Just the words ‘toy soldiers’ can bring a smile to the face of those with a love of history and joy of play. Whether the affection is for plastic, metal or resin toy soldiers, the passion for these ‘little men’ is the same.
Toy soldiers have been collected since the time of the Pharaohs. First made from wood, stone, clay and metal for the nobility and the rich, it wasn’t until the end of the 18th century that toy figures – or military miniatures – were first mass-produced.
Made in relatively small quantities by the Parisian firm of Mignot, little lead figures, about 2 inches tall and, painted in colorful uniforms, were charming but expensive, so they failed to find a wide market. Nevertheless, other makers, such as the German firm, Heyde, followed, so that by the end of the 19th century the market was established for the well-to do.
Then, just before the turn of the 20th century the English firm, William Britains, introduced a less-expensive line of hollow cast leads. These finally began to catch on with children. About 2 ¼ inches tall (still the industry standard), these “little men”, depicted armies of England, America, France, Germany and their opponents. Such noted collectors as Winston Churchill and H.G. Wells can be seen in old photographs, playing with little armies of Britains toy soldiers on their rugs and lawns.
For the first half of the twentieth century, the only soldiers available were made of lead or a sawdust and glue mixture called "composition." But after WWII, some manufacturers looked to plastic as a cheaper and more child-friendly medium. While interest in lead figures continued unabated, children now had the option of building collections of inexpensive unpainted plastic. Readily available by the mid-50s, unpainted plastic toy soldiers were omnipresent in the toy boxes of children around the world. Their success launched the introduction of painted plastic figures, which soon surpassed the competing lead models in sculpting and painting sophistication.
During the post-WWII years, the U.S.-based Marx Toy Company and its rivals produced inexpensive boxed toy soldier playsets. Sold through retailers and widely distributed through the Sears catalog, these theme-based collections of unpainted plastic soldiers and accessories, sometime supplemented by tin lithographed buildings and vehicles, became a passion for many boys. Marx playsets included movie tie-ins (Ben-Hur, The Alamo, The Untouchables, The Guns of Navarone and Tom Corbett Space Cadet, for example), historical themes (The Blue and the Gray, World War II Battleground and Knights and Vikings), and even obscure subjects like the circus, Arctic adventures and African tribal life.
Because lead and plastic soldiers were so widely available, many baby-boomers grew up collecting both. Their closets and shelves were filled with shoeboxes full of painted and unpainted plastic Civil War heroes, spacemen, Nazis, Cowboys, Indians and knights, plus the proudly collected (and-too-often dented) metal figures of exotic “Arabs of the Desert,” Foreign Legionnaires and Zouaves. One day, the Cowboys and Indians might attack a Moon base made of wooden blocks and oatmeal boxes which was defended by Robert E. Lee’s Virginians and Spacemen. The next, D-Day landing craft would be stuffed with American Colonials and GI’s, storming the beach defenses manned by Nazis and Knights! Favorite figures, whether lead or plastic would always be the last to fall or remain standing to triumph.
1966 marked a turning point in the history of toy soldiers. International concerns about lead poisoning brought about new laws which banned the manufacture of toys containing lead. William Britains, the best-known producer of 54mm metal figures, ceased production of metals and focused exclusively on plastic figures. Many other companies, like Timpo, Crescent and Cherilea, were forced to do the same.
At this point, collectors began to see new modeling techniques emerging, and plastic toy soldiers were all the rage until the world began to change. In the late 1960s and ‘70s, anti-war sentiment turned the tastes of the public away from military toys like toy soldiers. The rise of the action figure, based on science fiction and fantasy movies, and the rising appeal of video games, changed the collecting interests of younger children.
Another blow to the hobby was the dispersal or outright disposal of many cherished baby boomer toy soldier collections when the kids grew up and went to college or joined the armed services. Well-meaning mothers, eager to clean out the roost, simply gave the soldiers away to younger relatives or dumped them the trash. (How often have we at The Toy Soldier Company heard the cry: "My mother threw away my soldiers??!!")
