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Toy Soldiers

Toy soldiers have been around since ancient times and have been found in Egyptian tombs. In the 17th century, a group of craftsmen began making soldiers by molding the metal between two pieces of slate. Then during the 18th century, Frederick the Great inspired military exploits, creating miniature soldiers to map out battlefield strategies. In 1893, William Britain revolutionized the production process of toy soldiers by inventing hollow casting, making toy soldiers cheaper and much lighter than their German predecessors.

The W. Britain toy soldier company produced fine hand-painted miniature toys, creating an industry standard copied by many companies. Fierce rivals of W. Britain were John Hill and Co. as well as Hanks Bros., both duplicating detail and fine toy soldiers of the era. Later, companies including Elastolin & Lineol were best known for producing composite figures made of glue and sawdust. By the ‘30s and ‘40s, companies including Beton and Airfix produced highly detailed plastic soldiers which many favored due to their non-fragile state. Later, Marx became the leader of plastic production soldiers and figures, incorporating them into their hugely famous playsets.

Today, the hobby of collecting antique, vintage, and modern soldiers is a massive pasttime. An abundance of small manufacturers, private makers, secondary market dealers, and substantial toy soldier shows around the world help create markets in places where these items used to be scarce. Though collectors seek mint and boxed sets, some prefer to paint and manufacture their own artistic soldiers.


Quick Facts

  • A rare prototype Britains marching guard toy soldier produced in 1934 sold at Christie’s in 1994 for $4,371, the highest price ever paid for a single soldier
  • A rare GI. Joe prototype soldier figure created by Don Levine in 1963 sold at Heritage Auctions in 2003 for $200,000. The prototype became the framework for GI. Joe dolls
  • Noted toy soldier collectors include Douglas Fairbanks Jr., George R. R. Martin, Anne S. K. Brown, and Malcolm Forbes. Forbes amassed the largest single toy soldier collection in the world with just over 90,000 pieces in all

Recommended Items at Auction

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GI Joe Action Pilot Equipment:
Oct 15, 10:00 AM EDT
GI Joe Action Pilot Equipment:
by Gateway Gallery Auction
Est: $0- $0
$808 Bids
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2 BOXES OF LEAD SOLDIERS & WEAPONS ETC
Oct 06, 9:00 AM AEST
2 BOXES OF LEAD SOLDIERS & WEAPONS ETC
by Albion Antique Auction Centre
Est: AUD10- AUD40
AUD406 Bids
GI Joe Action Pilot:
Oct 15, 10:00 AM EDT
GI Joe Action Pilot:
by Gateway Gallery Auction
Est: $0- $0
$1405 Bids
GI Joe Action Soldier Equipment:
Oct 15, 10:00 AM EDT
GI Joe Action Soldier Equipment:
by Gateway Gallery Auction
Est: $0- $0
$345 Bids
GI Joe Action Marine:
Oct 15, 10:00 AM EDT
GI Joe Action Marine:
by Gateway Gallery Auction
Est: $0- $0
$655 Bids
Talking GI Joe Action Soldier:
Oct 15, 10:00 AM EDT
Talking GI Joe Action Soldier:
by Gateway Gallery Auction
Est: $0- $0
$1205 Bids
GI Joe Action Soldier Equipment:
Oct 15, 10:00 AM EDT
GI Joe Action Soldier Equipment:
by Gateway Gallery Auction
Est: $0- $0
$1305 Bids
GI Joe Action Soldier:
Oct 15, 10:00 AM EDT
GI Joe Action Soldier:
by Gateway Gallery Auction
Est: $0- $0
$804 Bids
SET OF 18 LEAD TOY SCOTISH SOLDIERS
Oct 16, 9:30 AM CEST
SET OF 18 LEAD TOY SCOTISH SOLDIERS
by La Galerie Numismatique
Est: €180- €360
€803 Bids
SET OF 11 LEAD TOY SOLDIERS
Oct 16, 9:30 AM CEST
SET OF 11 LEAD TOY SOLDIERS
by La Galerie Numismatique
Est: €110- €220
€503 Bids
GI Joe Action Soldier Accessory:
Oct 15, 10:00 AM EDT
GI Joe Action Soldier Accessory:
by Gateway Gallery Auction
Est: $0- $0
$443 Bids
GI Joe Action Soldier Equipment:
Oct 15, 10:00 AM EDT
GI Joe Action Soldier Equipment:
by Gateway Gallery Auction
Est: $0- $0
$653 Bids
GI Joe Action Marine Equipment:
Oct 15, 10:00 AM EDT
GI Joe Action Marine Equipment:
by Gateway Gallery Auction
Est: $0- $0
$703 Bids
SET OF 20 LEAD TOY SOLDIERS
Oct 16, 9:30 AM CEST
SET OF 20 LEAD TOY SOLDIERS
by La Galerie Numismatique
Est: €200- €400
€503 Bids
SET OF LEAD SOLDIERS GREAT BRITAIN ROYAL HORSE ARTILLERY
Oct 16, 9:30 AM CEST
SET OF LEAD SOLDIERS GREAT BRITAIN ROYAL HORSE ARTILLERY
by La Galerie Numismatique
Est: €200- €400
€1003 Bids
SET OF LEAD SOLDIERS GREAT BRITAIN ROYAL HORSE ARTILLERY
Oct 16, 9:30 AM CEST
SET OF LEAD SOLDIERS GREAT BRITAIN ROYAL HORSE ARTILLERY
by La Galerie Numismatique
Est: €200- €400
€902 Bids
GI Joe Action Marine Accessory:
Oct 15, 10:00 AM EDT
GI Joe Action Marine Accessory:
by Gateway Gallery Auction
Est: $0- $0
$282 Bids
GI Joe Action Marine Accessory:
Oct 15, 10:00 AM EDT
GI Joe Action Marine Accessory:
by Gateway Gallery Auction
Est: $0- $0
$222 Bids
GI Joe Action Soldier Accessory:
Oct 15, 10:00 AM EDT
GI Joe Action Soldier Accessory:
by Gateway Gallery Auction
Est: $0- $0
$402 Bids
GI Joe Action Marine Accessory:
Oct 15, 10:00 AM EDT
GI Joe Action Marine Accessory:
by Gateway Gallery Auction
Est: $0- $0
$222 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Toy Soldiers


Davidson Auctions

Davidson Auctions

La Galerie Numismatique

La Galerie Numismatique

Gateway Gallery Auction

Gateway Gallery Auction

Designer Homes of Central Florida

Designer Homes of Central Florida