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, May 31, 2010

R is for Rare....or not! Imex and Accurate

One hears the refrain 'Really Rare' an awful lot within the collecting fraternity, mostly - it has to be said - from either dealers, or the inhabitants of the Internet 'Bubble'. There are - of course - some things which are genuinely rare, but most of the stuff we collect was produced in vast quantities to feed a global customer base, or justify the expense of the moulding tools.

Here are a couple of things which have worn the epithet 'Rare' in the last fifteen years, on the left a figure of Custer from Imex, on the right a dead (or very poorly!) Confederate soldier from Accurate.

The Imex figure being an addition to the Union (Federal) Cavalry sprue, for the Battle of the Little Big Horn play set, was simply a marketing gimmick to get people who had already bought the figure sets seperately to shell out for more of the same.

The Accurate figure was dropped from the mould and replaced by a figure standing with his arms out.

Of course Imex had permanently altered the mould (or forgot to change the insert back?) and started issuing Custer in the separate cavalry boxes of subsequent issues, so now the overly expensive play-set is shifted at cost-price at shows and swap-meets, by dealers happy to get rid of their back stock and the figure is no longer 'rare' at all. Worse; It's become a lottery which set/figure you get, Big Bad Custer, or a chap waving at his mother!!!

The Accurate figure on the other hand remains 'rare', but as a non-issued figure is only a curious part of the production process, and of limited interest/use. By which I mean, if you take it off the sprue and paint it up for inclusion in a war-game army, you are - of course - destroying an historical artifact, but leave it on the sprue, and it's just a dead lifeless thing, (twice dead in this case!). So; Rare figure or unusual artifact? Would you give the same significance to the floor sweepings of the production line or the sculptors studio chaff? No.

And if the new owners of the Accurate moulds were to find the insert? Mass production would probably follow.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

U is for Universal Powermaster Corporation (UPC)

Strangely absent from recent printed works on the subject, these are not too rare, you just need to get to the shows and ferret about a bit!

The important one - from a Toy Soldier collectors point of view - is set 3022-29; 'Combat Group Soldiers', it is - like the rest of the range - a straight copy of the Roco Minitanks set 'U.S. Soldiers Combat Group'. The 29 being the US price in cents, a suffix shared by the whole range.

The box states "Litho in the U.S.A.", I suspect however that the contents came from Japan, where a dozen or so companies were producing this 1:87/1:100 stuff, most of it copied either from Roco or Roskopf.

Shots of the figures, with comparison close-ups of the Roco originals. Pantographing has reduced them from the already quite small Roco's to even smaller, however they still look OK and painted-up the size differential would be even less noticeable.

Study of the Roco sWS (schwerer Wehrmachtsschlepper), in front of the UPC copy, the copy is quite good size-wise having lost less than a millimeter, however it looses heavily on the detail, note the 'washed' effect on the bonnet (hood) side plate. Piracy extends to the small hole-filler used by Roco for the GS/Cargo variant, where it fills the mounting hole used to locate the hardware of the other versions, UPC copied them also!!

One fundamental fault I forgot to mention, they have managed to get the mounting slots on the running gear reversed from the Roco original, so the drive wheels are at the wrong end!

P is for Plunder, show plunder!

A month late but here is the first stage of the sorting of my plunder from the Plastic Warrior show in Richmond at the start of the month.

Left to right, back to front (vaguely!); Two nice European Cavalry, I think one French one Spanish? Street light from F.G. Taylor. A pile of civilian and farm figures and a pile of astronauts and Sci-Fi figures. All the Robin Hood/William Tell and medieval examples, a tractor from the Timee factory in Germany with a nice policeman by Solido behind, a pile of Napoleonics and two Hong Kong divers with the Blue Box fort in front. In the center an unusual African and various animals including a dinosaur! To the front the additions to my Bonux which I covered a week or so ago, two Merten 40mm, three - probably French - knights and tanks from Jimson (also now covered), Russia (flat) and an unknown (to me, not the Matchbox one, not the Budgie one?), British Die-cast.

Cowboys and Indians, a couple of carded items and the small scale mostly sorted already into 4x5 inch bags. Two really nice Coma figurines; Alpini in white and Bersaglieri in red, with a mint Rosenhain & Lipmann rail-car (horse and cattle wagon), to the front three French combat infantry, a few bits, a load of Timee (most Germany but some US production), two smaller piles of ACW and Ceremonials and a bag of unpainted Prieser ACW peeking from the right.
The size range of the non-small scale stuff, the Marx PVC circus performer (bottom right) is 40mm.

