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.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

G is for Good Gun, Gormless Guys...

Quick box-ticker from the Winter photo-session. With everyone doing the dreaded '88, it was a nice touch for Nitto to provide a model of another Flak type.

This model is now in Fujimi's stable, and still has the horrid figures attached!That's it really, should make it up, but haven't got round to it yet.

C is for Cedar (of Lebanon)

Saving the best 'till last! Actually my favourite is the large fir tree, but I don't have one! When I was sorting them out a few years back I did get to check-over the fir and like the poplar it's a superb example of the Britains sculptor's/designer's art, with a realistic outcome...but the cedar is a close runner-up...

This picture was taken back in 2008 when I was sorting those trees, I wish I'd done all of them but I didn't. This is the correct distribution of foliage fronds/sub-branches in a mint, boxed example.

What the whole pile looks like straight out of the box...or click-shut bag in this case! The cedar uses the trunk design of the oak tree, but with different plug-in branches and with a new surface-detail applied to the bark.

Each branch takes three fronds, two underneath and one on top, overlapping the other two, the system is more random with the oak...less symmetry. These are - like the Scots Pine - a harder plastic to help keep them rigid and give the layered look of a real-life cedar.

Then the branches are applied to the trunk, as with the other trees, there is very little fowling, the positioning has been carefully designed to allow pretty much random placing of fronds on branches and branches on tree.


From the side

Bird's eye view

Monday, July 27, 2015

T is for Two - Soft Metal 40-mils

Another excuse to shift a few pictures from the lap-top! The old 40mm standard of the 19th century, which has held-on by dint of the model railway hobby using it for O Gauge, or Scale 7, which can equate to anything between 1:40th to 1:45th depending on what's being modelled.

Bassett Lowke produced a small range of 'character' figures for their O gauge range and this is one of them (!??). Unfortunately he's in a bit of a state, and might be Charley Chaplin, or he might be Neville Chamberlain, both of whom featured in the set (apparently - I can only find Chaplin).

I'm guessing Chaplin, but with those trousers? The seller told me he was Chaplin the first time I saw him, but Chamberlain the next time...doh! And my Googleing has found a different Chaplin pose, no Chamberlain and figures with thinner green bases, so it may not even be what I've just told you it is! Life huh? Gets Bassett Lowke in the tag list, even if under false pretence!

These are by Heyde, the famous old German firm and represent 'Balkan' bicycle troops from the turn of the last Century...Serbs? Croats? Serbo-Croats? If I know one thing...best not go there...they're lovely figures, wonderfully made and an unusual subject, that's enough.

W is for Willows - Wispy and Weeping

I don't know which came first, and haven't checked which of the two ran when, but the 'Willow Trees' had an illustration that showed weeping willows, yet the supplied foliage, despite being soft PVC, didn't really do the weeping job very well, probably why the were called plain 'willows'...


My only box, rather; a carded bag! But it will suffice to give an idea of the others. You got two trees in this set, always matching vis-a-vis plastic and vinyl colour batches.

The component break-down is similar to the others we have looked at, with the vinyl foliage replacing the polyethylene of the other trees.

There was a vast range of colour batches with this set, bases, trunks and foliage varied enormously from pack to pack. The fact that this was one of the cheaper sized sets, and was also included in some of the larger farm play-sets, means that more were produced, so more colours were tried.

A mid-green one made-up and photographed from various angles.

My childhood ones, actually I bought them as a teenager, in a toy shop in Alderney in the Channel Islands, where they were at the back of large wooden selves among all the inflatable toys and Bucket & Spade sets. Often a source of old toys, these seaside gift-shops.

I can't remember if the instructions called for heat to be applied, or if it's in an old war gaming book or magazine (Terry Wise?), or if I just had the thought, but I took a cigarette lighter to the right-hand one to make a proper weeping willow by literally 'brushing' the flame over the point where the fronds meet. I think it works quite well?

All right...hidden in a hedge with other trees from mixed makes and having a Tiger Tank placed in front of it; it looks OK!


Britains did have a go at a full-on 'weeping' willow, note that all the components are different. Getting the fronds to attach to the little keys is a nightmare, and the effort is, well...


...utterly wasted!

Looks good with Dinosaurs though...

Sunday, July 26, 2015

News, Views Etc...Bits, Bobs, Blue Box and a Battleship

I've so much for a 'News, Views' post that I'm going to hold back the links for another day, although I've been sitting on them for so long now, some have been published elsewhere, so I'll get this one out of the way...

Takara-Tomy (assuming everyone has a smart 'fone and high-speed link, this takes ages to load)
Japanizer (quicker loading Blog)
Little Plastic Man (has adopted them as his banner image and taken new pictures)

Little Rubber Guys, Plastic Warrior magazine and others have also covered them and evilBay dealers are selling complete sets.

