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, April 26, 2018

PA is for Position Available!

My personal assistant is providing no assistance whatsoever; her mind wanders from the job, she insists on playing with the exhibits, growls at the merest sign of forthcoming admonition, takes endless extended breaks far in excess of the European Working Time Regulation guidelines and wanders off without so much as a 'by your leave'?

 Case the joint

 Check flanks

 Aaaaannnnd . . . . . . we're in!

 Oh! What's this?

 Ooops, spotted! Close your eyes and he'll go away!

 More room needed in this otherwise bijou residence!

 That's better!

 It's that dragon again?

Are these things edible?

Anybody wishing to apply for the post should do so through the usual channels.

C is for Card Castle Comes Cut but Collapsed!

Part II

Continuing with Meri Meri and their not-a-toy centre piece, which seem to be a toy castle! It goes together very well, because I got a second-hand one I wonder if the purchaser of a new one might have to punch sections out of sheets, but suspect not because of A) the number of different sized bags in matching cellophane and B) the fact that the whole gatehouse section seems to be a factory-assembled 'sub-assembly'.

Four outer walls; four pairs of slots, easy! Towers are a bit distorted by the way they wrap-around themselves, but are held square (hexagonal!) by the towers once they are fitted over the ends.

The gatehouse - as stated above - seems to be pre-constructed and just needs unfolding (like a pop-up book) and slotting into place, however it took me a minute to sort out the chains so that the portcullis would fall as the drawbridge was raised! And - I never got to fully prevent the inner wall from showing at an angle.

Finally the two inner living-quarter sections with walkways are slotted into the towers; holding everything square, while a separate sheet makes the walkway behind the gatehouse, which is set slightly higher - like Airfix's 'Sherwood'.

A few closer shots, you can see that the fort (not a toy, oh no, no, no, no, no!) whould look better with 54- or even 70mm figres that the 90's supplied, and the battlement walkways are wide enough for fights to be arranged with smaller figures.

Even 25- or 30mm figures woiuld look OK with most of the details (look at the tower doors!), while cavalry in 54-mil would manage two-abreast through the gates, and at wargaming-scales three- or four-abreast would be achievable.

Although, while the collapsible nature of the fort make travel to gaming sights/nights easy, I'd probably tone-down the scarlet battlements with a dry-brush of something a bit grimmer!

The effort of setting up something like this on the lawn for a photo-shoot means that there's no way you're going to stop at the odd two or three shots you actually need, so here a few more! It needs a moat!

Remember, it's NOT a toy and Dragons are for a thousand years - not just Christmas! Look at 'im; 'e only wants to play - but those 'orrid tin monkeys, with their stabby, pointy sticks . . .

M is for Meri Meri Men; No Robin!

Part I

So; this came in for one of your Earth pounds the other day, not a cup-cake to be seen - which probably explains the cut-price retailing! Merri Meri's die-cut cardboard Brave Knights centerpiece.

You won't find this in a toy shop, you won't find it on eBay under 'Toys and Games', you won't (or are unlikely to-) find it searching for Toy Fort, but here it is, the camera never lies, and it's fantastic - for what it is.

You may find it searching 'party ware' or 'centrepiece' or even 'cake stand' and you should find something like it in a larger party-shop? It was originally £15.99, reduced first to £7.99 it then sold for 3.99 before being handed almost unused and definitely un-cake-stained, to be squirrelled-off by me for a quid.

I say all this not to show off (everyone gets a bargain occasionally); but as a parable for the modern age, it's a fort . . .  it will be a useful fort; for forty things like displaying toy soldiers and was never a very good cake displayer ( as its own photograph shows!), they needed to stand higher of the battlements, who thought it was a good idea to market it as such? It's even marked "This product is not intended to be used as a toy" in capitals!

They instantly lost their core customer base, people with toy figures looking for a cheap fort! As a card catering accessory; it was too expensive at sixteen-smackers, A centrepiece should be more robust, while a card cake display should be a fiver, and once it was a fiver - it sold.

Anyway - it's fallen into my hands so I can show the rest of you, and if you want one, you may well find one - heavily discounted - still around somewhere, although it was a 2011 release - this one came from a Garsons wherever they are or where (Google says - Surrey farm shop and garden centre!).

