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.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

B is for Battle Ground...or is it?

Having now decided to have a Hong Kong small-scale Blog (which I tried back in 2008, but I thought I had to trick Blogger with a separate ID and it all got too complicated!) these will appear on that Blog at some point, both singly and as a group comparison (mirroring this post), but as I loaded this here back in January it can stay.

So; to the nature of 'Generics', a post that could almost as easily be done with 1970's bagged or carded small scale Cowboys & Indians or 1960's dime-store 'penny-whistles', but I'm using these as they were pretty much the swan-song of small-scale 'army men', also: having got out of the army and decided I was old enough to blow my money on what I wanted, I spent a few years hoovering them up as they appeared, so - hopefully - should have most of the variations!

I say rather pompously "so; to the nature of generics" as if I'm about to deliver some great treatise on a grand secret of the Hong Kong toy industry...I'm not! There is no secret, basically, all the figures in this post came from the same source, we just don't know who, and - in point of fact - it's probably not an HK source, it's probably a Chinese one! Indeed, because these appeared as the run-up to handover was looming, they carry neither HK nor China on any of the packaging; itself unusual, nor on the figures bases.

These first four are all 'branded' to Battle Ground; the clear 'generic', although several have stickers on the card or reverse with another ID entirely, while the same sets can come with different cards, and the same brands carry alternate and different-sourced products. All importers (jobbers) - to a man.

The shot shows single and double-pouch header-carded bags, and both single and four-blister bubble-packs. I'm sure that elsewhere other formats could be obtained - as Battle Ground - to order, but these were available in the UK between 1988/9 and about 1998/9 and I should also add that other products in other scales also come in packaging with both types of the Battle Ground artwork - again: as generics or with over-stickers.

As well as stipulating different formats (or accepting them 'off the shelf'), end-users/clients could have customised artwork, again to their own design using the Chinese company's designers, or off-the-shelf graphics or from their own art workers, and here we see the same four-pocket blister attached to three different cards, the French artwork seems to have been lifted or part-lifted from somewhere else, see the white areas round the hand/butt of the gun, this was before digital patches and colour-matching, and as they were budget toys: cheap-cost artwork - whoever was responsible for it - was the order of the day.

Here we see the contents of the single pouch, now with new header-cards and a squarer bags - which are softer PVC. One colour, or several, and note how with the multi-coloured set each colour has been dumped in the bag on top of the last, but the first (bottom) layer seems to be the dregs of several batches!

Mini sets were also available, each with the flag and there is no relationship between the colour of the figures and the design on the flag's sticker, with the same flag accompanying bags of different coloured figures, and different flags being put with the same coloured figures! I have to thank German collector Andreas Dittman for most of these, and they were a bit later than the above dates, he picked them up on the continent about ten years ago, and I then found a few others in one of those glass-shelf partitioned 50p pocket-money displays at/around the same time.

Some of the logos/trademarks connected to these figure's 'brands'. The LB sets are almost certainly from the Glasgow-based Levy Brother's LB Group (correctly: Levy (LB Group) Bros. Ltd.), I seem to recall that they were bought a few years ago by H Grossmann/HGL (their postcodes were a few streets apart!) who have themselves recently been sold, but I'll check that.

The figures are all copies of Matchbox German Infantry and Airfix US Infantry, to which is added a crude version of the old Monogram radio operator, although see the note on the Japanese (2nd following paragraph).

The bases - as mentioned above - are blank, which is as uncommon for Hong Kong products as it is for modern/current Chinese products, suggesting that the originator was either an HK-based company, obtaining finished product from the (then still slightly 'enemy' Communist State) mainland OR already producing on the mainland themselves, but not wanting to admit it (for the same reasons) until the handover of the colony, which actually/eventually happened as these were drying-up in UK shops.

As an exception to the rule, the smaller two-pouch bag has some ex-Airfix Japanese added; these are earlier figures, which I looked at in One Inch Warrior magazine's 7th edition. They are the same size and style (but with sharper-edged bases), and share the wacky colours so will almost certainly come from the same source (which is why they're in the bags!), but were definitely originally issued earlier, as they had been turning-up as loose figures for years(#) before these 1990's figures. Their original HONG KONG mark has been removed for this issue, although the scar is visible on the base. [# When they turned-up previously (and with the full base mark) - it was usually in small numbers, so probably from Christmas crackers, end-of-pier crane-machine bags and/or vending capsules &etc.]

