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.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

P is for Polythene Plastic Products

Another 'best of day' from Plastic Warrior's show in May, the chap had three or four of these but this one had a nice selection of figures. Some time ago I did a massive photo session which sits in Picasa in a folder called err...photosesh! It was all the European combat infantry (no German, US or desert figures) in the larger scales, all the Hong Kong carded small scale with a bit of Giant hived-off and all the mediaevals and crusaders.

But because I came to collecting large scale late, there tend to be some quite small samples of common figures/makes for some of the sets, so I'm always looking for ways to make a post or two out of them. Spotting this has allowed one of those posts to happen, and the pictures can now go off the laptop to moulder on the relevant dongles!

It's an odd set, 80% card and bag! but nice nonetheless...three foot figures and a mounted figure, some of the other sets the seller had had foot only, poor colour mix or tatty cards, so this was the better of the bunch. I suspect it was a seaside-booth seller for sand-castles?

The card has two slots in it which may be for a rubber-band to hold the figures up (no visible remains), or may be arrow-slits as part of some folding backdrop feature of the card/fort which is not obvious, although the door is also operable?

Note: "The Tudor Rose" and "Almost Indestructible"

The figures are copies of the Marx first type 54mm mediaevals, and are probably piracies rather than licensed, Tudor*Rose did do a lot of licensed mould/swapping along with their sort of sister company Kleeware (who they took over and would eventually merge with), but those deals were with their other relatives in the Islyn Thomas stable, not - as far as I know; Marx.

They are a well-copied set and here are a few more (bottom left), with various small samples of Marx originals from the 'photosesh' images.

I've labelled them pretty effectively, so I don't need to bore you too much with the minutiae, but note the Hong Kong figure is in a dense polypropylene, I don't think much of the paint in any of the images is factory original, but it might be (a hard plastic painted issue has some like the crusader type), and; a couple of Vikings have snuck into shot!

The four Marx first type (top right) have the deep illegible engineer-stamp style base-mark which is shared with the red plastic Indians (wild west type), which are - I think - Swansea production. The two silver ones and the blue chap (bottom left) may be Marx or Tudor*Rose but are unmarked, as are the HK one and the figures in the bagged set.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Y is for You're a sick puppy buddy - get help!

W is for Watch with Mother

Photographed at the recent Plastic Warrior (I only have Mrs. Bear and a couple of lose arms and legs and they're in storage!), these are among Lone Star's more esoteric output.

Once TV had got going children's programming followed the pattern of 'Listen with Mother' on the old home service (by my childhood; renamed Radio 4) with a midday section of programmes which started with simple things for infants and got progressively more sophisticated to cater for the the elder children. There was a limited number of programmes, which were endlessly repeated over the years (1950's to 1970's), meaning the characters all became very well known and there was much merchandise produced.

One each of the main characters; PC Plod (top right), Mrs. Bear, Big Ears, Noddy and Golly (left to right - bottom row) along with three paint variations of the evil (well...'naughty'!) Goblin. The figures are about 50mm and polyethylene with Lone Star's usual flaky paint and a 'swoppet' style of plug-on arms, legs and heads.

These days the Gollies have been whitewashed out of both new TV productions and the reprints of Enid Blyton's books, but when I was a kid he was just 'Golly'...not 'Gollywog' and a lot of kids had soft toy gollies, with no racist intent. There was however a believed racist history behind the term and a definite racist history behind the character in general culture, and modern mores demand he slip from the public conscience. Also, while Mr Golly was a good character, I seem to remember the other gollies tended to be the wicked characters if the goblins weren't around?

Sunday, June 22, 2014

M is for Musketeers...or 'Mousquetaires'

Good old 'The Works'; how many times have I named them here now? Currently carrying a whole bunch of board games by Rio Grand / Ystari, only one has useful figures, and at 9.99, you might argue a bit pricey for the five, but if you're a board game geek...a bargain!

The box...that's it; it's a box! I think I took too many photographs for covering something I know so little about!

The other contents...I'm not a board game geek, but have had enough experience with board games to surmise that this is going to take longer to learn than to play...once you've learnt it. Therefore this is mostly going straight in the recycling, the dice will go in the dice bag and the timer looks useful...for eggs?

