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, July 31, 2010


My Mother's Roses giving a fine show this week.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

R is for Rospak

I first covered these in Plastic Warrior's little brother; One Inch Warrior - Vol. 4, but Hew Williams of Mid Glamorgan (I don't know if he's really from Mid Glamorgan, but whenever Welshmen write into magazines and things that's where they inevitably come from - so it's a safe bet!) was asking after them on the HaT forum yesterday and I said I'd post a few here.

Two of the Greek sets bagged, there are two other sets - Cavalry and Macedonian Phalangites, set AG2 became AG2a & 2b with 20 of one pose instead of 10 each of both.

As well as splitting the peltasts/archers (and splitting one of the Roman sets into two) in later production the transfer sheets were dropped from inclusion in the bagged sets as well and sold separately.

I used to think that the transfers also came in blue, yellow and green, but I now susspect that's a false memory confusing Revo sheets with Rospaks.

My pitiful selection of Cavalry, I know what the head of the other rider looked like as some have been glued to this guy! And with both horse poses I have nothing to complain about!

Available between Dec.1981 and Oct.'82 they were a sort lived range, sculpted in a Metal figure style by the 1:300 war-games & micro-armour firm of Heroics and Ros. Given the move to war game sizes plastics in the last 12 years, it's a pity someone hasn't put the moulds back into production?

There you go Huw (this should really hurt Our Man Dark's head!!), enjoy!! I'll post the Romans in a day or two.

The head of the missing cavalry pose, which as you can see has been 'cut and pasted' on to the cavalryman I already have, so I don't know what his whole pose looks like! And I forgot to post the other foot poses in the Greek range so here they are, again I have no weapons for them so don't know if they were separate plastic mouldings like the Romans, or metal, or indeed if you were supposed to source them yourself like some HaT Greeks? I used the bloke on the right to hold horses! Listing imported from defunct A-Z, below.

Rospaks Product Listing
25mm polystyrene war-games figures from the Heroics & Ross stable, sold in header-carded polybags. Range Lanched in November 1981, finished by October 1982.
AG1 - Greek City Hoplites
AG2 - Greek Light Infantry [November 1981 to April 1982]
AG2a- Thracian Peltasts [from April 1982]
AG2b- Scythian Archers [from April 1982]
AG3 - Greek Cavalry
AG4 - Macedonian Pikemen/Phalangiter/Palangites
AR1 - Roman Legionaries
AR2 - Roman Light Infantry [from February to April 1982]
AR2a - Roman Auxiliary Javelinmen [from April 1982]
AR2b - Roman Western Auxiliary Archers [from April 1982]
AR3 - Roman Cavalry
AP1 - Persian Archers Kneeling Firing, (probably never issued)
AP2 - Persian Spearmen (Kardakes), (probably never issued)
T1 - Greek City Hoplite Shield Designs
T2 - Roman Shield Designs
T3 - Macedonian Shield Designs
Painting Instructions
Sheet A - For packs AG1 - AG3
Sheet B - For packs AR1 - AR3
Announced - Never Issued
- Persian Cavalry
- Barbarians (Celts)
- Napoleonics
- Roman Catapult and Crew
- Greek Elephant

Sunday, July 25, 2010

F is for Follow-up

Well, after the Kinder post the other day, I had got to thinking I ought to have taken a comparison shot of Paul Revere and his alter-egos, when Scott Leach did a post over on his blog on the Marx AWI Colonial troops, which included the Paul Revere character figurine from the Johnny Tremain play-set. This was so close to the Kinder moulding I thought I'd better look up the Elastolin 'original', this post was the result! The obvious first conclusion was that they never made a figure similar to the Kinder figure, George Washington (7080, left) was the only seated figure in the AWI range, and seems to have been produced only in the 7cm/70mm range. The horse however IS based on an Elastolin sculpt, used by the Wild West range (itself a variation of an earlier horse used by the ancient and medieval ranges), here shown on the right with a cavalry trooper. I then discovered that I hadn't put the Culpitt's rider on the spare horse at all - he was too big, so I put a spare Airfix officer on it instead, they were in the 'waiting for a base' pile! Top, a 40mm Elastolin horse with the kinder version to the right. Below them the full Airfix figure on the left and the Culpitt's figure to the right, while below is the Marx Paul Revere courtesy of Scott. It would seem that the Kinder figure is in fact a combination of the two, He has the right (pointing to the rear) arm of the Marx figurine, but the left (holding reins) of the Airfix. He has the wide-collared 'cape' from Marx with the coat-tails halfway between Marx and Airfix. So in the end a quite unique figure, which ties in nicely with Airfix and other war-gaming figures of the type. A comparison shot between the Kinder and similar chasing Blue Box 30mm cowboy, similar in that it has a 'swoppet' style base and plug-in legs on the rider. The Blue Box model is based on a Britains 54mm Swoppet original. Many thanks to Scott for the use of the Photo, Scott's blog is here; Things you'll like, it's very good.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

