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.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

SA is for Silly-Arses!

Except they weren't actually silly in real life were they? But this lot look really silly...

...in fact they look like they're playing hump-backed bridges!

Years ago when we were little and Britain only had one motorway (unimaginatively called the M1), we used to have to travel to Wales 'cross-country', and at the Hampshire/Berkshire end of the journey was a road somewhere round the back of Reading (I think?) which we used to use to get across to the old A4 'West Road', it was called Seven Bridges Road, or eleven...twelve maybe? Anyway - the bridges were all little culvert/stream types of the hump-backed variety. Our Father would announce our arrival at the start of the section and we would count-off the bridges as he drove over them a bit too fast, leading to squeals of delight from my Brother and I as our little bums (we were between 4/5 to about 7/8 during this period) left the seat, sometimes we would hit the roof of the car with our heads!

But the point of this anecdote it that in order to become airborne, you had to hold your arms out, as if they were anchored to the window or seat, the effect was greatly reduced, a lesson our little SA-men here seem to have learnt. Once you realise they are playing hump-backed bridges, you can't take them seriously! "Yetz Hans, schnell, schnell....Whoooooaaowh! Wieder Hans, wieder!

The other accessories that came with the little wooden craft-work figures and buildings from Bavaria and Baden Wurttemberg (among other places) that I have been interposing with the Subbuteo posts (and the only reason I forced myself to get the last of those published earlier). I suspect the card table was liberated from a set of dolls furniture, due to the size of the playing cards, while the cook's tent is lovely, both the tent and the staff-car are from the smaller (20mm) figures, and the staff-car - while being taller, otherwise sits quite well with the Hasegawa Mercedes.

B is for Bladder-ball!

I posted these about 10 days ago and have tried to text them several times with little success, I managed to get the tag-list done about Monday and gave it a title last weekend, but each time I open 'edit' I look at these and get that sinking feeling; "Why did I ever start this?". Well, I know why I started blogging; to share what I know and hopefully learn a bit from visitors, but the thing is, I really don't like football, it does nothing for me and the overpaid Prima Donnas who partake at a professional level just annoy me.

Therefore, getting enthusiastic about something that leaves me quite cold is not going to happen, so little chat tonight, just the facts. I understand that some people love football, and if they want to add anything to the post via the comments, that might help the casual visitor...I don't hate football, I just never 'got it'!

Given away with Yorkie chocolate-bar branded Easter-eggs in the last few years; Hasbro's return to flats. The dates I bought them/that are displayed on the packaging are at odds with those on Peter Upton's site, I don't know why.

"Kar'm-on yoouu reh'heads...and...ah'ther kull'urs", the reds are arranged from earliest phenolic-based figures to late tampo-printed team-specific strips.

I can recognise some of them, the German National team particularly, as I always root for them when they play a UK team! What? I'm a stubbornly contrary near-professional iconoclast and half-German, it's begging to be done!

Goal keepers and throwers-in, various, ball handling for the use of, Mk's 1 - 4!

There, that's the players done, now go back and look at the pitch-side figures they're much more useful for crowd scenes, model railways and zombie war-gmaes, these figures kick a bladder about...Right! Sgt. Major - kicking a ball up and down the PITCH!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

K is for Kaserne

Well, you've got your little wooden SA and SS men, the Fett Kontroller and a young Parker..."Yawol mine Dame, schnell-maken mine dame" (the grey one in the last post?), now they need somewhere to live...soldiers live in barracks, so they too made up the little miniature world of worked pine and other woods.

The Stabswache or 'Staff Guard' were Hitler's personal bodyguard, some eight or so Loyal SA men, soon renamed the Stosstruppe 'Adolf Hitler' they would eventually become the 1st SS Panzer Division 'Leibstandart'. The fact that this little watch-post - Soldatenheim/Soldatenhaus - is named after the short-lived moniker of a unit from the early days of the Beer-hall Putsch, shows how popular the mythology of the National Socialists had become, and might date it to the earlier 1930's?.

A larger building, in the Wilhelmine (Wilhelmian?) style (contemporaneous with Victorian architecture). Very much in the typical urban style as against the old rural/market town's city-wall post/watch-tower of the previous shot; the barrack blocks we lived in at Wavell Barracks, Berlin were very similar to this one, but had longer wings and four stories, one in the high-pitched roof.

