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.

Friday, February 27, 2015

S is for Searchlight?

I was going to finally get the French figures published but Google have not only managed to loose one of the posts, but automatically replace it with an earlier-edit duplicate of one of the other three posts! Despite the fact they've been saved dozens of times, or that I uploaded the images 14 months ago! Now they are not answering my eMails!

Probably my last post for a week or two...a cry for help today...

..Rob eMailed me yesterday with a description of a searchlight he'd acquired and - without photographs I suggested Astra or Lone Star, photo's were forthcoming and it's neither, it doesn't seem to be Britains so can anyone Identify this searchlight for Rob? I'll tag it if we can get a definite maker.

The - originally silver-painted - dish is Lone Star 'like', but I don;t remember this in the range and it's not the same mounting as the vehicles...could it be a minor make like Kemlows or Benbros maybe?

Any help or contribution gratefully received by Rob, me and anyone else who might be interested!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

G is for Galoob...I think!??

Modern vinyl kac-ka, so text light, and image heavy! The only problem with these is their heritage...they are regularly listed on feeBay as Galoob, they half-mirror the Galoob small scale figures in both pose and the mid-1990's numbering under the base...but I can't find them in Galoob packaging? Hopefully someone seeing this will be able to confirm or deny...

Comparison shot between the subjects of today's post and some of the Galoob MicroMachine figures, the sailors share a paint scheme as well as pose similarity, and both the earlier unmarked figures from 1993/4 and later figures are 'twinned'.

They came (come?) in five types of decoration, the sailors unique in their blues, the combat figures in an 'urban' DPM of the type that came out of the Soviet Union in the 1980's, in blues and greys, along with less common sand or light-olive versions...

...and (top right) an even less common temperate/desert camouflage. There seem to be 20 numbered poses, of which I have still to track-down five by the looks of it. The airbase/sailor/MP type is a home re-paint, his arm has also been cut and glued, but the Internet suggests it was glued back roughly where it started life...still; it means I'm looking for 6 poses in all...not a priority I must say!

The reason for the question mark over them being definitely Galoob, is that they are still available on the internet under Realtoy and Daron labels (Googling 'Daron Action City' or Realtoy likewise will take you to these screen-capped images - I haven't tested them for live-sales status though). Both seem only to be generic rack-toy brands and to carry only the same three poses (in a standard insert) in the least common colour variant, so it may be that they only got these, and that the rest ARE Galoob...can anyone confirm this?

The two Hummers are very useful for 25/28mm war games, while the VAB and chopper are good to go with 20/23mm figures, the truck's nice, but small, the tank is charity-shop fare, along with the accessories!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

H is for Hungary

This is a collage of copyright free images (which doesn't mean you can use them 'as is' - the manipulated collage-image is (C) this blog) taken from a pre-war book issued by the Hungarian equivalent of the V&A or British Museum, and shows some of the items in their collection and archives.

It's hard to tell what size they are, I suspect about 50/60mm, and I'm not 100% sure if they are hand carved from wood, slate-cast 'traditional' lead flats, or zink-lead spelter castings? I suspect normal lead castings from slate moulds, but they seem to have a decorative purpose, rather than for use as toy soldiers so they may be spelter, and the detailing on the cavalryman's casting could be hinting at sand-casting. Meaning that they could be sand-cast, lead-based spelter from carved-wood pattern blocks? They're all in the tag list anyway!

The lady looks to be a little more fully-round, so a semi-flat (or demi-rond?), possibly with a flat back (I think they may all have blank rear faces), the other two are wood-cut patterns to work from. Uniforms of the three cavalrymen point to the 19th century.

Can anybody add anything else?

Saturday, February 21, 2015

G is for Greyshaw

Greyshaw Incorporated of Atlanta, Georgia to be precise...and that's just about all I can tell you about them.

Carded, two 1950's pulp sci-fi dime-store space-car-ship things...with their wheels outside the aerodynamic fairings! Hard to tell if they are polystyrene or an earlier cellulose/phenolic resin? Like the Lido ones we looked at the other day, they can tow each other round the carpet or that lovely cold 1950's linoleum!