Andy Warhol once said that "Pop will eat itself", and this is a prime example of what he was getting at. Minions or Turtles? I know, lets make Super-dooper Teenage Hero/Ninja/Mutant Minion-turtles! You can't have two sets of characters from two imaginary universes combined, it dilutes both, and to a certain extent....breaks the fantasy.

There's a lot of this around, I've seen Star Wars Turtles, Simpson's Minions, Super Hero Minions of the Marvel/DC variety and almost every day there is a new take on a couple of old memes.

Those who think I'm being a humourless stick-in-the-mud are missing the point that it represents a lack of imagination, a lack of new ideas, a need to regurgitate two old ideas to sell more crap to consumers in order that the 'Bread and Circus' take their minds off the coming storm of likely extinction within the lifetimes of people already born...because of that consumerism!

Weird search-terms department: Concept Art Foreign Legion Buckets! Brought someone to this Blog! I hope they found what they were looking for...

Many thanks to Nazar Marchenko of Russia, who kindly sent me these two, back in March; the missing poses from my sample of Blue Box Japanese Infantry. He didn't want anything in return, just thought I should have them in my collection! I have got a 'wants' list out of him and will try to find something nice to return the favour...Thank you Nazar.

Andrew Boyce emailed me with images of a ship he's looking for a maker's name for. I've run the usual suspects past him conversationally; Comet/Authenticast, Trafalgar and Wiking, but it's not really detailed enough for them I feel?

It's quite large, and hollow-cast at about 12cm long. As Andrew points out the profile is quite good, but from other angles it's toy-like with a single gun moulded on the axis-line of each turret.

Can anyone suggest a name/maker for this rather nice looking toy. Could it be a board-game piece, or an under-scale accessory for a boxed-set of flats?

In Andrews words...

"The original was in about 3 colours, grey, green, brown sprayed on. It may have been original. I have repainted it in a water-based grey paint which should be removable. I have seen about 3 other models in this series.

Suggestions for it have included a wartime toy, a recognition model (the profile is good, although the top view is not- one gun in turrets where there should be two) or a model used on a plotting board as seen in many old war films.

There are lengths of wire for the masts. I actually like it for its crudeness!"

So do I Andrew!

Having slagged-off their ridiculous pricing of the old (and simplified) gun emplacement in a rant a while ago, I feel I should balance my neutral credentials by pointing-out that this new play-set reissue is a bargain, only by a few quid, but nevertheless it is a cheap way of getting the whole Napoleonic oeuvre from Airfix, including the farm and the accessory set.

The various links to this set on press releases and the Hornby website don't make clear that the accessory set is included, but it definitely is.

Finally - some toys in advertising and promotion seen recently, magna-whatevers used in some financial 'vehicle' bollocks and toy soldiers on a book.

S is for Scots...Pine

Capturing the look of the real tree quite effectively, the Scots Pine gives a bit of height to a war games table, and with no low branches can have 'stuff' parked under it, a radio-shack truck or sneaky '88 Flak always looks good!

Standard list of parts, base (ethylene), bough  & branches in a harder plastic that can be bent into shape and a set of foliage, with this tree the foliage seems to be made out of the same denser-plastic as the trunks, not so it can be bent, but rather to retain a level of rigidity?


Another angle.

T is for Two...Bagged Spacemen

Comparison between an American hard plastic (polystyrene) original and a soft plastic (polyethylene) Hong Kong generated copy. Neither gives a brand, and while the original is unpainted, the clone is given a three-colour stab-and-hope scheme of pink-flesh, black and silver 'highlights'.

The note on the back of the Hong Kong example - in James Opie's inimitable hand - tells us it was purchased in Islington (London) in March 1962 for the princely sum of sixpence - we (my brother and I) were still getting sixpence pocket-money in 1969, and it went a long way, especially if they were a few weeks in arrears when the Bank of Mum & Dad paid-out!

I think the 'A-OK' is by Ajax, a little smaller that the Archer space family, and distinctive by dint of the concertina elbow and knee joints.

B is for Beech: Young Copper Beech

Britains did do a green 'standard' beach, but it was sold as a 'silver birch'! Basically this is the silver birch, with red-brown leaves and - usually - a darker truck, my example seems to have been put-together from bits and has the silver-grey trunk of a birch and some non-matching foliage.

Twistable tree moulding and integral branches in a dense plastic, probably a polypropylene, with an ethylene base and foliage.

Given it's dodgy heritage, it looks OK for a younger tree, but not quite one of the the mighty boughs you see in those woodlands on the downs around Hindhead or Haslemere in Surrey! To be fair: it was sold by Britains as 'Young Beech'!

Colour variation of the foliage.