I also got a bag of Britains pirates on Timpo copy bases which I'm saving for a future post and a few other bits that went straight into their 'homes'.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

L is for Little Ships and 'Lest We Forget'

Far-called, our navies melt away;
On dune and headland sinks the fire:
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Ninevah and Tyre!
Judge of the Nations, spare us yet.
Lest we forget—lest we forget!


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Your voice - use it

Life's too short to keep your mouth shut...

C is for Celluloid

I have some animals somewhere, and I've already published a cow ('Unknown Animals' post - I think), however these are the only celluloid soldiers I have in the collection, although there are other figures, they're for Christmas!

The three figures with an Airfix Japanese soldier for size comparison, the smaller two are about 45mm, the larger about 54mm. The guy on the left is - I suspect - meant to be a US Marine in 'Red Dress' uniform, but the colours have been reversed, the middle figure, looks Japanese due to the long puttees, yet I think he's meant to be part of the expeditionary force to the Philippines, the colours again being a little fanciful, but it may be that he's intended to depict General Aguinaldo, leader of the revolutionary forces who is depicted as being captured by the US forces in a red shirt, and subsequently forced by the Japanese to broadcast propaganda during the second world war? The Guardsman is obvious.

The bright colours as due in no small part to the semi-transparent paint/ink known as 'Spirit Paint' which used to give a metallic hue to the metal figures of Britains and Crescent et al. sold at the 'Penny Toy' end of the market between the wars, indeed it was used on tin penny-toys as well. Although these figures date from the American occupation period, so 'Dime-store' rather than 'Penny'!

Markings; all are marked Japan, with the guardsman having a large letter 'A'. Although the Marine has no logo, his rifle and arm-string are so similar to the third figure I would be surprised if they're not from the same stable, using a star logo on the questionable figure.

Construction is quite clear in these pictures, Vac-formed halves are glued together with arms connected by knotted strings running through the torso. More complicated designs (particularly dolls-house Dolls) have moving legs, or even jointed heads and waists.

I used to have 6 of the Severn Dwarfs in this material but I sold them in a daft moment a few years ago, happily they went to a good home with a lady in the States who had Snow White! they were even more simply painted with one colour of flat-matt splashed on one item of clothing per figure.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

H is for Highland Reaver

A while since we had a 'lazy post', so here is one, from the archives of my mates collection...

Cherilea Highlanders of the (vaguely?) Jacobean period, can't remember if there should be 6 or 8 poses, but there are 6 here. They never really had an enemy, or counter force and were I think, meant to fight the medieval knights, however the garb is a bit anachronistic for that. But...they were 'toys', and as such are quite well proportioned (not always a factor with Cherilea), very colourful (especially when new) and dynamic.

Monday, May 24, 2010

News, views etc...Follower Links

I've finally managed to get my crossed Google/Blogger 'profiles' to behave, and have managed to follow all those I previously couldn't, particularly the Spanish blogs, which would not recognize me, and I'd try every month or so!

In a nutshell (if anyone else if having the same problem) when I clicked on 'follow this blog' it would take me off to Google rather than Blogger, and give me a blank face rather than my coat of arms, this was half down to my using the same eMail to sign-up to something, without even thinking about it ages ago and half down to the 6 months between computers, because it didn't happen on the old lap-top.

So today I fiddled around until I realized I had to let it sign me up with the wrong profile and then change it using the 'options' button under my Google profile on the other persons site, then choose 'have you an other existing web profile' button on the resulting pop-up. Then just clicked the Blogger button on a third pop-up and all was well. I say well...I've now had to change my Google Password to the same as my Blogger password, bringing the two profiles closer together...Doh! And I haven't checked if my Google pages are still turning Spanish? Which was another symptom of this 'progress' lead communications revolution.

And don't get me started on how Hotmail behaves under Firefox umptysomethingpointsix!! Anyway, if you're wondering why I'm suddenly following you after 2 years, that's why!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

G is for Gyro-jet, by Elmont

Not much to say about this really, don't know anything about the company, thought I might have something in the library, I'm not going to spend a whole afternoon looking only to find something along the lines of "Elmont...British novelty toy manufacturer"! There was an Eldon working out of the States, making larger, better constructed toys and they made a fine Yacht with Cellulose acetate parts, but apart from a similar name, I suspect no link or connection whatsoever!

So enjoy the image, whack the nipple on the nose and the pilot ejects, dealing with the obvious obstacle of a canopy with his head. Something that happened only too commonly in Air Force and Naval aviation in the 50's and 60's, as my uncle Johnny and his squadron mates will attest, or at least those two who survived to retirement age might...

