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'A gaping silken dragon,/Puffed by the wind, suffices us for God./We, not the City, are the Empire's soul:/A rotten tree lives only in its rind.'

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Old School...

... real Old School...

Strangely, it seems that toy soldiers are primarily designed with small children in mind. An odd concept, I know, but there you are.  Happily, my grandson, aged 5, qualifies. And today, he had great fun with some of my toy soldiers from long, long ago, including these chaps:

Gunslingers! I suspect that I was at the very end of my Britain's purchases when I bought these from 'Haskins' in West Kirby. 'Haskins' was one of those small shops that seem to have gone now. I bought my Scout sheath knife there, aged 12 - that would, of course, be illegal now. Later, I also bought a nice 'Diana' air pistol - something that would also be illegal now. I also bought fireworks known as 'bangers' in England at 'Haskins', which me and a friend - Nell Hardiman (he was a boy, 'Nell' being a Scouse diminutive for Neil) happily threw around on Caldy Hill - a series of illegal acts now. What is this ??!! As well as all these engines of death, 'Haskins' sold sports kit and Airfix models and figures. A fine example of the petit bourgeoisie - killed off, almost, by globalisation. Nuts, as a famous American once said.

'Injuns'! Some of the figures above belonged to my little brother, now aged 49 and not in nearly as good condition as his 'Injuns'.
And this:

Oh, marvellous - Song of the Paddle! A really nice physical realisation of a fascinating period of history (unless one was a beaver, or a bear).
All of this was, today, courtesy of:

my grandson, who dug out the old toys and spent hours playing with them. Knights, Second World War chaps, 'Moderns' (i.e. Cold War), and, as the hero of all the various stories:

Luke Skywalker in 20mm, looking out over a new planet...


  1. My local newsagent was at Happy Valley Craiglockhart. In the 1960s it was where I got my Airfix kits and figures and chose individual Crescent/Lone star from a box.Mrs Thomson the owner was s patient with me as I weighed up the pros and cons on each individual figure.My favourite was a medieval king with crown on and raised sword.All long since gone...
    By the way do you recall the card cut out soldiers on the back of Kellogg cereal packets not to mention the plastic soldiers inside at the bottom of others...

    1. Long ago and far away... yet, confusingly, the physical surroudings are still there (I used to teach OU students at Craiglockhart). That's our lot - bittersweet. Yes, to the Kellogg's packets - and the card and printing had a particular feel to it. The knights series was my introduction to the idea of development of technology over time - good educational experience.

  2. I remember having a few of the cowboys and the canoe. I played very hard with my toys so they are long gone, the bits probably sucked into the hoover, to join all armies of 'little soldiers' that disappeared that way.

    It seems hardly believable that we could be once excited by the prospect of a small plastic toy in the cereal packet - an instance of when less was more, perhaps?

    1. What was it with mothers and hoovers? ! Lego - hoover. Aircraft bits - hoover. Airfix figures - hoover. Mind you, it's much better now, following the second wave of feminism - nobody hoovers. Unless one is liberal/metropolitan middle class, then the woman from Nigeria hoovers...

  3. I used to buy all my toy soldiers from Shallcross's on Laird Street in Birkenhead. Best family-run toy shop in the world. They had everything including toy soldiers, Action Man, cycles, prams, fireworks the lot. It's some kind of take-away now :-(

    1. Do you know, the 'social democratic period' was a brief drawing of breath. Things did get better, and the balance between continuity and change maintained stability. In other words - b*gger globalisation in all its forms. .At least we experienced it all. I can remember steam engines, y'know!