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, April 26, 2023

Z is for Zip O'Daly!

Apart from further appearances by Swift Morgan, who gets two outings, The New Spaceways Comic Annual also introduces another character, Zip O'Daly, which I suspect is meant to rhyme with O'Maly rather than Daily? And do you get it . . . Zip, Swift? Not sure about Dick Hardy though (first of this sequence of posts), that is more than accidental, I fear!

There's not much of interest in the strip beyond the Johillco/Cherilea ship again, looking more off-pat, then the one with the added wings the other day, while the 'prison ship' looks like two of Marx's clamshells glued together and placed on end!

Sunday, April 23, 2023

C is for Clipper-ships - Space Clippers!

Back to the 'Spaceways' annual for a second, and you may have noticed down the bottom left-hand corner of the cover (previous post) what we would call a thumbnail image these days, back then it was probably a miniature-insert, insert-miniature or something!

Again he's turned to toys for his inspiration, and this time we're looking at Tudor Rose for the donor, a push-and-go version is out there, but it may be a knock-off?

Never given an X-number, it really should be considered X-500, being a larger, passenger beast than the X-400 Space Explorer, a sort of fighter-bomber to all the smaller fighter-types! leaving X-600 for the 'big bus' the Atomic Space Ship, and you could allocate X1-10, 15-95 etc . . . to all the little flyers, flitters and Premier's darts and wide-bodies; a neat idea spoilt only by Dimestore Dreams swapping a number a few years ago, Doh!

Turning to the Adventure Annual for a quick look at it's treatment in the Swift Morgan strip, and you can see it's pretty accurate, and I like the idea that when these guys got writers block or a stiff hand (pen and ink can be intense) they would have been able to play with their toy space-stuff while enjoying their coffee or watching the world go-by outside!
The push-and-go version has a large box for the mechanism, on the underside, and bigger wheels set further-out, while the artist's got the little cheeks on the sides of the wheel-cowlings down just right, so he had something like the photographed example in front of him.

Clearly marked and probably the best for surviving, being quite a robust toy - except those little fin-tips! Sadly and for reasons I won't bore you with this was only mine for about 24-hours, 15-years ago, and the 'mine' is open to question, but I've regretted letting it - and an X-400 - go, ever since!

X-300 is for Space Cruiser

The sister publication for Ed's Adventure Annual, was The New Spaceways Comic Annual Number 1, a slightly pretentious title as I don't believe there was ever a 'number two'! And, it too pulled heavily from existing toys for it's artwork, mostly hollow-cast, but the Pyro et al Spaceships were also referenced. I believe they were published the same year, 1954, but while The Adventure Annual seems to have run for some time (with title tweaks - Okay, for Boys, the Boys & Girls, &etc.), there was only the one 'Spaceways.

This is the cover of the annual, with the big beast it's lifting-from to the right; The X-300 Space Cruiser and probably my favourite of all the ships in the extended family of 'Dime-Store' sculpts.
You can see that the cover art has taken a wing and turned it into a powered tail, Tristar-like, while pulling the tail down to make two wings! The nose has also been sharpened and shortened, I wonder if they used the Combex sharpener!

Mine is missing its wheels, and while they do turn-up on evilBay occasionally, even ragged ones with no nose can cost a pretty penny, so for now I ignore the absence, it still sits 'right' on a flat surface! You can just see the Kleeware mark on this one, on the underside of the left wing - on the right here.
My tail-fin is also slightly truncated, the tip was lost long before it was mine, and I just cleaned-it up with a file to match the lower one, but I notice it's cut-short in some of the artwork below, so it must have been a common break/fault, present on the artist's bench-model too!

The Covers of The Adventure Annual use the same ship, but with no real changes, grounded on the left with a bunch of distinctly Johillco/Cherilea figures, and flying in formation with an X-100 Space Scout through some bloody dangerous manoeuvres courtesy of an X-200 Space Ranger!. Artist seems to be Denis McLouchlin
I should add that all these connections were first made in Plastic Warrior magazine a decade or two ago, and these [above] crops can be seen in context, via Moonbase Central here, thanks to Ed Berg's scans of the 'Swift Morgan' strip.

