|M48 Patton tank|
The tank's overall appearance has changed little since its creation in 1959, which, according to David C. Bergman (former VP Engineering at Processed Plastic Co.) was when the mold was created. The changes that did take place over the years are a way to to give you an idea of when the tank was produced, although narrowing it down to a specific year is impossible. One change was the color of the tank, which would take on various hues over the years. Other changes included the variation of wheels and axles, as well as the pliability of the plastics used.
The original tank was molded in a true olive drab hue. It had a small antenna located behind the turret hatch. A white star was placed on the front hull while a green and white 31072545 serial number sticker was placed on the left side of the turret (later replaced with the 55239326 sticker in the early 70s).
The original suspension had clip-on metal axles with small black rubber wheels. This 3-piece design allowed the tank to roll effortlessly over most surfaces.
The second type of wheel used was a solid black plastic wheel with a metal axle.
|Solid black plastic wheel|
The third type of wheel was slightly larger and had the appearance of an airfoil in cross-section...like a Frisbee.
Around 1970, a one piece black plastic clip-on wheel/axle combo was introduced. The wheels were the smallest in circumference and thinnest thus far.
|Small one piece plastic wheels|
The axle clips were lengthened to accommodate the smaller sized wheel and keep the tank's height approximately the same. Still, the tracks are the lowest to the ground which gives this version of the Patton tank the most realistic stance.
|Note the extended clips of the tank on the right|
Larger black wheels replaced the smaller ones and the axles were shortened. The antenna was deleted at this point.
|Large black plastic wheels|
|Color plastic wheels|
Other ChangesDuring this time the tips of each fender were given a small tubular extension and stiffer plastics were used. The reason for the extensions is unknown.
Four new colors were introduced over the next several years: aqua green, light green with traces of tan plastic mixed in (think guacamole), desert tan as part of the new Desert Command Series introduced in the 1991 catalog, and black (found in the Shadow Mountain Assault Playset and the rarest of them all).
|Rare Desert tan version w/ clip-on wheels & stickers|
|Light green (camo) tank|
|Aqua Green Tank|
|#1971 TimMee header card (c. late 70s)|
|#1784 header card (early 80s)|
At some point in the same year the tank would loose it's clip-on wheels and axles and replaced with "half wheels" molded directly into the tracks to retain the tank's height. The tank's ability to roll across a surface was therefore eliminated. According to Processed Plastic, there were two reasons for this decision: "First, they were a potential small part and every year younger and younger children buy this type of product. Secondly, the wheels made our USA made tank more expensive compared to the China made competition. We felt that is important to make as many products as possible in the USA." It was also at this stage that the star and serial number stickers were no longer applied to the tanks Thankfully, the initial run of Desert Command Patton tanks took place prior to the retooling and came complete with stickers, stars and wheels. The first test shots were cast in soft plastic and actually made it into circulation.
|Sans axles & wheels|
During its final years, the 729 (according to a company spokesman) was produced in China and imported back to the company for distribution. Casting problems ensued. Deformed flat sections and clumps of protruding plastic where commonplace. The company claims that the wrong type of plastic was used during the molding process, which had no pliability whatsoever. Incorrect casting procedures were also to blame. The white star and serial number stickers were also phased out during this period.
|Protruding plastic from the casting process|
In June of 2005, the Processed Plastic Company ceased operations and the 40 year old TimMee Patton Tank rolled off into the sunset. However, in the fall of 2012, the few tanks that were left over from the last production run (just prior to Processed Plastic's assets being purchased by J. Lloyd International Inc.) were inspected, bagged and sold on amazon.com by VictoryBuy.
• Manufacturer: Processed Plastic Co.
• Item number: 729
• Production: 1964 - 2005
• Dimensions: 6¼" L x 4½" W x 2½" H (w/antenna)
• Scale: 1/48
• Colors: olive drab, army green, light green, desert tan, aqua green, black
• Stickers: white star, serial #31072545 or 55239326
► Reissues: Click here for information.
Now, about those clones....
|The TimMee tank's main identifiable feature|