Sunday, October 14, 2012

An Excursion to the West Coast...

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...)


  1. I have often wondered who make these... for one I am always looking in the $2 shop in town, they have the usual plastic green army men, but they include a tank, which is too small for the figures, would it be 1/72 scale or close to it????

    I guess we never know until its next to the others. personally I need to go to the warehouse to see if I can find these 20mm soldiers, cheap ones from china of coarse but if they are to scale a lack of detail or accuracy will not bother me one bit :-)

    hope you enjoyed your trip, I have been around there too, it rained when we were in greymouth also, it lives up to its name... snow... here we just had nasty freezing wind.

    1. My next posting will have more on my 'Army Men' type forces, how I want to organise them and the dilemmas I need to resolve.

  2. Only two Panzers? Your restraint is an example to us all. A bad example....

    1. Yeah, I know... Bad, Archduke: bad! I have decided that the first opportunity I get, I will buy at least a couple more.

  3. I have seen similar tanks on sale in the UK, usually alongside similar scale model aircraft.

    They are too large to use with even big 1:72nd-scale figures, but should work well with the sort of figures sold in packs in toy stores under the name COMBAT FORCE (see

    All the best,


    1. You might get away with using them with 28mm figures, but they really are over-scale even for them. Somewhere between 30-35mm figures would be about right. The army men types I'll be using them with 9as you will see) vary from 42-45mm. This would be more or less the same sort of gig as using Airfix figures (1:76), say, with Roco Minitanks (1:87 scale).

      I must check out this 'Combat force' stuff...

  4. You had permission to get as many as you need and you bought two!!!Ion???

  5. A fairly worthwhile trip to feral country Ion.

    You get used to the rain, we did have 2 days out of the last 14 that were sunny...It is a rainforest after all!

    Like the rest I am shocked at your restraint! Shame...

  6. I can see why Coasters love the place and non-Coasters always (well, in my observation) come away with good memories and mostly good things to say about it. Karen would quite like to live there. I gather a few years ago, there was just about continual rain for about 14 months that was starting to get people down before it eased off.

    As for the restraint, I could say something about self discipline or self governance. But really, this was strictly 'Doh!' material.

  7. OK, I'm guilty, I didn't associate NZ with snow. So is that any where near Caradhras? (he asks tongue in cheek)

    Toy Soldier tanks were of course traditionally under scale so they should work well with the smaller sort and with 1/48th figures.

    1. I didn't observe any red slopes, Ross, but plenty of yellow ones east of the Divide. Imported gorse and broom just got so out of hand that in spring the wilder parts of the South Island are completely blanketed with it.

      For the reast, it is too easy to mistake New Zealand for a south sea archipelago.

      I didn't know that about toy tanks. I got some with a bunch of toy soldiers that I halved the length of the gun and use as light tank/tankettes with 20mm cannon. My next posting will show these.


  8. My first guess would be from the 1/48 scale aeries from Classic Toy Soldiers, other than that I'm not sure.
    Beautiful pictures, the snowy ones look strangely like West Virginia!

    1. Maybe I'll show more pics some time! Parts of the USA you would never mistake for this country, and other parts, you'd think you could be in either place. I think New Zealand's native bush, though, you would never mistake for anywhere else.

      My guess was the vehicle is about 1:56 scale, and my foot figures (see my next posting) more like 1:40-45 roughly. A 1:48 scale for the vehicles would be a better fit, for sure.

  9. ... and 1:48 figures come from ... Preiser?

    1. Don't know, to be honest. Often the manufacturer is pretty obscure on the packaging...