About Me

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No Fixed Abode, Home Counties, United Kingdom
I’m a 60-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”. Likewise, 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.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

H is for Happy Birthday

Might I - in my well-stuffed, slightly alcohol-steeped state, and before midnight turns over to the 26th - take this opportunity to wish the Little Baby Jesus a Happy Birthday.

It happens than I am not a follower of Christ, nor do I believe in his father, nor their (shared?) holy ghost! which - as someone like Bernard Shaw (?) pointed out; suggests a sure-fire place for me in this mythical Heaven as I have given all three of them a great deal more thought than most of the people who will have been popping down to their local church in the last few days, or who will be doing so in the next few days, for the first time in twelve-months!

However I do believe in him as having been a historical person of some substance and I also believe he was a man who meant well, and had the knack of taking a crowd with him using only oratory, even when the message was one they wouldn't have liked...

* Be nice to people who are not the same as you, whether or not that difference is one of income, skin colour, religious belief or mental or physical state.
* Be generous with what you've got, whether that is in talents of money or talents of the mind, and expect nothing in return, but show gratitude for the generosity of others.

I'm sure that were he alive today he would have something to say about keeping guns in the closet too, but that's for another post, although the 'Give unto Caesar' rule would let the Swiss off the hook; they do have a mature attitude to them after all!

Indeed, all in all - for a non-believer I seem to believe quite a bit! The thing is though, this birthday thing we celebrate today and which has been so usurped by 'Big-Business' and the media, by politicians and the movie industry, was only ever the party we all need in the depths of winter, being earlier usurped by the Judeao-Christian lot from the Romans, who had usurped various aspects of it from the 'barbarians'.

We have bits of the Roman Winter Solstice, Scandinavian Sol (or Yule), Saturnalia, and others included in some of the traditions we think of as 'Christmassy' and hundreds of festivals ancient and modern from Halloween in the Autumn through Valentines to Walpurgisnacht in the Spring have risen and fallen in popularity, morphed, evolved and been subsumed over the years to the point where the truth of any of them has been lost in the need to eat mountains of food, buy truck-loads of manufactured 'stuff', drink a small brewery and light fireworks!

But there is one truth: that we need to stop, in the middle of winter, let of a bit of steam, fatten the bones and contemplate where we've been and where we're going, who we love and why.

And if they want to do that in the name of the Little Baby Jesus, sobeit, maybe calling it Winterval (C)/(R) Sponsored by Pepsi-corp/Lego TM would be more honest, but...hey? When did those at the top ever do anything honest to us or for us, be they priests, phat-cats or politicians?

Look to those around you, and be nice to them, it's all that matters in the end.

Thanks go to Dario (from Venice, not Italy! - see; keep it small and local) for the figure - maker unknown.

Monday, December 24, 2012

C is for Cristmas, Crimbo and CAKE!

A bit of a thematic - indeed - 'Seasonal' post tonight. We have looked at this sort of stuff before and will again, tonight's have all come into the collection in the last 15 or so months.

This is a surprisingly sophisticated design from Festival, a UK company, and I suspect a late production attempt to fight back against the onslaught of cheap imports from Hong Kong, who were simply copying their older polyethylene cake decorations in polystyrene.

Made from a polypropylene type material, it's in two parts which slot together, the white trim and red cloak reducing the need for the quantities of paint they had used in the 1950's and '60's. Supplied to Culpitts in the UK (as most of their output seems to have been), we see also a late Culpitts packaging.

Another carded set; this company (Anniversary House) are still extant and based in Bournemouth, although this item seems to be a discontinued - probably 1980's - piece, it has a spike or spigot to punch through the icing on a Christmas cake.

Nothing to do with cake this one, except that I have a whole set of cake decorations somewhere with this trombonist, so he's a case of cross-marketing, being supplied to cake decoration wholesalers and glued into snow-domes/snow-shakers.

Some older or more traditional ones - to me that is...or people of a certain age! Tradition with regard to Christmas is a very movable feast! But these are the sort of thing I remember from my childhood. The top picture's items are all by Festival, with the deer, the motto and the cupid all being copied in Hong Kong in polystyrene at one time or another, these are all originals with the registered trade numbers and/or Festival logo showing. The clown is only in the picture because they were all in the same bag, he's more of a Birthday cake decoration!

Bottom left are my favourite type of Christmas cake decorations; the plaster-of-Paris ones, going back to the turn of the century they ran alongside the bisque ones for years as the poorer brother, but have slowly lost out to plastics in the last 40 years, although they are still around and two of the above were bought new from a bakery in Newbury a year ago.

The final shot are 1970's style Hong Kong imports of a tree with and without a metallic finish and a little church, with another Festival item - the other tree - to the right.

Mostly more modern types although the large picture of the Santa' with a spigot looks to be early British (1950's) and could be Festival or Gem (who I think are connected anyway). Top left are poured resin (or 'Poly-stone'!!), the chap next to them seems to be made out of that oven-cure modelling compound, used by kids for craft stuff, but here used commercially.

A mixed bag which starts with a pair of earrings, these were imported by several companies a few years ago. and somewhere I have a bunch of them with the hangers removed and various treatments, both hand-painted and sprayed, in various schemes.

Next is a 'Mr. Man' pencil top who looks like a snowman and - you'll be unsurprised to hear - is called Mr. Snow! The very small one skating is interesting as he appears to be a polystyrene HK effort, but is quite finely designed and may be a copy of an earlier European moulding, but I've never found a soft plastic or marked version?

The chap on a card-plinth is the only Christmas themed cake decoration I could find in Britain's main supermarkets in the last month, and I tried Tesco (Andover and Aldershot), Walmart-call-me-Asda (Farnborough), Waitrose (Fleet) and Sainsbury's (Fleet and Farnborough). Not one of them thought to stock Christmas dec's, despite all having large displays of 'year-round' and birthday decorations? Oh...and he's made out of Royal Icing and is good for eating or removing teeth!

The lower image shows a china/ceramic 'fairing' type candle-holder of indeterminate years and origin...possibly made in Japan post war for the German market? And a hideous glitter covered, pipe-cleaner 'enhanced' Santa' who came with a commercial cake years ago, but was being sold with 5 other coloured fellows as tree decorations in Tesco this December, so the mould - unfortunately - survives somewhere in Hong Kong/China...

Going back to earrings for a moment; the main shot here shows three ex-earrings, which are just the right size for filling in at the top of the tree where you want little baubles and other hangings, and both the stripped bauble and the Christmas pudding were so converted a few years ago, while the little bell was courtesy of Tesco's about a week ago!