The expanding folder contained several crinkly cellophane envelopes with all sort of toys catering accessories; a dragon, two mounted knights, five foot knights, their cross-bases, three shields (to be stuck on to the fort) and their sticky pads (plus spares), four sand-castle type flags of the swallow-tail banner design and a fort!

The poses are somewhere between Britains' Deetail and Accurate/Revell's in appearance and pre-coloured like everything else in the set, the two sides being mirror images.

Thinking of the recent articles and feedback in Plastic Warrior magazine on the subject of left-handedness; the mirror-imaging means that they are all both, depending on which side you view them from . . . something common with flats!

Mounted knights - only the one pose and you see here how they are 'the same' from each side, just going in a different direction! They are 170mm under-base to lance-tip with the foot figures around the 90-mil mark.

The Dragon is very much in the heraldic (read 'Welsh') mold, although, looking at him; he may well have eaten all the missing cakes - diet and exercise are required there I think! Suitably friendly-looking (the Soup-dragon's cousin!) to not frighten over-sensitive brats in the age of the law-suit, he's also sized well for the figures, and his decoration is nicely understated.

Thinks - Yeah! Whatever!

I would point out that my assistant - despite having a whole lawn to take it on - has chosen to take her break on the soil I've put down to fill the path she and her son have worn across the grass! Who'd've thunked it . . . they wore a series of little holes in a line by always putting their feet in the same place.

"Bloody hell! STAND TO!
There's a sodding dragon on the South tower again!"

We'll look at the fort later, - it's not a toy; it's for cakes!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

O is for Ocean's Fifteen

I've had a lot more of those 45-65mm 'PVC / Rubber' animals come in with the last few big lots, and to follow-on from the ocean board games of this morning I'm throwing these up here as a by-the-by! The 'main event' is an unknown set with a couple of question marks.

Fifteen animals and or plants! They are similar to the Henbrandt set/s we looked at here a while ago (and will revisit soon) and are a mix of reef and deep ocean wildlife. However they may well be parts of two (or even three) sets, as there are numbering clashes and one with different markings altogether?

The set breaks down as follows, each (excepting the squid) having a neat CHINA stamp, the three-arrow triangle recycling sign and a single figure; between A-to-M . . .

A - Tuna
B - Ray (Manta?)
C - Ray
D - Flying Fish
E - Marlin - and - Anemone
F - Salmon - and - Frondy Thing
G - Pink Coral
H - Seaweed or Coral
I - Crab
J - Lobster
K - Starfish (Brittlestar)
L - ?
M - Sea Horse
- Squid (marked with same recycling symbol, but no code and 'Made in China')

Undersides; I wondered if the spotted one might be a flat fish of some kind, but I think the tail says 'ray' while the other one is trying to be a manta-ray, I think; with those cheek protrusions?

The fish, I'm assuming from the far left/rear; Salmon, Marlin, Tuna and Flying fish, obviously not to scale but quite nice sculpts none the less.

With the coral-erasers from Poundworld Plus and the Henbrandt ones I'm building quite a good reef! I'm not sure if the blue-tipped one is supposed to be coral or an anemone and likewise the green one may be seaweed or a coral?

As two of them share letter codes with the fish, I wonder whether there aren't more of these for two sets, one of fish and one of reef life? I wondered the same with the initial Henbrandt purchase and it turned out there were different sets.

To a casual observer the squid is the same as the others, similar size, decoration and material in the same coloured polymer, and I've put him with them for the time-being, but in a sub-bag to remind me he's a 'question mark', as while he has the same recycling sign and is the same plastic, he's marked MADE IN CHINA rather than the plain CHINA of the other fourteen and carries no letter-code.

We will be looking at a larger set of these (land animals though) with the same recycling marks and it may be that the squid is from a different set/contract, but from the same factory/maker.

Comparison with a couple of the Henbrandt examples (on the left), they are a standard size, but not to scale and a new word is needed for them, as there are more and more of them, farm zoo, marine and dinosaurs, cats, dogs and insects - MiniMals?. I supose 'Toob' or 'Tub Toys' is the word for the time being!

I don't know if I've mentioned it before, but I consider the container to be a tub if the height is less than twice the width or thereabouts, a toob if the height is several multiples of the width!

