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.

Friday, May 27, 2011

E is for Erzgebirge...

…or is it? Before we look at the post (which I think I said I’d do in a week or two about a year ago!) let’s look at this increasingly used term for all things wooden and toy-like, and/or vaguely European and/or all things vaguely 19th or early 20th Century made of wood.

One friend of mine uses it all the time, but in his defense he does tend to stock a lot of early European wooden toy soldiers or farm and zoo animals, indeed I think I picked it up from him as a collective noun.

Yet, while you will find it in Penny Toys (1991) by Pressland and other more recent works, you won’t find it mentioned in any of the 1970/1980’s Toy Soldier works by Garratt, Harris, Rose or Ruddle, you won’t find it in early books by Joplin or Opie either. In Garratt’s encyclopedia, there is no use or mention of the word in either of the longer entries under ‘Wood’ or ‘Germany’, and it is using those words in conjunction with indexes that has failed to produce a use before Pressland’s work in several dozen books over this past weekend.

The Toy Collector by Louis H. Hertz (1969 & 1976) talks of the Germans trying to rename the collective oeuvre of wooden toy production “Bavarian Guilders Toys” in the 1860’s and 1870’s, and elsewhere in the book he looks at the subject of the mass production methods without using Erzgebirge once. Note; I find the work quite anti-German, overly pro-American and pompous to the point where it should have been titled ‘The Very Rich, Very-Early-American-Toy Collector ONLY’, and while it is an academic work full of useful stuff, if you’re anything like me you’ll get so angry reading it you’re better served reading one of O’Brien’s more modern guides to US toys.
So, if by now you’re interest is up and you’ve got internet there, try Google’ing either ‘Etymology of the word Erzgebirge’ or ‘First use of the word Erzgebirge’…did you get more than four results? None of which were much use at all? If you did you may know more than me, as I might have missed a few pages through the Library service’s filters! The word is pronounced ertz-ge-beer-ga for those not familiar with German pronunciation!

The point I’m making is that this word seems to have been re-invented or become attached to wooden toys - in general - in the late 1980’s at the earliest, having been taken from the ‘true’ antiques trade (where it pertains to larger 'household' items in the main), and is hopelessly inaccurate for the task allotted it, taking - as it does - the name for a range of hills (the Ore Mountains) in the eastern elbow of the German border region adjoining the Northern Czech Republic, in which some wooden toys are made, specifically the Christmas window displays of candle bows and pyramids and the chunky figural and other nutcrackers (among which the ‘Toy’ Soldier features, by dint of cross pollination with the fairy story’s; The Nutcracker and The Tin Soldier), and having to carry all wooden production in a region 10 times the size, under its banner.

An area taking in - as a minimum - the whole of Bavaria (Bavarian Alps, The Bavarian Forest and Munich), Barden-Wurttemberg and Barden-Barden (the Black Forest to the West and everything between the Black Forest, Stuttgart and the Bodensee/Lake Constance), the Hartz mountains to the North and - to the South; pretty much the whole of Switzerland, most of Austria (the Tyrol) and Northern, Alpine Italy (Mont Blanc and Courmayeur - Piedmont and Lombardy) and areas of France and the Ardennes Forest further North-West (Vosges and Luxembourg) and the Rhine valley west of the Black Forest running north to them.

This is not to ignore the fact that these items also came/come from what is now Poland, the Czech and Slovak republics including areas well south of Erzgebirge and other areas that have nothing to do with the above described area. So; If you consider yourself a serious collector, or wish to contribute to the sum total of knowledge and research, rather than muddying the waters (which happens a lot on the internet!), catch yourself before you casually label something Erzgebirge, remember that a favorite ‘Erzgebirge’ item, the Noah’s Ark with its little sets of paired animals is as likely to have been made in Britain or the US of A than to have originated in some medium sized hills on the Czech border!

And that those very animals, also supplied with nativity scenes and farm sets, little villages and such like were (are) made on lathes, to the same design all over the developed world, and with each village copying the next town, with each family copying the local Co-operative, and with small companies copying large companies in order to get their product sold alongside the other, they have developed into two distinct and universal types…which after my rant in favor of historical and semantic accuracy; we will now look at!

Note that the beautifully carved larger pieces, brown bears, squirrels and such like and the iconic ‘shaved’ trees are as likely to be Black Forest as Ore Mountain!

Lets start with the set I originally said I would cover a few days later, some time ago! This - typically - IS an ‘Erzgebirge’ piece, being from the former East Germany (and a company called Dregeno) where the only ‘alpine’ craft area was the Ore Mountain region to the South.

I fell in love with this set the moment I saw it, it was on my mates stall at a price outside my budget, and he was as happy to break it up as keep it together (no crime, it’s only a 1960’s/70’s shop-stock carton when all’s said and done), giving the box to a late-comer, which might have been me, as he gets annoyed with things at packing up time, and often says “Here, you have it then!”.

As it happened, no one payed the slightest interest in it all day, and next time it came out…it was within my budget! So having taken some photographs when I thought it’d go to someone else, I was able to take it home complete and paw-over it!

Isn’t it brilliant? Six little tractors with their trailers, roughly 1:72 scale (HO railways you see!) mostly wooden construction, but for some reason (a poorly organized soviet-style collective factory?) some of the wheels are composition, pinned-on with a small picture-framers tack, some of the wheels are wooden, glued to the dowel axles.

Strassenbau means ‘road-construction’ (a water tank or tar?) and the AFV enthusiasts among you will recognize Mobelwagen from the boxy Quadruple Flackvierling conversion of a Pz.Kfw.IV as ‘Furniture Van’. If you like them as much as I do, feast on the pictures and then we’ll put them to work…

The little green and red tractor is this sequence, is a perfect illustration of my rant above, it could have been made anywhere toys are made. As it was bought in the UK, it was probably made here, there have been/are lots of wooden toy makers in the UK, mostly small concerns coming and going over the years, many using the slice method to make components and then stick them together into recognizable things like a tractor. This one is made from a slice of routed timber (the body) and various slices of three different diameter dowel, big (back wheels), medium (front wheels, seat and steering-wheel) and fine (exhaust stack and steering column).

The pigs in the middle-right shot are also from dowel, with wire tails and leather feet, the feet can be found as nails, wood-splints, hardened leather or sections of cocktail, or kebab-stick sized dowel. This is the cartoon or less realistic type of common animal design, the other shots show the other common animal type, slice-cut from shaped strips of timber (imagine picture-frame or banister rail, but in a continuous ‘silhouette’ of the animal). They used to be cut on bowl-makers lathes so that one end of older animals is slightly thinner than the other.
The two modern trees in the bigger shot are likewise slice-cut while the routed-dowel figures are very common, both are still made all over the place and neither can be described as Erzgebirge at all.