Apart from the Swastika's these buildings can't really be regarded as 'sinister', they are in fact rather charming, and would have been available without the hakenkreuz stencil with other wooden sets, perhaps with May-pole dancing villagers, traditional 'toy' soldiers (think Nutcracker suite!) or lederhozen sporting Oompa-bands. Indeed - as we saw here - Not Necessarily Erzgibirge; the little tower on the SA-Heim still features on these toys today, and often finished in a herb-green!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

P is for People to Populate the Pitch-side, Photograph and Pander to Prima Donna Players

The real reason a 'toy soldier' collector starts collecting Subbuteo, is that a lot of the figures designed to add realism - as 'backgrownd' - around the pitch-side have use as civilians in war-games, or; because they are a hard styrene plastic - useful conversion fodder. So this post is a brief overview of the non-playing figures from Mr Adolf's little empire...

The first thing you need at a football match is a bunch of people to watch it! Strangely, given that they first appeared during the days of hooliganism so apply commented-on by the cartoonist Giles, throughout my childhood; these five poses included a woman, a rare visitor to the shores of 1970's football terraces!

Originally sold in little sets of ten factory painted (out-painted!) figures as five pairs, the second of each pair having a vaguely reversed or contrasting colour scheme. later they were issued as 50 unpainted castings (middle bottom). Top left shows the results of allowing Subbuteo fans to play with modelling paint!! Bottom left shows the slightly translucent plastic of late issues on the right of the two girls.

Photographers and film crews are a common sight at all sporting events and featured strongly in the Subbuteo world,with a set of Cameramen a mobile film crew with satellite links and a TV camera and a static TV camera on a scaffold tower with a reporter and monitor on the lower level.

The two TV sets would be combined into one set which I've illustrated bottom right. It should also be noted that the scaffold tower is similar if not a virtually identical scale-down to the larger model made by Mini-Models (bought by Rovex-Triang) for the Scalextric slot-racing system in 1:32.

It was the purchase of Scalextric that brought the Mini-Models Havent Plant to Tri-ang and so to all the links with Stadden-designed figures in a similar unpainted or matt paint, hard plastic, disc-based style going to Tri-ang, Hornby, Subbuteo, Omnia, Dinky, Waddington's, Almark and others. Stadden also designed the figures for Scalextric.

The St. John Ambulance organisation have traditionally provided first aid cover at football matches and they also star in the pitch-side accessory range. The first set seem to have been designed by Nibblett and bear an uncanny resemblance to the stretcher-teams in the Airfix first version German Infantry and Combat Group sets, the stretcher itself being almost identical. I will eventually post comparison pictures on both those listing on the Airfix Blog.

They were replaced with a chunkier set from the hand of Stadden, who - a few years later - produced a third version (green bases above) with standing holding folded stretcher and kneeling seeing to a casualty I haven't tracked down yet. The first and second versions came with two helmeted Policemen one pointing (also missing), when the last version came out a separate set of Police officers with a mounted officer and a motorcycle cop were introduced. this time the standing and pointing poses had flat peaked 'service' caps instead of the helmets.

The previously separate sets of ball-boys, photographers and Police were brought together in the Waddington's years and are shown with their packaging in the upper shot.

The middle picture shows various Stadden officials (referee and two linesmen) with a broken skinny replacement figure from the 'Zombie' years (keep up, you're supposed to have visited Peter Upton's site after the last post and have a grasp of all this!).

The lower image is of the bench staff who should be in the shelter below. This was the last version of this essential pitch-side populator, with the manager holding his head in his hands, it's clearly not going well for one team! They are sitting on a mid-period card team-box liner, watching their team-mate 'warm up'.

The rest of the bench staff sets; the first version (top left) was quite literally a bench and for years I thought these figures (for those 'years' placed in the unknown seated and drivers box) might be Hasegawa due to the similarity between the US troops in that manufacturer's American half-track kits and the blousing of the track-suit legs on these guys! Also I wonder if these first ones are not Stadden's designs? They also came with a figure of 'Ken Baily' the unofficial mascot of 'National Squad' games when I was a kid, differing from the one illustrated below, he was holding the rattle in the other hand.

Below them is the second version, with the later design of Ken Baily, and two Stadden designed substitutes. while to the right - above a colour variation shot - is the third version with a new rain-proof shelter and a combination of previously available poses, it also came with the substitutes in blue.

So - all we're missing now is players...

A is for Adolph...the other one!

As well as things like the 1936 Olympic trinket we looked at here the craft wood-carvers of Southern Germany (and Austria) had also been busy since the accession of the National Socialists making more everyday toys or run-of-the-mill mementos.

Just as today these would have come in all shapes and sizes and would have featured various themes and subjects. The collection from which the Olympic item came from also contained a number of these, and today we'll look at the figures.

