|I'll explain these later...|
Last week, Karen and I took advantage of a certain promotion deal and took a two-day rail excursion to the West Coast. That is to say, the west coast of the South Island in New Zealand, called the West Coast, and not to be confused with, say, the west coast of the United States of America. We were sitting across from an American couple from northern California - she a well-travelled accountant taking a break from her international company, he employed in the same profession for a mortuary. They were on their way to visit the Franz Josef glacier - a well-known tourist attraction.
We set off from Christchurch railway station at 8:15 a.m. amid overcast and drizzle, which turned suddenly to snow before we got to Springfield. By the time we got to Arthur's Pass, the snow had really set in.
|Snow at Arthur's Pass Station, the morning of our westward|
Through the Otira Tunnel (5+ miles of darkness travelling through the Southern Alps, down a 1:33 slope - hence two locomotives), and it rained all the way to Greymouth on the coast, rained the entire bus trip to Hokitika - a small town of little more than 3000 souls - where we stayed the night (rain). It rained the following day all the way back to Otira tunnel. Now, I'm not complaining. For one from rain-shadow Christchurch, the weather made a welcome change, and gave the scenery a mystery to add to its hugeness on the far side of the Divide. I liked the rain.
|Snow at Arthur's Pass taken from the train station|
but looking in the opposite direction
from that above, taken the following afternoon
Emerging from the Otira tunnel we burst into a winter wonderland of Arthur's Pass village, where there had been near on a foot of snow overnight. I took several pictures of the valley we descended...
|Looking down the valley from Arthur's Pass|
...especially of the gorge through which threaded the upper reaches of the Waimakariri River - the northernmost of several braided water courses that are such a feature of the Canterbury plains.
|Below the snow line; the last picture of many I took of the|
Waimakariri River gorge. Spectacular scenery, and
well worth the trip.
But it was whilst in Hokitika that I made the discovery that is the subject of the picture leading this posting. Entering a bookshop (to get out of the rain), I noticed it had a toy section. I always investigate toy stores if I discover one whilst visiting a strange town. Having found nothing so far of interest, I was just about to abandon my search, when lo and behold, on a bottom shelf were maybe a dozen AFVs of a fairly sizeable scale. Four of those were quite recognizably Pz IV Gs, the others modelled more modern tanks.
|The 2 Panzer IVs I bought. Sweet!|
At once I had to have a couple of these, which, though under scale for the Army Men figures I was using, seemed to me just the thing for my 'Jono's World' project. Made in China, their quality was impressive, and they had a nice 'heft' to them, probably due to the 'motor' inside. They just looked good. Karen said I could buy 'as many as I need', but I restrained myself and limited myself to two.
|As you can see from this angle, they are toys. At $NZ13.99|
apiece, they seemed to me a reasonable buy.
As the above picture indicates, these are toys, not models - you power them up by dragging them backwards along a flat surface, then let them go. They travel at high speed and waggling the turret a bit from side to side. Well, you have to test drive them, eh?
|As this pic shows, they are considerably larger than|
the 1:76 scale models.
More like 1:56 according to my measurements.
I've added the final picture to show the difference in scale from a 1:76 metal vehicle (also a IVG, but without the turret skirt). Comparing their widths suggests to me these plastic toys are about 1:56 scale.
The question is: who is the manufacturer? The only indication was the 'Made in China', and the number on the turret (405B) has something to do with the factory production code for this vehicle. I'd like to know what else they make...
(To be continued...)