About Me

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No Fixed Abode, Home Counties, United Kingdom
I’m a 58-year-old Aspergic gardening CAD-Monkey. Sardonic, cynical and with the political leanings of a social reformer, I’m also a toy and model figure collector, particularly interested in the history of plastics and plastic toys. Other interests are history, current affairs, modern art, and architecture, gardening and natural history. I love plain chocolate, fireworks and trees but I don’t hug them, I do hug kittens. I hate ignorance, when it can be avoided, so I hate the 'educational' establishment and pity the millions they’ve failed with teaching-to-test and rote 'learning' and I hate the short-sighted stupidity of the entire ruling/industrial elite, with their planet destroying fascism and added “buy-one-get-one-free”. I also have no time for fools and little time for the false crap we're all supposed to pretend we haven't noticed, or the games we're supposed to play. I will 'bite the hand that feeds' to remind it why it feeds.

Monday, July 30, 2012

B is for Battle-Space and Blue Box

One of those little quirks in collecting toy soldiers back when I started was why did I keep finding small quantities of brown versions of the Blue Box 'penny-based' rip-offs of Britians and Crescent Khaki Infantry in bags of mainly civilian railway figures?

The answer was that they weren't Blue Box (or were they?!), but actually the Tri-ang (Later; Triang-Hornby) 'Battle Space' commandos. Almost certainly actually supplied by Blue Box, the original catalogue illustration for the space marines was a shot of the Marx miniature masterpiece US Infantry/G.I.'s, but as far as I know they were never actually included in the Battle Space sets.

A second quirk (there are still a lot of unanswered 'quirks' in my 'unknown...' boxes!) was the similar but rarer grey rip-offs of the rip-offs...

Above are the commoner brown versions, being straight production from the Blue Box green ones, with the same stab-and-hope paint style but in a different palette. The grey ones (below), although being similar, are 'original' sculpts, having subtle differences from the standard Britains/Crescent/Blue Box poses. Although in the case of the three closest matches, that consists of simply lifting one foot off the ground and placing it on a pink rock!

Both types came in a little bag stuffed into whichever box or set they accompanied. With the case of the brown ones the rule is simple; 6 or 12 assorted figures - as per the catalogue, usually from or including all five poses. However, the later grey figures tend to come in 7's and 14's, being one or two of each pose. I guess being smaller (which they are) there was room and it meant they could be painted on the sprue and then decanted into the little bag, which - in the case of the rocket-firing tank - was just wedged against the glacis-plate.

Blue Box originals - Top left are the four poses made in the same hard styrene as the Battle-Space figures, to the right are the soft ethylene plastic versions with both sizes of base so far identified for the radio-operator (penny and er...cent!).

Below are the versions I consider the older as they seem to appear in the earlier Blue Box sets, I call these the kidney-based. They also include a grey type, as enemy, although of the same pose and a lighter grey, rather than the olive-drab-grey of the Battle-Space figures.

Turning to the rest of the kidney-based figures (the Marx-like Germans having Marx-like bases, along with the Resistance fighters - we'll look at both another day), we come to the Blue-Box US G.I.'s.; seven combat poses and a medical unit, one of the poses doubling-up to serve in both squads.

Top left is again the hard styrene polymer, with the medics below, while to the top right are later soft plastic versions with no paint and no medics. The lot bottom right - although stored in the same box, by me - are almost certainly a rip-off by one of Blue Box's cheaper/smaller rivals, and with a Blue-Box-like paint job and mish-mash of poses from both British and US sets along with the old Monogram radio-man!

In the harder plastics there is a clear difference in plastic colour with both olive green and olive drab being issued. The red helmets of the US figures are very rare and must have come with some specific play set (although someone will now start painting green ones red and sticking them on eBay - for sure!). I also have a memory of yellow helmeted figures form my childhood, but have yet to find one, despite loads of these in the collection along with various play sets and carded items, so I'm guessing it's a false memory based on the later unpainted yellow ones from Rado/RI Toys (look at another day!) and the amount of yellow in the paint scheme of the earlier Blue Box ones.

The various base marks and styles, the unmarked brown base is less common than the 'HONG KONG' one, but not as rare as the grey figures, so I'm guessing an interim or transitional version, next to them you have hard. soft and small green. Note how the little rip-offs have different markings, while the soft plastic version looks similar to the Marx mark. The fact that Marx keeps cropping-up when dealing with Blue-Box is something I looked at in Plastic Warrior's of-shoot; 1 Inch Warrior and will come back to here one day.

The medics paint-up quite well, the artist is unknown, give us a shout if you recognise your work!


Brian Carrick said...

Hi Hugh, three of the brown figures - radioman, kneeling with MG and stabing with rifle over head appear to be copies of Crescent 54mm modern khaki infantry.

Best wishes, Brian

Hugh Walter said...

you're right! Forgot to mention it!
Cheers H

Hugh Walter said...

Further to the above;

The Grenade thrower is Crescent as well. in the green they used all bar the flame-thrower figure from the Crescent set (standing firer being the fifth) and used only the Britains officer.

Now covered here as well;