B is for Bedford MK by Blue Box

Having looked at the Bedford RL the other day, childhood favorite, I think we should look at its replacement, the 'MK' (which is for 'K., Military Pattern', not 'Mark'), a vehicle I have close experience of, not least, sitting in the back of them, in convoy, parked against the side of a wood on cold German nights in October while the engine fumes snuck-up from underneath, whisped through the gap between the tilt and the metal sides and induced first a bit of coughing, then sleep in the assembled squadies!

Sadly; having produced both Ambulance and GS versions of the RL, Blue Box didn't bother with the MK, choosing only to reuse the 'equipment flat-bed' of the RL on a new cab/chassis assembly. I'm sure all seven loads were available, but have yet to track down the Lone*Star inspired rocket-gun thing.

Early issues were in the bottle green of the RL's, later sets were made in an Olive-drab.

Again smaller quantities of the grey version were issued in the larger two-sided sets. The new chassis included a far better detailed wheel/tyre pattern with an integral axle - all in polyethylene, rather than the old pressed-on to metal bar arrangement which often lead to missing or wonky wheels.

A double-decked play-set with 6 windows, the figures are the 45mm versions, which is why there is an outside possibility the Sun-disk on my RL (see previous post below) might have come in a Jap version with the 45mm Japs? [It did, one went through Bonhams auctions]

Civilian versions existed as well, in this case a blister-packed carded rack-toy. Note the shipping container and packing crate are both printed, folded, card cut-outs.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Z is for Zoo Animal Premiums

This post is entirely the fault of the 'Philosophic Toad' who in her question on the Bonux post, got me started on a day's research which has resulted in my not doing a clients garden, not picking up some cash and not going to the shops! As a result I've run out of coffee and tobacco, can you imagine trying to sort out 11 lots of half-understood animals without nicotine or caffeine? Toad - you owe me, however, for you delectation, and the interest of any other interested passers-by, here is my take on some (not all!) of the non-domestic animal gifts, giveaways and premiums issued over the years. [Toad made-up by sending me two images of the original ad's, and a follow-up post has now been done, when I've more time I'll re-do them both into one, but in the meantime, if you open them both in two tabs, you can flick between the two for a slightly fuller - if more confusing! - picture. new post is here; Update ]

I'll do acknowledgments first this time;

Kent Sprecher's Toy Soldier HQ provides an image of the Lido mouldings here;
Wild Animals

Jean-Claude Pifret's 'Figurines Publicitaires' gives a list and photographs of the Bonux/Mir/Omo ranges.

Wayne Ratcliffe's Cluck Vol.2 gives lists and dates for two sets, and I have a photocopy of the original advert for one set which seems to have come from Vol.1.

Lots of Spanish and Portuguese language websites/pages were found but my lack of both languages meant they were of limited use, however they did contribute to the overall picture, so thanks to the many, everything else is my own guesstimation!

The first picture shows the Kellogs animals as laid out in the Cluck Vol.1 picture, with three other animals, two of which are seen in the Lido set, linked to above; Buffalo and Moose, the Wild Boar is in the same vein, but could well be a Dom/Manurba moulding, or similar (Jean/Big, French premium?). The Lido link means these were almost certainly provided by Tudor*Rose.

Issued by Kellogg's in their Puffa-Puffa Rice and Coco Krispies breakfast cereals, announced as 'Zoo Animals' in kids comic in May 1971 (Hotspur, 22nd May to be specific). A set of ten (still no Wild Boar?) were issued in Canada (and the USA?) in Sugar Pops, also by Kellogg's as 'Big Game Hunters Favorite Wild Animals' (and everything in the picture has been hunted and shot by humans in the last 200 years...), these would most likely have been Lido Originals.

We then hit this set, very similar, but much finer sculpting, and a larger range. Now the first thing you'll notice is - during the photo-session I labeled-up the group to represent the missing figures in the list of animals issued by Kellogg's at some other period (still unknown to me) in the 70's, however, as I was doing the photo's it struck me they may have been Cadbury's not Kellogg's. Ratcliffe's notes in Cluck Vol.2 on the first (8 animal) set gets to mentioning a pose variant of the Buffalo and Nabisco "shaped biscuits", and I think he was confusing the two sets as the same set.

I was already thinking of the Cadbury's Animal shaped chocolate biscuits and Google has not helped! However, I have one 1980's plastic flat of a blue Elephant with a big square base marked Cadbury, so they may well have had a similar promotion in the 1970's?