K is for Kinder

Following on from digging out some archive images for the boys at Moonbase Central reminded me that I have yet to cover Kinder figures in any depth. In order to redress the situation, here are some of the more sought after and/or common figures available over the years from Kinder/Ferrero.

Almost cirtainly from 1979 and in commemoration of the American Bicentennial celebration of internal terrorist insurgency (it's a joke!), this figure is one of, if not THE most desirable Kinder toy ever made.

Bearing a remarkable resemblance to the Blue Box Cowboys & Indians, and based on a 70mm figurine by Hausser/Elastolin but in 25mm, this is Paul Revere running-off to tell tales - Bloody Silversmiths!

Joking aside, I owe a major debt of gratitude to the German collector Andreas Dittmann for this figure, as he had had his eye on it for some time, when the dealer (who stalled next to Andreas and had been seeking quite a bit for it, for some time) let me have it for a few Euros. Although, when I realized the situation, I offered to let him have it, he not only very graciously insisted I keep it, but then sent me a spare horse a year or so later, which I currently have one of the Culpitt's copies of the Airfix AWI Grenadier officer sat upon.

Res Plastics (RP) supplied a lot of the figures Kinder included in their solidified Nuttela balls during the late 1970's and on through to the mid-80's, among which were these Superheros in two sizes, 54mm and 30mm, so far I've only tracked down Batman and Superman, but these sets usually contain at least 4 figures so who am I missing? I suspect Robin the Boy Wonder and Superwoman, or is it Supergirl? [The apparent moulding variation in the 30mm Bat...'men' is due to the angle of lean on the green one!]

My favorites, but suffering from a very real frangibility of the plastic from day one, the Arabs/Colonials are compatible with both the Airfix and Italeri figures and with a possible 9 different configurations of camel, can really enhance the low pose rate in both those sets. Two Arab poses, one with a FFL style kepi-blanc and the other with a solar topee/Pith helmet, these are non-combatant in execution. There is a 5th pose, an Arab with his arm up, I haven't tracked down yet.

The guy in the kepi has a swagger-stick or fly-swat, but sadly it's nearly always broken, these and the figures below are in some sort of dense plastic I tend to refer to as 'nylon' but it's probably some more modern polypropylene? Anyway - all the small sticky-out bits were subject to failure from the moment they left the factory door.

Occasionally the two 'European' poses in the above set came with a horse instead of a camel, again the horses come in two halves but this time four of each giving a possible 16 configurations.

Bottom; The far less common Wellingtonian era figures come on garish coloured mounts, and these have some subtle differences in moulding, compare the saddle and base of the mane on these two otherwise identical horses.

The other RP figures in this series of sets. The Romans and Musketeers seem to be far more common than the Wellingtonians, Knights and Barbarians, but all things come to those who wait, and in the meantime I have another million figures to find!

Most come in the metallic colours, with the Romans (I think I have 4 of 4) in various golden hues, the Musketeers (showing 4 of 5) having the addition of silver and gunmetal, while the Barbarians (1 of ? 3?) were in greys and the Wellingtonians (4 poses?) in bright primary colours, the Knights(1 of 5 figures) stuck to silver as far as I know.

A 'spruelette' I've been holding on to for years without knowing which figure/set it comes from!