In the mid-1970s, cottage industry companies like Tradition, Blenheim, Nostalgia, John Tunstill’s “Soldiers Soldiers” and Marlborough reintroduced metal soldiers, now made of pewter, antimony and tin, to the market. These “New” toy soldiers were better sculpted and better painted than their ancestors. As production was very limited, the price was much higher per figure, rising from a bare 50 cents to several dollars each. Plastic production, meanwhile, had contracted to a bare handful of manufacturers, Britains being the most productive during this period.
By the early 1980s the metal soldier market was still miniscule. A newly resurgent Britains began to produce metal figures in a new alloy as early as 1973, but the production didn’t hit its stride for a decade or more. Plastic production was dropping off in the early ‘80s, falling further into oblivion to the point where many collectors could only obtain figures at tag sales, swap meets and through a couple of devoted dealers who published monthly lists of items they had picked up through aggressive scrounging. When we at The Toy Soldier Company first went into business in 1984, no other dealers we knew of offered an order form, renewable stock from current manufacturers or illustrated catalogs!
By the late ‘80s, the world of plastic toy soldiers had come back to life. The baby boomer collectors of the 1960s had grown up and were now looking to rebuild the collections they remembered so fondly. Interest in old plastic figures, like Marx and Timpo, grew so great that their old molds were dusted off and run again in limited numbers as ‘recasts.’ European manufacturers, such as Preiser, Starlux, Dulcop, Charbens, Cherilea and Jean Hoefler were reintroduced to the American market. Their popularity led to the later reintroduction of Matchbox, Airfix, Jecsan, Reamsa and many other manufacturers.
This renewed interest led to the establishment of new companies such as Accurate, which began producing new plastic figures for this relatively small hobbyist market in 1988. The market was still primarily adult males, but fathers were introducing their children to the hobby. Still, the toy soldier collecting community was spread out, and isolated to those who happened to know of collector societies and swap meets. Many adults maintained and cherished their toy soldier collections believing that few if any others felt the same about these figures.
Back on the metal front, figures were primarily marketed to adult collectors who had been involved in the hobby for years. Most of the soldiers being produced replicated the ‘old toy soldier’ style, with poses devoted to parade and ceremonial stances. But younger collectors, raised on the action-packed poses they had seen in their childhood plastic figures, were ready for a change. Now the metal manufacturers began producing action sets, using new molding technology to bring about a more realistic style of figure. These new fighting poses, with far more detail in sculpting and painting than their predecessors, caught the imagination of an up-and-coming crop of collectors, obliging established companies, like Britains, Tradition and Marlborough to shift their focus from parade ground to battlefield.
By the 1990s, the “New” Toy Soldier was superseded in popularity among some collectors by an even more detailed style called 'photo-realistic.' These figures, typically priced around $20.00 each, were produced by makers such as Britains and Conte in mainland China. They were not only modeled to look like real people, but their paint jobs were as detailed as figures which only a year or two previously would have sold for 4 times the price.
In the plastic arena, the 1990s saw a huge revival in the toy soldier collecting community. Some call this renaissance the “Second Golden Age” of plastics (the first being the glory days of the 1950s). Since then, over 30 new manufacturers in the U.S., England, Germany, France and Italy have joined the field, offering many hundreds of entirely new sets of figures covering every historical era from the Stone Age through the Space Age. Led by such ground breakers as Play Along, Conte, Barzso and Italeri the list of current producers continues to grow every year, and includes Toy Soldiers of San Diego, Paragon Scenics, Forces of Valor, Classic Toy Soldiers, Armies in Plastic, A Call to Arms, Imex, BMC and many others.
The growth of the internet has transformed toy soldier collecting, allowing like-minded enthusiasts the opportunity to find information, support, and above all, to find toy soldiers! Websites set up and maintained by collectors share photos of set-ups and beloved figures, as well as provide information on new releases. Online communities and message boards such as Yahoo Groups are devoted to the many specialized worlds of toy soldier collecting. Ebay has thousands of toy soldiers up for auction every day. Shops devoted to selling only toy soldiers, available in the past only to those collectors lucky enough to live nearby, can now promote their wares through websites. And mail order toy soldier companies, like The Toy Soldier Company, can now present their catalogs to an infinite number of online collectors.As of this writing in Fall 2013, there are over 200 international manufacturers, producing metal and plastic figures, both painted and unpainted, for sale to children, collectors, hobbyists, and war gamers. The high skill and low wages of production in Asia has produced affordable plastic and metal toy figures, armor and artillery that were unimaginable just ten years ago. Companies are transforming the industry with their highly detailed die cast and resin cast armored vehicles. And the sentiment of the public seems to be turning back to comfort with fantasy military play, as toy soldiers and accessories begin to appear in mass market venues like Wal-Mart, Target and Amazon.
