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.

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!