But the figures are really quite sublime sculpts in that 'gamers' size of around 28mm (I didn't measure them and they're in the loft now!) They remind me of the figures Charles Stadden sculpted for Tri-ang Minimodel's 'Spanish Gold', with the swords and things sticking out everywhere! The lady is the sort of baddy!

A close-up of the detail on these figures, they are a stiff PVC (or soft polypropylene?) which holds a lot of fine detail, and are multi-part assembled in the factory.

Available now in The Works who are also stocking the astronaut/shuttle pencil-top I covered a while back. Some of the other games they are carrying at the moment have wooden 'flats' of figures, and if you are a BBG, you need to get down there as you'll probably like most of them!

N is for Not Meccano!

I bought these the other day, bit of an odd one as the company conserned has no connection with figures or war toys of any kind, but over the years I have picked up a tin of bits in mixed lots and often wondered what they were from...

I used to get confused between these people and Rosedale/Tudor Rose, but they are in fact different companies, although both made dolls. I had been watching these get cheaper, the last few visits to the Sandown Park toy fair and the last time I was there they were cheap as chips!

I'll look out for the other set ('Set A' seems to have the four little wheels and long bars needed for anything complicated or mobile to be modelled), and then probably off-load them as a group in a year or two with the loose bits. I just like that they are early plastic and have a nostalgia value!

There's no date on them, but artwork would place them late 1950's or early 1960's? Soft ethylene and only the three colours.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

T is for That There Interweb Thing

A return to our irregular round-up of Toy Soldier related 'stuff' on the Internet...

Knitted Toy Soldier

Life-sized Card Toy Soldier

Personalised Toy Soldier Mug

Toy soldiers in art from 1876, I can see French Zouaves and Cuirassiers? (Lucotte/Mignot?)

Antonio Mancini - Boy with Toy Soldiers

For hollow-cast fans; auction news of a major collection coming-up for sale next weekend in the States;

OTSA - present the James A. Henderson collection

British Pathe visits Peter Cushing with his model soldier collection...

Peter Cushing and his Toy Soldiers

Saturday, June 14, 2014

R is for Ro-Ro - Roll-on, Roll-off

So; a return to another perennial favourite! Why do I keep coming back to this little car?

Well firstly it keeps turning up in new versions/configurations, second it looks a bit like a Morris Minor, of which we had two when I was a kid, a small powder-blue/grey hardtop...very boring, and a darker 'morris-green' soft-top which my brother and I would stand-up in the back of, as if riding a chariot (or reviewing the troops?), until some idiot pulled-out in front of us one day on the A30 duel-carriageway between Hook and Hartley Wintney and we both nearly went airborne over the windscreen as Mum jammed the anchors on! After which is was sitting only!

One of about five 'best purchases of the day' at the recent Plastic Warrior show (I'm like a kid...running back to the stall every now and again "Best of the day" I go, 20 minutes later...."Could be best purchase today!"), this is the marked Kleeware version of the Pyro Ferryboat, issued in the military green, it's more commonly found in the bright primary colours of the 'infant' / dime-store toy it was.

There are four of the little cars we have now looked-at about three times already (and will doubtless return to!), and the design is the sort of - non ocean-going - ferry you find running river or lake routes the world over. I have photographs of similar ferries on the Bodensee (Lake Konstanz/Constance) from our holiday in 1969 and they were still there in the late-1970's when Dad was stationed down there.

When I gave it a clean, the previously invisible residue of the 50+ year old sticky-tape that held the cars in on display suddenly made itself known, fortunately it came off with a dry cloth!

I've taken the right-hand photograph three times but the shiny plastic just won't allow the focus to er...focus! But you can just about make out the Kleeware mark about the sprue-scar. This also highlights the carpet-wheels. The cars do have differences in internal roof-marking, but we'll look at these another day when I marry the ones I've picked-up in the last few years with the ones in storage (and any others I pick up!).

There was also a military version of the petrol station, this has been seen with the little Humber trucks from Kleeware, but I bet they did a version with the cars as well? There would only have been three in that set. These have some minor damage (a windscreen spar and tow-hook missing) so I will have to replace them with the spares.

The other brilliant thing about this - for the inner-child in all true toy collectors, is the simple fact that...IT FLOATS!

"Your mission Captain Willard; is to proceed up the Nung River in a Navy Ferryboat. Pick up Colonel Kurtz's path at Nu Mung Ba, follow it, and deliver four new staff-cars."

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

P is for P..p..per...Pick-up a Penguin!