The loose stuff is all in storage at the moment so we'll have to re-use these old pictures from something else to just show that: A) as loose figures they are not that rare (upper arrow - both stacks), but they are not as common as some of the 1960-80's small scale, and: B) they come in various other colours or shades, but green and blue remain the commonest (from the big bags!) also: C), there is a second issue (lower arrow) which are of poorer quality with thinner bases and lots of flash which I haven't tied into specific packaging yet, but they may just be from late versions of some of the sets listed here. These points are - of course - UK-centric; it may be a different story elsewhere.
Known Sets
As Battle Ground
- Single blister pack (J.A.Phillips, 1992)
- Quadruple blister pack (HCF, 1996)
A7/521 - Single pouch bag with header card (Herbert Kees, early 1990’s)
- Double pouch bag with header Card (late 1990's with older 1980's Japanese figures)
As Bestoy (generic)
BES142 - Soldier Set (quadruple blister, an earlier logo was written in baby-blocks)
As HP (Hans Postler, France and Germany)
51353 - Small header-card Bag (French language version
As LB Ltd. ('Super Toy Packs'
ST-11-2436 - Mini Army (Clown and 3-balloon graphics, blue figures, 1993)
ST-11-2436 - Mini Army (4-balloon graphics, multi-coloured figures, 1994)
ST-11-2436 - Mini Army (4-balloon graphics, blue figures, 1995)
As MGM Super Toy International (France?)
Ref. 2295 - Les Minis Armees (quadruple blister pack)
Other (generic)
- Attack Force Set (multi-blister with AFV's and scenics, late 1980's
- Title-less mini pack (France/Germany? Mid-2010's)

* The same packs came with the larger Airfix piracies with striated bases; each bag also has a small-scale Saladin-type armoured car.
* * The same bags were used for very poor 'last generation' Airfix piracies (Russian Infantry and Paratroops) in a pale blue crumbly kind of polyethylene, almost 'scrap plastic'.
*** The same card was previously used for Airfix piracies of an earlier 1980's type, which may make this the earliest use of the later figures - from the artwork re-use.

Friday, April 29, 2016

T is for TN Thomas Toys

Brian Carrick sent me some images, which he suggested should go on the Khaki Infantry page above. Although I'd not put them there, I suggested I would do, as the officer is a clear take from the Britains pose.

But I've umm'd and ahh'd about it for a bit of a few days, and I'm not going to! I had already posted the figures (albeit rather fuzzy 'archive' images) as Taffy Toys a while ago...back at the beginning of the blog, and then posted my few examples also as 'Taffy', not so long ago, and so wasn't going to put them on the Khaki Infantry page for both that reason and: that they are not the direct copies which the page is aimed toward.

However I'm always grateful for contributions, especially from someone with their own excellent Blog and if I post them here they can be linked to the original Taffy posts through the tag list, which can't be done from the Khaki Infantry page. Although hot-links will tie them all together anyway!

Also, Brian has reminded me that they were originally issued by Thomas Toys (TNT; TN Thomas), the Taffy thing being an apparently un-PC (by today's sensitivities) marketing/branding exercise rather than a separate entity?

The figures have failed to get on to the Khaki Infantry page because while several of them are sculpted 'from' or after the Britains figures, they are at the same time new sculpts, rather than direct piracies, and they are 70mm giants Like the Lilo figures, I suspect they were aimed as much at sea-side holiday makers as more general 'high-street' toy sales.

There seem to have been six foot poses, all bearing some resemblance to the Britain's figures, the officer being the obvious one with his lean forwards, pointing left arm, and service Webley revolver held in the slacker right hand, but the standing firer and Radio operator are also close to the better, smaller figures from Herald.