R is for Rosedale

Another Box-ticker really, large scale (120mm figure?) farm tractor from (or marked) Rosedale. Actually an 'imprint' of and the parent for Tudor*Rose, and I really only photographed it because I thought it identified the pieces I've been digging-up at the bottom of my Mother's garden, but in fact they are from a similar-sized but different model!

Rosedale used to be a confusing moniker to me, as while it is not a 'Smith' or 'Jones', and seems unusual (as a brand name) there seemed to be several users of the title and for years I couldn't work out who they all were or if - for the most part - they were related or not.

1 - This Rosedale was one of several brands used by Rosedale Associates the company started by Norman Rosedale and one of the companies close to Islyn Thomas/Thomas Toys (see FIM Vol.II for more). This is the one I think of as Tudor*Rose.

2 - There was a Canadian branch (Bonar Rosedale Plastics?) who seem to have used Rosedale in preference to the Tudor*Rose more common over here, and continued to do so later (1980's?) than the T*R mark became ubiquitous in the UK.

3 - Rosedale Figurines, now part of Fleurbaix Toy Soldiers made soft, poured or centrifugally cast, white-metal figures in various larger (54mm-up) scales.

4 - Rosebud...where the confusion stemmed from, and (I've just Googled it) still seems to. Rosedale/Tudor*Rose seem to have had a 'Rosebud' doll, but a company called Rosebud near Northampton also made toys and dolls in plastic. A listing on the Internet right now describes "Vintage sweet little tudor rose or rosebud hp doll 1950s in darling outfit". Rosebud - the company - was responsible for the model train kits in HO gauge taken-over by Airfix. The rest of the company was absorbed by Mattel in 1967 becoming Rosebud-Mattel for a while.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

P is for Poplar (Lombardy not Plastics)

Continuing with the Britains trees, we look at the cleverest. The construction of the poplar tree is very ingenious, bears little relationship with the other trees in the range, obviously the materials, base and foliage are in the same pattern, but the way it's all put together to look like a poplar tree - which it does; is just incredibly clever.

The truck is broken down into small interlocking sections, like swoppet figures, with specialist sections at the tip and toward the base, while  another moulding for the base of the trunk is employed where it meets the base of the toy.

The four components lined-up ready for final assembly, different types of foliage are used on the different sections in order to further enhance the look and get round the difficulties presented by the challenge of producing a toy poplar tree which looks like a real-life poplar!

It works! There is a slight flatness to the sections of foliage, but my Grandparents had a row of poplars in the drive when we were kids and from memory I know this is pretty good.

A few years ago (nearly ten!) I had the job of sorting a load of trees for a dealer and remember these suffering from brittleness in the foliage, but mine seems OK still (fingers crossed), so it's probably a luck-of the draw thing with them?

N is for Nom-nom-nomnivore!

Yes! Back to figural edibles! Picked these up in a conveniace store in Basingrad the other day, but don't know how widespread they are.

Jungle Buddies from Au'some, there is a parent company in the 'States, these are courtesy of Au'some UK Limited, made of the same soft, slightly floury jelly of the original Jelly Babies (Bassett's?). believe it or not, the one on the right hand side is supposed to be a monkey...they are very nice. Box Ticked.

O is for Oak Tree

One of the largest trees in the Britains range and often seen in the background of war games in the old books on the subject, like all the Britains trees it was a better scale size for 20-25mm stuff than the 54mm it was ostensibly made for.

The main component sets: A base, main trunk, branches and foliage, due to the design, all the parts are polyethylene.

Trunk with branches added at random, a very well thought-out design means that you can pretty-much place any of the branches anywhere on the receiving spigots and after foliage is added they don't really foul each-other.

Looks like an oak-tree to me!

Friday, July 24, 2015

QC is for Quercetti & Co-Ma

This has been in Picasa for the longest time (years!) and I didn't really know what to do with it other than shove it on the correct archive dongle, but then the Coma ones turned-up and we had a post...of sorts!

Trouble was I photographed the box intending to shoot the contents too, but a customer bought it! And then I had to get it out (gingerly) to show him it was complete, it was beautiful, but frangible; with very fine polystyrene vanes and equally delicate legs - god knows how they survived more than one flight intact!

Then these turned-up, also catapult launched, they don't have a parachute attached, returning under their own steam. Consequently they are not delicate, but rather chunky-lumps of softer ethylene that can withstand a gravity-landing!

They also come in gold plastic and it's nice to find something else from this sought-after maker. Do you take it out of the bag? I think so - carefully, those elastics still look good to go!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

A is for Apple Tree

That's it really...apple tree, begins with 'A' you know...

Still on the runners, and that's how it's staying, once those apples are loose, it's curtains for completeness! Britains...it's an apple tree - I think!

