About Me

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No Fixed Abode, Home Counties, United Kingdom
I’m a 60-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”. Likewise, 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.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

T is for Toy Fair '18 Reports - Revell - Model Kits

After a look at Mr Lucas' movie franchise kits yesterday, we move to the general model-kits Revell have been offering-up for the longest time, (well, since 1951 at least!)

To be honest, most of the models on display WERE the Star Wars stuff, but there are a few drawn from elsewhere in the wider kit-range, and I've added some other bits and bobs from the catalogue.

You can't go far wrong with a Lancaster, Spitfire and Hurricane going round-and-round on a mirrored disc! Available now (but not when I saw it!) I think it depicts the RAF Memorial flight? But I'm not sure.

More interesting is the MTB in the background . . .

. . . which is the same Elco-type 'PT-Boat' modeled by various makers back in the 1960/70's(Revell listed more than ten versions, Lindburg a similar amount and Tamiya at least five, but in an odd scale; 1:126th), PT-109, which was the one captained by a future President - JFK, but this is an entirely new tooling with the levels of detail missing on some of those old kits, or at least I assume it has!

There are several versions of PT109 and some of them have only two [open-rack] torpedoes and no anti-tank gun lashed to the bow-deck? Again, this is just me presenting what was displayed at the show, and I'm sure the marine-modelling experts will know what's what - and why!

My Known Listing - Revell 'figure scale' High-Speed Motor Boats

? - Hemi Hydro - Civilian water-skiing tow- boat/racer - 1:25
? - PT-73 (see H-323?)
? - PT-109 / 167 Torpedo Boat - Torpedo Boat, 2 torpedoes, open-racks not tubes, two variants buildable? - 1:72
? - PT Boat 211 / 212 - Twin kit/two variants? Motorized, 1975 - 1:97
? - Vosper M.T.B. -  Motor Torpedo Boat, 2 tubes - 1:72
H-302 - Chris Craft Flying Bridge Cruiser - Civilian pleasure craft, reissued as H-387, 1953? - 1:56
H-304  - PT-212 Torpedo Boat - American WWII Higgins-type PT boat, moulds brought/bought-in from (?) in the late 1950’s, some sources state issued 1953? Later supplied to/copied by AHM as PT-207 - 1:98
H-306 - Mosquito Boat PT-207 - Issued 1965, same hull as Tamiya kits? Re-issue of H-304 (PT-212)? 1966 - Some sources give1:126, some sources state 1:98
H-310 - Historic PT-109 (JFK markings) - WWII American Elco-type PT boat, 2 torpedoes, racks not tubes, 'Jack of Diamonds'; Kennedy’s vessel - 1:72
H-312 - PT-190 - WWII American Elco-type PT boat, 2 torpedoes, racks not tubes - 1:72
H-323 - McHale’s PT Boat - From TV series 'McHale’s Navy' PT-73, actually a Vosper MTB - 1:72
H-342 - PT-167           - WWII American Elco-type PT boat, 2 torpedoes, racks not tubes - 1:72
H-387 - Sport Fishing Boat - Reissue of Chris Craft pleasure cruiser (H-302) - 1:56
H-464 - PT-211 - American WWII Higgins-type PT boat, moulds brought/bought-in from (?) in the late 1950’s, re-issue of  H-304 (PT-212), 1975 - 1:98
5104 - Swift Patrol Boat          - PCF -1:48
5105 - UDT Boat - With Frogmen - 1:32        
05048 - PT-117           - WWII American ELCO-type PT boat, 2 torpedoes, racks not tubes, re-issue of H-342, 1990's - 1:72
05051 - S-100 - WWII German Schnellboot MTB/Channel raider, 2002 - 1:72
05084 - Vosper MBT - reissue of old kit - 1:72
05147 - Patrol Torpedo Boat PT-109 - 4 tubes, 37mm A/T gun lashed to the deck, Kennedy's vessel, new tool - 1:72

While on the subject of 1:72nd scale vessels, the ex-Matchbox Flower Class Corvette is announced as a 'New' model, but you'll know it's a re-issue, back as HMCS Snowberry

Oh Lord! From the catalogue comes this piece of idiocy . . . still I suppose it will complement the equally idiotic figure sets from Evo/HYTTY/Kervella/LW/Odemars or whoever ended up with their moniker on the packets. So long as you treat it as a bit of fun, it's probably fun, but if you think the Nazis had a secret 'Dr. No' base in the Arctic (or Antarctic) you're an idiot, who spends too much time reading the wrong websites, find the porn and get real!

