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.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

P is for Pirrates Proparrr!

Avast me 'arties! I be fouwnd 'der pirrates true!

Made By Tito, and sold all over Europe as Ice Cream, Cereal and other food premiums, probably a Portuguese or Spanish (?) TV cartoon, I'll post more when I find all the notes, just wanted to get them up before midnight. Memory serves that the UK issue only had 6 of the poses, or that there were 10 on the continent? It'll all come out in the wash!

Aah-Haarrr Jim'mlad!

It Would appear that everywhere except Britain (France, Portugal, Spain and various South American countries) they were issued with boxes of Ajax washing powder, I only mention Kellogg's through word of mouth, so they were probably Ajax here to?

Although the 6 versus ten would appear to be actually 8 (or 10?) of 20. As Kellogg's took less than a full set(half in fact) of the Soldiers of the World, this would back-up those who think these are Kellogg's not Ajax.

I've moved the pirate link here from the old News/Views post;

Parai'so Artificia (2021 - now a locked 'invite-only' Blog)

Here are some from South America, again a complete set;

Natux's Blog

I had found another full set from the Iberian Peninsular but seem to have lost it again! How far away is Talk Like A Pirate Day...still, I'll cover some more next year!! Christmas next...

12/11/10 - Thomas Doyle has found the original ad, there were only 6 figures in the Kellogg's set, Barrigon and Patapalo were not part of the issue, as they turned up in the UK, I suspect another issue...Peak Freans, Cadbury's???

T is for Talk Like A Pirate - Ooo'Ahrrr

Today, as the title suggests is International 'Talk Like A Pirate' day - Bargain!! This used to be well supported on the HaT forum, but raised nothing of import today...so as I couldn't find any obvious pirates at short notice, I've posted some 'Unknown naval kit-figures' that happened to be at hand as I'm re-sorting all the kit-figures at the moment (among other things!!) [Photograph updated to reflect Russ's comment, still need to identify the last two sub-HO figures]

Top are quite large, somewhere between 1:76 & 1:72 and from the dress could be a Spanish ship, possibly one of the Heller triptych; Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria?

Below them at approximately HO/1:86/87 scale are figures possibly from one of the Bounty models, the 'officer' looks very Cap'n Bligh to me! Or a Victory?

The third row look more like pilgrims? but could be from one of the pirate ship models which were in a smaller scale - 1:100?

Finally, this chap came with the row above, but a child with a peg-leg? seems a bit cruel to me! So he may be from a separate 1:120'ish sized model?

Any Naval model fans following this? Please comment...Yar Scumm-suckin' landlubberrrs!!!

News, views etc...Frogmen, Help, Blogs

I've added a picture to the frogman post of a few weeks ago, and also some identification information to some of the early 'unknown' posts from a year and a half ago.

A reader asked me a while ago if I could supply him with a list of the old 1:76 scale conversion articles in Airfix Magazine and Military Modeling, as mine are all buried in a box somewhere, I said I'd go through the annuals this weekend. I then thought/remembered that someone had produced a list, in fact - I thought it was in Terry Wise's book, but it isn't, which means I'll have to go through all the war-games books as well?! Just wondered if anyone could remember which book had the list, or, if there are any lists of such articles on the Wibbly Wobbly Way I can forward to him as a link? Any help greatly received, comment or eMail.

I am thinking of moving the Manufactures A-Z over here and closing down that otherwise superfluous blog, I don't know why I started it really, as it's images which are limited not text! Also I started with a lot of the cross references which I then failed to produce the cross-referenced list for, so even if you go there it's a bit disappointing!!! So as-and-when I will try to actually 'do' the listed companies over here and then close that one. The Airfix Figures one is still being 'built' but I'm thinking of changing the format and starting again!!! So it will be some time yet? Doh!

Dropped-by Figoblogotheque this afternoon and found a fantastic blog; Winter of '79, which has brought back all sorts of memories and mixes good scenic work/product reviews with a tongue-in-cheek look at '80's politics and the goings-on in Ambridge at the time!! Have linked to it, check out the links to the left.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

V is for Vinyl, Polyvinyl Chloride

Looking at the World Of Warcraft figurines the other day caused me to take these at the same time, and I then didn't get round to posting them, so here they are, as a comparison re. modern PVC/Vinyl, factory-painted production.

