of Soldiers' Soldiers
Taken from an original leaflet produced in 1986
The first batch of figure No.159 were cast with cavalry
cross belts and pouches instead of infantry sergeant's sashes. Ed Ruby
in America is known to have a casting, given by John Tunstill on the
Latter part of 1978 saw the introduction of several new bands, and Sailors in cap and straw hats, dismounted, Royal Scots Greys, Gurkhas, seated Rifle Brigade and County Regiments.
First bandsmen were introduced in summer of 1980.
Due to redevelopment the Shop was moved from No. 36 to Nos. 44/46 in August of 1980.
Reject figures were often poorly painted or painted in incorrect colours or shades, artistic licence!
1979 saw the introduction of Punjab band, tourist figures, parking warden (sailor officer no.68), policeman, Beefeater, and dismounted Life or Horse Guard. Dismounted Hussar, Dragoon and Lancer bands introduced, Dervish was made as a special for collector who had a huge square of British Infantry, at Omdurman, but only one plastic Arab as the enemy!!!
Variety of numbers between 145 and 200 filled in.
Retail prices in August 1982; unpainted figures £1.45; painted figures £2.15; box of 8, £18.50; box of 16, £37.50.
Painters received 16p for a basic figure. Castings cost 35p. Painters on a regular basis Herbie Howell, now suffering from thrombosis of the legs, and regularly producing 100 each week. David Gracie, painting in school holidays and producing about 25 each week when free. Mr Coomber and his son also did some painting and probably averaged 35 per week during this period.
Figures up to and including no. 335 were all in regular production. New box liners were introduced during July, these had a multipurpose cut out instead of three different slots for "at ease", "at attention", and "marching".
During August new liner labels were introduced which suggests that the original order of 1000 had all been used on boxed sets. The new order was for 2000 and the illustration on the liner showed the shop at 44/46 Kennington Road with a grop of Britain civilians outside. The previous liner had "Slaters" written above a shop front, thus misleading some costomers who asked for "Slaters" soldiers! These boxes, if found, really command a premium.
From September 1982 all Scots became Gordon Highlanders with white hackles and yellow facings. Sailors in anklets or gaiters had them whitened instead of brown, for the guard order figures.
A few of the original "standing at attention" box liners were discovered in September 1982 and these now had the new liner label stuck on, a rare combination.
From October 1982 Line Infantry regiments received white facings instead of dark blue, jacket front and rear of coat were also piped white.
Lancers were painted in red jackets and Dragoons also were in red. All figures in Foreign Service Helmet and Imperial Wolseley Helmet were available in red, khaki or white tunics. 173 and 174 were painted up in many different regimental styles.
In October of 1983 plans were put forward to establish a soldier factory in the midlands. The person who had been casting and mouldmaking since the start of Tunstilll's soldiers expressed keen interest in becoming works manager of the new enterprise.
Despite finding premises in Kettering and generally agreeing on the terms and conditions for the new works, the prospective manager was unable to proceed, and the idea was shelved.
Bernard Simpson, who had some eighteen months previously expressed an interest in becoming a model maker, was approached and then engaged as works manager for a paint shop situated in the basement of 44/46 Kennington Road, London SE1.
The castings continued to be supplied by M J Mode of Ruby Street, Leicester, though the proprietor Jim Johnstone was less and less able to meet deadlines and delivery schedules.
A Guards drummer boy figure has been described, but not seen, by a customer who states that he has a drummer boy with a mans head i.e. a moustache. Another rarity, find it if you can.
Special paintings of standard figures were undertaken, usually in small quantities, and some of these figures would have been sold through the shop. an Italian "nobleman", silk shirts, castle, estate, money, the lot commissioned various sets of figures, which he generally researched. The figures, although not in great quantities, hardly ever more than three or four sets at a time, were produced for several years as a very regular feature. They are listed with an "a", "b", "c" addition to the numbers in the regular catalogue. We went to Italy, he's dead, and we bought a monastry, with museum, ( you'll find out about the Nazi gold bars when you come to visit) and now his mint boxed collection has been sold back to us by his executors.
There must be many more TEEKUS out there waiting to be found, and their values, who knows?
I am prepared to offer you three late production boxes of figures for any early slim "Slaters" box, in good order complete with contents with square bases.
John Tunstill 2003 © Calzolaro, Italy