Another quick follow-up to recent posts...

I picked-up two additions to the Vitacup sets, a penguin which wasn't in the list of animals still to find in the previous post, so there may still be more out there to track down? And a variation of the little deer/buck.

When I first saw him I assumed my existing example must be damaged, so bought him, but when I got him home and compared the two figures it was clear that both are complete mouldings, they are not glued on as an afterthought; it's two differing mouldings. Which came first is anyone's guess, they may have removed the antlers to protect children's fingers (1960's? I doubt it, you learnt from painful mistakes in those days!), or they may have added them to differentiate between the two deer, sex-wise?

The rest are here

U is for Ugly Underside of Undulating UFO

Someone was asking about the underside of the flying NSDalek I CAD'ed a while back, this is for him, if you know CAD you'll understand, if you don't - please come back when I post something more interesting to you!

I filled the holes with blue 'glass' 5mil shorter than the cavity, and faced the cavities with an off-white light source, it looks better on a PC with a better graphics card, the Laptop simplifies the effect. H

Sunday, June 8, 2014

P is for Profiteering in Plastic

This screen-shot from the latest eMail on Airfix's D-Day range is the most blatant piece of profiteering I've seen in a long time, I hope people will be as equally disgusted as me and share this around the communities of modelling, war-gaming and figure collecting...

Issued as part of the 'D-Day' tie-in, those who are new to those branches of the hobby that consist in the main of gaming horse-and-musket or earlier with white-metal figures may not know this item...for the rest of us (90-odd% of the various branches of the connected hobbies) it is as familiar as a bad penny in the saucer by the door!

It is an old, tired moulding, first issued by Airfix in the 1960's. and which through the 70's and yeay, even unto 1980/81 still had a pull back, spring-loaded, firing mechanism that allowed you to shoot little green shells about the place until the hoover and the carpet monster had eaten them all, after which it was matchsticks!

The mould paid for itself in about 1972, the contents of this box contain a non-working gun, which is based on the sort of deck-gun the British Navy employed on gunboats at the turn of the last century, not anything the Germans employed on the Atlantic Wall.

The plastic in this box is (by the law of pound-shops) worth about 65p. They - Hornby-call-us-Airfix - have also released a set with two landing craft, a jeep, the new howitzer and a set of 2nd type US Marines. If they are all market rated at £5.99, then that's £25+ for £16.99....a bargain...but this?

This is a rip-off of the highest order, a staggering amount of money for a boxful of shite! They should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves for this, the people who died on those beaches died to make a better world and save us from totalitarianism...yet we seem to be losing our democratic voice and sliding back to the time of the robber-barons with complicit or powerless legislature and a business class determined to squeeze the last penny from our cold hands..I can't put my anger over this into sufficient words...Sixteen-fucking-ninty-nine?!!! Outrageous!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

M is for Mysterious Moonmen

Can anyone put a name or other details to this? Adrian had it on his stall at Plastic warrior the other weekend, and it's hard to pin down. Seems to be French, but was trilingual on the other sides (English/German), figures are 1970's in appearance and don't have a 'style' or if they do it's more German or 'Kinder Egg' Italian than either French or Spanish?

They are about 54mm, with large square, rounded-cornered, flat bases. Each has four spigots on his chest, attached to each spigot is a small length of insulating wire, the other end of each is then attached to either his backpack or a piece of separate equipment.

The figures are also 'swoppet' like, with separate heads and helmets, swivel arms and the plug-ins. The scenery is card with separate pieces slotted into the base-card and with no obvious weapons in evidence are clearly meant to be astronauts not 'space men'!

Any ideas? the 'de luxe' brings to mind Starlux, did they experiment with ethylene swoppets toward the end?

07th Nov. 2015 - A little bird tells me (from an anonymous Blogger ID with one 'profile view' - mine!) that they are JEM/Norev, so they were French! Tag list adjusted accordingly. Thank-you anonymous!

LP is for Lots-more Plastic!

Another follow-up to previous posts tonight and an all-time favourite 'side-bar' or sub-collection within my wider collection has been these chaps from LB and their derivatives.

Before I was collecting all scales I scored some of the larger ones for Paul at Plastic Warrior magazine (when they could still be found in cake shops!), only to be asked to do an article for the small scale off-shoot (One Inch Warrior) and then after I Blogged them here I was asked to Blog them at the Moonbase Central Blog (the article's disappeared now, or not been tagged, but I have the images, and will redux it, here, sometime), so this is definitely a perennial we will return too!