Because I photographed them as if they were the Kellogg's set below, I left out the two bottom left, if they were issued with biscuits, then they will be part of the set, as will the two Tigers, as I was looking for one! The Moose behind the Tigers is in a hard nylon plastic and points to another source of these animals somewhere? Again apart from the red Moose, these are Tudor*Rose in style and colour, why they needed to re-design 10 of them is anyone's guess, but clearly newer production methods led to finer castings.

I can't just publish a photo of the image in FP without the permission of the author/publishers, and don't have time to seek it, so will describe as best I can. There are two sets of animals, both sets are in both gold and Silver/Gunmetal with a painted Giraffe and variants of 3 of the larger set giving 30 to look for, with others bound to be still undiscovered/yet to be ascribed.

In the larger set The Bear is the same as that in the second set above, with the Moose and Zebra similar and the Camel and Giraffe bearing a good resemblance. In the smaller set the Hippo and Rhino are the close matches. The similarity's weighted against number of unrelated castings would suggest piracy in a different vein to the above sets, where the 8 are clearly the same.

Bonux are nominally linked with the larger ones only. Mir seem to have the larger set too, with a Hippo from the smaller set (to my eye it should be with the larger animals) leaving Omo with most of the small animals and the largest of the three Hippo's plus the painted Giraffe.

Animals similar to all the above sets were also made by Marx and Renwal/Plasticraft, again; good pics on Toy Soldier HQ.

The second Kellogg's set; 'Zoo Animal' is actually the set in green, red and brown bottom right with the missing Gorilla and snake, they are similar to the set in the larger picture which are the bubble-gum animals from Mundi Toys/Tylers and Dunkin, both selling to the Iberian Peninsular.

The Kellogg's set is not identical, with loss of detail on some, while others are noticeably larger. Note that apart from the Snake, all the Kellogg's are duplicates of the larger series from Spain, and as the Spanish set was issued in 1967, it's fair to assume the Kellogg's set was the copy rather than vis-a-versa.

I think the long-horned red thing belongs were I've put the missing animal card '2nd/3rd Deer' but it's hard to tell from the packet. The Tylers/Dunkin soldiers I covered a while ago came on sprues of 8 figures before being broken down into packs, so with Ratcliffe reporting the Kellogg's coming on sprues, in fours, that makes sense as you could cut an 8 figure sprue of animals into two 4 figure 'spruelets' and ensure 4 different animals in a box with a 25% chance of new animals each time you ate your way to another purchase!

The other side of the pack from Mundi Toys, I think it translates as Animals of the Savanna (or Velt?), along with similar products from Tito (cartoonish) and Olá (the name for Wall's Ice cream in Portugal and southern France), I can't find the source for my having ascribed them to Olá, so it should be taken with a pinch of salt...The Tito are marked with their little wobbly-diamond. Finally a comparison between the Kellogg's and Spanish Hippo's.

leaving us with a further size comparison, main picture, bottom, from the top left reading L-R; Kellogg's, Cadbury?/Nabisco?, Kellogg's, Mundi/Dunkin, Olá?, Unknown.

To go with the unknown Elephant is a Giraffe (smaller inset photo.), above them is a small sample of tiny soft PVC/vinyl rubber animals [Schlicht 'Minis' with the little black-dot eyes worn off!] and a group of Christmas Cracker gifts of recent origin to the left, both with Spanish bubble-gum Elephants for scale.

My sofa during this afternoons constructive activity! That box on the right is 'Animals, Unknown, Wild' and contains about 150 envelopes like the ten on the board! So it's gona'be a long life if the man upstairs wants me to finish this task!!!

Further study;
Wikipedia; Animal Biscuits

Still No Ducks

B is for Bedford RL by Blue Box

A childhood favorite, not the toy - the real thing. As an army-brat I saw more than my fair share of these, and there were still a few kicking about in REMF units when I served in the mid-80's.

The two 'box' bodied versions, a GS with canvas tilt, and a hard-topped ambulance with opening doors, this would take two of the stretcher cases from the hard-plastic G.I. range. Sandwiched between them is a shot showing how they were glued into their boxes with a clear plastic plate, the plate had to be broken off before you could play with it!

Although the GS is a unique body moulding, the ambulance is glued to the 'generic' flatbed with control panel at the cab end. Other uses for this body were single and double cannon, multiple-barreled rocket launcher, Radar and search-light. All bar the single cannon were based on the Lone*Star vehicle loadings. Grey vehicles are not as common, being included in the larger sets only, as enemy forces.

