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Show us your period military toys, models, and trench art!


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I've always had an interest in military items, between guns, helmets, medals , or whatever the case may be. Growing up, I wasn't able to get a lot of the stuff I thought was cool, so I often turned to the closest thing I could get. I picked up old models and soldiers from the same time of the "real" stuff, and got a lot of enjoyment out of it.


Now that I'm older and can afford to buy the real deal, I still have a soft spot for these things (my toy collection is actually bigger than my militaria collection :fear: )


I like the older stuff (mostly interwar), but I know you folks probably like the stuff that came after WWII as well. My only rule is that the toy/model/art be of the same general era of the soldier/vehicle it depicts. Anyone can go buy a model kit of a Sherman these days, let the modern model kit guys have their fun in their forum ;)


Whether you pick things up here and there as you find them, or you actively search for them (like me!), please feel free to contribute!

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So, as far as my favorites go (tanks), lets start in the beginning. Likely the first models outside of the workshops and factories mocking up these monsters, was the humble trench art. While it is hard to say if this was actually made in a trench or if it was made in a field workshop, hospital, home-side barracks, or after the war entirely as a memento, the fact of the matter is that these were made by the men who saw them (or pictures of them) and felt the desire to create their own.


I don't blame them, it had to have been an unimaginable sight for it's day. There is little that would impress and terrify us in such a way that the tank would have, rumbling across the battlefield.




This is an amazing little 6 1/2" tank money box that came over from England. I've seen a lot of "trench art" tanks and very few have convinced me on originality as much as this one has. It has everything, patina on the brass hinge, unique hand-made imperfections, old thick grain wood, and most importantly a convincing inscription on the bottom. Even the nails are mismatched, some are brass, others are typical steel. There is faint, yet beautiful gold paint outlining the treads.




The guns have a really neat design where they are suspended from a nail inside round-edged holes in the tank. The soft edges allow the gun to be moved in all directions, even vertically. The hole in the cannon itself is much larger than the nail so it provides a lot of mobility. That is the reason the two on the sides probably fell off, there is only ~1/16th of wood holding it in place.


I had to make replacement cannons for the two sponsons, but I think I did a very good job matching the patina. I'm very pleased by how it looks.




I'm not sure about the inscription yet. It appears to be

E Lou**n

L Dorren



All seem to be slightly different handwriting, which, if nothing else is convinces you, is probably the most significant clue to originality.


I absolutely love this little guy. Once I can nail down the names I might do some more research on them. I'd love to find out who actually made it.



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Next, we start moving to the home front. These machines captured the public's attention and imagination much the same way that many of the other innovations of the time had, like aviation, dreadnaughts, automobiles, and so on. It wasn't soon after their first appearance one the battlefield that tanks started appearing in the newspapers, and then finally as toys.




The early days were full of many manufacturers, with very little information around on most of them. It is tough to say when exactly this was made, but if I had to guess it was probably made before 1920, when the MK IV style hull was still the nigh universal symbol of tanks.




This colossal juggernaut of a war machine (for a toy) is 14" long, all wood construction, canvas treads with little wooden "tracks". It has a metal crank that powers the spring cannon mounted centrally to the hull (unfortunately that spring is one of the only things missing). Of the FOUR of these tanks I know about, the spring is either lost or broken on three of them. The spring must have been mounted in an unusual and precarious way (held on by two finish nails at most!). My favorite part of it is that, when it is pulled along the floor, the tracks actually move with the tank!




The bottom says that it was "Manufactured by Harley Co. Springfield Mass." Can't find anything about the company. The jump to motorcycles is something that comes to mind, but THAT Harley has nothing to do with Springfield as far as I know.




The soldiers are made by Barclay. The tank pre-dates them by a few years, since they were made in the 30s. All the same, they look good with it.

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As time passed, more sophisticated toys were designed and produced. The favorite of the era was either tinplate or pressed steel. Some of the early inter-war examples are quite extravagant.


Even the "average" toys were still quite nice, many with heavy clockwork motors.




This one was produced by the Walbert Manufacturing Company in Chicago. This wonderful 14" tank is made out of pressed steel with wooden wheels and rubber-on-canvass tracks.




