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, February 28, 2017

K is for Keep on Walking, Da-da, Da-da, Da-darh, Kee'pon Warr'or-hore-oarrrr'kin!

Ha! Leaving you with an ear-worm for the next hour or so (don't feel bad; I'm stuck with it too and I've got to write the rest of this blurb!) and - as we saw him in the previous post - returning to the chap walking-along (and his mate; the 'chap walking-along with clipboard'!), another of the easier 'sections' of Lucky Toy's output. And that's fifteen spelling mistakes in the first paragraph - bloody song! [Are you actually singing 'Walking' in your head too . . .it's 'Running' in the original - how weird is auto-suggestion?]

I call this the lozenge-based guy, can't think why! Apart from the little one who turned-up a year or so ago (these articles were started in 2012!) they are to a standard size, toward the taller end of Lucky's line-up and non-clipboard guy bears a resemblance to a Matchbox figure, but is in fact different.

Why they've got this shape of base is anyone's guess, why only these two poses got it - likewise! There are five sub-variants, and like the ones we've already looked at; those differences will be down - in part - to sub-contracts, however once you have stocks of each, they will tend to end-up in various boxes and it would take a massive collection of plastic toy vehicles (which - 'mint' - are fetching some pretty hefty prices these days) to start establishing patterns (something I'm sure Mr. Sell will be able to accomplish by closing his eyes and thinking inventing for half-a-second).

The 'standard' Lucky base is probably the one at the top, in the middle is the 1112 code again which may - as I suggested the other day (yesterday? I'm losing track here) - be for a specific client or order fulfillment? While a third shows signs of the eleven-twelve being removed from the mould-tool again - bottom graphic.

There is one with a key-hole in the base, which would have been for a retaining pin shot-through the card-liner and turned to hold the figure down, Star Toys used a simpler arrangement with a straight-through popper (as did others) but Zee/Zylmex used a very similar retaining 'key' for their die-cast tanks and other toys. Other figures with the same marking have a slight scar where the hole has subsequently been filled-in again - after the fulfilment of an order or contract?.

Another line-up with the sub-sized 'newie' to the left. A very useful couple of figures who could be employed as delivery drivers or warehouse banksmen with the various vans and lorries the various brands using Lucky's products issued, or as a milkman, or even as police officers or medics.

Lozenge-based Guys
452 - Walking with clip-board (similar to Corgi figure)
453 - Walking no clip-board (similar to Corgi figure)

Monday, February 27, 2017

M is for Many Mechanics and Maintenance Men

Continuing to look toward Lucky toys 'proper' and back at Dinky, this is one of the more complicated posts in the series as Blue Box put in an appearance and while it's easy to say "Those are Blue Box and those aren't, those are Lucky and those aren't, those are Dinky and those aren't"; the problem is all the 'aren'ts' add-up to at least a half-a-hill-of-generic-beans!

And some of those 'generic beans' may have come from Tai Sang or Lucky Group manufacturing plants!

We looked briefly at these the other day, and this is a quick reminder of the Stadden-sculpted mechanic poses from Dinky's accessory set 009 Service Station Personnel, and we are going to get bored of looking at them in a minute . . .

. . . on the way though we'll just tick these off as they play no further part in the story (except the wheelbarrow! This is a late one with grey wheel, early issues had the tyre painted black), taken from two other Dinky sets: 010 Road Maintenance Personnel and 778 Road Repair Warning Boards, these are some of the pieces not copied by the Hong Kong pirates.

To go with the bits above were five road-workers (all from set 010), my better sample is in storage, so I only have these broken ones to work with at the moment (there are warning lanterns and smaller signs missing too), but you get the idea!

Little rack-toy sets included the soft plastic generics in the centre-row of the main image, while Blue Box copied them in hard polystyrene plastic as 35mm figures and soft polyethylene plastic as 45mm figures, all in a grey base material.

Blue Box also copied the mechanics (as did Lucky), in blue styrene, we will look at them next . . .

Getting bored of the mechanics? We're not halfway through this yet! Blue Box added a fifth pose (third-in top row) a variation of 'windscreen polisher' which I haven't managed to tie-down yet, but I'm sure it will turn-out to be based on a Western design?

A generic set was copied (bottom image) from Blue Box, being slightly smaller and of poorer quality, with larger sets also available, but probably taken from Lucky's larger 'originals'! One of these can be seen to the right of two Blue Box figures in the middle image.