Following on from Hero-clicks (see below) came Horror-clicks, and these were shifted at the end of their run via Poundstretcher here in the UK. All this stuff ends up in clearance, sometimes posh (TK Maxx) sometimes not (your local pound shop/dollar store), but those who pay for them at retail, are subsidizing those of us who take advantage of the clearance,

Getting on my socialist horse here for a second; If the manufacturers priced them slightly cheaper, they'd sell more first time around and have less clearance!! Capitalism - it's an illness and a madness.


Occasionally a film will produce themed sets, Indiana Jones is a good example with 20 and 30mm sets from Galoob and Disney respectively [to be covered another day]. Another was the third remake of King Kong, Playmates took-up the franchise and produced a couple of play-sets with various figures and monsters and these are some of them!

Heroclix, born out of Mage Knight and from Wizkids the same Wizards of the Coast stable as the Star Wars Miniatures game [See comments! Mea Culpa]. Originally Marvel Characters for use in a role-playing board game, these have now morphed into a multi-comic/graphic novel character game with a card element.

Like the [otherwise totally unrelated!] Star Wars Miniatures game, this collection contains so many figures in so many issues that it's impossible to follow if your head is already full of 1950/60's plastic toy soldiers, so I tend to buy them by the half-handful at car-boot sales, also they were issued in 2000, the year I consider the cut-off for serious collecting/documenting.

Yet More Fungi!

This has been a very good autumn for Fungi and mushrooms, we had some very nice edible ones form the graveyard the other day which I put in a lamb-stew, and survived to tell the tale! I can't stop photographing them, as the are both very photogenic and - unlike the moths and butterflies - stand around patiently waiting for you to frame the shot!

The one bottom-right has a teeny-little one just coming-up in front of it!

The two on the left are surly poisonous, the one top-right is probably edible.

N is for Non-Matching Matches!

Gotta' Light Guvnor?

This is real magpie'ism, but as they all fit in one old household matchbox, it's not one that is taking up much space!!

I'm afraid the colours haven't re-produced well, especially the whites which all look the same!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

H is for Hollow-cast

Intermittent Internet has led to my abandoning my attempt to beat my monthly total record (which was my first full month! Enthusiasm for the new huh!), but I'm back in the saddle until the next chunk of real life intervenes! And here's a nice bit of vintage metal to re-start...

These were photographed on Andy Morant's table at the end of the Norman Joplin Toy Soldier show last Saturday, Andy stall's out in the Portobelo Road market, where these and a myriad other delights are ready to lighten your pocket!

The show gets busier every year, and was brisk for most of the morning, it's a definite date on the collectors calender.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Shrooms - Friday gone

I think top left is an edible Puff-ball. Love the way a little slice of the one top right just went on strike and refused to climb as high as the rest of the umbella!

Bottom left is obviously very tasty to some insect, while the ones on the right look just like False-stone/Pebble cacti!

A is for Accoutrements

The final (to date?) installment of the 'Giant' fort story begins in the early-to-mid 1990's when Archie McFee, a US toy and novelty retailer and early 'web' eRetailer started offering the original Giant mouldings - in new colours, under their 'Accoutrements' label. They were made more widely available by dint of Paul Stadinger who secured a goodly number and distributed them to the Toy Soldier collecting community via his Stads List.

The two sets as issued, there was a third item - a large bag of Knight figures only, appeared first in approximately 1990. The Mongol fort was then issued in around 1993 with the Knight's fort following sometime '95/96.

However they were only copies of a late 1970's to mid-80's issue originally marked MADE IN HONG KONG (rear card/R.hand card above), the Hong Kong was then obliterated - presumably in preparation for the return to China in '97) and finally overprinted with the Accoutrements disc on the reverse and the MADE IN CHINA block on the obverse.

