Thursday, March 24, 2016

We'll return in April

Personal circumstances forced me to take a short hiatus from this blog. That turned out to be a good thing. I'm taking the time to re-think the direction of "Off Topic'd."

In addition to revamping the editorial focus, I'll also be doing an overhaul of the blog's appearance.

Look for new content to appear beginning the first full week of April 2016.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Lio -- Literally

The November 23, 2015, sequence of Lio shows one of the strengths of a comic strip. In such a visual medium, one has to represent everything as a drawing, as creator Mark Tatulli did. (click on image to enlarge)

The joke, of course, is that the figurative has become literal. The scissors and matches are both animate rather than inanimate objects. And note how that last panel is set up. 

Reading left to right we first see Lio with his two friends, and then the sign. If you reverse the order, the joke falls flat, as we know what to expect. As Tatulli set it up, though, we're briefly wondering what the significance of those two objects is, preparing us for the punchline contained in the rules. Coming up with the gag is one thing -- but knowing how to properly set it up is the real talent of a comic strip artist.

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Collecting -- and collecting information 23

As I've said before, my interest in postwar Japanese tin toys isn't really focused on collecting them. Rather, it's more collecting information about them. Some aspects are well-documents, such as the space and robot toys of the early 60s, and the deluxe car models of the 50s and 60s. But the cheap toys sold in drug stores and five and dimes? Not so much.

Linemar was the Japanese subsidiary of the American firm Louis Marx Co. Perhaps that's why Linemar vehicles had lithographed markings that more closely represented actual American prototypes (sometimes, anyway).

I've written before about the 10-car set Linemar offered in the late 1950s. I've often wondered if the vehicles in that set were ever offered for separate sale. Recently, I came across two examples that don't necessarily answer that question but do provide some additional background. 

Prominent in the set is a beverage truck with Coca-Cola markings. It's one of the vehicles that's accurately depicted on the box's cover (see Collecting -- and collecting information 13 for one that isn't).

The Linemar Coke truck.

Was the Coke truck ever sold separately? I'm not sure -- but similar trucks were. Not quite as common as the Coke truck is the Pepsi truck.

The Linemar Pepsi truck -- version 1.

Initially, I thought it was the same toy with different markings -- but I was wrong. Take a close look at the two: the  Coke truck's cab is bigger and more rounded. And the top brace across the body is wider on the Coke track as well. Plus, the chassis is different. The Pepsi truck has a more labor-intensive (and therefore, I suspect, earlier) crimped chassis, while the Coke truck has a flat chassis.

The Coke truck chassis. Just two tabs hold this to the body.
The Pepsi truck chassis. Crimped all the way around to the body.

So different designs for different companies. Seems straightforward -- and then I found a variation of the Pepsi truck. It has a green body rather than the Pepsi corporate blue. Some of the lithograph body details are different.

Version 2 - why the color change?

And curiously, it also does not have the Linemar logo on the rear as the Coke truck does.

Why no logo?
Did Linemar make this version as a subcontractor for another toy importer? Hard to say. But my quest for information continues.