to peddle their Sd.Kfz 4323424whatevvverrr with 'those' mudguards?!), or ride roughshod over the wants, needs and goodwill of customers, there is an undeniable frisson of joy upon opening an Old School play set, so; proving my own hypocrisy; witness far too much blogspace devoted to this little gem of inaccurate crap from the land of 'Empire Made' badged to that master of exploitation; Marx...

A quite unassuming box and the worst of play-mats, a play-mat printed on something halfway between cereal box card and lavatory paper! Note the rather small beach on the Northern side of the river.

The contents include two Marx 'generic' tanks, and landing craft with Superfortress cupola! Some nice guns in hard plastic are included, although the ammo tray/bogie thing is very puzzling, the machine guns most closely resemble Vickers on .30cal mounts and the jeep design never left a factory in real life, not to mention the horse-and-musket era tents? Still - the dead trees and ruin are nice!

June 2015 - The 'bogies' are actually carriages for recoilless rifles, which must have been omitted by the packer? The trays then sit between the trail-legs of the gun - presumably it all works better on the 54mm originals?

The reason for the small beach on one side of the river...the Germans are rather outnumbered (by a factor of about 5 figures and 2 pieces of heavy gear to one), I guess they build a barricade out of the Merit-copy barrels and sacks, drape the barbed-wire over the whole pile and exit stage left while the Americans are still blowing all their boats up!

Three points of interest in this (apparently?) mint set; The only duplication in U.S. poses is the officer with life jacket, was he added (one jacket is a darker grey), or were there meant to be two as commanders for the two landing craft? There is no flagpole, the box art shows the flag flying from the lead tank, so did lazy old Marx just throw a flag in the box without a pole (other sets with flags get poles)? Finally; should there actually be 16 or 18 strands of wire?

All three questions are an academic exercise for the rivet counters, as I broke the seal on this set myself about ten years ago, and it's only been looked at a couple of times since!

To those of a humorless disposition...this post is meant to provoke thought, and I well know Airfix produced some of the finest figures ever...along with the junk! Starlux Empire Napoleonics are stunning and the Britains Swoppet Wars of the Roses Knights were a pinnacle in the toy soldier world, I'm not so sure Timpo or Marx can claim a pinnacle in anything?


johnpreece said...

It does sometimes seem that collecters manage to squeeze out all of the joy of the toy from their collections.

I remember a plastic play set of plastic ww2 figures with houses. I now know that they were plastic pirates of the metal timpo hollowcasts. So what? the important memory is playing with them in the garden with snipers hidden in the hedge who remained hidden for years.

I always enjoy and follow your blog but rarely have anything to say o it is a pleasure to have the chance to thank you for all the work you have done here.

Hugh Walter said...

Thanks for the kind words John, some do take it all too seriously and far from whinging 'Fixed', the more people who pore over the minutei of the 'big names' the better, as it leaves all the rest to be hoovered up by the likes of me for 99p on eBay or in 50p bags at shows...except that the good old 50p bag has increasingly become a £5 bag these days!!

Likewise John, I follow your blog, but short of waxing lyrical whenever you post old Holger Erikson's there's not much for me to say bar enjoying what you're doing!

I also wish there were more English language blogs like mine, however it seems the Spanish have cornered the market in disemination of toy history, the Brit's and Yank's prefering to adopt the Smeagol approuch of hiding it under their skirts..."My precious, all mines, not yoursess!"

To waffle on a bit (It's my blog, I'll waffle all I like!), I used to garden an old cottage along the bank of the canal in Fleet, Hampshire, and every time I dug the bed I got another Crescent for Kellogg's knight out of the roots! You can't beat a bit of sand-pit action as the Bishop most probably said...H

Jeff said...

Lucky you. I used to own a set exactly like that as a child. One day I hope to own one again. Till then I'll keep looking.