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, January 29, 2013

B is for Best...eMail Ever!

I have recieved all sorts of eMails in my relatively short flirtation with the Wibbly Wobbly Way, offers of free figures from strange and exotic places, sexy stuff from lovers, spam so funny it made me cry...important information from respected peers, long winded explanatory, short and to the point...with photo's, videos and other enclosures...conspirational PM's from fellow forum members - slagging off some 'tard or piss-ant or another, messages from long lost friends or acquaintances, all sorts, but this is the best ever...

Unfortunately I can't explain (yet) what it pertains to, but at last I have done something of which I can be pleased with, that required teamwork (thanks guys) and a bit of risk....I got £104 as well, and others have benefited and more will...in total I reckoned - on the back of a fag-packet - the 'financial irregularity' (for want of a better phrase while investigations are ongoing) totalled in excess of £10,000, taken from some of the people in society who could least afford it...watch this space, there's more to come...

As to the language? Us retards can call each other what we like!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

W is for What Winter Wants...

...More snowmen...Graham and I thought it would be a good idea to go outside and make a snowman...at 10 o'clock tonight, this is the result of our labours!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

M is for Mainzelmännchen from Mainz

A bit of a departure these - my 'main' present under the tree the other week and no surprise as I'd bought them myself! And they don't represent an expansion of my collections either, as they are up for swaps! I saw them in a charity-shop window and thought "Ah! Mainzelmännchen, I've been after some of those for a while...", but passed on them as they were not the size I'm looking for. As is always the case when you don't buy something when you see it, I then regretted not getting them, so when I passed the shop a couple of days later, and noticed they had gone, went in and asked if they were still around (why I didn't immediately assume they'd been sold I don't know!), the lady on duty said "Do you mean the little gnomes?", "Yes" says I, "Oh, I think someone's put them out the back", off she went to look for them and there they were...prompt purchase ensued!

When we we kids we used to go and stay with Dad, down in the French Zone of Germany (long story) and if he was busy we would stay with a German Officer ('Fritz' - I kid you not)  and his family, where we were introduced to the duty of kids being responsible for clearing the snow from the foot-paths (call this weekend's slush 'real snow' do you?!!) before they were allowed to build snowmen, Playmobile and these chaps...

Mainzelmännchen...and proving there's nothing new under the sun, compare these small, fat, cartoonish, woolly-hat wearing kids with the denizens of South Park?

I won't bore you with the history because I don't really know it! But there is a Wikipedia page in German HERE. I just like them because they have an attached nostalgia hit! I do remember that their little 'ad'ventures were like the old 'Intermission' on early BBC TV, coming between the normal programming.

These particular figures are big, and - for want of a better description - are basically squeaky dog-toys without the squeak! Blow-moulded PVC-rubber by Goebel, who were/are the same Goebel/ Hummel AG known for rubber-headed dolls and more recently ceramic 'collectables'? Can anyone point us to a decent web-page on these little chaps?

From left to right in the above line-up we have Berti, Conni, Fritzchen, Edi and Derti and don't consist of a full set, I'm missing a 'Anton' and the Wiki-page says Derti should be Det? He also seems to be missing a small accessory which I suspect is a plastic representation of a clay-pipe, probably in an ethylene or polypropylene, but possibly a styrene, which he should be holding in his left hand and sucking on.

The Wiki-page also tells of a re-birth of the Mainzelmännchen, but with 'new' features, as mine don't seem to conform to the stated format on that page I knocked-up this table. I suspect that there were 'typical' dress-codes and adventure-specific variations, and that some of these figures show those variations, but I don't know? Anyway; I've put it here in case it has significance.

When I say they are up for swaps, I'd like to swap them for a set of the smaller vinyl figurines if any German collector fancies the idea - I believe Goebel are quite collectable and I know someone like Bully or Schlicht produced these fellows in a 40/60mm'ish range, if so; eMail me.

Added 19th Sep. 2017 - Another one which fails to conform to clothing/colour schemes of all the figures listed on the Wikipedia page?

