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.

Friday, February 23, 2024

D is for Driving Test

Not sure how a couple of these images will show, but you'll get the gist if you're not already familiar with the set, which I thought we'd looked at here at Small Scale World, but we haven't, or I can't find it, it may have been in One Inch Warrior magazine, and it may not have been my penmanship or photography on that occasion, while today Jon Atwood has helped with images!

This was me a couple of years ago, combining some loose bits with the stuff that had been accruing in the attic (card box) and the master collection from storage in a Really Usefull Box Co's 35litre 'Euro-Box' which takes A4 suspension files one way and foolscap the other, a brilliant design, which accounts for them going from a little company, you could ring up and order factory-seconds from, delivered to your door from the Midlands, to a multinational with a second factory in the US, who now tell you your nearest stockist on the phone and explain politely that they no longer do deliveries, and no longer do factory seconds!

The railway stuff is all in the little 4x5½" self-sealing bags, upon which the Driving Test game sits, with everything else Jenga'd on top! You can see how the 'Banner/Bell' artillery are about to be brought together at '1' and the ark/circus animals at '2', but it's the Driving Test we're looking at today, and I'm just going to load the rest of the images and text them up as they land?
1970's catalogue image, and we have cool dudes with longish hair and polo necked jumpers! The game is fun, and it does work, there's a hidden pantograph underneath, the two sectioned, sprung arms of which manipulate a magnet in response to physical commands given through the 'gear stick'. With practice, you can even get the car or motorcycle to point forwards (or in the 'direction of travel') at all times.

Late 1950's or - more likely 1960's box, and she's ready to go to the nunnery, he's dressed for a day at the office . . . it was a different world, and I was there! I think my most embarrassing sartorial experience of that era, was the pink velvet cummerbund I had to wear as a page-boy at Aunty Christine's wedding, it hung around in my chest of drawers for years, although I don't know what happened to it, it sort of disappeared around 1980!

This is from feeBay and I have a feeling that while the motorcycles and cars are plastic (with small staple/paperclip type wire inserts of ferrous metal, to give the magnet a 'hook'), the rest may actually be bought-in from Mastermodels (BJ Ward/Wardie, seen earlier in this series, and who will be in the round-up at the end too), which would go a little further to explaining some of the cross-fertilization?
Particularly if the ideas-men and buyers from the 'toy division' weren't aware of what the railway guys were doing, or if they hadn't been told about Collis Plastics likely efforts for both companies, in the railway sizes? Conjecture, not gospel! None of these figure-sculpts were carried-over to the model railway range.

The board, over the years they have been issued painted and unpainted and, apart from the possibly part-metal set above (the metal items would have been non-magnetic Zamac/Mazak, so wouldn't get picked-up by the magnet), they were - commonly - all plastic components, and are simpler copies of Mastermodels, again suggesting a 'firewall' on information exchange between the toy guys and the railway guys at Randall's?

I used to think these were also Merit, I have a few, but this faux-Blue Box set turned-up on evilBay, sans cars, and proved me wrong! A Hong Kong copy, was there anything between the war and 1970 they didn't have a stab at reproducing?
Obviously, the original idea is to get round a set course and/or park in the plastic garage (fixed to the board), without knocking into any pedestrians or street-furniture, or leaving the marked roadways! Many thanks to Jon for images, and Ed Burg has, coincidentally, been showing the contents of a similar-concept, but table/carpet Marx set on his Blog over the last week or so.


jon attwood said...

The carded set are all plastic, so far I have managed to find these with either a red, black or cream base plastic. The HK ones in blue.
The Wardie street personnel set was introduced in 1954 according to Brookes, I have not been able to get a precise date for the Merit set, but several sources say 'before 1955' perhaps the Merits came first? If Collis made the moulds it would make sense for them to have also have made 'converted' moulds for die casting at Kemlows, who were the major shareholders of Collis.
One of the figures (woman in big coat) did make it into the railway range, she also appears in Wardie and Slaters sets, and is a copy of an original Slaters sculpt I think.

Hugh Walter said...

Yes Jon, I forgot her! Did you follow Ed's posts, he showed one of those Airfix copies, which means (US market) they probably were HK knock-offs, and similar in some respects to the Merit copies!