S. Berliner, III's sbiii.com AUTHENTICAST/COMET Continuation Page 3 keywords = Comet Authenticast Comet Metal Products Slonim ordnance tank armor armour track self-propelled artillery gun cannon rifle airplane spotter ship naval navy South Salem Wyandotte

Updated:   14 Jan 2013, 20:30  ET
[Page created 18 May 2002; converted 03 Aug 2011;

    original AT&T Worldnet Website begun 30 May 1996.]
URL:  http://sbiii.com/authcmt3.html
[was at "home.att.net/~Berliner-Ultrasonics/authcmt3.html"]

S. Berliner, III
Consultant in Ultrasonic Processing
"changing materials with high-intensity sound"

[consultation is on a fee basis]

Technical and Historical Writer, Oral Historian
Popularizer of Science and Technology
Rail, Auto, Air, Ordnance, and Model Enthusiast
Light-weight Linguist, Lay Minister, and Putative Philosopher



note - The vast bulk of my massive Web presence (over 485 pages) had been hosted by AT&T's WorldNet service since 30 May 1996; they dropped WorldNet effective 31 Mar 2010 and I have to scramble to transfer everything by then.  Everything's saved but all the links have to be changed, mostly by hand.  See my sbiii.com Transfer Page for any updates on this tedious process.


S. Berliner, III's

sbiii.com

AUTHENTICAST/COMET
Continuation Page 3


imgintpg.gif

Comet Auth Part-Color Logo Comet Auth B&W Logo

Comet Auth Full Color Logo Comet Auth Waterline Logo
(Logos from 1945 Catalog)


Please refer to the Ordnance page, et seq.

INDEX:

Because the indexing of Comet AUTHENTICAST information has gotten too complex to keep up to date on each of the many individual pages,
a Master Index will be used for currency and the indices on each individual page may not be kept current.   new (14 Jan 2013)

On the main Authenticast/Comet page:
  Comet Metal Products, Inc.
  AUTHENTICAST

On the Authenticast/Comet continuation page 1:
  Comet Metal Products History

(collected and moved there 02 Jul 03)
  1945 Comet Metal Products AUTHENTICAST Catalog
Tank Scale of 1:108
  1945 Comet Metal Products AUTHENTICAST Price List
  AUTHENTICAST Ship Models.
  AUTHENTICAST Miscellany.

On the Authenticast/Comet continuation page 2:
  1950s Fitted Case of Tanks.
  Atomic Cannon
  Honest John
  USS Northampton - CLC-1
  South Salem Studios
  Comet, AUTHENTICAST, South Salem, and Related Links

On this Authenticast/Comet continuation page 3:
  Comet Then and Now and Map.
  The Greater World of Comet AUTHENTICAST - A History.
  Red, White, and Blue Boxes.

On the Authenticast/Comet continuation page 4:
  WWII Tank ID Box.
  1:500 Ships Price List
  Old AUTHENTICAST Photos.

On the Authenticast/Comet continuation page 5:
  1950s Fitted Case of Tanks, 1-50 (continued from Cont. Page 2).

On the Authenticast/Comet continuation page 6:
  1950s Fitted Case of Tanks, 51 - 100 (continued from Cont. Page 5.

On the Authenticast/Comet continuation page 7:
  1950s Fitted Case of Tanks, comments (continued from Cont. Page 6).

On the Authenticast/Comet continuation page 8:
  South Salem Studio's U. S. Ships Navy Case
  Comet Authenticast HELP!

On the Ordnance Continuation Page 1:
  MORE ORDNANCE APOCRYPHA

On the Ordnance Continuation Page 2:
  RAILROAD GUNS.
  ATOMIC CANNON.
  SMALL ARMS.

On Ordnance Continuation Page 3:
  CALIBER (Calibre).
  Anzio Annie.
  SMALL ARMS (moved from Page 2 on 13 Apr 00)
  BIBLIOGRAPHY
  Russian Armor.
  HELP!

Comet "Authenticast" 1:432 Aircraft Models,

and see Airplanes on the main Comet/AUTHENTICAST page.