Of interest re. the Noah’s Arks that so many wooden animals originate from; In Victorian England (and a contemporaneous America?) it was considered poor form for children to play with toys on a Sunday (Bloody Protestant’s, sometimes they’re worse than Bloody Catholics!), but they were allowed to play Noah…because he was in the Bible!…religion; don’cha just love it!

The shot bottom-left has some interesting bits, the figure with the paper-hat could well be Erzgebirge as he has some resemblance to the folk-dress of the Ore Mountain miners, but could equally be from Greece, or somewhere more Balkan? The sitting Nun, again, might be Erzgebirge, but is not representative of work from that small region of the wider wooden toy production belt so should correctly be called a craft or folk-piece.

The buildings and slice-cut figure at the rear of the group have detail pressed into them, which I believe (think, imagine?) is done by softening the wood with steam, whether this would be done before or after they have been cut into their little slices I don’t know/haven’t worked out. But like the slice cutting and lathe-work, this would presumably be a semi industrial process, involving a weighted drop-forge sort of affair, like making coins!

So whether you were a single family, or a larger concern, hundreds-an-hour can be cut, stamped and painted, they would/will then go to another part of the factory, or the village collection point or a regional wholesaler, who divvy’s them up into sets, fills orders and sends them to Macy’s in time for Christmas, or to feed the tourist trade; I’ve seen these in huge displays in shops round the ‘Zoo’ and Ku-damm in Berlin, and down the bridge-end of Bad Tölz* high street as well as the ‘Traditional’ section of Hamley’s!

[* Where my brother and I once took turns sitting at Rommel’s desk and; no, I don’t know what Rommel’s desk was doing in a US Ranger CO’s office in an ex-SS barracks!]

The small shots show some of the common wooden stuff we all had a bit of somewhere in our toy box or playroom as kids, maybe inherited from older members of the family, or kept by Granny for us to play with when we visited (in a tin with Bluebirds or ‘The Haywain’ on the lid!), or maybe found in a mixed lot from the Church Fete or a charity stall at the Jubilee Hog Roast of ‘77.

Again, mostly sectional slice construction with the people being routed dowel. Detail is here either screen-printed or stamped on. The little slotted blocks under the trees top-right are a carry-over from paper toys, and help the items stand-up on an uneven carpeted or flag-stone floor.

The large image is a variety of mostly turned trees and ornamental shrubs; the large one with paint missing at the base may be a fancy finial from the dormer window on a dolls house or something? Dressing-table mirror? The windmill is another example of something which might have been Erzgebirge once, but now comes from all over the place, exactly the same – Same design, same paint scheme, same door and window placing, same sails…as everyone tries to make his product look like the next guys.

So, let’s extend the Erzgebirge region from the already vast area I mapped out above, this set - admittedly - slightly different in design; comes from Spain. This is one from a large range of over 30 sets by Goula, in their ‘Urban’ series. Plastic flats help populate the town with both people and trees & street furniture. From the artwork I’d say 1960’s? Can any Spanish reader put a more accurate date on it?

I need to thank someone for finding this for me, but can’t remember if it was ‘Timpo’ Dave or Matt Thair, (White Tower Miniatures, link should be to the right, but is currently down the bottom somewhere, blame all the changes from Blogger in recent weeks!), so I’ll thank them both as they’re always finding me nice little esoteric small-scale pieces!

Again from the Artwork I’d say 1970’s for this German boxed set; ‘My Little Town’, a very commercial piece, with thick glossy finish, note how the scale between the cars and wagon are miles apart and the finish on the horses is a different style from the other accessories with an over-printed detailing, this set probably originated in three or more workshops and was assembled by Hamba (Haoba or Haba?) once they knew what stock they had for that season and could design the box and tray.

This Tobar (UK Webpage) set was bought in the Army & Navy department store in Camberley, Surrey, sometime in the last 7 or 8 years (if that; 4 or 5?), timeless designs, timeless overprinting, people and animals from three sources in three design types, if you were to take them in the garden and get them a bit worn and dirty, there’s not a toy expert in the world who could tell you if they were made in 1909, 1949, '69 or 2009, or where!

To try an explain the terms I’ve half invented above (after ranting about other people’s casual use of terms…what am I like!), I knocked these sketches up to illustrate the slicing method with a modern strip and the older late Victorian or Willhelmian/Edwardian turned blank. Basically it’s just like slicing bread!

It would be really nice if someone could either provide links to images of Wooden Toy production, or better still; if someone from the industry were to find this, drop us a few comments, especially on the relief detail methods, (steam?).

Because of the craft/folk nature of this stuff and it’s timeless designs, patterns and manufacturing processes, it’ll never be as collectable as say early Elastolin composition Nazi’s, Italian Spacemen or pre-war Britains Yeomanry Regiments, indeed in the wider world of collectables it will never command the respect given to US Cast-iron coin-banks or early Bing Dampfloken (Trains), yet it has a charm that should guarantee at least a little ends up in every serious collection. While the ‘flat’ nature of the trees and fences make them ideal for backgrounds on narrow display shelves.

Go on; save some wooden toys next time you’re at a show or auction, your kids will thank you and it might even be genuine Erzgebirge…sssh, don’t use the word.

C is for Cricket (Board Games)

Well, a volcano and high pollution levels caused by extraordinarily nice weather have led to ideal if lung-irritating playing conditions at the more commonly ‘wet’ end of the season for cricket (foreign readers - don’t worry, I’m not going to get technical!). It must be remembered that some seasons during my younger days were wet from beginning to end…

This is the offering from Capri, a marketing division of Mettoy-Playcraft (Corgi, Triang et al.) selling (and finishing?) Board games originating with DRG Packaging, one of the large Pulp Mills on the banks of the Thames Estuary and a major player in world paper, card etc…
You may remember that when we looked at the Soldiers of the World premiums we encountered Bowaters, another Thames-side Pulp Mill, who had connections to Waddington’s who ended up owning Subbuteo, from whence the figures in this set come.

The inference being that these big multi-national paper corporations, as well as pulping and processing wood on a global level, along with supplying paper and card, raw and cut, also drove product itself, in order to shift the material they were in the business of making. They seem to have had close connections with toy and breakfast cereal companies, sometimes because they were already supplying board games or cereal boxes, sometimes because they were all members of larger over-arching multinational ‘portfolios’, the various subsidiaries and divisions of which were bought and sold like sweets in the playground…still are, look at the recent histories or either Corgi or Airfix!

