The Art of the Toy Soldier
Size of the Soldiers
The soldiers used should be all of one size. The best British makers have standardised sizes, and sell m- fantry and cavalry in exactly propor- tioned dimensions ; the infantry being nearly two inches tall. There lighter, cheaper make of perhaps inch and a half high that available. Foreign-made soldiers of variable sizes.
Being brought up in 60s and 70s their was for me only one standard Floor Games scale: 1/32 (54mm) and it had to be Britains!
Britains Deetail toy soldiers were a popular product in the 1970s and 1980s. Manufactured in England by W. Britain, the 1/32 (54mm) scale plastic figures were finished with hand painted details and came with sturdy Zamak metal bases. In the early 1990s production moved to China before eventually being phased out.
In 1971, Britains began phasing out its plastic Herald Miniatures produced in Hong Kong since 1966, with Herald eventually ceasing production in 1976. New Deetail figures were produced moulded in PVC plastic rather than polythene and using plug-in type arms, which were glued to bodies resulting in poses previously unavailable. Figures were moulded with a tee shaped "footlug" on the feet of each figure that allowed secure attachment to sturdy metal bases. These rectangular metal bases ensured figures stood better than rival manufacturers products and paid homage to Britains hollowcast metal figures as well as being thought by consumers to be of "better value" due to their heavier weight.
The first Deetail figures produces were based upon Second World War (WW2) American and German infantry. Sculptor Rod Cameron rented uniforms from Berman's and Nathan's theatrical costumes with Cameron giving model Les Harden his air rifle to pose with.
In 1978 Britains developed the Super Deetail range using an overmoulding process whereby different coloured plastics came together in one figure. The initial release were modern British paratroopers with red berets.
Figures were generally produced in six different standing poses and represented various historical periods from medieval to the modern era including:
Knights and Turks
American Wild West - Cowboys and Indians, 7th Cavalry, etc.
American Civil War
Military - WW2 British, American, German; Modern; Guards, etc.
Mounted figures were also released including a horse on metal base with rider glued in place. Riders and horses were presented in various different poses and came with reins, saddle and saddle blanket, which differed dependent upon the theme. All were commercially available from retail outlets and sold either lose or from retail/trade "counter" boxes containing 48 pcs for standing (usually eight of each pose); 18 pcs for mounted figures (six of each pose); or 12 for combat weapons sets - these retail boxes also came with handy plinths to display the models, which sat across the top of the each box as a promotional item. Many factory sealed boxed/play sets (ranging from 5-18 figures) were issued to retailers, along with smaller "blister" type packs containing several figures bundled together, and a "Patrol" range that included figures and a combat weapon.
In addition, Britains also produced sets which incorporated Deetail style figures that were marketed as Combat Weapons (mortar, recoilless rifle, gatling gun, etc.), Military Vehicles (scout cars, jeeps, etc.) and Motorcycles (dispatch rider, motorcycle combination). Combat Weapons sets used working, spring loaded firing mechanisms within the models, and were supplied with "ammunition" - 9 ball bearings for the Vickers and Gatling gun sets, and 12 plastic shells on a sprue for mortars and recoilless rifle.
American Civil War 1861-65
Some of my collection of 600 soldiers of over 40 years. Batter and bruised, broken and mended form playing Little Wars they taken on a individual character of their own: Resilience to the last these are the Veterans of the Old Guard.
In the 90s I picked up lots of cheap discarded, damaged and play worn Britains Deetail figure at “Boot Fairs”
I took great pride restoring them to health mainly for my American Civil War war-games, until I had 600 plus soldiers.
Finally I turn my hand to other period of history that I had a subconscious soul connection too.
1776 and all that
Colonel Robert Magaw
Formally Major 2i/c Thompson’s Rifles the oldest unit in the US Army. Raised in 1775 they marched 400 miles from Pennsylvania to Boston via New York to relieve the British Siege.
Their flag show the motto “Domari Nolo” - I do not want to be subdued.https://www.ravenecho.com/articles/25/219/
Robert was also the Colonel of the 6th Pennsylvania Regiment (Formally known as the 5th Battalion Pennsylvania Militia).
Franco-Prussian War 1870-71