Comet Metal Products Co., Inc.
AUTHENTICAST

Comet Auth Part-Color Logo Comet Auth B&W Logo

Comet Auth Full Color Logo Comet Auth Waterline Logo
(Logos from 1945 Catalog)


Comet Then and Now and Map

Louis Sandbote, who supplied me with a wealth of Comet and AUTHENTICAST history, which follows, is the editor of the Holger Eriksson Collectors Society newsletter HE and reminded me of the conjoined letters "H" and "E" on the bottoms of the cruciform bases of the tiny soldiers (I had completely forgotten and never had known for what they stood).  He also reminded me that Comet's street address in Richmond Hill was 91-06 132nd# Street and wondered what became of the building.  I haven't been over there in several years but it was easy as pie to ascertain; I simply drove over to Jamaica and a few more blocks into Richmond Hill, westward along Atlantic Avenue from Van Wyck Expressway, until I spotted the huge red brick building on the north side that used to be the SEALTEST dairy plant, made the first right (north) turn under the Long Island Rail Road tracks (this is just east of their old Morris Park steam and diesel shops) on 130th Street.  Instantly under the tracks, turn right on 90th Avenue, go a short block to the end and turn left on 132nd Street, go another short block to the end at 91st Avenue and there it is, on your left, on the corner, diagonally opposite more elevated LIRR trackage.  Here's a rough map showing the location:

Comet Map
[Map of Richmond Hill in area of 91-06 132nd Street
(former Comet Metal Products plant), by and © 2004 - S. Berliner, III - all rights reserved]

Why anyone would make such a pilgrimage escapes me, but I did, so - - - .

These are a picture of the plant ca. 1945 from the AUTHENTICAST catalog on the preceding page and pictures I took on 21 Apr 2004:

Comet ca. 1945 Comet 21Apr04 b
Ca. 1945 looking SE  -   21 Apr 04 looking SW

Comet 21Apr04 a Comet 21Apr04 c
21 Apr 04 looking SW  -   21 Apr 04 looking SE

Comet 21Apr04 d Comet 21Apr04 e
21 Apr 04 looking SE  -   21 Apr 04 looking SE
[Last five pictures 21 Apr 2004 by and © 2004 - S. Berliner, III - all rights reserved]

The fourth and fifth pictures approximate the old view (but with my trusty Neon in the foreground); the area is so thickly developed that the same vantage is no longer available.  The picture on the lower right looks back past the plant to the southeast to show a LIRR train passing close by.

The building is absolutely unmistakeable; it was Comet, all right.  Odd address, though; the entrance was definitely at the corner on 91st Avenue, NOT on 132nd Street; maybe 91-06 was that loading bay door, for incoming shipments?

# - Look at the NEW MISSILES models flyer on the preceding page; if you look VERY carefully, you can just make out my teen printing down at the bottom, between COMET METAL PRODUCTS CO. INC. and RICHMOND HILL 18, N. Y.  I wrote "91-04 132nd St"!  My mistake or another of Comet's free uses of the street address system?

In fact, here's an enlargement of the bottom of the flyer; see for yourself:

Comet Address
(Enlarged from 06 Jul 03 photo by, and © 2003-2004, S. Berliner, III - all rights reserved)

Just for the heck of it, here's a satellite view of the plant as of 2012; compare it to the sketch map and photos, above:   new (23 Jul 2012)

Comet Aerial 2012
[Satellite View of Richmond Hill in area of 91-06 132nd Street
(former Comet Metal Products plant)]

Even the little shop next door (a poultry market in 2004) shows clearly..


The Greater World

of Comet AUTHENTICAST

A History
(continued and expanded)

As noted above, Louis Sandbote, who has a wealth of knowledge about Comet Metal Products and AUTHENTICAST, is the editor of the Holger Eriksson Collectors Society newsletter HE.

He can be reached at:   rev (21 Aug 2012)

Louis J. Sandbote
Editor, HECS Newsletter HE
Holger Eriksson Collectors Society
3521 Potomac
Dallas, Texas  75205

lou.sandbote@charter.net

It was he who reminded me of the conjoined letters "H" and "E" on the bottoms of the cruciform bases of the tiny soldiers.  We have had a discussion about the scale of them; Lou says that Comet claimed them as 1:108 and I have always known them to be HO (1:87.08571420857142---).  Lou kindly send along a scan of the base of a larger scale soldier showing Holger Eriksson's initials:

HE Initials
(Photo by L. Sandbote - all rights reserved)

Let me depart briefly from the flow of this narrative to show the bases of two 1:108 figures (I now vaguely remember noting this ca. 1945), courtesy of Mike's Tanks*:

HEinitials1 HEinitials2
(Enlarged from images from and © Mike's Tanks - all rights reserved)

(* - Uh, oh!  Mike's e-address is no longer valid;
Can anyone please tell me how to reach him?)
  new (21 Aug 2012)

[Lou shared his knowledge with me and what follows (edited to suit
and mostly without using quotation marks) is primarily his work
{emphases mine and comments mostly bracketed - SB,III}:]

Holger Eriksson was the sculptor of the 1:108 scale soldiers which were made by AUTHENTICAST and sold with the tanks that this Website recalls.  The HECS was begun in 1988 and has produced at least annual Newsletters ever since then.  They have a small but highly talented group of members world-wide, including many of the authors in the field of toy soldiers.  AUTHENTICAST was the name used by the Comet folks {Joe and Sam Slonim, to be precise} to describe their highly detailed castings made from rubber molds, a technique that made possible the military ID models that were later sold as civilian toys and collector pieces and which command such high prices in auctions today.