They're nice aren't they?

D is for Digging in the Dirt

More treasures came out of the veg-patch this summer....well; more little scraps of shite reappeared! More pre-loved items were rescued from their abandonment?

A very useful set of Cherilea Union Infantry legs, half a Lego (Kiddy-Bricks TM) towing hitch and a bucket seat from a large 'garden' tractor - best place to find that then!

More Lego, a plastic Mecanno nut, a small blow-moulded mouse...sans eyes, sans tail, sans everything! Another chunk of large tractor...or large chunk of tractor? if I keep digging long enough I may end-up with the whole machine!

The paratrooper nearly got thrown on the bonfire, I thought he was a muddy piece of chopped holly tree, but as I picked him up to chuck him flame'wards, my middle finger slipped behind his knees and my brain though "just like when you're inspecting one of those Hong Kong paratroops", looked down; and he was saved!

Friday, February 20, 2015

M is for Multi-coloured Motorway-making Motor-vehicles

Another one I shot years ago. This was clearly a common beach-toy type thing and lots have survived (by comparison with other toys of the same era), and they do appear on evilBay occasionally, sometimes with the enclosing cellulose-foil wrap still extant.

It was the slot-in figures that drew me to it as they are just the type of thing that turns-up in mixed lots and 50p bags, so I'm always looking to identify them, I also have a soft touch for Tudor*Rose.

Standard polyethylene (here described as polythene) toys of the time, around 1:48th scale. These toys are sometimes described as polypropylene, but this is erroneous as PP is a denser, more expensive plastic used where fine detail is required in the moulding.

B is for British Infantry

Continuing with the look at Fujimi's little figure kits, we arrive at this offering. The figures can be a bit gawky-looking after assembly, but the set appreciates a bit of effort and I quite like it, not least because for nearly 20 years it was the go-to set for a boys anti-tank rifle in small-scale!

The box-art is a spectacular scene of last-stand grit and determination in the best traditions of British defeats since 1066, in a painterly style, while the side of the box hints at the larger oddity contained within...a hollow bridge taking-up half a runner ('sprue') and going from nowhere to er...nowhere!

We are all nowhere...Now, Here!

Instruction sheet is similar to the Japs, with a B&W colour guide, NCO's ranks, assembly instructions and line-drawings of the runners.

The figures - I did this set pretty-much as per instructions, and you can see the uncomfortable poses are the guy standing with his arm up, the chap with the range-finder and the advancing fellow at the back. But a bit of 'multipose' work with knife, glue and limb-swaps can improve greatly.

The MG team and Boys, both make-up nicely and weapons can be swapped between the prone figures. I have used the suggested range-finder matey as the kneeling No.1 and he works well, the awkward pose can be improved by being lent-back a bit so there isn't a 90% angle at the back of his knees.

The Vickers is a week sculpt though, far too small, thin and girly and best replaced with the 2nd type 8th Army one from Airfix.

The runners - one of figures and one of a bridge! If we hadn't had the bridge we could have had a double set of figures with the lovely little 'bits', what were they thinking...the instructions even wanting us to make the ends from cardboard...best used as opposite tunnel entrants on a model railway! Leaving a nice piece of plastic 'card'.

As well as a sheet of plastic card; he bridge at least contributes long lengths of round cross-section rod for the spares box.

Not so important now but back in the 1970's when Plastruct were still making their range primarily for professional/architectural modellers in some weird ABS that wouldn't glue with the stuff on our workbenches (and it cost a fortune), useful lengths of virgin runner were er...useful! Now Plastruct are in a styrene polymer and Evergreen are relatively cheap it's not an issue, but every modeller knows...never throw anything away!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

L is for Landspeeder

According to the predictions of the 1950's we'd have had anti-gravity vehicles by the year 2000, if not the 1980's, yet we are still waiting! And despite various 'mag-lev' train systems (some of them dating back to the 1950's - I think? 1970's?) and the recent announcement of a floating skateboard; there's still not much sign of Landspeeders, or plain-old 'Speeders' any time soon...