R is for Recent Aquisitions

Various bits and pieces that have come into the collection in the last few months, other than all the loose stuff that is!

Three Imai caricatures based on Star Wars, or at least using the coat-tails of the Lucas cash cow to 'fly'! A robot 'walker' from Bandai, this is apparently 1:144, but as it's a lot bigger than the Takara 1:144 robots I covered back at the start of this blog, there's a lot of flexibility as to what scale it - or any large robot - actually is. With some being manned, and others autonomous, and with most either imaginary or based on TV cartoons on the other side of the world, you can make them any size you want. I'll probably make these up as they're all pretty modern.

Finally a nice early pattern StuG in resin and white metal from Alemany, not a bad kit but the tracks are quite poorly moulded, and as the cheapest item in the kit, could have been replaced at source.

Dkwookie on the HaT forum brought these to our attention the other week and I managed to pick some up that weekend, still available from 'The Works' discount book/craft shops here in the UK, at 1:90 they are passable for war-games in 15/20mm.

They also do three different M1 Abrams paint variants and some helicopters or aircraft.

The LCF train set came from Peter Evans, one of the founders of Plastic Warrior, who knows the eclectic, completest nature of my collecting well enough to buy a piece of Hong Kong tat - so bad it's good - whenever he sees it!! It also arrived a week before he said he'd send it, thanks Peter!

I've already put a battery in it and rolled it round the floor a few times. There are now 4 or 5 of these in the collection, mostly civilian (plus a Skooby-Doo tie-in), and another only adds to the whole! [That's two mentions for Skooby-Doo in two days?......spooky!]

The HK 'Cattle', copies of the Airfix farm were an eBay purchase a while ago, but as they were still sitting on the 'still to be sorted' table, I took them for the photo-shoot.

Finally, this came from Mercator Trading (link to right), I sometimes help out on his stall at shows, and had watched it not sell for a couple of outings, but people did keep looking at it, so in the end I coughed up and will cover it fully in a day or two. A whole box of Dregeno wooden tractors from the former East Germany...Bargain!

News, views etc...Links & Stuff

I had a bit of a session this afternoon, moving a few of the less 'toy soldiery' or more esoteric blog-links over to the Other Collectables blog, and adding a couple of new ones here, both on 1980's vinyl smallies. I've also put a nice mosaic of Schwimmwagen detail shots on the same blog, which may be of use to WWII modelers.

Sorry for the lack of posts this last couple of months, but real-world stuff is getting in the way of the internet bubble activities at the moment so just bare with me, likewise I tried to catch up with eMails and things today, but if I've forgotten you, drop me a new line!!

A is for Archiving

I thought it might be useful to look at how I organize my collection, and deal with the mass of information/data that a collection of this kind tends to generate if you approach it in the anal manner I do!

Taking the Darleks I got the other day as a prime, recent example, here is a quick guide to archiving a new arrival in the collection;

The loose set gets put in a click-shut bag 4x5 1/2 inches (none of that jumped-up French artilleryman's metric shite here!!) with an index card that has the maker, the set title and whether or not it's a complete set written-in.

Two sheets of A4 paper are also headed with the manufacturer and/or brand, one is given a plastic sleeve and the remains of the packaging, the other gets a thumbnail sketch of the company history, other sets, piracies...anything relevant - sculptors, contact details, box types, colour variations, dates, scale, material etc...etc...

The 'detail' sheet then goes into the A-Z 'Book Manuscript', this is for small scale figures only (15mm-45mm) and currently extends to two volumes with about 500 companies listed and appendixes. In this case the sheet slips between Preiser and Pressman.

Had the items encountered been a figure-less space ship or box of trees, tractors or terrapins, this sheet wouldn't be raised at all, but Darleks are figures and these were around 25/28mm in scale/size, so the sheet is added.

The sleeved ephemera gets slotted into the larger multi-volume files on all things military and civilian - toy & model - Metal, card and plastic. Lying in between Premier and Pressfix, this leaver arch file is one of two for the letter 'P', being Po-Q.