{I have seen this process in use as lately as 2002, at Ron Ruddell's London Bridge Collector's Toys, Ltd., in Emmaus, Pennsylvania, where Ron makes both Britains reproductions and replacement arms and wheels and such - SB,III}

Lou offered a lot of information on the subject of the soldiers and some on the company's background after it made the decision to produce toy soldiers at a factory in Ireland immediately after WWII.  After the factory ceased operations, the toy soldier manufacturing was picked up in Capetown, Union of South Africa, in about 1953, and continued until that principal [Curt Wennberg] died of cancer and all production ceased.  Wennberg and his partner came from Sweden and were engineers before the War.  Hence: the odd name of their company, Swedish African Engineers (S.A.E.).  The S.A.E. company did not make any of the ID-type models and Mr. Eriksson did not design any of those products.  But HE did design the 1-108 scale figures and most of the O-scale and HO-scale model railroad figures that you can see in some of the AUTHENTICAST catalogs.  Two other manufacturers of toy soldiers, Malleable Mouldings of Deal, England, and AHI, a New York company distributing Japanese knock-offs of Eriksson's small scale figures, are also involved in the story, as are several toy train accessory companies.  If you are interested in any of this, stay tuned as Lou will probably send along more about all this.

AUTHENTICAST primarily produced 40mm and 54mm scale figures.  The best figures were commissioned from Holger Eriksson, a draftsman in Stockholm, who is acknowledged among toy soldier collectors as perhaps the world's greatest designer of commercial miniature figures.&bnbsp; Eriksson had an agreement with Comet/AUTHENTICAST beginning about 1946 and then shifted his designs to 30mm scale for the South African production.  But production quality was not satisfactory and he cut ties with the South African company sometime in the late 1950s.  From that point, he produced his own castings from his home in Sweden.  He did so up until his death in 1988.  His work has extraordinary variety in many, many scales from 1:108 {???**} scale up to figures about a foot tall.  He is known for the "movement" he designed into his creations.  The soldiers look like they really are slogging through mud and are dead tired.  The officer bringing down the sword looks like he is going to split his opponent into pieces.  More on the subject can be found in Collecting American-Made Toy Soldiers, by Richard O'Brien, and in his other book Collecting Foreign-Made Toy Soldiers, the latter containing a section on the South African company noted above.

** - I wonder who made those spindly little figures that accompanied the Korean action era missile models?

So, interestingly, Lou gives us to understand that the company did not die; it just moved on to more profitable items, such as parts for clothes washers!

S.A.E. later did produce some HO figures (American Civil War only and not many different poses) as well as several copies of Comet's AUTHENTICAST model RR HO scale figures.  Comet always called its AUTHENTICAST military items 1-108 scale because to do otherwise would have tipped off buyers to what I later measured and what would evidently have been obvious to persons knowledgeable about tanks and their size.  Several HECS members have pointed out that the figures aren't to scale with the tanks, but they also have claimed that the figures aren't true HO scale either {I disagree - SB,III}.  Comet's AUTHENTICAST catalogs also sometimes contain a page about "The New 55s" referring to their later very large line of what are really figures made to fit in with Britains, etc., 54mm figures.  Why they chose odd sizes vs. competitors' sizes is a mystery to Lou but I opined that I had always assumed that the U.S. military had determined that for the Slonims's 1:108 (1" =9') models, not the other way around.

Lou not only had the plant's address; he had its phone number, VIrginia 7-0809, harkening back to the day when one did not have to be an idiot savant, ruddy genius, or rocket scientist in order to remember one's own telephone number.