If you want Sci-fi (instead of porn) this is more like it, and three of them are compatible with 54mm/1:32nd scale figures; Bargain! Technically two of them are 50mm/1/;35th but who's rivet-counting - not me! Although, how? How the f**k do you get three scales in a line of four kits! Mind-boggling really - they didn't even get the two UNSC AFV's the same size!

And - proving there's nothing new under the sun; the UNSC Pelican is clearly the bastard child of a Hind D which has been raped by a clone-army Republican Gunship!

Another Build & Play (the future of kits?), but I was rather taken with it, highly detailed for a 'no glue needed' model, and sadly not a Massey 135, but similar! Porsche Diesel with a steel bucket-seat - you made your own cushion from a seed-potato sack (big sandbag!) half filled with straw, but your arse still hurt by lunchtime, especially if you were harrowing!

I also shot these two simply because it was a nice juxtapostion to see the two sizes built-up and side by side. The smaller one is another of the Build & Play clip-together range, but the larger one is a proper kit.

Not much on the figure front, we may well return to these depending on what images turn-up elsewhere, but in the meantime; in 1:72nd scale the 30 7-Years War figures have turned-up in double sets. Originally a poor seller they were quickly withdrawn (back in the 1990's) only for Peter Bergner at PB Toys to commission a re-issue, then they re-appeared a few years ago briefly - I think - only for these doubles to be announced. . . a while ago?

While in the 1:16th range (same as the old Airfix personalities) there's a SWAT-team 'heavy' and a US Marine Sergeant (in formal Dress Blues) joining the four existing ceremonials in a line which is shaping-up to be quite interesting.

I wonder if anyone's built the British Guardsmen from both companies and placed them side-by-side yet? 60-years and only the rifle's changed - They keep a supply of bulled ammunition-boots (hob-nail studded 'cobbly-wobblies' or 'cobble-wobblers') for ceremonial duties.

P is for Pull Apart Steam Roller

There seems to have been a little war between the early practitioners of polyethylene toy production, when it came to clip-together steam-engine road rollers, with Kleeware, Tudor Rose, Bell, Merit and others all producing one (several in the case of T*R) in that intermediate size around 40-50mm as far as any compatible or accompanying figures, go, and while most of them didn't have accompanying figures, this is one that did, and also one of the 'others'.

We had one (a road roller in ethylene) when we were kids which I think I've decided was the Merit one by dint of its having pink, sky-blue and mint-green among its plastic parts, but when I see some of the others I question my memory sometimes, however, this one with its drive-belt, metal-pin axle and square-section canopy-supports is definitely not the one we had. Also there's nowhere to stow the chimney-pipe on top of the canopy; which ours had.

Made by Raphael Lipkin in two colours; presumably there would have been reverse color versions to cover a full mould-shot, although red wheels are traditional so maybe there were two tools and one colour-way?

But this one had a driver, and a driver who I think is in the 'Unknown - maybe Kleeware/Tudor Rose' section of the civilians in storage, so double bargain, as A) it helps me out and B) got an instant booking on the Blog!

It's also a much better sculpted driver that those in a Tudor Rose three-vehicle set we've seen on the blog passim. Indeed the Merit roller is here somewhere as well, and possibly a Kleeware in a long shot from Pam Taylor in Wales.

The packaging is in green and black, so no clue as to the contents, but back in those days (pretty much when I was born!) there would probably have been one in a wood & glass display cabinet, along with other toys, the boxes (individual or 'counter-stock') arranged in stacks nearby.

Looking at the exploded views and artwork, it seems the drive-belt is an owner addition, a rubber band in matching red, a thinner black one possibly being included, but it's not on the assembly drawing; only in the artist's rendition.