Labelled line-ups need little blurb, note that the Lucky poses have the same square bases as the firemen we looked at yesterday, but their markings are in-line with other Lucky civilians (circular indents), not the firemen's four, square, variants.

I used to wonder at the poor sculpt/register of the windscreen polisher's cloth, but now realise it's almost as bad on the original Dinky sculpt and is representing a round sponge!

With regard to the generics, people will tell you that the act of pantographing reduces the size by x-amount, you'll find variations of it throughout the hobbies literature, but in point of fact pantographs are only as good as their operator, first and foremost they are adjustable scaling tools, so if they 'always' made a 1:1 copy 1 or 2 or however many-mm's smaller, you would set that into the machine to make sure it didn't.

A good copyist can therefore copy to any other scale with accuracy, the fact that HäT's ancient artillery ended-up two sizes was because the Chinese pantograph operator wasn't paying attention when he transferred the masters to the block, not because H or his sculptor did anything wrong at the US end.

The window polisher has been reduced by less that the oil-can guy, suggesting that the pantograph was changed between jobs, or two were used separately, the point being they ended-up different sizes for any one of a number of reasons; that pantographs 'always' leave the new item smaller isn't one of them, indeed; a pantograph can make the new product bigger if the operator wants it to!

The three base marks used by figures in this post don't conform to the firemen or the rest of the Lucky stuff (still to come) but two of them will be recognised from past Blue Box posts with the third (far left) is from some of the generics.

Now - now you're hating the mechanics! The Blue Box (middle) have the same HONG KONG as their 45mm ACW and Wild West, but of more interest is that the generic (left) has the same mark as the soft plastic, unpainted 30mm GI's, suggesting a link back to Blue Box with is more than just copying?

Others - particularly the larger ones (right) - have no mark and smooth undersides.

Other generics (top left) have a single Marx-like release-pin mark . . . and some Marx poses appear in the mix! But knowing Blue Box supplied the Sunshine (and other - can't remember the name) series' to Marx, it's easy to see these may have been supplied likewise, especially the pink ones in the main image, which also have the HONG KONG mark and were issued with large push-and-go toys in Marx graphics in hard plastic (with a standard Marx base mark) and these - soft plastic - ones may have been supplied to Marx toward the end?

The two Marx-like poses are to the right with surveyor's pole and pick-axe; you can see that while they are from the same set, they are a higher level of quality as far as sculpting goes. The other two poses in that line-up are taken from Triang's motor-racing set, another link with the forthcoming Lucky large scale.

This sample is small as it only contains the scrapings of the last five years, the rest are in a Marx box in storage. Also another look at the Blue Box copies of the Dinky road-menders.

Cropped from larger Internet images (all un-watermarked auction/sales shots) to hide non-pertinent information, these give an idea of the range of the mid-sized generics available out there, being hard plastic makes finding them undamaged a lifelong search, but you can see painted and unpainted versions of the Dinky/Marx road-mender poses, while the larger orange figures are quite recent rack-toys with naff polyethylene rally-cars, crude, oversized road-signs and a copy of the Blue Box copy of a Western (Corgi or Spot-On?) car inspection-ramp . . . and the wheelbarrow!

Because - like the World Dolls/Dancers - these ongoing posts have been in preparation for some time, a few more figures have come in since I started - with a big photo-shoot several years ago; these are they, shot the other day.

Top left is a paint variation (broken again!), top right a better pump-nozzle but broken base, middle left is a plastic colour variant showing the same darker reddish-pink you also find with the cowboys and some (early - Singapore/Jean) knights from Blue Box, while the colour range from the soft plastic 'cheepie' generics has increased!

Also a cross-over or intermediate figure has turned up, bigger than the larger generics, smaller than the lozenge-based Lucky Toy figure he's copied from at around 45mm, I suspect he's another more recent figure from a rack-toy 'playset'. Although he copies the Lucky base, it's unmarked, spray-painted and with less well-defined corners?

Sunday, February 26, 2017

D is for Dinky Firemen are so Lucky!

I was going to do a Lucky Toys page like the World Dolls/Dancers, but it's actually easier to break it down into pieces, as some bits are simple, this is one of the simple bits! Lucky Dinky got enlarged by Luck-y . . . yeah, I'm labouring a bad pun here, let's move swiftly on.