There were around 80-odd different figures in the so-called 1:108 scale AUTHENTICAST figures line created by Comet.   They are claimed by collectors to be accurate re their weapons for each of four nations: USA, Britain, Germany, and the USSR; I {SB,III} personally can attest to their helmets, equipment, and uniforms also being spot on.  The four are differentiated by color and some have faces painted flesh color but most do not {I never ran across any without painted faces; I wonder if the paint hadn't just flaked off - SB,III}.  They came in the standard red boxes with blue writing on a white background; small, rectangular boxes that were also used by Comet for their AUTHENTICAST model RR items.  They had Mr. Eriksson's signature (conjoined letters "H" and "E") on the bottoms of their cruciform bases, as noted above.  In reality, they aren't much like anything else HE sculpted because they are too "smooth" and they don't show the knife carving marks usual in his work.  The marks resulted from his unusual process of making a rough figure of soft lead material and then carving that object to create the "master" from which the figure was replicated.  Replication involved using the rubber and then later silicone molds used by both Comet at Galway in Ireland and then Capetown by S.A.E.  As is normal for most commercial toy soldier producers, he often used one figure to create a second.  The "striding legs" feature of his work appears in most of his work.   He also is an acknowledged master of metal horses, especially in the 54mm and 40mm scales.

Lou believes the rubber molds were a trade secret developed by the Slonim family.  It was used in conjunction with centrifugal casting.  It was really rather simple to use; Lou bases that conclusion on an Australian member's eyewitness account from Capetown, where he saw Mr. Wennberg's production built upon a bicycle sprocket laid horizontally.  This was turned by hand by the Bantu tribesmen who were hired to cast figures later painted by their women.  Save for Mr. Wennberg and his son-in-law, all the tens of thousands of S.A.E. figures were made by that method.  Mr. Eriksson also used rubber, and later silicone, molds to make his middle-stage figures as outlined above.  He probably got the idea from the Slonims, who sponsored a visit by HE to the Irish factory and then to the Deal places of manufacture.  Lou has original letters documenting that early trip and his (HE's) meeting with one of the Slonim sons in Ireland; he believes that none of the ID models were ever produced outside New York's plant.

Mike's Tanks also documents the Irish AUTHENTICAST operation, Comet Gaeltacht Industries:

Comet Gaeltacht
(image from and © Mike's Tanks - all rights reserved)

Another HE link is to Nils-Erik Järdnäs's Military Tin Figures.


Red, White, and Blue Boxes

of AUTHENTICAST Soldiers

Lou and I can argue indefinitely over the scale of the soldier figures that accompanied the 1:108 (1" = 9') tanks and armo(u)red vehicles and other military trucks and such, but one thing is absolute; my soldiers came, ca. 1946, in the long yellow boxes pictured previously.  My German heritage really comes to the fore on this; IT MUST BE KORREKT!.  Here's that box, again:

AUTH Soldier's box top 0
(06 Jul 03 photo by and © 2003 S. Berliner, III - all rights reserved)

This is a rough sketch of the creased cardboard insert that held the figures in two long rows, in slits through the peaks of the folds (I have only shown two, plus a third with a figure inserted):

AUTH Soldiers Box  Insert
(22 Apr 04 Drawing by and © 2004 S. Berliner, III - all rights reserved)

Lou sent along these pictures of the later@ red, white, and blue boxes (with German soldiers, in this particular instance), also showing in detail how they were tied in place:

AUTH Germans 1 AUTH Germans 2
(Photos by L. Sandbote - all rights reserved)

Let me assure you that in the late 40's, when I got my soldiers, there were no such boxes (yet@).

Lou Sandbote noted the word "MOVABLE" on the box lid top; it denotes a pre-AUTHENTICAST Comet product which was a 54mm soldier with arms joined in holding a weapon, each shoulder pinned so as to allow this configuration to rotate upward.  Many such boxes have the word "MOVABLE" blocked out with a black rectangle to denote figures which do not have such a construction {as did my surviving box, but I peeled off the offending rectangle to see what was underneath back when I got it).

"Brigadiers" were clunky figures produced before Comet's relationship with Mr. Eriksson was formed; they have different bases and were essentially pirated Britains in several examples, albeit they were solid cast {Britains are slush cast - i.e., hollow).  The figures to which I refer on this web site are refined HE creations, made AFTER the AUTHENTICAST logo and red boxes replaced the yellow Brigadiers box.

[Most of the preceding history is taken from Louis Sandbote (edited to suit
and mostly without using quotation marks) and is primarily his work
{emphases mine and comments mostly bracketed - SB,III}.]

Here, courtesy of
Mike's Tanks, is another such yellow Brigadiers box (I hope to have a higher resolution shot soon):

Yellow Box
(Cropped from image from and © Mike's Tanks - all rights reserved)

Here's a set of the RW&B boxes for some of the 1:432 aircraft spotter models:   new (30 Aug 2012)

RW&B AUTH aircraft boxes

@ - Note the design copyright date - 1945; HMMM!



LEGACY

  What happens to all this when I DIE or (heaven forfend!) lose interest?  See LEGACY.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE

See Copyright Notice on primary home page.



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