So, is this set DRG, or a Subbuteo subsidiary, or a Waddington ‘Budget Brand’ or one of the DRG executives having a punt with a company innovation grant? I don’t know, all I can say with some certainty is that Mettoy-Playcraft’s involvement would have been sought rather than brought, and would of consisted of sell-through for a slice of the take.

The trouble with research into this period is that from the late 1960’s to the early 1980’s, company history is very fluid. At the end of the 70’s through to ’82-ish, you get the toy industry crash that saw 70% (?) of all household-name brands, sold, lost or amalgamated, and then Thatcherite-Reganomic bean-counters moved into the surviving boardrooms, and chucked out the company archives as being either irrelevant to the new materials, new business models (TV, Movie and Cartoon tie-ins) or new corporate relationships or because saving the archive meant ‘spending money on a storage unit we don’t need to pat for’. The Toy archives of the better European museums can tell you more about the Toy Industry in 1907 than they can for 1970!

We’re very lucky that the Corgi die-cast archive fell into good hands, as did chunks of the Frank Hornby/Binns road stuff, while lots of the Airfix and Britains archive material has been sold at auction in recent years, but for most Marques, we’re rather stumbling around in the dark, getting clues from the box sides of cricket games…

As for Capri, these are also known to me as containing figures;

- Conquer Everest, (4 (?) figures, previously or later (?) issued by Merit with 6 figures)
D 403 - Knockout Cricket (1976, same figures as Subbuteo)
- Championship! (4 (?) plastic or 6 card show jumpers)
- Olympics (12 figures, 25/30mm, 1 each of three poses in four colours)

Toward the end of Subbuteo’s pre-Hasbro life, this set appeared, clearly some sort of a one-man band working out of a lock-up in Surrey, RDA Marketing used the same figures as Capri with added Subbuteo sun-screens, a further list of Subbuteo products were offered as mail-aways, I suspect they were ‘helping’ Subbuteo clear old stock, whether they knew it or not, and based in Horsell, Surrey, they were quite near the home of Subbuteo, and round the corner from the PW Editor!

I found a website that details two box-types, but without Internet here I can’t check the significance...was one issue signed by a famous cricketer or had less extras or something maybe? Perhaps someone could find the page and post a link in the comments section after I’ve up-loaded this? As I remember the web-page, there is a small following for this specific game, so it must be quite playable?

I love the little stick-on Union-Jack; as if this set would have originated anywhere else, or - for that matter - export in large numbers to anywhere else…er…except India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, the West Indies, South Africa…I feel a Monty Python sketch coming on…”What have the Romans ever done…”!

Wicketz product listing;

? - Wicketz (1988, contains the same figures as Subbuteo cricket games)
1 - Catalogue
2 - Self Assembly Scoreboard in Black
3 - Self Assembly Figures to Paint
4 - Set of 2 Rollers and 6 Deck Chairs
5 - Scorebook
6 - Sets 2-5 complete

Ariel, who’s address was in Poland Street, London (lots of corporate HQ’s), so probably another ‘Generic’ brand - in the loosest sense of the word - and probably also connected to the pulping mills along the Thames corridor, went with their own figures, but a close look suggests they were sculpted by the same guy who worked the Subbuteo cricketers, in this case almost certainly the world renowned Charles Stadden, who was known to work with both Waddington’s and Subbuteo, sculpted many other games pieces, and is responsible for most of the figurines still found on Sports trophies today, indeed his likely involvement strengthens the ties to the pulpers through Waddington’s?

Other Ariel stuff with figures;

- The Gillette Cup (cricket game, 13 figures in six poses)
- Soccer Boss (160 players in three colours?)
- Zoo Quest (6 player figures)

Comparisons of the various Board Game figures, top are Subbuteo fielders with their ball catcher bases and bowlers and batsmen with gradated bases. Middle shows the Subbuteo figures at the front with the unpainted Capri versions at the back sandwiching the Wicketz figures in the middle, they don’t all get all poses and while Wicketz have gradations on the batsmen, the Capri set have all smooth bases, relying totally on the board for playing mechanism. The Bottom shot has the ArielGillette’ set.

Other Subbuteo items, the watchers and roller-man came as a double set mail-away for Wicketz, these are - to my knowledge - the only accessories Subbuteo made that weren’t designed for the Football range which was their ‘Bread & Butter’ (they also made Rugby and Hockey sets)

The stretcher teams are from the football range, but would also be seen at cricket matches, there are three versions, the early ones at the rear having some similarities with the early Airfix Combat Group set (Stadden again!?), front left finds a redesign with the old stretcher case (no red stripes on blanket) and new bearers and the modern team (green bases, right), ready for action and part of a larger set of pitch-side figures including a mounted policeman.

Bottom left shows plastic ‘flats’ for bowlers, with whom you could flick the ball at your opponent’s ‘bat on a stick’. These mirror the original footballers, who were cardboard flats, and the new ‘photo-realistic’ flats that Hasbro use with the rump of Subbuteo to date.

A few other cricketer models, I’ll deal with the bottom left shot first as the others are all the same. We have the two quite common Peter Pan Playthings poses, these are common not because the game sold particularly well (although it might have) but because they are 60mm vinyl and have a high survivability factor. Unlike the little styrene guy between them, probably from a 1950’s board game, to find one with the ball catcher intact is probably a minor miracle! I can see him tuning up severed at the ankles in 50p bags, but as this example, very uncommon. The game he came from is unknown to me.

31st January 2018 -He's now known to be from the  Toogood & Jones / Balyna board game Discbat Cricket Game

The other three shots show both early and late UK and Hong Kong versions of the Culpitts cake decorations in approximately 45mm. The Hong Kong production is vinyl again, but mine have been chewed…you start just getting the cake off the feet and before you know it you’ve had a left arm and a cricket bat for tea! The right-hand pair in both the bowler and batsman photographs shows two distinct sculpts, both undoubtedly from Gemodels. Although on the left of each shot, the vinyl figures would have come out last and may still be found in older cake shops if you’re lucky.

The image top left shows what your sick-green cake would look like if Mum invested in the whole grouping, sadly some Mums hated their kids so much they’d save money by not buying the wicket or wicket-keeper, so both items are rarer, that’s before you take into account the size of the wicket and its likelihood of getting lost.

