About Me

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No Fixed Abode, Home Counties, United Kingdom
I’m a 51-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.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

L is for Little Livestock

Sorting the stock . . . mooooo!

Yet another of my pet projects is making sense (trying to make sense) of the dozens and dozens of copies - of mostly ex-Merit and Britains - farm animals in - or even consciously aimed-at - HO/OO model railway scales. As pet projects go, it's not going so well and yet, it's not going so badly. But, they are commonly found as rack toys and this is Rack Toy Month!

These are almost certainly Blue Box, a conclusion drawn by the fact that Marx carried them in their 'Majestic Series' which matched their 'Sunshine Series' which was Blue Box Wild West small scale - rebadged! Also the plastic colours match other larger animals and figures from Blue Box, however, without the smoking gun of a Blue Box logo'd set, they stay apart from the main collection, especially if they are overprinted with a WH Cornelius' logo!

The main sculpts of the range, in storage I have a few seated/prone calves and foals (and possibly another item of poultry - single goose or turkey?), but they seem uncommon and must have only been supplied in larger sets.

Likewise the unpainted sets - which have the cows in 'horse' plastic, and the additional ex-Britains lambs and the sheep -  would seem to have been from a later tranche.

The sample here is about a third of the size of the sample in storage; for years various friends like Trevor Rudkin, Gareth Morgan, John Begg and others have saved this stuff for me, from long before anybody knew anything about any of it, or if it had any value (it still doesn't really!), yet without that collective effort, drawing any conclusions would be almost impossible.

Below are two question mark samples, one (on the left) being almost certainly just copies of the Blue Box, but with a newer mould-stamp, that just happens to look like the Blue Box one. On the right though are better painted figures, but with a poorer stamp, again the same design. Until they turn-up in an unsealed rack-toy or boxed 'Home Farm' type set, any conclusion is pure guesswork.

The next most numerous type of these is similar; same ex-Britains figures, same ex-Merit cattle and horse poses, but new pig and [larger] sheep designs and different markings. So far there is no clue as to maker, and both sets are unmarked generics with graphics that might be later 1970's?

You can see the animals are cruder sculpts, but plastic colours are richer, yet chalkier. I'm not going to get too bogged down in markings today, although we will look briefly at all of them in a minute. It will take an in-depth page to do them all justice when I get the rest out of storage.

So with only the above two (the commonest two) ID'd, and then only to small packagings, you can see why I say the project is going not so well, but then this bag turned-up a while ago (Trevor or Gareth!), and helped to ID (as far as you can) one of the minor samples, which means it's going not so badly!

Almost certainly a Christmas cracker insert, it may also have seen service in a larger capsule or a crane-machine, but seems to have been designed to roll-up and stuff in a cracker. These are late, monochromatic versions in a dowdy range of colours, brightened by the orange and yellow of the bagged set.

While we won't look at large scale sets today, this mid-size set might as well shine for probably its only outing on the Blog. Piket Toys of Birmingham anyone? Thought not! [Apparently - two years in the late 1980's!] It's also trying to look like it's by both Imperial and S for Star (visual shelf-recognition!); when really it's a generic with a local importer's name on it.

Again the numbers in storage tend to be larger, but not always, and I have some single-item samples in storage as I have here (capsule toys and such-like undoubtedly), also I have some samples here I hadn't yet encountered, and more examples in storage than are here overall.

While my handwriting was the reason everyone thought I was dyslexic for 35-odd years, (when in fact I was an Aspergic retard/genius!), all the typo's, reverses and inversions here are deliberate.
There are two types of engineer's stamp; those for stamping ownership or data on the outside of a machine, which, like typewriter-keys; leave an impression which is readable in the normal way. Then there are mirror-reversed stamps for marking the mould-cavity, so that the reverse impression will be readable on the moulding. Then: there are menkind, and menkind, like Brexit voters; can be stupid.

They use the wrong stamps on the wrong thing and it all comes out a bit wonky, like the current affairs of the UK! Sometimes they mix the two sets of stamps, so some letters are inverted, some read normally, or trying too hard, with too few brain-cells (Brexit again) they try to mentally reverse the word when they don't need to and you get 'Kong Hong' or Honk Gong!

These can be clues, tying some of these animals to, say, some of the combat figures, or rubber aliens or whatever, but really they are a starting place for sorting the myriad copies, and copies of copies that turn-up.

