TIMPO – Rare Plastic

TIMPO

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timpo

It was only a matter of time before I finally got to talk about Timpo Swoppets. I’ve covered Timpos solid plastic figures in an earlier post and I’ll get to the lead stuff later but its time to talk swoppets. This is the first general post of a series.

BANK ROBBER

What is it about these 54mm toy soldiers, made up of brightly coloured individual plastic parts that make them so highly collectable and in some cases so valuable. Such is the demand for Timpo that even the knock off HK versions of the figures are beginning to sell well!

First Series INDIAN

FIRST SERIES COWBOY

Well I have a view on this having sold a fair few in my time. Until recently I had a smallish collection of some of the rarer figures but decided to have clear out and made some very decent money.  If you have read some of my posts you will realise that I don’t mind talking money, value, rarity. If you are selling things these are factors you need to know and again if you are just starting a collection

RARE GREEN LEGS

or looking for that final figure you need to know what you might expect to pay. So why are Timpo Swoppets so collectable?

VIKING HOO WARRIOR

VIKING HOO WARRIOR

Well a number of factors come into play. Firstly they look great and the attention to detail on the figures and accessories is excellent playing  very much into mentally how you think a character should be represented from historical references in books and probably more likely  the key influences from the movies we grew up with in the 50’s, 60s and 70’s . The over moulding process was revolutionary when invented and coupled with the quality of the sculpting led to a very unique product and high quality product. When other makers began to move into swoppet lines they did it with minimal success finding it difficult to match the quality that Timpo achieved. Britain’s is probably an exception to this as they had the sculpting and production capability to match and in some cases exceed the quality that Timpo had set the benchmark for.

THE RAREST ARAB... so i am told

The color of the figures is very good and although the earlier figures are liable to be brittle they are sturdy and look good in display. I’ve seen comment elsewhere that suggest the fact that the could be swopped was the key factor that made them collectable but I feel the main reason is that throughout production Timpo would change things and mix things around producing parts and accessories in a variety of colours and poses. This mix of series versions, updated poses and colour variation is the key.

this is the voice of the mysterons

Full Set Captain Scarlet

So we had millions of one pose in a certain pose/colour and then varying the colour/pose for a smaller production run. So you might get a common colour in an uncommon pose or a common pose in an uncommon colour. Many years later this has resulted in lots of common figures and much fewer uncommon figures.

MEXICAN YELLOW SHIRT

MEXICAN YELLOW SHIRT

Later production would see even more detail implemented in the over moulding process such as different hair colours, and other details and this led to a significant level of variation. As an owner of the figures either having played with as a child or collected in later life you could then choose to simply make up you own variations.

KNIGHT WITH YELLOW SCABARD

Add to this that they changed the figures by issuing an updated series on a number of occasions over the years you begin to see how this has affected supply and demand.  You also end up with a situation where some of the earlier figures are not so rare because more were produced during a longer shelf life. Consequently some of the best prices can be found with the figures issued in the 1970’s just before Timpo originally went bust. These were issued for a very short time, reflect the over moulding process at its best and make up some of the rarest and most sought after figures.

Series 4 Confederate soldiers are an example of this. Holy Grail figures such as the 7th cavalry trooper in a prone pose don’t appear to actually exist other than in brochures but I have read that some were issued. Would be great to see one!

Recently while attending my usual seaside car boot sale I purchased on old 1970’s toy kit fort in wood unmade and sealed – with figures. When opened it contained a bag of never played with Timpo 7th Cavalry figures  including a general with the fancy braces but unfortunately not the Holy Grail figures!

BLACK BANDIT

JUST A FAV

Knights, Romans and Vikings and variant cowboys and bandits are very sought after. A recent knight with very rare white helmet made £515.00 on ebay. Yes that’s one figure, but a very rare example. Heres a few more

By the way it’s no good trying to paint your way to a life of luxury. This is frowned upon and will not really work. See this example of a FAKE confederate.

Fake FEd

Fake Confederate

A mug ( me ) purchased this from an auction house as part of a large lot and of course as I purchased via the web I didnt see it was repainted, very well it has to be said . Despite this and advertising them as repainted they still sold to one of our good friends in Germany for a surprisingly high figure. Much of Timpo’s production went to Germany for a number of reasons and Timpo figures are highly sought after by German collectors.