Friday, January 18, 2013

News, Views Etc...PW Show - not Richmond!

Paul Morehead has been in touch with a bit of news, well; two bits actually, first this years PW show date, which is the normal bit of news...and the other news that there is a venue change!

The 28th Plastic Warrior Show will be on; 
Saturday 4th May 2013
The Winning Post, Chertsey Road, Whitton, Twickenham, TW2 6LS
The Harlequin Suite

This is just South of the previous venue on the same A316. For those who know the road, it's the big pub on the left where all the hoorays get tanked-up before the Matches at Twickenham, but it's off the dual-carriageway so I suspect for the car park you have to go left at the roundabout after the raised section (heading North from Sunbury), then turn right into Percy Road and right again for Pauline Crescent? I'll check that and get back to you!

[From the organiser - The main entrance to the Winning Post is straight off the A316 but there is also vehicle and pedestrian access from Percy Road. For people comming by public transport, Whitton Station is 3 minutes walk and gets 8 trains an hour from Waterloo. Detailed travel information will be released shortly.]

There is FREE parking, and a Premier Inn on the same site for anyone who wants to stay the night

Details of the venue can be found here;

Winning Post

Best show for rare plastics, hope to see you there.

Paul - Does this mean we can say horrid things about the management at the old venue and their parking-fascism now?

S is for Swansea

Still haven't worked out why that post migrated the other day, which is a worry as I want to add some more content to the Airfix blog, and if it's unpublished preloaded pages are going to migrate when I set them live I'm going to lose the chronological order I set when I created the thing...doh! At which point I may just bring it all over here to join everything else?

In the meantime, here's a great favourite of mine, the Marx Noah's Ark from Swansea...

The granddaddy of all those Blue Box and other Hong Kong Arks - some of which (post Blue Box versions) were still available from Bible shops a few years ago? No, not really, the HK ones are mostly based on the Miniature Masterpiece version.

This differs from the small scale one and the wannabes by having a set of wheels hidden in recesses which become 'Feed' and 'Water' stores from the inside, a more ornate ramp (some of the HK ones don't even have a ramp!), sloping gable-ends to the roof and it lacks the sliding door of its diminutive brethren.

The animals are similar the the US 54mm set, but are not quite the same, having the same poses but a smoother finish. I really like these, they have a lot in common with the Kellogg's ones we looked at HERE, and when I first encountered these I though they were the unknown big-cats in that post, but again these are too smooth!

It's worth looking at THIS Merit post as well and comparing, as both are clearly the same beast; aimed at infants, lots of large colourful pieces, educational, biblical (still 'good' in the 1960/70's!) and tons of non-warlike play-value.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

L is for Late, Thanks to Blogger!

Well - you nearly didn't get this post at all, for some reason the 'New Interface' has made it almost impossible to place text above the first image, and in trying to make it I managed to lose the image, and thought that the copies were elsewhere, luckily they were here and I've not only managed to find them but also find a way back to the old Interface, not for long, but hopefully by the time they force it on me again they might have ironed out the couple of dozen problems I've already encountered...some hope huh?!

Simple instructions for how to find the old template/interface if you wish to go back to it for a while...

Old Blogger Tip

I have a bit of a soft spot for tonight's subject. Long before Paul Morhead over at Plastic Warrior talked me into collecting up to 45/50mm "Because no one else will...", I had already started collecting up to 40/45mm in part for the same reason, in part because the lack of formal/industry standard 'size' between scales leads to a natural scale-creep in the collection! These guys would always come in in mixed lots as the unloved dwarves of 54/60mm collectors!

So, to look at one of the earliest sets of toy soldiers, and - like most early stuff - quite well pirated, copied and changed over the years.

The above image shows the Marx 40/45mm PVC vinyl G.I.'s from the early 1950's with the first version (small/no based) sets at the top, the larger-based re-issue below them with two painted variants; one PVC and the other a hard polystyrene on the second row. The third row shows the later Hong Kong production also in a styrene with the MG.

