Monday, September 27, 2010

I May Be Getting Older But...

Sometimes, the Tall Lady stands behind me and reads over my shoulder. Usually this isn't an issue, but lately I can hear her snickering. My latest internet diversions are sites that sell "toy soldiers".

When I was a little guy, there was a store in a two-storey building on West Hastings called Millar and Coe. My mom would take me there so she could look at the fine china and silverware on the first floor...but up on the second floor...oh, my friends, the SECOND floor!

That was the toy floor and it was a wonderful place. Sure, there were dolls...yes, there were educational toys...they may also have sold books, but, guys, remember the toy soldiers? They had Roman legionaries, Yankees and Rebels, there were cowboys and indians, English lancers, Scottish highlanders, French artillery units,  Coldstream Guards and US Marines. You could purchase and deploy entire armies for your pitiful allowance and promises to your parents of future exemplary behavior. Did I mention the knights?

They had a series of mounted and foot knights from William Britain and Co which were part of a collection called Swoppets.  Swoppets were cast in plastic in three main pieces - head, torso and legs, and were posable within limits that most of their owners chose to ignore. They had at least one ring hand which would hold their weapons, and many had a button on their left hand to attach their shields. They were sold (to the best of my recollection) as two different sets with two mounted knights and three foot soldiers, and sets with all six foot soldiers or all four mounted knights.

(I believe that Britain's was the company that made the toy soldiers that Seti I gave to Rameses and Moses for their birthdays. They also made the lead soldiers that my brother Don used to collect, and which may explain his affinity for stovepipe hats and for tea parties with doormice and white rabbits.)

The sets sold for about five dollars in the nineteen sixties, and all of mine have long since sailed to Avalon along with their comrades from Timpo and Marx. I've looked for their replacements on Ebay, where they appear sporadically, and on the webpages of Old Toy Soldiers' Homes. I haven't tried to buy them there, mainly because I don't want to take out a third mortgage.

The Tall Lady is snickering again!


  1. Aaaahhhh, say my aging eyes . . . love this. Your battle banner and shield should have lots of cats on them, my liege . . . Lee the Lion Hearted?

  2. My banner, my shield and my family crest already have a cat who wears the warning against touching him without your glove...
    Cheers, Dee Dee