Thanks to Adrian Little of Mercator Trading for letting me shoot this back in September at the Sandown Park Toy Fair, where he will be stalling-out again this coming Saturday (3rd) weather permitting.

And while I'm taking talk of a 'snowmageddon' heading this way with a pinch of salt, my toes are saying "Don't be too cynical, something big's on the way", however hopefully I'll be there too, looking for a few bargains to throw on the blog! Nice stuff from the Charity shops today

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

News, Views etc . . . Toys in Art

Hard to describe, pointless giving you my take, go check it out, it's fun . . .

                                  By Ye Hongxing

T is for Toy Fair '18 Reports - Revell - Star Wars

I can't speak for everyone, but I think most of us (or a lot of us?) like a bit of Star Wars, even if only at a distance, or occasionally, and Revell had a bunch of new and old on display in London last month.

I only shot a few as I get a tad annoyed by the constant lack of scale-compatibility with this modern space/TV tie-in stuff, remember the great slogan of Airfix in the early days 'Constant Scale'!

It's one of life's ironies; back in the 1960's manufacturers responded to consumers requests for 'in-scale' ranges of toys which were being used to make railway layouts, or war-gaming armies, but now the whole industry has become servant to an ephemeral, fleeting phase of childhood before electronics and the stresses of 'growing-up fast' they have realised it's not about scale, it's about 'having an X-Wing' for a few months, as a result (and because the war-gamers and railway-buffs are taken care-of elsewhere) there's been a return to the 'box-scale', of the 1950's, especially for space lines, as there is such a differential between the depicted items - a 1:76th scale Star Destroyer would require a large garden to assemble in!

These four are from the Build & Play easy assembly/clip-together kit line (not sure 'kit' is the right word, but they are a kit-of-parts?) and with one around 40mm and the other close to 1:76th, they are quite useful, the 'Falcon and 'Walker' are not so!

A close-up of the A-Wing, well - it's got a figure!

A close-up of the Walker, scales not brilliant, but I like the fact that it references the old AT-AT, while being slightly different, sort of like the changes you see between an early war T34 and a cold-war up-armored T34/85, and I guess they couldn't call it an AT-HAW, but they could have called it an AT-Something; AT-HA would have been OK?

The 'new' Tie Fighter seems to have been given a bomber's body, which is definitely a continuity error! And the 1:80th of Obi Wan's starship is a bit small, but it could be useful with Galoob/Hasbro's figures?

There are also Star Wars themed stencil sets available in a link-up between Revell and an Orbis, whether it's the old Orbis Publishing of part-work and coffee-table book fame, or not; I haven't looked into (I think it is though!). Although, if you are tempted, I should point out that in the 2018 catalogue it's sets II and III, suggesting one is OOP, and will need to be tracked-down before it disappears.

Current Listing
03600 - Millennium Falcon - 1:241
03601 - X-wing Fighter - 1:112
03602 - Darth Vader's TIE Fighter - 1:121
03603 - Tie Interceptor - 1:90
03604 - Snowspeeder - 1:52
03605 - TIE Fighter - 1:110
03606 - Anakin's Jedi Starfighter - 1:58 1:58
03607 - Obi-Wan's Jedi Starfighter - Episode 2 - 1:58 1:58
03608 - ARC-170 Clone Fighter - 1:83
03609 - Imperial Star Destroyer - 1:12300
03610 - Boba Fett‘s Slave I - 1:160
03611 - Naboo Starfighter - 1:109
03612 - Sith Infiltrator - 1:257
03613 - Republic Gunship - 1:172
03614 - Obi-Wan's Jedi Starfighter - Episode 3 - 1:80
06053 - Republic Star Destroyer - 1:2700
06715 - AT-AT” 1:53
06718 - Millennium Falcon - 1:72
06719 - Imperial Star Destroyer - 1:2700
06749 - Imperial Star Destroyer - 1:4000
06755 - Rebel U-wing Fighter - 1:100
06759 - Resistance A-wing Fighter - 1:44
06160 - Kylo Ren‘s TIE Fighter” 1:70
06161 - First Order Heavy Assault Walker - 1:164
06762 - Resistance A-wing Fighter - 1:44
06763 - Poe's Boosted X-wing Fighter - 1:78
06765 - Millennium Falcon - 1:164
06767 - Han Solo Item A - 1:164 (still in development for forthcoming film)
06168 - Han Solo Item B - 1:28 (still in development for forthcoming film)
06169 - Han Solo Item C - 1:28 (still in development for forthcoming film)
06880 - Millennium Falcon - 1:144