Below them is last years Christmas cake, with a poured resin and Santa Claus and his tree, which lost out at audition to a more traditional brush-type with plaster snow...and this years Yule Log with a squirrel bought from the local toy shop.

At the risk of repeating myself - wherever you are and whoever you're with; have a lovely Christmas, and get cake, eat cake, only...save the decorations!

Friday, December 14, 2012

M is for Merry Christmas

IT'S CHRISTMAS ! says Noddy five times a day on every radio station!

12 Days to Christmas, better get the tree up and start stuffing myself with stollen, tangerines, mince-pies, family packs of  'bisquits', Quality Street and  anything else I can lay my hands on that might get me in training for the big day!!!

So - I'm finally getting to grips with 3D and after a frustrating week on 'mesh' or basket-weaving as I call it, I had a bit of a play with 'solids' yesterday and lighting for shadows, so this is the first self-designed Christmas card wot I done did since primary skool init! More festive and less technical-exercise one next year I promise....

I still have all the Corgi/Matchbox articles to post and the French stuff, but time has waited for no man in what has been a very interesting year, however, I will try to get some catch-up done in the next four weeks.

Have a good one wherever you are and whoever you're with.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

M is for Morris Museum Morristown

Sadly. I can't go, but for anyone over the pond who's liked the art-links I've been posting; this looks like a lot of fun if you're looking for something to do over the holidays...

Morris Museum - Morristown

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

R is for Run Raumfahrer, Run!

Apparently there were only ever these four figures in this Hausser/Elastolin set/range, and while they used to be considered very rare, the closing of the factory a few years ago apparently turned-up loads of them, as they had been poor sellers upon release and the bulk of the stock was returned to the factory - if indeed; it ever left the factory.

They are pretty quirky, and they are - with the exception of a pretty straitfoward 'astronaught' who is quite far along the evolutionary scale from Perry Rodan (very popular in Germany) to NASA - not your usual 'alien' types, being a very hysterical 'rubber-girl', a rather soft-looking dino-grinch and a slightly more atypical '60's pulp 'lobster-man'.

T is for Toothbrush!

A bit unusual - tonight's offering! Both my Brother and I had these when we were kids, it would have been about 1968/'70 and I can't remember who had the pink or who had the blue! What I do remember is that they came with a yellowish-pink toothpaste that was supposed to be strawberry flavour and in fact tasted of a mixture between banana baby-food and colonic worm-powder!...hey, we ate a lot of raw veg in the '60's!!

Manufactured by Halex, who still seem to be manufacturing a wide range of sports and domestic/household products, there's little else to add, they are about 40mm, figural flats if you remove them from the rest of the handle and a little nostalgia hit for people of a certain age!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

L is for Listing

This listing is not complete, certainly isn't definitive and - frankly - never quite will be! However, any help correcting or adding to it will be gratefully received, and the list will remain here forever (hopefully) for all to see. [Or in the depths of some on-line archive beamed direct to Mars Colony by Microgooglefonapedia Inc., Corp.!]

It is designed to be read in conjunction with the four posts immediately below it and the two Tri-ang/Husky [Mettoy] articles posted in the last few months and many thanks are given to Bernard Taylor for all the help he gave me back in the summer sorting out some of my queries and tracking down esoteric bits of info.

Roughly divided into four generations, the overlaps are as numerous as the omissions! Basically we start with the metal figures of Hornby from before the war and run into their plastic sets, we then look at Tri-ang as it runs into Hornby! Then the separate Model-Land and Motorway sets (which ran concurrent to some of the previous list) and finally from the management buy-out to the present which includes some duplicate listing.

Hornby Trains, Frank Hornby, Dublo Dinky, Hornby Dublo (Meccano Ltd. Binns Road, Liverpool, 1938-1964) UK and France, see also; Dinky and AchO 
A small range of painted metal figures to accompany their OO gauge model railway system. Called Dublo, the range was later complimented by the Dublo-Dinky vehicles for Dinky Toys.
Metal Figure Production - Individual Figures Station Staff - green box 7 different male figures, with one issued as replacement after the war.
- Station master, (job number; 11740)
- Guard, (job number; 11741)
- Ticket Collector, (job number; 11742)
- Engine driver, (job number; 11743, figure replaced with driver in loose jacket, post war, not known if the figure got a new job-number)
- Porter with bags, (job number; 11744)
- Shunter with pole, (job number; 11745, pre-war figure has inserted wire pole, post-war version has integrated cast pole, not known if the figure got a new job-number)
Passengers - red box 6 figures, 3 male and 3 female.
- Man carrying a raincoat, (job number; 11752)
- Man reading a newspaper, (job number; 11753)
- Golfer, (job number; 11754)
- Woman with rug, (job number; 11755)
- Woman walking, (job number; 11756)
- Woman in fur coat, (job number; 11757)
Metal Figure Production - OO Gauge - Boxed Sets
D1 [Hornby Dublo] - Station Staff (1938/9-41, 6 figures - became; 1001, suitcases different colours, yellow label on box)
D1 [Hornby Dublo] - Passengers (1938/9-41, 6 figures - became; 1003, different paint styles, yellow label on box, early sets had the same box code as the Station Staff)
D2 [Hornby Dublo] - Passengers (1938/9-41, 6 figures - became; 1003, different paint styles, yellow label on box)
50, 250 [Hornby?] - Station Staff (1945/6-1950 (approximately), 6 figures, rare numbering or catalogued only, never issued?)
50, 251 [Hornby?] - Passengers (1945/6-1950 (approximately), 6 figures, rare numbering or catalogued only, never issued?)
1001 [Dinky Toys] - Station Staff (1952-54 or '59?, 6 figures, post-war colour changes, replacement figures, suitcases same colour, driver pale blue, green label on box)
1003 [Dinky Toys] - Passengers (1952-54 or '59?, 6 figures, post-war colour changes, simplified schemes, pink label on box)
051 [Dinky Toys] - Station Staff (approximately 1953/4-1959 [1953 catalogue for 1954 season?], 6 figures, as 1001, green label on box)
053 [Dinky Toys] - Passengers (approximately 1953/4-1959 [1953 catalogue for 1954 season?], 6 figures, as 1003, pink label on box)
Plastic Figure Range - 'Crystal Boxes' (1959-1964)
050 [Dinky] - Railway Staff (12 figures, pose change in late sets)
050 [Dinky] - Railway Staff (policeman with hands behind his back has been replaced with shunter)
051 - [Number used by metal set]
052 [Dinky] - Railway Passengers (11 items)
053 - [Number used by metal set]
054 [Dinky] - Railway Station Personnel [4 figures, 8 other pieces)
4315 - Horsebox, British Rail (polystyrene horse, red oxide)
4315 - Horsebox, British Rail (polyethylene, red oxide)
4316 - Horsebox, Southern Region (polystyrene, sand yellow)
4316 - Horsebox, Southern Region (polyethylene, sand yellow)
Unknown - might be late Hornby
? - Blue polyethylene railway staff or train crew (hollow base with 00X number and 'ENGLAND' marks) 2023 - These are now known to be Crescent Toys, issued with a set of Mazac/Zamak die-cast scenic accessories in HO-OO gauge-compatible size, probably as a seasonal ('for Christmas') gift-box, with thanks to Jon Attwood for the missing poses, see Crescent Tag.