Again, hard to say when it was made. I've only ever seen a handful of other pieces made by Walbert, so I can only guess they were short lived. Further proof of this is the near-exact copy of this toy made by Wolverine (a Pittsburgh company). There was a lot of absorbing, selling of companies and designs, etc going on. But another likely case of late teens to early 20's.


The original box has fantastic graphics of a MK IV female running down some Germans in their pickelhaubes.




When I fist got it, it wasn't running. I had to file down a lump of solder on on the drive axle (leftover from an old repair), but most of the work was done by the miracle worker known as WD-40. I was so excited to see it run!

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With victory came the convenience of spending money on things you didn't necessarily need. Thank god for that, otherwise we would never see extravagant playthings like this!




This 11" long behemoth represents (to the best of the creators ability) a Mk IV style tank, probably right out of the newspapers of the day. Unlike the "male" versions which had two larger 6 pound guns, the "female" tanks had only machine guns and different sponsons that accommodated the smaller machine guns.




The construction is mostly steel sheets, but also what looks like a heavy aluminum panel on which the brass geared clockwork motor is mounted. The wheels, copula, sponsons, and guns are all aluminum, many of which are cast. This was obviously an early attempt at using cast aluminum fittings for a toy since they are fairly crude (by today's standards at least).




The copula opens to revel the massive motor. The key is screwed onto the motor before winding can actually begin. There is a break lever on the top of the motor, which keeps the rather heavy flywheel from spinning. The flywheel is so heavy, that it takes a few seconds for the clockwork to get it up so speed; it really sounds like an engine revving up! The motor itself powers a chain that goes from around the middle of the tank back to the rear drive wheels. It is really a fine, high quality piece of craftsmanship powering something as humble as a toy.




Vectis suspects that this was made by Bedington, Liddiatt & Co of London with a possible date of 1919, but looking back at old English catalogs, they seem to primarily be a retailer, and not a manufacturer. I would love to know who made this little marvel, but I enjoy it none the less.


This by far one of my favorites. There's nothing quite like the quality on this one. :love:

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This by far one of my favorites. There's nothing quite like the quality on this one. :love:


All of these are amazing! I have never seen toys such as these. Thanks so much for posting the pictures.

I can see why you love all of them.



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Thanks guys! I'm going with the exciting stuff so that, maybe, we can get some other people in here. I'm looking at you Beast!




The next few are made in Germany, but represent Allied designs, so I hope they are acceptable.


The immediate postwar period was not as kind to German toy makers as it was to the allies. The State had much bigger problems to deal with and there simply wasn't money for such luxuries.


After things stabilized somewhat after 1923, however, German exports kicked back up much faster than anyone expected. England was particularly upset that Germany was making much nicer model trains than the English so quickly after being defeated. Even with anti-german sentiment costing German manufactures mush of the American market that they had once dominated, the legendary toy makers of southern Germany once again started producing.


The early German tanks I have are some of the more whimsical that were made. All things considered, you may notice a striking similarity to a certain AFV if you look closely. If you can guess which it represents, I'll post your request (I have over 40 tanks plus lots of other vehicles).




This First example was made in the 20s by Hausser, famous for it's composition soldiers like that of Elastolin and Lineol.




Even though it had been a decade or more since the start of WWI, the German makers clung to the basic design of allied tanks well into the 30's.




10" long (plus crank) It has unique, beautiful hand painted camouflage (airbrushed against a rough card or paper). Each side mounted sponson gun has a spring so that it can shoot peas, though the gun on top has it's own little surprise. You load the top hatch full of peas/bbs/ball bearings and when the crank is turned a trap door allows a pea to drop into the barrel while the crank is also pulling back a spring. After the trap door closes, the spring releases, propelling the projectile! It'll shoot as fast as you crank it!




The motor was a bit of a mystery to me. I was under the impression that it wasn't working when I first received it. I took the side off to see what was going on in there and I found an unexpected design. In order to get it going, you need to depress the small lever next to the top crank (picture 3, vertical line next to flywheel in picture 4), then the front crank can be pushed into the tank (horizontal line in picture 4) which connects directly to the flywheel's axle, at which point you can crank it to get it moving. After you have spun the flywheel up to speed, then you pull the top lever back up which pulls the front drive wheels into contact with the spinning flywheel gears. Only after all that does the tank's wheels actually turn!