The Archie McFee/Accoutrements cards were a more modern all-colour printing, the older HK issues being a three-colour process, but the original artwork was used, rather than a copy as was the case with the Giant set we looked at the other day. Figures in the HK and early figure bag had the 'Giant' scratched-out on the figure's bases, later sets had 'China' over-engraved.

The latest outing for the mould was with BuM in 1999, when they issued the Mongol fort with both the Mongol infantry, and with their own ex-Montaplex copies of the Airfix Sheriff of Nottingham figures.

The real question is - If the moulds to both forts and the Knight & Mongol figures are still usable, where are the rest of the Giant moulds, and might they also one day reappear? Also the fact that they can keep popping up and filling western companies order-books suggests that the poor quality of HK mouldings in general, is down to the poor quality of the masters, not - as some have claimed over the years (myself included) - cheap moulds, and in fact the moulds can under the right circumstances last just as long, and produce as much product as any of Airfix's moulds?

Of note - Accoutrements are currently carrying the set of 5 metal knights by Westair of the UK, sometimes credited to Kinder Germany! What goes around comes around!!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

W is for World of Warcraft

One of the more recent trends in toy collecting has been the emergence of the 'Art' or 'Designer' toys, which were born in the 1990's; Wikipedia.

Of all the branches of our hobby, this is the one I have the most trouble getting my head round, they are produced in the same factories, from the same materials as figures similar to the ones in this post, given the same finishes and yet start at £20/30+ per small figure and can retail for thousands. They are also often quite grotesque with lots of blood, guts, dripping flesh, genitals, empty eye sockets etc, etc...

How can a 10-inch bunny-robot with an open belly full of bloody skulls or fetuses be worth ten times the retail price of a Wizards of the Coast 16-inch At-At Walker? So with the latest version/edition of WoW (as they are known) reaching the clearance wholesalers at £1.99 from their original retail price of £9:99, I though it would be an idea to look at them while musing on their over-hyped bigger brothers.

Two of the techniques common to Art Toys are metallic decoration and the use of transparent vinyls. The Elfin figure top left had a two-tone sword in metallic maroon and lilac, would you pay $300 dollars for a zombie bear in the same colours when this chap is currently around 75p?

Below him is a winged daemon of some kind, he has clear yellow vinyl wings with an over-paint of graduated red-orange, so what's so special about a similar half-dead corrupted duck-skeleton that it could be 'worth' a hundred time as much or more? Also of note, the Wikipedia article states that the production of designer toys is moving to Japan - in part - because they use transparent vinyls, yet these are made in China, I would suggest the move toward producing in Japan has more to do with Japanese proclivities toward torture, tentacle-porn, machine-porn and schoolgirl sex!

The Mage in the group of elves - bottom right - has many of the elements of a 'limited edition' designer toy, spikes, skulls, frown!...yet is pocket-money, not annual bonus money!

In the large picture a figure has been produced totally in clear vinyl, then painted until only the Jewell in the end of the staff is showing transparent (I can't tell whether the whole figure is yellow, or the Jewell is over-tinted), while the little pink-haired dwarf girl-warrior is exactly the sort of thing the designer toy people will sell you, in a larger size, for half a weeks wages!

As someone said the other day re. the current price of gold vis-a-vis historical gold trends, and bearing in mind the Tulip craze of the C17th, if something looks like a bubble, and feels like a bubble it probably is a Bubble...how long before the buyers of Designer Art Toys realize they have filled their lovely, sleek, black-framed, illuminated, glass cabinets with modern, industrial-processed, culturally meaningless, deformed, soul-destroying crud?

The above figures are from the latest incarnation of WoW, being the 'Miniatures game', there's also the 'Collectable card game' the 'Board game' (with smaller unpainted figures) and other branches of the franchise, nothing like squeezing the maximum out of your fans, but at least this is the affordable way of shifting a ton of vinyl to those with disposable wealth!

Friday, September 3, 2010

T is for Thank You

I was going to do a post on World of Warcraft tonight, new production, not common here, and follow it with the next part of the Forts we've been looking at, but two things happened to push them back one....

Some covered - plenty more still to come!

