New 1/72 Scale Plastic Figures - A Buyers Guide

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This is a brief beginners guide to the 1/72 scale plastic toy soldier sets that are currently in production. It details the leading manufacturers, the figures they produce and the historical periods they cover. Figure painters, wargamers, diorama builders and collectors are the intended audience. My interest is both personal and professional as I enjoy painting and wargaming with 1/72 plastic figures and I also sell them through my eBay toy soldier shop: Drum & Flag.

(An article like this is inevitably out of date as soon as it is written due to the volume of new releases and also the deletion process as sets are retired either permanently or more hopefully temporarily. I will therefore endevour to periodically revise it.)

 Last (minor) update Feb 2009. Guide created June 2006. I will look at doing my comprehensive annual update asap.

Over the past ten years or so there has without doubt been a second 'golden age' for this hobby with year on year more and more figures coming onto the market. Indeed I would expect that production and availability easily outstrips the first 'golden age' in the Seventies. May be one of the reasons for this is that those of us who grew up with Airfix figures as kids are now well into adulthood and are indulging ourselves!

As they are the figures I know best I'll mainly be taking a more detailed look at the producers I stock in my shop. Although pretty much sticking to current production I will also mention some out of production sets. In this scale figures seem to come in and out of production with some regularity and of course eBay makes it easier than it's ever been to source some of these difficult to obtain sets.

Most, but not all, these sets are made of the same sort of soft plastic which paints up very well providing the figures are washed thoroughly in detergent first. Endless conversion possibilities are made pretty easy with plastic and nearly all these figures are compatible with each other although some are a little taller or stockier than others. It does depend on who you talk to but 1/72 scale generally equates to 25mm (1 inch) in height. For more information on painting plastic figures and what's good about plastics  you may wish to take a look at some of the other eBay guides I have written.

Typical prices are rarely more than £5 for getting on for 50 pieces so you are looking at 10p or less per figure. For exact pricing information and  many more pictures than allowed in these guides you can browse the 1/72 scale plastic section of my eBay shop. If you are seeking more detailed information than what is on offer here I'd recommend a visit to plasticsoldierreview.com which is an excellent and very comprehensive guide to 1/72 figures. It also is the best place to get the all important and most up to date info on what's new and what's in the pipeline. For painted figures see my gallery site at drumandflag.com.

Makes listed in alphabetical order (only 10 pictures allowed per guide so not all can be illustrated I am afraid):

A Call to Arms

Company Details: UK based company specialising in 1/72 and 1/32 plastic figures.

Main Periods: WW2, Colonial, American Civil War, Napoleonic, American War of Independence, English Civil War

Sets in Production: 15+

Contents: Typical infantry set contains 32 figures in 8 different poses.

1/32 Scale Range?: Yes. 1/32 sets tend to come up first and then the same poses are released in the smaller scale. Often a couple of 1/32 scale set's poses are combined to make one 1/72 set. Not all 1/72 sets are from their larger cousins but these tend to be the best ones.

Other Info: Just about the only make doing ECW and very nice sets they are too. In fact their Royalist Artillery set is one of my favourites. Would be nice to see some ECW cavalry.

Accurate

Company Details. Based in Florida. Now owned by Imex I believe.

Main Periods: American Civil War, American War of Independence, Medieval, Napoleonic, Medieval

Sets in Production: About 5 +/-

Contents: Typical infantry set contains 50 figures in 17 poses.

1/32 Scale Range?: Yes

Other Info: Accurate sets are mostly the same as Revell although I am not sure which came first. Napoleonic sets are Airfix reissues although one's in pipeline may be new. Some sets have been difficult to source for a while now.

Airfix

Company Details:  "The Daddy" of them all. Acquired by Hornby late 2006/early 2007. Seem to be getting back on their feet rather nicely.

Main Periods: WW2, WW1, Robin Hood & Sheriff of Nottingham, Romans & Ancient Britons (Out of production sets cover a lot wider span).

Sets in Production: Approx 20 plus numerous 1/72 scale tanks, afvs and planes available as kits. The Coastal Defence Fort and Gun Emplacement kits are also still out there.

Contents: Typical infantry set contains 48 figures in 14 poses.

1/32 Scale Range? Yes - but not currently produced by Airfix. CTS produce reissues and eBay lists many auctions for the original both boxed and loose.

