Sunday, 17 May 2015


Just watched The Magic Roundabout (2005), which had been on my DVD rental queue for years. Whereas The Clangers was a great sci-fi/ fantasy, the original Magic Roundabout of the 1960s was never as marvellously eccentric as genre entertainment or quite astonishingly weird as cultural artifice for children’s TV.

Stuffed with star voices - including Tom Baker, Jim Broadbent, Joanna Lumley, Bill Nighy, Ian McKellen, Robbie Williams, Ray Winstone, and Kylie Minogue (who also does a new theme song) - as this movie is, there’s no denying it is basically a British attempt on the American market’s dominance of fairytale quests in animated format. 

Here we have Dougal ‘Baggins’ and a fellowship of the runaway train from the village square in the shire, that is clearly designed/ intended to compete with those kung fu penguins, and whatnot. 

It’s a colourful adventure, with a superhero cinema plotline (baddie Zeebad schemes to freeze the world with magic diamonds), and various po-mo jokes (Dylan is a Kinks fan!), that lacks the obvious charms of Wallace and Gromit. Oh well, it’ll soon be time for bed. 

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Flying boats

I have always liked old flying boats and the amphibious type of aircraft rates highly on my top 10 planes list. As throwbacks to a nearly-forgotten era of bygone aviation freedoms, these big sea-planes remain iconic simply because they didn’t need runways. Any stretch of open water made landing and takeoff easy, although it helped if the plane could coast up to a pier or jetty for passengers to disembark or for unloading cargo.

Centrepiece of my flying boats collection of diecast models is a Short S-25 Sunderland III, a BOAC ‘Hythe’ class prop-liner (reg. G-AGKY) named Hungerford. A very heavy model of solid construction, this is a shiny limited edition (at 1:144 scale) from Corgi. 

Also a BOAC aircraft, I have a Boeing 314 Clipper (not pictured). It's another Corgi model, but only a very small one (wingspan: 125mm) of an unknown ‘fit-the-box’ scale.   

The main American flying boat I have is a Consolidated PB2Y-3 Coronado. A highly detailed 1:144 scale model (more plastic than metal, see above) made by Amercom, this diecast product usually comes with a free magazine.

Japanese ‘Emily’ is a Kawanishi H8K2, and this 1:144 scale model from Amercom is another part-work of the fortnightly Giant Warplanes magazine collection.

On my wants list:
German plane Dornier Do X (above) is a Lufthansa aircraft with six engines, and the model is produced by Postage Stamp Planes - scale 1:350, and Russian Beriev A-40 Albatross (rare jet-engined flying-boat only built as a prototype), from DeAgostini.