The smallest figures here are a pretty perfect 20mm while the largest (grey chap and the all-black) are 40mm with the chap in what appears to be an Allgemeine-SS 'Coffee Can' Hat (second from the right in the main image) being around 35mm.

With regard to the figure on the right...now we know where the Fat Controller cut his teeth! "Thomas!"

The 20mm musicians (upper picture) are really quite amusing as they have all had their hair painted in such a way as to resemble a cloned band of Adolph Hitler mimi-me's!! While the larger figures in the lower shot are from several sources and vary from 30 to 35mm and carry with them a variety of base types/shapes.

The two guys in SA uniform (all brown) are vastly outnumbered by SS bandsmen (black shakos and trousers), whether this is because the SA-men were quietly dumped after the Night of the Long Knives, or that SS genuinely sold in larger quantities is not clear due to the small sample, but it makes you think - at the time of the putsch there were around 3 million SA-men and considerably less than a million SS!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

A is for Adolf...Peter Adolf

Firstly; anyone with a serious interest in Subbuteo can do no worse (indeed - no better) than visit this website;

Peter Upton's Subbuteo Tribute Pages

It is very well layed-out and about as clear to follow as such a complicated subject can be, and illustrates just about everything!

As to this post and the few that will follow over the next few days/weeks; My 'collection' of Subbuteo is really no more than a sample, based on occasional car-boot purchases and the odd figures that come-in with mixed lots of military or railway 'small scales'.

The only major purchase in support of the 'sample' was a recent buy of an early red box set, which had four of the plastic flat sets and a few other bits and pieces. These are the four sets, the two nearer the viewer being those probably sold with the set (a standard 'red' and 'blue' team) while the two white sets (for home painting, or felt-tipping!) were additional purchases, they have gold and black bases, which you probably stated when ordering  the teams (?) Peter Upton's site will have the answer, I'm just not THAT worried!!

There is a difference between the box-set supplied goalkeepers and the other two goalies, in that one pair have long sleeved jumpers the other couple have short sleeved football shirts. Little sheets of stickers have been used to place numbers on the backs of the players, while another sheet provided positional stickers for the base, none of the teams were complete and a few stickers were loose in the bag, which is how they all came to be lined-up as they are in the photo - it was my needing to sort them into something that made sense!

The positions given are;

LB = Left Back
RB = Right Back
LH = Left Half
RH = Right Half
CH = Centre Half
OL = Outside Left
OR = Outside Right
IL = Inside Left
IR = Inside Right
CF = Centre-forward

There appears to be no sticker for the goalkeeper, but he is rather obvious!

I already had some of the card figures, their goalies have the long sleeves so I assume that was the earlier pattern, with the shirt coming later. As can be seen in the photograph - the blue bases had deteriorated in the bag (as had the green one) somthing Peter comments on, this would seem to be due to a colour additive rather than the mateial, as the red and yellow bases (and the black and gold ones) seem unaffected. Although the later two may be a more stable styrene rather than the phenolic plastic of the very early ones.

It causes the base to shrink as the material leeches-out, which means the figures fall out of their widened slot, in the case of the card figures that is, the plastic figures just melt from the flange up, they've already lost their feet!

The box also contained two goals made of knotted cotton/button-thread nets in a box-matching maroon and wire posts with plastic tube sleeves. The dates of the various bits of ephemera that also came with the set don't all match the date of the set, so some of the paperwork shown here was added to the pile at a latter date. I already had the large colour fold-out poster/order from from the mid-1970's, an early B&W list and a late '80's order form, so on the ephemera front I'm well equipped! I did start trying to make a complete list of the teams available, but once I'd found Peter's site I realised it was a task akin to cleaning the Augean stables...and somebody else was already making a better job of it!

I was once involved in a mad argument on a forum with a chap who decided he was the hobbies answer to historical researching despite being an obvious newbie and having a collection best described (at the time - its improved now) as several damaged, brown-box, Airfix 1:32 stuffed under a model railway board with a Subbuteo set-up inside the track layout.

Now while he was actually refusing to believe the US price code thing on Airfix boxes (I know!), he also - as part of one of his logically-twisted diatribes - suggested no one knew the history of Subbuteo either...well, there is plenty of ephemera, several really good websites and tons of supporting evidence for the history of Subbuteo and I'll try to get a separate set of links up down by the paper/card link-list on the left-hand side of the page.

Monday, June 3, 2013

U is for Updates

I have updated two recent posts with new information kindly received from Andrew Stadden;

Charles Stadden

and a new picture confirming Brian Carrick's report of 'copies' taken from the Ƒlan Imperial mouldings;