Tuesday, 2 September 2014


Continuing my Eagle indulgence as Alpha: 2014 fast approaches here's some new photos of my blue Eagle Freighter made by Dinky.

The Dinky Eagles were produced between 1975 to 1980 and the blue frieghter was the last variation of the Eagles to be released with the white freighter section rather than the original red which had originally appeared  with a white main body.

Early releases came with decals which had the familiar radiation symbol similar to what was seen in the series, however this was later changed to a different design using a triangle on a red circle.  

Personally, I find the different coloured components that make up this version quite appealing.

More Eagles to follow

Monday, 1 September 2014


As mentioned earlier this week, my Autumn and Winter project will be tidying up my Project SWORD collection. Missing parts replaced, inner packaging constructed and a thorough cleaning. I kicked off early with building the inner packaging for the Cape Kennedy Set in August.

I continued the project tonight with repairs to my three SWORD Scouts. I thought I'd have a go at filming it in case the process is of interest for readers too. Here's part 1 of 10. I'll show the rest during the week. If you can cope with my monotonous voice then enjoy!


I've knocked up this gallery of all the Moon Ranger variants I know of. From left to right [1963 - 1967]:
Nichimo Red grey Pioneer, Nichimo Silver bucket NASA B-5, Nichimo Orange grey Pioneer, Nichimo Black bucket NASA B-5, Century 21 Project SWORD Moon Ranger*

* I have assumed that all the Century 21 SWORD clones are the same as it is: i.e. 
US Tarheel and Italian blacked out 'Tarheel'.


Further to my last post and the use of Japanese, I wondered if any reader could solve a mystery. Above are the only two images I have of what I call the Nichimo Pioneer Ranger NASA B-5 [note the black and silver buckets - is one painted?]. It appears to be a 1965 variant of the 1963 Nichimo Pioneer and is clearly the direct predecessor of the SWORD Moon Ranger. No image of the box is available.

So readers, I'd love to find out more but I cannot find any more information about this as I cannot read the Japanese characters above. You can see on the top image is a line of text across the image. The bottom picture is from Character Age magazine. Ideally what I need is any of this text copying in Japanese characters using a Japanese keypad. In this way I will be able to search online using the Japanese characters.

If anyone is able to translate the text that would be great too!

Do you accept the mission?


Searching the net in other languages can be fun and rewarding. Last night, using Google translate, I got myself zenned up with a few Japanese characters and had a look for some new Nichimo Carboat Pioneer images. This model from 1963 was the direct forerunner of the 1967 Century 21 Project SWORD Moon Ranger. Mostly on auction sites here's the new images I've found.

1963 Nichimo Catalogue with the Pioneer on the cover!

1963 Nichimo catalogue page showing the other three Carboats. Can't find the page covering the Pioneer except the cover above. Doh!

Pioneer model instruction sheet, full length and in close-up, showing a great black and white illustration of the vehicle's side view.

The kit contents laid out showing the pilot neatly bagged up.

Japanese marvels grouped: the Pioneer and the amphicar are both from the same Carboat range.

Monochrome shot of the Pioneer possibly from a catalogue? I've still no idea what JUSP 1-5 or JUSPI - 5 means on the vehicle's side. Anyone?

The Challenger, a similarly tracked vehicle kit to the Pioneer. Unsure if this is Nichimo or not.

And finally, some new You Tube footage of the Pioneer in action - on a Japanese bed!

Sunday, 31 August 2014


Like bump' n 'go toys as a kid I still love movement in the landscape, whether it be natural or mechanical. A moving landscape on holiday is especially interesting and here are a few short films of cable cars, trains and boats from my summer hols in Europe this year.
Cable Car, Mount Mannlichen, Switzerland

Alpine Train from Lauterbrunnen to Wengen, Switzerland

Trummelbachfalle waterfall, Lauterbrunnen: the meltwater
from the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau glaciers

Commercial Barge on the canal, Zum Yacht Hafen, 
Recklinghausen, Germany


Yesterday I mentioned the cultural nature of a nation's toys. Like Britain and every other country, Germany's old toy culture is born out of it's past and in particular its fairy tales, folklore and children's TV,  influenced by its many neighbouring European states. There is also a great affection for the American West and in particular Winnetou.

Tin and plastic played a major role in German childrens' vintage toys and whilst browsing at a car boot sale there I saw a beautiful doll's bathroom made by Fuchs in 1971. Of museum quality, it was a snip at just 25 Euros but I had no way of getting such a large toy back to Britain. Fortunately there are several examples on the net to admire and here's one from a equally smitten flicker user, diepuppenstubesammlerin.

Soft plastic and rubber features heavily in old and very popular TV character toys such as Sandmaennchen [English: littlle sandman] and Mainzelmaennchen [English:  little men from Mainz] and they can be found allover Germany at Floehmarkten [flea markets], Antiquitaeten Laden [Antique Shops] and Ebay.de.

Sandmännchen began life in 1959 and two versions were created: one in East Germany (Unser Sandmännchen), and one in West Germany (Das Sandmännchen). It has a fascinating history and is covered on Wikipedia.

Mainzelmännchen were born on ZDF, Germany's second TV channel. They were the station's mascots [not sure if we had TV station mascots in the UK?] and the name is a play on the words "Mainz" and "Heinzelmännchen"), created by Wolf Gerlach in 1963. It's incredibly popular and they still appear between commercials now [Wiki].

There are many more old toy figures collected by Germans such as these Kasperle Puppen from traditional glove puppet thearte. These traditional toys are still being manufactured today!

