I have long been fascinated by the strange diamond-shaped logo (or monogram / cartouche as they are sometimes known) on the bases of some PROJECT SWORD toys by Century 21. Examples include the Zero-X and the Scramble Bug pictured below. I had always assumed that it stood for JR as in Jack Rosethntal/ JR21 toys. Having consulted fellow enthusiasts the debate is by no means settled and has thrown up a few more mysterious cartouches as well!
Ferryman had always assumed the diamond trademark was simply an 'R' for Rosenthal. He observes that "your email has made me look at it more detail. I agree it could be JR or possibly MR in my opinion. I don't quite see the letter forms making an H or a P but I might be wrong. I have a few font source books I can look through to see if I can match this script this could shed light on exactly how it should be read. I collect a lot of 60's plastic toys and have a few others with the same diamond symbol on the base. One brand that sometimes features this symbol on its toys is Merehall" (one Merehall logo I've also seen is pictured below. Ed)
It's true that the letters in the diamond cartouche are not clear. Steve of Vintage Thunderbirds Toys explains "Hello Paul. The letters on the toys.The J & R thing doesn't really stand up to argument as being for J.Rosenthal. If it is for Rosenthal why didn't it change when the merchandise was sold under the Century 21 banner? I believe.............The letters are "HPM". Proof? See the pictures below (between the wheels and the close-up. Ed):
I hope you can see that.. It's the "Made in England" TB2. The TB3 is the same. It's true to say the manufacturing of the toys was shifted from Hong Kong (Empire Made) to the UK in the mid/late 60s. I suspect that it's the initials of the company that actually "made" the toys? "Plastic Moulding" ? There is definitely an M in the original diamond."
So does the "Diamond cartouche" we started with contain H,P and M? Who is this mysterious toy maker linked to UK Project SWORD outside of JR21 and Century 21? Ferryman observes "The monogram may well read HPM but after studying 60+ script fonts, I can't see a really convincing H within the letter forms. As a designer/typographer I would say the two obvious characters visible in the design are P and M or possibly R and M. I don't know any proven facts about the manufacturers of these toys. My knowledge is based on the various brands on the toys that I have seen whilst collecting...
...It seems to me that the toys were probably made by several different factories and toy brands such as JR21 or Century 21 used different manufacturers to mould toys for them. This could explain why the the TB5 has a different mark on it, some models are marked with the diamond monogram and others are unmarked etc. The HPM branded TB2 is manufactured in the UK, it is possible that the HK based factory that used the diamond monogram is a different manufacturing company."
Both Jim Lewis and Ferryman have also seen a different 'H in a globe' logo on the base of the JR21 Thunderbird 5 toy (pictured below).
And finally, to muddy the JR Waters even more, Ferryman has spotted yet another monogram on his JR21 Rocket Launcher remarking that of the " two close up pics of the box brand marks, one of these is the usual JR21 logo but the other is a roundel containing an elephant that has the letter H on its flank. Could this be a logo variant of the one used on the JR21 TB5 ? " (i.e Globed H pictured above (Ed.)
Fabulous stuff! On balance I would say that we are getting warmer but the diamond debate goes on. Woodsy. Thanks to Steve of Vintage Thunderbirds Toys, Ferryman and Jim lewis for pics and thoughts. More contributions welcomed!