The big picture of a rocket-carrying vehicle was a bit of a quandary for a while, as it looked like another makes rocket had been shoved into the twin-gun cradle, however I now have two, both boxed so it's a 'proper-job', I'm still not sure about the Japanese Sun-disc sticker!!?

17th June 2015 - It's 'right', it's from the 50mm-figured boxed sets of Japanese and can be seen in an old auction image somewhere (Bonams or Vectis?) with the elusive officer's mule!

Civil versions were also produced with different bodies. Below the main photo are a three-decker, two-decker and a couple of single level boxed sets containing RL's. Blue Box also produced an equally good Bedford MK and I'll cover them shortly.

[I've only just realized I photo'ed the qwarch side on the tanker, it does have a SHELL (petroleum) sticker on the other side, where you can see the white glue-residue on the side showing!]

I haven't got a lose one of the small rocket launcher, which is another Lone*Star inspired design. Finally a late carded set with a grey copy of the Crescent WWII field piece, and soft plastic versions of the Britains combat infantry, also in grey and green.

C is for Cabinet Of Curious Things 1

R is for Rescued!

Into the valley rode the six-hundred...some of the horses returned without their riders...

I dug this out of a flower bed on Tuesday, recon it's been there for at least 40 years. I thought it might be Crescent but it doesn't seem to be, therefore I'm going to guess a German make as the detailing is too good for Britians? Hussar? What to do with it? It's too far gone for restoration so it will go in the 'Cabinet of Curiosities'!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

B is for Bonux (and other premiums)

During the 1960's and 70's Bonux washing powder nearly always contained a premium/gift of some kind, and with military subjects being to the fore, it was only a matter of time before this French company came to the blog.

The most known Bonux premiums among toy soldier collectors are these three sets of four contemporary French troops in the garb of regular infantry, para's and Foreign Legion. The 'NATO' helmeted lot and para's have reasonable poses and equipment, the FFL are a bunch of shouty-fist-wavy guys with no hope in a fire-fight! Although the guy on the right is missing his stick-grenade...yeah, exactly!...Stick Grenades?

However, I'm being too judgmental, they were toys after all. Coming in various shades of Olive and Olive Drab, they are clearly marked Bonux on the higher side-edge of their sloping bases. The manufacturer is unknown but the bases have a lot in common with the bases of the Styrene figures issued in the larger scales by Mokarex

Bonux also issued sets of AFV's, Aircraft and Civilian Vehicles, both assembled and in kit-form, vintage and contemporary, along with various other figures.

The Yellow Para's are a latter issue of the Bonux figures by a company called Johnson, while the two Bonux members of Louis XV's army are missing their waxed hair-pieces! JC Piffret reports them as being made by a company called Jou-Plat. Likewise the blue figure is Prince Charming to La Roche aux Fees' (a dairy products company) Sleeping Beauty. The magician in black is also by La Roche...

The AFV range are better illustrated in the French Premium site listed in my favorite links column, however I do have an unmarked (all Bonux stuff is well marked) petrol tanker in the same colour of plastic as the half-track, which is not listed on that site, and may be connected via supplier only? If anyone cares to; I have Blue-Box and Tudor*Rose to swap for more examples of these.

Unmarked versions of all the original figures are as commonly available, and I suspect were sold in bags or carded as pocket-money rack-toys by whoever supplied them to Bonux.

Bonux also gave away the National Costumes/Dolls of the World I looked at some time ago, but with an antiqued wash and faux Chinese ebony-wood base. They issued the Kellogg's animals in silver and gold and the Disney Robin Hood characters issued by all sorts of companies all over the place!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Z is for Zippo...but not!

My Great Aunt (actually Great, Great once removed...I think?!) Betty, who passed away a few years ago, was what Miss Moneypenny would probably refer to as "something in the Foreign Office, James". As part of her 'clerical' duties she managed to end up in the officers mess in MAAG (Military Advisory and Assistance Command) some time in the mid-60's (it was renamed MAC-V by the height of the war), where she was given (or bought - but she wasn't a smoker!) this lighter, obviously a Zip...er...the famous Wellington 'Windproof' from Japan (wot? not Hong Kong?!).

When she was packing to return to her native Australia, she gave me this, and while I know it's value to collectors, I feel it was made to be used, and so I've used it to the point were it's not as mint as it was. Compared to a lot of Zippo rip-offs, this is engineered to a similar standard and is holding up well to the abuse it gets in the garden.