 ...luckily George Lucas took care of it in 1977..sort of! On the left of each pair above is the original Kenner toy which although dated 1978, is probably based on pre-production artwork, as it's not exactly accurate.

On the right is the Galoob 'Action Fleet' version, a much better rendition, which although almost the same length is a smaller scale. I'd say the Kenner effort is about 1:48, the Action Fleet model being around 1:56?

A few comparison shots, it's interesting to see Kenner described as a division of General Mills (who went on to buy the rump of Airfix), what might have been huh? And Kenner went on to give Hasbro a run for their money...for a while, only to be swallowed by them!

Quite a traffic jam of Speeders in down-town Coruscant, the plastic Galoob being joined by a later die-cast - technically from the same range - of a Royal Naboo Security Force patrol/staff car (?) and two Tiger Electronics 'Real Sound' models of the opening chase scene's vehicles in the 2/5  movie.

The Naboo machine is scaled more toward the MicroMachine end of the spectrum, and a small part of Kenner's problems was likely the clear failure to control the brand franchise when the three new movies came out. If they hadn't had two similar yet partially incompatible ranges (MicroMachines and Action Fleet), if they hadn't had various sub-contractors and subsidiaries producing bits and bobs (like the solid-window Tiger Electonics car), if they hadn't experimented with die-casts (twice), pre-production prototypes and other nonsense, if, if, if.

If - instead - they'd stuck to one range and expanded it into a gaming system (before Wizards of the Coast did exactly that with a third scale and few vehicles) at toy prices with a broader range of figures and vehicles, the range might still be with us, even though; under Hasbro's name. With the subsequent demise of the Wizards range, we are still waiting for a decent set of small scale Star Wars figures and accessories from the expanded universe!

As a postscript...the 54mm people are also still waiting, as Paul Stadinger was saying the other day; new range of figures in that size is being scaled-back after less than a year! It was the same with Horrible Histories...the manufacturers don't give them a chance, like Spartan babies - if they don't turn an immediate profit, they get the chop!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

P is for Raphael Lipkin...no; Pippin...no; Plastron or...Modern Toys!

How many brands did this company use?! In their day (the 'pioneer' period of plastics for toys) as big as Tudor Rose or Kleeware, this set dates more toward the end, judging by the packaging?

I photographed this years ago (2007), and it's not in my collection to inspect further, so I'll let the pictures tell the story...suffice to say it takes baking-soda toys to the next level! Approximately 100mm figure?

F is for Fujimi Mokei Ltd.

Starting to get the required comparison shots together for the Airfix blog, lead me to get the Fujimi-Nitto box out the other day and while they were in front of me I took a few photographs of the figure sets to get them box-ticked here, too. This is the Japanese Infantry kit.

And it was a kit, not a set of toy soldiers. So it has an instruction sheet with that particular form of English common to Japanese model kits of the 1970's! There's also a colour guide....in black & white! rank badges are given and a potted history of the uniform.

Japanese kit box-art was a cut above ours, and this doesn't disappoint (until you buy and open the box!), with a mountain gun being manhandled while an Infantry thrust 'goes-in' behind. Both the box lid and the line drawing hint at a nifty little gun within and an Infantry section to look forward too...

...but, Oh Boy! What a blob'tastic pile of rejects await! These make the Airfix Combat Group look positively sculptural! The gun defies full identification, there are only 7 poses and of 14 figures (there's a MG gunner missing in the above line-up...he went AWOL for a re-sculpt); 5 of them are for the artillery piece!

However...I was there! And in the mid-1970's these were exotic additions to one's army. A Japanese 'vehicle' was as rare as rocking-horse shit, and it gave the very reasonable Airfix set something to answer all those Lee/Grants bulldozing their way through the palm trees (rhododendrons by the school swimming pool!). By the time they'd been de-seemed and painted to match the Airfix battalion, they grew on you...or were they just easier to forget?

On The Airfix Blog - I'd forgotten to tag them, so they couldn't be found!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

T is for They Don't Come Much Bigger Than This!

