by Victor Rudik
Over the years there have been several books published on toy soldiers, but none are particularly satisfactory for those whose primary interest is in 1/72 (or HO) scale figures. Many of the books devote most of their pages to the older tin and lead figures, and virtually all cover a broad range of scales, most notably 1/32 and larger. What is more, many were put together when plastic soldiers were experiencing their first boom period during the 1970s, and a great deal has happened since then. One recent publication is the 'World Toy Soldier Directory & Compendium' by Johnathan Crawford, which is at least more up to date, but still covers mostly larger scales.
Into this void steps The One Inch Army, devoted solely to 'small-scale' figures, which it defines as between 15mm and 35mm. Close enough.
The scene is set with a brief history of small plastic warriors, and then the author lapses into a little self-indulgence as he details some of the figures he would like to see somebody make. Well, if you were writing this book, wouldn't you? In fact, in the years since the book went to press some of these wants have been satisfied, but there are still some good ideas waiting to be taken up.
Page 10 is where the book gets down to business, with the start of a huge catalogue of virtually every manufacturer and figure ever made in this size and material. With more than 140 manufacturers the lists cover everyone from the likes of Airfix and Italeri down to single figures from Kinder Eggs! Each entry gives a short description of the company followed by a full list of their output over the years. No detail has been left out, so where more than one box artwork has been used, it gets mentioned, as do release dates and the colour of the plastic in many cases. All the entries for the major manufacturers begin with small black and white photos of a selection of their figures, though these are generally dark and difficult to see. However there is a small section of good quality colour photographs of various box artworks in the middle of the book. Travelling from A Call To Arms to Zvezda takes 232 pages packed full of information and interesting detail.
The book then rounds off with some interesting articles on some of the mysteries of the hobby, a look at how the figures are actually made and some advice on painting and conversion. Finally there is a list of some toy and soldier shows (mostly in North America), and some related websites.
This is by far the most comprehensive study of the hobby ever published, and whether it is read cover to cover or used as a reference it provides an abundance of fascinating detail. This is clearly a labour of love, written by someone who has a passion for the subject and the patience to produce such a complete guide. For anyone wanting to learn more about the hobby or build their collection this is an essential work that will both entertain and inform.
Publisher: 1454777 Ontario Inc.