I will have to get it re-enamelled one day as apart from the missing chip at the far end of the motto banner, that dark patch in the main cloud is blown enamel which will crumble when I'm shifting stone or something and it bangs against my pocket...I'm a Philistine sometimes!

Speaking of G.Aunt Betty, she also gave us (my brother and I) a copy of The Magic Pudding, a brilliant book which makes The Hungry Caterpillar look tame! If you've got kids, search out a copy, they'll love it.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

P is for Patton & Pershing, by Airfix and Jimson

About time I did another Airfix post, and a purchase at PW last weekend gave me an excuse to look at the Patton tank, in it's various guises...

First a look at the various offerings from Airfix in the 'mint' state, with the two Attack Force turret versions, carded and a boxed late type 'Readymade', the box is a bit tatty and I should have up-graded it by now, however I tend not to get too bothered by post 1970 packaging, unless it's something more ephemeral like Hong Kong carded stuff, there's still plenty of the big name's stuff around.

Interestingly the two Attack Force cards are very different, the Pershing getting a higher, deeper card with the tab going over the whole model, rather than the deck. One should always be careful buying these 'carded', they are not as rare as some would have you believe, and there are a lot of very good fakes out there.

The three moving forward to contact, with the later flanked by the earlier efforts. The late version is basically an early production variant of the M60 , but missing it's return rollers. The running gear of the Attack Force models is quite accurate for the M26/47/48 family, but the hull, while having features of the M48 rear deck and M26 nose is a little fanciful, the turrets are an M48/60 hybrid (bottom) and some weird thing, which bares a less than passing resemblance to an M47, but is so common among toys of the period, it must be based on something trailed at the time, or released as a PR/Press image (top).

Airfix also released the Attack Force in a buff/sand-coloured plastic, here unloading from a Mighty Antar, while below; my purchase last weekend, a Jimson pirate (also issued by Fairylite), in approximately 1:48 scale of the Attack Force Patton.

It has been copied to the smallest detail, with the hole Airfix used for mounting the SPG and APC superstructures crudely filled in with a bit of welding on the mould, after the original, with a hole, had been pantographed! It also has a push-and-go motor, making it a better toy - play-value wise - than the original...it was issued boxed, as this one on Moonbase Jimson Tank , and in a larger set with a Tank Transporter, but not - strangely - the Antar, rather a US prototype looking like something somewhere between an FMC and Pacific, suggesting the tank was copied from the Superior/T.Cohn versions along with another US makers transporter, rather than a specifically Airfix model?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Show Report - Plastic Warrior 25th Anniversery

Quick show report from the Plastic Warrior show in Richmond, with some of the guilty and a shot of my booty pile! Among noticeable trends this year; Prices were down, usefull if you are a buyer, a couple of major collections are being broken up and coming on to the market, and both 'rarities' and 'large-ticket' items were in evidence. Buisness was brisk, the 'gate' was good and all those under 12/13? (Paul?) were given a free gift at lunchtime, which is becoming a regular feature of the show and is a valid attempt at getting a new generation of collectors on board. Paul and James Morehead flank the unstoppable Peter Evans as things begin to quieten down in the afternoon, Peter - in the best traditions of Theater-land - turned up on crutches 'cos 'The Show Must Go On'! James did Stirling-service on the door all day, helped by Paul's grandson Ben, who - while I was taking this - was probably helping himself to the 'Free-gifts' one dealer had left behind under his table! Peter H; You need to carry a dustpan and brush, you're giving it away!! John Begg of PTS collectables (eBay; pts52) keeps one eye on his premium 'Timpo, loose' and the other eye out for a bargain! He also had some nice Britians Swoppet Knights, a range of Airfix and other goodies, and some interesting Nurnburg Flats. Atlantic 'Big Tickets' E100 each! Reasonable, and the Circus had gone when I took this, but packaging was still being arranged! These were on Jean Claude Druart's table (Toy Soldier Museum - Belgium), anyone who is interested in the Egyptian palace can eMail me as I have an eMail for him but I'm not sure if it's right, and wouldn't publish it here due to the old spam/phishing problem. A fine load of Plunder! There's a bag of Brazilian copies of Britains Herald Khaki Infantry on Timpo style bases and two Vac-forms missing from this shot! Barney Brown signed a copy of his 2nd book for me which was kind, and - as you can see - I got far more large-scale than small, indeed another trend is that 'new' (to market or me) small scale is getting very thin on the ground these days, apart from all the new production, but that's not going to be 'collectable' for a decade or two yet! Although, having said that, my first purchase, an hour in, was the Dark Dreams European Knights which I let Peter from PB Toys talk me into!!! (They are lovely figures).