Here at The Toy Soldier Company, we strive to offer the greatest variety of quality plastic and metal toy soldiers. Owner Jamie Delson has a blog devoted to both toy soldiers and the wargames he plays with thousands of 54mm painted plastic toy soldiers. We also publish an email newsletter with updates on new releases and sales. View the blog and sign up for the newsletter from the links below.
The first American plastic soldiers were made by Beton as early as 1937. The first plastic toy soldiers produced in Great Britain were made in 1946 by Airfix before they became known for their famous model kits range.
Eminem's “Like Toy Soldiers” is fueled by frustration over disputes between hip-hop artists, and specifically his own beefs with rappers Ja Rule and Benzino, then-editor of The Source. The track appeared on his 2004 album Encore, and samples the 1988 Martika song, “Toy Soldiers”.
Toy soldiers, tin soldiers, or model soldiers are miniature figures representing soldiers from ancient times to the present day.
These were made by pouring molten lead into a mould. Once cooled, the solid 3D figure was removed, had its head attached and was carefully painted. In 1893, the way toy soldiers were made was transformed forever when a process known as hollow-casting lead was invented by William Britain (pictured above) in the UK.
a miniature nonfunctioning replica of a soldier, esp one that children play with.
The most expensive single toy soldier was sold at Christie's in 1994, when a rare prototype Britains marching guard from 1934 brought £3,100, or $4,371. The most valuable collection of toy soldiers came from Malcolm Forbes' museum of military miniatures in Tangier.
The first American plastic toy soldiers were made by Bergen Toy & Novelty Co. (Beton for short) in 1938. Beton also acquired the molds of another pre-war plastic figure company, Universal Plastics with their figures remaining for sale when lead toy production was stopped in 1942.
Rob Sutherland – Documentary Producer
Five Soldiers began in March 2018 with the Faculty's plan to document the Remembrance process.
Many new toys were invented in the 20th century. Plasticine was invented in 1897 by William Harbutt. It was first made commercially in 1900. Also in 1900 Frank Hornby invented a toy called Meccano.
Toy soldiers were made of tin or lead. Rocking chairs often made from wood had the mane made from real hair. Clockwork animals and trains were also popular during Victorian times. Rags were often stuffed with sawdust to make balls and toy animals and were used by the poor children.
Just the words ‘toy soldiers’ can bring a smile to the face of those with a love of history and joy of play. Whether the affection is for plastic, metal or resin toy soldiers, the passion for these ‘little men’ is the same. Toy soldiers have been collected since the time of the Pharaohs. First made...
Readily available by the mid-50s, unpainted plastic toy soldiers were omnipresent in the toy boxes of children around the world.. During the post-WWII years, the U.S.-based Marx Toy Company and its rivals produced inexpensive boxed toy soldier playsets.. William Britains, the best-known producer of 54mm metal figures, ceased production of metals and focused exclusively on plastic figures.. At this point, collectors began to see new modeling techniques emerging, and plastic toy soldiers were all the rage until the world began to change.. (How often have we at The Toy Soldier Company heard the cry: "My mother threw away my soldiers??!!"). In the mid-1970s, cottage industry companies like Tradition, Blenheim, Nostalgia, John Tunstill’s “Soldiers Soldiers” and Marlborough reintroduced metal soldiers, now made of pewter, antimony and tin, to the market.. Most of the soldiers being produced replicated the ‘old toy soldier’ style, with poses devoted to parade and ceremonial stances.. Led by such ground breakers as Play Along, Conte, Barzso and Italeri the list of current producers continues to grow every year, and includes Toy Soldiers of San Diego, Paragon Scenics, Forces of Valor, Classic Toy Soldiers, Armies in Plastic, A Call to Arms, Imex, BMC and many others.. The growth of the internet has transformed toy soldier collecting, allowing like-minded enthusiasts the opportunity to find information, support, and above all, to find toy soldiers!. And mail order toy soldier companies, like The Toy Soldier Company, can now present their catalogs to an infinite number of online collectors.As of this writing in Fall 2013, there are over 200 international manufacturers, producing metal and plastic figures, both painted and unpainted, for sale to children, collectors, hobbyists, and war gamers.. Here at The Toy Soldier Company, we strive to offer the greatest variety of quality plastic and metal toy soldiers.. Owner Jamie Delson has a blog devoted to both toy soldiers and the wargames he plays with thousands of 54mm painted plastic toy soldiers.