If the item of packaging or ephemera is by a larger/more common company like Hornby, Lego or Airfix it has it's own dedicated file, series of files or other storage box.

Finally the carded set goes in a larger box with other examples of boxed, bagged or carded 'minor makes' (which I haven't bothered to photograph) while the de-carded set goes in this box of loose minor makes, nestling between a bag of Politoys spare AFV crewmen and a loose complete set of Pressmen Scooby-Doo board-game figures/playing pieces.

Obviously, with the exception of Pressman, the adjoining makers are different in all three archives, so....I'm starting to create a forth digital archive, which entails something along the lines of the first sheet above as a Word Doc. which itself is then put in a file with all images, scans and stuff pertaining to that company. This is a slow business, but as I get on top of one - it will go on the A-Z Blog in simplified text format as a list of known figures/products.

At the moment this is not yet really working either as it resides between a different Premier and Primo! Also cross-reference files and separate lists of ships/vessels, food premiums, space ships etc, need to be brought together...when I'm a hundred-and-five it should all start to make perfect sense!

C is for Cabinet Of Curious Things 2

S is for Schwimmwagen

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

P is for Plastic Hooks

More than one of anything is the start of a collection, more than ten of anything and you have a collection!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

News, views etc...Plastic Warrior 138 (June 2010)

The new issue of PW is out, and OH BOY! What a treat...it's gone colour! And I mean colour, not a center-spread or something, but right the way through. Not that you needed colour to start subscribing, you've been subscribing all along huh?...Link to right! heh heh...

Anyway, to let you know what will drop through your door in the next day or two;

* Part 4 of Les Collier's Australian production.
* There's a report into the Timpo reunion party organized by Alfred Plath.
* Matt Thair continues his round-up of Cherilea with a first look at their astronauts.
* Two Britains related book reviews
* A history of Cane' of Italy by Giampiero Larizza.
* Coverage of new products from
- Weston Toy Company
- Armies in Plastic
- Paragon
- Replicants/Peter Cole
- Ivanhoe
- Barzo
* Plus all the usual news, letters and readers adds (which are FREE to subscribers remember!).

Friday, July 16, 2010

B is for Back to Blue Box

So, I covered the Bedfords a while ago now, and took these shots at the same time, so lets 'av a loouk...

The US half-track is a very useful war gaming accessory with the proviso that you ignore the earth-mover arrangement of the tracks! Apart from the odd change in shade of colour and positioning of the stickers (real 1970's things on quite heavy vinyl and very sticky!), there was little variation in these and they do turn up fairly often, there are in addition at least two soft plastic versions from more anonymous HK producers, but they can wait for another day.

Bottom left is the DUKW, with a two-tone camouflage, this is ruined by having only two axles, however it is probably the least common of the Blue Box vehicles. The two crew figures are the equipment operators from the Bedfords, while the twin cannon cupola is taken from the Marx (and/or Airfix 'Attack Force') Landing Craft.

The helicopter is clearly based on the Sud Aviation Gazelle. Of real note is the fact that it is identical to the Hornby-Triang 'Battle Space' helicopter, and - so being - helps to further confirm my theory re. Hornby-Marx-Blue Box connections as laid out in One Inch Warrior magazine Vol. 11.

Austin Champ and American M-100 1/4 ton Jeep trailer. The Champ does not have a hitch, however the Jeep does, but has already been covered somewhere on the blog so I didn't photograph it this time. Early Champs have colour matched drivers the later ones have Mr luminous radioactive-man!

The trailer is well copied in soft plastic often pulled by piracies of the Lesney Matchbox Land Rover! The grey one comes from earlier sets which came with two 'armies' one in green, one in grey. Several vertions exist, some with the pre-war hollow-cast type accessory of a fold-down wire-stiffened cotton tent, or two!

The Blue Box Patton, a vague M47, not much to say about this one, there are a lot of copies around usually in soft ethylene plastic. Of note are the three different barrel ends pointing to a fair bit of work on the mould over the years.

Armoured cars; above are two versions of the Ferret, post-war British armoured scout/reconnaissance car, the soft plastic grey being by/supplied to Marx and possibly pre-dating the hard plastic version issued by Blue box, which was itself copied by N.F.I.C. of Hong Kong.

