If this blog stands for anything, it is against lazy thinking. Oh dear, that sentence sounds a bit clumsy, perhaps I should rephrase is. How about, if this blog stands against anything, it is lazy thinking. No. That’s not much better. Look, I don’t like lazy thinking, right? But I’m also honest; or as honest as I need to be while writing a barely updated, rarely read and anonymous-ish blog. I’m not above reproach myself. Take Stanley knives. Like many I comfortably fell in with the stereotype that they are solely wielded by football hooligans and the like and used primarily in gangland disfigurings. But, apparently, not so. Since assisting in some recent d-i-y at our house I have discovered that your humble Stanley knife also doubles up as an incredibly useful implement when cutting carpets, scoring wall tiles and slicing-up plaster board. Why did nobody tell me this before? And their 4lb hammer makes a fantastic accompaniment to a chisel when you’ve got nothing better to do than spend a glorious Sunday afternoon hacking off set-solid kitchen floor tiles, one by precious one.
But that’s not the end of it. There’s more to Stanley products than tools, as we discovered when my son received as a present a set of their toys. Yes, toys! But not the obvious sort of toys that I think you’re thinking of. No, this was no mere collection of branded plasticy knives and hammers for my son to play with and pretend to be his dad; grunting, wheezing, shaking his head and occasionally exclaiming “What the FUCK! This bastard just won’t SHIFT!” No, these were boxes of little Meccano-like models for you to construct out of metal strips, joints, nuts and bolts, each packed with their own little screwdriver and spanner. With minimal assistance, mainly for the fiddly bits, my son soon despatched the “racing car”, and then the “fork lift truck”. But the best was yet to come.
Because the Stanley model “Spitfire” has to be the piece of the resistance. Oh yes; not content with simply offering you the chance to make a generic “aeroplane”, Stanley insist that this toy is a specific aircraft. And not just any old aircraft, but that legendary star of the Battle of Britain itself. Considering the simplistic materials provided, it must take great confidence to proclaim that your model is worthy of such an iconic description. But is this confidence justified? Well, just see for yourself…
Isn’t it impressive? Ignore, if you can, the fact that the model is resting on a chopping board*. Now look again. This could be a photograph taken at Biggin Hill in 1940, couldn’t it? You almost feel as if you are there, back in time. Shame Ginger bought it yesterday, the hun shot him to ribbons as he was watching your tail, and you nearly ended up in the drink yourself when you got one in the fuselage before making an emergency landing in that potato field; but you’re ready for the next sortie the minute those new-fangled RADAR boys spot Jerry heading back over the channel. For what other aircraft could this possibly be but the famed destroyer of so many Messerschmidt 109s and Junker bombers, the very RAF fighter that means we’re not forced to speak German to this day (unless it’s on your school’s curriculum)? Yes, the attention to detail is truly awe-smacking, the accuracy almost palpable.
Okay, it’s not quite perfect; I have spotted a couple of glitches. Those wings, for a start, look a teeny bit too rounded for my liking, more like those of the Tempest than the graceful elliptical wings you would find on the Spitfire (although I guess it’s possible they are trying to recreate the clipped-wing variant). And the nose doesn’t look quite right to me, more akin to the Hurricane perhaps? But these are minor complaints, and perhaps only noticeable if you’ve had my advanced-level training; those three years spent in the Air Training Corp weren’t wasted after all. Overall, though, the Stanley Spitfire is surely a major triumph, a worthy addition to the pantheon of really very good toys indeed.
* Ahh, that chopping board. We spotted it one day in Debenhams and bought it with some vouchers we’d received for our wedding. Only when we got it home did we notice a tiny label that stated “Warning, do not use sharp implements on this board”. A chopping board? Not for use with sharp implements? WTF? How else does one chop?