Oh yes they do! [5th December 2015]

I photographed this (likeness of Mr. Thomas Radford?!!) in a tobacconists in a little arcade in Reading the other day...

I didn't measure it, but it was about two or two-and-a-half feet tall, so about 1:4th scale? I'm guessing it dates from the 1970's or early 1980's, and has survived remarkably well given the frangibility of both the 'clay' pipe and the cane.

The blurb on the back, although Radford's was once a British tobacco brand, it seems that the whole concern is now (or 'was'?) a German based concern, it would be interesting to know if the statuette was made in [West] Germany or commissioned from Hong Kong or somewhere similar?

I can find trademark stuff and an address (John Brumfit & Radford Tobacco Ltd. Dieselstraße 1-84144 Geisenhausen, Germany) but no website?

T is for Two - Timber Toys

Have we had that title before? Probably...hey-ho!

Returning to a recurring favourite of mine; wooden toys - Traditional, timeless, lots of play-value, robust material that ages with more grace than plastic or die-cast alloy.

Still going strong, now as a managed cooperative (History here) Dregano was one of the main marketers for the craftspeople of the Erzgebirge region of North-eastern Germany, falling behind the Iron Curtain for a while, they none-the-less managed to export abroad to 'the enemy' as this English language boxing shows.

It's a whole story in a box, how cool is that! Pigs can be visited, pigs can be fed, pigs can escape! Pigs or people can hide behind trees, the child rides the big pig quite well...of course I tried! Loads of play value, and something like this was pennies when I was a kid.

Another export piece. If you follow the links there are lots of catalogues to download as free PDF's, and while neither of these pieces are in there, plenty of stuff is including my favourite tractors! They still make them with all the different trailers/loads, although they seem to have more modern steering wheels, and no flywheel, but then some of mine don't!

The range of wagons with 40mm drivers are all good for 20/25mm war-gaming once you've unglued the figure and haven't changed in a hundred years, while there are some lovely sports ski-shooters in the monochrome range. The trees are lovely, and the little matchbox range is vast, but they don't seem to carry one of my childhood favourites any-more - the little sets of architectural building bricks in a matchbox?

Monday, February 16, 2015

A is for 'And'....And now for something completely different...

Occasionally you see something exquisitely HO-OO (as Airfix would have described them!), but way out of you comfort zone price-wise, not because they are old and rare but because like these from Link's of London; they are made of something valuable...

Silver and silver-gilt (gold-plated silver)! I photographed these one cold night back in 2007, walking up through Guildford from the station. I had to take scores of shots due to the reflections off the shop window or the display cabinets and the problem focusing through the glass, which the camera kept detecting etc...

As a result every time I've looked at them in Picasa I've just thought "can't be bollocked!", but as you can see; in the end I've been through them and rescued what I could.

Basically - if memory serves - there was a large and small Noah's Ark, Noah and his wife in front of their new house...old house? Lots of stand-alone pairs of animals, something nativity-looking and one or two other pieces with prices starting at around £20 for a pair of smaller animals.

Highlights are in gilt, or a gloss black I assume to be an enamel (proper kiln-fired [or blow-torched?] enamel, not 'hobby' paint). They also serve to reminded me of the number one item on my 'Wants List'...

...as you enter the British Museum, the Egyptian room is straight in front of you up some stairs from the main foyer. After a couple of large chunks of carved masonry there is (or used to be) a small glass cabinet about the height of a man, centrally placed, with several glass-shelves displaying little treasures, among which are an 18-20mm Pharaoh and his Queen sitting on their thrones, just like the Atlantic ones, but nicer, and made of pure gold...I want them! But I can't have them! Wouldn't you like a Noah's Ark with all the pairs of animals? I would!

Any generous millionaires reading this; you can get my bank details from Natwest...for donations to the Aspergics Toy Research Foundation! What do you mean, you've never heard of it?

Sunday, February 15, 2015

D is for Diversion - from Normal Programming

A mate has recently been shut-down on Facebook, it happened to me a while ago (last autumn, and seems to be happening to everyone, over time....so it may well happen to you if you're on Facebook and it hasn't happened yet.

