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Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Maybe you find the title of this entry strange… well it was also for me before I wrote this article. My father bought this great tin motorbike a few years ago in a flea market. It has been ever since in a drawer because it was to tall to fit in our showcases, I think he bought it because it goes well with other similar toys we have.

After thoroughly inspecting the body of the toy, we found no information about where was it made, or which was the brand of the toy. The only “hint” was a big L logo with the word “foreign” below it. I decided to search information about it today, and found some things and pieces of information I’d like to share with you.

The "L Foreign" Logo

The logo belongs to a company named Lemezárugyár Budapest, that was founded at the beginning of the 50s in the Hungarian capital, Budapest. It remained active until the 90s, although it probably lost importance during the last years.

The history of this company is very difficult to follow, since the only references I have found are written in Hungarian, which is such a complicated language that online translators cannot translate it to an “understandable” level. Impossible. 

Wheels are marked: Ballon Cordatic 325x19

These wheels are also market "Ballon Cordatic"

Bottom view - friction motor

This time you’ll forgive me if I cannot give much information about the toy company. I am myself very curious about it, it has surely an amazing story behind it. If you are Hungarian and you are reading this, maybe you can make a summary of the History of Lemezárugyár Budapest to be published here, or in any other place.

Here’s the story of the company (in Hungarian) written by its president László Kotan in 1972 for the 100 anniversary of the company. The company founded in 1872 is not exactly the same (this one was founded in Györ, anothercity), but it is considered to be it’s parent company. Maybe both companies were merged later.... In the eastern communist industry it was common that factories produce more than one type of good. A metal and tin plate works had easy to produce for example kitchenware, tools… this seems to be the case as well. If we only focus on toys, the history from 1972 to 1993 is here.

Another nice website with many pictures of toys made by this company.

Hope you enjoyed this entry!

After this 1961 catalogue image tha motorbike can be dated around 1960 (taken from

  • Year: Around 1960 (Probably sold during many years)
  • Company: LEMEZÁRUGYÁR BUDAPEST (Hungary)
  • Size: 24 cm

Sunday, October 28, 2012

#209 MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE – BATTLE CAT and PANTHOR (Ref. 5048 and 4714) (1982 and 1983)


The first wave of the MOTU was a bit short: it comprised only 8 figures, Castle Grayskull, 2 vehicles (Wind Raider and Battle Ram) and one creature. Leaving aside the figures, the Battle Cat, a “ferocious tiger (that) carries He-Man into Battle”, was probably the first reference created. It is known, that every action figure line needs some accessories, so what about some mount for He-Man? A horse? No, let’s recycle those old tigers from the Big Jim line…

Back cover of the Mini-comic "King of Castle Grayskull" (1981), one of the first four mini-Comic ever released. "More Masters of the Universe characters and vehicles available later in 1982"

This must be more or less what it happened at Mattel when discussing the accessories to be released in the first wave. Big Jim’s set number 9918 from 1976, “On theTiger Trail”, included a tiger in a cage, identical to the one you’ll see in this entry, only in other colour. As a matter of fact there are some Battle Cats, whose copyright mark (inside one of the hind legs) dates from 1976… These are rarer, and the easiest way to identify them is to look for orange stripes in the tail. If the tiger has them, then it’s the 1976 version, otherwise is the 1982 version.  

Doubling creatures, figures and reusing casts would be repeted throughout the lifespan of the line: further examples are Stridor and Stalker, Zoar and Screeech, Beast Man and Mossman, Mer-Man and Stinkor, and a few more.

Copyright mark inside right hind leg

Copyright mark in the saddles.

The 1976’s cast is marked Taiwan. Here’s a comparison between these two versions in a great toy blog.

There is, however, a third version of this creature, and is the French version… this one is made in a clearly darker green plastic, and their accessories are also darker as the normal versions. I was looking for a decent picture with both “cats”, but I found nothing, so check… The “Mattel France” version is not so rare, can be found easily and never very expensive.

