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.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

GI is for Galvanised Iron - apparently!

Taking the photographs for the Triang 'Battle Space' commandos the other day, allowed me to take some more general photographs of the rest of the contents of the 'Blue Box - Loose Figures' box, and as a result here are the G.I.'s from Blue Box's 50mm range.

The six poses on the left with rear views of - on the left of each pair - the earlier, better-painted versions and on the right; the simpler paint of later issues. Earlier ones have the same yellow webbing detail of the smaller sized figures, and more brown belts or black holsters etc...

A later issue was totally unpainted and while I thought I'd taken a shot of them I haven't, but the chap on the left of two of the above images is uncommon, also unpainted he has a moulded-on version of the square base I provisionally gave to one of the Australians (Aussies) the other day when we looked at them. In its loose form it is commonly issued with the farmhand (and possibly one version of the gorilla), and we will be coming back to it in the next few days.

The other shot is just a size comparison between the 25mm figures (here a late unpainted, soft plastic one) and their 50mm brethren.

A couple more size comparisons and a shot of the radio operator to show the range of plastic colours these chaps came in, the left hand one is an early full-paint, the right hand one is a late figure, the one in between has some extra paint on the pouches/holster as an interim version. As material costs rise the paint quality drops!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

T is for Toy...Story

Currently available from Poundstore here in the UK, the lack of English on the packaging would seem to suggest that these have been bought-in as clearance from an European distributor. Clearly designed to support the Parachute-drop rides that have been going-in to the various Disneyland theme-parks over the last year or so, these are brilliant.

Somewhere between 54 and 6omm they will go equally well with either. I have a sub-collection of parachutists and 'poopa-troopers' so couldn't resist these when I saw them on Friday last. There are various sets of figures based on these movie-heroes - not least the Lego squad with Jeep, but - as a kid - you can't beat chucking something like these out of the bedroom window and running downstairs to see if you can beat them down (you can't!), so get some now while they have lots, they'll make excellent stocking fillers/tree-treats this coming Christmas whether y0u're expecting small visitors...or have rug-rats of your own!

D is for Duck! - It's all-right; they're stationary.

Giving my mate Shane a lift home this weekend, we dropped into a friend of his to check out something he's waiting on (his blog; Diary), he's on the same CAD course as me, and his friend Paula had more than two of something and as we all know - more than two of something is a collection!

The puffin and turkey are clearly interlopers, and most of them have some sentimental value or carry the associative memory of a visit somewhere while the small terracotta one was made by one of the daughters of the family - I well remember making a rabbit at Heckfield Village/Primary School before it was converted into yuppie-flats by Thatcher! I've kept them relativity the same size and clicking on the image will enlarge them.

The largest is no more than about 5cm, with the smallest one (inset - carved malachite) about 10cm. What intrigued me about them was that there is clearly a market for people all over the place to make small ducks, one sort of expects bears, pigs, hedgehogs, rabbits and the like and I know of several owl collectors and a couple of frog people, but it seems ducks have a fan base also! What do you collect on that spare shelf...send us a picture and I'll put it/them up here.

Friday, August 24, 2012

C is for Current

In the shops now is another take on the Dalek freebee, and from the usual source; Dr Who Adventures magazine. I'm not sure why it's called 'Dalek Attack Set' but it catches the eye! Are they putting Daleks on the cover again because sales are falling, or because there's a new series of Dr. Who coming with Dalek episodes? The cynic in me wants to know! Manufactured/imported by Xcel Concepts.

The paint brush and 'key-ring' are really lame, a couple of PVA paints though, are always useful while the bouncy-not-a-ball is actually a lot of fun. The murder-machine-man is approximately 54mm as can be seen from the figure comparison bottom-right "Take that - you over-blown dustbin!" as I seem to recall Bernard Cribbins shouting once in a similar situation....sans fireman's helmet!

Next week (on sale a week yesterday) they have another 'Army' of the 25/28mm figures including one each of the two uncommon ones. Have a nice Bank Holiday if you live in a country that's having one this weekend, winter starts any day now!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

S is for Sacul (I think!)

After what I think is a pretty thorough Googling I have failed to find these either as plastics or metals, so while I am pretty sure these are the Sacul guardsmen made from their own hollow-cast moulds; I stand to be corrected.

Quite rare and found in various colours (under the paint), often the flecked or marbled effect of mixed granules. I'm further guessing this is not a full sample, surely a bass-drum is a must - for starters! That's it really - bit of a lazy post, a while since we've had one of those, but it gets them on Google...until someone tells me they're something else!!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

D is for Drevopodnik

Wound-up in Czechoslovakia around 1998 - some ten years after 'The Wall' came down (actually it was the falling of a curtain!) as another bankrupt former state manufacturing concern and based in Brno (when the Bren-gun gets half its name from!), all I can find in relation to this company is that it was a general household goods manufacturer who also offered glass-grinding, glazing and drilling as well as apprenticeships in cabinet making!

