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.

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

U is for Undead, Previously Unaccounted For

We covered most of the commoner rack-toy skeletons a few years ago, over a year or two, with updates on each-year's packing of the most recent sets, but two sets escaped, the WHC/Success issue (which we saw the catalogue image for at the beginning of Rack Toy Month in August just passed) and the Toy Major originals, although we have seen some of them and their later unpainted issues/copies, so let's look at them now!

Obviously they (Toy Major) had to try the new beast, it will definitely look better with two or three of the smaller Game Workshop figures, perhaps a larger band in a howdah, or a padded bench-seat like that Histrorex wagon we looked at back at the start of the year?
I had already shot them a while ago with a two-headed dragon, not sure who made it, it might be Imperial, but a lot of this stuff is, very much, still to come!
The full set was five figures and a rider, the reissues gave him a base, so there were six 'infantry', basic decoration with a wash of dirty-weathered bones, wood and silver highlights.
A couple of the reissues; base marking is the same distinctive TM contract coding, but for a different client/batch, the bases are also noticeably shallower, which can be explained by a seperate tool-insert having less depth.
Last year's set from Brian Berke, when they added the witches, still in the card, with the Cornelius set in silver to compare, two Toy Major and the Walgreen on the end of the row for a comparison.
The full set of the WH Cornelius/Success/WHC figures, what differentiates them from the more recent Old East Main Co., carded set above, is that the WHC are manufactured in a very soft rubbery polymer.

I is for Invertebrate Skeletons? It's Impossible!

The story 'de jour' this year, has been the growing realisation on Faceplant, and other [anti-]social media sites, that a lot of the skeletons on offer in the piles of polymer crap, being flogged off the back of what is supposed to be a thoughtful day of genuflection, for our own mortality and the memories of those who have gone before us, are actually completely bonkers, and I mean kecks-on-your-head and pencils-up-your-nose, shell-shocked bonkers! Not least because some pertain to be the internal skeletons of animals with exoskeletons, and others - the skeletons of things which normally have neither!
In my defence, I had already begun, over a month ago to shoot them in situ, when a post on 'The Darker Side of Science' alerted me to the bigger picture and the fact that I was not the only one, if not actually late to the party!

Shot first but seen third, this was in the big Farnborough Asda, under their George label, and as I had by this point seen the two below, had an idea for a short post, ergo: the shelfie was executed, and here's a spider skeleton, of course!
The one I'd seen first, Sainsbury's had these out quite early in September, so I'd walked past them dozens of times hoping the display might magic itself some bags of 'army-men' skeletons, zombies or the like, no such luck of course, but the ridiculous spider skeleton was tempting, at only three quid, but a bit big? Two-quid cheaper than Asda, it appears to be the same moulding!
And Morrisons also had these out before October I think, however they then ran-out after I'd stated collecting the shelfies and I found myself going back several times looking for the restocking, which, but the time it came, had led to me discovering their yellow-ticket scheme is better than Sainsbury's, with the result my freezer box is full of strawberries and raspberries at 29p a punnet! It's a larger design than the other two.

Amanda Bussell has come up with a  lovely psychological hack for accepting all these weird and wonderful creatures into your house, life, or wargames army! Just imagine they are the crazed output of a mad 'Dr. Moreau' type scientist! And yes, that is the skeleton of a boneless mollusk!
István Xpali found this larger, articulated spider 'skeleton' in his native Hungary, at 7000 Forints (about £15) it's at the expensive end of the cryptozoological spectrum!
The octopus again, all jelly in real life, and another large, articulated spider, from the price I'm guessing it's a lawn ornament around two or three feet long? It's also a particularly evil looking thing with all those dead eyes!
Meanwhile, Nicole Marie found this, err . . . it has to be said doesn't it? I have to write this shit down . . . a pumpkin skeleton!!!! In Jo-Ann Fabrics, an Ohio-based haberdasher's chain in the United States. It's a PUMPKIN . . . SKELETON! And there are smaller ones on the shelf below!

Suddenly this lobster, shot by a Toni Delany looks fecking sane and normal! Another internal skeleton for a creature better-known for its exoskeleton, almost easier to take than most of the others, because we know them to be large, hard'ish things?
And finishing this section of found stuff, is another huge outdoor display spider, this one about five-foot across, and owned by Dani Dennan. There is a good video on YouTube which looks at many of them here, and Clint's Reptiles (also on YouTube) does a yearly round-up of the whackier new-entrants to the genre, I was going to post another link, but most of his stuff is 'normal' so you're better off doing a search for "Halloween Invertebrate Skeletons".