First I realized it was the 300th post since 'A is for Aurora' back in December 2008, so I felt I aught to mark it in some way, and the best way is to thank all those who have followed and/or commented since I started, it's nice to know people are even remotely interested in my wittering!!

Marx, Marksmen, Blue Box, Rado/Ri-Toys and the 'Opie purchase'
(like the Louisiana purchase but FAR more important!)

Secondly, Dave Keen over at PSR posted a link to this blog at about 11 o'clock last night, and the 180 hits a day I've been getting for the last month or so shot up to 2000 in less than 24 hours! So welcome and thank you to all the new visitors, two of whom have eMailed with kind words.

Vehicles, newer figures and 'Odds'

As I'm thanking people I'd like to thank the boys at Moonbase Central for many beneficial exchanges and putting-up with my 'silly dictionary' entries, Clive over at Vintage Wargaming who sent me a couple of really interesting early catalogues soon after I started blogging, The Philosophic Toad who's proved invaluable with help on Cereal Premiums, Ron Marshall for inviting me onto a couple of his shared blogs and the Input of Arlin Tawzer, Arto Haarala and Ron Chaisson who often point me in the right direction or add a piece of the 'bigger picture' which is what this is all about.

Larger quantities by larger makes!

As this is starting to sound like an Oscar speech!...I'll thank Paul Morhead, Peter Evans and Brian Carrick from Plastic Warrior. James Opie who sold me his entire Hong Kong small scale collection for what we both knew was half the intrinsic value and a tenth of the US eBay value! German collectors Peter Bergner and Andreas Dittman, along with Dimitri from Russia and Thanassis from Greece.

While from the UK collectors fraternity the following have been good friends, good sources of figures and/or information OR; all three! John Begg (all three and more!), John Clarke, Timpo Dave (who's now Lego Dave!), Adrien Little, Matt Thair, Barry Blood, Tony Herrington, Jan Jarzembowski, Andy Harfield, Dave Keen, Gareth Morgan and anyone I've forgotten!

One of five!

As we have new viewers at the moment, I'd stress that while I like eMails as much as the next man (when they're not telling me to pharmaceutically enhance my manhood with a Christian bank loan from Bakina Fasso before Hotmail close my account for winning to many national and international lotteries), I'd far rather you comment here, even if you think you've nothing to add, like police work it's the little snippets that produce the whole.

You'll see I use a lot of question marks, a lot of 'might, could, probably, seem to, I'm guessing, I think, it's believed...', there are thousands of companies who have produced figures and accessories for themselves or others, copied or been copied, bough-in or been bought-out by, or just disappeared and anything you can add helps. Even if you just leave a pleasantry, it's nice to know you've been through!

Company-specifics, book manuscripts, thematic lists etc...

Also like 'Liz' over on the Other Collectables blog, or 'Anon.' here who provided a nice shot of Scandinavian Space-ship dime-stores, if you have something you think I'd like to post, or you don't fancy blogging but would like to show something, get in touch and it can be added to an existing post, become part of a new post or have a post all to itself, fully acknowledged or totally anonymous, as you like it!

If there is something you don't like let me know that too, unless it's my occasional snipes at the French, that stays!

The plastic flats

If there is something you'd like to see, give me a shout, if I've got it I'll make an effort to post it as soon as I can. But ask me here or at my eMail, not on someone else's forum/blog please.

I guess now is also the time to apologise for not delivering some of the things I have said I would. Ive still got three draft pages meant for the T34 roundup I was planning in April '09! The mini-trucks I said I'd do in a few days - some months ago - are preying on my mind (and I'd like to do the HO ones by N.I.F.C. or whoever they are at the same time), the scenic and elves stuff I started to serialise sort of petered out - they are still on the work top! While I'd like to get more Renovation/Collecting/Archiving posts done, but they just aren't as interesting as more figures or tanks!

What a few hundred-thousand Hong Kong pirates look like!

So there you go, thanks to all for visiting, commenting, following, linking or just getting to the end of this self-indulgent post! I'll keep putting it up here...lets do another 300!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

M is for Magnificent Men! Processed, Tim-mee et al.