Thursday, May 6, 2010

News, views etc...FFL, PW Show

I've posted the Captain Gallant comic over on my Everything Collectable blog, and stuck a link to it in the original post; Below.

Plastic Warrior's 25th anniversary show is this Saturday, 8th May, I'll be there, I hope - if I make it - I'll be wearing my tatty old 'Tuskers' pink T-shirt if anyone wants to say Hi! Details are on the Plastic Warrior website, link; Above right.

The link to the 'Three Column Minima (Layout version)' wasn't working, it is now.

B is for Bits and Bobs - Unknown figures and new production

In the pound shops as I write, these are by Funtastic, I have two play sets from about ten years ago marked Fun-Tastic, I assume they are the same import company? What they've been importing in the intervening years is anybodies guess!

They are skeletal dinosaurs, just what Fantasy role players need as heavy shock troops in their undead armies! And a pound for three? Arranged around some alien man-eating plants I'm working on!

Other resent purchases have included the two plaster figures on the left and the composition machine-gunner who came this week. He's marked 'Foreign' and will be from that period between the two World Wars when we wished to hide the fact that we were importing toys from our old (and soon to be again!) enemy; Germany. Indeed the base is similar to Elastolin with the square shape and a (hidden in the photo) raised edge.

Next to him - as I'm looking at large composition figures - is the only other from my collection, a Cossack I bought at the A3 car-boot about 7/8 years ago, he seems to be made of resin, or a very fine composition which gives a very smooth base, anyone know anything about him?

To the right of them is a pair of Fantasy figures approximately 42mm, I'm assuming they are either home-casts from something like the old Phoenix Atlantis white-metals, or unpainted members of a paint and/or cast-your-own chess set. Again any information gratefully received.

Back to the two rail officials, one of whom is clearly Japanese Railways, the other possibly having European features, they are both approximately 'O' gauge and I'm assuming they were made in Japan, if only because I can't find anything like them in Reinhard Schiffmann's book. Ideas? The bases are a temporary addition used to help them stand!

C is for Captain Gallant (Comic)

These images tie in with the Captain Gallant figures I posted on the Small Scale World blog the other day [12/10/2012 - now the same blog, if scrolling - should be a post or two below this, otherwise use tags Marx or FFL to find it below this post], anybody who wants one should try pts52 on eBay.

The cover, there is no issue number so I'm guessing it was published purely to increase interest in the forthcoming TV serial. From the fact that the only ad. is the Heinz ad. on the back page, and that Heinz are mentioned by a character, one suspects that Heinz Foods had something to do with the production of this issue - perhaps as a mail-away offer? - and were the main advertiser during the commercial breaks on US T.V.?

It's copyright'ed to 'Frantel' NY,NY and was published by U.S. Pictorial inc. (whoever they were? There is a Frantel Communications in Rochester NY, and a Pictorial Inc. in Indianapolis)

There were five separate stories, a feature on the grave of Georges Bohnert and the Heinz stuff, plus a Junior Legionnaires membership card on the back cover.

Buster Crabbe was the lead; 'Captain Gallant', while 'Cuffy' the horrid little boy was played by err...a horrid little boy! And one of the characters seems to have had a questionable relationship with a camel....it's very lonely in the desert!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

News, views etc...Plastic Warrior 137 (April 2010)

New Plastic Warrior magazine is now out, those who haven't subscribed are missing;

* Australian Made Toy Soldiers - Part 3, Les Collier.
* Cherilea Swoppet Indians - Part 2, Matt Thair.
* Andy Patridge's paean for the lost charm of 'Toy' soldiers.
* Book Review on Barry Ford's Better Dioramas.
* Carriers by TAT.
* Steve Weston's review of the 2009 toy soldier year.
* Conversions by Arthur Belshaw.
* More on the Kleeware Fort I published a while ago.
* A poser on Marx Swansea by Eric Johns and other 'What the !&*$ ?'s.
* Kilty's/Bonnie Bilt by Brad DeSantis

Not to mention two cover images, readers letters, small ad's and more...

Monday, May 3, 2010

L is for La Legion Etranger by Marx, Marksmen, Rado-Ri Toys.

One of the problems of having over a million figures in 12,000 click-shut bags, and a thousand plus boxes, packs and larger crates is that from time-to-time I confuse myself! Case in point, the other day answering a question over at the Airfix Collecting Forum on the following figures, the answer I gave was - while not inaccurate - not as comprehensive as it could have been, in that; I gave the impression that there was only one set of Foreign Legion, and that the Arabs had been given a similar release pattern to the FFL, the truth is that there are two mouldings of FFL, and the Arabs were only carried by one source...certainly in the UK, at least!

