Twelve Days of Christmas – Toys

FIRST DAY OF CHRISTMAS – Coldstream Guards

By Minikin of Japan! Lead soldiers have had a place at Christmas since The Nutcracker Ballet in the 19th Century and maybe before. These 2 1/2″ tall, beautifully detailed figures may be more collectible than toy. But any kid would love to get his hands on them.


By William Britains c. 1950’s. I was selling the figures. But shooting the “Castle Blocks” the winter landscape with bottle brush trees was the joy. Toys are hard to leave behind.

THIRD DAY OF CHRISTMAS : German Winter Flats.
  Like Anderson’s “Steadfast Tin Soldier” these 1 1/2″ -2″ two dimensional figures have great paint and poses. Begun in the early 1800’s, still made, in sets of 30 or so pieces – skating, sledding, driving sleighs, selling hot cider – everything!
FOURTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS: Toys from Outer Space!
Or at least from Archer Plastics Co of the Bronx circa 1950’s. 3 1/2″ tall. 2 are wearing their detachable oxygen masks. The third, regrettably seems to have misplaced his.

FIFTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS – Winter Figures by Barclay.  When I was a kid in the 1940/50’s these were a fixture of store window displays and living room mantelpieces. Called “Dimestore      Figures” because that’s where they were sold – these are the basic pieces in an appropriate setting.

SIXTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS TOYS – Marx Imagination Dollhouse.Toys reflect their times. And this modular kitchen with furniture is very much in late ’60’s “modern” style. It’s from a Marx all plastic, multi-level dollhouse that could be laid out in a variety of ways. Now it looks as much like a design model as a toy.
SEVENTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS TOYS – A Porcelain head doll.
Perfect visual for New Year’s Day morning hangover: disturbing as all get-out. There are more scary stories about dolls than of all other toys combined (You could look it up!). This china-headed 20th century European item shows why.

         EIGHTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS TOY  -Marx Super Circus  The early 1950’s were the Play Set’s heyday. This 100+ pc set – a tie in with a Saturday morning TV show –    boasted a tin litho big top and sideshow platforms plastic and metal accessories, animal acts, patrons and performers like these acrobats swinging from a trapeze in the center ring!

NINTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS  – Knights of AgincourtLead handpainted figures, designed by Selwyn Smith produced by William Britains, circa 1950’s. Four poses 54mm (3″ tall mounted figures). A signpost as lead figures went from being children’s toys to
adult collectibles.

Nothing says “1950’s” as clearly as the ‘Science Fiction’ toys made in that decade. This Outer Space Jet Car by Gilmark is a fine example – half U.S. Air Force fighter and half G.M Pontiac sedan.

Salvation Army Band a modern maker.H.G. Wells in FLOOR GAMES his wonderful 1911 book about toys and playing with children decries the absence of civilian figures and the overabundance of toy soldiers. A few years later the First World War meant that even eleven year old boys weren’t interested in war. Toy makers turned to civilian themes including Salvation Army figures and remains so as this fine set shows.

Toy sewing machine by Casige of Germany: Really, “miniature” would be a better description. These
were simply small, functioning machines. The company began making toy sewing machines in the early 20th century and continued into the later part. After WW2, from the “British” sector of Germany where they found themselves they continued to turn out these beautifully designed toys. The art work – in this case art deco – makes them desired collectibles.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *