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The History of Soldiers' Soldiers

Some other arcania...

Figures No.1 to No.46 with the exception of Nos 29 and 30 were cast on a square base with the words: SOLDIERS' SOLDIERS COPYRIGHT 1976 JOHN TUNSTILL LAMBETH ENGLAND cast into the underside, the figures number was also cast into the base.

Figures No.29 and 30, and 46 onwards were cast on a thicker base, octagonal in shape - a rectangle with the corners cut off; with the words SOLDIERS' SOLDIERS COPYRIGHT 1976 JOHN TUNSTILL LAMBETH ENGLAND, a was included, to attempt to protect the copyright, as well as the figure's number.

All the masters prepared up the 1st of June 1977 had two square lugs or pegs cast on at the shoulders to which were affixed the arms. The arms were cast without fixing holes, only indentations, this method was not satisfactory and was superceeded by round pin fixings on the bodies and fully pierced arms.

tin soldiers - collection

All figures were sold unboxed until early August 1977. The first shops other than "Soldiers" to retail the boxed sets were; Under Two Flags and Tradition, both of London W1, and National Army Museum of Chelsea, London.

Charles Selecman, of Atlanta , Georgia, USA, became the first US importer, 50 boxes sent out in 1977. The first out of London shop, The Toy Soldier at Maidstone and the first mail order figures were despatched via Ducal of Southampton. The "copyright" mark had no effect and the figures were blatantly pirated, even to the shape of the bases.

By early November 1977 twelve outlets plus the Soldier shop were retailing the figures.

In August 1977 a freelance artist, who had already done some of the painting of the models, designed the next set of box lids. His name was Christopher Plant and all his labels bear the signature C. Plant. There were six labels in the next series and were for figures of Territorials, Scots, Cavalry, Infantry in tropical helmets, Royal Marines and Royal Navy. These were all printed in brown on sepia paper and fixed to the boxes after filling, approximately 1000 of each label was produced.

blei soldaten - germania plomo

The Tunstill family were dragooned into painting in an attempt to satisfy the increasing demand, Lilliane, Tunstill's wife, and Mark , his young son both helped. Tunstill painted some of the master figures to be used as painter's samples. No distinctions were made by the individual artists, except Lilliane Tunstill who sometimes marked her work under the stand LT, so there is no way to identify other individual's work.

Because of fragile nature of the master figures; metal originals built up with plastic padding or green stuff: they had to be remade after each production mould; with its extremes of pressure and temperature, had been made. With fixed arm troops an interim mould for hand pouring was made first from RTV rubber and the master figure was left undamaged.

The castings, which were initially made in the back part of the Soldier shop at 36 Kennington Road, Lamberth, London SE1 were soon required in such large quantities that the production was taken over by M.J. Mode of Leicester, and their proprietor the late Jim Douglas Johnston, Douglas Miniatures, and his assistant Terry, soon put the production on a regular basis of 500 castings per week.

britains lead wargamming figures

A few figures from the first collection of 138 listed figures, itemised in List Number One were not made until November/ December of 1977 because when they were first put into a mould they were destroyed because of incorrect pressure and heat. When rebuilt, they were about to be cast again but the decision to replace the square stands with the lozenge shaped ones was made and once more these figures were returned to Andrew Rose for modification. They were held back for a third time because of the decision to cast figures with fixed arms and again they were returned for re-modelling. The figures which were delayed were not recorded at the time and perhaps collectors can advice regarding this point, as several figures appeared out of sequence..

In August the National Army Museum decided to take advantage of Soldiers' our offer to produce to order a run of 100 castings of a figure of their own specification. They chose from three of the Lovat postcards, which they sold, a Gurkha, a Rajput and a figure of an officer from Skinners Horse. These figures were made exclusively for the Museum and only sold via their sales kiosk. These figures were numbered M1, M2, and M3, and the stands were painted brown, a traditional stand colour for colonial forces.

soldatini modelismo plomo

A donation of an original, though burnt-out, mould, some castings still on the sprue, cleaned and fettled castings, paints, boxes, liners and labels was made to the Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood who had a large collection of Britains toy figures and was about to receive on temporary loan the British Model Soldier Society collection. It was decided by the Museum authorities that a Bethnal Green Volunteer would be an appropriate figure to commission for sale through their sales office. Original art work was kindly supplied by Bill Carman, who was at that time running the Imperial War Museum, and whose generosity was appreciated and reciprocated with a selection of painted Volunteers.

Production by the end of October 1977 was about 700 figures per week and about 50 boxes of painted figures were being produced from these castings, and sold through the various outlets, and were also used to build up a buffer stock.

One of the difficulties with the figures was the fact that the arms were not securely fixed, with the result that a considerable quantity of figures were damaged in transit or whilst being packaged. It was decided to have all figures with at least one fixed arm from early October and by the middle of the month several of the figures appeared with their original numbers prefixed by the letter F, to indicate fixed arm with the double lug, or posts replaced.

napoleonic toy soldier

During the last quarter of the year 1977 quite apart from rebasing, rebuilding and fixing arms on to the existing range, Andrew Rose was kept busy producing a further hundred and fifty master figures for the next batch.

By December 1977 several shops were stocking boxed figures and two more wholesalers in North America were interested, Bob Stenzal of New York and Dr Barratt of Ontario. A new price list was designed and typed in December in order to satisfy the enquiries made by mail which had been generated by an article in the magazine World Models and also by a mention in the BMSS Journal the Bulletin.

On the 13th of December 1977 the first boxes of assorted figures were sent off for review to the Airfix magazine, World Models, Campaign and Military Modeling, other boxes would be sent off for review by foreign journals and a new box would be sent each month to all journals kind enough to review the goods.

The first advertisement for the figures appeared in late December in World Models. By this time the second batch of boxes had been delivered, again in traditional shiny maroon, this time with slightly deeper box lids to take the amount of writing that the fold over label had to contain on the box end. The details of style, type, rank, dress and stance of model.

Boxes and liners were often handed out to the painters in order that they could pack their own figures and also make it easier for the painter to transport the figures to the shop for without damage.

Instead of having to remake each master figure each occasion it was used to make a mould, Jim Johnston started to produce hand cast castings from the master figures to use as masters for moulding. By hand casting from the original, Jim was able to get a perfect replica without any distortion; because when casting on a centrifugal machine there is always a considerable amount of thickening or thinning; and these cast masters were in future used for the final moulding process.


Teecus (Tunstill's Cock-Ups)