New 1/32 Scale Plastic Figures - A Buyers Guide

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This is a brief beginners guide to some of the 1/32 scale (54mm) plastic toy soldier sets currently in production. It details the leading manufacturers, the figures they produce and the historical periods covered. Figure painters, wargamers, diorama builders and collectors are the main intended audience. My interest is both personal and professional as I enjoy painting figures as a hobby and also sell toy soldiers through my eBay store Drum & Flag.

(A guide of this nature is out of date almost as soon as it is written with new sets coming onto the market and new manufacturers starting up production. I will therefore endeavour to update it from time to time as best I can. Last update August 2009 - I have added "Latest Releases" and "In the Pipeline" sections under each maker to try and keep more current with developments where possible . Guide first posted June 2006.

As they are the figures I know best and space for these guides is limited I'll only be taking a look at the main manufacturers I stock in my eBay shop. Most of these figures are made of similar unpainted soft plastic that paints up very well as long as washed properly before hand. Endless conversion possibilties are made available with this material. Nearly all these figures are compatible with each other although some makes are a little more unique than others. For more information on painting figures see my guide to Painting Plastic Figures

Prices are usually between £5-£20 depending on the make, production run and the size of the set. Figures are unpainted unless otherwise stated. Most figures do not require any assembly but some may require removing from the moulding sprue. Visit my eBay shop for set specific details, prices, more pictures and stock availability. 

Makes listed in alphabetical order. Only 10 pics allowed so can't illustrate all makes I am afraid:

A Call to Arms (ACTA)

 

Company Details: Based in London. Figures are British made.

Range: American Civil War, American Revolution, English Civil War, Napoleonics, Romans

Sets: 34 sets currently on the market.

Contents/Poses: Usually 16 foot figures in 4 poses. Cavalry 4 figures in 4 poses, horses all same pose.

1/72 Scale Range? Yes, figures are usually scaled down versions of their 1/32 range.

Most Recent Releases:  Hasleriggs Lobsters and Cromwell's Ironsides.

In the Pipeline: No new releases for some time which is a shame and I have been unable to source some existing sets either - not sure if out of production permanently or not.

Other Info: ACTA use a variety of plastic colours. Moulding and sculpts usually very good. Cannon sets feature only one artillery piece whilst crew sets feature four sets of crew - a good incentive to make up a four gun battery!

Accurate

Company Details: Were based in Florida, USA. Figures made in England. Now owned by Imex I believe.

Range: American Civil War, American War of Independence, Medieval

Sets:  4 sets currently on the market to my knowledge, these being the AWI sets. Been unable to get ACW or Medieval for a while now.

Contents/Poses: 20 foot figures in 10 poses. Mixed French Knights set is 5 foot and 2 mounted poses.

1/72 Scale Range?: Yes, figures are usually scaled down versions of their 1/32 range and are the same as the Revell sets.

Most Recent Releases: ?

In the Pipeline: ?

Other Info: None.

Airfix

Company Details. They need no introduction really being many people's first thought when considering plastic soldiers. Now owned by Hornby - it will be interesting to see where they take the brand and what they do with the back catalogue.

Range: See CTS for reissues of much of the 1970's range, including the fab buildings - checkpoint, desert house etc and vehicles - Sherman, PzIV, Daimler Armoured Car, Half Track etc...Historical periods originally included WW2, Medieval, Cowboys & Indians, Modern, Footballers, Space etc... Few better places than eBay to source the originals.

Sets: Many but all currently either out of production or reissued by CTS.

Contents: Varies. You usually got both a good range of poses and quantity of figures with Airfix.

1/72 Scale Range? Yes - new retro box artwork introduced a year or two back. Also reissues from HaT and Heller amongst others.

Most Recent Releases: Rereleased some 1/32 scale hard plastic kits figure a few years ago.

In the Pipeline: 2009 catalogue shows the following 14 piece WW2 sets which from the artwork I believe will be reissues of the soft plastic figures first released in the 1970's: British Paras, German Infantry, US Infantry, British Commandos, British 8th Army, Afrika Korps, US Paratroops, German Paratroops, British Infantry (Modern).

Other Info: None

Armies in Plastic (AIP)

Company Details: Based out of New York State AIP is a designer and fabricator of historically accurate military figurines, depicting armies and battles from around the world.

Range: American Civil War, American Revolution, Colonial (wide range), WWI (wide range), Crimean War, Napoleonic Wars, French & Indian Wars.

Sets: 150+ infantry, artillery and cavalry sets.  

