About Me

My photo
No Fixed Abode, Home Counties, United Kingdom
I’m a 56-year-old Aspergic 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.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

New Product Review - Horrible Histories - Competition!

Where to start? I seriously think this is one of the most exiting things to happen to toy and model figures in twenty-to-thirty years, as well as being a major development in general toys and boardgames (despite the lack of a board!). Some of the press is already suggesting that this will be the biggest boys playground craze of the near future, but the thing is - both the books and the TV series are just as popular with girls...Produced by Worlds Apart toys in association with Scholastic, this is...

Horrible Histories

The game system comes in various formats from the recent phenomena of 'Blind Bags' at a couple of pounds, through to large sets with all the bits and pieces needed for every level of game-play. Although even the biggest sets are reasonably priced at around fifteen pounds.

Even as I was unpacking them, it was obvious that one could play on several levels, from the simple act of catapulting pigs at each others armies, to more complicated point-scoring, and /or head collecting (yes; heads - history is horrible!), the capitalist act of amassing money, card-based intervention....and that is exactly what the system is set-up for. A quick read of the clear and easy to follow rule leaflet allows for most of the above to be the/a main winning aim, with or without any of the other elements.

Therefore, while I'm reviewing these as figures for adult figure collectables, I'm also recommending them for your kids, nephews & nieces or grandchildren, and if you can get them interested in figures in the 54/60mm range now, they may become the next generation of collectors.

These are the lovely, shiny, larger sets currently available, with the Egyptian sets to the left and Romans to the right. The Starter Sets (top right and bottom left) give you everything you need to get going; pigs and their catapults, groats in three values, head-collecting racks and some play-cards.

The smaller Battle Packs give you a top-up of 'cannon-fodder', cards, groats and a special figure. Not illustrated are two further sets of army booster Special Sets, again with special figures. An arena of battle has been announced and more figures are on the way.

Contents of the sets illustrated above with the Starter Sets above and the Battle Packs below, it will be seen that some of the pigs don't look quite as dead as you might imagine they were in days of old, but it can't be over emphasised...history really was rather horrible!

Cards are used in three ways, a bit like the Chance and Community Chest cards in Monopoly; you can play some of them immediately to gain an advantage, leave some festering around the 'board' (traps) or the rest are used in the points totting-up at the end of the game...luck/chance and strategy!

The special figures include the grand commanders, who are allowed to keep their heads! Only because it's game-over if a flying-pig catches them a glancing blow! And limited edition versions of the blind-bag figures in a gold finish, their groats however score the same as their full-colour doppelgänger, although they both get larger 'ceremonial' weapons!

Clockwise from top left;
  • Ramesses II - The Great - The Great Ancestor, Son of Ra
  • Julius Caesar - The Roman Geezer
  • Gengis Khan - The Great Khan - Temujin
  • William of Normandy - The First - The Conqueror
The cannon fodder! One of the few criticisms I have of this range is that the soldiery have very cartoonish faces, most of the figures have quite caricatured faces, but it works with the 'heros', Boudica looks like she's been very wronged by Rome, Alexander is looking a bit foppish etc...but the 'other ranks' just look a bit goggle-eyed. However that's a 'Toy Soldier' collector's sensibilities talking, and as one of the main strategies of the game is to protect the heroes with cannon fodder, you can pass the troops on to the youngsters as you collect the character figures!

A nice touch with these is that there are more than one weapon type with a choice of spears from the Egyptians and a choice of Pilums (pila?) for the Romans. Armour though is thin on the ground, that's part of the game-play/groat systematics, and a collector will only want one or two of these figures.

A comparison between the blind-bag and special gold versions, you can see the gold ones have larger weapons, which seem to be more like ceremonial tools, especially the huge sword/axe being wielded by the gilded Genghis.

Below is an illustration on what the head-scoring element might look like toward the end of a game...it's Horrible History!

The blind-bag figures, these include three that are less common, asterisked below;

Top Row - William I, Hangman, Genghis Khan and Boudica; Bottom row - Viking Berserker, Alexander the Great*, Blackbeard* and a Highwayman*.

In addition to removable heads and separate weapons/accessories, the figures all have at least one movable-arm, some have both arms articulated.

There is a video of a blind-bag opening here;

For the collectors among you, here are a few comparison shots with various commonish figures, another criticism of these is the large groat provided for a base, and again it's purely from the point of view of a collector, but it makes them a tad tall for standard 54mm figure collectors, however they are of varying height and sit well with some '54mm's' and most 60mm figures, if re-based most would look right at home.

There is a nice attention to detail with this range, and we see here that the pigs can double-up as pencil-toppers, and spare parts are supplied for both the catapult elastics and the very small pistol that comes with the Highwayman - anticipating loss.

Also a couple of extra shots showing arm-movement and another comparison shot with a 54mm figure (Timpo Apache) on the Worlds Apart base.

