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 Britains Elephants-History

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elephas_maximus



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PostSubject: Britains Elephants-History   Sat Dec 21, 2013 10:58 pm

Some of my favourite models are the zoo elephants produced by Britains Ltd, my collection is pictured below.  I was lucky to find a shop a few years ago which had a surplus of old stock, they had a large quantity of the boxed Africans, the Indians were obtained via eBay.  Through some research I have found some interesting information regarding their production, specifically the 1310 African cow.

Years of production: the information is from [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]
Lead Zoo
901 Indian elephant cow 1929-1941(pre war rubber trunk) / 1950-1960(post war solid lead trunk)
944 Indian elephant calf 1931-1941, 1946-1960
952 Indian elephant young 1931-1941, 1946-1960
Plastic Zoo
1309 African elephant bull 1981-1999
1310 African elephant cow 1965-1999
1311 Indian elephant (2 versions) 1961-1972 (trunk down), 1972-1999 (trunk up)
1313 African elephant calf 1964-1999

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Introduced in 1965, the 1310 African elephant cow was modeled from life by George Ford as depicted in the catalogue.
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The photo of Mr. Ford shows the old elephant paddock of London Zoo with its distinctive rock moat and chain link visitor barrier (the exhibit was renovated in 1965). Based on this and the time period I can assume the Britains 1310 elephant was modeled after Dixie, an African elephant living there at the time.  London Zoo had three Africans in the 50s-60s (along with some Indians) but Dixie was the only adult African during this period.  I looked up old photos and Dixie is a match for the elephant in the Britains catalogue.  Sadly, she died in 1967 after falling into the paddock moat, supposedly she was pushed by another elephant.  

It is very interesting to see the real animal that Britains based their model on, though not a 100% copy, the model does strongly resemble this particular elephant.  The Britains line stands apart, in my opinion, from modern figures due to this kind of research from live animals.  Apparently the Jeol figures were also referenced from life lending to their wonderful sculpting.  
 

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George Ford sketched and sculpted many of the Britains zoo figures, he created the 1310 and 1313 African elephants.  
I believe this young elephant is the individual named Toto, also from London Zoo

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A metal master for production of the 1st version 1311 Indian elephant.  The 1311 Indian was derived from the old 901 lead model but with slight modifications to the face, trunk, tail and the addition of tusks.  The 901 model has a wider head and body compared to the plastic remake.
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widukind

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PostSubject: Re: Britains Elephants-History   Sat Dec 21, 2013 10:59 pm

Many many thanks for this informations  sunny sunny sunny sunny 

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PostSubject: Re: Britains Elephants-History   Sat Dec 21, 2013 11:16 pm

Fantastic collection, wonderful pictures and very, very valuable and interesting information  Applause 

Thankyou very much, EM  flower

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PostSubject: Re: Britains Elephants-History   Sun Dec 22, 2013 7:01 am

Great topic  Applause Fantastic collection  cheers 

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PostSubject: Re: Britains Elephants-History   Sun Dec 22, 2013 11:36 am

Thank You for these infos!  sunny 
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PostSubject: Re: Britains Elephants-History   Sun Dec 22, 2013 1:58 pm

Great legacy to STS! Thanks Andrew for this contribution! elephant

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PostSubject: Re: Britains Elephants-History   Sun Dec 22, 2013 2:44 pm

Excellent information here Andrew. Just to add that Britains used distinct types of plastic. So for plastic production spanning either side of 1968 we have ‘Alkathene’, ICI’s brand name for polythene, first and then PVC. Plastic type is an important dating method.

Also Britains made one more elephant. This was 1:42nd scale and part of their short lived Mini-Set series.

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PostSubject: Re: Britains Elephants-History   Sun Dec 22, 2013 6:41 pm

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:
...Also Britians made one more elephant. This was 1:42nd scale and part of their short lived Mini-Set series.

Chris, can You please share more infos about this elephant? When (in lead or plastic era)? African or Asian? Is there any photo available?
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PostSubject: Re: Britains Elephants-History   Mon Dec 23, 2013 1:32 am

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:
[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:
...Also Britians made one more elephant. This was 1:42nd scale and part of their short lived Mini-Set series.

Chris, can You please share more infos about this elephant? When (in lead or plastic era)? African or Asian? Is there any photo available?

Certainly Jarda - I will supply further details and images in time for Christmas.

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elephas_maximus



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PostSubject: Re: Britains Elephants-History   Mon Dec 23, 2013 10:19 pm

Thanks for the comments everyone, I'm glad you all found this interesting.
[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:
Excellent information here Andrew. Just to add that Britains used distinct types of plastic. So for plastic production spanning either side of 1968 we have ‘Alkathene’, ICI’s brand name for polythene, first and then PVC. Plastic type is an important dating method.

