The recent announcement that the little green army men would soon welcome women warriors to their ranks got us reminiscing about the history of this iconic toy. Kent Sprecher, a plastic toy figure enthusiast who runs the toysoldierhq.com website, graciously shared his deep knowledge with us.
|Image courtesy PV_KS/flickr.|
Until plastics began to enter U.S. households in the late 1930s, toy soldiers were typically made of metal. “The Auburn Rubber Co. (Auburn, IN), which made soles for footwear, started a toy division, making rubber balls and crudely painted farm figures,” explained Sprecher. “Meanwhile in New Jersey, the Bergen Toy & Novelty Co. started making toy soldiers out of Tenite, a cellulose acetate obtained from Eastman Chemical.” With WWII came rationing and metal toy manufacturing came to a halt. Bergen, which had to use scrap, became the dominant toy soldier maker, according to Sprecher.
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