They (Facebook) lock you out of your page (while sending you all the normal updates and notifications!) and demand 'Government ID' before they let you back on.

Sometimes it seems to be random, sometimes it's because someone has reported you or your Facebook page - that's what happened to me, I was fighting a neo-Nazi site (which proves last months Troll to be the hopelessly ignorant, misguided look-at-me type he/she is!), and they fought back by getting us all closed down temporarily.

There is a site which will give you more information (ghacks.nett), but you'll have to wade through some mindless drivel from the 'conspiracy theorists' (to be honest, I'd ban some of them!).

I dealt with the situation by finding a couple of emails for senior Facebook executives (Google has it uses) and then sending the following eMail to them...

Dear Madam 

With reference to your demands for my personal information; 

1) I believe the information you are asking for is not to be given to you under UK data-protection legislation without good reason. As I hold a Facebook page under the name I was born with, the name I use to register most of my Internet accounts/memberships with; the fact that you're telling me my name is 'not allowed' is NOT (in my own opinion) a good enough reason for me to pass private information or images of private documents to you, without more assurances than the vague claim of subsequent destruction you make.

2) I believe this matter is either down to; A) the attempts myself and several others were making for the last few weeks to get the fascist National British Resistance sites of Mr. Joshua Bonehill shut down…something you were as reticent to do as you have proved with to be with Jihadist or animal torture sites like dog-fighting, or; B) an attempt to obtain - BY DECEPTION - information you can then use for commercial gain.

3) You already obtain commercial gain from me by the advertising you place in front of me, and on my timeline as viewed by others. There was no problem with my name when I registered or for the subsequent 13 months I have been using your service?

4) Therefore I have to assume there is no REAL problem with my account at all, but rather a manufactured one for either of the points in 2 - above. As you have floated yourselves on the market, your need for users (of your service) is greater than my need for Facebook, which I resisted for years, only joined to stop a few friends whinging and find to have some poor interfaces and a less than clear structure/format vis-à-vis settings. It is also cripplingly heavy on data-use for someone like me with a pay-as-you-go dongle.

5) Please either unblock my page ([Redacted]) OR send me an eMail detailing the specific problem you have with the name I use, which I was born with and which I also use on Blogger, Google+ and Amazon OR return all my images and original copy, and close my account, providing evidence of its having been closed.

6) If you chose the last option in 5) above, please accept fair warning that following the deletion of my page, by you, any and all subsequent notifications, requests or advertisements by you, your agents or nominated representatives, by electronic or traditional mail, text or in person toward or directly aimed at me will be considered further-harassment and invoiced by me to your London Office at £100 damages per action/incident, to be recovered - in the event you fail to pay the invoices by the due date/s - in the UK's County Court service via the fast-track, small claims facility.

7) I retain the right to republish this image, or a text version of the words upon it as and where I see fit.

In the redacted section I placed my [Facebook] name, date of birth, place of birth, National Insurance and Passport number etc...no documents or pictures/scans of documents were provided.

I sent this over the weekend and was back on Facebook (for better or worse!) by the time I got out of bed Monday! feel free to use this text if it happens to you, but I would suggest rewriting it to better reflect your own 'voice'.

the subsequent email from Facebook made no reference to my eMails, just spoke of a 'Technical Fault'...the truth is probably that it's got something to do with the dodgy relationship between Facebook and the US security apparatus and their collective paranoia about terrorism, activism and all the other chickens that are coming home to roost after a century of corporate capital raping the planet, and our governments three-faced machinations in the the Middle East.

But...whatever the reason, no one should be sending private information, or government documents to a corporation listed on the stock markets!

So ends today's Public Information newsletter!

Friday, February 13, 2015

L is for Lone*Star's Liveried Lads

I have a soft-spot for these, we had a few in the figure toy-box when we were kids, bits of them reappear in the Giant oeuvre of small-scale Hong Kong piracies. also; when I was working for a toy dealer a few years ago I came to appreciate how many paint and plastic-colour variations there are.

