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Following up on my recent article on British Coronation figures (OTS 46(2), 2022), I had hoped that one of the modern manufacturers would produce a commemorative figure of King Charles in Coronation robes. Well, my hopes were realized by an unlikely source; the artistic couple of Benjamin Zerbib and his wife Helen, most wellknown as the “toy soldier doctors,” whom have presented workshops on repairing toy soldiers and provide that service at recent shows. Well, appearing in their alter identiy as “Figurant Atelier et Colections” they brought to the show their own limited line of very original figures representing Charles. These included a 60mm portrait pair of King Charles and Queen Camilla in full coronation robes, waving to their adoring subjects. They also produced a figure of a British page from the coronation, and tow additional portrait figures of Charles, one in his kilt and another in a very British trench coat. They are really beautifully done and a rare treat for any collector of the rich tradition of British Coronation items.

Norman Joplin wrote in regarding the Britains b-sized article, as well as the large Herald set referenced in the Reconnaissance section of the last issue.

Regarding the Herald set, Norman notes that this is British Army Military Presentation box set #H7998, issued circa 1956, adding that it did appear in the Herald catalogue. It was not a special order as such, although any young boy receiving such a large set must have regarded it as special indeed! Norman says that he has owned two in the past, with both Herald and Regiments of All Nations labels.

On the b-size topic Norman noted that the 1915 Britains catalogue included images of a number of display sets using these small sized figures. One of these is the large set featured in the article (Set no. 04). The catalogue also shows two smaller sets and two larger ones as shown in the accompanying images.

The smallest set (No. 01) contains just 5 figures, a tent and two trees, retailing for just 6d in 1915. The next set up (No. 02) is more or less double the size, but with only 8 figures. It retailed at 1/- (12d). Set No. 03 is not illustrated. Set 4 is the one featured in the previous issue and contained essentially 4 rows and 16 figures. Cavalry accounted for 6 of these and there was now an artillery piece. Set No. 5 expanded this to 6 rows, including 20 infantrymen and 11 mounted figures. Finally, set 6 increased the number of rows to 8, with a complement now of 20 infantrymen and 12 mounted figures as well as two pieces of artillery and 4 tents. The author has never seen one of the two larger boxes. They must have been quite fragile, as a result few have survived. Has any reader seen examples of these, especially the giant one?

Norman also found the interesting image shown here in colour of a set entitled “The Army Flying Corps”. This set, marketed under the trade name of EIMCO, contained a “penny toys”, tinplate, miniature zeppelin style airship, 3 b-size figures painted in blue uniforms, together with 2 Infantry of the Line and 2 cavalry figures, plus trees and bushes.

Harry Kemp sent in the following image wondering who these blue coated figures were meant to represent. While they could be Royal Artillery or Royal Marine Artillery they seem to be included in the image of the set provided by Norman. Maybe they are intended to represent the Royal Air Force?

Will Beierwaltes sent in a photo of a rare boxed set by George William Wood from his “Soldarma Series”, which was covered in the three recent articles by Richard Forrester on “the forgotten manufacturer.” This set features British Infantry lying, firing in khaki with peaked caps in 62 mm scale, still tied on to its original tie card. Note there is no written description of the contents on the box lid, but an excellent illustration of the figures inside, circa 1914. There is no set number visible on the box.

Continuing the b-size theme, Harry Kemp sent in the following image of small size figures by Reka. They depict the 6th Dragoon Guards, Carabiniers.

There are markings on the right side of the horses. On the blanket behind the mounted figure is Reka, on the edge England and below a very clear Baker. By the rider’s right foot it looks like 1914 and below that 12 and possibly the initials JS.

But even with 7 figures to look at I can’t be sure. I have two similarly marked gilt figures.

They are contained in a bright purple box, with a beautifully decorated label, predominantly in orange, with some tantalising that is hard to read. This is for a full set of 5 figures as indicated by 5 sets of three tie holes punched through the tray itself.

New book on SF Figures

Luigi Toiati has just published a new book on Science Fiction and related toys. Science fiction, as the name suggests, is the combination of science and fantasy. In addition to a literary form, it also encompasses film, TV, comics, toys and especially in the context of this magazine the much beloved toy astronauts and other figures such as aliens, monsters and their related equipment. The term science fiction was first coined by publisher Hugo Gernsbach around the first decades of the last century to refer to the predominantly ‘space’ adventures covered in his magazines. Space stories invaded radio, cinema, TV. As a result toy figurines were initially, predominantly space-related, later evolving into other more outlandish themes. Luigi’s lavishly illustrated book covers both the history of literary Science Fiction and the toy figurines inspired by this genre. His article in this issue focuses on Italian made figures, but the new book contains much more. We will produce a full review in the next issue.

Another example of Britain’s Giant Set 2081 surfaces in England

Regular readers will know that I have had a fascination for Britain’s largest sets, including Set 2081. This was a very limited edition sold to commemorate the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. Wessex Auctions in the heart of the Cotswold’s offered a virtually complete example in October 2023. Most of the figures were in very good condition, with just a few flaws. The auctioneer’s description was as follows:

Boxed Britains Historical Series Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Procession Set, the set including around 200 metal figures (featuring mounted examples) and Coronation coach, with assembly instructions; plus 3 x Queen Elizabeth II souvenir programmes and The Sphere ‘The Funeral Of King George VI’. (Figures generally gd, with the odd paint chip, a small number with heads detached; tatty box).

In fact, apart from a few lid edges missing, the box was in pretty good shape, including all the inner packaging.

The top layer included two trays with tie cards probably for the Sovereign’s Escort and the Attendants to the State Coach, as well as the coach itself. Underneath these the box was divided into 12 compartments without tie cards, in which the other figures were loosely packed. From the photos available the set appears complete, although a precise count is difficult.

Obviously visible from the photos are around 200 pieces, including the complete coach, team and passengers (10), 116 Life Guards and Royal Horse Guards, and around 75 Attendants, Marines and Irish Guards.

Overall, the set seems closest to the one auctioned by OTS Auctions on December 2nd 2017, although with a few more pieces, or the one from the Mike O’Donnell collection sold on April 17th 2021.

The Wessex Auctions lot (estimated at a very modest £100-200!), went under the hammer for £5,000 plus commission charges of around 25%. This amounts to around £7,550 in total at current exchange rates.

Some special finds at the Chicagoland Show
The following images show just a few of the treasures spotted at the 2023 show.

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