Other Info: HaT have reissued 18 or so Airfix sets ranging from the Romans to WW2. See also Heller. Airfix themselves reissue and delete some of their sets annually. Who knows what has happened to the moulds but it would be great to see Airfix let us have the French Imperial Guard again and keep the full range of their 1/72 buildings in production. Also if the Waterloo Assault Set accessory set was boxed up it would sell really well. As would the polythene vehicles and the old sandbags and tank traps etc...I know dream on.....

I wrote the few lines above about a year ago in April 2007 and some of what I wished for looks to be coming true. Nine sets have just been reissued with the classi box artwork and a revamped Waterloo Assault set is featured in their 2008 catalogue. Wow! With Airfix on the up once again I am not sure whether HaT and Heller will continue to issue Airfix figures but have heard of no changes so far.

For more on Airfix generally surf Google to pick up on sites dedicated to the company. You should also seek out Arthur Ward's book - Airfix, Celebrating 50 years of the greatest plastic kits in the world.

Armourfast

Company Details: British based manufacturer.

Main Periods: WWII

Sets in Production: c25. Mainly snap together tanks for wargamers plus a couple of popular sets of WW2 German Infantry

Contents: You get two tanks per set. The Machine Gun Team figure set for example has 24 figures in 6 poses plus 8 machine guns.

1/32 Scale Range? Armourfast - No.

Other Info: The tanks may be snap together but they are pretty detailed.

B.U.M. & GerMan

Company Details: Based in Barcelona, Spain. "Barcelona Universal Models" hence abbreviation. Previously issued variants of existing figures but now producing own figures in a resin type plastic.

Main Periods: Spanish Civil War, Jacobite Highlanders, Cuban War 1898, French Musketeers

Sets in Production: c10

Contents: Varies but often flags and other accessories included

1/32 Range: Some earlier offerings

Other Info: Often produce only small or limited edition production runs so get them when you see them.

Caesar

Company Details: Based out of Taiwan

Main Periods: Ancients, Biblical, Medieval, WW2, Modern, Fantasy

Sets in Production: 40+ and rising fast.

Contents: As a couple of different examples the Modern US Army set has 42 figures in assorted poses and the Assyrian Chariot set gives you two four horse chariots.

1/32 Scale Range? No.

Other Info: One of the most prolific and innovative of the recent arrivals on the scene. Recently released seven fantasy sets. Don't know why more manufacturers haven't done this as I would have thought the success of Games Workshop over the years had pointed up the popularity of the fantasy genre big time.

Dark Dream Studios

Company Details: Made in the Ukraine. Not sure if it's a brand of the Orion company or affiliated with it in some other way.

Main Period: WW1 & 17C.

Sets in Production: 3. WWI pilots and a couple of sets of Landesknechts.

Contents: Pilot set for example offers 48 figures in 24 poses.

1/32 Scale Range? No

Other Info: None at this time.

Emhar

Company Details: UK based - Pocketbond.

Main Periods: WW1, Crimea, Dark Ages, Franco-Prussian War. Napoleonics and Medievals coming soon. Plus viking rowers.

Sets in Production: 10+ including WW1 tanks. Franco-Prussian War Prussian Infantry recently released.

Contents: Typical infantry set contains 50 figures in 13 poses.

1/32 Scale Range?: Yes. 1/35 WW1 sets plus 1/32 Vikings.

Other Info: Imex link. Look to be ramping up for significantly increase output in the years ahead which bodes well. Are pioneering a type of plastic called 'Sta-Put' which is flexible enabling the modeller or wargamer to shape his figures as he wishes without too much knife work.

HaT

Company Details: US based company specialising in toy soldiers. I well remember getting excited when I heard that a new manufacturer was releasing a set of Napoleonic French Mameluks. This was in the 1990's just before the start of the flood when Airfix, Revell and Esci were about it. Little did I think then that HaT would power on to produce so much quality product. Their 'Everything Toy Soldiers' page on the the Hat.com website is a must visit destination to see hobbyists pictures of painted figures, conversions and dioramas etc...

Main Periods:  WW2, WW1, Napoleonic, Ancient & 1 set of ACW Zouaves. Zulu War figures coming.

Sets in Production: c200 . Most of these sets are of similar size but some are increasingly a little larger with 60 figures and four ancients sets are mini half sets. They also do a massive Alexander box set.