Marked as new (but may be re-issue)
Not available yet
Close or near'ish to 'H0-00' gaming
Close or near'ish to 28mm role-play
Close or near'ish to 54/60mm figures

'51 is for Hudson Hornet 'Black & White'

A die-cast quickie this morning, but we seem to be in a bit of a die-cast phase at the moment!

Err. . . or we were when I wrote that about three weeks ago! Anyway, it's back to the top of a queue it’s been at the top of a couple of times already! Still just a quickie . . .

. . . covering this which I picked-up for a quid a while ago. I just thought that for a pound it was a lovely model, roughly 1:76/72nd compatible, nicely nostalgic and worth a punt!

Whether there is (or was - the model's two-years old which is an age with modern multi-wave stuff) a military version I don't know, but with Jonny Lightning and Hot Wheels also in the Mattel stable, there may be/have been one under another brand, which would be useful for 'Indy IV'; The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull! It would go so well with the not-54mm figures from Galoob!

MBX (Matchbox - geddit!) Valley - looks pretty grim! This is just the sort of thing you would have found rushing around a Cold War airbase, or any base for that matter! And it's also the same type of thing you will see losing wars against Tentecled Aliens, Giant Ants or huge Japanese Dino-monsters in 1950's, black & white, B-movies!

"Invasion of the Giant Alien Dino-Antmen! At  theatre near you! Now in 3D, surround-sound, with smell-o-vision, and fright-o-seats!"

Posed with an Airfix airman; is he too-small or too-big? I think he looks just right! "Tentacles officer? No, nothing like that's come this way" he says, before turning back into a jelly-monster and smothering the patrolman in flashing, smoking, cotton-wool 'slime'!

An interesting point raised by this purchase, which I'm sure most of you have noticed for yourselves, but it's worth a paragraph or two of blurb,  is how the global nature of trade (and particularly the toy-trade with its centre in China) these days, means there is - both moulded and stamped into the belly-pan of the car and on the rear of the backing-card - an absolute plethora of consumer information, tracking data, licensing, batch QA/QC codes and other stuff, some of which is as mysterious to me as the tentacled-aliens might have been to the small-town cinema-goer's of 1951!

On the car
Above transmission
'52 Hudson Hornet ® TM. (nod to real manufacturer/rights holder (Chrysler)'s license)
© FCA USA LLC 2016 (Chrysler's parent (Ford), licence date)
Matchbox TM MB 1046 (Matchbox brand logo and stock code?)

Below transmission
© 2016 Mattel DVK 13 (parent's bit)
1186 MJ, 1, NL (Dutch distributor)
J43 (over-stamped model number?)
Made In Thailand [with elephant logotype] (nod to origin / [factory])

Also on the card
J44 (dry-stamped model number typo, or QA tracker?)
TPN12 (Asian packer, packaging type/complience?)
57/125 (57th of 125 models for that season?)
Asst. 30782 (assortment - line/wave number)
ASTM F963 (French assortment?)
MC993532 - P (Peru, Poland, pack?)
OCP 0061 (Canadian packaging compliance)
CE-BRI/INNAC 00128-03A (British? Brazilian [import from EU] code?)
NM 300/2002
0 35995 30782 7 (bar code/stock number, also barcode, universal product code or UPC)

To which a lot of other stuff is added which is either self-explanatory (Mattel) or graphical logos awarded by ministries, consumer or trade organisations for standards met (CE mark), or membership of (Lion Mark)...

...Then there are other codes, some postal, some company registrations hidden in the blurb!

With the Donald wanting US firms to end all this Global 'shit-hole' crap and the stupider half (sorry - 52%) of the British (old enough to vote) also for opting-out; this information will only get more complicated as new taxes, tariffs and import/export controls get codified.