The kneeling firer and grenade thrower are further-off, and while the running guy is clearly based on the Britains pose, equally he's quite different in attitude (and carrying quite a good take on a GPMG). The EM2's are very crude sculpts and look at the firing pose adopted by the kneeling chap: presumably blind in the right eye - he's crossed his head over the rifle and is about to blind the other one with the infantry sight! His standing mate is about to do similar damage to his cheek...even bullpups have some recoil, especially at 7.something mm's calibre. One has to wonder if that awful sculptor from Cherilea had some hand in these figure's development?

The seated Jeep driver pose is Thomas's original motorcyclist sculpt from the US arm, originally PVC and also used with a sombrero as a donkey-rider (and with cap, as a police patrolman?). A stretcher-case seems to make-up the count of 8; I've never seen bearers, and the handles are probably too short, however it has substantial feet or rests, which may help clip it to the jeep or trailer in some way?

Thursday, April 28, 2016

News, Views Etc...

Up to date information on the PW show has now been published on their Blog...


S is for Super Hero!

As well as the ongoing Operation Dynamo thing, Brian Berke also sent me a small parcel, some will be hidden until 'Talk Like a Pirate Day' (which I'll probably then forget again), but among the figures were these...

...how loveable are they? They are not really sized to match most toy soldiers, nor do they look like the traditional Marvel/DC type of all-singing, all-dancing (nowadays; all-a-bit-dark and all-a-bit flawed), spandex-enhanced, muscle-bound, super-heroes, but rather the comedy-wrestlers you get on TV, although one is paying homage to the Bat Man with his eared-hood and another looks like that Data chap from one of the Star Trek spin-offs with a tech-device across his eyes.

Digressing slightly re-Star Trek: I'm a 1st Series fan really - Sir, they've killed ensign red-shirt!...Illogically Jim, you've fallen in love with an alien for the fifth episode in a row...Tribbles!...Scottie; if The Captain starts singing talking-over Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, kill him dead.

I am the Bat Man!

They are - however - perfectly sized (and sculpted) to do battle with the Bandai/Mattel M.U.S.C.L.E. (Millions of Unusual Small Creatures Lurking Everywhere) figures and the Kellogg's/Matchbox/MEG (Morrison Entertainment Group) Wrestler in my Pocket (WIMP)'s, along with all the similar sets, follow-ons and vending clones. There are also a set of Ninjas from the same company.


20 figures from Toysmith, and at a dollar the lot, or 20¢ per figure (around 70p in total?) a bargain! Toysmith are the company behind the current re-issue (copy?) of the 3 original Kellogg's diver figures as well as knights, skeletal warriors (seemingly the same as Toy Major's 'Tomb Warriors'), the aforementioned Pirates and a bubble-carded paratrooper with large fabric 'chute which looks like the old British one we looked at a while ago.


If these are your thing - and while they're not really mine I'm glad I've got some 'in the fold' (thank you Brian!) - you will need to get several bags so you end up with one of each colour in each pose...hey, believe me: that will be all-important stuff to someone in 25-years time!

05-05-16 - Brian himself has sent this in to prove how wrong I am about the Wrestler Vs. Marvel-DC thing...having painted his up to take command of various vehicles in the persuit of good, righting wrongs and general mayhem...brilliant! The Superman and Bizarro Superman are having apparent mechanical problems with an Austin FX4 London-taxi.

F is for Fungus AmungUs

I picked these up in a newsagent the other day, they were a couple of quid! I don't know if they are new, current (likely) or clearance, and I don't really care, as they are made of that awful soft, cold, sticky synthetic rubber that window-walker toys are made of...the stuff that's carried a 'caution - will damage paint' warning, since the first capsule toys of the 1960's were made out of it - you may remember we looked at a tiny lizard in the novelty posts running up to the Christmas just passed.

Four figures with one hidden, designed purely for collectability and priced for pester-power purchase, there are few redeeming features to these, or the concept behind them, but...samples in the archive (haven't decided on storage procedures, I know they weep over time!) and box ticked.

Flyer - It illustrates 35 then talks of 70 specials, then shows two colour variations of the hidden figure in the accompanying set? I think it means there are 'radioactive' (read "Glow in the dark") versions of each of the 35 designs.

What? A hand, in dungarees? With a face? Doing the OK sign? What else were you expecting here!