The HK and H[dot]K here are joined by H[dot]K[dot] and reversed examples in the storage samples for instance. And while I have a bag with about 7 of the charm-loop tailed cows in storage, I hadn't clocked that that was what they were, these came in with all the other charms, from the December 2015 posts, but escaped the camera then!

The other thing about all these marks is that from time to time, like when you find a carded or bagged example, you often find that a couple of sub-marks actually go together, so you can combine a couple of bags. More of that kind of work will be on the New HK Blog. As we look at sorting all the many non-Giant small scale figures.

The real problem lot - some of these will turn-out to belong to other marked samples, where someone forgot to stamp one cavity in a multiple-cavity mould, all have to be sorted very carefully, using little signature marks.

The green girl with bucket for instance, had a release-pin ridge under her base and I know I have a bunch in storage, so she doesn't belong to the bag with the white farmer, who has a smoother, thinner base and may be the same as the Plasty ones we looked at in 1" Warrior magazine, I won't know until I find another Plasty set, or get mine out of storage! Painting - as in the spray-painted ones - can also be a signifier.

The lower three are Airfix copies and they have been looked at, not here; but on the three relevant entries on the Airfix Blog, with the storage samples (and bagged farm versions) included, these are what's turned-up in the last four years . . .where has it gone; four years!

Nearly ten years ago I was active on HäT Industry's forum for a while, and one of the guys there (known only as 'B') was asking about ancient cattle for a little project of his, I said these might be useful, as their poor sculpting meant they could be from any-old era, sent him a few and about a month later he sent me these images, showing what a bit of paint and some consummate scratch-building can do . . . good; aren’t they? Not mine - Brecht's!

Then China got involved and it all stops being fun! Crap copies-of-copies . . .of copies, several or no 'China' marks, mixed scales, a poor quality copy of the Britains Hen House, a moulding which started life as a lead casting I think; 70, 80-years ago?

Horrid, careless, loveless, flash-ridden, sink-hole ridden, miss-moulded crap, imported by House of Marbles and sold through a local department store in a market town about four Christmases' ago. Nasty.

Three figures for the collection-total though . . . got to look on the bright side!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

B is for Blackrock Castle . . . again!

In 1960 there were over 550 plastics factories in Hong Kong employing over 18,000 workers, with the subsequent changes in business practice, mergers and take-overs, the odd triad murder (Lucky Toys) and including the move of production to Mainland China in the last 20 years, then bearing in mind that the number only includes those legally registered.

Now that total is likely to be at least three or four-times its 1960 figure (and that was up from 30 factories in 1954). Add-in the former British colony of Singapore, the former Portuguese colony of Macau and the independent, non-communist, Democratic (as in: real elections) Chinese state of Taiwan and I'd hate to think what the final number is! Thousands.

In my archives I have - named - maybe 250, 300 of them? 380/400+ if I go through all the 'unsorted, bagged & carded' folders, books and old magazine-ads and again. Bear in mind that most of them didn't mark their products.

A drop in the ocean of the research still to be done, even if a lot of them didn't make toys (Hong Kong was the world's centre of the plastic flower industry long before it got a reputation for cheap toys) yet the job gets harder every day, as this set (another from Brian Berke) shows; we've looked at it once already and when we visited it that time I think I mentioned I had previously encountered it in another form?

So; this time marketed/imported/packaged/Fobbed by and/or for JPW/Hunson. But what has their role been? Are they straight importers, FoB facilitators, a re-carding operation like the old Giant warehouse, a factory, a front, shell company, parent, subsidiary or a co-op?

These days you can get a single carded figure with two, three, sometimes up to five 'brands' on it, especially with licensed products, you have the image holder (DC say, or Warner), the licence handler (usually 'Somebody' International Inc.!) the FoB company; maybe Ja-Ru, the importer; say Greenbrier and maybe another Canadian, UK or European end-user.

Where do you place that in your archive? All five? The two, or three you already have entries for? Does it matter? In the age of the internet it will be blogged, eBay'd, Amazon'd, press-released and critiqued in a dozen places, traces of it will remain on the Waybackmachine or Internet Archive, probably forever and collectors will lay a few down like fine wine - never to reach the heady values of a good musty grape-juice.