The problem with moving production to HK is that while it was done under 'if you can't beat them join them' conditions, due to the piracy that was already going on, as Britains found; it just makes it easier for the pirates to obtain product to copy. As a result Payton in the 1970's issued the figures in the forth row, not marked HK but almost certainly made there, the quality and plastic type matching a lot of similar production from the then British colony. The forth row are 'all' HK.

The Marx originals, on the left the earlier set with the smaller or non-existent bases, where there are bases; they are smooth and unmarked. To the right are the larger-based replacements with the characteristic dimples or hollows of so much Marx production

The hard-plastic versions from Hong Kong (top right, middle and bottom right) with the painted vinyl bazooka-man and the white plastic marching soldier on a less common oval base.

The bazooka-man has the same mould-line as the HK production, and as the HK one has no mark, I'm assuming they are from the same mould. The white plastic guy must be a 'special', perhaps to go with a stand-alone vehicle or something? he might just be a Marine - I don't have one to compare, but is still in an unusual colour, and seems to have been factory-painted? (see comments now - thank you to Mike Niederman)

I have somewhere a perfect copy of the guy with an empty shell case from the Airfix kits of the 6lbr and 25lbr, but in 40mm and with a very similar paint-job to these dudes, but he has a silver helmet (and I have several now), so I'm suspecting he actually went with an HK military vehicle or something, anyway I would have shown him but I don't know where his bag is at the moment!

The Payton pirates - lower shots. These are in a polyethylene or polypropylene type plastic and come in various colours and had some real HK shite by way of accompanying AFV's. The two above with the plug-feet are more likely full-HK copies, issued with some form of military vehicle or vessel like a PT Boat, Landing Craft or AA Gun? The guy missing his feet has the same poor quality as the other two, so probably shares the same source.

Some comparison shots showing the evolution (degradation?) of the figures over time, and the support weapons issued with these guys in the Marx play-sets. The MG in the middle was the sort of 'standard' piece of kit, but they also made a recoilless rifle to fit the same tripod and there was also an earlier water-cooled Browning MG for the same mount. The Japanese version to the right seems to be a copy, in a more tinny polypropylene with added 'rivet' detailing to the legs...do any of the larger-scale experts know the origin?

Marx favoured this scale in their early days and we can see a few more here.

Top left; the PVC circus and Tom whatsit/Space Patrol/Rex Mars etc... 'Space Academy' figures.

Top right; Wild West in a Cowboy and Indian and a Hawaiian dancer I should have added to This Post.

Bottom left; Some navy figures, again - like the marching figure above - the yellow guy is a non-standard figure, in an odd colour and missing the kit-bag he is more commonly seen dragging behind him.

Bottom right; Navy bases and a mechanic in an ethylene polymer.

Tom Corbbet!

Added 17th July 2012;

This is the Airfix piracy I mentioned above, he has a green helmet not a silver one and is in a very dense polyethylene or polypropylene, so not actually connected to the above HK Marx, except in size and vauge paint-style, so probably a HK AFV accessory, but I mentioned him so he can stay here!

These have also turned-up, they are definitely a polypropylene or even nylon type polymer, the stretcher is almost impossible to keep together due to poor tolerance/QA and a they have to face each other as there is just the one moulding! However several of the poses are from the Marx 40mm and the rest are other Marx poses scaled down. Again I would imagine HK (or 'China'), and quite recent rack-toys - within the last 15/20 years?

[Added 14/01/2013 - I haven't the faintest idea why this post has moved here this afternoon? But as I can't find it wherever it was (June/July last year?) it will have to stay here! I guess it is a stupid new-version Blogger thing? reading the post it seems it was the first post I did after the first forced-change which might have something to do with its sudden migration. The link to old version no longer works. Weird...]

[Added 26/11/2013 - Another one, no base, no paint but same plastic, there doesn't seem to be signs of the base being removed but neither is there a locating stud to mount him in an AFV? Both will go on to the Airfix Blog eventually]

Mid-2021 - Three more have turned up (in the collection) with a new pose, and they (the same three) were also in Plastic Warrior magazine about a year ago, I'm pretty sure now they will turn-out to have been the crew in a probably Hong Kong boxed or carded gun.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

T is for Tatra, not the trucks from Czechoslovakia and not Rubinstein!

