Moulders of men

David Smith commemorates some genuine giants in the world of one his favourite childhood playthings: toy soldiers.
Author:
Publish date:
Social count:
0

I’ve written about toy soldiers many times, both on ToyTalk and in ToyNews, and I’ve never made any secret of the fact that they were among my favourite childhood toys.

With that in mind, it was quite a shock to find out that some of the key figures in the world of toy soldiers had recently passed away (thanks to Peter Evans and Paul Morehead at Plastic Warrior magazine for alerting me to this, and for providing the information that follows).

Despite my enthusiasm for toy soldiers, I’m not an expert and I’m a little ashamed to say that these names were new to me but, without my knowing it, these people had provided some of the most pleasurable hours of play in my childhood and are now doing the same for my two boys.

George Musgrave was a sculptor for Herald, Crescent and other companies, before setting up Gemodels himself.

Charlie Biggs was the genius who came up with the idea of placing a plastic figure on a metal stand for the Britains Deetail range (you could get them for 10p each when I was a boy and I spent many hours staring at the ranks of these soldiers in toy shops, trying to decide which to buy).

Ronald Cameron earned a reputation as one of the best anatomical sculptors around when he crafted many of the iconic Airfix soldiers (he also worked for Britains). It’s not surprising that he knew his way around the human body, he also produced erotic and nude figures (I didn’t play with any of those when I was a boy).

Norman Tooth designed almost all of the Timpo/Model Toys ranges and invented the overmoulding technique, which allowed different coloured plastic pieces to be moulded together so they didn’t have to be painted.

All of these important industry figures passed away between November 2012 and September of last year – that’s less than a year to say goodbye to four genuine giants who happened to specialise in miniatures.

And I can’t finish without also paying tribute to the man known as the Godfather (in a good way, not the Marlon Brando way) of plastic soldiers. Roy Selwyn-Smith died in 2006 after a brilliant career with Herald and Britains.

Toy soldiers may not be quite so prominent in the lives of children in our modern world but these men will undoubtedly be missed.

Related

Other people's toys

David Smith explores the eternal yearning for what other people have, especially when it comes to a Man From U.N.C.L.E. Briefcase.

Play it again

David Smith comes down with a severe case of déjà vu when it comes to the latest playground craze to return to playgrounds: diabolo.

kid tv resize 2.jpg

All about the ad

Ever been suckered into shelling out for a movie by a cynically produced trailer? David Smith has and wonders if some toy advertising is now going the same way.

steve reec.png

Manufacturing movements

Steve Reece takes a look at how the world of toy sourcing is accelerating away from China, following the dimishing factory output spurred the fall of the Yuan.

Featured Jobs

Vivid Job Logo 620 x 349

Digital Marketing Executive - Toys & Games

Vivid is Britain’s biggest toy company and the 20 largest in the world. With offices across the globe, they sell an amazing portfolio of toys and games to over 60 countries. Vivid is best known for its association with blockbuster brands and is very excited about future opportunities around the world.

Liberty

UK Sales Agents

Liberty House Toys have been appointed as the exclusive UK distributor for the BiOBUDDi brand, and we are pleased to introduce this new unique, innovative and exciting range of 100% environmentally-friendly toy building blocks. We are seeking experienced sales agents with existing network in the toy retail market.

Gameplan Job Logo 620 x 349

Head of Product Development & Marketing

Our client is a privately owned French toy and games manufacturer which sells through distributors in forty countries. The company develops and sells innovative electronic interactive toys and games for the educational and gaming markets, and also takes suitable licenses. To progress its successful business development a Head of Product Development & Marketing is to to recruited.

HIT Entertainment Job Logo 620 x 349

Licensing Systems Administrator

The Contract System Coordinator is a newly created role to support the deal term entry process into Mattel’s new Contract Management System for its Licensing business. The role will support the Business Teams at the Deal & Amendment phase of the contracting process and act in conjunction with the System Administration team.