About Me

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No Fixed Abode, Home Counties, United Kingdom
I’m a 56-year-old Aspergic 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.

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?

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