Indeed, the boys at Moonbase have subsequently blogged some of these, pointing me in the right direction for collection expansion, as I believe I have helped them too . . . all the following have been picked-up in the last two years, most in the last two weeks!

So, first the additions to the large scale LB's and clones. The only marked original is the unpainted darker-green one, which I was looking for last time I blogged them, having unpainted red ones and believing they must have done the green ones unpainted as well. Couldn't you just take the paint off some spares? I hear you ask; well, you could, but that would defeat the object of confirming production runs!

Reviewing the old post, I notice the two smaller gunmetal clones with the deeper, unmarked, puddle-base are duplicates, but the cream and day-glow yellow ones are new to the collection. I suspect they were once day-glow all over, but time and sunlight have been unkind to them!

The little green one is the smooth-based sub-50mm version, while the larger chrome-plated one is actually larger than LB originals, and is also unmarked.

Previously Blogged over at Moonbase, theirs was an English language market one, this is . . . er .  .  . Spanish? Although emanating from Russ Berrie, the 1960's US-based toy company behind those bloody mad-haired trolls!

These two silver astronauts and their lander (along with a simple flag) seemed to replace the old armed spacemen in the smaller size and ran-on with the robots for a few years as cake decorations, in white. While there is no mark, the base is in every other respect the same as the robots.

In the snow-shaker (moon-dust shaker!) form, it's just another way of marketing the figures. Virca SPA will be the importer, and the little gold tag is reminiscent of tourist/gift shops the world over! Can a Spanish follower translate the motto on the side of the shaker (I'm assuming 'Gallarate' means gallery?), the English one was 'Galaxy Collection Water Ball'.

Moonbase's Wotan has been very good at tracking these down, especially the big grinning doozer far right (of the picture...although he looks like his politics might be "Hang'em-Flog'em" as well, like a metal magistrate!), as he (Wote') used it as his ID image for a while.

Seemingly made by two firms, the darker ones have come-in in dribs and drabs, the paler ones came in on Saturday at Sandown Park (at the same time as the shaker, but from different dealers).

The odd looking fellow (inset views) came with them, although; A) he's not got a sucker, nor any signs of having had one and B) the lot was accompanied by several other 60's/70's toys in the same material and pale brown colour (pencil tops, dinosaurs and a sea-monster), clearly from the same maker/source, not that he looked like he went with them either, so I've added him here for now as an 'Alien'!

His back has the same treatment as the backs of all those silicon-rubber spiders and bats we used to get in joke-shops, gum-machine capsules and Christmas Crackers...a sort of novelty-condom effect! They (spider and bat) were both in the same lot - along with a large silicon-rubber ant - so I think it was the remains of a salesman's samples?

An old scan from my original One Inch Warrior magazine article, that was 12/15 (?) years ago (late 1990's anyway), yet some people persist in calling them ID or IDL on-line and in auction listings...it's quite clear that it's LB with a line through it, held between the arms of a monster whose head is above the gap between the two letters, with a sun-ray effect carrying-out to make the full disc.

Indeed...the line-through may well be the monster's arms grasping/hugging the LB?

This is a CAD'ed rendition of the logo found on [some of] the darker green, olive and grey versions of the silicone-rubber robots, it could be ATS, AST, AIS....any ideas? The paler ones (and more transparent ones) only have a generic HONG KONG marking, sometimes two.

Another scan which originally appeared in black and white in 1" Warrior - this is the Russ Berrie contents in their LP / Culpitts cake decoration form, with low-lighting and no flash on a tray of door-mat beatings, after I've sieved out all the fibres and twiggy bits!

Also from the old article, a nice early/mid 1960's set, these are copies of the small-scale Triang / MPC supplied figures with unmarked flat bases, I say early/mid 1960's as the artwork is more late 1950's but the contents are later stuff. I love the two middle aircraft as they are reminiscent of the Trigan Empire's 'Atmosphere Craft' from Look & Learn magazine.

Although the MPC Golden Astronauts were the same chrome silver styrene ones as Triang, their space-base play-set contained these lesser ethylene clones...in red, white and blue.

Further Reading;

The Trigan Empire (Wikipedia)

Now known to be LB for Lik Be, tags adjusted to reflect the fact.