Dinky Toys/Hornby Trains - Plastic production; O gauge
Listed due to similarity with HO version, O gauge will be covered in full another day under Meccano/Dinky.
? - Horsebox (polyethylene horse, grey)

Notes -

Piracies/home-casts exist of both metal sets without the 'HD' for Hornby Dublo under the base.

Help is needed to sort out the horsebox horse, was there ever a polystyrene version? It is referenced in various sources but I've never seen one. Were they colour-specific to each railway companies horsebox? or could you get either colour in either box...in either plastic?

Tri-ang Hornby - (Vague time-line)
Up to the 1967 edition catalogue; 'Rovex Scale Models Limited'
968 / 1969; 'Rovex Industries Limited'
1970 - 1972; 'Rovex Tri-ang Limited' (1972 catalogue omitted 'Limited')
1973 - 1975; 'Rovex Limited' (though both 1974 & 1975 catalogues also show 'Rovex Models and Hobbies')
1976 - 1981 'Hornby Hobbies, Rovex Limited'
1981 - 1999 (approximately) 'Hornby Hobbies Limited'
Approximately 2000 - present 'Hornby plc'

Tri-ang Railways and Tri-ang Railways Model-land/Minic Motorways, (Rovex/Lines, 1955-1964)
Tri-ang Hornby (Rovex/Lines, 1964-1972)
R.148 - [Trolleys and platform fittings set] (1st type, marked 'Tri-ang')
R.148 - [Trolleys and platform fittings set] (2nd type, unmarked
R.164 - Battle Space Commandos (1st type)
R.164 - Battle Space Commandos (2nd type)
R.164 - Battle Space Commandos (3rd type)
R.234c - Stephenson's Rocket (2 period figures, 3 wagons)
R.281 - 5 Train Figures (2 seated similar to figure in 413, 2 guards - short legs)
R.282 - [Number used for 1st Edition Triang-Hornby instruction manual and later both an 125 HST engine shed model and the Hornby 25th catalogue - 1979]
R.283 - Set of Platform Figures (3 passengers, 2 staff)
R.284 - Set of Coach Figures (4 or 5 figures; 1 waiter and 3 or 4 passenger busts)
R.348 - Giraffe Car (with ducking giraffe)
R.360 - Railway Figures Set (See notes)
R.413 - Locomotive Crew (2 figures, painted)
6 R.413 - Locomotive Crew (shop display card - 6x2 figures)
R.639 - Battle Space Sniper Car (with ducking soldier, variant of R.348)

Notes -

The contents of set R.413 were often included in the larger sets and with individual steam locomotive models, particularly when the locomotive had an open cab, with enough room for both figures, some of the smaller models having not enough room due to the practicalities of scale and/or the way the motor was contained within the body of the model.

The 'Battle Space' commandos were often included with other items in the range, sometimes officially (listed in the catalogue as being included), sometimes as an afterthought. Toward the end of the range's life the 3rd type seem to have been stuffed into all individual items remaining in the range. The three types are as follows; 1st Type - Brown copies of the Britains 54mm Khaki Infantry on round 'penny' bases, marked 'Hong Kong'. 2nd Type - Brown copies of the Britains 54mm Khaki Infantry on round 'penny' bases, unmarked. 3rd Type - Grey figures with unmarked bases, based on but not identical to the Britains 54mm figures. The 3rd type were the last version, as to which of the previous two were the first or second to be issued, I don't know. When included in the other individual models, they were bagged in sixes, the stand-alone sets received 12 figures, except...they didn't always even when they were supposed to, often the little bag contained 7 figures, meaning some big sets may have received as many as 14 figures!

As far as I know there were no figures issued for the TT range.

R360 contained 30 unpainted figures moulded in pink plastic in 1972-4. There were two runs of these in two shades of pink, and consisted of two sprues of the former R281, R283 & R284 sets all sold together in a large plastic bag

Tri-ang Railway Model-land/Mettoy
Model-Land RML.8 - Accessories (mould ended-up with Dapol - via Airfix?)
RML.70 - Pedestrian Figures Set No. 1. (7 figures on 6 bases - mother & child together)
RML.71 - Workmen's Figures Set No. 2. ('RML.74' in incorrect catalogues, 6 figures))
RML.72 - Children's Figures Set No. 3. (6 children)
RML.73 - Urban Figures Set No. 4. (6 figures; 3 cops, 1 each; robber, window cleaner and road crossing 'lollypop-man')
RML.74 - Industrial Workers Figures set No. 5. (Issued in blue overalls, 'RML.75' in incorrect catalogues, 6 figures [Minic Motorways ref: was M1709])
RML.75 - Road Workmen Figures Set No. 6. ('RML.71' in incorrect catalogues, 6 figures)

  Mettoy Minic 'Motorway'
M1709 Mechanics/Pit Stop Crew (RML.74 Industrial Workers issued in white overalls [Model Land ref: was RML.75)

Notes -

A difficult time-line division as the Minic Motorways range appeared in the Tri-ang Hornby Minic catalogues (next entry) of 1968 and 1969 but keeping their Minic Motorway/Tri-ang Model-Land code-numbers rather than the 'R' numbers of the combined model railway companies.

RML 70-75 were issued on individual titled/code-stencilled blister-cards under the Tri-ang Model-Land label and M1709 in a blue and white header-carded bag under the Tri-ang Minic Motorways brand.