Contents/Poses: Typically 20 foot figures in 10 poses. Artillery 5 foot figures and 1 gun. Cavalry 5 mounted figures. Colours used are in keeping with the sets and span a broad spectrum which US collectors particularly appreciate. Moving to 3 copies of 8 poses in infantry sets of late.

1/72 Scale Range?: No

Most Recent Releases: WW1 Cavalry - German Uhlans, Russian Cossacks, British Lancers.

In the Pipeline: French & Indian War - Roger's Rangers, French Infantry, North American Woodland Indians

Other Info: AIP sets are made from easy to paint soft plastic. It is worth noting that several sets are made up of the same poses - just the box artwork and the plastic colour varies. This means that collectors and gamers who do not wish to paint their figures have a good broad choice of different coloured plastic sets.

Barzso

Company Info: Based in Illinois Barzso have been proudly making excellent American designed, sculpted and manufactured plastic figures, accessories and playsets since 1993.

Range: Many mainly US themes. American Civil War, French & Indian War, Battle of New Orleans, The Alamo, Pirates, Robin Hood

Sets: ?

Contents: Varies widely - Robin Hood and Sheriff of Nottingham sets both had 8 different poses.

1/72 Scale Range?: No

Most Recent Releases: The last figures Barzso were able to supply me were the Robin Hood and Sheriff of Nottingham figures.

In the Pipeline: ?

Other Info: Most sets made of a resin type plastic. Figures are great and the accessory range is particularly strong.

BMC

Company Info: US based

Range: WW2, Alamo, Rough Riders, Accessories etc...

Sets: ?

Contents: Vary widely but generally you get plenty of figures for your money.

1/72 Scale Range? : No

Most Recent Releases: ?

In the Pipeline: ?

Other Info: As well as figures BMC produce some great vehicles and accessories.

Britains Super Deetail

Company Details: This famous name in metal as well as plastic toy soldiers is now owned by US company First Gear. They have reissued, revamped, repainted and rebased Deetail figures first seen in the 1970's plus some accessories.

Range: WW2, Wild West, ACW, Medieval plus accessories (Sandbags, stone wall, ACW walling and bombed ruin)

Sets: 16 different counter packs including accessories.

Contents:  Most foot figures are available in 6 different poses and the cavarly in 5 or 6. I sell the figures bagged up into sets but you can get them individually as well as they come in counter packs designed for toy shops.

1/72 Range? No

Most Recent Releases: ?

In the Pipeline: ?

Other Info: Hopefully these figures will sell well and First Gear will then look into how feasible other re-releases or even new products are.

Conflix

Company Details: tba

Range: 1/35 Dioramas. Lightweight prepainted foam - easily portable. New - due 2009?. Pill Box, Bunker, Gun Emplacement, Redoubt, Trench, Ammo Stash, Command Post and Desert.Tropical Emplacement and Ammo Stash. Ideal for WW2 / WW1 / ACW / Vietnam etc...

Sets: 0 at present.

Contents: tba

1/72 Scale Range?: 15-28mm modern, medieval and fantasy painted resin building/terrain ranges.

Most Recent Releases?

In the Pipeline: Scenery pieces as described above.

Other Info: If these are as good as their little brothers and as good as they look in the catalogue these will be most welcome releases in the larger scale.

Conte Collectibles

 Spartans - Originally red plastic I painted these chaps up myself.

Company Details: This producer of great metal toy soldiers also manufactures fantastic plastics. Conte describe their injection moulded figures "as the industry standard and they strive to keep getting better. Undercuts have practically been done away with and the sculpting and historical accuracy are amongst the best you will find."

Range: Alamo, American Civil War, Colonial, Dark Ages (Normans, Saxons & Vikings), Spartans & WWII.

Sets: 70+

Contents: Usually 16 figures in 8 poses or 8 figures in 8 poses. Figures come either boxed, bagged or plastic bubble packed. Spartans come in 9 blister packs of 7 figures each. 5 figures are the same in each pack with 2 different making 23 to collect in total. These are approx 70mm high and have poseable joints - fantastic stuff!

1/72 Scale Range?: No

Most Recent Releases: Spartans in red plastic and also bronze colour I believe.

In the Pipeline: Persians?

Other Info: Plastic is more 'rubbery' than some in earlier sets at least. This has helped them mould some very detailed and top quality sculpts. The seperate sprues for weapons and limbs in some sets also enable poses to be presented that are not normally possible with injection moulding. Some ACW sets are/were also available factory painted. 

Classic Toy Soldiers (CTS)

Company Details: Colorado is home for this leading US toy soldier company. They produce their own figures, accessories and vehicles as well as top quality reissues of the classic 1970's Airfix figures, buildings and vehicles. 

