Saturday, 27 July 2019

Book Review, The History of Toy Soldiers

Way back in March I mentioned a new book on the history of toy soldiers due out in September. This morning my copy arrived from Amazon (other suppliers are available) and I have had a quick shufti through it. As I'm not a toy soldier expert, merely an aficionado, I won't attempt a detailed review, you might have to wait for weeks while I studied it, just pass on the salient points. Someone with more knowledge can do the critique.

The book is titled (naturally) The History of Toy Soldiers, by Luigi Toiati (of Garibaldi and Co Toy Soldiers), is published by Pen and Sword at £40. ISBN 1473897297. It comes in at a massive 613 pages long, not including index, and has colour photos ,culled by the author from many sources, on practically every page. Throughout the book there are line drawings reminiscent of those in H.G.Wells' Little Wars done by the author. Some of which I've used to illustrate this entry.

After the introduction by James Opie there is a foreward 'the miniature through the ages' and then we get into the main body of the book. Some 16 chapters (plus some 'cameos' or asides from various authors and collectors) giving the story of toy soldiers* from 6000BC to the end of the 20th century. This covers every aspect of social and political aspects of the toy soldier

The text is extremely readable, almost conversational, and will probably end up being dipped into rather than read cover to cover. Some of the makers stories have the authors personal reminiscences included. Many manufacturers, large and small** are covered in the text, with all the well known names amongst the lesser known. All sizes are covered including wargame figures and large scale plastic kits such as those from Airfix and Aurora. Even the terracotta warriors get a mention in passing.

Each chapter ends with a list of books covering the subject matter, and there is a full four page bibliography at the end of the book.

I've spent the afternoon neglecting my chores just browsing the pictures. I can really recommend that anyone who enjoys toy/model soldier history should get a copy for their shelves.

* in this respect, toy soldiers also includes the more static type of model soldier that was not classed as plaything but used ornamentally.
** I was astonished to find my short-lived endeavours of the late 1990s mentioned in the text.

as mentioned, the drawings are taken from the book, and were done by Luigi Toiati in the style of J.S.Sinclair