Vintage Key-ring (and pencil-top) and because it has age and is made of a dense vinyl I - hypocritically - quite like it, in a nostalgia for the 1970's and my lost youth, sort of way...maybe, one day, people will view the Fungii-Among-Thy with the same eye!

Thinks...maybe I can re-use some Kinder capsules...then I won't have to see them...

C is for Clearance

No blurb, these are old scans of photographs I'm just getting out of Picasa, we've looked at bigger, better examples of all of them on the blog now I think, so just for fun...Starlux - the lot of 'em.

Clowns and Lion from Circus
Marching Sailors
Late Production Cowboys
18mm (HO) and 28/30mm Combat Infantry
 Fighting FFL
 Marching FFL
 Busy sailors
More Marching Sailors
 WWII Germans
Late Production HO Civilians

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

C is for Clip Together

No more than an overview with these today, it was a bit of serendipity and a reader contribution which led to this post and I have many more in storage so we will look at them properly by company/type another day (or: other days!), for now, let's just get an idea of the wide range of mini (or micro) model-kits which were available as - mostly breakfast cereal - premiums, many - but not all - supplied by R&L (Rosenhain & Lipmann) of Australia, primarily (in the UK) to Kellogg's Foods.

Kellogg's liner which we've seen here on the Blog before and racing cars which were also issued by Sanitarium in the antipodes, as well as someone on the continent (Portuguese food company?), so they often turn-up, but with all the little pieces (especially the wheel hubs); are rarely whole. I do have another bunch in storage including orange, red and white examples so we will look at them again one day. The driver moulding is the same for every car, so you can build him half-and-half - two colours, he looks good in black and orange!

Various ages and generations of bits for the Montaplex Bi-plane, I picked these up as a single lot in a larger bag of mixed bits; someone was obviously building himself a 'circus'! Between the bits I can still get one airborne!

These are all soft ethylene plastic with the WWII fighters (and sub-scale Heinkel? Mostly bits) having been given-away in the UK with boys comics (Fury, Valiant and Warlord), as part of the hype surrounding the release of the movie Battle of Britain - I believe? Sellotaped to the cover as an unmade kit on the chunky frame...for years I wondered (not being a 'plane guy') if they were Atlantic, the frames are chunky enough!

The Concord (I think?) is one of three (or four) in a set with The Tupolev and Boing efforts, possibly from Quaker Foods or Weetabix?. I say "I think" as there were several sets with Concord in and I'm not sure which is which!

I bought the bagged ones at a car boot sale quite a few years ago, the chap had loads of them in a fruit basket, so I assumed they were a new issue or a re-issue of older moulds which he'd picked-up as a job lot or as clearance, so bought one of each, but I think they may be the 1970's originals, now, which is annoying as I would have grabbed them all, he only wanted pennies... The broken-up bits have come in with mixed lots over the years and I think between the two shots are aircraft from two different sets?

While the ME109 is probably a modern 1:144 kit, but he's in with the medium-smallies in the unknown bag!

Jet Petrol (gasoline) stations issued this lovely set of 10 (?) cars for quite a while, so they are not too uncommon, and while I'm missing one or two, I'm hoping I might have them in storage, but if not they will turn up one day!

One made-up and broken into its constituent parts, a pair with a colour variation and two soft-plastic (polyethylene) cars from Europe - Spain or Portugal I think...Tito? I do have some Ford and Vauxhall rally cars in this style marked Tito, but these two are unmarked.

The  next four images (below) are all courtesy of Andrew Boyce who sent them to me ages ago (before Christmas?) and I said I'd be publishing "soon", "in a day or two hopefully", "probably tomorrow" then in the February splurge...only for time, Nathaniel and Voda'fail to intervene in their timeless fashion! Can time be timeless? There's an existential debate for a cold winter's evening!

A lovely shot with samples of various sets Kellogg's issued, along with both Gerry Anderson sets complete. I also remember a set of clip-together Tony the Tigers', with another set of train kits coming out of Italy.

Of interest to me in this shot is the set of blue wheels on the red estate car (station-wagon) as the ones I have all came with black wheels and the helicopter which I was unaware of.

