Monday, March 18, 2019

MPC Ringhand Astronauts: MP128 Ring Hand Astronaut - Gold

Here's the last of three gold MPC astronauts that I'll cover. The reason for my insanity will be revealed shortly - PATIENCE! :-) As a side note, MPC turned their ringhand figures into astronauts by adding space gear, but they also had a line of one-piece astronaut figures with all the details molded in. Frankly, as a kid I remember seeing the ads for the ringhand astronauts but don't remember having any (I did have plenty of Army man ringhands though) BUT I did have the one-piece guys. And guess what? We'll be covering those hopefully in the weeks to come! For now though - Enjoy! Opa Fritz and Oma Bettina

Sunday, March 17, 2019

MPC Ringhand Astronauts: MP127 Ring Hand Astronaut - Gold

Here's another MPC Ringhand decked out in astronaut gear. Noted collector Kent Owen Sprecher observed that carded figures of astronauts were available in a multitude of colors: red, blue, bright green, yellow, and of course gold. I chose the gold figures as they were my favorite but I could've just as well went with the other colors. Although I don't yet have any original red figures but do have a set of repos in red and blue. Enjoy! Opa Fritz and Oma Bettina

Saturday, March 16, 2019

MPC Ringhand Astronauts: MP126 Ring Hand Astronaut - Gold

Wellll, I finally had a little 'me' time and was able to photograph some MPC ringhand figures and outfit them as astronauts. As you know I've posted about every MPC ringhand figure starting in Dec 2018. Nearly all of those were of the OD/olive green variety with only the odd color (like yellow, grass green, orange) thrown in when I didn't have an OD/OG sample to photograph. But now I can at least show a few astronauts. On some of their Cold War space themed sets, MPC listed 'astronauts' and 'missile men' on their playset boxtops. Inside was a sprue of accessories with a very definite set of 'spacey' helmets, guns, and other gear to go with their ringhand figures. 

From here it gets murky. A lot of folks like me will remember the astronauts as being gold or perhaps yellow. These figures were also sold in smaller sets available as mail-order in comic book adds. Now, as I have not yet seen a mint-in-box example of any of these sets, the question is: what color ringhands did MPC include in their set? Did they just toss in whatever was available on the assembly line? Did they make a conscious effort to distinguish astronauts from the others by including different colors? Who knows? Anywho, below is a small compilation of the accessories I have available and we'll look at figure MP126 all decked out for space duty! Enjoy! Opa Fritz and Oma Bettina

The ring antenna is meant to be removable from the belt. It's hard to see in the photo, but the belt (far right) has a hole in it between the two canisters to accept the peg on the antenna

Thursday, March 14, 2019

TRAIN TIME: A Yank Does Hornby Pt 4 - Hornby No. 42200 Passenger Brake Van

After buying the Hornby clockwork engine, I acquired two passenger cars and this No. 42200 Brake Van. One of the learning curves faced when venturing into a new realm of collecting is the terminology. Trains and the train system in the UK as a whole has its own vernacular different from ours. Sometimes it's a different name for the something that serves the same function as on our railroads. Other times it's learning a new name for a function that has no real equivalent on American railroads. Such is the case for the 'brake van'. I think I'll let Wikipedia do the explaining - they're better at it:

"A brake van is a wagon at the rear of a goods train where a guard would sit with a handbrake. The job was to provide extra braking force for a train and as an emergency hand brake.
All brake vans served the same purpose: to add extra brake-force to a train. Brake vans are operated by Brakemen who are in charge of making sure that the lights are in the correct place because at night a signalman would need to see the tail-lights to know that the train had not split, so that he can clear the line.[1]
Most vans had both normal brakes and vacuum brakes. They also contained a fire for the comfort of the brakeman." - (

Of course in the States we have the caboose which was essentially the office-on-wheels for the conductor of the train. The caboose wasn't meant to be specifically an extra breaking force although it did have a brake wheel on it. But all cars in an American consist had brake wheels. This toy version apparently represents a passenger car converted for use as a brake van vs. a purpose built car or converted flat car. 

I have no clue what I'll post next as so many things - collecting wise - were kinda happening at once. But until then - Enjoy! Opa Fritz and Oma Bettina

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

TRAIN TIME: A Yank Does Hornby - Pt Hornby No. 1 Passenger Coach

Takin' a break from MPC for a few days - need to take more pics!!

In our new continuing series, "A Yank Does Hornby", I explore how I immersed myself in the world of European 2-rail clockwork trains. After buying a nice wind-up/clockwork 2-Rail O-gauge Hornby engine, I had to have some cars. This No. 1 Passenger Car was next up in the line-up. I bought two of these as well a brake van (to be covered later) - More to follow!  Enjoy! Opa Fritz and Oma Bettina