Also Britains made one more elephant. This was 1:42nd scale and part of their short lived Mini-Set series.
Hi Chris, I was hoping you'd see this post since I know you are very knowledgeable on the Britains line.  I took your advice and purchased the book suspended animation, it is very interesting.  I was just reading up on those different types of plastics the other day and their moulding techniques.

I've seen that other elephant but have yet to purchase one.
[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:
[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:
...Also Britians made one more elephant. This was 1:42nd scale and part of their short lived Mini-Set series.

Chris, can You please share more infos about this elephant? When (in lead or plastic era)? African or Asian? Is there any photo available?

Hi Jarda,the model is a small plastic young African, it shows up in a lot of group auctions though the boxed set is more rare.
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PostSubject: Re: Britains Elephants-History   Tue Dec 24, 2013 9:13 pm

As promised here is Britains 1:42nd scale young African Elephant:

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This was released as set number 1033: Elephant and boy. As well as the elephant and boy the set also included a low fence and two bushes. The box doubled as a backdrop. Introduced in 1968 this particular set was withdrawn in 1969. Ron Cameron was the person behind sculpting the whole series.

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elephas_maximus



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PostSubject: Re: Britains Elephants-History   Thu Dec 26, 2013 11:13 pm

Thanks for posting the information that Ron Cameron sculpted this figure, good to know. I will see if I can obtain one from eBay one day.

Chris, if it is not too much trouble could you please take a picture of the 1033 elephant next to the regular Britains Zoo line 1310 or 1313 models? (If you have those)

I would be curious to see how well this figure fits in with the 1:32 elephant figures.
Thank you.
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PostSubject: Re: Britains Elephants-History   Mon Dec 30, 2013 12:32 am

Wow, great contribution, very informative text and perfect pictures - thanks a lot !

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PostSubject: Re: Britains Elephants-History   Mon Dec 30, 2013 4:47 pm

awesome collection and info! thank you.  Very Happy 
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PostSubject: Re: Britains Elephants-History   Mon Dec 30, 2013 5:03 pm

Here's a puzzler for elephas_maximus, a recent purchase. As you can see in the photo, it is a plastic copy of Britains lead baby elephant. It is not marked anywhere. I currently think it was made by either Hilco in their last days before going bust, or the early days of Cherilea, which was run by ex Hilco people. Both companies copied items by Britains, Timpo and others in their first experiments with plastic figures. Any other suggestions?

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PostSubject: Re: Britains Elephants-History   Mon Dec 30, 2013 6:27 pm

I have never seen a copy of the lead zoo figures made in plastic before.

I think you're right that it must be a vintage European brand which produced this figure as more recent copies made in Hong Kong and China seem to have copied the later plastic Britains range rather than the lead series. Also, I don't think I've seen any Asian Britains copies made with the elephant eyes having the additional red colour on them.

Very interesting.
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PostSubject: Re: Britains Elephants-History   Mon Dec 30, 2013 8:29 pm

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:
I have never seen a copy of the lead zoo figures made in plastic before.

I think you're right that it must be a vintage European brand which produced this figure as more recent copies made in Hong Kong and China seem to have copied the later plastic Britains range rather than the lead series.  Also, I don't think I've seen any Asian Britains copies made with the elephant eyes having the additional red colour on them.

Very interesting.


Then you might find this "Very interesting" as well, a plastic copy of the old lead Britains farm Exmoor Horn ram which is known to have been made by both Hilco and Cherilea in the 1950s, as it has been found still strung in boxed sets from both. Cherliea took over a lot of Hilco moulds.

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This ram seems not to have been made by Cherilea for very long, and I don't think made after 1960, when Cherilea produced a new (mostly horrible) plastic farm range.
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PostSubject: Re: Britains Elephants-History   Wed Jan 01, 2014 5:08 pm

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:
Thanks for posting the information that Ron Cameron sculpted this figure, good to know.  I will see if I can obtain one from eBay one day.

Chris, if it is not too much trouble could you please take a picture of the 1033 elephant next to the regular Britains Zoo line 1310 or 1313 models? (If you have those)

I would be curious to see how well this figure fits in with the 1:32 elephant figures.  
Thank you.

Here you go Andrew:

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[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] by [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.], on Flickr

From left to right: 1310 Adult 1:32nd scale, 1313 Baby 1:32nd scale and 1033 Mini-Set 1:42nd scale.

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[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] by [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.], on Flickr

From left to right: 1310 Adult 1:32nd scale, 1313 Baby 1:32nd scale and 1033 Mini-Set 1:42nd scale.

All were illustrated in the Britains 1968 catalogue.

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PostSubject: Re: Britains Elephants-History   Wed Jan 01, 2014 11:44 pm

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:
Then you might find this "Very interesting" as well, a plastic copy of the old lead Britains farm Exmoor Horn ram which is known to have been made by both Hilco and Cherilea in the 1950s, as it has been found still strung in boxed sets from both. Cherliea took over a lot of Hilco moulds.