One other thing to mention is Timpo’s attention to detail with its accessories . This needs its own post but heres a pic of a set of very rare black crusader shields……well actually another fake or copy but very well made. I was never able to find out who made them but they now reside with some thankful crusader or knight figures in Italy. If anyone knows who made them please post a response.

OLD RED

OLD RED

So that’s it for this first post . I have over 900 pictures of Timpo Toys and will get some more posts done as time permits.

If you collect Timpo then I’m sure you will already have your favorites but if this is new to you and this post has generated some further interest you may want to find out more. May I suggest Michael Maughan’s excellent full color book (2nd edition) on Timpo which you can get on ebid. www.ebid.co.uk  and on ebay sometimes.

Plastic Warrior also produced an excellent Timpo special covering the company from 1937 to 1995 which is now out of print. While this covers a wider production it does have some excellent articles on the development of over moulding and the swoppet figures. Now out of circulation you can pick it up on ebay from time to time but be prepared to pay a fair bit as it’s a sought after publication. It would be great to see an updated version in colour at some time something that the folks at plastic warrior have started recently with the bi monthly magazine ( highly recommended and great value ) and one or two of the specials have been reissued in colour.

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Collector and dealer in vintage figures
This entry was posted in Collectables, English Plastic, Plastic Collectables, Timpo, Timpo Swoppets and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to TIMPO – Rare Plastic

  1. Hi, the Crusader shields with the black crosses are neither fakes nor copies, they are remoulds recently produced from the original moulds, the current owner of the moulds produced them in black so they wouldn’t be passed off as originals.

    Regards, Brian Carrick

    • Brian,
      Thanks for the interesting feedback . When you say recent I would be interested in how long ago. These shields came to me in a old loft box of toys and I remember the contents fairly well as it included a very nice 1st edition batmobile with rare tyres!!. They were amongst a load of old small airfix , some timpo and mostly Britains figures and other toy debris , I would say from around the mid early to mid 70’s but not the late 70’s. . The box has around 10 shields, some of which were broken and as brittle as old plastic and I would say the plastic was very dirty as I cleaned them up a bit. I doubt very much they had been added in to the box at a later stage . Were they made by Toyway ? . Would be good to pinpoint the date as I’ve never seen them since I found the first lot.

  2. Hi, all I can tell you is that shields like this were made during the last three years, after the moulds were sold by Toyway, and were on sale at the Plastic Warrior show two years ago, there were several variations of colours. I don’t recall Toyway ever atempting overmoulding, they were a trading company rather than a manufacturer and Timpo was never a serious commercial entity for them, more a nostalgic interlude for Richard Morris, the owner of Toyway, who had been the International Sales Manager for Timpo.

    Hope this helps, regards, Brian.

  3. CoolNiro says:

    Hi Brian,
    the black cross shields are produced by the owner of the original moulds.
    They are replicas !
    Regards
    Andy

  4. Adam says:

    Thanks for the Timpo overview. Not a lot on the web, so great to see some history and, even better, very nice photos. Always envious of those who have a decent Timpo collection.

    My mother did her best to keep me in supply of Timpos in the late 1970s, I only wish my dad was the same – a toyshop around the corner from his saddle store (this was around 1980) decided to sell all their remaining Timpo for $1 a box. I distinctly remember most of it was Wild West. My dad’s contribution? $1. I bought the General Store. Now purchase figures once a year, as can’t justify the high cost of collecting Timpo, but I do have a shelf full. Would love a company to introduce some really nice over moulding similar to Timpo (with an eye for the kids rather than expensive collector pieces) but have never seen anything to match Timpo. Any suggestions?

    • http://www.angelfire.com/fl2/htf/

      This company in the states have a range of affordable swoppets figures. Thanks for the post. Keep checking the site as I’ll be posting a lot more in the summer.

      • Adam says:

        Quite enjoyed the rants on the company’s website. Figures not up to scratch yet (colours diluted), and no Paypal discounts internation payment. I’m hoping someone with a decent budget will come in and produce some swoppets in the future. Looking forward to those pics.

  5. lawrence posa says:

    Also hard to find much out about new zealand Timpo,some great ones made over here and now sought after highly.

  6. Mig Bonnefoy says:

    Hi Dave,
    I have a question. Which first series indians are considered ‘rare’? I have a couple of examples but never considered any of them rare, just a bit on the worn side. Do you have any thoughts or pictures? Thanks.