At some point someone thought to manufacture at least two sets of figures in a rough composition (very similar to the old Rawlplug 'plastic wood'), the set shown here and another I've seen with more colourful Napoleonic or ceremonial type uniforms.

These came to us at a general antiques fair, where someone thought they'd be a 'bit of us', and my mate - who's stall it was - said "..go-on then", and bought them while I was out having a cigarette! By the time I got back to the table he was having serious second thoughts, having looked more closely at them and seen that there was a fair amount of damage.

I thought - wow, they're a bit different, I'll have them, I'm sure I can fix most of them! So silver crossed palms on them for the secound time in minutes and they were mine. I won't tell what my friend paid, or what I paid, but suffice to say it wasn't much either way, but probably more than I can afford given my current circumstances...I still owe him twenty-five quid, but that's for something else!!

A quick look at the three sets shows a cirtain amount of damage, particularly the figure top-right on each card. There were also four loose figures from the same set.

As they came out of the heat-shrinked packaging, it became obvious that the damage was a little worse than appeared, with bits falling off more than 75% of the figures, paint damage and other horrors. Also it was clear that Q/A and/or Q/C was not a priority in the Drevopodnik works and they seemed to have been finished - at least partially - by hand.

So each figure was placed in a separate bag, with all it's bits and the bags were stacked (open) in a shoe-box and placed in front of the ducting vent in my flat's wet-room, where hot-air (this was back in the spring) was blown over them for 48hrs, to remove any damp that might have been responcible for some of the finer crumbling.

Then they were taken one at a time to the surgical bench and stuck back together with super-glue (which was of course it's original use - in Vietnam). The really bad ones were left in the bags until the end, and some figures had to be composed from several, to get a 'full set'. Others were fine though and as they were given the once over they were lined-up on a bizarre parade!

When the whole process was complete, the pile bottom-right in the above collage was left over, and after humming and harring for an hour or so - I threw it away. It took two days to fix them all, and I am now looking for some paint to match them, especially the Paratrooper, as the best example lost all his helmet paint as he was peeled off the backing film. I also need to track-down a tube of the aforementioned Rawlplug plastic-wood (that hasn't gone hard), to fill a few gaps...do they still make it?

Top left; The NBC alert guards - three out of four 'aint bad as Mr. Loaf might say! These were particularly hard to mend as they had all suffered their brakes up the legs or around the hips (or both) rather than the more common - and easier to fix - ankle-damage of the others.

Below them is a shot of their bases, with what I presume to be the makers mark's, possibly the wood-working apprentices...using-up wood-filler to produce a Christmas 'cash-crop'??

Top right; are a conversion/head-swap using the staff-officer's head, that came from the bits that were left-over after I'd got one decent set together. The figures on either end of the line-up (medic and traffic cop), had to be built-up from several donors and still need a bit of filler and stuff.

So - if any Czech or Slovakian readers are following this blog, can you add anything? Did you work in the Drevopodnik M. Brna factory in Brno (Bruno), or know someone who did? Does anyone know the extent of the full range?

I think there may have been a card of Indians (native American) as well, but that might be a false memory, and the trouble with false memory in the age of the Internet is that it tends to reappear as someone else's fact!

Note; The figures reached some untouchable temperatures as I bled super-glue into them. I don't now the physics or the chemistry but it was a hell of a reaction...I was using pound-shop stuff, as you get three tubes for a quid and they tend not to produce the white deposit of the more the expensive glues.

Monday, August 13, 2012

M is for Model-Land and Minic Motorways

The same 'definitive' source that miss-identified the Husky figures as Triang Model-land had clearly never met these, these are the real deal as old orange-skin 'Lovejoy' would say! Still - if you're busy rushing around the internet nicking other peoples images, you're not going to have time to correct any errors are you, not even typo's on the images your lifting from!

Quite hard to find outside of the model railway collecting fraternity, they came in two packaging types, these Model-Land blister-cards and in blue and white header-carded bags with the Minic Motorways labelling.

As far as mint examples go; I only have the two carded sets, and one of them is in a bit of a state! The children set is as good as anything Prieser or Merten produced and - indeed - are easily mistaken for Merten with the little round bases, but the distinctive Stadden sculpting should be the give-away.

A few loose ones, some have been covered in a protective varnish-dip, popular with railway modellers in the 1970's as it made it easier to dust them with a paint brush. Also a seventh child-sculpt has been surgically removed from the woman in blue.