This ram seems not to have been made by Cherilea for very long, and I don't think made after 1960, when Cherilea produced a new (mostly horrible) plastic farm range.

Thanks for sharing Dave.

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Here you go Andrew:
All were illustrated in the Britains 1968 catalogue.

Hi Chris,
Thank you for taking the requested photos, I think this figure would fit in nicely with my current collection.  It is interesting to see how the different sculptors at Britains tackled the same subject.
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PostSubject: Re: Britains Elephants-History   Fri Jan 03, 2014 2:12 am

I really love all these elephants and it is a joy to read about all your knowledge with these figures and also to watch so great pictures too! Very Happy

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PostSubject: Re: Britains Elephants-History   Fri Jan 03, 2014 8:50 pm

Thank You very much, Chris, for these valuable infos, this Mini-set elephant I saw never before.
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PostSubject: Re: Britains Elephants-History   Sat Jan 04, 2014 1:27 am

\"elephas_maximus” wrote:
[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:

Here you go Andrew:
All were illustrated in the Britains 1968 catalogue.

Hi Chris,
Thank you for taking the requested photos, I think this figure would fit in nicely with my current collection.  It is interesting to see how the different sculptors at Britains tackled the same subject.

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:
I really love all these elephants and it is a joy to read about all your knowledge with these figures and also to watch so great pictures too! Very Happy

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:
Thank You very much, Chris, for these valuable infos, this Mini-set elephant I saw never before.

Hi Andrew, Roger and Jarda

Glad to provide the images and extra information. Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: Britains Elephants-History   Thu Feb 20, 2014 6:01 am


Here is an rare plastic copy of the lead 944 Indian elephant calf that I found recently on eBay.  I was first made aware of this figure only a few months ago when DaveScriv posted a picture in this thread.  The maker is unknown as there are no markings on the figure.

The figure is slightly smaller than the lead version but the painting of the eyes is the same.  Britains didn't make a plastic Indian elephant calf but I imagine if they did it would look something like this but probably a bit more detailed as they derived a lot of their plastic models from the old lead designs.

The plastic version (left), original lead version (right)

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The plastic version with the adult Indian elephants.
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PostSubject: Re: Britains Elephants-History   Sat Feb 22, 2014 12:29 am

Very interesting Andrew! Very Happy

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PostSubject: Re: Britains Elephants-History   Sat Feb 22, 2014 12:32 am

Andrew an interesting find and thanks for sharing the information. Images show the size relationships perfectly.

Now a question - is it hollow?

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PostSubject: Re: Britains Elephants-History   Sat Feb 22, 2014 8:32 am

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:
Andrew an interesting find and thanks for sharing the information. Images show the size relationships perfectly.

Now a question - is it hollow?

I second that  Very Happy 

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PostSubject: Re: Britains Elephants-History   Sat Feb 22, 2014 9:57 am

The baby elephants I have, lead is hollow, plastic is solid.
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PostSubject: Re: Britains Elephants-History   Sat Feb 22, 2014 11:33 am

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:
Andrew an interesting find and thanks for sharing the information. Images show the size relationships perfectly.

Now a question - is it hollow?

My elephant is the same as Dave's, it is solid plastic.  

Whichever company made this copy tried to copy the original in all aspects, the colour of the plastic is quite similar to the lead original along with the painting of the eyes.  I have a feeling that they stripped off the paint from the Britains lead figure before making the moulds from it for their plastic version.  The reason being is the original lead Britains were actually more detailed than they appear, a thick coat of enamel paint was used on these figures which obliterated a lot of the finer details of the sculpting.  If you ever see Britains lead figures with heavy paint loss the more fine details of the "raw" lead models can bee seen.  This copy seems to have very slightly more clear details than my lead version.
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PostSubject: Re: Britains Elephants-History   Sat Feb 22, 2014 12:01 pm

At the moment, I'm still thinking late Hilco/early Cherilea.

Perhaps one day an example will turn up in some kind of packaging, a boxed set, trade box, or if not either of these, one of those little cellophane or translucent paper used for most premiums in food products, in which case it will be real problem discovering who actually made them.

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PostSubject: Re: Britains Elephants-History   Sat Dec 27, 2014 12:57 pm


From Britains short lived 1:42nd scale Mini-Set series. Here is set 1033 with all that it contained and included the young African elephant, a boy figure feeding the elephant buns, low fences and bushes. As can be seen the box also could be used as a diorama backdrop.

Boy figure gives scale and shows the relative size of the elephant figure. Also it provides an historical context as in the present zoo visitors are no longer allowed to feed elephants! Very Happy

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PostSubject: Re: Britains Elephants-History   Sat Dec 27, 2014 8:16 pm

Thats a great set Chris, they rarely show up on eBay fully boxed.