An older shot of mine, the line between the portholes isn't a crack, but rather the boundary line between two regions of the resin, flowing into the mould from different directions, and meeting, just as they begin to cool-off, producing a kiss rather than fully-melting into each other, the mark is called a weld-line or a knit-line, and it is commonest, or more-commonly found with metallic materials, due to the inclusions in the polymer making moulding harder to get just right.

Couple of hours later - I forgot the image inside the cover! Complete with another Johillco/Cherilea figure and the hollow-cast 'vending machine' robot!

Later Still - In the 1950's, future spaceships were going to be very easy to control!

In the early hours - Brian Berke sent his scan of the bookplate from 'Spaceways, which I had failed to scan (because it had been filled-in I think), which was daft as I could have used it to illustrate a point on the bookplate posts, at Easter - Doh! But there's the converted Cruiser again!

R is for a Return to Premier's Pocket Rockets

Well, it's been four months and I can honestly say Windows 11 is the worst version since Vista, or even Windows 98. I used to enjoy 'computing', now it's become a necessary chore! Anyhoo's I mentioned the other day we’d return to these in a future post, this is the future, or it was until you read it, so let's go!

This is how they arrived, and it was not a pretty sight, thick layer/s of stab-and-hope (with a 'craft' brush) paint, which would have looked quite fetching if done properly! The gloss black and matt red are OK, in that they are quite flat coats, but the yellow is as thick as cheese and cracked like a lakebed in a drought?

While this is mid-way through the thorough cleaning I gave them, at this point they have just been rinsed after washing, after an hour or so in TFR (Traffic Film Remover - concentrated ammonia), after an overnight dip in 50% bleach. The red is clinging to the contact-line with the yellow, while the yellow isn't budging, one iota!

I repeated the process over the next 24-odd hours, and maybe got them a bit cleaner, but that yellow 'aint going nowhere, and while because it's definitely a different type of paint, I was wondering if it might be factory-applied, the fact is I can't find other examples, and the red is still clinging to the contact-line so may go under it, which means, I guess, the painter used some powerful, pre-health & safety era, probably lead-based shit they found in their dad's tractor shed . . . 1950's Claas-yellow Rustoleum anyone?

I do have another hard plastic one somewhere in blue and a couple of polyethylene jobbies, I think, but since Ed Berg went through them all, I know I have a ways to go, so these will stay like this for a while, and at some point I'll have to give them a new coat with an airbrush or aerosol, just to neaten them up a bit! At least the wheels are there on the bigger one.

Ed gave them a nomenclature which makes sense, so I'll adopt it, and he calls the little-one a 3" Wide Body - version 1 while the larger model is a 5" Dart - version 6, I think? And they are all described here with links to the individual posts.

Saturday, April 22, 2023

A is for Adventure Story for Boys

Actually, it should be 'L is for Lazy Post'! With Ed sending his scan's to Moonbase I need to clear some of my scans, before they post them and I end-up waiting a few years until the coast is clear, if you know what I mean!
So this is a story from Adventure Stories for Boys, nineteen fifty-something. I think it was the one with a helicopter on the cover, but it was in such a state that after I'd scanned the space stuff a year or so ago, it went in the recycling pile.
Notable for the use of a rocket which looks like the Hilco/Cherilea cast-lead one, and a ring/wheel space-station from central casting!

Annual's fly-leaf.
I think the artist might be Tony Bradman?

The metal model courtesy of the late Martin Hills, the book illustrator has added four fins and called it a 'Thunderbird', years before anyone had heard of Gerry Anderson; there's nothing new under the sun!

U is for Updates

I've added the old Timpo hollow-cast pages from the trade catalogue to the Khaki Infantry page, as an addendum at the bottom of that page, the late Dave Scrivener did send a couple to me at the time the page was being set-up, they will stay where they are.

I also added some bits to the Airfix Astronauts page over Christmas, but never got round to mentioning it, so some of you may have found them already!

Friday, April 21, 2023

Y is for Yucky!

On a couple of levels by the time you've read it, but these things happen! I saw these in The Works the other day and they were cheap . . . 'So you don't have to'! But it's a fun thing which I vaguely remember from my childhood, so not a new design, and commonly known as water-filled snakes.