In order to maximize the references without increasing the costs, Mattel launched the following year the same toy, but this time for the evil forces. The new creature was named Panthor: a “ferocious beast with realistic velvet fur”. The difference is that the tiger has been flocked all over with a dark purple velvet-like hair. Unlike Battle Cat, which appears in almost every cartoon and comic book, Panthor only appears very rarely in some comics.

Both creatures with accesoories. Panthor does not wear a mask.
In playworn toys, Panthor's hair is mostly missing on the edges (for example, ears, tail, feet, also where the saddle comes…) The Panthor I own is in excellent shape. I found it recently in a flea market, because other one I have since I was a kid has lost a great part of its hair.

Battle Cat appears in almost every cartoons and comic, and, like He-Man, has a double personality: Cringer in the name of the cat, is kind of Castle Grayskull's pet: joyful, nice and easily frightened. With the mask, it turns to Battle Cat, which is brave and ferocious. About Panthor, we do not know much... anyone?

  • Name: BATTLE CAT and PANTHOR (Ref. 5048 and 4714)
  • Toy Line: Masters of the Universe (Waves 1 and 2)
  • Year: 1982 and 1983
  • Company: Mattel (U.S.A.)
  • Size of the figures: Approx. 25 cm

Thursday, October 25, 2012

#208 MB - SPACE CRUSADE (1990)

This game was designed by Stephen Baker in 1990, and published by MB with Games Workshop’s figures. One year earlier, the same team had developed HeroQuest, and the game was so successful, that they simply redid the whole game with a few changes, for example the usage and range of weapons. The new game was re-themed in a futuristic spaceship were men fight against robots, cyborgs and aliens, instead of dungeons filled with monsters.

This second game is rarer to find, I think it simply had to share the market with HeroQuest that at the point was better known, and already had some expansions, and shortly before, a very similar game (both in type and theme) named “Space Hulk” had also been released. Personally, I don’t know which one do I like the most, they are both great.

As you can see from the pictures, the game is 100% complete, with all cards, accessories and tiles, and it looks amazing. The board is divided in four parts with cardboard walls, and this is probably the weakest point of the game, these walls sometimes move or fall down, when moving the figures or the table, despite of the plastic parts that fit them together and to the board. The game can be played by 2 to 4 players, one of which is always the “evil forces”, and the other three, Space Marine Squads.

The three men squads are “Blood Angels” (red), “Ultramarines” (blue) and “Imperial Fists” (yellow), although all of them are really the same. These names do not sound good in most European languages, so they were changed to more neutral names, for example in German, the teams are: “GSG-Musketeers”, “GSG-19” and “GSG-Tiger” while in Spanish, they’re simply “Red Detachment”, “Blue”, and “Yellow Detachment”. The teams are formed by 5 men/marines each, one of them is the commander (depicted in the picture in the middle).

Let's check the figures, one by one. First, the Space Marine Squads and their weapons (interchageable). As said before, the commanders are different figures. The main differences are in the head of the figure, and some details in the armour. All figures are carrying a removable backpack.

"Imperial Fists" Space Marines Squad
"Blood Angels" Space Marines Squad
"Ultramarines" Space Marines Squads
These are the commanders of the squads.

The evil forces are a mixture of robots, aliens and other creatures maybe another weak point of the game is that some of these miniature figures do not “suit” very much in a spaceship, but in a dungeon. The game is so clearly a “modified” HeroQuest, that the creatures are very similar to the Skeletons, Orks, Chaos-Warriors and so on, just take a look yourself and compare them with the pictures in this entry

CHAOS ANDROIDS, similar to HeroQuest's Skeletons.

GRETCHINGS, similar to HeroQuest's Goblins


SPACE ORCS, similar to HeroQuest's Orcs

SPACE ORCS (detail)

Please note that, although all Gretchings and Space Orcs look the same, there’re slight differences in the weapons they’re carrying.