There are lots of names for small figures that are used as a toy. The are being called mostly after
But these figures became really well known when they became lead model soldiers or pewter soldiers.. The later pewter and lead allay soldiers is what this blog is in general refering to when talking about Toy Soldiers.. Catherine the Great of Russia wrote in her autobiography that Tsar Peter III as a young boy had several hundred toy soldiers made of wood, lead, starch, and wax: “They were all paraded on festive occasions, and a special arrangement of springs which could be released by pulling a string, produced a sound as if they fired their guns.” It comes as no surprise, then, that the French emperor Napoleon presented his son, the king of Rome, with a large number of toy soldiers.. Goethe describes a boy and a girl who are playing with some tin soldiers that are “round, solid, and meticulously made.” The French producer Lucotte started his work before 1789 but no figures made before 1850 were known to still be in existence in the early twenty-first century.. Britain was still producing toy soldiers into the twenty-first century, but the figures became far too expensive to be used as toys and were mostly directed towards collectors.. There are also new companies using nieuw materials and technologies to make model soldiers in every detail, but these are no longer sold as toys for boys rather then for the grown ups that like toy soldiers still….and who does not?!
Old Toy Soldier Magazine contains informative articles and regular features on all aspects of collecting Toy Soldiers and Figures.
Worldwide readership New toy soldier releases Large colorful ads by all the major auction houses, manufactures, dealers and distributors Advertiser's index Toy soldier marketplace/classified ads, for sale and wanted Book reviews A high quality, perfect bound magazine Essential reading for the discerning toy soldier collector. For the past 32 years, the words "Old Toy Soldier" have become synonymous with Toy Soldier collecting, formerly Old Toy Soldier Newsletter, as some of our long time contributors still refer to it, the magazine has been an integral part of the Toy Soldier Hobby with its informative articles and regular features on all aspects of collecting Toy Soldiers and Figures.. January:All-American Collectors Show, Los Angeles, CaliforniaFebruary:South Florida Toy Soldier Show, West Palm Beach , Florida. York Toy, Doll and Advertising Show, York , PennsylvaniaMarch:The West Coaster, Orange County, CaliforniaApril:Antique Toy Collectors of America Convention--location changes annually. Chicago Toy Show, St. Charles, IllinoisMay:Miniature Figure Collectors of America, Wilmington, DelawareJune: Still Bank Collectors of America--location changes annuallyAugust: All-American Collectors Show, Los Angeles, CaliforniaSeptember:Mechanical Bank Collectors of America-location changes annually. Norman Joplin's Toy Figure Show, London, EnglandOld Toy Soldier Show, Chicago IllinoisOctober:Chicago Toy Show, St. Charles, IllinoisNovember:. Allentown Toy Show, Allentown, Pennsylvania. Hackensack Toy Soldier Show, Hackensack, New Jersey. Toymania, Paris, FranceThe objects I buy and sell are my core business;. however, being active in the antique. community brings me tremendous joy.. Based on the success of RSL Auctions, the fact that. Christe's auction house in New York and London announced they would no longer handle toy soldiers and. the lack of an American auction house dedicated. to the sale of toy figures, Norman. Joplin and I decided to started Old Toy. Soldier Auctions USA in 2008.. 2001 – 2019. Editor of Old Toy Soldier Magazine, the only magazine worldwide published in relation to collecting Old Toy Soldiers and Figures.. 1972-2009 Author of numerous articles on Toy Soldiers and Figures for Old Toy Soldier Newsletter.
The Toy Soldier Company is the largest mail order company in the world specializing in new and old plastic figures and metal miniatures, paints, playsets, and accessories.