I got a bunch in the big purchase a while ago,  the odd one has come in with bits and bobs and I  have Mike Melnyk to thank for the rest. We have touched on them before and the 'King' figure has been looked at in detail, next to the French copies.

So, on the top row we have 'simple' or reduced paint versions, these were late Lone Star and tend to get a wash (heliotrope pink one), or all over colour (black one) with a few highlights...the middle one's just 'been shown' a paint brush!

Middle row are early re-issues by Marlborough? Or Dorset? Or both? Then the figures found their way to Toyway who sold them in Gold (bottom row) under Timpo branding, with or without the stab-and-hope silver 'highlights'!

The 'High' period - proper paint schemes. Most of the figure-production was in a gun-metal/silver plastic with a painted base-coat of silver or gold armour, but other plastic colours were used (bottom rank). I wish I could get a tin of the metallic green used on the King figure, I've tried making it by adding olive to silver but it doesn't dry right!

Some fresh, clean, bright examples of the silver figures. The out-painters seem to have had a guidance sheet, but freedom to vary colours. The silver paint on these is nice and shiny. I can't believe I just wrote that line...this is becoming a rather banal post isn't it? They're self-explanatory, you know them...box ticked!

Like all early Lone Star these are getting quite brittle now and the spear-man on the right broke as I was putting them away...boo-hoo...hay-ho! Weird thing: No Archer? How can we celebrate Agincourt in October with no sturdy yeomen of the bow?

Variations on a theme - the last chap came-in the other day and is another plastic colour, but with poor paint. I'm not sure how many poses there should be - there are 8 poses in all, above - or if I have all of them? It's in the Plastic Warrior specials on LS, but mine are away at the moment, can anyone tell us?

Elsewhere on the blog;

Bagged from Cavendish
Fake Frenchies and More
The King (scroll to bottom)

Thursday, February 12, 2015

B is for Blast...From the Past

Or...rather a bit of a fizzle...there was something a bit disappointing about the Atlantic sets. We had seen the little outline or silhouette adverts starting to appear in comics in the mid '70's, and had been dying to find them. When we did they had fantastic action pictures in comic-art style on the boxes, matched with Airfix style line drawing on the backs and we couldn't wait to get them home and opened...

...but when we did...huge bases, gawky poses, massif figures...disappointing! There were some good poses and some good sets, but overall; disappointing.

I bought these in the little Totto-Lotto shop at the crossroads in Neuhausen ob Eck (then a large hamlet - now a small town!) in about 1976 or 1977. I bough the Russians and Germans first and went back for these and the Americans a couple of days later, two boxes of Japanese and the Indian Brigade followed when I managed to talk my long-suffering little brother out of his two-Mark piece - they were a mark each, which at around 5 Marks to the pound was about equitable with the 18 or 19p they were going to cost in 'Blighty' a year or two later.

I was disappointed with them; they were clearly too big, and there were some duff poses, the 'being shot guy' is the obvious dancing loon, but the grenade thrower is none-too-hot either, the prone crawling seems to be doing press-ups and the carrying-casualty vignette never went together the same way twice, nor ever looked like the line-drawing on the back of the box.

But they grew on me and one day in about 1983 I put paint to figures. Dug-out the other day for some comparison shots on the Airfix blog, the paint has survived well over the years, the soil has mostly rubbed-off the bases, but I used to pour it onto wet (ish) paint, so that's no surprise and the paint is going shiny with over-handling. They are a bit too green but otherwise I'm still happy with them - they used to have their own bit of shelf as they wouldn't really go with anything else.

Q is for Quiralu

Ease-back into posting with a quick one...my Internet is intermittent at the moment! But I have been busy off-line, getting stuff prepared for both the blogs, with 19 articles lined-up for here, and content for all the HO figure pages over on the Airfix blog. And another PW review is overdue!

Certainly re-painted, so more a curiosity of the box-ticking variety than anything else. And a big chunk of French Aluminium! Quiralu, Jeep and crew, re-painted.