Range: WWII, Napoleonic, Medieval, Wild West, US History and more

Sets: Lots. I count 70+ sets that I stock.

Contents. Varies widely

1/72 Scale Range?: No

Most Recent Releases: ?

In the Pipeline: ?

Other Info:  None at this time.

DSG - Info to follow

Emhar

Company Details: Made by UK company Pocketbond.

Range: Vikings, WWI (1/35 Scale)

Sets: 11 including their excellent WW1 tanks.

Contents:  Viking set for example contains 12 figures.

1/72 Range?: Yes. Also collaborate with Imex.

Most Recent Releases:  Vikings?

In the Pipeline: WW1 US Doughboys?

Other Info: TBA

Hat

Company Details: Based in US

Range: Punic Wars, ACW, Napoleonics

Sets: 20+

Contents: Varies. Most recent Napoleonics have 3 x 6 poses = 18 figures.

1/72 Scale Range: Huge range. Now also into 28mm hard plastics.

Most Recent Releases:  Napoleonic French Voltiguers & Command. Hannibals Veterans, Celtiberians.

In the Pipeline: More Napoleonics and Ancients.

Other Info: Box artwork for the Triarii set illustrated has to be one of the best I have seen - very dramatic.

Imex

Company Detail: Based in Florida.

Range: American Civil War, American Revolution

Sets: 15+ on the UK market. More in the US I believe - mainly Civil War variations.

Contents: Varies depending on the set type.

1/72 Scale Range?: Yes.

Most Recent Releases: AWI Artillery if I recall correctly

In the Pipeline: Alamo Mexican Roundhat Cavalry?

Other Info: Imex produce a great range of Civil War sets covering all three arms. Artillery is particularly well covered with varying calibres and limbers as well as crew.

Italeri

Company Detail: This Italian company are located in Bologna and have released many excellent sets onto the market over the past few years to compliment their impressive 1/72 scale offerings. Italeri are very careful to select the right historical subjects and try to represent the various eras in the best way possible.

Range: American Civil War, Ancient, WW2, Medieval & Napoleonic.

Sets: 30+

Contents: Typically 16 foot figures in 8 poses and 8 cavalry in 4 poses.

1/72 Scale Range? : Yes - one of the best. Now also incorporating many of the old Esci sets.

Most Recent Releases: Medieval Arab Cavalry

In the Pipeline: ? Slowed down of late.

Other Info:

Pegasus

Company Info: tba

Range: Gladiators sets 1 & 2, WW2 Russian Naval Infantry.

Sets: 3 at present

Contents: tba

1/72 Range?: Yes. Also 28mm accessories and 1/144 scale

Most Recent Releases: See above

In the Pipeline: ?

Other Info: tba

Timpo & Toyway

Company Details: Toyway are based in the UK and produce figures under both the Timpo and Toyway brand names.

Range: WW2, Ancient, Wild West, ACW, Medieval, Colonial, Ceremonial

Sets: 30+

1/72 Range? No

Other Info: The Toyway Romans, Greeks, Egyptians and Footballers are all pre-painted as are some of the Ceremonial and Medieval sets. Many of the sets are ideal for kids as well as collectors.

2009 - Toyway have decided to stop selling these figures so get them whilst you still can.

TSSD

Company Details: Based in San Diego, California, USA.

Range: WWII and ACW

Sets: 10+ (with different colour variants)

Contents: I sell the infantry in packs of 8 figures, all different poses

1/72 Range?: No

Other Info: Some of the best sculpted figures on the market. Well worth investigating if you have not seen them before. Sets all pictured in my eBay store.

Most Recent Release: Plains Indians

In the Pipeline: More Wild West themed sets I believe.

Waterloo 1815

Company Details: Based in Italy.

Range: WW2 Italian, Napoleonic Prussians - New

Sets: 5 or so

Contents: Varies

1/72 Range? Yes

Most Recent Releases: Napoleonic Prussian Infantry

In the Pipeline: Sioux?

Other Info: None at this time.

Others

If your interest includes Charbens, Cherilea, Crescent, Herald, Marx, Swoppets etc... then I can't help you much as any expertise I may have does not extend to these mainly out of production figures. However eBay members buy and sell plenty of these figures so take a look at what's being traded. A good reference is Plastic Warrior magazine which is published 6 times a year. You can find details of how to subscribe and much more information besides on their website: plasticwarrior.com.

Happy to answer any questions and to receive corrections or suggestions for the next update. Contact me via eBay messages. User ID flagbearer101.

To visit my eBay online toy soldier Shop click here: Drum & Flag

 

 

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