Hornby Railways / Hornby Hobbies UK
1973-present, (Dunby/Combex/Marx, from 1973-? [mid-1990's? Management buyout 1979?]), see also; Dollar Tree, Life-Like and Toy Masters.
Traditional Polystyrene Figures and Accessories
R.148 - [Trolleys and platform fittings set] (2nd type, unmarked)
R.413 - Locomotive Crew (2 figures, always unpainted by this time)
R 573/1/924 - Locomotive Super Detail Pack (contents differ slightly between batches)
R 573/1/924/A - Locomotive Super Detail Pack (contents differ slightly between batches)
X1400 - Locomotive Crew (as 573 but only two brake-hoses)
X4700 - King Class Accessory Pack - Figures and Coupling (contents differ from X1400)
Mixed Media Accessory Range
R 551 - Apple Trees, (Issued Spring ‘83)
R 552 - Mini Shade Trees, (Issued Spring ‘83)
R 553 - Green shade trees, (Issued Spring ‘83)
Vinyl-rubber/PVC Figure Sets
Range listed below is bought-in from Hong Kong/China and is from the same range as Life-Like’s sets and had previously been seen as a generic/unbranded carded product.
R 560 - City People (issued 1983, Life-Like stock No; 1182, 6 pedestrians, 1 moped and 1 rider)
R 561 - Sitting People (issued 1983, Life-Like stock No; 1186, 6 figures)
R 562 - Town People (issued 1983, Life-Like stock No; 1189 - Townspeople, 6 adults, 2 children)
R 563 - Working People (issued 1983, Life-Like stock No; 1190 - Railroad Workers, 6 figures, 1 sack barrow, 1 wheel-barrow, 1 crate)
R 564 - Farm People (issued 1984, Life-Like stock No; 1187 - Farmers, 5 standing, 1 seated)
R 565 - Farm Animals and Fencing (issued 1984, Life-Like stock No; 1181 - Barnyard Animals, 1 each; beef cow, dairy cow, sheep, sheepdog, pig, horse, goat + 4 fence sections)
R 767 - Sheep (Life-Like do not appear to have carried the sheep?)
R 768 - Cows (Life-Like stock No; 1183 - Cattle)
Dense/Rigid Polyethylene/Hybrid or Polypropylene Figure Range
R 1147 - Codename Strike Force (2010, reissue of T 1501)
T 1501 - Battle Zone (2000, contains the same modern G.I.’s as the Dollar Tree/Toy Masters mini sets)
X 8920 - Pack of ten rockets for Battle Zone play set

Notes -

The contents of set R.413 were often included in the larger sets and with individual steam locomotive models, particularly when the locomotive had an open cab, with enough room for both figures, some of the smaller models having not enough room due to the practicalities of scale and/or the way the motor was contained within the body of the model. Earlier sets might still have been painted, but late sets were unpainted, and from time to time they seem to have been included with accessories to 'super-detail' the locomotive, such as brake-hoses, tools and such like. Occasionally the accessories were issued without the figures (closed cab/modern diesels?) and the compliment of tools or accessories varied depending upon the nature of the model.

R 573's, X1400 and X4700 are repackaging of the R.413, and variations of the contents exist, also the contents are sometimes still on the spruelets, sometimes picked loose.

A made in Hong Kong carded set exists, containing a mix of part-contents from sets R 560, 563 and 565 above.

The vinyl sets first appeared in the spring of 1983 (four sets/29th edition catalogue), with the other two sets coming a couple of years later (1984/30th edition), the Hong Kong set probably pre-dates these Hornby issues and seem to have been made for/or with the American market in mind, the Farm People in particular being sartorially garbed for that continent's late 1970's agri-fashion!

E is for 'Eavy-metal

As - if not more - collectable as the later 'crystal box' plastic sets by the same company, or the Model Land figures of their rival (and eventual buyer!) are the first figures ever made in particularly small scale (they already had an O gauge range) for railways (although some of the Skybirds figures would suffice) as far as Britain goes; the cast lead figures Hornby first issued in 1938 or 1939.

Two sets, they were solids, although they might have used the hollow-cast principle of a hand held clamp-handled mould they were too small to end up anything other than 'solid', they covered both rail staff and passengers and with the aforementioned Skybirds and a few Cresent and Timpo boxed - vehicle/vessel/aeroplane - sets figures would help fix the size Airfix would later exploit to the full...

A post-war set, like the later plastic set (see post below this one) they would have a pose change...right hand upper shot. Accompanied here by the trolleys and a tractor from the later Dinky Dublo range, which got a die-cast driver. As far as I know there was never any luggage with this vehicle (or mail bags?), but by the time it was issued both Wardie Mastermodels and Britains Lilliput had ranges of suitcases, trunks, pick-nick baskets and the like to load them up with, and both the Dinky Dublo plastics and Merit were round the corner.

The set of passengers which is - again - a post-war set. There used to be clear delineation in the books (Hammond, Ramsay...) between the pre-, and post-war sets vis-a-vis colours, but more varients have turned-up over the 20 years since the books were first published, and as some have been around for over 70 years, there would have been a fair bit of re-painting and chipping to the point where (everything was gloss before the 1960's!) it's not possible to make such a clear list any more, suffice to say; that pre-war are better painted.

There was also the problem of piracy, and here we see in the larger image lower left, a copy on the right and an original with the 'HD' of Hornby Dublo on the left. In the upper of the two small images we can see three pirates by two unknown companies, with a crude rail worker and two very good 'man reading paper's' only given away by the heavy base and the base-colour. The lower of those two images shows variations in original Dinky/Hornby figures as does the upper right-hand picture. I always used to think the guy with the small hat was a miss-mould (lost his brim when the figure dropped from the mould) but in fact there are several differences, including - as you can see - a much higher newspaper position, different mould-line etc...

Sunday, November 25, 2012

C is for Crystal

Following the lead/whitemetal sets Hornby produced this fine range of injection-moulded polystyrene accessories. These ran for about five years and are variously known as 'the good ones', 'the crystal box ones', 'the plastic tray ones' etc...I go with Crystal Boxes as they look at their best in their compartments, which at the time were the height of modernist packaging design, they are also unquestioningly the best model railway figures the UK has managed to produce.

The three sets together with the replaced pose top right. It would seem, that there was always an 'empty plinth' in the second set, why they didn't add a second bench or another piece of street/platform furnitures I don't know, but there you go!

This set had - like the metal sets - a pose change somewhere through the run, as the two poses are about the same in rareness, it must have been either mid-way through the run, or that they ran together contemporaneously, mixed in the factory? And why didn't they just put the other policeman in the empty compartment of the passenger set? [See comments]

When I say in the post below "fluid movement and grace" I am waxing a bit lyrical, as they are - like most railway figures - standing around waiting for trains for the most part! But there is a subtlety to that standing and this can best be seen in the passenger set, the figures have their weight on one foot and their hips or waists are sculpted to reflect that.

I don't know who the sculptor was, but similarities between these and the concurrent Tri-ang Model-Land sets would suggest Charles Stadden, although these are a little 'heavier' than most of his output, however that could be down to the size of the masters or some other production process factor. They certainly have some classic Stadden signatures, the angular folds in the clothing being typical.Who knows....no really; does anybody know?