So - I threw the whole lot on the kitchen floor last night and sorted them into what I hope is a definitive history...for now at least, if you know different, comment!

These are Arabs/Bedouin, based on the Marx Arabs, issued in the US in large scale with the Captain Gallant play-set. In small scale they were sold in factory painted styrene as Indians/Afghans, for the Marx Miniature Masterpiece play-set; Charge of the Bengal Lancers.

Now, this set poses a sort of mystery, The first three and the sixth poses were not issued in the large scale sets and a quick study of them reveals that the four 'unique' poses, are based on existing figures. 'Man waving rifle over his head' is based on the (inset) advancing pose, The first figure is based on the standing firing pose, with the 'waving dagger' mans upper torso and he also provides the body for the other two figures; 'Carrying rifle' and waving dagger' and the 'Advancing with rifle across waist'.

These were supplied in the two colours shown to Marksmen by Ri-Toys (Rado Industries) a company with close links to Blue Box, or at least Blue Box moulds!

To fight them they got copies of the Captain Gallant TV show tie-in French Foreign Legion; the Grass-green and Navy-blue figures above. The paler figures are the later pocket-money carded/bagged rack-toys, and are a smaller size. They also didn't come with Arabs to fight, but rather the good old piracy's of Airfix (pictured below). Again these figures were available originally in Marx Miniature Masterpiece play-sets and again we seem to have a unique figure in the small scale; the sixth guy in the row with his rifle accross his waist. This time however we loose a large scale figure, the 'Lying firing' pose.

Captain Gallant is the forth figure from the left (and provides the bulk of the extra pose) and 'Cuffy' is the little boy/cadet. They are a right old mix of summer and greatcoat uniforms with Gallant and his doppelganger wearing a tie, but all have that 'Toy' charm.

[I have posted the Captain Gallant Comic on my other blog; Everything Collectable ] 12/10/2012 - Now integrated with this blog and appearing a post or two above this one in a 'Marx' search or immediately above this one in an 'FFL' search.

Modern issues of the FFL and Airfix copies, these should still be findable, as they were all bought within the last 10 years. Note they are not marked Ri-Toys, leaving one to suspect they are from another source, a feeling which is reinforced by their having a smaller size, however see below for my theory on this.

Loose-ends and packaging. Close up's of the combat infantry, size comparison with Airfix Bedouin, and my kitchen floor mid. photo-shoot! There were several boxes on the table behind me as well, yet I still managed to forget the green FFL officer in the main line up and the white Arab who is inset in the first photo! Also a shot to show how the blank base of the marksmen supplied figures was replaced with a 'CHINA' moniker for the HK issued versions.

All sets were approximately 30 figures, however Michael Ellis of Marksmen tells how these 'HO' figures came loose in huge boxes of thousands (if not; tens of thousands?) of figures and he had to sort them into the little cellophane bags he used with his header-cards. Obviously there is a big difference between an obsessive collector like me sorting loose Airfix into complete sets and a commercial operator getting stock together, so he tended to count loosely up to thirty of the same colour/type and bag them, consequently you don't always get every pose in every bag, or lots of one pose and one each of others. On the up-side however, you usually get more than 30 figures, Bargain!

These are earlier 1970's or early '80's sets by Ri-Toys, and you will notice that the vehicles and accessories are the same as those in the generic's marked Ackerman (UK) and Wentoys (Germany) above. I know there are lots of variations of the copies, but these are the same, so I'm confident they are Rado. I guess, they scaled them down to fit in with the existing Airfix copies, thinking that carded sets of Arabs and FFL wouldn't sell well?

The lack of a Ri-Toys logo on the modern packaging reflects the changes in the toy business since the '70's. Salesmen used to hawk these round the old independent newsagents and corner shops, now import companies do the selling over here and they want their logo/sticker on the packaging. Ackerman is a common rack-toy name and I have all sorts of cards/bags by them with figures from a half-a-dozen sources.

As a footnote, the mounted poses (two Arab and one FFL) were never issued to/by Marksmen/Rado but were in some of the old Miniature Masterpiece sets.

There are vagaries in the issuing of the large scale between the US and the UK, but anyone wanting to know them should get Plastic Warrior (link; top right) Volume's 130 and 132, where Debbie Stevens has covered them in depth.