In the larger samples were a few who wouldn't fit the other - apparent - sets, and three of them turned up in a generic Sea Life Toob from the D&D Distributors catalogue, I've photographed the Henbrandt penguin with the new one (who has a wonky foot - I knew it couldn't be good carrying an egg on it for three months in minus 20° or more), there was also a nice otter (who actually looks like an otter - not that cartoon 'beavoter' from the chess set this morning!) and a nice alligator - 3 down 15 to go; I love collecting polymer MiniMals!

O is for Ocean Board-games Scene

Bit of a marine theme to today's posts, starting with these two, both a quid (each) a couple of weeks apart, all contents bar figures now gone to recycling, and both instruction sheets squirreled-away!

Pinky-purple . . . IT'S NOT FOR BOYS! It screams in an age where you're not supposed to say stuff like that, but who are they kidding! Figures clearly shown on the front it was a shoe-in, but had it had all artwork (and some games do) I probably would have left it!

Babe from the waist up, otherwise she's a bit fishy! But with the belt/collar she's also looking like one of these people who go swimming with zip-up 'sleeping-bag' mertails! You can pay, you know; you can pay to learn how to swim like a mermaid, the world's going mad!

I quite like these and we will return to them, as there are a few kicking around, Accoutrements/Archie McFee, eraser or two, the odd LRG, a couple of other fantasy ones somewhere and a couple in storage along with the old transparent styrene cocktail-glass one, there is a decent comparison post in there somewhere!

Speaking of Accoutrements/Archie Mcfee and cocktail glasses reminds me - we will be returning to both soon here at Small Scale World, courtesy of Terranova.

K&M / Wild Republic (depending on your territory) made this and I almost regret buying it, but one should never have regrets, they eat away at you! K&M are more commonly importers/commissioners of toy animals in the sub-Schleich/Papo mould, so shaking the box and hearing what sounded like a bunch of animals I handed over my quid; despite the artwork!

The artwork was accurate! No matter I have a soft-spot for card and paper flats, even silly modern ones with crappy plastic stands! At a quid; it's a box ticker, it helps make the post and . . . how the hell are you supposed to follow your pieces when they are only a slightly different blue-boarder from the 'enemy'!

The otter looks more like a beaver which is an inland/fresh-water animal! And why is the queen (hardest biatch on the board) a dolphin, while the plodding, one-square-at-a-time, vulnerable King depicted as a shark? They should have been the other way round!

Pawns! All those penguins are only going to confuse in the middle of the board, but it's a good way of teaching chess to very young peeps I suppose. Box ticked!

Monday, April 23, 2018

D is for Death . . . of a Toysaurus.

Or - The bigger they come - the harder they fall.

Not really news; it's been all over the media but I was visiting Woking the other day and popped into the Toysaurus for what will be the last time, and it was a sorry site, I can't imagine they had actually sold everything on the miles of empty shelves, so I guess a lot had been sent back under sale-or-return deals and other stock had probably been shifted in bulk clearance deals to wholesalers,  sold-on to bigger evilBay outfits, or sent to those parts of the TRU-empire still trading; if there are any - Australia, HK, some US stores I think?

Following previous posts and 'News, Views . . . ' on the subject here, and the constant talking-up of their future viability by both the UK and US management, the end unfolded with the same rapidity as the sudden autumn collapse.

Miles of empty shelving.

The 1st of February saw the US parent announce it was looking for a buyer for the UK arm, which pretty-much sealed their fate, and could be seen as an act of cowardice on the part of the US had-office, but it was - I'm sure - also designed to protect a core hub of the US stores.

The trouble with Thatcherite-Regonomics is that it is driven by long-knives and short-termism! The beauty of the Victorian 'family firm' model (even when the firm got to be as big as Cadbury - for instance) was that it featured no knives and long-term vision.

No matter, I have little sympathy for the Toysaurus, as I think you know, and for a month there was little more in the media. However, you could see at Christmas, the writing was on the wall, people are simple creatures with a herd instinct, and the autumn headlines, far from driving people into the stores to look for bargains, frightened them away - I went to the same Woking store in Christmas week and it was dead; an early evening a few days before the 25th it should have been heaving!