Contents: Typical infantry set 48 figures in 8 poses.

1/32 Scale Range?: Yes. 10+ sets. Mainly Punic wars but also Napoleonic and ACW.

Other Info: Loads more product in the pipeline. See Hat.com for more info.

Heller

Company Details: French sister company of Airfix. Presumably now also owned by Hornby.

Main Period: WWII

Sets in Production: 10+

Contents: Typically 40-50 figures in assorted poses.

1/32 Scale Range?. Heller - No. Airfix - Yes.

Other Info: The Heller 1/72 sets include some of the sets currently available from Airfix and some that are not. They are all Airfix moulds just in different boxes. So note that  for example US Paras, German Paras, USAAF personnel, RAF personnel and Luftwaffe personnel are still on the market even if not in Airfix packaging at this time.

Imex

Company Details: US based manufacturer of plastic toy soldiers and other items.

Main Periods: Korea, WW2, various US History, American Civil War, American War of Independence, Alamo.

Sets in Production: c 30+

Contents: Typical infantry set contains 50 figures in 14 poses.

1/32 Scale Range?: Yes

Other Info: Own Accurate I believe. AWI sets are based on same poses as Accurate with mounted officer and 'diorama' type figures added. Do lots of good wagon sets - very useful. Did have a large future sets list including Ben Hur chariots and Rogers Rangers - hopefully these will still see the light of day.

Italeri

Company Details: Italian manufacturer of kits, paints and plastic toy figures.

Main Periods: Modern, WW2, Colonial, Napoleonic, American Civil War, Crimea, American Revolution, Medieval, Ancients.

Sets in Production:  Approx. 100

Contents: Typical infantry set contains 50 figures in 14 poses. Have recently started to issue three identical sprues instead of the more typical two with variations.

1/32 Scale Range: Yes.

Other Info: Have steadily been reissuing the old Esci sets. Some Italeri figures are a little larger and/or bulkier than some other makes. Generally one of the best brands to go for though in terms of both quality and quantity - although as always there are exceptions and it's down to personal preference. Starting to release more WW2 terrain items and early era Napoleonics.

Lucky Toy

Company Details: Italian company.

Main Periods: Ancient, Wild West, 19 C

Sets in Production: 5+

Contents: Varies. King Porus set for example includes 37 pieces.

1/32 Scale Range? No

Other Info: None

Mars

Company Details: Based in Ukraine

Main Periods: WW2, Crusades, Ancients, Napoleonic, 16th C

Sets in Production: 10+

Contents: Varies

1/32 Range: No

Other Info: Figures seem mainly to be reissues of earlier releases from other makes. Fantastic box art work on some sets.

MiniArt

Company Details: Based in the Ukraine.

Main Period: Medieval

Sets in Production: c10

Contents: German Knights set for example has 48 pieces.

1/32 Scale Range? No - but does do 1/35 & 1/16

Other Info: Ancient Germans latest release.

Nexus

Company Details: Based in Italy

Main Periods: Wild West, Ancient, 20th C

Sets in Production: 20+

Contents: Varies

1/32 Scale Range? No

Other Info: These are the old Atlantic figures reissued. Now distributed by Italeri.

Odemars

Company Details: Based in France

Main Periods: Napoleonic, WW2, Ancients, Biblical etc...

Sets in Production: 20+

Contents: Varies

1/32 Scale Range? No

Other Info: Also produce a range of Hougoumont, Wild West and Ancient/Biblical buildings in kit form.

Orion

Company Details: Based out of the Ukraine.

Main Periods: WW2, Ancient, Medieval, 17C, Modern

Sets in Production: 20+

Contents: Ukrainian Cossack set for example has 34 figures in 17 poses plus 2 cannon.

1/32 Scale Range? No

Other Info: Scythians, Cossacks, Volksturm among recent releases.

Pegasus

Company Details: Chinese made figures from California based company.

Main Periods: WW2, Vietnam, US History, Scenery & Terrain

Sets in Production: 20+ all in

Contents: Vietnam US Marines for example has 98 pieces making 40 soldiers and 2 scenic bases with some assembly required.

1/32 Scale Range? No but Gladiators and WW2 Russian Naval Infantry planned. 

Other Info: Another relative new comer releasing numerous, interesting and good quality sets. Gladiators, Romans and more WW2 sets planned. Also released many 28mm wargames terrain items in the past year or so.