This shows the kid's comic ad. for the Captain Scarlet vehicles shown in Andrew's image above, I think I have the Patrol Car somewhere, and shot the SPV before Christmas here on the blog, it's a lovely little model, almost 1:300th scale, with all the little wheels (10 of them in two sizes!) separate.

I suspect these were from a different source than the others, they are much chunkier with only a few (or no - TB4) parts, and lack the finesse of the R&L stuff. It was including some of these in the novelty posts before Christmas which triggered Andrew's contribution, which in turn led me to gather up a few bits and bobs to photograph for this post.

Sugar Stars and Coco Crispies gave-up this set of six vehicles which we will return to one day as I have a tub of whole and partial ones somewhere! Like a lot of these cereal premiums, they were issued elsewhere by other brands or products, sometimes in different combinations, so some seem commoner over here than others, the train and 'Rocket' seem easier to obtain than the car, while I think I've seen the bus (still on the frame) in a small box as an Italian pocket-money toy. 

 Finally; an old scan intended for an article on wagons in Plastic Warrior magazine's little brother 1"W which never happened! A rather damaged London taxi from the 100 Years of Transport above (1834 Hansom Cab) it came with a horse and I think a better version in blue was shown on the Cabinet of Curious Things posts, but I haven't got the images here (editing away from the internet) and the tag list may not help!

I don't often deal with the filthy subject of money, but seeing some of the buy-it-now (BIN) prices of things like this, it's worth considering this: even though you are always competing with other collecting field's aficionados; train buffs, space fans, 'plane-spotters, more general premium collectors, kit guys, TV & Movie fans...so prices are often high even for common examples, you should always remember they made millions of them and you should set a limit and stick to it, I aim at no more than a pound a piece.

Let's do some hypothetical maths; Say two [popular] cereal brands (from the same manufacturer) run a joint-promotion with comic and early-evening TV adds, of a random-packed set of 4 models for 4 months in 1975, selling (even as early as the 1950/60's) maybe 100,000 packs a week to a population of approximately 12,000,000 baby-boom households (now closer to 16 million, but with less school-age kids per household).

100,000 packs x 16 weeks x 2 brands / 4 models = potentially 800,000 individual units of your searched-for 'rarity' were once out there! It's 'ball park' but it's not fancifully way-out there.

'Family Sized' packs may have two models (or five against three, three against two) which might push our fictional total to a million-odd, better known or more popular brands like Cornflakes might issue 500,000 packs a week? Three months (or two years) later the models are run again, or in another brand, or with another foodstuff, or in another country, or the model you're after is put in another set... Tom Smith get the mouldings (Quaker Gladiators) for 25,000 boxes of budget Christmas crackers, in four designs - six years running, or in more 'promotional' boxes (Thunderbirds figures)... a HK company or two copies them (jig toys)...finally some warehouse lets the remnants go by the bagful (Coca-Cola animals) as clearance or pocket-money toys to another country.

There's so much more to these, and as a specific collection, they can take-up surprisingly little room, but take a lifetime to track down as colour variations, mint in pack examples etc...but please - keep it in perspective, a 5-quid or $10 BIN is not worth the pain, when mixed lots might be had for 99p plus postage.

And many thanks to Andrew for the additional images.

Next day...Brian Berke sent this image of a "rubbery" plastic copy from Hong Kong of one of the R&L toys [2023 - probably Rubenstein rack-toys], still on the frame, he remembers the Rocket loco and has a Hansom Cab in the same neutral colour of soft polymer...remembering also they came from a 99-cent store in NY; approximately 1986. And that's a New York pound for scale!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

News Views etc...31st Plastic Warrior Show, Cavendish, 99p Stores, Dunkerque, Shakespeare, New Blog

Plastic Warrior Magazine's Annual Toy Soldier Show
Two weeks this coming Saturday!
In its 31st Year, I know it's not exactly a 90th Marm, but it hasn't had the Royal physicians behind it at every turn! Same maps as last year; same blurb, same venue!

You can't miss it, it's the big inter-war style architecture pub on the bend just before (northbound) or after (southbound) the NEC DHL Harlequins ground.