Yet try finding a single 'brand' for any of a hundred generic carded or bagged rack toys from the 'sixties, 'seventies and even into the 1980's and you're on a hiding to nothing! Even now a lot of rack toys are generic. Until the guys in Hong Kong start asking their parents and grandparents "what did you do in the toy industry", we'll only ever uncover the odd clue from time to time - if we're lucky!

And the collectors in that part of the world (and there are many), don't collect in the same way as people like me, they like clean, complete, preferably 'mint' objects in illuminated cabinets, old - but polished - tin-plate robots next to brand-new vinyl 'collector' dolls; they don't collect the history, and they don't seem minded to.

Meanwhile the 600-odd companies who invented and 'owned' Rack Toys for the longest time, were pirates, they pirated the Western companies they eventually helped destroy, they pirated each other, they shared moulds, they shared sub-contractors, they shared salesmen, artists and printers, they shared-out work and 'out-work'! They shared Western contacts and they were all family firms, with clan-loyalty and . . . they just don't talk.

90% of them never marked a thing with more than the origin (Hong Kong, HK, Made In... &etc), Blue Box, Imperial and Lucky being the obvious exceptions and when there is a mark or a brand on the packaging, it's usually either invented or the importer's moniker (Giant). So if someone says to you "Chinese factories when selling under their real name ,mark the toy with it stamped or engraved 90% or generally", tell them they're making it up as they go along.

At the same time - on 'our' side the importers and FoB firms shared buyers, customers and clients, shared contacts in HK and shared salesmen or even offices in the Toy Building!

But there's the fun in the collecting; finding out by digging, comparing and searching. These Blackrock Castle sets will get three entries in the A-Z, they've earned them, still don't know who really made them though! As I said last time (I think) these figure poses were available in pretty-much every size, plastic type and paint variation from the late 1980's to almost the present!

50mm, mostly ethylene, the silver chap is PVC, two different base types, some bearing a resemblance to Western-produced small scale figures and they came in blister-cards, header-carded bags, tubs and 'toobed', in black and grey, grey and gunmetal, silver and black, with skeletons at one point, they came larger, smaller, painted, part-painted and unpainted . . . Generics! But somebody made them first - Supreme, Applause? I've asterisked the poses closest to the Blackrock guys.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

W is for Well . . . these are Interesting!

Back to the very lowest price bracket for rack toys with these, which are - without doubt - Interesting Toys. A shilling (1-) was 12 old pence, which became 10 New Pence - I think! Heay, I'm a child of post-decimalization, no good asking me about florins and shit, init!

It seems that these were a 'brand'; for as I find more of them, the evolution of the card art through the 1960-70's is clear and the contents are pretty consistent on colour/style, with a slight improvement in value for money in the later 1970's multi-blister versions.

On the left is the missing set from the Monogram post the other day! The middle is a mix of real low-budget, cake-dec, novelty cack isn't it? Two sports cars, a yacht without a sail, a railway passenger coach and a bottom-voiding ore-carrier! The one on the right is a low-res from feebleBay and is presented as it seems to have a logo, but a bit blurry to fully make out.

I'd like it to be a large 'G' with the lower line being an artistic PMS as that would be the Gardener's firm; a stalwart of the colony's toy industry before 1973, but I know it's just wishful thinking, it seems to be some kind of sea serpent, or maybe a graphical realisation of a Chinese character/pictogram?

These two we've seen before; both two- and three-blister cards with slightly better contents. Airfix guardsmen copies, ex-Giant poses of Trojan/Greco-Roman types (mixed with ex-Woolbro pose Cowboys & Indians! And the MPC mini-plane piracies we've seen before.

A quick look at the figures in the right-hand card might lead you to think they are Britains copies, a closer look will reveal Airfix in the mix, but a study of the figures shows that actually they are copies of the EKO copies of the aforementioned firm's figures, the Airfix poses having the egg-shaped bases of the EKO, rather than the usual square ones of Airfix, and with the crawling figure EKO also copied being present.

Monday, August 22, 2016

F is for Flying Circus, No Clowns

Watching the Catalina Flying-boat take off at Farnborough the other day, was one of those times when you wonder how any aircraft ever gets of the ground, despite understanding the principles of flight, or like watching a butterfly cross three gardens and avoid a both a blackbird and a tree with apparently three or four flaps of its huge wings, in a breeze! Flight is fascinating, so small boys love flying machines.