Beware - loud [yet vacuous] music!

On the last day of February both Toys 'Я' Us and Maplin (a UK out-of-town/mall-based electronics retailer) announced the plug was being pulled, the administrator's spokesman - Simon Thomas - announcing "All stores remain open until further notice . . . " he also encouraged customers to redeem any vouchers and gift cards outstanding (see below) and added that the search for a buyer went on.

Having watched Price Waterhouse Cooper's (PWC) wind-up a business I was involved with, I know that these 'receivers' and administrators just talk bollocks until they've changed all the locks and padlocked everything they can't sell; closing down forums, denying rumours and threatening disgruntled staff or customers with legal action!

With no stock you can leave the stock-room door open!

On the 9th March came news from Moorfields Advisory (the administrators) that stores not included in the Autumn tranche would begin closing the following week and that an 'orderly wind-down' of the company was underway.

Five days later it was announced that the end had come, the company or the UK arm was bust and the remaining 100 stores would start closing - the same day. The whole process to be completed in six-weeks - which is this Wednesday, but I believe they either closed the final stores Friday just gone, or will close them this coming Friday?

Everything was for sale
If I'd had £40 on me I would have had a ladder, they're £100's new!

Of course the broadcast and print media have been blathering on about the death of another high street staple and it took a Michael Cooper to remind the 'i' (Letters - 16th March) that the Toysaurus is not a 'High Street' store! Which is the point I've made in the past, Toys 'Я' Us are among those corporate 'free market' fans who helped damage the high street in the first place.

Furthermore, in the case of the Toysaurus, they helped destroy the world of the 'Toy Men' and create a global behemoth of a few giants, sourcing licensed TV & movie-character driven polymer tat from China, containerised round the world in huge, polluting, vessels while all the little domestic firms went to the wall . . . well; eat your medicine Toysuarus, you've fed it to everyone else.

No you 'ain't!

At the risk of repeating myself, of the big five; Hasbro and Mattel (1 & 2) are in merger talks, Lego (4) and Hornby Hobbies (5 - Corgi, Scalextric and Airfix) are in trouble and Tomy-Takara (3) are increasingly branding Tomy only (to improve their visible footprint/customer recognition), all five (who between them hold several hundred defunct 'household name' brands) hung on to the coattails of the TRU-model (because they had to) and have suffered as a result.

And there's a wider problem, as well as Maplin, we have B&Q looking ill, Homebase on the way out (both DIY giants), Carpet-Right struggling, Restaurant chains Prezzo and Byron, House of Frazer (department stores), New Look (Fashion) and Jamie Oliver's mini-empire are all in trouble.

The problems are many and varied - B'wreaksit hasn't helped with a falling pound fueling inflation leading to lower consumer spending, which was already down following a global crash, ten-year austerity and negative wage-growth which had nothing to do with Labour and everything to do with global corporate greed and lack of regulation!

To which you can add higher ground-rents and business-rates (greed - bad), competition from Amazon, feeBay and Alibaba et al (all fair under capitalism!), and - recently - the creeping up of union wage demands and minimum-wage requirements (reward - good) have created a minestrone of problems for senior managers.

And it's funny [ironic] that it's now hitting the big malls and out-of-town complexes, as the high street's been under attack for years - from them, and while for a while the 'empty teeth' in the high street were filled quickly with discounters, pop-up's, Chinese-run nail bars, hair dressers and Turkish or Kurdish barbers, the empty units are beginning to stay empty now, even in affluent, middle-class, dormitory-towns like Fleet or large malls like Basingrad's!

Have I said how luscious this figure is?

I bought this morning's posted-figure as a goodbye, for the hell of it, and when I took my 75p 'bargain' to the till it first racked-up as 76p (a trades description (consumer credit) violation!), then got reduced to 61p with an applied  'voucher' I never saw or handled! Chaotic!

Win a hundred-quid and collect it . . . never!

And despite the fact that the store had either four days or 7 to go, and was/will be one of the last to go (being also one of the first to open in the UK), it's still offering all the club-cards, gift-cards, offers and prize-draws, oxymoronic when you consider that six weeks ago the administrator was urging people to use-up such things. I mean - I'm sure nothing would happen if you followed any of this up, but why is it still there at all?