As a toy guy, let me tell you; the quality you expect from early awards and presentation is the same quality expressed in things as humble as toys. These manufactures took great pride in the things they made. The complexity of this motor (even though it is a "simple" flywheel motor) should give you a good idea of that.

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Next we have another legendary Bavarian toy maker. Gebruder Bing of Nurnberg had been around since 1863, and started making toys in the 1880s. They were the comapny that perfected the "Nurnberg style" of construction, that which used lithographed metal sheets which were assembled by tabs and slots. Their quality was well known, and this tank was no exception.




11" allied style hull with multi-gun turret, like that of armored cars of the day. I realized recently that the shape of the hull is rather odd when compared to the normal rhomboid tanks. It matches fairly well with the Mk IX though.




The side sponsons open, which gives a slightly better view of the inside. The tank's hull is made with no less than 13 different pressed tinplate pieces. There is a faint yellow Bing stamp on the bottom, but is otherwise unmarked.




There are two levers on the back, one is the on and off switch, the other defines the path the tank will take. All the way off, and it will go in a straight line. All the way on, and it will make 90 degree turns every so often.




Rather than wheels, this tank uses rubber belts as tracks underneath the hull. This is a trend that would be widely adopted by many companies in the 30s.

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Not to say that there were not simple models being made as well. So called penny toys were very popular, in just about any country.




This one is another odd ball without a clear maker, but still a charming example.




Very simple mechanism, feels like no gear exchange present, but it still gets the job done. Still quite sizable at 7 1/2" long. If you look close you can see the embossed sponson guns on the sides and rear. In the one other example of this model I've seen, it had graphics to coincide with those features, I'd love to find one of those.



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Your toys are beautiful.


You have several items that I have never seen before.


I collected toy soldiers and vehicles for many years and continue to deal with them when I get them.


But I have never seen a tank like that grey tank.


Is there anything written on anything ??


All your toys are top shelf.


You have accomplished what others dream of.


Here is a link to Toys from my Dad:



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Your toys are beautiful. You have several items that I have never seen before. All your toys are top shelf. You have accomplished what others dream of.


Thank you very much! I've been on a thin budget so I have not been able to buy the "valuable" pieces (Tipp&co, Lineol, Marklin, etc.). This has given me an opportunity to focus on the unusual stuff, which is much more exciting in my opinion. The more unusual, the more I usually have to wait to find one, which makes it all that more exciting. The best part is that there is still so much more out there, and a lot of it is stuff you can't research very easily.


But I have never seen a tank like that grey tank.


Which one?


Here is a link to Toys from my Dad:


I was just reading that thread earlier! Who made those awesome little soldiers? Looks like Lineol with those square bases. Do you mind if I post the image from that thread here?


I collected toy soldiers and vehicles for many years and continue to deal with them when I get them.


Now you know someone new who might be interested :thumbsup:


If you saved anything from your collection, I would really love to see it!

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Some really great stuff being shown!


I have a few of the Marx tanks, but I thought I'd start out with this piece (ok, I already had it photographed).


In the 1930's the American Legion that my Grandmother belonged to offered these train cars. I am not sure why, maybe it was a fund raiser, but in any event, my Mom did some of the decorations on this one. Unfortunately, it is missing the two wheels on the opposite side. Notice the decoration for 40 Hommes or 8 Cheveux.


I do have one theory about these, it may have been made to commorate the 40 and 8 that was given to each state by the French government. Just a guess.



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Marv, nice! Can never have enough ID models. I've had to pass on many of them for money reasons, but they are one of the things I'd like to collect more in the future.


Beast: Was reading your topic recently as well, very cool and historical item you have! I love stuff that has family ties too. That's one thing I wish I had more of, in regards to what I already have. It means so much more when you know who it belonged to, or better, who made it.


I've got a few marx tanks as well, I'll get to them eventually :)


Speaking of which, depending on the size of the wheels on that boxcar, you can probably get wheels off of old marx trains for a few dollars. They look similar in construction, you'd only need to punch some holes.

