100 Plastic Toy Soldiers

Not too long ago I ended up being sidetracked by a video that I watched on YouTube about “10 Items You Really Got From Comic Book Ads“. It centered around those gimmicks advertised in comics all those years ago.

“10 Items you really got from comic book ads”

You know what I mean, after all you may have ordered “Sea Monkeys” or a “Life Sized Monster”. Naturally living in South Africa we had no idea what was a Zip Code or how you actually ordered some of this stuff from the USA. Dollars? we did not know how to get any in our greasy mitts so that we could send away for a “Polaris Nuclear Sub” or a “Real Mobile Tank (Over 6ft long!)”.

The thing is that many of these items were  nothing like the hype that the adverts promised. There was no way you would be able to buy a proper nuclear sub for $6.98, if you could then you can bet that the USSR was buying them from underneath you anyway.
But, there was one item that promised and delivered (sort of) and that was the ubiquitous “100 Toy Soldiers, Packed in this Footlocker”. The ad on the left is typical of the “bargains” that were advertised in the comics, and it was not only soldiers that you could buy but there were ads for “132 Roman Soldiers”,  “204 Revolutionary War Soldiers” and my personal favourite: “132 Fighting Ships”!  However, they only seemed to be available in America as the little address box said “No Foreign Orders” in the fine print underneath in a really small font.  Fortunately I gave up on the idea at the time and decided to look locally for such luxuries, although they were guaranteed to be more expensive.  The fine print on these ads also neglected to mention that these squaddies were suspiciously thin in spite of them being “made of durable plastic, each with it’s own base”! 

This past past week, while poking around in a local charity shop I found a packet of green plastic soldiers that almost met the description! and I squandered my loot on 50 Toy Soldiers in a bag and headed off for home. Yep, it’s true, these guys were also half starved and hard to see when they were standing sideways. They were armed with an assortment of dodgy M16’s, AK’s, 9mils, hand grenades and pump action shotguns so these were obviously not WW2 squaddies. Once at home I grabbed my camera and headed outside to see what I could do with them. I envisaged some sort of huge diorama featuring battleships, tanks, bombers, trucks and bazookamen as per the adverts. The reality was that each time i set them up the wind blew them down or they would often randomly throw themselves to the ground just after I grabbed the camera. Bah humbug this was not going well. I did however admire their camo skills, they can hardly be seen in this pic.

There was one dude that really stood out and I got this image after firing off the shot in a special effects mode that my camera has. 

See what I mean? He would make a great zombie or haunted rifleman! heck, with a bit of work he could get even a job as a posterboy in an anti-war advert.     

Remember I said that these guys were really thin? now you can see what I mean. 


Unfortunately it was a abit too windy outside so I had to curtail my experiments, but am thinking of that grande diorama, if push comes to shove I can even throw in tanks and battleships, heck I can even add in a 50 foot giant girl or a city stomping monster!

The problem is that the events in the Ukraine are really leaving the world slightly jittery so its best I keep my secret invasion force tucked safely away in their plastic bag until such time as “normality” returns.  

I guess that I will leave with my contribution to “peace” and ask the question that was asked way back in the 1970’s “Suppose they gave a war and no one came?” 

That question about giving a war apparently comes from a prose poem  “The People, Yes” (1936) by Carl Sandberg (1878-1967),  an American poet and writer. 

The first world war came and its cost was laid on the people.
       The second world war — the third — what will be the cost.
       And will it repay the people for what they pay?…
       The little girl saw her first troop parade and asked, 
       ‘What are those?’
       ‘What are soldiers?’
       ‘They are for war. They fight and each tries to kill as many of the other side as he can.’
       The girl held still and studied. 
       ‘Do you know … I know something?’
       ‘Yes, what is it you know?’
       ‘Sometime they’ll give a war and nobody will come.’

DRW 2022, Created 27/03/2022.       

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