It was amusing, there was very little still in-store, a single large bay (where the bikes used to be) piled-up with mostly Disney-licensed, pinky-purple stuff and last year's movie-related bits, while blokes in their work clothes (on lunch) wandered round talking to their wives on their mobile 'phone; "I don't know, shall I get one?" one chap was saying, and I thought - if you've got a kid, get everything you can carry, there's the next three Christmases and Birthdays here for less than one at normal prices!

See'ya Geoffrey; wouldn't wan'na be'ya!

Stop Press - the last press release stated that all remaining stores will cease trading on Tuesday 24th April - That's All Tomorrow Folks!

Sad - but I ain't crying.

S is for Super-Shiny Supergirl is Super!

My last ever purchase from Toys w'Я Us (last UK stores closing this Friday/Saturday I believe), is a lovely little thing. Following on from various shelfies we've seen from Brian and the Toy Fair catalogue post; I found one of the Jada Nano Metalfigs - Supergirl!

This is a luscious thing, it's manufactured in the same way as Matchbox or Hotwheel cars in a Zamac/k - Mazac alloy, following a small tradition; with Monogram (WWII and Vietnam) and Kenner (Star Wars) having both produced similar figures in the 1980's.

But what sets this apart from those previous stabs at 'die-cast smalls' (they're bang-on 40mm) is a coat of paint which is as smooth and shiny as a smooth and shiny thing which has gone to university and been elected professorial-head of the faculty of Smooth & Shiny Things' department of Really Smooth & Really Shiny Things!

When I get something I really like I tend to rip the arse out of the imagery, I really like this so here's a bunch more images! Did I say it's (she's) really smooth and shiny? It's like she's been enamelled in a kiln used for painting limousines!

The fact that it's mostly metallic paint may have something to do with it, her hair is flat gloss and her flesh is a semi-matt or silk finish, but the red and blue feel a mile deep!

Scan of the card, it's the card - I scanned it! Joking aside I scan about 50/60 items per month for the archive (a lot of it will end-up on the A-Z Blogs as 'supporting paperwork'), once it's scanned it can be thrown away, I don't throw anything away of course; I'm a bloody squirrel, but I do collapse everything flat and pile it in A4 sized Really Useful boxes in no particular order as 'long term' storage.

With perfect timing Terranova sent me these the same day I started the two post's folders (goodbye to the Toysaurus later today) and they're shelfies of the Disney figurines (below) and more DC above. Cat-Babe seems to be in flares - flares are back - again! And she seems to be about to have a fist-fight with a lady trucker!

Again it seems The Riddler and the Girl Bat both make use of the metallic finish to equally good effect, Batman's grey is also a gunmetal I think, while the other two ladies are - or look to be - all over flat gloss colours?

No squeaky-voiced rodents (phew!) but an odd mix of Alice in Wonderland, Donald Duck and what looks like a Manga character - Lilo - from Lilo and Stitch.

Metallics have again been used for all reds and blues, but look at the Cheshire Cat, metallic pink fur with over-stripes in a heliotrope puce-pink and candy -pink smile, these are really luscious figurines! Also, it's never occurred to me but Bagpuss is - technically at least - an old Cheshire Cat stuffed-toy, because I think the Disney movie came first?

Sunday, April 22, 2018

I is for Iwako Again

Brain/Terranova also sent these shelfies to the blog, as he himself pointed out, we've seen some before, and I hope he won't mind my suggesting some of the images are not his best shots (I also take the odd poor shelfie, it's down to bad or flickering/resonating lighting in the store, speed and an unsteady hand etc . . .  so it's no criticism), consequently; I'm just going to shove them up here and tag them with minimal text as a box-ticker to close the Eraser Weekend, which - unlike Eraserhead - didn't require me pulling a gun out of my stomach - phew!

Sushi or street-vendor food?

More food - Nom-nom-nomnivore!

Daruma - whatever they are, Ninja types? Something akin to Leprechauns?

Those pesky Mark II cats (see Iwako-posts passim) with 'dolls' and cushion.

Animal assortment - the elephant's lost its trunk! It says 'Zoo' but contains a mix of wild and domestic animals.

Cheers Brian - it all adds to the whole.