How the little green army men marched into history

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 website, graciously shared his deep knowledge with us.

little green army men
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.

Next: On a mission to change the parameters of playtime

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