Meanwhile, I hade made a purchase myself, not much safer ground, being equally, or more of a fantastical beast, but having grabbed the snake in Poundland or wherever it was, a few years ago, I couldn't resist another reptile!

Posed here with an unknown figure I think may be an interim-period Supreme, maybe? It was a fiver in Morrison's and with the snake, directs my Games Workshop army project - rather on hold, but a long-term gaol - toward a reptile mounted army, you can probably fit three or four old-school GW riders between the two sets of hips/shoulders!

Back to Asda for something else and saw these, which appeared quite late (last week) and were about Action Man/G I Joe size, which suggests a gag which could scar a child for life, coming down to breakfast and finding that the horrid little shelf-elf ate your doll in the night, and just left the bones still in the clothes!

While I was taking all the other shelfies I shot this rather fine, life-size rat, in Morrison's and you can see giant bats behind, with the same flimsy thread of elastic they had fifty years ago, when they tended to be joke-shop rack-toys over here, and Halloween was something other people did!

B is for Bag o'Bugs!

Apart from the bag of 80 rings, which we saw in the 'round-up' post in the early hours, the only other 'rack toy' I found this year was a large bag of mixed bugs, critters and skeletons, from Amscan in Tesco, so lets look at it!
You get a lot for your £2.50, sixty items, which have clearly been bought-in from more than one source, as they are different plastics and there are alturnate designs of bat, spider and skeleton, but it'll be fun for those who get one.
One of each above and the piles of polyethylene to the lower left and PVC-substitute to the lower right. Black predominates (easier to lose?), but there's a good smattering of 'seasonal' coloures - I get the orange (pumpkins), but the green and purple are more arbitary, yet very traditional?
In addition, you get some white skeletons and a sextuplet of glow-in-the-dark bats!

The fly design is another variation of the 'new design' simplified ones we looked at a few years ago (no seperate clear wings), when for one or two years only nearly everyone had a go at this kind of set! Likewise, the centipede, while the rat and bat are pretty generic types, both based on their predecessors, if not actually from older tools? I forgot to do a close-up of the black bat, he's a semi flat and a bit naff!
While of course - those of you who have followed the blog for a while will know - I'm calling the bottom left image three girls have a picnic! The smaller black spider seems to be the design, or one of the designs you find sewn into Halloween costumes, or attached to hanging sheets of cobweb or micro fairy-lights.

The skeletons, from at least two sources I suspect, if not three, but all equipped with hanger holes, for hanging them around the house or patio/garden, so they can hang-about, hung!
While the rat and the glow-bat both have small holes which are too narrow to be for pencil-topping, yet too wide to be mould-release pin-marks, and as I'm not happy about the speed with which some in the hobby excuse/assume all holes in bases/undersides are for release-pins, the explanation here, is to be found on the blog, where we saw a green bat, attached to the very sucker types I used to hang the skeletons in the previous shot.
So these two are sucker novelties being repurposed as party 'scatter' or playthings, and it's probably the reason for a lot of these 'half-sized' pencil-top holes, which have featured before. I kept a few, one or two of each, and the rest went to the Blue Cross shop to help fund pet help.
That link also contains my example of the finger-puppet monster (I'd forgotten it got blogged!) , and it is different to the pair Chris Smith sent to the blog (I thought it was) but is the same colour, so that's three now, the next quest is how many were there altogether?
A few minutes later . . . that cowman/bull thing, also in that post, is the same as the Devil-Santa Theo sent to the blog, the Frankenstein's Monster and skeleton Chris sent on seperate occasions and the skeleton I already had, and which I had posed in a coffin one Halloween, so there are five of them about the place now, sans a couple of legs and an arm I think! All waiting to be reunited into one horror-tub! If you scroll the Halloween tag in a spare moment, you will find them all. Or wait a year or two, and I'll blog them all together, with any others that come in!

T is for Terrible Tool-Use

It will kill us in the end, we haven't got the self-control, but this isn't about reality, rather, the fantasy of bringing cut pumpkins to life with little faces, by gouging their eyes out and removing their innards!

