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. I will 'bite the hand that feeds' to remind it why it feeds.

Monday, November 5, 2018

1940's (Sometime?); [WWII], 500 / 500M / 501 / 502 Motorcycles And Riders

Tipping a nod to Plastic Warrior magazine and their Airfix special for the codes and to the Editor - Paul Morehead - for the original ID, wherein lies a tale we'll get to in a minute, but first a look at the machines and their riders.

500 - Motorbikes & Riders (2 types); 500M - Motorbike Only; 501 - Motorcycle Rider; 501/2 - Riders Only (assorted 2 types); 502 - Motorbike Riders; Airfix Model Figures; Collecting Airfix Figures; Collecting Toy Soldiers; Early Airfix Figures; Early Airfix Toy Soldiers; Early Airfix Toys; Early British Toy Soldiers; Early Motorbike Toys; Motorcycle Toys; Plastic Warrior Magazine; Small Scale World; smallscaleworld.blogspot.com; Vintage Plastic Figures; Vintage Plastic Soldiers; Vintage Toy Figures; Vintage Toy Soldiers; Vintage Toys;
A heavily painted machine, and the first I found, although not the first I'd seen, pretty standard 54mm/1:32nd scale compatible machine. Not knowing much about motorbikes I can only obseve that it's not a 'V-twin' although what that makes it instead is up for grabs, and the knee-pads on the tank look a bit like some BSA ones?

500 - Motorbikes & Riders (2 types); 500M - Motorbike Only; 501 - Motorcycle Rider; 501/2 - Riders Only (assorted 2 types); 502 - Motorbike Riders; Airfix Model Figures; Collecting Airfix Figures; Collecting Toy Soldiers; Early Airfix Figures; Early Airfix Toy Soldiers; Early Airfix Toys; Early British Toy Soldiers; Early Motorbike Toys; Motorcycle Toys; Plastic Warrior Magazine; Small Scale World; smallscaleworld.blogspot.com; Vintage Plastic Figures; Vintage Plastic Soldiers; Vintage Toy Figures; Vintage Toy Soldiers; Vintage Toys;
Comparison with an unpainted machine, the pink one I will wax-lyrical on in a minute, but for now you can see how it's quite a detailed machine for its age compared with the machines posted on the Home Blog today (5th November 2018) where Pyro, Teixedo, Reisler and later Atlantic were producing machines with hinted-at engine detail, or imaginary engines!

500 - Motorbikes & Riders (2 types); 500M - Motorbike Only; 501 - Motorcycle Rider; 501/2 - Riders Only (assorted 2 types); 502 - Motorbike Riders; Airfix Model Figures; Collecting Airfix Figures; Collecting Toy Soldiers; Early Airfix Figures; Early Airfix Toy Soldiers; Early Airfix Toys; Early British Toy Soldiers; Early Motorbike Toys; Motorcycle Toys; Plastic Warrior Magazine; Small Scale World; smallscaleworld.blogspot.com; Vintage Plastic Figures; Vintage Plastic Soldiers; Vintage Toy Figures; Vintage Toy Soldiers; Vintage Toys;
The commonest form you will find these in is a 'primary' coloured, colour-fast, soft 'unbreakable' or 'beach-toy' polyethylene, usually with contrasting wheels and often without a rider, but we see from that reference in the PW 'Special' that they were sold four ways;

500 - Motorbikes & Riders (2 types). Unpainted only . . all unbreakable and removable riders.
500M - Motorbike Only.
501/2 - Riders Only (assorted 2 types)

All trade, per gross.

What any retailer would want a gross (144) of motorcycles riders [without bikes] for is anyone's guess!