I have collected toy soldiers since I was 4 years old.. I suddenly realized that I didn't I really need 100,000 figures if the game now only required a few hundred guys.. I called my venture "The Toy Soldier Company".. The toy soldier market was almost entirely based around used figures, and was limited to a collectors who purchased original American models from "The First Golden Age" of toy soldiers from the 1950s, 60s and 70s.. My first catalog contained items solely from my personal collection.. (The Toy Soldier Company Annex).. A real warehouse was required.. This lasted only a year before we moved again, this time to a 5,000 square foot warehouse in Jersey City, New Jersey.. At the same time, we began offering plastic recasts by Marx, which became (and still remain) one of our most popular ranges.Over the following years we made deals with over 100 other plastic and metal manufacturers.. We offer over 8,000 different sets of hand-painted plastic and metal figures.. We boast the only range of hand-made "animated" figures on the toy soldier market, and our Toy Soldier Company Playsets offer hobbyists of all ages the opportunity to purchase an 'instant collection' of painted or unpainted figures and accessories recreating many of history's greatest eras and battles.
A brief look at the rise of scale modeling in the Philippines.
A 1/72 scale Somua French tank by S-Model; kit built by Jaizon Allas / Photo credit: Albert LabradorAnd for many people all over the world,. it’s great fun.. (1/35 scale).. / Photo credit: Albert LabradorBefore then, people used to carve. models out of wood to represent planes and tanks.. People started painting their models, as. well as adding and removing things from them.. Eventually, toy companies caught. on and started creating models for that particular purpose around the late 1960s. to the early 1970s.. Manufacturers like Revell, Monogram,. and Airfix started releasing model kits specifically for the purpose of. recreating the real thing as accurately as possible.. As Albert explained the history of the. hobby, he presented a tank that he had worked on.. It all came from a desire to recreate. what these tiny things are meant to represent.. It became less about having a toy that. looked like something from history and more about telling the story of history. itself.. Scale models, according to Albert, come. in different categories.. Superdetailed 1/76th scale airfix Scorpion tank with additional parts scratchbuilt from brass mesh and epoxy putty; kit by Jaizon Allas / Photo credit: Albert LabradorAlbert belongs to the fifth category.. Many of his model tanks are precise images of real tanks that were used in wars.. These armored vehicles were crewed by. real people and protected real people—and real people have died beside them.. One of the models he showed me was a. tank he made by combining several different tank kits that showed both the. exterior and interior of a real weapon of war: each tiny detail worked out from. the paint chipping off to the bits of rust on the steel.
Humans have made and collected toy soldiers from time immemorial. They amuse and comfort us, awaken our curiosity, turn aggressiveness into creativity. In The History…
In The History of Toy Soldiers, Luigi Toiati, himself an avid collector and manufacturer of toy soldiers, conveys and shares the pleasure of collecting and playing with them.. IPMS Magazine, Issue 3 - 2021 With its 621 pages packed with beautifully reproduced colour photographs and Toiati’s descriptive text full of interesting details and anecdotes, it’s a book that will naturally appeal to the collector of toy soldiers but also anyone who has had the pleasure of using and enjoying them as children or in adulthood.. If you read this book from the beginning, you’ll be taken on a ride through time from the earliest to the present-day toy soldiers.. The History of Toy Soldiers offers an incredibly impressive amount of research on the topic of collectible toy soldiers.. Military History Online This amazing book traces the history of toy soldiers from the earliest times to the present day.. A familiar figure on the toy soldier show circuit, he and his collection have been mentioned in various books on the subject, and he has himself written numerous articles on related matters.. He has written seven previous books on various aspects of toy soldier collecting.
- The History Of Toy Soldiers...
Each of those objects has a story to tell about the history of American childhood and play.. Exploring Childhood and Play Through 50 Historic Treasures brings together a collection of beloved toys and games from the last two centuries to guide readers on a journey through the history of American childhood and play, 1840-2000.. Each essay tells the story of the individual object its historic context, and each passage builds upon one another to create a fascinating survey of how childhood and play changed over the course of two centuries.. In it James Opie gives the collector the benefit of thirty years' experience as the world's leading authority on traditional toy soldiers (as opposed to model soldiers used in wargaming etc) and a lifetime as a collector himself.. Author : Graham Dawson Publisher: Routledge ISBN: 1135089442 Category : Art Languages : en Pages : 368 Book Description Soldier Heroes explores the imagining of masculinities within adventure stories.. Author : Richard O'Brien Publisher: Lulu.com ISBN: 1605433101 Category : Crafts & Hobbies Languages : en Pages : 264 Book Description For the first time, Richard O'Brien has collected hundreds of articles and features he wrote for various toy soldier collecting magazines in one compelling book.