I had forgotten that I posted these a while ago, so re-shot them; if you click the Dinky tag you'll get the other post a little below this one. Dinky's firemen; older than other Dinky figures; like those we saw yesterday, so not showing the distinctive hand of Charles Stadden, but rather the smoother style of some unsung sculptor.

The base marking (not a brilliant shot but try tipping your screen - or moving your head up or down - and it may become clearer); similar to the rail staff that came in the same blue plastic, but they were in an OO-gauge compatible size, rather than the approximately 35mm of these firemen.

Four of the poses were subsequently copied in roughly 50mm by the Hong Kong firm Lucky Toys, who used them in various sets, both badged to themselves as The lucky Toys and their subsidiary brand Laurie Toys, however they were also supplied to the importers/jobbers Clifford, Cragstan, Fairylight, Jimson, and Larami (among others), sometimes with the Lucky logo retained on packaging (some Fairylite), sometimes not!

There were other sources through further contract manufacture (Century21) while other brands OK, TAT and Telsalda for instance may be connected through contract or subsidiary brand status it's not clear and further complicated by some of them having ranges in different scales of the same vehicles - mostly Corgi or Dinky clones. I can't possibly pretend to be an expert on them all, but there is a fair bit in the plastics section of Planetdiecast. [Thanks to Woodsey at Moonbase Central for that tip]

Lucky numbered all their figures in the larger scale and the other two poses may well be out there as there is a gap in the numbering which points to them existing? We will be returning to the numbering (and its gaps!) in future posts.

548 - Fireman standing, both arms forward   (ex-Dinky/Meccano, Polystyrene)
549 - Fireman with breathing gear (ex-Dinky/Meccano, Polystyrene)
550 - ?
551 - ?
552 - Fireman with hose end (ex-Dinky/Meccano, Polystyrene)
553 - Fireman running, waving with right hand (ex-Dinky/Meccano, Polystyrene)

Marking for Lucky Toys is a bloody nightmare, but fortunately - due to the unique (for Lucky figures) full square/whole base marks, they are a bit easier to delineate in this case; there being only four (so far!) types.

Top left is the probable first or Lucky original, with the HONG KONG removed from the right-hand one, possibly to facilitate demand from a client selling in a country that was finding the buying public adopting the 'all Hong Kong is crap' of my parents!

The other two will be for subcontracts I think, but it's not hard and fast and as we will be seeing in a day or two, there are actual Lucky brand base marks (with the horseshoe looping an 'L'), and as yet none has turned-up on these firemen's bases?

We will also find that the 1112 sub-number is a batch (or contract/customer) code being present on all bases of the same type, irrespective of the figure-pose, and applied to two of the round marks we'll look at later as well as one of the lozenge bases.

Examples of three of the base types and some paint/plastic colour variations, I have three figures with the fourth type base mark (or I wouldn't have bothered CAD'ing them up - I know some people will go to extraordinary lengths in their attempts to make stuff up, even to inventing a whole port - huh Paul? But that's not my way) however; they are all damaged and didn't get photographed.

Models they were issued with is - again - not my field, but among the few I know of are;

114 - Fire Engine (with push-and-go gyro-friction motor, US style ladder truck)
178F - Fire Chief (Buick saloon-car)
195 - Fire Engine (Dennis?)
196 - Fire Truck (forward-control Land Rover)
- Land Rover Fire Service (series-3 Land Rover)
22/4175 (? or ..73) - Fire Engine (AEC, friction powered with siren, ladder/pumper)
No. 232R - Fire Chief Ford Zodiac (saloon-car)
- Fire Engine ('No.21 Fire Brigade', Dennis (?) turntable ladder truck)
50411 - Fire Engine (friction motor, extending ladder, 1950's type vehicle)
- Fire Chief (copied by Clifford, station wagon)
- Snorkel Rescue (US style cab-over hydraulic ladder-truck)

Which of these models also appeared in another or each other's branding, or whether they all had all or any of the figures is also unknown - to me!

Other figures supplied to Cragstan were unpainted or minimal-paint versions of Lucky's (VW camper van for instance) and as I haven't found such firemen yet, I'm proceeding on the assumption they didn't carry the Lucky fire appliances, but Cragstan were a US concern, also imported from some of Lucky's rivals and seem to have concentrated on 'autos & race-cars' as the Americans would put it, but on fire trucks American collectors may know different, Erwin Sell probably went to all twelve factories the year before he was born; in Port Tain Sang no doubt?