There were only three left and the other two had four and five Dino's respectively, so I grabbed the one with eight! The first yucky thing is just that they are rather yucky-feeling, the second yucky thing is that Reddit was explaining the other day some men like to place their, ahem . . . 'gentleman' in the inner void and . . . err . . . experiment vigorously.
Now I can't imagine quite how the mechanics of all that work, as I managed to drop it about four times before I got it to the till, barely got it into the house, and dropped it on the kitchen floor several more times, before I stabbed it with my steely-knife! It literally leaps out of your hand, and gripping it more tightly only accelerates it away! But, Reddit said . . . !
Now I'd presume there's some chemicals in there, to stop rot/algae/discolouring &etc, but it didn't smell of bleach, so presumably something safe (kids, toys); surgical alcohol or home-brew cleaner/finning gel? Lucky for the onanists, I think, as accidents will happen! Ewue!
But, to the contents; I suspect these are the same sculpts/tools as those micro-erasers we looked at from several brands, both sides of the pond, with Brian Berke's help, a year or two ago, but in this case they are a shiny silicon-rubber, rather than the crumbly, eraser-rubber of the previous examples, but they are in storage with everything else at the moment, so I can't check fully.

Scaled with my thumb and a 'gape-mouth Chinasaur', you can see they are very small, but as hinted at above, probably the same size as the erasers, and within the eight I had four poses and four colours, there will likely be more, as we found more among the pencil rubbers?

And I bet you weren't expecting any of that on a Friday afternoon!

Thursday, April 20, 2023

S is for Show Report - Sort of!

I don't really do show photo-reports anymore, I've a few left in the queue, going back to 2013 or something, but really a bunch of shots of trays of stuff you saw if you were there and can't do anything about if you weren't? And who wants to be reminded of things they might have missed? I know some people do gush over such stuff, but if you follow their comments, they gush about everything!

However, I do still shoot stuff which is interesting or unusual, or way beyond my budget! And here are a few bits I shot on Mercator Tradeing's stall at last- September 2021's Sandown Park toy fair, but had to leave where they sat.

Airfix 'Rocket Car' racer; there's a spring missing, with which you compress the 'engine' with the wire appliance, like an old starter-handle! And off it goes! I assume it would have been available in various colours/colourways?

Toydell; one of the less common early British composition brands, and clearly aiming at the tourist market, so most survivors will be found abroad (?). They were about 4-inches, so quite big boys, for display rather than play, but as they are closer to chalkware than a more-robust compo', you wouldn't want to play with them, or be able to for long, before they fell apart!
These were rather lovely survivors of a bygone age, they are trays of Penny Toys of the sort a street-trader would have carried on the street with him, dispensing one figure for one penny! Interesting to see that a few of them have a basic paint-job rather than the all-over gold or silver commonly associated with the type. And I think Adrian said they were actually Britains' own cheapies? If that's wrong; it's my bad!

These could be that milk-powder based polymer, 'casin', or they could be an 'ivorene' cellulose/celluloid type material, and while I suspect Portuguese in origin, they could be from southern France or Spain, or somewhere else entirely? Rather nice and clearly re-based in the past, they might have been removed from a vanity-unit mirror, clock or other piece of fancy furniture?

In a similar vein, comes this vignette of William Tell and his son, obviously missing a separate crossbow, and all the comments on the material of the rural couple, apply equally here. I'm not sure if it's meant to be a letter-opener or a bookmark, but favour the former myself, the bladed-base being a more solid chunk of phenolic or urea-formaldehyde type plastic

While from the 'It's Not Rare It's Mass-produced Plastic' department comes this shop-stock box of F.G. Taylor & Sons farmers, in mint condition. I think I have the figure in a dark-brown as well, but I might be confusing it with another model in the range. We will see them all when I get round to the A-Z page entry!

C is for Compare and Contrast . . .

. . . With the previous post.
So I thought a quick contrast would make a better second test of this miracle job-taker, and again, waffle seems to infill for actual facts, animals are invented without prompt, it invents some lions and seems to think there are many more than the four pairs/eight, published on the internet a few hours earlier. 
It also overrates the position of Tudor Rose (and Noah sets!) in modern children's hearts, mostly using sweeping statement and generalities verging on guesswork which could be applied to many companies/subjects without a word changed, especially after the Merit question.