So a mystery solved, not by diligent research in the British Library, or months poring over old toy trade magazines, nor buy the serendipitous matching of a Littlewood's catalogue image with an old order form from Woolworth's or something like that, but by a simple comment I almost missed, written months after the original post had been published, and received with thanks from Gareth Callan;

As soon as I had read Gareth's comment I Googled the firm - just to see if there was anything - and found that they are not only still going but have a website, a blog (with images of the original mouldings) and a fascinating history page which seems to involve them taking over most of the firms within a hundred miles of them in every direction over a number of years (decades!) and then moving the whole thing North!

Upper shot shows the footballers, these have bases like the Timpo ones but are a little smaller, they also seem to be the hardest to find of the main football types (Airfix, gold named-base, Timpo and pop-on based cake decorations) and when found are usually in the same cream as Airfix or the pinky-cream colour above.

Below are the Soldiers of the World in blue with two poses missing.

I contacted the company and received a kind reply from one of the staff, he has declined to enter detailed correspondence on the subject, a position I can understand as the company now is an extrusions company, very different from the injection moulding they were engaged in when they made these and so have little interest in what was probably a 'pin-money' earner for them more then 40 years ago. Consequently I won't name the individual but thank him for the images.

Also there may be very few people left in the factory who remember the fine details of what was happening "down south" all those years ago, but if Gareth could remember and comment, maybe someone else will...do you know anyone who worked at Tatra in the 1970's?, get them to drop a comment here and share their memories with the rest of us!

Some old shots left over from the previous post, showing the marking that clinches the British angle to these figures, they weren't supplied by Rubinstein, but to them!

The most interesting thing I learnt from the company spokesperson was that the moulds were finally sold only a few years ago (when the original owners retired?) to a plastics firm in South Africa, they couldn't remember the name of the firm, but anyone in SA, or with friends or family there might try to look out for them in the smaller shops or kiosks?

Tatra PR shot above and a few of mine - below - for the Magic Roundabout set, this was one of three sets of premiums issued for the iconic children's TV series of drug-infused madness; "Hey...anybody got a carrot maaaaannn..."

The other two were the bigger set (16 poses?) of very small ones issued all over Europe with gum, ice-cream or soap-powder and the larger based set probably made by Crescent - and like these; destined for Kellogg's Ricicles.

Finally the Robin Hood set complete, these appeared in large numbers a few years ago all in the same clean pale blue polyethylene, whether they were old stock or a quick run before the moulds were sold is not clear.

Obviously the original post has a few red-herrings now, as they weren't made in, for or by a pulping-mill on the North or South banks of the Thames or the Medway for starters!! But I'll leave it as it is with a link forward to this one - it is still one of the most popular posts with 40-odd visits today alone. And they may have been for a pulping-mill as the other connections hold vis-a-vis box supply, games etc...?

A couple of links;

Company History
Tatra Blog
More Tatra on this Blog

Known Listing;

Magic Roundabout Characters (c.1968) - Kellogg's Ricicles
- Brian the Neurotic Snail 
- Dougal Dog - The Sugar-rushed Worrier
- Dylan the Rabbit...the very, very spaced-out rabbit, man!
- Ermentrude the Cow, nice but dim.
- Florence
- Mr Rusty
- Old Mr McHenry
- Zebedee...that was all wrong...a talking bed-spring with a Mexican-mustachioed tumour for a head?

The Aristocats (c.1970) - Nabisco - Different set to the European gum-premiums, being larger, less poses and similar in execution to the Robin Hood figures.

Robin Hood (c.1970) - Nabisco
The Flintstones (c.1970)
- Nabisco - See above link, were reissued in a soft vinyl.

Football Players (World Cup 1974) - ?

Warriors Through the Ages (c. 1975) - Various - See the original post for a fuller (but probably still not complete!) listing of the various 'to market' titles and dates for these.

