Britains Toys – Military, Toy Soldiers & Other

A group of 27 Britains Grenadier Guards firing rifles

p4A ItemID E8988985
A Britains castle toy model

p4A ItemID E8977067
A Britains Round-A-Bout & Circus toy merry-go-round or carousel with painted metal carousel horses and riders

p4A ItemID E8951148
A Britains pulley operated mechanical acrobat on horse toy

p4A ItemID E8911349

Britains Ltd. – Toy Maker

Begun by William Britain, Sr. circa 1845 as a manufacturer of mechanical tin toys in London, Britains Ltd., under the leadership of his son, William Britain, Jr., began making “hollow-cast” toy soldiers in 1893.

German toy makers dominated the late 19th century market, but Britains’ newly patented technique of hollow-casting soon revolutionized the toy soldier specialty. Retailers were able to sell Britain’s soldiers for far less than German models because their hollow form (marked by the head’s “air hole”) required less lead and shipping costs were reduced commensurately.

In addition, Britain also standardized his soldiers to a scale of 54 millimeters (replicating a six-foot soldier in 2 inches) and introduced an exacting quality standard reflected in totally accurate uniforms right down to trousers stripes and individual accouterments. Even battle and drill positions were carefully researched for accurate reproduction. As a result, realistic group play was greatly encouraged, as was the line’s collectability.

Even with these advantages, post World War II inflation took its toll; Britains’ introduced plastic figures in 1954 and stopped lead soldier production entirely in 1966. As early as 1921 Britain began to diversify away from soldiers with a Home Farm series of figures, followed in later years by zoo animals, boy scouts, police, circus and comic characters, among others. The company also undertook special commissions for other promotional figures from companies around the globe. The firm remains in business today under the name of Britains Petite.


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