Yes feeding of zoo elephants used to be very common many years ago, this was fun for the visitors but not so great for the animals. Commonly elephants would push and shove each other to get to the handouts often resulting in falls into the moat surrounding the exhibit. A lot of obese elephants resulted from standing in the same spot all day eating sugary buns and other human treats.

The elephant I mentioned, London Zoo's Dixie, that the 1310 African elephant was modeled after died as a result of such a fall. It is very likely that she was hovering on the edge of the moat stretching for a treat when she was nudged over.
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PostSubject: Re: Britains Elephants-History   Sun Dec 28, 2014 10:18 pm

Thanks Andrew, I managed to get most of my Mini-Sets a while ago quite cheaply. Although prices have raised somewhat in the past years.

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Corgi & Britains Daktari


Luckily for this elephant Andrew he was released back into the wild and starred in Daktari!  Very Happy

Laughing

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PostSubject: Re: Britains Elephants-History   Tue Dec 30, 2014 6:39 am

Great photo Chris, thanks! Reminds me of how they transport elephants in Asia (even though this Britains is African), they just walk them onto flatbed trucks.
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PostSubject: Re: Britains Elephants-History   Wed Dec 31, 2014 6:19 am

Chris, wonderful photo and model set! wow.
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PostSubject: Re: Britains Elephants-History   Fri Jan 02, 2015 2:04 am

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:
Great photo Chris, thanks!  Reminds me of how they transport elephants in Asia (even though this Britains is African), they just walk them onto flatbed trucks.

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:
Chris, wonderful photo and model set! wow.

Thank you Andrew and Scott - perhaps we need a new thread: livestock transporters and horse/pony trailers! Very Happy

May I also take this opportunity to wish you both a Happy New Year. cheers
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PostSubject: Re: Britains Elephants-History   Fri Jan 02, 2015 8:35 am

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May I also take this opportunity to wish you both a Happy New Year. cheers

Happy new year Chris Very Happy


[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:
Thank you Andrew and Scott - perhaps we need a new thread: livestock transporters and horse/pony trailers! Very Happy

Perhaps ? Let's go for a new thread Chris cheers

And, by the way Wink , I had that truck when I was young with the Daktari jeep too, these were the only "small car toys" I either loved drunken

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PostSubject: Re: Britains Elephants-History   Thu Apr 02, 2015 6:42 pm

Please help me with the 1:42 elephant figure: I got similar one in Hong Kong lot and I am not sure if I got original or copy. Are there any signs on the original Britains figure (text, logo, year,...) to be easily recognized? What are this figure exact dimensions?
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PostSubject: Re: Britains Elephants-History   Thu Apr 02, 2015 11:14 pm

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May I also take this opportunity to wish you both a Happy New Year. cheers

Happy new year Chris  Very Happy


[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:
Thank you Andrew and Scott - perhaps we need a new thread: livestock transporters and horse/pony trailers! Very Happy

Perhaps ? Let's go for a new thread Chris  cheers

And, by the way  Wink , I had that truck when I was young with the Daktari jeep too, these were the only "small car toys" I either loved  drunken

Christophe - sorry I missed your reply - hope 2015 has been a good one so far. I too had the Daktari Land-Rover - it was a Christmas present when I was about 11 years old and I still have it.  Very Happy

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Please help me with the 1:42 elephant figure: I got similar one in Hong Kong lot and I am not sure if I got original or copy. Are there any signs on the original Britains figure (text, logo, year,...) to be easily recognized? What are this figure exact dimensions?

Jarda - I will look at my model tomorrow and report back if there are any identification details.


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PostSubject: Re: Britains Elephants-History   Fri Apr 10, 2015 8:36 am

Chris, please can you check your elephant? Your infos can be very helpful for the identification.
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PostSubject: Re: Britains Elephants-History   Mon Apr 13, 2015 9:36 pm

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:
Chris, please can you check your elephant? Your infos can be very helpful for the identification.

Hi Jarda

Sorry for the delay but I have been away.

I have just looked at my example of the Britains Mini-Set Elephant. There are no markings or numbers on the model. This is not a surprise as the elephant was sold only as part of a set.

The model is:

Height: 48mm
Length: 80mm - from tip of extended trunk to end of tail
Width: 30mm - far edge of left ear to far edge of right ear

The plastic is PVC and has a slightly sticky feel. The only paint is white added to the tusks and not very well applied.

Hope this helps.

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PostSubject: Re: Britains Elephants-History   Thu Oct 08, 2015 6:40 pm

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:
Chris, please can you check your elephant? Your infos can be very helpful for the identification.

Did you buy this model Jarda?

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PostSubject: Re: Britains Elephants-History   Fri Oct 09, 2015 8:13 am

Yes, Chris, I hope I have this model, thank you very much for your help!
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