W. Britain, or William Britain, or simply Britains, is a world leader in the realm of collectible toy soldiers. Their modern toy soldiers have such lifelike features that they are considered to have photographic detail. Each of their metal figures is historically accurate from clothing to weaponry. Their military miniatures come in a huge assortment of ranges from historic battles to literary characters to 20th century soldiers. It is the high quality, variety, and historical accuracy of their toy soldiers that make the W. Britain brand a favorite among collectors.
History of William Britain Toy Soldiers
William Britain introduced his first toy soldiers in 1893. These soldiers were immediately popular, in part because they were affordable. William Britain achieved this price advantage by using the hollowcast production method; a technique for producing metal figures that were hollow. The hollow figures required less metal and, as a result, cost less to produce. The savings were passed on to the customer and this lower price allowed William Britain to compete with the German toy soldier manufacturers who had previously led the toy soldier market.
Though William Britain toy soldiers were popular when they were introduced, early Britains pale in comparison to the W. Britain toy soldiers of the present. The first William Britain military miniatures were toys and looked like playthings, unlike the extremely detailed collector’s items of today. The early toy soldiers had less detailed facial features and did not possess the lifelike quality of modern military miniatures. Their faces looked expressionless and their clothing had limited detail, whereas toy soldiers today are extremely detailed from the looks on their faces to the features on their clothing. Early metal figures were also shown in a limited variety of poses. They were most often shown standing at the ready or sitting on horseback. These poses are much less creative than those of today: modern military miniatures may be shown in the heat of battle, charging, or even injured, dying, or dead.
Modern Britains Toy Soldiers
British Royal Artillery
In the 1960’s, toy safety laws in countries around the world affected all toy manufacturers, with new laws about allowable materials in toys and product labeling. The lead that early William Britain toy soldiers were made from was dubbed dangerous in children’s toys and banned from use in military miniatures for kids. Because of this change, William Britain was forced to shift their product offering away from the popular lead toy soldiers for which they were known.
For decades, W. Britain focused production on agricultural toys and plastic toy soldiers. In 1983, however, they introduced a new kind of metal toy soldier. These soldiers were diecast metal figures and were again meant to be toys for kids. Interest from adult customers, however, shifted the market for these new metal toy soldiers. By 1987, these metal toy soldiers were officially considered collectors’ items and they are the toy soldiers that W. Britain produces today.
The Process of Making a W. Britain Toy Soldier
Help for Heroes Modern British Army Stretcher
The method of creating a collectible W. Britain toy soldier is a finely detailed process. Each toy soldier goes through a series of steps before it is realized. First, the idea for a toy soldier is drafted with attention to the proportions of the metal figure and to perspective. The details of each military miniature are then verified by historians and historical resources. That concept is brought to life with a wax figure of the drawing. When the wax figure is perfected, a mould is made from that original master. Metal is poured into that mould and the metal toy soldiers that result are hand painted with strict attention to detail. The carefully crafted, hand painted toy soldiers are then ready for the consumer. So much care is put into the vision and creation of each W. Britain piece that it is no wonder that these soldiers are considered some of the finest in the world.
W. Britain Collections
Today, W. Britain soldiers are so detailed they look like they are living a battle. They are poised to charge, fire, run, and rescue! Just about any war can be recreated with these lifelike characters. You can find all the metal figures you need to recreate The American Revolution, The American Civil War, World War I, WWII, The Zulu War, The War Along the Nile, and many more. They even offer a “tactical scenes” collection so that you can set the stage for any conflict.
W. Britain doesn’t limit their pieces to fighting scenes or to specific time periods. They also offer a Jane Austen collection for the reading enthusiast. Their Petticoats Collection traces women’s fashion over time and is an excellent counterpart to figures from the Redcoats and Bluecoats collections. W. Britain even makes a number of 15th century knights. W. Britain metal figures are available both in sets and individually so that you can quickly start your collection or tailor your own set.
Whether you are starting a new toy soldier collection or adding to your army, we have the toy soldiers for you. Browse our extensive collection of W Britain Toy Soldiers now.