Below the figures are a rather nice pair of sets from the accessory range that came in with a mixed lot and make the similar sets from Merit look as poor as they are! That's unfair really, the later Merit ones are all right but the quality in these is everything that should have made Hornby shine on, not go futt a few years later.

The platform staff figure set is the best of a good bunch, with a mobile magazine stand, refreshment cart (I don't think the 'snack' had been invented then!!) and some of the other paraphernalia of a busy station. You can see a sand coloured suitcase in the boxed set, and I'm sure all three pieces were available in all three colours.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

I is for Interim

Tonight's post looks at the stuff that carried both Hornby and Tri-Ang names, or the more esoteric bits and some odds that are not figural at all! When the two companies came together, it was the 'true' Hornby that suffered, with most of its range being dropped. Triang had 'new tech.' plastic rolling stock with a high degree of detailing, free-flowing wheels etc..And, while Hornby had started to move into plastics, both with figures and rolling stock, there was too much lumpen heavy-metal and tin still in the range, so it went!

These were the figures that 'replaced' the crystal boxes of Hornby, being already in the Triang oeuvre. Issued as painted or unpainted 'budget' sets in white, cream, or pink styrene in the case of the passengers and dinning car sets and white, cream, navy and blue-black for the train crew set, they are not that bad, looking a bit wooden though compared to the fluid movement and grace of the Hornby oppo's.

At one point painted passengers seem to have been glued to platform sets in the factory, but that may be a false conclusion based on my constantly finding them like that, any train fan know for certain? The contents of the Dinning-car set seem to be a bit of a movable feast, with three, four or five figures, sometimes one of each, sometimes one missing and/or [another pose] doubled-up. The seated train-driver in the crew set is similar but not the same as the chap we'll look at now below.

These run through from before the Hornby buy-out to the present day, have carried several codes, came with numerous steam locomotives (under the individual loco code), and in the last 30-odd years (of a +50-year reign) have usually been accompanied by some accessories, which vary according to the set or accompanying loco, but include some or all of: Brake Hoses, Lanterns (and 'Lantern Plates'?), Fire-box tools etc...

They have been packaged in tissue-paper, waxed-paper or cellophane envelopes, cellophane, heat-sealed or self-seal/click-shut polyethylene bags and carded blisters and have also been painted (earlier) and unpainted (later) in blue-black styrene and straight black. As a result they are impossible to fully itemise as a definitive list! The seated figure is- as I said - slightly different from the one in the stand alone crew set above and the two figures bottom left at the front are both, with the loco accessory on the left and the train crew set figure on the right.

On to other things...among the earlier experiments with plastic that Hornby were stating to explore as they (or their parent group) went under, were the horses - above left - for the horse-box wagons. Showing the O gauge one in a neutral grey and the OO gauge pair next to him, these were also included in road transport horse-box models from Dinky and Dinky-Dublo.

To the right of the horses is another long-lasting set of platform fittings and equipment that I think is still in the catalogue (occasionally?), early ones have a full Triang marking and code in/on the underside of the bigger pieces, the modern ones (paler green) are unmarked.

Below them is a really nice clip-together fence system marked Tri-ang, which I assume to be from the Model-Land range? Mine must be slightly lacking as I can't get it to make a prefect oblong! The shot bottom right is of a piece from the TT range, a cattle-loading dock, which makes a fine sheep-loading dock in HO/ or OO!

Can anyone help with this wheelbarrow? It's not the same as the Merit one, it's not Preiser or Merten, I'd love a name for it if anyone recognises it. It may be from a kit (Revell/Bachmann?) as there is clearly a wheel missing but no sign of glue, nor any locking mechanism for a free-runner?

Finally, the 'problem' figures...they're big, at about 27/29mm, they have a hollow base with an 00X code and 'ENGLAND' in raised lettering. I have only found 3 figures in 40-odd years, and only the two poses. I was finally told last weekend, that they 'may' be a last-minute Hornby thing, and while two separate sets of model railway dealers told me - they all made clear it was a very tentative identification.

If it is correct, that leaves two possibilities, one; that they are part of a larger set that replaced the 'crystal-box' set, or two; that the picture shows a complete 'pair' of train crew? Does anybody have any other idea or definitive proof either way? I used to think they might be Playcraft, but I learnt years ago that they imported the French Jouef figure sets.
2023 - These are now known to be Crescent Toys, issued with a set of Mazac/Zamak die-cast scenic accessories in HO-OO gauge-compatible size, probably as a seasonal ('for Christmas') gift-box, with thanks to Jon Attwood for the missing poses, see Crescent Tag.

V is for Vinyl Villagers

And so we get to the last phase/current production of Hornby. These are my least favourite figures from them and also the longest lasting by a far, they are also not unique to Hornby having been issued under various brands at one time or another. Indeed they seem to be aimed at the American Market and I believe they were first issued by Life-Like.

They have always - under Hornby branding - been about the most expensive railway figures to buy (per head) after Preiser, who's figures might also be pricey, but at least give you the satisfaction of knowing you're getting top quality. These are soft, rubbery and slightly blubbery - detail wise - PVC vinyl-rubber, with glued-on rigid bases, probably in a polypropylene.

First appearing in the UK as Hong Kong carded generics (upper image), I well remember one Christmas when our Father was home unexpectedly (he was usually enjoying himself in some bloody jungle full of CT or some mountainous desert full of something equally unpleasant!), he announced a 'Mystery Tour' and we were got up in our best kit by Mum and toddled off the Winchfield station to get the train to London (slam doors and sprung blue stripey seats that swallowed you whole). We thought he was going to take us to the York Rail Museum (that had been a previous mystery tour, and he remains a steam fan to this day). But we ended up in "The most famous model train shop in London", which I can't remember...but it was in an arcade off Regent Street or somewhere eqaully posh?

He then announced we could choose our Christmas presents (we knew Mum had got us a home-made chipboard model rail layout [with gloss blue pond and brown roads) from the local auction house as we'd helped put it on the roof of the Morris Traveller!), and he gave us a budget, it was not large given the mountains of train sets on offer.

We ended up selecting a Hornby blue diesel locomotive with two coaches and some goods wagons, tankers mostly (better crashes if volatile chemicals and fuels are involved - it was a figure of eight track so crashes were a permanent feature!). There was a small quantity of the 'budget' left, and while my Brother had rather lost interest I choose some foam hedges and a header-carded bag of unpainted multi-coloured Hong Kong civilians (that we'll cover another time) and while I was umming and arring I remember also seeing the above card! Long story, short punchline...how it should be!!