Not even a 'quickie' in the end!

Monday, February 26, 2018

T is for Toy Fair 2018 Reports - The Toy Project - Toy Charity

One of the nicest things that we encountered at the Toy Fair was the Toy Project, a charity that uses toys to bring toys to children that need toys, founded in 2013 and doing great things.

They may be helping under-privileged kids from poor backgrounds, or neglected communities, they may be in a hospice, working with kids recently bereaved of a parent or sibling, or - as in one of the charity's most recent interventions - they may be aiding the victims of disaster; the Project provided toys for the survivors of the Grenfell Tower atrocity.

Although they are 'toy' based or toy-centred, both in the delivery and the fund-raising angles, they do also accept donations of money or help in other ways, as any sensible charity does, and have several corporate sponsors.

And it's not just about recycling old toys as gifts, the monies raised through the donations, the sponsorship and the toys sold though the shop Archway, London; also go toward funding  activities like face-painting workshops in hospitals, children's libraries, Christmas boxes, play-schemes . . . things that most children take for granted in one of the ten wealthiest countries on Earth, but which increasing numbers of children find themselves without.

The shop takes those toys which are perhaps not suitable for gifting (smaller items, incomplete sets and such like), possibly along with a portion of any bulk-donated new stock, and sells them to raise cash which can then be used for other costs associated with the project, books and bookshelves for a library, or outdoor play-equipment for the Grenfell nursery - for instance.

Costs are further kept to the absolute minimum by the charity being almost wholly staffed by volunteers, and if you think you can help, get in touch - it's obviously London based, but they need collection points everywhere, donors/supporters anywhere and do some work overseas.

The Toy Project doesn't only have corporate sponsors; that's you-know-who, and if it's good enough for him, it's got to be good enough for anyone!

+44 (0)7590 256 530 (from abroad)
07590 256 530 (UK)

99 Junction Road, Archway N19 5QX

Tues–Saturday 10am-6pm

The reason we were attracted to their stand at the show was because the display was mostly figural! Papo, Schleich, stuff which looks suspiciously like Phidel, lots of Playmobile, just the one Deetail cowboy, anonymous action figures, it's a 'what can you spot' moment!

From these are made-up the little boxes which are sold in the shop, there may be more on the shop in a forthcoming issue of Plastic Warrior, of not, I'll try and get a follow-up organised for here.

A close-up of the far end of the previous shot, the Clanger is - I think - from a kids comic, but there are very similar commercial play-sets so I won't commit to one or the other (hate to be 'corrected' by TJF again!), but some of them are in the queue!

This pile was less sorted, but more of the same; it looks as if Phidel may be responsible for a Simpsons set? And is the other character from Futurama? There's a Monster in My Pocket hidden under what looks like a Papo knight, Star Wars, Sesame Street, a large sheep-dog - all sorts!

One wonders why a rich nation needs 20,000-odd registered charities, but it does, the state seems to exist only to give the establishment a reason to expect us to provide their lifestyle needs from our 'hard-earned', but there you go, we tolerate the situation, century after century!

If you want to support a charity, one so close to our various hobbies is as good a cause as any, indeed - a worthy one.

B is for Beware - Greeks Driving Chariots!

I know! But with HäT , Zvezda and the other new producers concentrating on more historically realistic machines, if you really want chariots for the mountainous city-states of Greece, you have to look to Atlantic, or scratch-build your own (I tried that too - it ended-up looking like a muck-cart!).

One of those occasional visits to the commoner makes brings us back to Atlantic. Although we are looking at the 'HO' set, they (the ancients) all had the 1:32nd scale sets painted-up as artwork, except the Trojans, who came a bit later (1981/2'ish) and if you're a 1:32nd scale-only fan, just get closer to the screen and imagine they're bigger for the rest of the post!

Came in several shades of orange-to-flesh coloured polyethylene and had some problematical, fiddly bits, which were probably pantographed down from 1:32nd scale, where they wouldn't have been troublesome at all!