However when I say rarer, I mean in comparison to the other two poses, as all cake decoration production seems to far outstrip demand, mint sets, bagged or lose, turn up all the time, cake decorating shops don’t tend to last long so mint product ends up as clearance, and out-painters often end up with the stuff, as do catering wholesalers, and the only Gemodels stuff I consider rare is/are the Fairy Tale figures and the Scenics – although the model railway world is hiding tons of Gemodels trees!

Oh - You know I said I wouldn’t get technical…well, now that China (and apparently; the US university circuit) are learning Cricket, I’d better explain the rules for those foreign visitors who fancy a go;

There are two teams, one ‘out’ in the outfield, the other; in, each player in the ‘in’ team ‘goes in’ until he is ‘got out’ when he comes back in and another man goes out to be got out, sometimes you get a man left not-out. When all of the in players is got out (except for the one who's not-out), the team that was out goes in and the team that was in goes out and tries to get the team coming in, out! At some point they all stop for tea, even if it’s lunch-time. Simple, makes Baseball look like Brain surgery and American Football sound like rocket science!

[Can’t remember where I stole that from but it’s been around for a while]

A is for Atomic Age!

This is a quick post actioned by a contributor's kind supply of images of the Tudor*Rose Atomic Space Ship, another of that wonderful range of ships and ground vehicles from several, all or none of a large handful of companies both sides of the ‘pond’ and both sides on the Channel.

Here is the beast, we had the grey one before with its slightly bent nose, but the blue one is complete for a fuller appreciation of its beauty…no, It’s not beautiful is it? It has buckets of charm and a wagon-load of nostalgia, but it looks like several 1950’s rural buses or luxury coaches, welded to parts of an over scale Cadillac! But I’m not being mean (well, maybe jealous?!!), they’re lovely things and I’m pleased to be able to post them here.

If I was in the position to buy two identical ones, I’d remove the wheels and wheel mounts and glue them back-to-back (sacrilege!), then it’d look like a 50’s pulp cover-image ship…if it was standing on its tail. The engine nacelles have shades of Thunderbird 2 or Stingray; No?
These are both marked Tudor*Rose and the contributor reports that they seem to be easier to source in Canada or Australia than here in the UK where they were made! One is marked 1 the other 2 and a third unmarked grey one recently spotted by him was also marked 1, while I have an eBay image for a couple of years ago which is marked with a 2, probably a Pyro version or Kleeware/Tudor*Rose changeover piece?

If you smash the nose of your Atomic Space Ship, you will need to land and deal with any aliens in the way for which you will - obviously, stupid! - need a ray-gun…

This Space Squadron Sonic Beam weapon from DCMT (Die Cast Machine Tools) otherwise known as Lone*Star is the baby for the job! Surprisingly common, I see one every time I go to either Sandown or the NEC toy fairs, sometimes more than one, and at least 3 Toy Soldier dealers I count as Friends have had one in the last few years, one of which I photographed here. It is very robust and rarely has damage, sometimes the little flange or blade under the pistol grip is missing, sometimes the sight has been broken off and glued back on, but they’re usually in pretty complete nick. This appears to be based on a design by Commonwealth Utilities of Chicago, illustrated in 'Blast Off' by Young, Duin and Richardson.

If you click on this one and study it closer it’s seen some heavy work, killing aliens down the garden, behind the shed, up the scout hut and on the common, yet apart from surface scratching is OK, and taking standard batteries and standard bulbs with very simple electrics, it can easily be put back into service, and on a low setting, can help you home in the dark without killing anything, alien or otherwise, which may explain its common status; “A practical ray-gun for Christmas Johnny?”

Once you have cleared aliens from the landing site, you will need to refuel and send the crew off sightseeing while you fix the ship...

Here the Mettoy airport will provide all your needs, with an aerodynamic coach, wrecker truck and re-fueller…humm…when I said aerodynamic bus; I clearly meant fish-tailed brick! Lower gravity don’cha know!

These came with a toy airport of tin-plate and card, with two small planes I’ll post another day, and while it was supposed to be a 1950’s Croydon type facility, they tried to look forward with their support vehicles…the fools!

There you have it, a quick ‘Early British Makes’ Sci-fi post entirely provided by other peoples items - none of these are in my collection - with further thanks going to John Begg (PTS Collectables) who’s ray-gun I photographed a few years ago, and Jeremy Croucher as it was his Airport I took the vehicle shots from.

Monday, May 23, 2011

B is for Blue...Boxes

I have in past posts mentioned my theory with regard to the relationship to Marx’s Swansea facility and both their Miniature Masterpiece range and the fact I believe Blue Box was a primary supplier, and this post is another attempt to tie up the loose-ends of that theory!
Anyone wanting to read the original thesis needs to check back issues of One Inch Warrior, specifically issue 11, there is a follow-up with the Editor, but as 1W may not be resurrected, maybe I’ll see if Paul minds my putting it up here?

Also this post has given rise to two others, which if the internet is working and I have had time, you will find below this post, one on the Blue Box ACW figures (and Lido) and the other expanding on the wagon playsets from Hong Kong.

Three very similar (well; two are identical in all bar graphics!) sets, - in each case the contents are on open display in the image immediately below the box art.

On the left a Blue Box branded ‘Wagon Train Outfit’, in the middle a Marx set called ‘Covered Wagon Outfit’ with; to the right, a Hong Kong set of similar vein.

Thanks to Gareth Morgan (of Morgan Miniatures – Link to right) for the images of the Marx set

More box-shots; at the bottom are the two Ledapack sets we’ve looked at before, containing the same 30mm Blue Box Wild West stock as the other two sets. One further branded for/to Woolbro as ‘Western’, the other (with vac-formed ‘Fort Apache’) more generic as ‘Western Set’.

From the carpet patterns and duplicated HK set you can see these are all to roughly the same relative size as life, the inset is however larger and shows the ‘Sunshine Series’ box end. Not only are the contents the same as the Blue Box set, but the boxes are the same dimensions, have the same perforated push-out display panel, and similar stapled construction.

As Marx had their own Western range scaled-down from their 54 and 60mm ranges both in hard styrene and later soft ethylene, these must have come from Blue Box. The fact that Rado Industries (Ri-Toys) who seemed to inherit most of the Blue Box stuff (and other HK moulds) would later supply the Marx moldings to Marksmen, only says the moulds were probably always with Blue Box, and for whatever reason the Blue Box set here was issued in Marx branding to fulfill a contract while the Marx moulds were indisposed for some reason?