Musical heads! An unintended consequence? If your heads are removable - they will be swappable! Giving a real motley crew for Blackbeard to recruit in the upper shot here, and some more humorous combinations in the lower picture. It's Timpo-lite

This toy really needs to succeed, and if it does (the Horrible Histories franchise has been around for a while now and covers most periods), we could be looking forward to WWI and WWII figures, Napoleonic or English [un]Civil War sets, who knows?

So please support the range, get the sets for the young people in your life/family and collect the hero figures...if this range takes off and runs for a few years you'll kick yourself if you weren't 'in' at the start!

Even the packaging is interactive, with cartoons on the back illustrated with the figures, rats looking out and a 'Where's Wally' take-off, while the weld-fold/flap on the blind bags reveals a sorry-looking chap hanging around if you fold it back!

This flap also hides a clue to the contents, if you know your Roman numerals;

CCCXXIII BC - Alexander
LXI - Boudica
CMLXV - Viking Berserker
MLXXXVII - William I
MCXXVII - Genghis Khan 
MDL - Hangman
MDCCXVIII - Blackbeard
MDCCXXXIX - Highwayman

So that's the new Horrible Histories game sets and figures from Worlds Apart, a pleasure to review, a joy to play with, highly collectable, infectious game-play, great value and easy to recommend to all.

And that's not all...


The PR company helping to launch this range has kindly put-up some serious prizes as follows;

One First Prize;
1x Roman Starter Set, 1x Egyptian Starter set, 1x Roman Battle Pack, 1x Egyptian Battle Pack and 4 blind-bags

5 runner up prizes;
Each prize to consist of 1x Roman and 1x Egyptian Special Set and 4 blind-bags

These prizes will be sent out by the promoter, to stand a chance of winning, you need to answer the following question in the comments section, I will employ comment moderation for a period of 7 days, during which time all comments will be hidden, after that time all correct answers will go forward to the draw, winners addresses (or a valid eMail if you don't want me having your home details) will need to be forwarded to the promoters. To help youngsters to enter I have switched the word-verifier off.

The question is;

What were the original titles of the first two books in the Horrible Histories series and when were they originally published?

The draw will close at around midnight (British Summer Time) next Wednesday/Thursday turnover (8th/9th May). Please encourage your younger family members to enter!

There's still more...

Speaking of younger family members, if you were thinking of attending the PW show this Saturday (4th May - details on PW website and blog), you may find the organisers have a number of blind-bags for the afternoon give-away to encourage the next generation of collectors, but they're limited so you need to be there when they call it.

Finally - Thanks to Cairyanne and Fosbury PR for supplying both the review samples and the figures for the Plastic Warrior show.

Competition...Posting and Eligibility...Originally published on 07/05/2013 02:04

Someone at work was having problems with commenting this afternoon and I've had an email from someone asking if they can enter from outside the UK?

The answer to the later is yes, this is open to anybody, the reason the skateboarders were limited to the UK was that it would have cost more than they are worth to post them, and while the makers suffer the same problem, they are hoping for a good review (which they get because they are lovely figures not because they are free!), whereas with the current competition, a major toy company has offered the prizes without caveat, as they will not see them as 6 invoices from Royal Mail, but rather as 6 new collectors who will hopefully add to their prizes with purchases of other/forthcoming/future sets and figures.

As to the former problem, perticularly if you are not familier with Blogger...

...instructions; scroll to the end of the Horrible Histories review post (article beneath this one on this 'page') and find where it [currently] says "4 COMMENTS" (fig.1), left-click on that wording and you will get a pop-up panel (fig.2), scroll down that past the [currantly four] published comments to find the embedded dialogue box (fig.3) and write your answer (clue - wikipedia!), then tick (left-click) the relevant 'radio-button' (fig.4, you can see I've ticked anonymous which has automatically unpicked the default 'Maverick Collecting' which was live in fig.3), if you don't have an Internet presence that is indicated by the other buttons, left-click on "Anonymous" and then left-click on the orange box-button "Publish Your Comment".

Remember we need the two titles and the year of publication, and something to identify you - especially if you publish as 'anonymous', winners can send their contact details after the draw so you don't need to publish any address, telephone number or eMail, just a name or blogger ID etc...Don't comment on this post as it will be deleted in a day or two!

Good Luck!

Horrible Histories Competition...Results Originally published on 09/05/2013 00:51

Competition is now closed, comment moderation has been lifted, but capcha is also back on...you wouldn't believe the amount of Spam I've had in the last 7 days!

All entries seem to be correct and the draw will take place tomorrow, with results posted on the original post probably at tea-time. Thanks to all who entered, there is only a slim chance you won't win something!

Competition Prize List - Originally published on 09/05/2013 18:59

I used the same randomiser that Sean used on his blog the other day, as I felt that names-in-a-hat didn't quite cut it for 6 prizes out of eleven entries.

So Smellymudhut, you have won the first prize, all those below him (her - Doh!) to and including Christopher Webster [Sean, Brian, the Brooks' and Ferryman] have a runner-up prize to come.