Monday, June 2, 2014

C is for Curate's Egg

It would be 'C is for Cautionary Tale, but we've already had one of them!

I don't know how many figures have been produced in plastic over the years, but the more you know of, the more - not less - likely you are to make a mistake occasionally (this allows those who take delight in spotting mistakes to make a point, hey CS? - still waiting for your erudite feedback!), and I made one at the Plastic Warrior show the other day...here it is!

I saw these and recognised the boxes, asked the dealer if they were really Merten (he's a well respected member of the hobby and made the same mistake so I won't name him!) as they seemed a little cramped...and he said yes, adding they seemed to be repaints, which I concurred with.

Because I use to be a small scale only collector I'm always on the lookout for new or interesting small scale (which in my mind always goes to 45/50mm 'ish!), we negotiated on the pair and I got a bargain (some will argue as they read on - a hell of a bargain...).

Because I'd already a bought a few bits these were perched a bit precariously on the top of the pile as I went on round the venue, and within minutes I was running into people I know who said the usual "Anything nice?" to which I pointed to these and said "Some nice Mertens in 40mm I haven't seen before"!

Well, those not blinded by the red mist of 'purchase frenzy' immediately identified them as WHW figures, repainted!

I should have seen it for myself as I have some undamaged originals, but in the 'heat of battle' failed to recognise them. They are actually KHW [Kreigshilfswerk] or War Relief rather than the earlier WHW [Winterhilfswerk] or Winter Relief and are from the set of Guard Corps figures issued by the Gau of Berlin in January 1942. Polystyrene flats, 45mm (50+ with headdress) originally painted in a simpler form. Because they were issued only in the Berlin area they tend to carry more value than the national issues, but do turn-up fairly regularly.

The figures are mostly paint or actual conversions of about 6 or 7 (mostly infantry) figures from a set of - I believe - ten original sculpts, missing is the lovely Imperial Kürassier sculpt with his eagle-helmet and the Hussar, along with the earlier Kürassier figure (all cavalry). There are head-swaps above, well done and some converting of full length muskets to Jaeger carbines, little metal strip bayonets have been added to a couple, pin-swords to others etc...

I am assuming they represent a specific group of uniforms from a specific time period sometime between the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71) and First World War (1914-18)?

So it really is a curate's egg...the actual value is questionable, the intrinsic value is questionable, the historical value is questionable, and without the correct paper inserts, I can't use the boxes for 40mm Mertens despite needing some, so they might as well stay in them for the time being...do I regret the purchase? No, they're a really nice group and will look good on a shelf somewhere!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

F is for Freebe!

A follow-up to be read in conjunction with the original posts, which were right back at the start of this blog...B is for Betterwear

A quick perusal of those posts will reveal that I talked then of 'Incentives', having always been told and therefore believing that these were issued for total purchases, or total value of purchases or success as an 'agent' for neighbours or something, however; it would seem that in fact they were randomly shoved through the nation's letter-boxes as an advertising gimmick...

A quick read of the leaflet/flyer that accompanied the 'gift' would seem to suggest a rather physical version of cold-calling, in which the local agent introduced his or herself by going round the neighbourhood posting free cowboys, dancers or spoons (what else was there?) through peoples doors...oh that they were doing so today, they are still going as a direct/mail-order marketing concern with 'local agents', as are Avon and Kleeneze.

How the assembly seems to have been delivered; the flyer and figure together in a paper-backed cellophane window envelope of the type stamp-collectors used to use (well; they may still, I'm no expert!). The tear-off slip states that you exchange it for a free gift? Was this the cowboy so clearly accompanying the uncut slip or a further gift? Did some agents just place the gifts with the coupon as a further incentive, or was the policy changed after the flyers were printed?...or; has the cowboy been married to an uncut leaflet with a stamp-collectors envelope by a toy collector?!

A slightly fuller set than we looked-at last time, the photographs are courtesy of Gareth Morgan (Morgan Miniatures) who has also sent me some shots for the Charbens section of the Khaki Infantry page! I'm still missing the cannon from my collection.

Maybe you got one figure/spoon through the door and the rest of the set with your first contact? Can anyone remember?

It would also be nice to know if these are taken from another - probably US - origin (like the World Dolls which were previously margarine premiums), as they have something of the Alamo or Philippine expedition about them, rather than being just plain 'cowboys'?