Did you know that children have been playing with toy soldiers for thousands of years? Archeologists searching ancient Egyptian tombs discovered that these toys have been around since the days of the Pharaohs. Sculpted from wood, stone, and clay, toy soldiers were popular playthings. They were especially popular for the children of nobility up until the 18th century. The origination of soldiers made from tin in the 1700s and lead in the 1800s eventually made the toys available to the masses.
HISTORY OF TOY SOLDIERS
The U.S. and Europe became more industrialized in the post-World War II period of the 20th Century. The introduction of a new material called plastic, made mass manufacturing toy soldiers cheap and easy. Little green plastic army men became an iconic children’s toy, with millions sold from the 1950s through the ‘70s. I remember spending countless hours in my backyard with my toy soldiers. As a kid, I engaged in mock military maneuvers with a massive battalion of miniature army men.
Eventually, my army men were pushed aside as G.I. Joe action figures grew in popularity in the early 1980s. These 3.75-inch toy soldiers were almost twice the height of the static green army men. Plus, they had posable features, detailed appearances, and an array of accessories to stimulate imaginative play. Our interest was also fueled by after-school TV cartoons and a colorful comic book series. All the kids in my neighborhood wanted to be “A Real American Hero.” We all took our G.I. Joe action figures and vehicles over to each other’s homes to play with. As my generation grew up, interest in toy soldiers began to fade in the ‘90s and production of G.I. Joe action figures were discontinued in 1994. There was no real replacement for them on store shelves for a number of years.
Toy soldiers have been making a comeback in popularity the last few years. After a void in these types of toys, there are now a number of options for today’s generation of kids. Three of my kids’ favorite varieties are the Toys “R” Us “True Heroes” military action figures, Mattel‘s MEGA CONSTRUX Call of Duty play sets, and “World’s Smallest: Little Green Army Men” from Super Impulse.
These 3.75-inch tall action figures that depict today’s modern day military forces have nine points of articulation. They also come loaded with accessories, tools and weapons. There are also a large number of vehicles and playsets available to go along with kids’ TRUE HEROES action figures. The Airplanes, battleships, helicopters, submarines, tanks and trucks have impressive sound effects. Plus, there are other interesting hands-on play features expand the fun factor of these toy soldiers. You’ll find TRUE HEROES exclusively at Toys “R” Us.
CALL OF DUTY
Inspired by the Call of Duty series of warfare video games, these licensed Mega Construx sets from Mattel combine toy soldiers with model building. Kids can build 2.25-inch soldiers that have 12 points of articulation. The super poseable Call of Duty micro figures also come with a variety of accessories, tools, and weapons. Figures can be purchased individually or within sets. The sets also include constructible bricks that can be used to build realistic looking military vehicles like humvees, hovercraft, and helicopters. Call of Duty construction sets look good enough to want to display, AND they are also durable enough for kids to have fun playing with them.
The themes of these Mega Construx toys revolve around those within the Call of Duty video games, which means these micro figures and vehicles replicate today’s military forces. There are also ones duplicating the look of the combatants that fought in World War II. Sci-fi fans will appreciate the zombie apocalypse toy sets. Mattel releases new Call of Duty sets each year and discontinues distribution of its previous ones. It adds a collectible element to these toy soldiers. If your child wants a particular Call of Duty collector construction set make sure to pick one up before they sell out.
LITTLE GREEN ARMY MEN
Kids can hold a whole army in the palm of their hand! Super Impulse’s “World’s Smallest” collection takes some of the most beloved classic toys from the 1960s – 1980s and recreates tiny versions of these iconic retro brands. They’ve just added Little Green Army Men to their lineup of miniature iconic toys.
Have pretend battles anywhere you want with this toy soldier set that contains 20 really small toy figures in 10 different soldier poses. “World’s Smallest: Little Green Army Men” includes a handy carrying container so kids can keep track of their toy soldiers and easily take them around with them wherever they go.