Toy Soldier Collecting
Welcome to the world of toy soldiers. For those who know nothing about these "little men," we hope to make your visit here pleasant and informative. If you've never purchased toy soldiers before, you may have no idea what you're even supposed to be looking for. There is a huge variety of toy soldiers available today. One can find plastic and metal figures and accessories in scales from as small as an inch high (25mm) to just about 3 inches tall (70mm). Plastic soldiers are available unpainted or painted, while the metal toy soldiers we sell are generally painted. We offer over 15,000 sets of figures as well as our popular "playsets," which are instant collections of plastic figures and accessories that make ideal gifts for the young enthusiast.
When deciding what to purchase, there are several factors to consider, among which are Scale, Materials and the Historical Eras of the toy soldier items you are seeking.
Toy soldiers can be as small as a 1/2 inch or as large as 3 inches. The most popular scales for toy soldier collectors are about 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 inches tall. These scales are known as 54mm and 60mm (roughly 1/32nd the size of an average human being). These soldiers are big enough to have a good deal of detail, yet small enough to allow you to play with lots of them on a table top. We specialize in these scales, which are considered by most collectors and manufacturers to be interchangeable. This is the size that most people visualize when they see a toy soldier in their mind's eye, and many know them as 'army men' like the paratroopers in the movie 'Toy Story.' There are more metal and plastic figures produced in these scales than any other. While we carry plastic soldiers in many different scales, we stock metal figures only in this scale range.
The second most popular scale is about an inch high, which we describe as 'Small Scale.' This scale range is known as HO (pronounced as 2 letters: H - O), and incorporates 1/72nd, 1/76th and 1/87th scales. The HO scale is popular with war gamers, as the small size allows for a great many figures to be set up in a limited space. While they have the advantage of being quite inexpensive on a per-figure basis, playing with HO soldiers can be frustrating for the uninitiated as the tiny models have a hard time standing up on uneven surfaces, such as the living room rug, and tend to fall over with the slightest nudge, breeze or shake of the table-top.
Some plastic lines are produced in 70mm scale (about 3 inches tall). Others come as small as 15mm (about 5/8 of an inch) and 28mm (a touch over an inch tall), for use in wargaming. While these scales attract a moderate number of collectors, they are quite specialized in nature. The 70mm figures pack in a greater amount of detail than smaller sizes. The 15mm and 28mm figures are generally cast in hard plastic and require assembly. These can be posed and altered by the purchaser for completely personalized army building, as they arrive in bits and pieces which must be assembled before they can be used.
There are a great many materials that have been used to make toy soldiers over the years , but we specialize in plastic and metal. We say 'metal' rather than 'lead' because, since 1966, lead has been banned from use in toys. The metal, often tin, used in soldiers since then is considered non-toxic. Nevertheless, METAL TOY SOLDIERS MAY NOT BE SOLD TO CHILDREN UNDER THE AGE OF 14. Metal figures are generally more expensive per figure and more fragile. They are suited to display. Plastic figures, whether painted or unpainted, are considerably cheaper and generally more rugged. The quality of plastic varies depending on the manufacturer and the vintage of the figure. Hard plastic, which allows the collector to glue together his models in a variety of poses, is more brittle than soft plastic. Most of our figures are cast in soft plastic, which is by far the first choice of collectors. Unless otherwise mentioned, all figures we describe as plastic are soft plastic.
As you start to look around our website to find soldiers, you'll see figures available from practically every historical era in human history. Soldiers are available from ancient Greece and Rome, right through to the 21st Century and beyond. Very few figures have been devoted to military conflicts since World War II. The most popular eras for soldier collectors are the Ancient World, the Middle Ages, the American Revolution, the Napoleonic Wars, the American Civil War and World War II.Our website features the most sophisticated search engine in the toy soldier hobby. Not only can you look for soldiers from the ancient world in general, for example, but you can focus in on specific areas, such as Rome, Greece or Carthage. If you look under the American Revolution, you can separate out character figures (such as George Washington or Lafayette, colonial infantry, British infantry or even Woodland Indians. Similar search sub-categories are featured for every era.
Collectors often have a special fondness for particular soldier makers. Of these, Marx and Britains top the list in plastics, while Britains and Tradition lead in popularity for metal figures. In both metal and plastic collecting, soldiers by different manufacturers can often be mixed together in displays. By using the search function you can see lines that work well together from the same era.
You can find more information about toy soldiers by exploring the links at the bottom of any page under Resources. Don't forget to check out owner Jamie Delson's toy soldier blog, Harold's Rangers, and consider signing up for our email newsletter, which we send out once or twice per month.
Enjoy your visit!