Friday, December 5, 2014

Comic Book Toy Soldiers: 204 Revolutionary War Soldier Set

This is a follow up on the comic book soldier theme I did with the Lucky Romans a while back. This is for the later fully round plastic figures, not the earlier flat figures.

We're all familiar with the comic book ad:

As a kid the "No Canadian or foreign orders accepted!" never stopped me from trying to order, but alas, the letters were always returned.
As an adult I began to find them at flea markets, often for a few dollars. Then with the internet I began buying sets and partial sets from comic book stores.
But ebay was the eye opener. For a while the toys were relatively cheap, but then their prices began to climb rapidly.
Now I occasionally buy a set in the $30 range, but I've seen some auctions realize several hundred dollars a set.

Here are the original contents:

They were:
36 Dragoons (Cavalrymen)

12 Shooting Infantrymen

(Note: I'm not sure what figures were specified by some of the descriptions. There are 3 shooting figures, one standing, one crouching, and one kneeling.)

12 Marching Infantrymen

12 Crouching Infantrymen

12 Fifers

(Note: The figures depicted don't have a small fife in the traditional sense, rather it looks like a horn or oboe of some type.)

12 Charging Infantrymen

(Note: None of the figures are very active and I have no idea which one could be seen as charging.)

12 Sharpshooters

12 Field Cannon

12 Cannon Loaders

12 Drummers

12 Minutemen

(Note: Along with the Hessians, these figures are strictly meant for one side only. In this case, Blue American Militia. However, both the Militiamen and Hessians feature figures in both colours. However, there are relatively few red militia and blue Hessians, at a ratio of 30 to 1 in my collection of 10 or so sets. It could be that these odd coloured troops were mistakes or were added in later sets? Frankly I don't know.)

24 Mohawk Indians

12 Officers

12 Hessian Troops

Here's what a full set looks like.

There were many variations in the two colours. Whether this is a result of sun fading, age or variations in plastic I'm not sure.

Here's a comparison of the figures with Airfix, Revell and Zvezda figures. As you can see, they measure up size wise with Revell and Zvezda, but they do tower over Airfix.

One observation I've had is that these figures have resisted the plastic rot that many old Airfix figures have experienced. They remain bendable and hold their shape.

Now these figures were a little odd compared to Airfix figures, but they conveyed the expected general appearance of Revolutionary War Soldiers. The dragoons have the boiled leather helmets, albeit with minimal detail. The tricornes are fine, but the Hessians/Grenadiers sport rather fanciful mitres. Reminicent of the old Bee Hive Honey logo, they did stretch the imagination.

The Indians were a little disapointing at first, One would have expected the feathered Iroquois of children's books or hollywood. Or at least the ones from the ad. But in reality, the general costume is rather apt when compared to contemporary art.

In point of fact, the posing and sculpting of the soldiers closely resemble the depictions seen on artwork and posters made early in the revolution.
Here are a few pictures of some early depictions of the war by artist Amos Doolittle:


  1. Hi,
    I got a set of the original hard plastic flats when I was young. My mother thought they were a ripoff, but I thought they were great. Later a kid showed me the soft plastic versions. At the time there was nothing else available that I was aware of (this was about 1968), so I sent for a whole lot of sets in order to form units to play "Charge", the first war-game book I bought. That book showed me what nice figures actually looked like, so I never did anything with the plastic AWI figs. I later sold them (there must have been close to 1000) for $15 to a guy named Wally Simon, who later became well known in the hobby on the East coast. Upon his death, the figures were given to a group of guys who painted them and gave them as complete armies to kids at a big convention. I later go to know those guys--small world!

    I should add that while in college (the 70's) I ordered several sets of Romans. I'm not sure what I'll do with them. I also came by a partial set of Civil War flats. The AWI flats were excellent--these pale by comparison, but the sets did include supply wagons, which have been brought over to the AWI project.

    As for the prices on eBay, yeah, they've gone crazy. I still buy the flats when I see them if they're not too much. But they're usually too much these days.

    Best regards,

    Chris Johnson

  2. Great comment Chris! I laughed when you mentioned Wally Simon. I "met" him via the Magweb website that posted web versions of old wargame magazines. His was the Potomac Wargames Review, I think. I printed most of his articles, and it was his descriptions of battles with these figures that spurred me to start buying more! How many degrees of separation is that? I think Robert Pipenbrink bought the soldiers, he had several articles in MWAN about them and a school project.
    I do have other sets of flats and round figures from the comics, I'll post a few more articles.
    Thanks for contributing, and I hope we don't end up biding against each other!

  3. Hi,

    I just ran across your posting. I intend to use my flats for the 7YW in Europe. This leave me with a ton of light dragoons, only a relatively small portion of which can be pressed into service as the British Light Dragoons which had recently appeared. I did find a way to use some more of them: the head on the fifer figure is compatible with the under-sized light dragoon body, so this will give me heavy cavalry of various kinds--not to mention finding a use for regiments of fifers-talk about a waste of good plastic!

    I may still have left-over dragoons, and in any case LOTS of Indians. Might you be interested in all or some of these?

    Best regards,


    1. Hello again. Do you need more figures, the fifers? Let me know, I found that I have quite a few flat minis at home. I moderate comments, so if you send me your email, I'll email you back. Doug.

  4. Hi Chris. Yeah, the Indians have limited use in Europe, but they can make nice AWI soldiers in hunting shirts. I hope this link works:
    You might want to try making a tricorne for the cavalry with some miliput. I haven't tried converting the flats except by paint job alone. There's not a lot of plastic to work with for conversion!
    If I were you, I'd hang on to the extra figures. Someone on eBay land might pay premium prices to finish off their collections. (I found a couple more bags of flats last weekend in my mighty-pile-o-toys). I should spend an afternoon and set up an entire 204 piece set and photograph it. Might need a couple beer to accomplish the task. Mind you I need beer to change the TV channel......

  5. I myself don't drink beer, but I do partake of a margarita now and then--but never while doing my war-gaming web-surfing. Else my wife might notice a visit to "Pussycat Cafe", or something, right in the middle of my exploration--not that that has ever happened, of course....

  6. Do you know where I can can get multiple complete sets of this set. I've found it hard to find american revolution fifers in 54mm and I was wondering what size those are in the pictures above?

  7. Hello Cory. These are all about 1/72 scale. Complete sets would go for collector prices, but you can get sets or near sets on eBay for $20 to $50. A lot of my figures were amassed from other purchases. I' d buy a small pile of Airfix figures and there might be a dozen of these guys mixed in.
    As for 54mm, BMC is the company you want. These figures are available all over. Try Kent Sprecher's
    Also look at All The King's Men
    He has figures of all kinds from the AWI including replacement heads for plastic 54mm figures.

  8. I just got a set at a church rummage sale, for $3. What a find.

  9. Thanks Doug I was (a Canadian kid of the time) curious and wondered what they would have looked like.

  10. My older brother and I had a set of these in the '70s; lots of entertainment from them. I don't remember ever seeing the names of the types of personnel; we always assumed the "officers" were gunners who lit the cannon fuses! -EasyAlias

    1. Yes, the officers do look the part of artillery crew.
      The guy with the ramrod is an odd pose. Someone online described it as fighting with quarter staves.

  11. Hi...great information here. My father-in-law had some of these that I found in storage. Your website was very helpful in identifying them.