Below is the late Rado/Ri-Toys Daimler armoured car, taken from the Dulcop one, and so recent you can still find it on rack-toys about the place if you look hard enough. Larger scale and a nasty tinny plastic leaves it a quite undesirable piece!

Monday, July 12, 2010

They're bigger!

The last 8 days

A is for Ah!...Summer Grasses...

...all that remains of the dreams of soldiers.

Things I've worn or been entitled to wear over the years - of a now distant youth!. With the exception of the two flaming sword patches which I swapped with a guy called Eddie from the 502nd Infantry at Clay Alley in the US sector when we went on a rappelling (abseiling out of the old UH1 Hueys) course down there. The Green '1' flash was issued to a higher command I was once a part of but years after I'd left the army and the German national flash came off the Bundeswehr surplus shirts we used to wear in the field because our WWII pattern woollen things were bloody awful!

The red '28' and the brass plate next to it are from the 'Old Guard' and are based on Wellingtonian uniforms of the Peninsular and Waterloo periods (when we explained to the French politely - to begin with - that we wouldn't be driving on the wrong side of the road!).

There is also a pre-'Royal' Hampshire cap-badge, we weren't supposed to wear them, but as they shined-up far better than the Hong Kong produced 'stay bright' a blind-eye tended to be turned toward them, likewise - once I was cross-posted to the Glosters I got hold of gunmetal front and back badges at the earliest opportunity!

The little red square is all that remains of my 'A' company sweatshirt!

Friday, July 2, 2010

F is for Freaky Freddy Frogman and his Filosophic Flipper-Footed Floating Freinds

Although this is one of my 'in depth' looks at something, there is only one acknowledgment tonight, the Philosophic Toad who provided the old advert for Nabisco. As this is also in part a request by her, there's a nice symmetry there somewhere!

The original patent applications for Kellogg's, apparently the first recorded case of someone applying for a patent for a performing novelty diver/swimmer was a German gentleman in 1891. quite how a tin-plate toy would have achieved buoyancy is anybodies guess!! I know - It would have been wood or India Rubber or some such? I couldn't find his application, but found these during the search.

Notable is that A) While both applications were made the same day, it took two more years for the double figure application to be awarded? B) The patent is only sought for a period of 14 years, taking it through to 1969.

These actually throw up the most interesting bit of information to come out of the research for this post; The applicants seem to be two brothers, Henry and Benjamin L. Hirsch who apply as "Assignors to Kellogg Co." Now - with more modern applications say for Tomy, Mattel or similar the 'Assignor' is clearly an agent for the toy company, making a patent application on behalf of and signing over (Assigning) the patent to the toy company. Also there is a complication in US Law known as 'assignor estoppal' which I'm not going to go into here as it's all complicated stuff!

However the Hirsch brothers were - incidentally - the owners of a cardboard box manufacturing facility...sounds frightfully posh? I'm tired...they had a box factory! They also hold the patent - as assignors to Kellogg's - for the diving submarine, and other non-Kellogg's novalty patents.

So what? I hear the more impatient among you mutter as you read through all this drivel so's not to miss anything while really just wanting to get to the next 'pretty picture'. Well, if you've been following these cereal premium posts you will recall I made a tenuous link between a UK paper/board magnate and the production of the Soldiers of the World a month or two ago. It looks as if that link was stronger than even I was willing to credence, and that Kellogg's made a habit of having their packers produce/source/invent their give-away premiums whilst they - Kellogg's - held on to any Patents!

Two of the three Kellogg's figures, I have the limpet mine holder in red but he's so badly chewed there was no point including him in the photograph. I aught to point out that while Kellogg's held the patent (if they renewed it after '69?), they didn't hold the mould, and these figures were available in bagged sets as recently as two years ago, the only difference between them and the vintage ones was the level of rust/corrosion on the stoppers, missing on my example, however see the Manurba divers down the page.