    • Hi Mig, I’ll dig out a few pics of some 1st edition I have sold. A few years ago the 1st Edition Cowboys and Indians were making very good money but recently they have slipped away price wise. As always a complete figure, not damaged or repaired with a good headress ( mottled or coloured very popular ) and rarer belts seem to be the ones with silver on them and unusual colours like yellow or yellow legs with black belt. A good early base in green and original weapons. If a mounted figure then with a first edition horse with painted bridle.

  7. Geoff Smith says:

    Hi, Great website. I really like the comments and the pictures. I recently sold a mexican with yellow shirt/lt blue jacket (didn’t know what I had until I read your website). Anyway, the deal was done and I honoured it … sold very cheap. I have heaps of rare figures such as the romans with black boots and black sandals, knight with yellow eagle on black tunic and yellow sword scabbard running legs, knight with brown tunic running legs, knight with blue tunic running legs etc etc. Let me know if you want any individual pictures to post up for other timpo collectors. I finf the things that really interest me are seeing pictures of the rare items. Keep up the fantastic job – very interetsing. Cheers – Geoff

  8. Kenneth Gray says:

    Hi:
    A few Timpo figures I’ve bid on cheap on e bay and lost and wonder what they were worth are a white apache body firing a rifle (sold for about 15 pounds), a gun crew with red shirts (sold for about 20 pounds) and a cavalry lot including a confederate general with a black belt (sold for about 60 pounds). Any idea on their worth?

    Kenneth

    • Hello Kenneth. More Timpo are sold on ebay than anywhere else. Usually around 2-3k items on .co uk and .de at anyone time . I’d say that the sale prices are what they are worth as the market generally sets the current price . For instance the confederate at £60 has the black belt priced in. Good luck withe buying.

  9. Jeff Myers says:

    Great pictures/article. I’ve always been curious as to the exact process of over moulding. Amazing how these figures have held onto their colours – still as vibrant as they day they were produced. Thank you. https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.109744339083219.7358.100001429613967&type=3

  10. Charles McConnell says:

    Recently at an old person auction I purchase a large bag with the plastic toys that you have. Some are made in Hong-Kong, others has the markings of HK, others have no markings, The detail of the molds are exquisite for such small figure.
    My question to you is. the ones produced by Timpo do they have any markings ?. Would appreciate your answer

    • Swoppets only have Timpo on the base which of course is detachable. Timpo Solid figures which pre date the swoppets often are marked on the body or legs ( Timpo , Timpo england etc ) and bases marked “Made in England”. Send me aphoto and i will tell you who made the. . davidbrownx1@aol.com

      • Charles McConnell says:

        Here are the pictures that have no markings except the Indian, this has a green metal base and is mark underneath, Britains ltd deertail made in England. with this lot came 27 pieces made in Hong Kong, 13 pieces with the mark HK and about over 50 pieces of cows, fences, tiny cowboys/Indians, wagons, chickens and other animals, some made of hard robber and plastic. Thank you for taken the time to response. Charles McConnell

      • Charles McConnell says:

        Forgot to add this picture in the previous email, the one with the green base, the base is made of metal and the body is hard rubber/plastic. the markings are,Britains ltd deertail made in Ingland. Thank you. Charles McConnell

  11. patrick says:

    superbe présentation des timpo , dans les année 70 j’en avait acheter et malheureusement j’ai tous donner a mes cousin quand j’était plus jeune , j’en ai trouver un jour sur une brocante , une boite en métal compléte acheter a 5 euros et depuis j’en achéte ou échange . ceux que je préfére comme a l’époque ce sont les mexicain , les arabes dont ceux a chameaux trés dure a trouver et cowboy et indien et les croisades . j’achéte des armes sur ebay en provenance d’allemagne . le site et trés bien et aide dans les recherche .

  12. Hi I have a collection of Timpo figures

  13. Pingback: Timpo Swoppets – Colours, Conversions and Copies | Vintage Toy Figures

  14. Trev says:

    If anybody is looking for some rare Timpo Toys I have just listed some on ebay au. I have about 50-60 to sell I have just listed an Arab on horse back looking scared galloping away from battle. I have no reason not to believe they are not the real deal. I got them from a deceased estate, along with a heap of dinky toys. Have a look, you might find the one your missing. Auction Ends on 13 /10 /2013

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