Below the HK card are various shots of loose figures showing colour variations etc...note the guy in the straw Stetson and Levi jacket - clearly aimed at the American market, or at least not particularly British.

These figures are still being issued by Hornby after some 30 years, and it would be nice if they would design or commission some new ones, but as they now own or hold the rights to Bachmann Europe who were themselves issuing re-packaged Preiser in new paint jobs here in the Uk in the late 1990's, we'd probably only get more of the same anyway (news on new railway figures here on the blog in a forthcoming 'Product Review' and there may be discounts included?). The larger cards above are the older issues and the small one is the current packaging. The figures are getting a bit long in the tooth and showing their age, indeed the clothing style is 70's rather than the 80's Hornby released them in.

The lower shot shows the only 'new' figures from Hornby recently, sadly they weren't original either, having been issued as 'MADE IN CHINA' carded 'pocket diorama' type mini-sets a couple of years earlier by Dollar Tree and Toy Major  on each side of the Atlantic. They were subsequently issued by Hornby in large play sets, first as Battle Zone (2000) and then a decade later as Codename Strike force (2010), both are still easily available.

A couple more angles on the fritz-helmeted GI's, and the fence units that accompany the farm animals, they again are not typically British in appearance, but are great for Eastern-European villages or ACW stuff! They have a simple peg fit sectional construction and are a manufactured in polystyrene, while the GI's are a modern rigid ethylene/hybrid or propylene.

Reviewing the photograph after publishing - the lying rifleman seems to have a British elasticated helmet cover from the late 80's, the running guy is all Fritz'd-up for eyerack, while the rest seem stuck in a Da Nang time-warp!...and is that a PIAT?

Thanks also go to Bernard Taylor for his help collating info for all these Hornby Triang posts.

Friday, November 23, 2012

S is for Size, Scale, Ratio (with an 'r') and Gauge with a 'g'!

This image is a round-up of the articles which will appear above(for ease of reading in the western manor by 'page' scrollers in the future)  over the next few hours or days and represents a size comparison of the output of the companies/brands variously called Hornby-Dublo, Dublo-Dinky, Dinky Toys, Hornby Hobbies, Hornby Railways, Triang Railways, Tri-Ang Hornby, Battle-Space, Modelworld and Minic Motorways.

As you can see from the result of 80 years production with a continuous lineage, the debate about scale/size is a pretty pointless and fruitless way of wasting time!

From the left and in not very chronological order; sizes given from underside of base to top or approximate top of head.

Hornby Dublo/Dublo-Dinky, poured lead, 22.5mm or approximately 00 gauge
Hornby Dublo/Dublo-Dinky injection-moulded styrene plastic, 26mm (Schoolboy is 18.5mm)
Triang/Tri-Ang - Hornby, injection-moulded styrene plastic, 22mm
Triang/Tri-Ang - Hornby, injection-moulded styrene plastic, 25mm
Tri-ang Railways - Model-Land injection-moulded styrene plastic, 24mm
Hornby Hobbies/Hornby Railways, vinyl-rubber with propylene base, 21mm (also Hong Kong and Life-Like)
Tri-ang - Hornby Battle-Space, injection-moulded styrene plastic, 30mm
Hornby Hobbies/Hornby Railways, rigid ethylene plastic, 25.5mm
Most generations/Brands, injection-moulded styrene plastic, 21mm
[Believed to be] Hornby Dublo, injection-moulded ethylene plastic, 28.5mm 2023 - These are now known to be Crescent Toys, issued with a set of Mazac/Zamak die-cast scenic accessories in HO-OO gauge-compatible size, probably as a seasonal ('for Christmas') gift-box, with thanks to Jon Attwood for the missing poses, see Crescent Tag.

This last one which will be covered in the posts above was tentatively confirmed as late Hornby Dublo at Sandown Park last weekend, by people who know more about trains than I do, it is believed they were only available for a short period before the Triang buyout, and would have replaced the 'crystal box' set of railway personnel who were a little smaller.

Missing are the 2nd and Third generations of the Battle-Space figures, 2nd generation were the same size, 3rd were slightly smaller and we looked at them here;

B is for Battle-Space and Blue Box

Thursday, November 22, 2012

P is for Piggy-wiggy

Lazy post tonight - smallest is about 15mm in diameter - "Th'-th'-th'-th'-th'-th'-that's All, Folks!"

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

W is for Warblers-on-Wirrel

Wellll, overrated in my opinion and I was always a Stones fan, although they are all sell-out litigious capitalist swine now!

One of the first words I remember actually 'learning' was Synergy (the first ever - in my memory - was People, taught to me by Mr Barker, headmaster of the village school in Heckfield, long-ago turned into yuppie-flats...pea ee oh pee el ee, it sort of rhymed!), and the reason I looked it up (other than someone had used it in a context I half-understood) was because like 'Egypt' it had too many of the odd letters in it to make sense! Suffice to say that the dreaded Wikipedia defines it thus; Synergy is two or more things functioning together to produce a result not independently obtainable.

Well, if I hadn't posted the Spanish-made mop-tops the other night, and if the seller hadn't taken these to Sandown Park on Saturday, they wouldn't be here now...is that synergy or coincidence? It's synergy in my book, as I've seen them before and not bought them, but had half a mind to find some more Beatles at the show!

When I mentioned the other sets, the other day, I was thinking of a set of 70mm Hong Kong figures and the Subbuteo set, so when I saw these in a little bag, I was surprised by the size (54mm) and the level of painting which was much better than the larger ones (or at least - I think it is, I'm not sure as they are in storage so I can't check!). Not having any funds I hid them, rushed away to borrow some dosh off a mate and went back to see if they were still there, they were...and I paid too much for them! Moral...never rush away from a stall-holder and then come back panting with a large denomination note!

Then once I had them in my grubby mitts and showed them to the other guys - we were hanging around the 'car-boot sale' some dealers have on the terraces of the main stand while we wait to get in - they all said something to the effect '...they're not the big Hong Kong ones...' so it was agreed they were worth the effort, and means I can bring them to the blog while they are still half topical, I can still bring you the other two sets another day, and compare these with the larger red ones (I'm pretty sure they are the same poses pantographed up, or down?).

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

M is also for Metro, Miles, Magister, Master and Monarch

Three quick posts this evening, the other two are below this one, which  gives us a new tag, although I don't anticipate adding to it any time soon, as I suspected this was a desk/ash-tray ornamental, not a toy and a quick Google revealed that to be the case: Metro Novelties are their name, and they seem to have made a series of these.