Nabisco went with a different system all together, and probably closer to the original German's idea. While Kellogg's divers use baking soda (or - I believe - certain types of washing powder?) to generate gas (air bubbles) causing the diver to rise until the bubble departs the chamber whereupon he sinks again, with Nabisco, a lightweight moulding holds a small air bubble against the pressure of the water - in this case; in the face cavity - and by pulling/pushing a cork in the neck of the vessel you can produce movement in the diver, or screwing and unscrewing a cap, it's all about air-pressure at the surface changing the density of the water the diver is suspended in.

There was only the one pose of 'Freddy Frogman' and I don't know if I'm searching for a blue one or a Yellow one?

On the left we have a modern take on a combined Kellogg's/Nabisco system, I think these were issued 8/10 years ago, a Nylon/Rayon type dense plastic with both air-traps in the hands AND a gas chamber on the foot. The caps have yet to be removed from the 'sprues'. I don't know who issued them but Quaker and Nestle have avoided mention in this post so far...as have Cadbury?

On the right is most (?) of the Manurba divers who follow the Hirsch patent, the two blue figures still having their metal caps.

These are vintage Nabisco and of the same system, indeed they are the same plastic (a quite soft ethylene) and were a later series, coming with six sea creatures (Turtle, octopus, Pelican Fish, Swordfish,Sea Horse & Stingray) I've never seen?. Of note is the fact that the larger mouldings call for two air-traps to produce the same effect, as the mass is greater.

A look at the five types seen above for the comparison of sizes.

Known Issues;

Kent Sprecher over at the Toy Soldier HQ has some smaller versions which he credits to the '54 issue, which makes sense as they have larger powder chambers which are not the same as the patent application drawings. so adjusted list;

US Kellogg's 1954 - Smaller versions of the three large ones (Corn Flakes) [Predates the patent?]
US Kellogg's 1955 - The three large ones (Sugar Corn Pops)
US Kellogg's
1963 - The three large ones (Shredded Wheat)
UK Nabisco 1957 - Freddy Frogman (Shreddies)
UK Nabisco 1960 - Powder blue ones with sea creatures (Shreddies)
UK Kellogg's 1987 - The three large ones [Radcliffe]
UK Kellogg's 1990's? - The three small red ones
Toy Racks 2008 (approximately) - The three large ones

US Kellogg's also issued a rubber-bulb hand pump tube operated diver with Raisin Bran in 1961, this would have been a larger toy similar to the submarine I remember getting in my stocking one Christmas as a small boy.

[I notice that this images has been stolen by Ghislain Oubreyrie and poorly 'Photoshoped' for his mostly plagiarised website, there's nothing I can do about it at the moment, the man's a thief, but one day I'll sue his arse, and the more he puts (of mine) on his site the more I'll sue him for, at his current rate of thievery, I'll be getting the price of a small house off him one day...any French Intellectual Property lawyer fancy an easy case? It's just comparing images (with originals) and site-editing dates! meantime; the high quality originals will always be found here] 

19:09:2010 - An additional frogman pose turned up at Joplin's show a week ago, so here's a shot of all three with the markings laid out. They all have Kellogg co. down the left 'sprue' as you look at them in the photo, with the given number clear on the other arm and blobby/blurry on the reverse of the bottom of the left (right - as you view) foot/lump.

1st Brood Have Hatched

The first lot of Swallows are big enough to peek over the top of their nest, well - I say 'nest' - more of a cave actually, or a mud-hut! They are very sweet, if a little ugly!!

Puie puie! Or, as Bulgarian Swallows go...Pyew Pyew! I've just checked the image with the + sign and there are 6! There were only five last year, then she had a late four...how many this year?

More Photo's as they grow!

A is for Almark Publishing - Books and Pamphlets

There is a strange thing happening with reference books these days, too many of them get filled with 'Internet Bubble' falsehoods and urban myths, rumor and plain old poor research, yet are without doubt very well illustrated. If you could only take the images from modern works and marry them to the text of the old standards, you'd have a hell of a library! These are Almark, who along with Bellona (couple of them sneaked into the picture - bottom left), Arms & Armour Press, Osprey and Ian Alan provided most of our needs in the 1970's and early '80's. What's even more useful is that Almark's were very well illustrated as well!