I will be leaving Playmobil and Kinder Toys alone as I'm not keen on them and everything about them can be found on the web anyway. One general observation I can make about them is that they fit into what I would call safe toys, toys which cannot offend and have no military reference, a tradition/ behaviour I assume arose during the country's post-war reconstruction and pacification. Many other modern traditional toy figures seem to adhere to this safe mode of play such as Cowboys and Indians, Knights in Armour and Pirates, which modern German toy shops are full of. However, this is my own personal theory and I maybe completely wrong. is it like this in other countries?

In my next post in this thread I'll cover Winnetou, Old Shatterhand, Karl May and some more traditional character toys such as Mecki the Hedgehog.

Saturday, 30 August 2014


Inspired by Bill's SPACEX week whilst I was abroad I thought I'd once again post something I made years ago: a mocked up Photonic Propulsion Space Station from the legendary SPACEX II range. Considered to be as rare as rocking horse doo doo, this is about as close as I'll ever get to the real thing, hence the need to bodge my own. Its essentially made from felt pens and paint brush handles with a few extra bits of jetsam too!

The backing cards are photostats courtesy of Bill Osborne and the SpaceX II badge is courtesy of Bill B. The colour scheme and size of the model are of my own making. Who knows what the original looked like as alls we have are black and white drawings! The plastic window box is courtesy of our fridge's veg tray!

What do you think readers? Any more SpaceX II mock-ups out there?


The English summer is nearly over and our schools reopen next week. I can't quite believe that I have had six weeks off as I really don't know where the time has gone. Despite my best efforts at time-slowing it has still flown by. So, what's happened over the summer....

First up, Herzlichen Gluckwunsche to Ed B and his family on the birth of their new grandchild. Well done! I think that may be the first Moonbase community grand birth!

I was pleasantly surprised to have got an email from Marc Frattasio. Marc was my earliest contact on the net regarding Anderson models, particularly those used in Gerry's TV shows. Years before this blog came about and with limitless patience, Marc read and answered all my emails quizzing him about Project SWORD! Now a New England railroad enthusiast and author, Marc's help back then was acknowledged on my original Project SWORD and SpaceX online checklist.

The only C21 SWORD toy I don't have in my collection [apart from the Nuclear Ferry!] is the red Task Force 2. This summer I tried again to win one on Ebay but to no avail. SWORD toys do seem to have become more popular!&?! Should anyone have a spare Task Force 2, loose or boxed, I do have a few things I could swap!

Bill B made an impromptu visit for a couple of days this summer in which he was able at long last to photograph a complete set of loose SpaceX I toys for the blog. We also kicked around ideas for another blog exclusive. Watch this space!

I have just spent a week in the west of Germany and despite visiting a huge car boot sale I managed to find zip space toys. Nichts. Nada. Nowt. Like in all nations I suspect, toys found at provincial car boot sales reflect the toy culture of the country. In Germany's case it is a combination of Playmobil, Kinder toys, Die- Cast, Maerklin and other train sets and native TV characters such as Sandmanchen, Mainzelmanchen and Der Sendung mit Der Maus. Browsing through Germany's many glossy toy collecting magazines in shops confirmed the homogeneous nature of the country's toy hobbyists. Maybe a large City toy fair like Cologne would have at least a few space toys? Does your country of residence have particular toy collecting habits?

Now I'm back I've noticed an Autumnal tinge to the English sunlight and possible winter projects have flecked my thoughts. I would like to reproduce the inner packaging for all my Project SWORD toys maybe [Cape Kennedy done, 19 more to go!] and finish my Blurb book on Jack Rosenthal toys perhaps. The idea of a Moonbase SWORD Stockist is also appealing. Then again, I may just curl up with Mrs. Moonbase and watch TV for six months!

September will bring the first new and official Project SWORD TV21 story and illustration to be published since 1968. Its a hugely exciting prospect and I was pleased to learn from the artist that he has visited this very blog now and then. Despite it being part of a limited edition set from Network, I do hope we get to see the illustration and story at some point. Who'd have thought, Project SWORD Century 22! We wait with baited breath!

Getting to the point

Space toys arrive in many different forms and one of the most overlooked is stationery items. As a boy, I would often get a multi-coloured rocket pen with ten separate phials of ink. Alongside the rocket pens, I would often find space erasers and pencil sharpeners. Today, they are difficult to come by, but I was pleased to obtain two prime examples from the sixties.
I had already acquired a Thunderbird 1 sharpener, but I found what appears to be two more from the same manufacturer.
The first one is a classic rocket, three stages with small fins. The fins are removed to take the sharpener out and release the shavings. Its just under 3" high.
The second one, is Lunar Probe 1 and features elements which show the connection to Thunderbirds. The grey fuselage with white vertical lettering and red nose are very similar to the TB1, but the triple engine array is very similar to TB3.

Strangely, I also saw another auction for a friction Thunderbird 1 which came with a red version of the Lunar Probe. Sharpener synchronicity!

the definitive guide to vintage thunderbirds toys - steve's thunderbirds vintage toys

BLOG EXCLUSIVES ARCHIVE: CUrrently out of order

Spacex Mobile Launch Pad Instruction sheet courtesy of reader Mike Burrows

Spacex Nuclear Pulse Instruction sheet courtesy of reader Mike Burrows

Tarheel Moon Prospector Instruction sheet courtesy of Woodsy

Snow Train and Hover Tank Make a Model Book Century 21 courtesy of Woodsy

Scout 3 Box copy to print out and make up by Woodsy and Wotan


Courtesy of Graeme Walker

Blog exclusive 3 - tarheel moon prospector instruction sheet - print-out a4 and keep!


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