Friday, January 4, 2013

P is for Plong...of course!

These chaps are by Jean/Big and would have been supplied to Cand-Import for their 'Plong' gum cards in the same way Kellogg's were supplied with figures by Crescent.

The eight cards make-up into a continuous background scene, although you'd be hard pressed to get the blister off without damaging the backing card. Gum is missing on these examples which may still be available from Adrian at Mercator Trading, see links to right of blog-page.

They have a simpler paint scheme than the originals as issued by Jean, which can be seen Here, a link which is well overdue as I said I'd add it back in March 2010 and then never got round to it (in my defence I was being dragged through the mill by a crooked Knight at the time!), thanks are due to Klaus Lemper for the heads-up on that one.

T is for Thales

That's 'Tar-les' not 'Thailes'

About a year ago I was hanging around Newbury, with an hour or so to kill, and having outstayed my welcome in the local coffee house thought I'd do a quick overpass of the charity shops in the main square, of which there are about 5, as, despite there rarely being any major pickings in charity shops these days (not because there's nothing there, but because they mostly save stuff 'out back' for their local tame collector!) you can sometimes find the odd useful piece.

And in one I did indeed find something, in the little restaurant-style bread-roll basket of infants toys and squeaky things, there was this soft expanded-foam moulding of what was obviously a pretty modern item of military kit. Well, it was what it was (20p?) so I bought it and when I got home Googled the thing, found it was one of a family of similar vehicles and thought "Ah! Different versions of prototype must equal different versions of toy, surly?", and I was right, but must stop calling myself Shirley (if you got that - you're showing you age!).

So this is the beast I found, it's a very accurate model - given the material - and seems to be around the 1:50 mark, scale wise. Clearly an advertising premium, the underside has more basic sculpting than the upper surfaces but gets across one of the main selling points of all vehicles of its type these days - mine resistance, with a clearly emphasised blast-protecting/directing ridge running the full length of the crew cab and passenger sections.

Anyway - I then eMailed a couple of the people I found on the websites and sat back to see what would happen...not a lot...and for a year this collage sat in Picasa with me wondering weather or not to blog it as a stand-alone. So a couple of months ago I tried again, obviously got a different eMail, and the result was a small parcel all the way from Australia with the rest of the crew on-board.

At this point I must thank Julian Elliott of Thales PR/Communications down under for going the extra mile.

Not only did Julian help with the rest of the Bushmaster family, but also sent me two versions of the smaller Hawkie ('hawk-eye'), a small air-portable AFV and the I-Mast, an integrated naval radar system (with all the various electronic units in one structure), which is manufactured by the Thales subsidiary in Hengelo, Netherlands, although the foam model is made in the same place as the Aussie AFV models.

The other members of the Bushmaster family are an APC version of the armoured ambulance I'd found and soft-skin versions of a pick-up truck with short and crew-cab layouts (the ACSV?). The I-Mast just screams 'Dalek HQ' to me and with Doctor Who Adventures magazine giving us no less than 6 old-type Daleks last week in five colours there's potential there somewhere for a good scrap (HOTT rules?).

Indeed all these lend themselves as very hard-wearing pieces for a gaming table, and would go very well with the modern standard 28mm Sci-fi or fantasy figures, or - of course - any similar sized 'modern' troops, the Bushmaster being in service with several armies now.

I was also given a small koala bear! he's now on the Christmas Tree!!! For those who have more than a passing interest in AFV's, these are interesting vehicles, not least that the original Bushmaster design comes from an Irish company called Timoney who - I'm pretty sure - made an interesting AFV/APC for the Irish army in the 1970's that looked like a Big-wheeled Ferret on steroids! Also the camouflage on the Hawkie, is quite similar to the camouflage on a 6x6 heavy-weapons conversion of the Land-Rover Defender I saw at Farnborough airshow about ten years ago, which also came from Australia.

Detailed links for those interested;
Hawkie Air-portable Light Wheeled AFV
Bushmaster Protected Mobility Vehicle - Wikipedia