Please can those listed get their names to me by next Wednesday, after that time I will offer the prize to the next name on the list until I have 6 addresses to sent to the promoters.

Thanks again to all who entered, commiserations to those who failed the randomiser, and maybe we will have a similar one when the next tranche is released?


(PS - to prove it really is 'random' it's invented a 12th invisible entrant? How random is that!)


Scott B. Lesch said...

Thanks for the great close-ups of this series. The Toy Soldier folks have been talking about this series at the Tree Frog Treasures forum.

Hugh Walter said...

You are answering the following question for a chance at the prizes, all correct answers will go in the hat, don't put your contact details here, it'll generate spam, wiat until you win and then email the relevant information. Good Luck

The question is;

What were the original titles of the first two books in the Horrible Histories series and when were they originally published?

Hugh Walter said...

What? You didn't enter the competition...I would have thought these were right up your street Scott? Oh well, I'll publish comments that aren't entering!! Try again with an answer...

Thanks anyway

Anonymous said...

i'll have some of that!

"The first titles in the series, The Terrible Tudors and The Awesome Egyptians, were published in June 1993"

thanks wiki!

Unknown said...

The Awesome Egyptians (1993)
The Terrible Tudors (1993)

CJ said...

The Terrible Tudors and The Awesome Egyptians

Hugh Walter said...

CJ - you need to add the date!

CJ said...

The Terrible Tudors and The Awesome Egyptians, were published in June 1993

Unknown said...

Awesome Egyptians and Terrible Tudors (1993)

From Rowan, Clara and Henry Brooks aged 9, 8 and 5 years

Unknown said...

Terrible Tudors - 1993
Awesome Egyptians - 1993

Natasha said...

The terrible Tudors and the awesome Egyptians 1993.

The Ferrymen said...

Hi Maverick,
Fun idea.
My entries are Terrible Tudors and Awesome Egyptians.
Thanks for keeping me up on toy soldier news.

The Ferrymen said...

Sorry, didn't see the second part of the question.


Uncle Brian said...

"The first titles in the series, The Terrible Tudors and The Awesome Egyptians, were published in June 1993" at least that's what the wiki article said!

Email: evilunclebrian@gmail.com

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Smellymudhut said...

Awesome Egyptians (1993) and Terrible Tudors (1993)

Hugh Walter said...

Hayley Biddlecombe - you need to re-write your entry without all the contact details! That would produce a mass of spam - to you, not me!!

If you don't see this before midnight I'll try and edit your comment (not sure I'm able to), if not I'll hold it back, but you WILL go in the draw, as you are correct!


Ratchypop said...

Awesome egyptians, terrible tudors, 1993 for both

Hugh Walter said...

No entries below this comment will be eligible.

All entries are correct, and the draw will be held tomorrow with the results posted - probably at tea-time.

You'll then have a week to get your details to me to pass on the the HH people.

Hayley - you will go in the draw.

Thanks all for having a go - Hugh

Hugh Walter said...

Results have gone in above and can be found here;


Thanks to all who entered, and better luck next time to those not picked.


Hugh Walter said...

Paul's Bods said...

The spam is a massive Problem at the Moment..I get at least 10 a day and advertising a huge range of trash. They try and be clever by posting on the first couple of Posts i ever made but they can´t be in the know Bloggers..if they were theyéd realise that I´ll get to see them and delete them before they are published. Weird on is the Captchas..they have become clearer an, in the main, they are actual words

On Horrible Histories Competition...Results 09-05-13

Hugh Walter said...

I said...

Yeah - some of those number-capchas were photographed from so far away you couldn't read them for the bluring of the raster-image! Words is better! H

On Horrible Histories Competition...Results 11-05-13

Hugh Walter said...

Uncle Brian said...

Wow! Thanks Hugh, I look forward to having a play with these! I have emailed your hotmail account with my address.

On Competition Prize List 09-05-13

Hugh Walter said...

Smellymudhut said...

Woohoo! I shall send an email with my details shortly :D

On Competition Prize List 11-05-13

Hugh Walter said...

I said...

Good - just waiting on Sean now and I can send them off to the promoter! H

On Competition Prize List 11-05-13

Hugh Walter said...

I said...

Enjoy Brian, got the eMail thanks and let me know if there are any problems. Hugh

On Competition Prize List 09-05-13

Hugh Walter said...

So I've sent 6 addresses to the promoter, Sean, you missed out I'm afraid? CJ has your spot as the next runner-up.

Can anyone who has problems let me know, and would one of the runner-up's be good enough to take a decent photograph of the two Character figures (Horus and a Centurion?) from the sets being sent to you so I can add them to this post for completeness - Thanks.

And thanks all for entering, I have closed the two other posts down and transferred all the content to this post and all the comments to this box.


Uncle Brian said...

They arrived today - I've been having fun with the catapults all afternoon!
Thank you very much for running the competition and for the PR company for putting up the prizes.

Hugh Walter said...

Hi Brian, left a comment on you blog...well managed to post it twice, but have deleted one now!