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I love tanks and would keep posting them, but in the interest of diversity how about some field guns?




None of these are static, by which I mean they can each shoot a small projectile by one means or another.


Lets start with what is probably the earliest.




I had never seen one before, and couldn't find another one, so I knew I had to have it. It was in really rough shape, and I knew that going in. The elevation adjustment piece looked like it had been pressed between a waffle iron, the barrel was almost falling out, and the metal around the top lever was curled and warped pretty badly.


Original images from the seller:




As soon as I took it out of the box I knew I had to start fixing it up. I spent a few hours carefully taking it apart, hammering out the dents, straightening the bends, removing the active rust and wiping off the grime. I even got the mechanism to work fairly reliably. After everything was said and done I oiled it up and it looks great!


Elevation goes from horizontal to vertical, depending on the notch in the elevation plate you choose. The lever on the side releases the lock on the elevation, and pushing or pulling the rearmost lever adjusts it. The top lever pulls back the spring, and the small lever on the back fires it. Simple pea-shooter style plunger that propels the projectile, which is tossed down the front of the barrel.






On either side there is a "T" within a six pointed star (you can kinda see it in the first picture of it alone), applied via the brown paint. Not sure of the meaning behind it, its the manufactures mark, or something else. I have no idea who made this or when. I'm not certain if it is a manufactured or one off piece. It looks like an earlier breech loading cannon, but might be a little later as well. I'm thinking 1910s-20s. You don't see woodwork as nice on the later, depression era stuff.

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One more before work :)


Very cool depression era cannon made by Baldwin Manufacturing Co. probably in the 30s. It functions a bit like a real artillery piece.




You pull back the lever on the back (which pulls back the spring for firing), you place a round in the tray, push the lever forward which pushes the round into the breach. When ready to fire, you press the big red button! Pull the tray back out and repeat the process all over to bombard your tiny lead enemies. Adjust elevation as necessary with the knob on the side.


This will put one of those little wooden bullets 20' across the room, maybe more if you get the elevation right.




This particular one isn't marked, but they are known to have decals on them. In fact you can see one here:

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You can never have enough of those things, Tim! I prefer the Barclay soldiers with the tin helmets, but I'll buy the others when they are a good price. Thanks so much for showing them!



Let's finish up my field guns, then maybe I'll post one of my more unique tanks. I think you WWII guys might like it!


First is this neat little rapid fire machine gun, also made by the Baldwin Mfg co.




Has a very nice rapid fire gravity fed action. The handle on the back is turned, and stretches a coiled spring, after a certain amount of turning, the end of that spring is released and it flicks the projectile out of the barrel. It'll go a good 15-20' if you aim well! The bullets are original to the piece, as much as I use them for my larger guns.



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Then we have one of my favorites.


I'm not certain if this was a one off handmade piece or an actual manufactured toy. All the same, I've never seen another one. I'm not even certain if this is depression era (although the folk art vibe is undeniable). It could be much earlier than I can guess.




This holds 16 projectiles in the drum at the back. Each is loaded though a slot on the top (non-crank) side. The drum is spring loaded so as you pull back the hammer (that giant vertical metal piece on the back) via the crank, the drum easily slides to the next round.


Most cannons I see are propelled by the end of a wire spring that is pulled and released to "smack" the projectile forward. Simple, but effective. That isn't the case for this this monster. It DOES NOT play around. It has an actual "r" shaped hammer made out of 1/16" steel that strikes the projectile. The spring attached to it is a 1/16" wire coil spring about 3-4" long (inside the curved wood area under the barrel). I swear this thing has recoil, or at least I think it does since I need to put both hands on it to fire it!




Toy or not, I would not want to be in front of this thing when it goes off. :lol: I don't have a room big enough in the house to shoot it from one side and not have it hit the wall on the other side (and I mean top-middle of the wall), and I've tried in a 20' foot room. I've yet to take it outside for a real test, I only have 4 little bullets and I don't want to loose them.


I have a few broken Barclay soldiers, so I like to attribute their untimely end to this cannon!

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