This one is a Miles Aircraft type and seems to most closely resemble the M7 Monarch communications aircraft in R.A.F. service, although it's probably supposed to be an M14 Master/Magister trainer. Your guess is as good as mine! Die-cast, single casting and given a matt/egg-shell silver finish.

M is for More Minic

Quite a way back on the blog I covered my small selection of Tri-ang Minic plastic vehicles with the push-and-go motors, here;



Counting Rivets

And then this came in the other day, so I thought I'd put it up here. Looking for the above links I was surprised to note that there are a lot of posts with the Tri-ang label (30 with this post), but then they were part of one of the biggest toy 'groups' for a long while, and managed to get their fingers into most pies, even Hong Kong imports!

This range of vehicles was quite large - I keep seeing new ones at shows - and were usually produced as a civilian vehicle in a range of colours, as a military (army) vehicle in green as we saw in the above posts, and often in a grey-blue R.A.F. version.

This bulldozer also comes sans-blade as a tractor. I think the wood is a piece of hazelnut stave, but wouldn't swear to it! Joking apart - there's an idea for a very eclectic yet narrow field to collect, which would probably still take half a lifetime to complete...toys with a real stick pretending to be a tree.

You'd have this, various railway wagons (but not the Tri-ang/Tyco interactive log-carriers/dropper-offs, they had plastic logs!!), long and short bodied lorries from Majorette, tons of farm wagons by the old lead/hollow-cast guys like Britains and Hill etc... It could be a nice cabinet of curiosities...would you allow the plastic logged-toys thought?

T is for Tootsie Toy

You can almost count the number of die-cast 'mazak' (EU = 'zamak'!) aluminium/tin alloy figures made in small scale on the fingers of one hand: there are the mid-late period Dinky sets of Tank Corp's, Artillery and Vehicle Drivers/Passengers (25/30mm), then there are the Monogram 'Pocket Force' sets (straight 25mm), the Wardie/Mastermodels figures (20-23mm), a set of railway passengers and staff by Merten (30mm/O Gauge) and...er...[racks his brain to remember the others], there are a few, so 'almost' one hand is about right!

And then there is this little lovely!...

Tootsie-Toys from the Disharmonious States (have you not read some of the post-election stuff?) produced this Fire Engine/Fire Appliance/Fire Truck (depending on where you are!), and while in the hollow style of a slush-cast vehicle of the same period, it is in fact a die-cast alloy, as are the two little figures. I say "little" they are about 28mm, with the vehicle scaled somewhere between 1:48 and 1:60.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

M is for Marx'inate! Marx'inate! Marx'inate!

I know, my Dalek posts have ever more predictable titles, well - if it 'aint broke, don't fix it! Having looked at the old Marx Tinykin sized 'Rollykin' Daleks a while ago now (Here), it seemed like good sense to look at the big brothers, and so I shot these a few months ago.

Marx made a lot of Daleks, in most sizes and for other brand-names, but among their own, larger specimens are these two, rarely found complete these days (and commanding a premium when they are), they came in various colours, with blue, black and gold bodies being featured in memory serves. Just about every small boy in my childhood had at least one as they were a favourite Christmas prezzie!

Speaking of nearly always damaged, the owner thinks there has been restoration work on the larger 'complete' one here. I've included a 54mm member of UNIT, with his FN/SLR from Britains to show how large these are, the small one is the equivalent of modern 4-inch 'action figure' scale, while the larger one could have given Action Man a run for his money!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

N is for Now Let's Play Space Legion UFO's

I was so keen to sort out the stuff from the Birmingham show, I'd put most of it away before I thought about a show report, so there wasn't one! But a lot of it will appear here soon one way or another as I got some things specifically with the blog in mind, and shot other things while I was there with the same reasoning.

This post is a case in point, I bought some of these and photographed the other two, all are available from Mercator Trading, link to the top right, who may well be taking them to the Sandown Park toy-fair next (this coming) Saturday.

The title of this set translates to 'And now let us play', and it's a nice Italian space set from - I don't know - maybe the early 1970's? One of the things I like about continental 'cheepie' toys of the 1960's and '70's was that a lot of it was produced domestically, so while the HK stuff we had in UK was also what the Americans got, the Spanish and Italians produced their own, Germany had Manurba and Jean, the French just re-issued earlier hard-plastic figures in bags of brighter coloured unpainted plastic.

This is just that type of carded rack-toy: the rocket is a common design which also turned up via Hong Kong and was later copied/produced by some South American 'cheepie' experts, while the figures are quite unique. The full card is top left, any Italian followers have an idea on the maker? They are not the known Co-Ma designs but I don't think they are Cane either so any clues out there?

10/08/2017 - Now ID'd as Torgano and added to the tag list. 

Over the Alps in Spain a more established company; Comansi, produced two space sets: the quite common Thunderbirds sets (which like the Beatles I published earlier tonight - command a price way above their actual value), and this Ovni set, or 'UFO'. Having pretty-much missed UFO the UK TV series (too young, or was it on ITV? We didn't do much telly when we were kids - always out on the heath playing 'Army', fishing for Airfix at the local tip (rubbish dump) or building 'camps') I didn't know if these bore any relation to the TV series, but a quick Google suggests not, so just generic UFO's!!

Indeed one seems to be a rather topical (in current popular [read; American] culture) zombie! I've seen other versions of the claw-handed alien/robot, and other humanoid poses. Again - do any Spanish followers know if there is a link to something on TV over there? Does 'zombie'-man have something of significance in his hand? Also - like the T'bird set, I think these were latter re-issued unpainted in that floppy silicon rubber?

Back across the Alps went Caesar, and if we follow him - we get back to these...I love these, so these are the ones I bought. Definitely earlier then the others, based on the old Ajax/Archer/Lido/Pyro/Kleeware/Tudor*Rose generics of the classic 'pulp' fiction era, but smaller at 45mm and in a hard plastic, these were already in my collection as 'Unknown Italian Space' in a silver styrene, and they will stay unknown Italian for the time being as the card only has a title!!

They came either 5 to a card, or 10 to a little bag, which looks like it may have ended-up in something else, soap-powder, Christmas crackers (did the Italians have Christmas Crackers in the 1950's? One tends to assume the rest of the world has the same cultural 'stuff' and they don't always!), or some other premium? The bag has a little metal tie that will open you finger if you're not careful!

The carded ones are all one colour, while the bags have various colours and flecked/marbled ones. I've also seen them in black plastic, have some silver ones somewhere as I mentioned and I'm sure gold ones will turn-up eventually.The green marbled one points to other greens, but I've yet to see blue.