Nice carded set from what? Around 1970/72? The Psychedelic and cartoon artwork seemed to come to toys a few years after the Summer of Love, nothing quite like the fashion industries' ability to miss the boat and spend the next ten years exploiting something which has already passed into myth!

Today's equivalent (picture courtesy of Brian Berke), these have pull back motors and are hard plastic, but very much in the same price bracket as their 45-year old brethren! Call me stupid but I prefer the old ones, nostalgia strikes again, so let's return to them for the rest of the post!

When I got them out for the above photo (they've been in the collection for years) I noticed that actually five of them are very different to the two-part versions I'd always assumed they all were, being in fact single mouldings with integral struts.

The orange one is however they 'old' type, this is an example of a stock-change in action, with the last of the old moulding being cleared through with the new stuff. It's useful as it may tie two 'types' to one source, but as they may well have been bought-in from two sources by a third packer, it would require more evidence before that could be assumed, with any confidence!

So a post which was going to end there, has been expanded somewhat, as I went and looked at the loose-stuff I have here to see if any of the others where single mouldings (I'm not counting wheels and little parts), one was - the orange '4'!

But I photographed all the good ones, and the above is four examples of different string-bags in the smaller size; we looked at the largest size here and will look at the interim/medium size ones another day.

Three of the 1's from underneath, showing the marks -  a 'MADE IN HONG KONG' split over both wings. Also note the wheels are smooth-tyred and quite large. These numbers are not 'types' in the sense that I know the order of their production, but rather to help you follow them through the images. There are at least three or four other designs, not represented here and the carded set could be 5 and 6, or: 5a and 5b?

In storage - for instance - I have some marked with the aircraft type (Albatross, Fokker, Camel, Niewport (and SE5?), maybe a Spad? Another lot have the aircraft type and nationality; 'Niewport France', 'Fokker Germany' &etc. "Yeah, but these fokker's were Messerschmitts!" {Thank you Roy 'Chubby' Brown, for one of the best jokes ever!}

While yet others were sold one to a bag, with the wing-marking's as heavy raised carving and no wing-stickers. We will return to these one day as they need the same level of fartyness research as the 1-Ton Humbers, but I need to enlarge the overall size of the sample (which takes time and money!) and bring the two lots I do have together, so we're just looking at what's here and the numbering is for ease of passage.

The 2's are a tad larger than the other three samples, and may well be earlier (as are the 1's I think), I've already re-numbered them a bit to get them in a vague order, they also (like the 1's) have a pin-through propeller with a colour-matched pin, unlike the 'later' versions which have a plug-on propeller which slips over an integral spigot.

The other three compared, 2 has MADE IN HONG KONG smaller on one wing, 3 gets a smaller, inverted HONGKONG on the left wing, and a larger rougher one on the right wing, 4 gets MADE IN on the left wing and HONGKONG as one word, in a different typeface on the other wing, these will all prove to be important clues one day. As will the similarity between the wheels of 3 and 4, and the differences with 1 and 2's wheels.

A comparison between 'banana-planes' of samples 3 and 4. While the fuselage is getting more and more whacky with each passing generation of sub-piracy, the 4 is a better moulding, with less distortion, presumably due to the integral nature of the moulding rather than the plug-in main plane.
And while one is tempted to conclude that the shorter wings are due to the single-moulding process, it doesn't seem to have stopped the carded versions at the head of the post from having 'normal' length wings?

Also, while the pilot and gunner have been given collars on their locating spigot, in every other respect they are the same, so that can be explained as an improvement, and can be carried-out on the mould tool, so the crew at least are from the same source, but that could just mean a family business on the fourth-floor of a residential tenement block, sub-contracting to two 'plane makers, using an injection-moulding machine Replicants would recognise!

I have a mate with Asperger's, who makes my eccentricities look calm and responsible and he has a habit of shouting 'Banana-Car!' like a four year old every time he sees a yellow or orange car, it's become involuntary . . . I'm going to post this to his Facebook page and tag Banana-plane, he'll be so angry . . .Ooh yes!

Imagine the roar! My balbo of kites crabbing along on a coastal rhubarb mission, with no clouds to play pussy in they'll just have to snake about and hope they don't buy-it in the drink!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

R is for Royal Guard Set

That's the 1st Royal Regiment of bog-brush wearers to you sir, how very dare you! What is going on in this artwork? Knitted tea-cosies? Manx-cat skin? The 94th Loyal Circus Volunteers - Foot & Mouth?