CHAOS COMMANDER (front) with CHAOS MARINES (back), similar to heroquest's Chaos Warriors, but here, they're a squad, just like Space Marines Squad (1 leader + 4 marines)

CHAOS COMMANDER (front) with CHAOS MARINES (back) (detail)
GENESTEALERS - Great concept, and great sculpt

DREADNOUGHT, the most dangerous enemy, also an amazing figure

In HeroQuest, players had to note down in paper the strength and the wisdom of their characters, as well as the items found during the game. In Star Crusade, each team has one of these "control panels". The "buttons" shown in the squad pictures (lower right corner) are used with this panel. The rank badges and medals (showr later) also have place here.

Control Panels

As in HeroQuest, we need doors. When one of the "heroes" opens a door, the master of the game places the monsters that are in that room, and they can then play their turn too.

Different types of doors, gates, hatches.

All the other elements of the game: cards, tiles, markers, are beautifully illustrated, the artwork for the box and cards is really amazing. Note that most cards are different! Even the rule and mission books include some great artwork inside.

Complete set of cards for the yellow squad
...And these are the back of the cards in the previous picture

The cards for all three squads are almost exactly the same 12. Each team has "exclusive" equipment.

These are the "alien events". Open the picture in a new window (or d/l it) to see the artwork more in detail.

The figures in the pictures are unpainted, but in the box, we can take a look (below this lines) at how do they figures should look like after their designers… I have also seem pictures of painted figures (painted by people who know what they’re doing), and they’re amazing! I won’t paint them, because I am quite sure I wouldn’t do it well.

  • Alternate Names: STARQUEST (German, Italian), CRUZADA ESTELAR (Spanish) CRUSADE: DET AFGØRENDE MØDE (Danish), Σταυροφορία στο Διάστημα (Greek)
  • Year: 1989
  • Company: Milton Bradley (MB) (U.S.A.)

Monday, October 22, 2012

#207 POLISTIL – FIAT 131 and RENAULT 6L (RJ13 and RJ24) (Around 1978)

I revised all Polistil/Politoys entries until today, and all of them deal with Formula 1s except one, in which I presented some old 1:43 models. Polistil also made ordinary cars, like those you could see everyday in front of your house. The main interest of these cars lies in some models that were made exclusively (or almost) by this company. Polistil, Italian company, took special interest for Italian (also European) cars, for example these two.

The Fiat 131, as far as I am concerned, was only made by this company. In Spain, Mira and Guisval released models, but that was a Seat 131 (small difference J). You may argue that Matchbox, YatMing, MCToy, HotWheels!… made the “Abarth Rally” version and Tomica made the “Abarth street” version, but these are other models in my opinion.

I keep very good memories of a Seat 131 that my grandfather had in the 80s, I will talk more about this model sometime, with Guisval or Mira miniatures.

The Renault 6L was to my knowledge only made by Guisval, being this model very hard to find… (one of the primitive Guisvals, similar to the Lamborghini here). The Polistil model is not so hard to find, but relatively expensive. I found mine in a flea market, but take a look at it on ebay…

These cars were sold in cardboard boxes, and they were available in different colours each. A quick check in “Google images”, reveals that the Renault 6L was available at least in pink, green, grey, blue and gold, while the Fiat 131 was available in brown, light green, burgundy red, green and gold.

The cars were released around 1977 or 1978, and discontinued a few years earlier. If somebody can provide me a reliable source of information about Polistil releases (website, catalogue scans…) I’d be very grateful.

As a nice detail, note that the names of the cards on the chassis are written with the original typography (or logo) of the car brand.

This entry is very likely to be updated with more 1:64 scale Polistil models.


I got a second unit of the Renault 6L, a great miniature model in vey good shape. I leave some pictures here:

  • Name: FIAT 131 and RENAULT 6L (RJ13 and RJ24)
  • Scale: approx. 1:64
  • Year: Around 1978
  • Company: Polistil (Italy)
  • Size: approx. 6 cm
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