S is for Soppy-git!

I love the thin pallid light of a winter's dawn filtered through a stand of pine trees, one of life's little luxuries is to play hide and seek with the sun and not damage your eyesight!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

M is for Mop-topped

A quick box-ticking exercise this one; That too-famous (in my opinion) bunch of mop-topped beat musicians John, George, Ringo and the money-grabbing one were immortalised in plastic several times, both in Hong Kong and the UK, but also in Spain.

Whence this set issued-forth, it was apparently a mail away premium offered by a Spanish Comic which I'm assuming was called Emirober? But it may have been several comics and such-like in different European countries? The figures were probably made by someone else...Jecsan maybe? The comic obviously thought they would sell like hot cakes as they ordered what seems to have been hundreds of thousands of sets, with the result that a quick Google will reveal them to be as common as anything, with whole stock boxes regularly going through auction houses, while FeeBay and it's contemporaries always have a few sets kicking around.

The trouble being that despite it's availability, dealers seem to think that all things 'Beatle' must carry a premium, and tend to price it to reflect that. Fortunately there was an ethical dealer at the recent Birmingham Toy Soldier Show, who had a bunch at a couple of quid each ($3/4 or Euros), so I picked one up to 'tick the box' here.

Each card is different, having identical sides, which differ from the other three to be sought if you are that level of completest, The cards each having a different Liverpudlian balladeer as the central theme. I went with the one I think is meant to be John Lennon. Figures also come in orange, sky-blue and dark green plastic, giving the same completest 28 figures to find!

Monday, November 12, 2012

C is for Canucks

No time for pictures tonight and continuing with the theme of the last post, here are two remembrance day related posts (a day late!), both from Canada, a large number of who's soldiers made the ultimate sacrifice carrying out their feint, probing raid, reconnaissance in strength - call it what you will - at Dieppe in the Second World War, to help buy our freedoms - may the gods grant restfulness to their souls.




Friday, November 9, 2012

D is for Death...comes to smallscaleworld

Actually, death comes to all of us...

This is little Jasmine, she was eight years old the other day, not that old, even for a cat, but sadly she breathed her last today. I had hand-reared her when she was a kitten and wouldn't follow her siblings on to solids, she had been her Mothers first, and she (her mum) didn't get the hang of it until the second one and a bit of non-veterinary intervention from me...like I can teach a mother cat anything!!

Anyway - while I seemed to teach her mother how the deliver the subsequent three, the first was never quite the norm afterwards and would have starved if I hadn't fed her from a syringe. She lost her eye about two years ago, it just marbled over, so the vet took it out, but she was already getting white hairs in her otherwise perfect witches-familiar uniform black!

Then a couple of days after the above shot was (29th September) taken she got ill again and while the vet was sure it wasn't cancer (and sold us two courses of totally useless antibiotics), I knew different as my mate John lost his little cat Charlotte to the same thing...anyway we did the best we could until the inevitable, which came this afternoon with a quick injection.

She's now on the far right (no bullfighting! Although the odd mouse 'got it'), with 7 of her fellow felines to play with...I know - there are only six headstones - but life being stranger than fiction, one of the graves has two cats in it; neither of which belonged to us, they happened to be 'returned' to us by neighbours within hours of each other - both traffic related, and we never found the real owners so laid them together.

In time she will - of course - get a hardy Jasmine trained  up the fence-panel behind her, despite usually being called 'Blackitt'! But a silver-lining (if there are any) in pet cat deaths is the fact that unless you've called it something really silly like Moon-unit Dweezil the III, you can normally find a Shrub-rose to match, as we did with John's Charlotte the other year (a nice yellow standard). Not a trick that works quite so well with Rover or Fido, which is why gardeners should have cats, not dogs!!

We never seem to forget our pets, they fade, as all things do (except Alexander the Great, Caesar and Genghis Kahn!) but fond memories always remain, so just wanted to say she was much loved, is sorely missed and won't be forgotten.

Normally I wouldn't be quite so publicly sentimental, but I've had a mare of a day on another front and death has been an aspect in the background this last few weeks.

A chap most of you have probably never heard of; Clive Fairweather (Telegraph Tribute) passed away the other day, I only met him once or twice myself, but thought I'd add my only anecdote...

My brother and I were about 12 or 13, and had been holidaying in Europe with dad, when Clive who was at the time connected with the Honourable Artillery Company (HAC), a territorial unit of some historical significance (not least - that they are older than the Ancient and Honourable Artillery Company of the US Army...by a hundred years!! - it's a friendly rivalry) who had been exercising in Southern Germany with me and my brother tagging along like a couple of annoying little tykes (because we were!). Anyway: the unit travelled up to Wildenrath by coach at the end of the course from where they would fly back to UK. Our father was flying with them, but Clive and a future Lord Mayor of London, had decided to drive.

Well when we got to Wildenwrath to meet the 'plane, all the troops were given the list of stuff they couldn't take on the flight, and started dumping vast quantities of hexamine fuel blocks, lighter fluid, cigarette lighters, book matches and the like in the ash-trays (little did  I know a few years later I'd be stubbing my own camels out in the same ash-trays!). Now...my brother and I had developed a taste for all things 'compo', being soldier's brats, and ran around collecting all this stuff up, in the end we had a sandbag full of highly of combustible, flammable, explosive material which the lovely Clive then helped us smuggle through customs in his Mercedes...we'd never been in a Mercedes either. He also stopped at the services to buy breakfast when we said our parents never stopped at the services!

I met Clive again at my Father's 80'th, and he still remembered the incident and even managed to remind me that my brother and I had climbed into the luggage racks on the coach to sleep (and escape from soldiers boots!), something I'd forgotten and I have a good memory! He was in short - a nice man.

And then this week, Clive Dunn (Corporal Jones in Dad's Army) passed away and the obit's revealed a man who was far more interesting and complicated than you would ever have guessed from his role as the famous veteran of colonial brush-fire wars in some indeterminate period that seemed to preclude WWI!

Another good man.

Now - actor, cat or friend of parent? They all enriched the world in which they lived, and their passing diminishes the present a little, spare a thought for them, or someone/something you've lost recently.

Normal - cynical - service will resume shortly, although this close to Christmas it's only a matter of time before I get maudlin again!

Happier Times - although still a bit thin!

I suppose I should just mention that also this week sometime, bigoted, right-wing bible-belt Republicanism apparently died - almost by accident, so while diminished slightly in the short term; the world is a better place already. {June 20th 2021 - fatal last words - four years later the Republicans would give us Trump for four years of dark madness . . . }