Thursday, January 27, 2011

Toy Soldier collecting the 70s to 80s.

In the 1970s a new type of Britains plastic figure appeared. It was made of a tough plastic, which unlike some other plastics does not seem to have deteriorated. The figures were the Britains Detail range. They may have lacked some of the elegance of the Britains swoppets. However there chunky realism Lent them to transformation with paint and conversion work into models. In fact, painted up well they are equal to the more expensive metal 'model soldiers'. Curiously, they had metal bases.

The range included knights, astronauts, aliens and two varieties of mutants, WW2 Germans, Americans and British, British 8th Army, Afrika Korps, French Foreign Legion and Arabs, cowboys, Mexicans, plains Indians, Apaches, 7th Cavalry, ACW  and all the 19th century and French Foreign Legion ranges had mounted versions, British modern guardsmen in bearskins, Napoleonic British and French line and grenadiers. Only the spacemen seem to have had some vulnerability to plastic breakage.

I also acquired some metal figures by Sanderson and Rose. They were nice figures but in static poses and, due to their price, difficult to make regiments with. The weight of regiments of 54mm figures was also an issue when dealing with hundreds of figures.
By the 80s toy soldiers saw a drop in popularity.Larger Action toys such as Star Wars, with movable parts, were making big inroads. The rows of toy soldier figures in toy shops were becoming rare, although the farm and zoo range by Britains lingered on.

I have a particular annoying memory of this time. I went in to the toy department of Myers, Chadstone and asked the teenage female store girl if they had any Britains. She had no idea what I was talking about. I rephrased the question to ask if they had any toy soldiers. She replied, 'Oh, we don't stock violent toys'. I don't recall ever being attacked by a toy unless it was propelled by a violent child. I did think, however, that the absence of toy soldiers would explain a lot about absence of interest in history among many children.

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