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Collectable toy soldiers
The hobby of collecting toy soldiers has its roots as far back as medieval times when the military powers used them for planning out their approach to a war.
They would create the miniatures from available material of the time and layout them out as part of a war planning exercise.
It was not until the 1750 onwards that they started being used for children toys. Even then they would have had limited availability for children because of the cost of painting them up in fine detail, certainly not like those available today where they are mass produced.
We take material used for granted today, but back in then, they were much more limited. So for example they were often created using silver, then these would eventually be melted down and sold for a cash value. Wood on the other hand, would not last more than 1 generation before disintegrating. A later development was by lead moulding where the body was created using a mould and the head, being more intricate, was created with a second mould.
And here’s how the assembly worked. 1 worker would paint 1 colour on the soldier before passing it to the next to add a new colour and so on, just as in Henry Ford’s car assembly line, these production of miniatures became assembly line produced.
Given the military splendour of army and navy uniforms, it’s easy to see how the producers found inspiration for the colour creation of their soldier’s outfits.
The next steps in creating an army, would be to create models for all the support services an army needs, such nurses, cooks, etc.
Today the most common sized soldiers are approx. 55 to 60 mm. in height
This is ideal for still being able to provide a good deal of detail.
Two of todays top makers in the UK are Britain’s and Marx who use both metal and plastic material in their production.
Here’s a few tips for building up your collection.
In order to develop your knowledge of your soldiers, pick an era that particularly appeals to you. This gives you a focus and allows you to start developing knowledge of the history of the time. Who the major powers were, what wars they fought, tactics used and so on. You will find that as you focus on your era, you become very knowledgeable about it and will find yourself becoming more engrossed in all aspects.
For war games you would choose 25 mm solders whereas, as a collector the 50-60mm scale is ideal mostly because these larger pieces indulge in more detail.
You can then develop your set in the same scale so you have a total historical representation.
In our other sections, collectable toy teddy bears have a large following and our Charlie Bears collectable range of teddies continues to attract a great deal of attention.