A four-horse, aerodynamic sports model with Carlos Fandango extra-wide racingwheels and Triumph-Spitfire quick-release hubs, she was a little dinger, a peach, a pearl - no bloody good for fighting in a mountainous environment, but hey; she looks the business popping "darn the Spar for milk"!

Rear of the smallest box (1806), you normally got two complete units, but sometimes you got four, someone in the factory hadn't read the packing instructions! Another slight problem is getting both crew to hold the grab-handles (without glue or trimming/removing the bases) and - again - I suspect something which was not a worry for those with the bigger figures - as can be seen from the artwork.

If you did keep it in the Greek army, it was best to use the archer from the Infantry set, still anachronistic, but slightly less so!

The fiddly-bits! The wheel-hubs are illustrated without the 'wings', but they look better for them as they can be the blades used on Persian chariots, when you transfer them to the Persian army under lend-lease, to get some slightly more realistic service out of them!

The hubs also tend to be flashy or lumpy and one has the mounting-hole off-centre! The driver's whip and the eagle finial/ram from the horses' yolk-beam are also easy to lose.

Interestingly, both the instructions and the painted 1:32nd scale set have no wings on the hubs, but I'm pretty sure they did get them on the production release, so they must have proved problematical - even in the larger size - at the pre-production stage.

I noticed that another issue, as well as being a lighter brown, has a French postal code added to the disclaimers/consumer-information panel, does this help date the sets?

I remember getting my first 'late type' graphics' boxes of Atlantic (WWII and Ancients) in around 1977/78 in Germany and by 1981 Concord,  Beatties and Tangley round-here had piles of them, literally piles! The French adopted these five-figure codes in 1972 which is much earlier so it may be the printer just left it of the other box by accident?

I loved these back in the day, far preferred them to the chunky Roman one, and I had two, painted-up, with 8 cavalry (from the larger combined set) and a pair of Airfix Roman chariots (along with the muck-cart!) as the 'flying wing' of my Greco-Roman army, which was actually supposed to be 'Etruscan' . . . unless it was invading Britain, then it became Caesar's rather-camp legion!

Sunday, February 25, 2018

T is for Toy Fair 2018 Reports - Re:Creation - Lego Franchise

You may have gathered over the years that I'm not a fan of the Kiddy-brick thieves, but that's at the corporate level, as far as the bricks go; I'm easy, I just don't buy the hype of the rivals being bad or falling apart, they all seem OK when I encounter them, but anyway, this is technically about Re-Creation not Billund!

Original, 1979 toy-fair, award-winning, astronauts, now available as LED torches! That's too cool for space-school! There were also - originally - black and yellow spacemen, they must be chasing down Mr. Musk's sports-car!

Re-Creation has the territory-license for Lego's non-toy stuff, and they had plenty of other things on display (bags, belts, stationary, Swatch-like watches), but I was concentrating on the mini-figure related stuff.

I don't know the significance in the backing-card graphic changes here . . . new range? It may be that different corporate/bulk customers (Tesco or Sainsbury's for instance) can stipulate packaging . . . I should have asked while I was there . . .hay-ho!

The new characters from the recent movies are starting to be included alongside the older icons of the franchise, and larger versions are available of some of those iconic characters, I have the little Darth Vader (we saw him the other day here at SSW), but I bet the large one is blinding!

Which reminds me; if you're buying the Darth, check he has a cloak, I bought two back in 2012, one for a friend and one for me and didn't notice mine was missing it's cloak, someone had nicked it, presumably to replace a damaged one at home!

DC and other Lego themed figures, each in the graphics of their respective toy-range . . . I like the old-school Batman & Robin, and the Joker.

There's that babe in the sexy-basque again, but looking more like someone's granny! And I love the Clark Kent with his shirt ripped-open, only trouble being - Lego Minis (formerly Legoland Minifigures!) can't get their hands round to the fronts of their chests!

If they've sold 8-point-something million of them in the UK and Eire, that's about one per hundred people . . .no, it's one per every ten people? Oh . . . bother! [Get's the calculator up on the screen!] It is! it's approximately one per every 10 or 11 citizens! Well - I've got mine, have you got yours - they're very good - while the batteries are fresh!