The Blue Box/Marx foot 30mm figures, being copies of Britains Swoppets, and from top to bottom;

Early Indians
Early Cowboys
Late Indians
Late Cowboys
More late Indians, with a paler brown one
Very uncommon unpainted coloured-plastic ones

The paint is a little finer on the earlier production, with slightly better attention to detail, while the unpainted ones are so hard to come by as they were supplied to and issued in; Christmas Crackers, therefore survive in very small quantities.

Moving away from the Marx connection and looking at the rest of the Blue Box Wild West stuff, these are the foot poses for the 50mm Cowboys and Indians. As far as I know, these are original designs to Blue Box, and while late production has a very simple paint scheme, with the feet ending up whatever colour the legs are, you can see from the early cowboy (running with green base), that like the 30mm range, they did have a better era, paint wise, in the early days!

The spear is not correct being what looks like a copy of a Britains ECW pike! The correct weapons for these figures will probably turn out to be the same colour as the rakes in the photograph below? Can anyone from the large-scale collecting community help with an image of the right weapons?

The 30mm mounted range are - again - copies of the Britains Swoppet figures, even to the bases and horses, with the same saddle-cloth slipping over a spigot under the riders backside. The pink colouration on the feet of one horse is caused by colour-bleed from the dark green bases, a common problem with HK production.

The mounted figures from the 50mm range, only two poses each, and while the figures are again original designs, this time the horses are pirated from Jean Hoefler of Germany. Again; the tomahawk is probably not the correct weapon, but it fits!

Notice again the early Cowboy with a proper paint-job, and - top left - late versions of both my early ones! Two horse poses in two colours seems to have been the order of the day, the same horses were used with the Blue Box Medieval and ACW (see post below) range, but not the mythical mounted Japanese officer.

The other main accessories in the Wild West Range, various combinations of red and brown were used with the 30mm wagon, the 50mm wagon was almost an exact copy of the Crescent 54mm Wagon, down to the horses and the way the canvas tilt extends over the sides.

The Fort Cheyenne however; brings us neatly back to Marx! Like the main vessel in the Blue Box Noah sets, there is little between the Marx corner tower and the Blue Box version, but as the animals were always poorer in the Noah sets, so the gate, ladder and wall sections are of lesser quality than the Marx offering. Here I’m not suggesting a direct link, these are straight piracies, the Marx range having been around for a bit when the Blue Box one appeared?

A few loose-ends!

Top Left; another Marx branded set containing Blue Box product, again - small-scale, actually I think this is from the filed 1W article.

Top Right and Bottom Left; Base marks on Blue Box stuff

Centre; is a bit of a mix, I’ve seen the figure on the left in a carded farm set and a bagged Jungle Exploration set but have been told he also comes in some Wild West sets. His Dog is often missing as he’s only attached to the base by one paw, and heavy play tended to part one from ‘tuther, as did chewing! In hunting sets he also comes with the ‘Great White Hunter’ and the Tarzan figure hence their inclusion.

Bottom right are some scaled up farm figures from Blue Box, the farm-hand came with either a detachable or integrated base (as a Blue Box monkey design also did). The tools are full of the unstable maroon dye, helping produce brown in this case rather than dark green, the Indian weapons will probably be this colour too?

A is for American - Civil War

Or...American killing American...what a to do! less than a hundred years after they turned on their king, and they've really gone and torn it...they'd clearly caught desireium frankoschisch or; the French disease, should have let them keep Louisiana and put a wall round it!

Following on from the above (if I’ve got the loading right!) article is the rest of the Blue Box ‘Wild West’ range, sort of…I’ve always had a soft spot for the ACW, it goes back to my mates brother having the Airfix sets in one of those little wooden cigar boxes with the inlaid decoration that a lot of people used as pencil cases in the early 1970’s.

All accessories are blue box, being mostly copies of early British plastics, or British Plastic-from-hollow cast moulds, the exception; the rock formations (inset close-up) which I’ve managed to carelessly trim-off in Picasa, so they’ll have to wait for another day now! [They are blow-moulded copies from Starlux cellulose acetate copies of Elastolin composition - I think!]

A minor rabble (bunch is probably a better word!) of Confederate troops career across the stack-yard toward a couple of equally ‘Thin Blue Lines’. One in cover as a firing-line, the other mounting a hasty counter-charge…it’s going to get bloody, so let’s leave them to it and go look at the poses!

Flags are all copied from the Britains Swoppets, although the designs carried through to the Britains Detail range, and are much copied by all HK producers. The range like most Blue Box large scale is around 50mm.

I’ve only found 6 poses, but they come in 3 distinct greys and several shades of blue, so must have been in production for some time, yet are not easy to come by in any numbers, so they must all be spirited away in collections?

Apparent pose variations in the photographs are down to bent figures, or shrinkage due to early removal from the mould, the Union standing firer and Confederate standard bearers at bottom right for example.

As we’re covering a minor make, and to extend the post to a reasonable length, here is another small range of ACW, these are by Lido, although I think the figure far right in the lower right picture may be Thomas Toys, he seems to be a harder vinyl with factory paint? The polyethylene bugler also seems to carry a simple factory paint scheme.

Two of the figures are made to be mounted although they serve as foot-figures as well, with that specifically, almost uniquely American contribution to the world of Toy Soldiers; the ‘Pod Foot’, although here more subtle than the old Barkley and Manoil dime-store slush casts. These are a large 54mm rather than a full 60mm in size range.

They don’t seem to have made them in a straight grey, rather some washy blue-greys, which must be meant to pass for Confederates? Still you can’t beat these old ‘Toy’ soldiers for charm, and with this year being the 150th Anniversary of the American Civil War breaking out, I’ll try to get more ACW up in the next few months, but don’t count on it, there’s all manner of stuff going on in the real world at the moment, which I can’t discuss yet, but eventually I will tell all, as it’s not just Bernard Madoff who’s a crooked millionaire!

W is for Wagons...again!

Having delt with the Blue Box ACW carry-over, let’s go back to the third boxed set in the original article (two above - hopefully), this was the Hong Kong one with the factory painted blue horse…

A quick reminder with the sides in view, while it was/is similar to the Blue Box/Marx sets, the contents are very different, both the horses and wagons are of a different design altogether, know to some as being by National, a Hong Kong brand, while the figures, although also based on Britains Swoppets are different poses to those adopted by Blue Box for their range, and while having a lookie-likey paint job, it’s with a different overall look/feel or colour scheme.

With the predominant blue to the artwork and the yellow inner tray, it’s trying very hard to be Blue Box, but I personally feel there’s no real connection other than these HK guys were as quick to pirate each other as they were anyone in the west!

