SPECIAL THANKS. I would like to thank Paul Watson for his sponsorship of several lead figure collections on this blog. Having decided to clear his spare/surplus figures, he generously forwarded them on with no other requirement than they deserved to be restored. I would also like to mention George S. Mills, who kindly furnished a quantity of plastic figures which allowed me to complete another five or six military units, serving in several collections.

Saturday 30 March 2024


Popped into a local charity shop on Thursday. I'm rather pleased with what I found.

First up is this bi-plane. I have always liked traditional tin toys, with their bright shiny paintwork, and cartoon like design. They look great with W. Britains toy soldiers. But there are two problems in raising a collection, surviving examples are often in poor condition and difficult to restore (if you should?), and they can also cost a small fortune. 

Further research confirmed that this is a repro British-made tin toy. It is listed as a Curtiss 1930s plane, which was popular with the United States, but this model has British markings....... strange. The tin toy is still available to buy from BRIMTOY LTD, and retails at £34.99 with free delivery. They also make this product in some other colours. I have been very lucky, I picked up mine for £3, even eBay second-hand examples are over £20.

Now I must admit, tin toys are rarely accurate, they were always just toys. For me, the pleasure in using such with lead soldiers is to capture the imagery of toy wargames 1910-1980. I describe such as 'Toy Shop Wargames', and I admit that gaming friends of later generations, brought up with Games Workshop values, have no comprehension of this type of gaming. And yet, I get more pleasure wargaming with my toy collection than my extensive 28mm historical miniature collection!

My second charity shop purchase is a bit more modest. I picked up some original W. Britains farm items for £2. The chicken coop and turkey are English-made, and are shown in my 1979 Britains catalogue (thanks George) but disappear by 1983. The coop is actually quite valuable and sought after, floats for about £12. Will add it to my home-made farm house and barn. No need to repaint!

Hi MJT, I am rather pleased with the tin plane, it just looks right next to traditional lead toy soldiers. I know others have utilised their 20mm aircraft collections for wargames, and I recognise scale is made irrelevant if they are flying above. But I am striving to capture something H.G.Wells could feel at home with, if that makes sense. I am also planning to mount them on rods that are only about one foot high. 

Hi Tony, it most certainly is worthwhile. Visits have provided some very useful terrain items, including several buildings. But this is the first time I have gained an aeroplane. You don't see many lead figures, due to public health issues, but I have picked up some early plastic.

Cheers Donnie, Have been looking at it again today, and it really does work well with the gloss toy soldiers...... it just looks right at home. It reminds me of the very old photos Tony puts up on his blog, referencing toy collections.

Hi Brad, there is a recent story to the hangar. George S. Mills and his lady friend visited for a New Years dinner, and furnished the scratch built hangar as a gift. It has a very 1930s look to it which works wonderfully with my lead toy soldiers, and now my tin aircraft. 

Thanks Quinn, I have many collections in 28mm, and have followed the majority view with how they should look. My 54mm is a nostalgic look at early wargaming. And, to capture the magic of entering those pre-1980 toy shops that has stuck in my mind for half a century. Have just won an auction for another plane, a different make, not the same quality, but it will add to my very old style gaming.

Thanks George, I was instantly reminded of the movies 'Aces High', and the excellent 'Blue Max' when I spotted the tin toy in the charity shop!


  1. Great finds MGB. The Aircraft is very nice and goes perfectly with your figures.

  2. Always worth checking out the charity shops

  3. A very impressive find in the tin plate aircraft, looks a cracking model, I like it a lot. The farmyard stuff is a nice little find as well, the coop especially is a nice wee model.

  4. More excellent finds and bargains for you Michael! You have a real knack for incredible discoveries! The plane looks to be in wonderful shape and goes perfectly with your figures! This is the first time that I have seen that great hangar, what is the story there? The coop will give you more civilian background pieces to add to your table! Keep on looking, I can't wait to see what you find next!

  5. That aeroplane is a Beauty and does look great with 54mm figures it has that vintage toy aesthetic