RML.8 Accessories (Horse Trough, War Memorial, Country Stile, Inn Sign and Village Stocks)

RML.70 Pedestrian Figures Set (Man running, 3 male and 1 female standing Passengers and woman with child on single base)
RML.71 Workmen Figures Set (3 road-workers, bin-man, sweep and deliveryman)
RML.72 Child Figures Set (6 children - rope, kite, hoop, 2 playing leapfrog and one in school uniform)
RML.73 Urban Figures Set (2 policemen, burglar, school-crossing 'Lollipop' man, window cleaner and security guard - or pilot?)
RML.74 Industrial Workers Set (Postman, milkman, gardener, 2 decorators and a cleaner)

RML.75 Road Workmen Set (5 workers and a driver)

The set RML.8 is included over and above the other building and scenic accessory sets as it was to reappear as an issue from Dapol...which means it might have had a run under the Airfix banner? I'll have to check.

Set 73 is the one that causes the problems for definitive-listers, as it contains a policeman and school-crossing operator similar to the Husky sets, however the former are exquisitely sculpted by Charles Stadden, almost certainty from the Minimodels plant in Havent, while the later are lumpen blobs of poly-vinyl from Hong Kong.

(PS - do you get confused between Ian McShane's fictional Lovejoy and David Dickinson's er...David Dickinson? Fact versus fiction - wow! And the false one came first, what's that all about...give him a Volvo and you wouldn't be able to tell the difference!)

Bernard Taylor has emailed me with corrections to the listing and some more shots (you may recall he included some Triang figures in the 'quiz' shot and another contribution the other day), there is enough for a whole post rather than adding it here, so I'll sort that out in the next few days - exams allowing.

07/10/2012 - Full update and extra images now posted HERE

T is for Two - Old Metal

A couple of quick posts this evening - if I get round to both of them! I will be doing more on the blog over the next few days hopefully, some of it will not be liked by some of you but Hey!...it's my blog and there's only so much you can say that's strictly Toy Soldier related before you realise there's more to life.

Therefore I intend to close the other two sites ('Airfix Blog' will stay - I might even get some more shit up there soon!), import all their postsover to here, retitling/re-tagging them and continuing here with more of a mix. A lot has happened to me in the last four years which is not reflected in the asinine saccharine stuff here, or the neutral posts over at 'Gardening Blog', while I've never found the time for 'Political Blog'.

To make the posts more relevant - when they are non-Toy Soldier - I will try to illustrate them with figure photographs, but the gardening and wildlife stuff will stay 'as is'. And there will be more pontificating. Also some of the blog-links will be thinned out to make way for the links on the other pages.

I got these some time ago, can't remember now if it was last October at Birmingham or this May just gone at Richmond, but a mate had had them come in with a lot of other stuff and let me have them at cost-plus!

A mixture of Rose and Higgins, old-school figures (most back in production - I think?), old school paint. Designed in the' olden-days' to complement Airfix (or improve on them!!) and I'm not 100% on the horses being matched-up with the correct riders!

Rose British Infantry of the Wellingtonian period (brilliant - doesn't get a spell-check any more, started using it on the Hat forum back in '07!) in two poses, both similar to the Airfix figures, but - I'm reliably informed (by those guys at the bar who are always so willing to 'inform' on these matters) more accurate.

The Higgins figures with both stove-pipe and er...non-stove-pipe (?) Shakos, along with close-ups of the markings for both makers. The Rose marking is poor, but as well as buying them some time ago I took the photo's a while back and ain't gonna' take them again.

I personally don't feel the sculpt-quality of the Rose figures is as good as the slave-market girlies we looked at here; Rose Miniatures, but the Higgins are very well done.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

News, views etc...Lone*Star

I have been lucky to get into contact with an ex-employee of Lone*Star, otherwise known as Die Casting Machine Tools Ltd. (a.k.a. D.C.M.T.), a Mr. Patrick Simmonds and the first thing I must do is thank him for sending me three old catalogues - almost overnight. Pat was originally a pattern-maker in the machine room, working on moulds, but would rise through the company and was there at the end. He has kindly agreed to let me interview him for the blog, and to that end if anybody would like me to put specific questions to him (which he may not be able to answer) let me know in the next few days and I will try to speak to him next week sometime. I will not badger him from now until doomsday, so please get any questions to me by Sunday 5th August. Ask around as well, some of your mates may not follow this blog or have easy access to the internet. You can pose the questions as a comment (click the comments link at the end of this post) or eMail me at the usual address; maverickatlarge@hotmail.com I don't know how much he knows about the early plastic figures, so if you have questions on the die-cast toys, Treble-O Trains, guns or the late vinyl toys, do proffer them.