The National wagons, they seem clearly the same as those in the boxed set…until you look closer, when you find a general drop in quality from the previous set, both in horse flesh and wagon wood. The pirates were pirating the pirates of Blue box piracies! Sieeempuulls!

Still; it gives you a good idea of the full range of these clip-together wagons, there is at least one more, probably two or three designs I’ve still to track down, some of which are hinted at in the further images below.

These horses are the same as the boxed set, but are in sensible colours and came pretty-much exclusively in Christmas Crackers, always as a matching pair, always with a single two-horse draw-bar and always with a copy of the Giant ACW cannon (which usually had two draw-bars).

When I say they are the same, I mean the lower pose with the bent foreleg, the upper pose, which is far more common with a bent rear-leg, dates from the mid-1980’s (the complete example you see hear came from a cheap Christmas Cracker at the 1 Glosters Cookhouse Christmas Dinner 1987, see below for the whole sordid tale!), and seems to have been a late re-design, probably to account for damage to the old mould. Although it’s not clear in the photograph, these late ones also have larger wheels, and a thinner drawbar, the mounting spigots on the drawbar that hold the horse in place also have rounded finials rather than the pointed ones on the earlier, less common versions – see the little graphics I’ve done below each towing pair.

These still turn up in budget Christmas Crackers of the sort sold to institutions and the big tent-party companies who set up on the outskirts of medium sized towns to cater for corporate ‘Do’s’ and works ‘Blowouts’ in the month leading up to Christmas, I got another from a cracker at the place which always sets up in Rushmore Arena, Aldershot, and a third from ‘Knights Out’ in Reading a few years ago.

Comparison between the Cracker Horse/boxed-set Horse on the one hand (left) and the National copy (on the right), cruder tail, mane and ear are obvious, the spigot-hole is smaller, higher-up and further back, the angles of the neck, raised foreleg and tail are all different and the buckle on the shoulder is a blob. Some of the National horses are also quite deformed with widely splayed legs or an shrinkage-induced arched back (too soon out of the mould again).

There is one other version of the horse; this one is quite heavy, definitely eaten all the hay-pies! He comes with a more elaborate range of Wagons with separate push-through axles, although using the same pulling bar as the National and boxed-set ones, clipping into the eyes on the fronts of the vehicles.

Some (the red one) do come with the other axle type though, but I’ve yet to get a complete one, so I don’t know if they have just been mucked about with by kids or actually did come with both types of wagon.

Wheels are slightly heavier than those above and as you can see, the Stagecoach comes in two halves, while the Buckboard is a more substantial molding than the National/Boxed ones. Again these were Christmas Cracker toys.

Irrelevant Story;

The 1st Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment Christmas Lunch

The Cookhouse, Wavell Barracks, Berlin, 1987;

A Christmas Dinner parade was held outside each companies lines at approximately 12:45 Hours. To ‘encourage’ good behavior each company was to parade in No.2 Dress uniform and Service cap…which we did (green plastic belts, not white ceremonials). We were then marched by company into the Dining Hall where the tables had been re-arranged into 4 company lengths, with the spare HQ bods spread among us (there weren’t many, they always seemed to wangle home-leave at Christmas, plus a lot of them were ‘pads’).

Support company marched in late…they were wearing their (newly issued in ’87) Kevlar helmets - sans covers, so we all knew what was to come (at this point you are allowed to feel sorry for RQMS; Cookhouse). RQMS; Cookhouse then gave us a lecture about how his boys had slaved over hot coals for six weeks to bring us the taste of home, and that we should behave ourselves, Padre said something religious and the Senior Officers retired to the Mess for a bloody-Mary before their own lunch.

A soup was served with hot rolls by the Junior Officers, Sergeants and SNCO’s and Crackers were pulled, a fine plate of institutional fare then followed, from memory being; 3 slices of Turkey, 2 chipolatas, a slice of bacon, 3 stuffing balls, 4 roast spuds, 2 boiled spuds, more sprouts than are decent when you are 4 men to a room, a roast parsnip, bread-sauce, carrots, peas in white sauce and the whole drowned in gravy to the rim of the plate…oh!...and a dollop of Cranberry sauce. [I might have invented the parsnip over the years in a tragic false-memory loop?!]

Once the 2nd-course plates had been cleared along with everything else on the table that wasn’t either part of the table or 1x bowl and 1x spoon per man and much stamping and banging on tables rattling the cutlery (probably worrying the local populace!) had ensued along with a roared round or two of ‘Happy Christmas to Us’, the ACC boys served Christmas pudding with rum-flavored white-sauce in indecent haste and ran for their block, closely followed by the Junior Officers and most of the SNCO’s.

Once we had eaten enough of the pudding to remember the taste of it (which I can, to this day!… just that parsnip still worries me), it was good, it really was, but…you see; we were stuffed, we couldn’t eat it all…and as RQMS; Cookhouse started screaming…screaming like a demon in a nightmare, Support Company put their helmets on, A Company on the other side of the hall pushed all their tables over, took cover behind them and let all-hell break loose.

A pre-arranged volley of spoon catapulted plum-duff and an assortment of previously secreted roast potatoes and Brussels sprouts arched through the air away from the A Company redoubt like a cloud of arrows at Crecy, raining white-sauce and lose raisins on the two companies between, while Support Company realised that helmets were funny, but up-turned tables were tactical…just too late.

By the time Support Company had recovered, built their own stockade and got their counter-battery fire properly ranged, the full length windows down the side of the cookhouse looked like very old oven-doors, spotted with half a hundredweight of steamed fruit in a brown treacle suet.

C Company had quickly calculated that overturned tables were fine if you enjoyed the strategically advantageous position of being down one side of the Dining Hall, but in the middle you were better-off leaving the table just where it was and getting under it. B Company (the fools) had followed A Company’s lead, and thinking Support Company were the natural enemy had turned their tables to match A Company and - as a result - were taking heavy mess from misfires leaving A Company and short-drop incoming from Support Company.

As this Author remembers it, Corporal Grey (the Elder) rallied C Company under the tables, and instructing us to gather handfuls of projectile-pud from the floor (spoons had by now either been dropped from sticky-mitts, or accidently fired at the enemy like Napoleonic ram-rods, to fall short on B Company due to their weight) he then lead us ‘Over the Top’ cresting the B Company barricade, where we deposited our fruity mud-bombs on the nearest human before running for the door, giggling and whooping like little kids who’ve just won a ten-day pass to Disneyland!

