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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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Vintage Metal Box With Plastic Army Men
Mar 05, 12:00 PM EST
Vintage Metal Box With Plastic Army Men
by Aether Auctions
Est: $0- $0
$810 Bids
1966 VINTAGE HASBRO GI JOE ACTION SOLDIER
Mar 24, 7:00 PM CDT
1966 VINTAGE HASBRO GI JOE ACTION SOLDIER
by Auctions By Moldenhauer
Est: $150- $500
$1305 Bids
2 GI Joe, Candle Holder, Decorative
Mar 05, 9:00 AM EST
2 GI Joe, Candle Holder, Decorative
by Wehrly's Auction Service
Est: $0- $0
$145 Bids
Die Cast Metal O Scale Military Figures Lot of 14
Mar 10, 7:00 PM EST
Die Cast Metal O Scale Military Figures Lot of 14
by Lettieri Auction & Appraisal
Est: $0- $0
$154 Bids
GI JOE SNAKE EYES NIB
Mar 24, 7:00 PM CDT
GI JOE SNAKE EYES NIB
by Auctions By Moldenhauer
Est: $150- $500
$602 Bids
GERMAN TIN WINDUP SHOOTING SOLDIER
Mar 09, 10:00 AM EST
GERMAN TIN WINDUP SHOOTING SOLDIER
by Milestone Auctions
Est: $100- $200
$602 Bids
G.I. Joe Reed Party Bags New Old Stock
Mar 10, 7:00 PM EST
G.I. Joe Reed Party Bags New Old Stock
by Lettieri Auction & Appraisal
Est: $0- $0
$22 Bids
GI JOE WOODEN FOOTLOCKER & ACCESSORIES
Mar 05, 11:00 AM EST
GI JOE WOODEN FOOTLOCKER & ACCESSORIES
by Vintage Auctions
Est: $100- $150
$352 Bids
GI JOE GRADED PSYCHE OUT
Mar 24, 7:00 PM CDT
GI JOE GRADED PSYCHE OUT
by Auctions By Moldenhauer
Est: $150- $500
$602 Bids
A collection of flat and semi-flat lead toy soldiers
Mar 07, 10:00 AM GMT
A collection of flat and semi-flat lead toy soldiers
by Martel Maides
Est: £40- £50
£301 Bid
TRAY LOT OF VINTAGE METAL SOLDIERS
Mar 08, 4:00 PM EST
TRAY LOT OF VINTAGE METAL SOLDIERS
by Diefenderfer Auction Company
Est: $0- $0
$51 Bid
Composite O Scale Soldiers Lot of 4
Mar 10, 7:00 PM EST
Composite O Scale Soldiers Lot of 4
by Lettieri Auction & Appraisal
Est: $0- $0
$11 Bid
A collection of one hundred (100) assorted Del Prado model soldiers
Mar 07, 10:00 AM GMT
A collection of one hundred (100) assorted Del Prado model soldiers
by Martel Maides
Est: £60- £80
£501 Bid
Medallion Miniatures - 54mm hand painted models of three soldiers on horseback
Mar 07, 10:00 AM GMT
Medallion Miniatures - 54mm hand painted models of three soldiers on horseback
by Martel Maides
Est: £200- £250
£1801 Bid
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VINTAGE PLASTIC BRITISH BRAND ARMY & FARM TOYS
Mar 09, 1:00 PM EST
VINTAGE PLASTIC BRITISH BRAND ARMY & FARM TOYS
by Florida Estate Sales Inc.
Est: $100- $10,000
$101 Bid
VINTAGE WW I METAL ARTILLARY GUN FIGURE
Mar 08, 4:00 PM EST
VINTAGE WW I METAL ARTILLARY GUN FIGURE
by Diefenderfer Auction Company
Est: $0- $0
$51 Bid
20+ LEAD SOLDIERS
Mar 09, 10:00 AM EST
20+ LEAD SOLDIERS
by Milestone Auctions
Est: $100- $200
$500 Bids
Collection of Del Prado Military Figurines
Mar 06, 6:00 PM EST
Collection of Del Prado Military Figurines
by Kodner Galleries
Est: $250- $500
$1200 Bids
REPRODUCTION VINTAGE ROYAL GUARD FIGURE
Mar 24, 7:00 PM CDT
REPRODUCTION VINTAGE ROYAL GUARD FIGURE
by Auctions By Moldenhauer
Est: $150- $500
$100 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Toy Soldiers


Bamfords Auctioneers and Valuers Ltd

Bamfords Auctioneers and Valuers Ltd

Martel Maides

Martel Maides

Auctions By Moldenhauer

Auctions By Moldenhauer