Having had some success getting three figures from that set of Halloween cutlery a few Halloweens ago, when I saw these I knew the potential was there. They are not specifically figures, but they are anthropomorphic piles of grinning pumpkins, which will make amusing fantasy figures.

Tesco had them in orange, Home Bargains went with purple and Morrisons had them in all three colours, the boxes suitably illustrated to reveal the contents, but the other two may have had the other colours in different stores/batches?
Asda had a double set, with an added ghostly pin-wheel (for decorating the rind?), but having found all three colours over a week or two, I wasn't shelling out three-quid for something which will be available in boxes of kitchenalia at car-boot sales for the next 50-years.

The flesh-cutter would need to be heated and pulled-out with pliers and the 'base' probably cleaned-up, but the spoon should be a simple saw-cut and a soft-sanding; all good fun!

E is for Eerily Eatable Edibles

So, you need some energy to get through Halloween, cold nights and all that jazz, and certainly in the US, who have re-exported this nonsense to us, the bucket of sweets is everything, over here I think it's not been picked-up in the same way, we ARE a reserved lot, but I'm sure on the bigger coucil estates and affordable developements, the parents have lists of 'safe houses' or group tours . . . Luckily, the scrounging little bleeders have never come here . . . bah humbug!
We're not looking at normal brands with a cheap, naff, Halloween add-on wrap, but rather more dedicated stuff, which has been produced expressly for the season, and I only found two, there were larger things I wouldn't spend my hard-earned on, but these were both pocket-money, Halloweeny and figural!

So, the choccies were from Lidl, and had the taste of proper chocolate, not the veg-fat, plastic crap Mondelez are converting all our old favourites into! There were 16 figures, under the wrapper, all the same basic jelly-mould sculpt, and I assume you were supposed to get four of each, but I had a three (Dracula/vampires) and a corresponding five (ghosts)! One each of the wrappers was saved for scanning into the archive.

While these came from Morrisons and were all 'strawberry' flavour (a pretty innocuous tutti-fruity if you ask me), although the 'painted' detailing seems to have been dyed flour-paste and could be detected as bland moments on the tongue, before it was all chewed-up properly! And it was real tooth glue! Hey - we taste this shit, so you don't have to!
The bat failed to survive the unwrapping process and shot little bits of grey glass all over the floor of the flat, so that's a chunk of my deposit under threat! Fun, and given the lack of this kind of stuff, to be commended.

W is for Whacky Walkers

No wall required, but Winter's coming and no mistake! These, like the jumpers, are a growing collection, or sub-collection I wouldn't have given houseroom to, in my small-scale only days, and couldn't have imagined a few years ago, but after robots and ceremonials, it was only a matter of time before Halloween (or Christmas) entered the ledger!
Welp, they were like 79p ladies and gentlemen, so under the 'we buy this shit, so you don't have to' rule, I managed to find the shekels for the eyeball as I knew we had another in the pile, and then went back for the pumpkin!
They both came from Home Bargains and I think there may have been a different eye, or a purple pumpkin (which seemed daft?), I can't remember, but I'm pretty sure I left one on the rack? Green eye maybe?
The other eyeball was in one of Jon Attwood's boxes (and I have a feeling another one came in a few years ago, possibly from Chris?), and we looked at a set of them from Amscan, here, many full-moons ago, via New York!

Then, the other day, I found two end-of-line walkers in the local garden centre while looking for Christmas Decorations! Now these two ARE walkers in the common sense of others we've seen here, the pumpkin and eyeball are actually hoppers, like the original 'ACME' cartoon (and real) teeth, often used to chew-up Tom the cat's tail, or similar!

A is for All Hallow's Eve

So All Hallow's Day must be the 1st of November? Which makes sense as the Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos) is traditionally the 1st/2nd of November, although, apparently - depending on the church calendar (?) - the 31st of October can fill in, as can the 6th of Nov., or any other day between the two . . . a bit like Easter then!
But in America, the sweet, chocolate and toy fest chose a more rigid 31st, and that's what is slowly ingraining itself into the UK, courtesy of godless marketeers! I just wish we'd get more figures, and less straight-to-landfill-on-the-first nylon and rayon, LED-wired crap!

Although all the above is a bit of a legal technicality, as it's only just gone midnight, I'd suggest All Hallows Eve is a good twelve to eighteen hours away!