Of course we took casualties, Taff Davis tripped over his B Company victim in the confusion, several personnel fell victim to skidding on turd-like puddles of spent rounds of Christmas pudding and - as a Company - we took a broadside from A Company to our right in the headlong dash for the exit. Reforming outside we laughed until we cried and retired to the NAFFI for a beer and to ring home and tell our long-suffering mothers of our wholly un-festive yet - self-regarded - hilarious misbehavior.

As RQMS; Cookhouse started to lose his voice only to find it replaced by the RSM bellowing like a wounded bull-elephant (you could hear him in the NAFFI!), the Spirit of Christmas raised her hands and slunk out the back of the kitchens, and the real world returned to that little corner of leafy Spandau.

So who won…C Company of course, Support Company got collared to stay behind and clear-up - those helmets were guilt by association before the action began, while A and B had a Guards Division rainy-parade dry cleaning bill. Any HQ Company guys who were foolish enough to have stayed for the dessert course (most having joined the exit of Catering Corps and Senior ranks as pudding was served) were in the end to be found face down in a melted pool of mixed fruit and molasses sponge in a rum-custard, which really was very good RQ…thanks!

And nearly 25 years later, I wish I’d been cleaning-up with Support Company and rescued more Hong Kong cannon-&-horse combo’s!!!

Friday, May 20, 2011

E is for Esoteric or Ethnic

Looking at the most esoteric corner of my figure collection we come to the ‘Cloth, Fabric and Other Materials’ box…

The commonest, and probably encountered by most of you, are the little families of six worry-dolls from Guatemala, you whisper your troubles to them and place them under your pillow, in the morning you’ve still got all your troubles but at least managed to trick yourself into a worry-free good night’s sleep!

Like the Erzgeberge stuff from Germany, these follow a strict pattern and while colours and styles of doll or box vary, the pattern has remained unchanged for decades or longer; six figures (Mum, Dad, Gran? and Kids - 1 Teenager/2 younger or vice-versa), in a yellow-stained box with red and green decoration in broad strokes.

Made from scraps of material, and wound-cotton thread on wooden splints, with soil for hair glued to a brown-paper head and with the odd bit of wool, they are between 20 and 30mm.

In Bulgaria we find the Martenitsa or friendship cords, given (Mimi will correct me here once she’s read this!) both at specific time of the year, and when you just want to say; Hi, or; Thanks, or; I love You…

They began basically as twists of red and white wool, but over the years have had little things added like the faux-ceramic elephant or wooden broomstick seen here, or can be formed into more elaborate shapes themselves as in the two little figures.

I would imagine that over time so many have been fashioned both privately and commercially, that you could fill the British Museum with them before your collection could be called comprehensive, so just a small sample here!


Finally; A pin-badge which I was told is from a US Election campaign, sometime in the 1970’s from the condition of the piece? Any US readers help here? I’d hate to discover it was French…I’d have to burn it! (Joke; you miserable sods). There is an outside chance it could have something to do with the SDP? Or what I always thought (prior to the US tale); a football team mascot/thing?

I’ve also photographed a Peruvian Nativity scene in pottery, with figures in 10/15mm, as this is a round-the-world post. I think you hang it from a Christmas tree.
Three weeks ago I saw a jointed wooden worry-doll figure from…Nicaragua? That looked like one of those toys that collapse when you depress the underside of the stand, but he was only about 30mm and mounted on a card.

T is for Tulips in containers

Sometimes it takes a while for a plan to come together, especially in the garden, and while the second set of photos were taken with Giles’s camera, which I seem to be using more than him these days! (Thanks Giles), the early one's are taken with the failing Finepix (buy something else...I can recommend a Casio Exilim!)

These were planted in November (19th), after I'd emptied the old soil out, well, soil is a bit of a misnomer for the collection of sandy-mud and polystyrene twists! Planted 4/5 inches down and equally spaced on a bed of compost/leaf-mould and soil mixed with a little ash from the bonfire.

Then you just sit back and wait...

...untill the 26th April

As well as the two pots on the stairs I also replanted the end boxes of a retaining wall, (the maroon ones were already in there, and although planted deeper, came first and are just finishing in the upper-right shot.

It's pure luck that the middle one in the pot grew taller than the four outer ones, almost makes you think I know what I'm doing huh?!!

P is for Premiums

There have never been so many premiums around as there are now, they fill the gap left by the old 1960’s Hong Kong rack toys, or 1970’s Lucky Bags, so here is not so much a round-up, as just a quick over-view of some of the toys currently available.

Corinthian are responsible for several of the current crop, as well as Ben10 (which has totally escaped me, something on TV I think…shows my age!) and the Gormiti (Below) they are producing Zoo’s, Pets, Marine Animals and other “…in my pocket” toys, the brand-name originally produced/issued by a MEG/Kellogg’s/Matchbox consortium in the mid-late 1980’s as larger single colour or ‘dab-painted figurines around 40mm in a rubberized vinyl material.

These are around 50mm, in harder vinyl and follow the trend started by Galoob and Co. in the 90’s. The packaging talks of larger sets with more figures per box, I haven’t seen any so I’m guessing Toy Chains like The Entertainer or the ubiquitous Toys’R’Us?

The Gormiti have the added ‘bonus’ figures in unpainted gold or silver and being smaller (25mm – ideal for role-playing) come two per the smallest container. Like the Ben10 you get a small bag of cheap, undersized jelly-beans and a leaflet with some of the others in the range.

Zeta (Barcelona), Zàini (Milan) and a third company beginning with Z which I can’t find right now (all from Spain and probably all the same firm) have aimed at the Kinder market, with cheap toys from China in the Christmas Cracker mould, sometimes rip-off or direct copies of Giodi or Res Plastics (both Italy) or Bruder (Germany) products.

The subject of the egg (or other object, the ‘other Z’ did hollow-chocolate Bears a few years ago) has no relationship to the contents as you can see from the jet-fighter that came from this ‘Flintstones’ egg! Pink Princess gift-eggs were in Poundstreacher a year or so ago, probably the same set-up?

The current set of Lego point-of-sale collectables, in the style of trading cards, Character Options are fighting back with a Dr. Who set, the Dalek for which I have added to the ever-lengthening Dalek post, while an overview of construction-block figures has gone on the Other Collectables blog. And I mean ‘Fighting Back’, there’s been a ‘Free-Figure!’ war in the red-tops for a week or a few now!

Not illustrated here today are a set of Superhero eggs with 30mm hard styrene figures currently doing the rounds of local shops, and the endless out-put of Tomy in their shopping-mall dispensers…no chocolate with those but they’re the cheapest at a pound a shot!

B is for Blockmen (or Cubix as some are calling them!)

