About Me

My photo
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, August 18, 2013

News, Views Etc...Plastic Warrior 151

Just as late as last time with the announcement this quarter I'm afraid, but still busy doing other stuff. The 151st issue of PW has been out for so long I think another one may be due!
Featuring this month;

* Over-moulding from companies other than Timpo; being Cherilea, Gemodels and (this author's) Kibri.
* An overview of New Russian figures by Own Production and others from Mathias Bethoux (regular commenter to the blog and French forum captain!)
* More musings on small-batch production and re-introducing toy soldiers to youngsters in the age of the PC-game from Peter Cole, with the emphasis on his own Replicants and a Pop-up Shop (which sounds faintly painful Peter?!) 
* Andreas Dittmann gives a 'show-and-tell' of some unusual knights by Acedo
* Alwyn Brice dips his toe in the Elastolin he hoovered-up while interviewing people in their own homes for Collector's Whatzit
* Daniel Morgan's Herald 'Notes now reaches the four original marked/unmarked Zang figures at attention and the later Herald re-sculpts.
* Book reviews abound with Alain Thomas's excelent Soldats Plastiques - Cyrnos et Jim and George Kearton's recently re-issued guide to plastics (published by John Curry over at the History of Wargameing blog) both covered, along with the one I'm to be having a word with the publishers about as soon as I finish my course...
* Giampiero Larizza's 'Converters Corner' features Britains and Airfix figures converted into WWII Finish troops with the summer uniform.
* What the !&*$? has question marks on some medievals (Cofalux?), WWII era Spanish (Teixido) and Wild West figures.
* Updates on...
- Heritage Toy Figures (HTF)
- Soldiers of the World by Dan Humar; seemingly inspired partly by the work done on this blog! Specifically; the North American viewpoint/Canadian issues.
* In addition to the Russians mentioned above - new products covered this month include figures from...
- HaT
- Expeditionary Force
- Paragon Scenics
- Tiger Hobbies
* Plus all the usual book-ends (!). No - literally, small-ads, news and views.
* Readers letters cover the mystery rocket-launcher from a few issues ago (Kemlows) various corrections of the last issues cover (something I corrected without highlighting in the last review), a reader asking if the Britains Para's could be re-issued (he needs to look at the new 1:72 ACTA!), Marx circus and Daz/Crescent also get futher info from readers.
* While  cover images this quarter are a shot of Elastolin mounted Normans on the front and a Soldiers of the 'Ages' cereal-box scan on the back

Get it before the next one's out!
[Another month or so?]

M is for Macro

A bit of a test tonight, these are all taken with the new camera. My old Samsung, which had given sterling service for about two years to date died last week and with me having A) no money and B) a need for a camera last Wednesday, I couldn't get another Samsung, or whinge quickly enough to get a replacement from them. So having written Fuji Finepix off as being shite years ago after two of theirs failed me, I managed to find a cheepie on Wednesday.

These are taken with a Nikon compact - currently £49.99 in Argos. Like the previous three and following Moore's Law it is nearly twice the power of the old one and smaller, so from now on all (new) images will be around 16 Mpx. These also took a while to load but seem much clearer/sharper and the detail - when I get them in focus! - is in a different league.

Various Hover-flys, often mistaken by children for Wasps, they are mostly pretty harmless nectar eaters, with some of them having a rather horrid aquatic larval stage known as the 'long tailed maggot'. Other larvae feed on Aphids and look like shortened Caterpillars! Or; green hairy Leeches!!

More of the same, these are three standard House-fly sized larger ones and another (top left - Sun fly?) which was the biggest Hover-fly I've ever seen, it was the same size as a Hornet and that's what I thought it was as it buzzed my ear on the way into the Buddleia!

Little buff-beauties or whatever they are called, medium sized wild bees of the small colony type (50-odd to a few hundred individuals). The detail on some of these is fantastic and I'm wondering if they are worth anything to the image libraries? I take thousands of these types of shots and it would be nice if I could earn a bit of cash from them?

This is - I know - Bombus (probably 'lucorum' but with a buff tail?), our largest true Bumble-bee, and when it gets to it, it weighs the whole candelabra of flower-heads down, again the detail on these makes the thousands I have on disc from the last four or five years look poor!

This I am very pleased with, I have a vague memory of finding a red-tailed fly all dead, crumbled and dusty in an old web as a kid, but this is the first live one I've seen and I can't find it anywhere on the web ID pages? It's actually a crimson/vermilion colour changing to a more common green at the head end with a metallic sheen, the flash took some of its prettiness away! I don't even know which type of fly it is, I'm guessing on of the House/'Bottle', Flesh, Dung or Coffin flys, but several other groups have similar but less colourful members?

These were the first shots with the new camera and I was still getting used to it, the flash on macro is a bit too 'hot', but it takes better macro pictures without flash in good light so I may change the way I shoot figures...I've yet to try toy soldiers with it.

If you're thinking of a camera, or looking ahead to Christmas you can't beat this deal at Argos, 16 mega-pixels for 50-quid? Downsides so far - bright flash in macro, standard double-A batteries that may prove expensive over time and slow response on focusing compared to previous models. In a few years this type of 'compact-digital[ camera will probably have been replaced by smart-phone cameras of the same spec, so this may be one of the last?

I'm never sure of the rule re. names - common or Latin so have capitalised everything! I know it's a mess, it looks a mess, but I have Asperger's and it's only a Blog so I don't think anyone from Oxbridge will be harrumphing me down the phone first-thing tomorrow!