We've looked at these before, but two more have come in since, both overprinted to Corneilius' WHC-Success label and with three different coloured legs, so worth a punt in Rack Toy Month!

Comparison with various other Hong Kong produced Guards (and one Household Cavalryman and an Infantryman in No.1 Uniform: 'Blues') and Airfix - far left - with a tatty Britains Eyes-Right figure to the far right.

The breakdown of the three common small-scale HK swoppet figure types. That's it; short and sweet!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

C is for Cats, Chats, Mats

The Brit's 'll get it! We are back to lumps of plastic that are not toy soldiers, which will pee a few people off, but they probably need peeing-off occasionally, keeps them grounded in reality! I'm a cat person, so this post is fine in my book.

Brain Berke sent me a couple of shots of cat related rack-toys; sounds like they were mongeese or civets or something! Start again; Brian sent me some shots of rack toys with cats, and nothing un-cat in them!

A few weeks later - when I got those insects and stuff - I found a set of ten cats for a pound, well, that's half what it cost to make them and ship them 14,000 miles by truck and container vessel, so it would be rude not to buy them . . . a whole pound!

When I got them home and compared them, one seemed to be the same as one of the cats in Brian's MTC blister, but over here they were Amscan. As Amscan have a US office and are FoB'ers, I guess they probably facilitated the MTC deal, separate from the Milton Keynes based UK office issuing them under their own Amscan branding.

My ten were actually seven poses, with four of the foxy-looking breed top right making-up the total. As Brian's 'mere' four has three poses I don't (well actually I do now because he sent me the blister - thank you Brian!), I am guessing, these are from a larger pose-sample maybe 15 or twenty, possibly originally arranged for a kids magazine as a cover freebie (like a lot of the smaller Chinasaurs are), so I will return to the Party Shop they came from and pay greater attention to the little bags and see how many I can find, they'll make a nice post for December!

Brian also sent pictures (and then the bag - Thanks again!) of this Hunson/JPW bag, with what looked to be larger models of smaller kittens, they are definitely fluffier, and they look more recognisable as the Euro-tabby mongrels I'm used to (is the pale one a 'rag-doll'?), the MTC/Amscan set has some odd-looking breeds in it!

Look at the face of the ginger-tabby in the right-hand/reverse artwork . . .

. . . That's a real face, which real cats make at real humans!

After the two sets arrived I could take a comparison shot to confirm the above musings. Apart from the odd breeds (another clue to a part-work type thing going on there) in the adult cat series, these are all quite nice sculpts, but are all let down by the eyes . . . I suspect a Chinese cultural thing might be in the background and they have that 'Lucky Cat' thing, and I think . . . no; no I don't know what I think and rather than throw a paragraph together full of question-marks, I'll leave it hanging. . . possible reason for big eyes . . . cultural?

These were in Picasa from a year ago, not really Rack Toys either, a rule broken in Rack Toy Month - Doh! Schleich kittens playing on a rug, well; on AND under a rug! Their eyes are a bit OTT too! The Tabby paint-jobs are better, but as they are also made in China, it's all about budget, and these are $4, 5, 6.99 each, not £1 for ten!

Well - now the rule's broken lets go for the full witches brew (is that even a proper saying? I have been up a ladder all day, in the sun! Posted 12/08/16!), two more kittens playing on a coir mat, watched by two adults, several puppies and a grown Alsatian . . . along with a hedgehog . . . all Schleich, and still an improvement on a parachuting penguin!

I think we've seen most of these before, a badge, some charms, a large resin kitten and a Whimsy from Wade in pottery, all compared to one of the cats in the first set. And thanks to Mimi for two of these.

That's it for cats for a while, rack toys or not; nice aren't they?

Friday, August 19, 2016

L is for Lizards Again!

So another post covering recently Blogged stuff, which has come around again in time for Rack Toy Month (yes - we'll get back to army men soon!), with more of the multiple connection thing we've seen in the last two posts (below).

In the previous post on lizards (back in June), we looked at an MTC set Brian sent picture of with six small lizards, well, the other day I picked-up the same six, with two others in a net by Unique at the same time as the similar insects. Then - last week Brian sent me a picture (top left) of the same in the Big Apple - which is why I suggested in yesterday's post that the MTC insects may turn-up over there in the Unique bag as well! Anyway, there's 3 poses in at least 8 colourways!