I'm not being factious; I'm really, really tired. This is just a taster, most - not all - the Britains tree's will be appearing here over the next week or two, but I thought I'd start with a taster to give an idea of how they came, as there's not much you can do with a 'sprued' one - image wise, especially if you don't have the box.

....40 minutes later he wakes from a nap to find his neck and wrist hurt as one wert'leaning on 'touther! Points to note, mixed polymers, the base is a standard ethylene as are the branches, the fruit (apples!) are a softish PVC while the twistable trunk is a harder plastic probably polypropylene?

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

News, Views etc...Khaki Infantry Page Update

Added Tenco (?), Polish (PZG) and Hong Kong examples of the Britains and other Khaki Infantry to their page, will add a few general shots to earlier sections later tonight and then it's the 'question marks' which is a large file of images I've yet to sort out so there may be another interminable wait before I get the page finished!

B is for Background

We've looked at these before, but I managed to photograph 4 in sequence, which show the way the background joins between cards to make up a continuous scene. I have also photographed about five more cards individually, and with these and the original, I hope to stitch a complete run at some point!

Last time each card had a white astronaut and a silver one, as can be seen above, the packers actually didn't care what mix you got or which pose/s went on which card...indeed the only real usefulness of the card numbering is to aid in collecting the background, which - as I pointed-out last time - you would then damage getting the blister off?

These cards also have the little bubble-gum pastilles still in situ.

While we're looking at them, these seem to be copies, possibly from Spain or South America? The painted one in white plastic is a decorated Jean original; you can see how the copies have dispensed with the helmet antenna, probably to aid low-skill production?

Put bases on them and you have figures that will not only stand up a little more easily than the Jean originals, but that will carry a message, should you so wish...

..., in this case Treff 'kraftfutter' which got various translations including; Feed Stuff, Feed Concentrate and Concentrated Clutch? Treff themselves seem to be one of several grain mills in a larger group, so I'm guessing kraftfutter is some kind of flour? Maybe a rusk, a baby-formula or suchlike? Can anybody from that part of the world let us know what this was/is?

Jean produced lots of premiums for other people (some collectors get a bit excited by the Linde examples?) and the brand would be carried on the base, so obviously the astronauts needed bases. I think they had the helmet decor as well, but they are easily lost through play-wear.

By the by - I have a rule of thumb when describing space-based toy figures...if they have NASA or Cosmonaut attributes (air-pipes, power packs, non-aggressive tools and equipment) they are called 'Astronauts', if they have wacky or non-standard spacesuits or equipment, or 'para-military' uniforms and/or weaponry, they are titled 'Spacemen'...these are definitely Astronauten!

Even though one of them has a pistol...Doh!

Monday, July 20, 2015

A is for Alien Arsenal

So to past show-table photo-shoots, about a year ago I think for most of these - and most photographed on Mercator Trading's stand; some possibly still available?

Ray guns! Water-pistols or sparkers, rattlers, torches or cap-guns, everyone had a couple of these in a childhood, now the local copper's are likely to kill you real dead if you carry one outside...best keep them in the packaging!

This is a sparker, with it's distinctive heavy trigger from Omed Srl. near Naples, and possibly quite modern, the company seems to either be still be in business, or to have only recently vanished. The clip-on telescopic sight is a nice touch, but memory serves it was always the first thing to break!

An importer from Milan (Interglass Sas.) brought this one in from Hong Kong; another sparking toy. The card says Super Ray Gun but I think the wacky graphics on the body of the weapon are actually trying to say Spider Ray Gun? A tad older then the previous one I'd say; from both the card design and the plastic colours, and it's got one of the less comfortable flat triggers...hey, this stuff matters when you've got small hands!

Ideal Toys water-pistol, but not that 'Ideal Toy Co.' of the US...this Ideal is (or was until 2003) actually J.G. Schrödel of Nuremberg, Germany, now part of the Heinrich Bauer Group...indeed the frequency with which these turn up suggests they were in production recently? I just want to convert it into a space-ship...Look! Small-scale crew!

This is clearly the fighter to the bomber above! a single pilot with a determined countenance powering his machine into the enemy system to splurge them with sun-heated tepid water...Summer days huh?

Ah! Yes! ... The least rare 'ray gun' in the history of ray-guns...this one is a crank-handled 'clicker' making a noise similar to the great Marx Tommy-gun we had as kids, these were originally made by Pyro as the Pyrotomic Disintegrator Rifle in that distinctive mix of bronze and silver plastics which sums up the Pyro range, but has since been found to have been produced in Argentina, Brazil, Portugal (where these five Hercules hail from) and Spain.

There are differences between the various guns and these Portuguese one's were all over the place about three years ago following a warehouse find!

If you think that line-up is fancy, check out Geoff's Post on them!