Influenced by Scott's blog, tonight's title is a straight lift from his the other night and it was following the link on his that got me digging these out. These are slightly larger than 1:72 at around 1:65? The Hong Kong copies below are a bit smaller and fit well with 1:72.

A quick search on Google reveals that both these and a Spad were available in red, yellow or green, and probably other colours and aircraft types as well. On the left in each view we have a Fokker D-VII while on the right a Camel in French roundels.

Made at about the time the Tim-mee brand was being changed to Processed Plastics, both cards are PP, Montgomery, Illinois, however the Camel is marked Tim-mee Toys, Mont.Ill., while the Fokker is marked Processed Plastics, Aurora Ill. where they still produce toys to this day under the J.Lloyd umbrella, including the 'Tim Mee' vehicle range.

A Hong Kong copy of the Fokker, also marked 'Fokker D-VII' and possibly marketed by Giant in the US, here in Europe they would have been on more generic packaging.

An accurate copy but seemingly hand-done rather than pantographed, as the loss of size is greater than one might expect from pantographing.

My 'Flying Circus', the red one is marked JN4 Jenny as are the green one with missing tail-planes & pink wheels, and the solid nosed yellow one, the green one with a red propeller is marked DeHaviland DH-4 and the blue-nose is a Nieuport 17C.

Very much a side-bar to the main figure collection and only sought out because they have little pilots and gunners, I have some smaller ones (about 1:87 - Giant (?), 1:90 generic copies) which I'll post another day.

Finally, one can't really write on Great War string-bags without mentioning THAT circus, and its leader, The Red Barron - Von Richthofen - with his Fokker Dr.I Dreideker (shhhh....a copy of the Sopwith Tri-plane!), here closer to 1:60 and packaged for Marks & Spencer about 4 Christmases ago, probably someone like Carama/Hongwell produced it?

Closing from 9 o'clock is another Nieuport 17, this one still on its card from Jean Hoefler, while it's about the same size as the HK ones, the body is wider and the pilot is creeping toward 1:65'ish.

G is for Giant and Relatives

Moving not in a specific direction, neither older nor younger, first or last, but rather rambling toward a conclusion, we have arrived at the father of the forts we've looked at in two of the previous three posts on the subject, the 'Giant' of New York commissioned/marketed design.

Being a UK/European release, this does not have the Giant branding on the card, however both the fort and the figures are Giant marked examples, the fort is in quite sensible colours and the knights are those we (Arlin Tawser and myself) sort of agreed to term type 2/3 (or) 'late/last' production in the pages of 1 Inch Warrior magazine a few years ago (NINE!!! Where does it go?...have I already said that tonight?!!!), and which have been re-issued by others in recent years (better make that the last decade or so...Where does...!), but more on them in the next part of the forts.

To the right is the other facade design, for the Mongol sets, again a sensible/realistic colour.

This one looks the same doesn't it? You're thinking he's uploaded two similar images, he doesn't usually do something like that? No, this is that old HK chestnut; When kissin'cousins go bad; The family down the street doing a strait copy, fort, figures and artwork/layout; All - bar the horses - poorer quality and unmarked. It's a fact though; Mix the horses up and you can't tell them apart.

The two cards, Giant supplier on top, copyist behind, it's good, it's very good, but a rather wasted effort, parents like mine wouldn't let me have either, "Not that rubbish, look here's some Airfix RAF Personnel, I remember when I was on Blackheath in 1940..." (I Love you Mum, but I REALLY wanted that big bag of Romans, and I still haven't found it, they had a whole rack in Webb's, Einco I think, I just KEEP finding the Indian Village!!!). While the corner shops didn't care where their cheap rack-toys came from?

Speaking of cheap rack toys this is the 3rd or 4th? (I'll work it out when I pull all the posts together in a few days) generation of Giant copy, with the poorer of the gold figures we looked at the other day, these are the ones with smooth bases.

Note the Woolbro overprint on the left hand one, this would normally have been found in Woolworth's, but some did end up with independents, as we saw when I did a Woolbro overview a year or so ago.