Saturday, February 25, 2017

S is for a Stripey Magic Mini!

There's not much on it, but reading this; that comes as no surprise! Not only that, but having though I'd finally tracked-down the set, what do I find but a little tyke called Andy still to find . . . hay-ho!

Anyway, courtesy of Binns Road and Dinky, I give you Mr and Mrs Bearanda from the Toy Shop and Candy; Andy's off doing a stock-take! No Stripey Mini (apparently designed by Paul Smith - the stripes where actually horizontal to the ground, rather than the 45º's of the Dinky one) , I'm drawing a line under die-cast civilian vehicles, we'd never get it all covered!

Because this is an otherwise rather barren post, and apropos some forthcoming posts, the above are the contents of Dinky's figure/accessory set 009 Service Station Personnel, the mechanics being much pirated in Hong Kong, while the sales staff and customers seem to have escaped the plagiarists attention!

All the above seem to be Charles Stadden sculpts, probably from the Triang-Line's Brothers factory; Minimodels in Havant on the South Coast.

Friday, February 24, 2017

F is for Farm-hands and Feeder-fellows

This has been in 'Edit' since last January and a copy has been on my laptop's desktop for about 6 months waiting for me to get round to finishing the blurb!

We actually looked at Blue Box farm ages ago, so this is more of a ramble round some of the other aspects of the figures - all Britains piracies - than anything else, and rather unfortunate that they were in the queue while certain other thing were/are going on, but I can't shift a shadow, so I'll have to work through it!

And at least we've some new stuff to look at; I'm not showing you the same stuff with some bits taken out because I was making it up as I went along the first time!

So to the bit we DID look at last time, yer'bog-standard Blue Box farm-hand  copied from Britains with [some of] the same tools. So far I haven't found the hoe in Blue Box (or other) guise, nor the besom-broom but the rake, pitch-fork and stiff-broom are all to be found along with one of the meat sticks (see below).

Now; I used to think green bases = 'farm' and grey bases = 'zoo' sets, and that's not a bad rule of thumb from what you find, however during one of the tedious searches required to correct and correct again the wilder utterances of Erwin Sell I found a guy somewhere (no; I don't think it was evilBay, some other site? May still be findable) who referred to the right-hand figure as Redbox, as it was a stand-alone figure on a sales site, I have to assume he had seen it previously in that guise - to come to that conclusion.

As we've also discovered from the short war (they seem to have given-up on almost as soon as they started it?) and he and Paul Stadinger's misappropriation of the Vectis catalogue; both Redbox and Blue Box shared the output of both the main Singapore plant at Toa Payoh and the Hong Kong facility at Aberdeen, so it's fair to further assume that the figures are what they were in that - also deliberately miss-presented by the pair of them - catalogue: 'Blue Box-Redbox'.

The new question mark is over the chap with the yellow shirt, he only has a smaller 'HONG KONG' rather than the larger, fuller 'MADE IN HONG KONG' of the Blue Box-Redbox figures.

Also there are differences in the sculpture of the base, suggesting copy, or re-cutting? However, as the Singapore end were also responsible for the same chap with a moulded-on tool (the missing hoe!), all bets are off until a set turns-up with him in it!

The colours are reminiscent of Lucky Toys stuff, particularly the road-racing and garage sets, but they weren't known for soft plastic figures, although more of that in the near future and the more you look the more you find with HK!

And here's the evidence! Circles within circles and these are only what I have here, in storage I have one of the long thin boxes - we looked at ages ago - with 4x5½ click-shut bags, with probably 50+ variations of this or the other Britains figures, and many more 'unknown farm and zoo figures' including HK copies of Starlux - themselves copied by their near neighbours - everybody was up to it!

The smaller 50mm'ish figure with the red trousers is actually a very nice, finely-etched, sculpt, while the factory painted 35mm chap is from a more commercial issue of the pink one we've seen in sets before, but who also came in Christmas crackers, gum-ball capsules and the like.

One of the sets referred to above - because this has been in 'Edit' for so long, the set was re-shot for the mini-farm post back in the Autumn; hey-ho! This is the one trying to look like it may be Blue Box - it 'aint!

Below is a clean sample of some Blue Box livestock which came in a while ago, we'll look at the animals when I get my stuff out of storage, in the meantime there's always chance another Blogger may cover them, especially now he's trebled his output and raised the quality [of some] of his copy?