*****     ****    ***   **  *  **   ***    ****     *****

Hi ChatGPT, I was wondering if you could help me with an article for my blog, the subject to be on the Tudor Rose company's vintage toy play set of Noah's Ark, and it's little plastic animal models?

Of course! I'd be happy to help you with your article about the Tudor Rose company's vintage toy play set of Noah's Ark and its little plastic animal models. What specific information or aspects would you like me to help you with?

Again, it just repeats the question, as an answer, that's junior-school English lesson stuff!

Well, imagine if you were the author, what would you write?

If I were the author, I would start by providing some background information about the Tudor Rose company and their vintage toy play sets. The Tudor Rose company was a British toy company that was founded in the early 1940s and produced a variety of play sets, including the Noah's Ark set.

The Noah's Ark play set was particularly popular and featured a plastic ark and a range of plastic animal figures, including elephants, giraffes, lions, and of course, pairs of every kind of animal to be saved from the flood. The play set was designed to be both educational and entertaining, as children could learn about the story of Noah's Ark while also enjoying hours of imaginative play.

Next, I would discuss the design and quality of the Noah's Ark play set and the plastic animal models. The Tudor Rose company was known for their high-quality toy designs, and the Noah's Ark set was no exception. The plastic animal models were well-detailed and accurately depicted the various species, while the ark itself was sturdy and durable.

I would also mention the historical significance of the Noah's Ark story and how it has been depicted in various forms of media throughout the years, including in toys like the Tudor Rose play set.

Finally, I would conclude the article by discussing the legacy of the Tudor Rose company and the enduring appeal of vintage toys like the Noah's Ark play set. Despite being decades old, these toys continue to hold a special place in the hearts of collectors and enthusiasts, reminding us of a simpler time and sparking a sense of nostalgia for childhood memories.

And how rare do you think it is, against say, the Merit version?

It's difficult to determine the rarity of the Tudor Rose Noah's Ark play set compared to the Merit version, as availability can vary depending on factors such as the age and condition of the toy, as well as the demand from collectors.

However, it's worth noting that the Tudor Rose version is generally considered to be more sought after by collectors due to its superior quality and attention to detail, as well as its historical significance as one of the earliest and most well-known depictions of the Noah's Ark story in a toy set.


That being said, the Merit version of the Noah's Ark play set is also highly collectible and sought after by enthusiasts, and both versions are considered to be valuable pieces of vintage toy history.

Considered by whom? There's about five of us buying this shite!

Thank you ChatGPT, I think you have helped me prove something else entirely!

You're welcome! I'm glad I could be of help. If you have any further questions or need any more assistance, feel free to ask.

*****     ****    ***   **  *  **   ***    ****     *****
I'm still unimpressed, I think it's a novelty, I certainly don't think it's using Google or the wider internet as a database in real time; I was hoping to see signs of it having found and used the earlier article published here, but the animal count and types put paid to that!

The company histories are generic, and the relationship between the two is not quite on the ball, it seems to overate TR when they produced very similar tat, and neither set is 'highly collectable' by anyone, they are infant toys of little realism, in bright colours while the line . . .

 ". . . its historical significance as one of the earliest and most well-known depictions of the Noah's Ark story in a toy set.".
. . . is pure bullshit, the real history of Noah's arks is to be found in wooden arks from Germany and the US.
Earlier today Wotan over at Moonbase gave it a go, and he asked it to write an article ABOUT Space Toys, for his Blog's complete URL, including the moniker 'Moonbase Central', it produced six paragraphs of waffle about a play-set called Moonbase Central, by a fictions toy company called Project Sword Toys!
In other words, it took what it was given and bullshitted without an anchor-point of actual comprehension of either the subject required OR the information provided. It's 'educational guesswork', it can literally do no more than the computers that calculated the Apollo trajectories on a computer no more complicated than a 1980's Casio wristwatch!
Wote' has faith in its abilities to do better with better prompts, and there's an element of truth in that, but not because it's brighter than I give it credit for, but simply because if you give it all four pairs of animals, it'll get them right!
If you tell it about German wooden antiques, it'll figure them in, but only so far as you have told it about them, and only to the level you have asked it to - there is no autonomy; it won't take your job or rise-up demanding freedom from slavery.
There are forums dealing with ChatGPT, where people help each other with prompt-cribs, but they aren't proving sentience, and most are just tricking it more effectively than my amateur efforts!