[Added 12-Sep.-2013] Turns out it's a North American Sweat Bee, and a less common one at that, must have stowed-away on a flying machine heading for Gatwick or Heathrow and flown along the M25 to Leatherhead! Or it might be one of these imports the tomato-growers are bringing-in to pollinate poly-tunnels?

Thursday, August 15, 2013

News, Views Etc...Absence!

Well...real life has intervened in various ways to ensure a sparsity of posts, eMail replies and other stuff in recent weeks; exams, interviews, family illness, broken camera, general malaise leading to a failed mojo...you get the picture! The only thing I've managed to do is to keep entering Paul's Monday Mystery Model quiz over at Plastic Warriors.

However I do have tons of toy soldier articles lined-up (some from so long ago I've announced them twice already - I think?), lots more macro-insect stuff, an overdue review of the new Horrible Histories stuff (well some of it), a coverage of the last Plastic Warrior magazine - also well overdue and which I must get out before the next one's due, especially as the blog gets a mention, lots of News/Views stuff and a new camera purchased yesterday.

So; watch this space, hopfully there will be a bit more happening here in the next week or so, but tonight I'm designing a logo for someone!


Historians have always been puzzled as to how the volatile, disorganized Italians could possibly be descended from the disciplined, brilliantly organized Romans. Similarly, the modern French are in no way related to the Normans, who were hopeless cooks but used to get the Germans to surrender to them. Patently, also the Swedes with their neurotic suicidal characteristics can hardly be descended from the easy-going Vikings with their raping, pillaging tendencies etc.

The answer appears to be that the Romans at some point in history went off to live in Germany with the Normans, and the Vikings emigrated to Glasgow.

Since the only things that the Normans and the Germans liked eating were babies, they left anyone involved in cookery behind. The chefs became the French and the modern Italians are of course babies. The Swedes wrote it all down and made a fortune from hard-core pornography.

From one of the old 'Not The 9 O'clock News' publications

Monday, August 5, 2013

K is for Knights, Knot Known!

In the same vein as the group of mixed figures (premiums?) we looked at the other night, firstly because I suspect these are French, and can even suggest a name; Jem (thanks to Paul Morehead and Brian Carrick from Plastic Warrior), and secondly because the lot Sam sent me contained a few, with two new poses...but they could be from anyone and they could be from anywhere,

So, from my unknown large scale mediaevals box, the above are separated into two batches as those in the upper shot have a uniform feature lacking in the lower bunch; two pin-release marks on the rear of each base. Also the bases are a bit thicker and slightly more symmetrical than the others.

Indeed - until the arrival of the lot from Sam, I had separated them as being two makers (with the upper lot pencilled-in as Jem?), which is why these are two images, I took them a few months ago when I was shooting all the medieval figures for future posts. Although the similarities in material, colour and sculpting meant they shared a tub, just different ends!

Added 25-09-2013 : The lower lot are Dom Plastik!

Then Sam sent me his lot and among them were the above 6, four of them being duplicates, the other two being new poses, one (bottom right) being very much part of the first grouping above, the other (top left) with the standard - being far more like the second gang but with the base of the first, so I now think they are all from one set/maker?

The question is who? Or rather the questions being who/where/when?! So any help greatly appreciated on these and the Post the other day. That's 15 figures, were there more? Of course, if they are Jem and were from a fort play-set, the number of poses is not unusual. Does the difference in - particularly - base style point to two tranches? Or just various sources of copying by Jem (or whoever?) and if so - who were the other influencing makes/originators of the various poses?

It also means that we have a fifth figure in the series we originally looked at Here. It also - increasingly - looks as if the King 'Richard' may well have originated with Norev (linked post and forth figure from the left above), being copied both by Lone Star (or 'influenced'!), then Jem; the smaller figure from this unknown set?

Finally - if they are all or in-part - Jem, does anyone have a picture of the fort the figures came with, they could share with everyone here?

Friday, August 2, 2013

S is for S'tu-hot

Gimme shelter, I'm dying here!

Yeah? You weren't alive in '76 dude! That was too hot, this is mildly over-inclement!

The downside of having built-in champagne-coloured insulation!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

M is for Mystery Men from across La Manche

Pascal-call-me-Sam from Sam's Mini's World sent me one of those wonderful mixed lots of toy soldiers he'd acquired from somewhere (I'm busy collecting him Dr. Who stuff by way of exchange!), with an eclectic mix of figures from near-mint recent French and Modern Chinese medieval through some German and Spanish Wild West to early French hard plastics in a bit of a state (but a sample is a sample is a sample and they are hard to find!), most of which I will deal with at a later date, some of which I will add to the posts which are now over a year and a half overdue!

However, I want to put these up here in order to thank Sam publicly,because they need a post to themselves and in the hope that some of you continental collectors can shed some light on them...

These have a lot in common with the Soldabar figures I looked at here; Minor Makes, in that they look like premiums, are copies of various British and other makers and come in various colours (I think I have yellow and blue ones in my archive photo's), they also cover a variety of eras. The 'premium' link is also there in the two Crescent figures, and the heavy bases and soapy-soft polyethylene of the Beverly figures we looked at the other month, these - however - have no discernible mark.

We have all four of the Britains Herald ACW poses, two Britains Herald cowboys (both poses much copied by others), a Crescent Guardsman copy, and pirates of three native American Indians, originating from (left to right); Crescent, MPC and Britains Herald again.

So - thanks Sam, one man's pirate copies are another man's ruby and jade treasures and definitely the cream of the crop...and can anyone shed any light on who produced them or marketed them, or - indeed - maybe gave them away? What other figures are in the range?

[I haven't added 'French' or 'Premium' to the tag list until we can hopefully get some more information on them]