500 - Motorbikes & Riders (2 types); 500M - Motorbike Only; 501 - Motorcycle Rider; 501/2 - Riders Only (assorted 2 types); 502 - Motorbike Riders; Airfix Model Figures; Collecting Airfix Figures; Collecting Toy Soldiers; Early Airfix Figures; Early Airfix Toy Soldiers; Early Airfix Toys; Early British Toy Soldiers; Early Motorbike Toys; Motorcycle Toys; Plastic Warrior Magazine; Small Scale World; smallscaleworld.blogspot.com; Vintage Plastic Figures; Vintage Plastic Soldiers; Vintage Toy Figures; Vintage Toy Soldiers; Vintage Toys;
Another, with one of the riders, this is the helmeted chap, the other has a peaked 'service-cap', of a rather squishy US style, but I'm not aware of this being a US mould-share or copy and the machine is very British in lines.

The listing given in PW's special is from an un-dated 1940's catalogue and it's not clear which rider is 501 and which is 502, but I favour this as the '2, due to seniority, the other figure having sergeants stripes!

500 - Motorbikes & Riders (2 types); 500M - Motorbike Only; 501 - Motorcycle Rider; 501/2 - Riders Only (assorted 2 types); 502 - Motorbike Riders; Airfix Model Figures; Collecting Airfix Figures; Collecting Toy Soldiers; Early Airfix Figures; Early Airfix Toy Soldiers; Early Airfix Toys; Early British Toy Soldiers; Early Motorbike Toys; Motorcycle Toys; Plastic Warrior Magazine; Small Scale World; smallscaleworld.blogspot.com; Vintage Plastic Figures; Vintage Plastic Soldiers; Vintage Toy Figures; Vintage Toy Soldiers; Vintage Toys;
So, to the sorry tale . . .

 . . . I first became aware of these about a decade ago, when working for JB, he got a bunch of them in a mixed-lot from somewhere, and we didn't know who they were by, but liked the look of them, and it happened that Mr. Morehead had come round for a 'working brunch' and identified them as Airfix, heavily painted by a loon, with a spoon! [I made-up the last bit!]

Anyway, JB asked me if I could clean them, and I said "Yeah, sure, I'll take them home and do it tonight". I can tell you it took three dips in Nitromores (this back in the day when Nitromores would take the paint off a car-body in 30 seconds and was worth using - now it's some 'elf-n-safety' affected, watered down, oven-polish with no power to speak of!), and a hour or so with a tooth-pick to get the thick khaki 'mud' off them.

Then, about four/five years later, I found this at Dave McKenna's Birmingham show! I've since seen others and although the catalogue in PW states "unpainted", and while most examples are unpainted, it looks like either Airfix or a retailer painted them at some point, with this thick gloss paint, and that we'd stripped 'factory-paint' off a whole batch! Hey-ho!

As the paint matches some examples of the early mounted (Horse Guard in service dress) and early 54mm figures (Airborne, Japanese and Paratrooper), I think it probably was/is Airfix?

500 - Motorbikes & Riders (2 types); 500M - Motorbike Only; 501 - Motorcycle Rider; 501/2 - Riders Only (assorted 2 types); 502 - Motorbike Riders; Airfix Model Figures; Collecting Airfix Figures; Collecting Toy Soldiers; Early Airfix Figures; Early Airfix Toy Soldiers; Early Airfix Toys; Early British Toy Soldiers; Early Motorbike Toys; Motorcycle Toys; Plastic Warrior Magazine; Small Scale World; smallscaleworld.blogspot.com; Vintage Plastic Figures; Vintage Plastic Soldiers; Vintage Toy Figures; Vintage Toy Soldiers; Vintage Toys;
Three parts of the bike and both riders, as [unpainted] riders are usually a different colour to wheels/motorcycle, the fact that the painted one is the same colour as the bike he came with is another sign that they were probably factory-/out-painted and then matched to machines with the under-polymer colours unknown.

There is a variation of the helmeted figure, with his goggles on his helmet, not his face, with the same pocketed tunic as the Sergeant and without the Sam-Brown/cross-belt, whether this was dropped early or added after the PW-referenced catalogue is unknown.

Equally it may be that someone forgot to include it in the catalogue listing, OR that the 'two types' are cap or helmet and that there was 'artistic' variance within a multiple-cavity mould/tool?