This was shot back in February, and may have been a purchase from the Clapham Junction shop I visit every Toy Fair evening, on the way home, but it might have been a donation or in a  mixed lot, I really can't remember, just a [-nother] stretchy skeleton!
The recent parcels from Jon Attwood had several Halloweeny things in them, among which were these superb novelty jumpers! Technically I should only collect full-figure jumpers, but once you have a few, they get a momentum (and zone within the archive) of their own, so gratefully received, and the bat is a whole bat, if hideously over-fed! One feels there's probably a pumpkin somewhere?
We looked at the left-hand one on ITLAPD, but I thought it also belonged here, and if I don't include the crown it will probably never be seen, and, well, Halloween is for dressing-up, why not a barbie princess! Jon repoted these were from Rinco.
These might also have been Rinco, Jon got them at the same time/from the same place, horror-themed erasers and/or halloweeny subjects. Although, I don't consider black cats to be anything other than normal!

My first purchase this year was a few weeks ago, it's Claire's, who have their own chain of stores for women's accessories, but this was in a supermarket, only I can't remember which one, Morrison's I think? Glow-in-the-dark skeleton earrings, too cool for seminary school!

These only came in a few days ago, courtesy of Peter Evans, about 40/45mm, and I don't know anything else about them, semi-rubbery and they would go well with the based ones Dolgen and others have been issuing these last few years at this time, but they are better sculpts, both a higher level of detailing and more realistic.
Peter also sent this peachy little undead parachutist fellah! Brilliant!
These were in The Range, and appear on the receipt as 80 Toy Spiders which is a commendable level of accuracy! We looked at some similar ones a few years ago and on that occasion all but two went to charity, this year I kept two of each, and the rest have gone to Blue Cross.
They have the type of bread-bag closure I used to use as Thunderbird 2 when I was a kid! Like last time, I'll cut the rings off and add them to the spider master-collection. I think the previous lot were in two colours, while these were 20-each of four.

Monday, October 30, 2023

HTI is for Halsall is for Welly is for China

Welly are more commonly a now China-based, previously German toy importer and now die caster, rivalling Carama for shelf-space in the cavernous Smyth's and reborn Toys-R-Us's of this world, at some point Halsall toys - now HTI - got hold of this circus set and shipped it into the UK.
Quite a boxful, for what wouldn't have been a great amount, being no more than a glorified rack-toy, as far as the toymen are concerned, although the Welly moniker would take it up a pricing-rung! 

From the bases one is forgiven for wondering if the figures came from Pioneer, another die-caster, but, as we've seen here before, often including figures, which usually have largish oval bases?

This time we get a seperate ringmaster and another white-dove producing magician (see today's earlier post), a clown and a performer who seems to have been designed for a piece of apparatus which didn't survive the planning/design stage of the set, having two arms which might have slid-down or clipped into something, now absent?

In addition to the loose animals above (tigers, elephants and a lion), we get two lions in a cage-wagon clearly influenced by earlier vehicles from Matchbox, Corgi Juniors or Majorette (see now, below), and it's demountable, more for ease of construction on the factory I'm sure, but it does mean you can drop them and their cage near the 'Big Top'!
The Big Top, is actually a big cage! But quite well modelled for such a set at such a size, with entry and exit points and some big-cat guide rails, which as we shall see in a minute, all go on a lorry!
Obviously the set is aimed at toy-car fans rather than circus aficionados per se, and as such contains a nice variety of vehicles, some carrying the logo of a fictional 'Circus World'. If the tigers go in the blue trailer, and the lion in the horse-box, that leaves the artic' below for the elephants!
"The artic' below' is now above! Two US style long-nosed articulated trucks, which technically should be called semi's (or sem'eyes, but there's me, being 'racist' again!). There aught to be a rubber-band, holding everything on the lower wagon.

A Majorette set as seen on evilbay a while ago, a smaller set, but from the image on the back of the box, part of a larger line of Pinder-branded stuff. Pinder are still going, France's main circus I believe, although originally Anglo-Scottish in origin. Also note that the two articulated lorries nearest the viewer in that image seem to be a larger 1:64th scale or thereabouts.

It's interesting that the three sets looked at today, Lidl/Padget, and the above pair, all appeared around the turn of the century, as animal circuses were going rapidly out of fashion, yet all three reley on animals to give them a circus feel?