Mowed yesterday!

The lawn is the lawn, and the woods are the woods and never the twain shall meet! So after a quick PR shoot, they went!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

P is for Paper and Pulp (card)

A post full of coincidences tonight, some contrived, some pure fluke. The first is that while I've been planning this for a few days, it comes just after Mannie Gentile covered the Walkerloo figures on his blog; Toy Soldiers Forever and Scott B Lesch posted a nice sheet of Pelerin style French Fire Brigade papers on his blog; Things You'll Like. So a little bit of synergy moving wisp-like through the blogger-sphere there!

The second, accidental coincidence is that one of the reasons I've been planning this for a few days is that I'd read - a few weeks ago - that Edward Ryan had died and posting on Terry Wise reminded me I meant to do a tribute to Mr. Ryan too. Now when I caught the news of his demise (on Treefrog - I think) I assumed it was recent, but it turns out the initial announcement was a year ago today Washington Post, well technically tomorrow, but that's less than twenty minutes away so it'll be today before this post goes 'live' (he actually passed away 29th August).

Which is further coincidence, as I only took the photo's this afternoon in order to put something between the fort posts and I'm only splitting the fort posts because I started to rather by accident (I could have gone Part 1, 2 etc...As I had with VEB and others), more of that when I tie them all together in a day or five.

It's sad that another of the 'Greats' has gone-before, if I had to save only five of the books from my Library, his would be one of them, the depth and breadth of his research, over a lifetime was extraordinary and the shear number of companies and individuals mentioned in the text and/or appendices is second - in number - only to Garrett's great work. Paper Soldiers is not just a fine reference work, but also a beautifully illustrated casual read, or coffee table browse!

When we first moved here, I had decided to start collecting larger scales, as the 'whole picture' requires it and there was a slowing-up of new information in the smaller scales. Now I'd always collected card and paper in the small scales, so it was another coincidence when we went into Wantage for the first time - nearly two years ago, where does the time go?! - with directions to the local second hand bookstall.

[Side note; there were very good booksellers in both Wantage and Newbury, the Newbury one was Invicta, whom I remembered advertising in the modeling press years ago, sadly they closed this spring, although with hardbacks for a pound and soft-backs for 50p toward the end, I did 'fill my boots'! They will continue to have a bookcase or two in a corner of the Wantage arcade though.]

Well when we found the Arcade, they had these (Edizioni Storiche Europa) sheets of card Napoleonics for a couple of quid each, not the 19th Century stuff Ryan specialized in, but - and I'm guessing here - 1970's? Now I couldn't justify buying them when we first moved in as money was tight and other thing's were more pressing, so each time we went in to browse (hide from the rain!) I'd check they were still there and re-hide them (in full view - I give others a fighting chance!) until I was able to get them, by which time two had gone...Hay Ho! So the first Soldiers I purchased in our new home, were among the first large scale I bought. If not a coincidence; more synergy!

This only got photographed (Parragon/Simon & Schuster, 1991) because it was waiting around to go in the tub, which is half-way down a stack, behind something else and quite heavy, and I've pulled my back out fighting with a lawnmower, a stubborn choke and some long grass, not coincidence but fortuitous happenstance?

The crate in question! The beauty of card and paper is you can store a lot in a small space - if it's not made up! The Medieval Tournament above will end up in the stack of modern/current production you can see at the bottom of this crate, being Dover, Steve Jackson, Fiddler's Green and Usborne. The bus you can see is an old Riko re-packaging of something I think has been mentioned before? But that might have been on one of the forums, anyway until I get the crate out it'll have to stay Riko...(Price and Etheridge?). ANOTHER coincidence; The single-page list of small scale card/paper manufacturers was in a file on the floor, where I left it last night, meaning to put something else away!!

And with down-loadable war games paper becoming really quite popular at the moment, lets hear it for coincidence, spare a thought for Mr. Ryan on the anniversary of his passing and remember that in the wider world of Toy and Model soldiers, card and paper have a larger place than I've so far given them.

(Added 1st September 2012; It was Price and Etheridge! Repacked by/supplied to RIKO)