For as long as there have been wars, children have loved to play with toy soldiers.
In the 18th century, advances in production saw toy soldiers made from tin, lead and composite.. Britains quickly became the leading producer of toy soldiers after inventing the first hollowed-out, lead-alloy figurine.. As well as producing Barclay Manoil Toy Soldiers, the two competitors also made barnyard sets, zoo animals and city worker figurines for which they became renowned.. In Asia, the hollow lead toy soldiers made by Trico and Minikins were aimed at the American toy market.. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, a mini toy soldiers revival took place as classic lead designs were issued in plastic by Dorset Soldiers, owned by entrepreneur Giles Brown, and Jan and Frank Scroby, makers of the Blenheim, Marlborough and Star lines.. Pristine toy soldiers dating back to the 1930s can be worth thousands, with a British Army presentation case (featuring 275 soldiers and one of every rank) worth between £20,000 to £25,000.
The story of William Britain Limited, one of the oldest and most well-known toy soldier companies.
Until 1893 the German toy makers had dominated the toy soldier world and then as if from nowhere W. Britain launched its first few hollowcast figures.. Ertl bought W. Britain primarily for the farm series, not the toy soldier business, as Ertl was already an established manufacturer of farm toys in the USA and thought the Britains farm lines would be a good addition to its company.. During Ertl's ownership it had moved most of the W.Britain production to the Far East, not to reduce costs but simply to improve quality (something Britains had already done years before with the Deetail range of figures), Racing Champions continued with this plan and finally in 2001 moved all remaining toy soldier production from the UK to the Far East.. Under the Racing Champions company W.Britain continued to grow, especially the newer style matte/connoisseur painted action figure ranges Ertl had begun to introduce in the late 90s, these figures were a distinct change to the traditional gloss figures Britains had produced for over 100 years.. As Racing Champions continued to grow as a toy company it wasn't long before the decision makers realised that the W. Britain toy soldiers were a very small part of their overall business especially considering it required an inordinate amount of time and effort.
Toy-Moulds set made by the Make-A-Toy Co. and used by the Asmuth family of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1930s. (Museum object #1962.228.30,A-U)
Lead Toy Soldier Casting Kit | Wisconsin Historical Society. Enlarge Source: Wisconsin Historical Museum object #1962.228.30,A-U. Enlarge Casting kits included all of the materials needed to make lead toy figures at home: molds, lead bars, enamel paints, and paint brushes.. Enlarge Though the kit’s box lid features child-oriented images, home casting was promoted as a father-son activity due to the use of heating elements and hot metal.. (Museum object #1962.228.30,A-U). At one time, however, companies like the Make-a-Toy, Co. of New York City not only sold lead toys, but also kits that boys could use to mold their own lead soldiers at home.. It was not until the mid-1960s, however, that consumers in the United States became concerned about the safety of lead toys.. Lead toy figures were introduced into the United States from Europe in the early 20th century.. Around the same time that commercially-produced lead toy figures arrived in the United States, home casting kits also made their way into the market from Germany.. Figures could be painted after they had cooled.. Sales of plastic toy soldiers, a cheaper alternative than metal, began to cut into the lead figure market, but health issues did not come to the fore until some time later in the United States.. Lead levels in toys is currently regulated by the 2002 Federal Hazardous Substances Act, which bans any children's product containing hazardous levels of lead without specifying exactly the level.. Society's standards for the safety of children's toys have evolved considerably since the early 20th century, and today there is a greater effort to control the risk of lead ingestion by children.. 293 No 18: 2274-2276; Poole, Edward K. "The American Soldier in Homecast," in Richard O'Brien (ed.. "A Brief History of Toy Soldiers,"; personal commincation between Museum staff and James Asmuth, December 2007.]