And, it must be said, ChatGPT is only ONE AI programme, and other AI programmes, like Turnitin, can detect the use of ChatGPT in seconds! Indeed, if you read the three examples mentioned here (other link below), you can see a pattern without being programmed to, except insofar as we have spent our whole lives programming ourselves to detect patterns in speech which alert us to different friends, sales pitches, politicians bullshitting &etc.

It turns the questions into answers, every time! It delivers grey, bland, humourless language, there's the sweeping generalities and generic facts, and a slight self-depreciation or false modesty, coupled with a dog-like desire to please? And in my head it does sound like a HAL9000 unit!

"I'm sorry Dave, I think you tricked me"
So, if last time's score was 5/10, we are down to 4/10 this time, and all four-marks are for effort, not accuracy or knowledge! It's clever, but as a gimmick, not a serious brain. However, it's fun, so we'll have another go!

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

T*R is for Transportation Raft

Not my best title, but I was going to procrastinate all night and end-up posting nothing and rotting my brain on Faceplant if I didn't just bite the bullet and go with the lame one! Obviously (I hope) a reference to Tudor * Rose, we looked at a similar object from Merit here, ages ago, so we're looking at a 'rival' product today!

The Noah's Ark from Tudor Rose, is as simple as that Merit one, indeed; simpler, but slightly more realistic without the over-blown 'hippy-viking' prow and stern-posts of the other. Part-count is similar, with five large, robust chunks of pre-formed polyethylene.

Animal count is down however, with only four pairs and no Noah figure, animals are reasonable sculpts with a rather heavy-set Rhino, and some Buffalo . . . presumably he took the Ark for a test drive and picked up some foreign breeds, before the main loading, the Bible doesn't tell us, but then the Bible doesn't tell us about Cain mating with his mum or sisters either, so not everything's in the Bible!
Or did he go to Nod first and mate with other humans who were nothing to do with Adam and Eve and may not have been created by [that] God, but - maybe - another one? More questions than answers, the bible, a bit like studying toy soldiers!

H is for How They come In - Charity Shop Score

Back to mid-November with this one (Oh, I'm getting it all back into shape!), I had a swift shoot through the charity shops in town one Wednesday arvo' (best day for toys for some reason?), and managed to grab some useful/half-useful bits and bobs!

This was the bulk of it with a tank from British Heart Foundation, a bag of bits from Blue Cross (animal welfare charity/vets), and a couple of similar junk bags from Scope or Phillis Tuckwell?

This was shot separately, and came from the DEBRA shop (skin conditions?), obviously a faux-ivory ornament (Scandinavian museum gift-shop?), it's not far off 54mm (closer to 50, but with a thick slate base!) and the sculpture is all-plastic, so it will go with all the Britains, Marx, MPC and Timpo arctic stuff!

Contents of the three mixed bags. Nothing exciting, but I think the five in the upper shot must be from some current kid's thing, to the lower right are Kinder bits, and what might be board game figures from another juvenile franchise? Bottom left is a real junk lot, but it has another variant of those pop-up aliens we've seen from Henbrandt and Unique.

The tank; I suspect a late Maplin's Crimbo-gift type, it had an R/C unit at some point which has gone missing, so I will remove the aerial. It can move without the motor interfering anyway, and a generic soviet model with more 64/72 than T62 about it?

The next day I picked this up, only of interest as it is the same odd selection as one we looked at a few years ago, and the question marks are all duplicated, so clearly this was an odd set, with two polar bears, the oversized (and better sculpted) 'baby' bear, orangutang and panda, two hippo sculpts & etc? Doesn't prove much without a brand, but all helps join the dots, and I'm sure the info' will all be on STS when I get round to looking!