Redbox

Company Details: Figures made in the Ukraine which is increasingly becoming a centre of activity for 1/72 plastics.

Main Periods: Medieval Japan, Colonial, Ancient

Sets in Production: c10

Contents: Ashigaru spearmen for example have 48 figures in 12 poses.

1/32 Range? No

Other Info: Another welcome newcomer to the market. Korean Infantry latest release.

Revell

Company Details: US company with German European base. Also produce kits.

Main Periods: Modern, WWII, American Civil War, Napoleonic, Medieval. Out of production sets vary widely and include Thirty Years War (ECW conversion potential here), Seven Years War, WW1, AWI , Cowboys & Indians, Conquistidors & Aztecs, Normans & Saxons, Praetorians & Gauls Etc...Some of these fetch good prices on eBay.

Sets in Production: 30+

Contents: Typical infantry set contains 48 figures in 12 poses.

1/32 Scale Range: Some 1/35 scale - see Accurate.

Other Info: Recently released some Italeri sets to confuse us all. A great make who have issued a number of great offerings in less popular eras as indicated above. Their Napoleonic range is especially good but unfortunately it comes in and out of production so many great sets are not so easy to get hold of. US Marines, WW2 Soviet Cossacks, Normans and Anglo-Saxons recently re-released. Cowboys and Indians next I believe.

Strelets

Company Details: Ukranian company.

Main Periods: Napoleonic, Medieval, Ancients, Crimean, Colonial, Civil War etc...

Sets in Production: c100+ and growing fast. Prolific output.

Contents: 44 in 44! Unique 1:1 figure to pose ratio! New 'mini' sets have 48 figures in 12 poses. Also produce large box sets containing 3 existing sets and some new sprues eg Hospital Sets, Medieval Britain etc...

1/32 Scale Range: No

Other Info: Figures have a bit more character to them that may or may not be to everyone's taste. Particularly useful for those who like pose variety, skirmish wargames and dioramas.

Valdemar

Company Details: Danish business specialising in 1:72 scale medievals

Main Period: Medieval

Sets in Production: 1 - Medieval Army on the March

Contents: tba

1/32 Range? No

Other Info: Started issuing metal and resin single figures and small groups. First plastic set just released. Sit well with figures from Zvezda and Italeri etc...

Valiant

Company Details: UK Based

Main Period: WW2

Sets in Production: 4 - British Tommies, US GI'S, Classic German Infantry and Normandy Germans.

Contents: tba

1/32 Range: No

Other Info: Hard plastic figures.

Waterloo 1815

Company Info: Italian company.

Main Periods: 19C, Napoleonic, Colonial, WW2

Sets in Production: 15+

Contents: Typical infantry set contains 36 figures in 9 poses.

1/32 Scale Range?: Yes Napoleonic Prussians, WW2 Italians and WW1 Italian.

Other Info: Very good Napoleonic Polish Infantry and Colonial 'Dervish' sets. (Not to be used together!...unless you fancy a strange combo in which case go ahead!) Latest releases include Napoleonic Prussian Infantry. Now distributed by Italeri.

Zvezda

Company Info: Russian kit and plastic figure manufacturer. I think Zvezda is Russian for 'Star' and judging from the quality of their releases this is not an inappropriate name as much of their output is fantastic.

Main Periods: Napoleonic, Medieval, Ancient, Great Northern War etc...

Sets in Production: 50+ plus many excellent scenery and terrain sets such as forts and siege engines.

Contents: Typical infantry set contains 46 figures in 12 poses.

1/32 Scale Range?: No. They do however produce the 28mm Ring of Rule range. The Dragons are particularly good if your interest extends to fantasy. I use these for Lord of the Rings.

Other Info: Some sets are the same as Italeri.

Others

Some other names to investigate include Nikolai (visit diorama-dreamland.at for Erik Trauner's impressive site including Nikolai), Atlantic,  Gulliver, etc...

Don't forget for a much better and wonderfully comprehensive look at the world of 1/72 plastic figures visit plasticsoldierreview.com.

A couple of other sites well worth a look for information and inspiration are John O'Brien's upnaway.com/~obees/soldiers/ and toysoldier.freeuk.com/links.htm.

Happy to answer any questions and to receive suggestions for improving the guide or corrections if I have made a mistake. Contact me via eBay messages. User ID flagbearer101.

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

 

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