Just when I thought I’d got all the Daleks I could on the Toy Soldier page, I found another one! I’ll put it over there so you’ll have to go and have a gander separately.It all came about because I found a free offer of an Amy Pond figure.

They were being given away free in the paper the other day, and I thought they were Lego, but it turned out that they were actually Character Options, who already have various licenses for Dr Who stuff.

In fact the papers have been having a bit of a gift-war in the last few weeks, with Lego, these and other toys on offer most days! I was pleased to see they were putting proper feet on them…typical that they were in fact somebody else’s figures then, as the history of Lego figures has always been “Where our rivals lead, we will follow”!

Predating (the UK Toy Industry Award winning) Lego Space (1978) by some years was Tente Space from Spain, which was advertised on TV when I was still quite young, and I can remember it coming to Fleet Toys and Mum not letting us have it, because she’d heard on Woman’s Hour or You & Yours than it wasn’t compatible with ‘another leading brand’!

Early figures had non-moving arms (top left), while later figures (top right) were not only better articulated, but also had connection points (female connection on the back-pack, male on the ‘butt-tocks-sirrr!’), both versions of the figures had male-connectors on their feet. The soldiers that ran alongside them had no connectors (bottom right).

The back-pack usually had a 'Space' logo; to start this was a metallic blue, then a plain blue, before being reduced for the second design and finally dropped (bottom left).

The original Lego Space (top center) and other figures including the Nestlé ‘Nesquick’ Bunny, one of the first uses of Lego ‘minifig’s’ as an advertising premium by another company, some enemy of Spiderman with a shaped helmet and a Gamorrean Guard with an all-over body-shaper.

The two Martians make use of the design tested on/coming from the skeletons and – then – new Stap battle-droids from the Star Wars franchise. While finally the Pirates are by COBI, with the beard which clips on to a hole on the face of the ‘Captain’, mirroring - in construction - the figures produced by Res Plastics and others for Kinder in Italy in the mid-1970’s.

Once Lego had got the ‘collectable’ idea, and realised the implications of Adult Lego fans, they got well into the production ‘sets’. The first were the sprung-loaded Basketball players, and now a set of 12 new and ‘unique’ (nothing unique about something produced in its millions – if not tens of millions!) figures appear next to a million tills every 6-months or so.

The South-sea islanders from the ‘Pirates’ range, these have been added to over the years with Newspaper-freebies and the new collectable figure sets, and are among my favorites from Lego. Actually from ‘Enchanted Island’, they seem clearly related to ‘Achu’ from the Adventures range!

Lego were sliding into oblivion about 15 years ago, and it was touch-and-go whether the newly purchased (at the time) Star Wars franchise would save them, but it did!Here are 3 types of Stap battle-droid, the Dri-Decker droids and some Gungans!

Main picture shows the vinyl Snow-monster from Megabloks, which led-off the Lego 'Artic Explorers' by several years! The Lego version stands behind.

To the left are two more Megabloks, with more realistic feet, swiveling arms in all plains and better heads (two of which are to the right). Like Lego they started with a simple ‘smiler’, and added individual features latter, as all these makes are really following Playmobil/Little People, it’s all a bit achademic!

Bottom left, and the level of ‘realism’ is getting silly, with a chunk of hideousness from Megabloks from the Medieval/Ork? Range, this range also beat Lego to a Viking Longship, and having seen the price of the follow-up from Lego, I don’t know how they get away with it, or why some of these other brands aren’t more popular?!

Bottom right shows the tool-set that came with a Megablok's Spaceman.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

News, Views Etc...Show Dates

Don't forget the Plastic Warrior Show is this Saturday at Richmond, Queen Charlotte's Hall, details - the same as last year, are on the Plastic Warrior website, link; Above right. Be there or miss out! I'll be in my Tusker's T-shirt as usual, although it's getting so holey I'm going to have to find am alternative...?!

M is for MPC...Miniature Military 'Minis'

In 1997 - just as I was moving house and he was moving States! – I read about Bob Maschi’s publication on MPC Minis, due (if I remember correctly?) to the issue of an update actioned by his earlier reader’s feedback. He kindly sent me a copy with the fatal words “We can sort the money out later”.

Well, the more astute of you will be ahead of me on this one…I never managed to pay the man, lost the guides, lost his new address details and now 14 years later I find myself unable to locate him, even on the internet! So if anybody knows the current whereabouts of Bob Maschi, could they either let me know or pass my email [maverickatlarge@hotmail.com] on to him, so that I can remunerate him properly?

These little vehicles (They also did ships and Aircraft which I will cover another day and civilian cars of which I have hardly any) were issued in various forms and supplied to other people as premiums, but there was usually also a ‘standard’ pack with the complete set or a large number of the range contained within it.

This is the box for the military vehicle’s – also known sometimes as ‘Teenies’. When I got it; it was in two parts among several boxes of paperwork, the back panel/instructions having been torn away down the fold lines. However, as the tears were ‘clean’ it was a simple matter of supper-gluing it all back together again!

Some thematic shots, I’m missing 8 in total, which I think should have been in the box, so they’ve gone the way of flesh I’m afraid. My ‘Beep’ (Big Jeep) was found in the UK years earlier and is missing its aerial and a bit dirty, however I have the aerial for the missing set Beep, only it’s a different shade of metallic Blue! So far I’ve only seen these in metallic blue but seem to remember Bob saying they came in green early on.

There are also piracies by a Hong Kong producer in green marked IPA (I think? I’ve got a T54 somewhere but could I find it for the photo-shoot! I’ll have to add it another day). The subjects are all either late WWII or 1950’s kit, so would have been pretty incongruous to the child-collector of the 1960’s. The self-propelled 88mm (or 105mm?) and the CMP-cab’ed allied truck being the most unlikely vehicles to have served alongside the latter stuff!

American 6x6 trucks, THE military symbol of two generations, but increasingly only seen in home waters these days, among my favorites and the GS was seen here a while ago when I covered them separately, but I saved the other two for this post.

The Honest John is rather ruined by having its product information carved in relief down the sides, but considering it’s a three-part model in less than 1/100 scale, you can’t really kick-up too much, it’s a lovely little model.

The collection to date, less the Beep which is a darker blue and I’m missing one of the plug-ins for the SWS (a radar dish). The most felt absence is the Land Rover. I’d also like to locate the two missing British Armoured Cars and the Sd.Kfz.234 Puma.

Also missing are a Weasel, and an 8” Howitzer tractor, plus two French vehicles (no loss! They probably stayed in barracks).