4 snakes and 4 snakes is eight snakes, but in a Rack Toy, not on a plane - phew! More MTC minis . . . put money on them turning-up in Unique packaging, or would they wiggle out of the bags! Also; take a 'sportsman's' on them turning up as glow-in-the-dark under Grossman?

Hunson novelties, but Rack Toys for Rack Toy Month! We had these when we were kids, there were lovely composition ones still around when I was a child as well, little lozenge-shaped lumps of 'olin' composition, formed either side of a canvas strip and richly painted, the head had a little red-leather tongue!

Also who remembers the howling snakes: long concertinaed tubes with a snakes head, and you whirled it round as fast as you could to get an eerie howling noise which was part air-raid siren, part Hawkwind instrumental and part alien battle-fleet attacking; it didn't sound anything like a snake!

Ooh! Are we doing reptiles again? Have I shown you this? Best Birthday present ever . . . I have? Well, they're here now, so they can stay! Isn't it brilliant?

Thursday, August 18, 2016

I is for Insects Again!

So the multiplicity of sources for the same figures I mentioned in yesterday's monkey post, is highlighted again with today's post (most supplied by Brian Berke), which looks at insects again, had I known I'd be running Rack Toy Month I might have held over that first post, but it's all grist to the mill!

So these are the same insects as were (are being) issued over here by Unique, except in the 'States they are under the MTC branding. Although, tomorrow's post suggests that the Unique set should be findable in the New World too. A few days after the original post (couple of weeks ago), I found the same set of insects as glow-in-the-dark novelties, in the same net-bag as Unique, but branded to H.Grossman (HGL) - one of our oldest surviving importers (although recently sold; I seem to recall reporting here a while ago), which is two types of product from the one set of moulds in three formats from at least three brands on two continents!

These 'Souvenirs de Fiesta' (must put that in the foreign terms section!) from Amscan are larger and what I consider novelties rather than model animals (but then so were the The Works insects!), and it's nice to see that something (or a version of something...) which is 30, 40, 50 years old can still be bought by - mum's and dad's who enjoyed them then - for their kids to enjoy today.

I think it's 3x12 and the list looks like (from the top); dragon fly, bristle-tail, millipede, mantis, scorpion, ant, fly, earwig, grass-hopper, caterpillar, spider and cockroach?

These seem much cruder than the Unique/MTC beetles, more like the older Ackerman bugs we looked at the other day, same softer rubber in black, with basic paint-job in a contrasting colour. Don't show them to my mother, she'll be off up to Baker's hardware to by a packet of magnets and some glue . . .

. . . for her fridge door! Thanks to Brian for the pictures in the first three images.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

3 is for Monkeys, Wisdom not Included

Another pack sent in from Brian Berke, and another MTC Rack Toy from the other side of the pond, however, as with a lot of this current Chinese stuff, it raises questions rather than answering them.

'3 Monkey', no lie and nice sculpts, well . . . small lie; one of them looks like an eye-eye or bush-baby, not a monkey! But, remember when I showed the snail key-ring and said I'd got a couple of others, and that I thought they were from larger sets, well this was one of the other two . . .

. . . and clearly it's from the same set as the MTC branded ones. Now - there are people who buy this stuff in bulk and add key-rings, earrings or such-like for onward sale on evilBay as a sort of craft business. But the three I bought were in a retail 'party' chain, so will be more commercial, I'd imagine the full set is larger, maybe 6, 8, 10, 12 figurines?

The trouble with trying to pin this stuff down is that the OEM contract manufacturers in mainland China will carry a bunch of lines in a catalogue, and any or several of the various FOB's and 'Jobbers' can pick-and-mix from those inventories/mould-banks, ship it to their UK/US end, or on to various smaller importers/jobbers, any of whom can then package it for further onward marketing ('jobbing') to various retail outlets or other clients, in the importers, the retailer's/client's own or a made-up brand.

Meanwhile back at the China end, the originator will offer them in maybe a deluxe, standard and basic paint job, glow in the dark, an infant version in monochromatic bright colours, in ethylene or PVC, or in synthetic-rubber as erasers, or as key rings or fridge-magnets, glued to plinths for museum shops or such like, in gum-balls . . . and . . . and!