500 - Motorbikes & Riders (2 types); 500M - Motorbike Only; 501 - Motorcycle Rider; 501/2 - Riders Only (assorted 2 types); 502 - Motorbike Riders; Airfix Model Figures; Collecting Airfix Figures; Collecting Toy Soldiers; Early Airfix Figures; Early Airfix Toy Soldiers; Early Airfix Toys; Early British Toy Soldiers; Early Motorbike Toys; Motorcycle Toys; Plastic Warrior Magazine; Small Scale World; smallscaleworld.blogspot.com; Vintage Plastic Figures; Vintage Plastic Soldiers; Vintage Toy Figures; Vintage Toy Soldiers; Vintage Toys;
My sample to-date (Nov.'18), whatever the truth of the paint/no paint, I'm not stripping my one; just in case! But the one I really like is the pink one . . .

500 - Motorbikes & Riders (2 types); 500M - Motorbike Only; 501 - Motorcycle Rider; 501/2 - Riders Only (assorted 2 types); 502 - Motorbike Riders; Airfix Model Figures; Collecting Airfix Figures; Collecting Toy Soldiers; Early Airfix Figures; Early Airfix Toy Soldiers; Early Airfix Toys; Early British Toy Soldiers; Early Motorbike Toys; Motorcycle Toys; Plastic Warrior Magazine; Small Scale World; smallscaleworld.blogspot.com; Vintage Plastic Figures; Vintage Plastic Soldiers; Vintage Toy Figures; Vintage Toy Soldiers; Vintage Toys;
. . . and I can't tell you how much I love this toy - it looks like a fossil, dug from the pink sandstones of the Gobi desert, painstakingly, with a hat-pin and a soft-brush.

By some series of quirks, from the similarly-coloured plastic for the wheels and bike, some factory or home painting at various times, some cleaning and/or weathering/play-wear over time, it has developed a patina of 'antiqued' age you couldn't re-produce in a laboratory with the greatest minds in the universe working on the problem.

This is one of the ten to try and save from a fire! If it wasn't identical to the others in every way, you'd think it was from another company and thirty-year's earlier!

Under the patina, the bike is a pale pinky-flesh and the wheels a mauve-purple. The engine seems to have been gold at some point and the patina is probably a sign of the vehicle having been a darker-red with an unstable additive/colourant?

500 - Motorbikes & Riders (2 types); 500M - Motorbike Only; 501 - Motorcycle Rider; 501/2 - Riders Only (assorted 2 types); 502 - Motorbike Riders; Airfix Model Figures; Collecting Airfix Figures; Collecting Toy Soldiers; Early Airfix Figures; Early Airfix Toy Soldiers; Early Airfix Toys; Early British Toy Soldiers; Early Motorbike Toys; Motorcycle Toys; Plastic Warrior Magazine; Small Scale World; smallscaleworld.blogspot.com; Vintage Plastic Figures; Vintage Plastic Soldiers; Vintage Toy Figures; Vintage Toy Soldiers; Vintage Toys;
Best of British!

500 - Motorbikes & Riders (2 types); 500M - Motorbike Only; 501 - Motorcycle Rider; 501/2 - Riders Only (assorted 2 types); 502 - Motorbike Riders; Airfix Model Figures; Collecting Airfix Figures; Collecting Toy Soldiers; Early Airfix Figures; Early Airfix Toy Soldiers; Early Airfix Toys; Early British Toy Soldiers; Early Motorbike Toys; Motorcycle Toys; Plastic Warrior Magazine; Small Scale World; smallscaleworld.blogspot.com; Vintage Plastic Figures; Vintage Plastic Soldiers; Vintage Toy Figures; Vintage Toy Soldiers; Vintage Toys;
Signs of the front number-plate being painted on the faded one, and a short-shot / miss-mould on the front number-plate of the red one, I also noticed the mud-guard bar on the blue one has gawn-missin'. . . I'll trim it off to make it less obvious at a glance!

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