There is FREE parking and a Premier Inn on the same site for anyone who wants to stay the night with bar, coffee, meals & snacks all day.

Details of the venue can be found here;

Winning Post

This is [still] not so accurate, I'll try [to remember] to sort it out with a better one, basically the venue is accessible from the A3-A316 main road into/out-of London heading West-south-west, through the Front car park there is also vehicle and pedestrian access from Percy Road.

For people coming by public transport; Whitton Station is 3 minutes walk and gets 8 trains an hour from Waterloo.


99p Stores

This retailer, which I only 'discovered' as a source of cheepie figures about three years ago, has now been taken-over by Poundland, and the last store conversions (around here) were completed in early April, with both Basingstoke and Farnborough having two Poundlands (in the latter case: within sight of each other!), presumably with the demise of more household or high-street 'names' it's Poundland or nothing!

I will be doing a few posts on my last acquisitions from 99p - they reduced all their toys to 64p from Christmas until store-closure. Whether Poundland will re-brand the remaining stock or clear it elsewhere remains to be seen.



John Breckon  emailed my earlier this month with some very interesting details on the origins of the Cavendish Nazi bands, his message in full;

"I have been reading your blog with interest regarding the above models and in it you write that you did not know where they originated.  I believe I may be able to help.  During the 1980's somebody commissioned QT (Quality Treasure) Models of Bridlington East Yorkshire to manufacture the SS figures.  I was able to see the casting in process and was instantly smitten by these figures, leading me to purchase unpainted figures for £5 approximately by post from the business CJB Models of Hull this appears to have been a home business as they operated from Kirkella and Willerby.

Later when I came into contact again with these figures Cavendish Miniatures had control of them.

It may be of some interest to you having googled CJB Models an article about C J Burkill appeared saying how this engineer made superb model vehicles having seen the figures that accompany these models I am in no doubt that this man sculpted the masters for the Third Reich Figures.

QT Models still exists in the form of Museum Miniatures of Driffield.


Do you know if it is possible to still obtain any of these Third Reich figures?
Do you know who has the masters and the moulds now?
Do you have access to any pictures of any of the models especially the bands?

I hope this information is helpful in some way and if you do know the answers to the questions I would be grateful of a reply"

My reply was somewhat sparse I'm afraid;

" Very useful...I can't help with your three questions, I will try the blog but with such a paucity of replies to such requests in the past (700 visitors a day but few of them admitting it...it's the Asperger's!) it may be easier to post something in the metal section of Treefrog Treasures forum?"

If anyone CAN help John with either the whereabouts of available figures, or pictures of the same, you can contact me and I'll put you in touch. Or check Treefrog's pages to see if a shout goes out there?

I know there is an image on one of the late Cavendish flyers, but mine is in storage so if anyone can scan that it would be a help. It is a two-sided full colour A5 sheet with the German figures on one side and the Dickensian vinyl-resin on the other, if memory serves?


Dunkirk Spirit

I've also had contact with an ex-pat in New York; Brian Berke, who has sent some lovely pictures of an operation Dynamo diorama he made which will appear as a guest post, when I've got the images right, at the moment the Library computers are only allowing me to save them as pixellated .png's despite them clearly being sent as .jpg's so this is just a taste of things to come.


New Blog?

I've been trying to sort the Hong Kong horses out for the page I planned (and have announced) and realised it's too big a job for one page, also the Khaki page hasn't advanced at the speed I had hoped, and will also end-up unreasonably long for slower devices to load so will be starting a blog just for the small-scale HK and Giant/Giant-like stuff, which will probably get the Khaki and Roman pages (above) broken down into posts. The circus sets, guards and things can go there as well and the tag list will allow for full cross referencing with Airfix, Britains &etc. for finding specific poses or copies.

It'll be a while though.



PW's show and 'er Madge aren't the only things of age around here, some bloke who may or may not have been the playwrite some people think he was (and others: don't!) has been celebrated - in his absence - over the weekend...

...here at the library there was a Paper Toys free hand-out which would make an excellent 10 or 15 millimetre war-games accessory...it was downloaded from here, now also in the paper links list.