Thursday, April 7, 2016

Little Lead Soldiers

I mentioned in the previous post that the soldiers on display in the Time Life book were Little Lead Soldiers, or so I believe they are.
I decided to do a post about those figures.
The current company has a website here:
From their website:
"Little Lead Soldiers Ltd was set up in 1983 by sculptor Peter Davis.  After visiting Houghton Hall, the Norfolk home of the Marquess of Cholmondeley, which boasts one of the most extensive toy soldier collections in the world, Peter was inspired to produce his own range of toy soldiers.
The company was first based in the Cambridgeshire village of Madingley. Originally we bought in castings and painted them to a collectors standard.  It soon became clear that there was demand for quality metal figures other than soldiers, so we started manufacturing our own figures and accessories.  This resulted in a most exceptional growth for the company and led to some exciting projects, which required the 
company to move to larger premises, in the nearby village of Over, in 1985. Little Lead Soldiers continued to expand, taking over more units on the industrial estate. We were able to acquire the moulds of Greenwood & Ball’s museum range of ½”, 1” and 2” figures. This led to the 
company producing over six thousand figures for the six battle dioramas used in the James Bond film “The Living Daylights”."

These are figures meant for display, and they are rather pricey for wargames.
But years ago you could find bags of them in some hobby stores.
The figures were sold as 25mm, but they were pretty close to modern 1/72. Here's a comparison photo of some common figures:
Left to right; Hinchliffe 25mm, A Little Lead Soldier on a Giant plastic horse; a LLS Hussar on the supplied horse; LLS Roman on Esci horse; a Warrior Miniatures 25mm General.
They are made of a lead alloy and are supplied with a separate base and separate accessories. The figures are meant to be bent into poses  and soldered or glued in place.
There was a small paper insert in each bag with some information:

The company suggests you buy their soldering kit to assemble the soldiers.
From my own small experience, I have to say that these figures are best if they are left in standing poses, as you can snap off arms quite easily. Also the accessories are not always  complete in the bags. This might be more of a reflection on the age of the bagged toys and possible loss through holes in the plastic. Also there is a complete lack of drums and musical instruments, so you have to make your own buglers and drummers.
I personally discard the bases.

I'm no electrician and I've soldered feet into lumps. Glue is best. Either superglue or epoxy or hot glue. I also found that plasticene around the base as "grass" does help secure the figures. Over all, they aren't really wargame figures. The accessories can easily snap off and they will pop off the bases unless they are thick. I hate to be down on these figures, they are unique and do have their own charm, but they are more diorama figures in my opinion.
A typical set is  MRM1 - Crecy Knights. Here's what you would get:
Four mounted knights, some shields and bases and lengths of brass wire for spears, and 14 foot soldiers. There aren't enough shields to go 'round, and swords and axes aren't provided.
These figures have a fair degree of flash, but it is thin and easily removed with an exacto blade. Overall the detail is pretty good. The figures are on the thin side compared to some figures.
In the Ancients era there were 5 sets; MRA1-Egyptians; MRA2-Greeks; MRA3-Romans; MRA4-Persians; MRA5-Goths.
The Medieval era had 5 sets: MRM1-Crecy Knights; MRM2-Normans; MRM3-Saxons; MRM4-Vikings; MRM5-Scots. I have a few bags of these, and started basing them to my old wargame standard of 2 men per 1 1/2 inch base. I started but stopped and haven't completed them (yet).

In the Napoleonic era, there are 10 sets; MRN1-Lifeguards(English); MRN2-Scots Greys; MRN3-Guards(English Foot); MRN4-Scots(Highlanders); MRN5-Artillery(RHA); MRN6-Cuirassier; MRN7-Hussars(French); MRN8-Guards(Old Guard); MRN9-Line Infantry; MRN10 Artillery.
I only have a set of British Artillery.

Napoleonics are my favorites.

The cuirassier have been seen before. These are extras from a couple sets, that is they didn't have mounts. As an aside, the horses in these sets are nice, they are thinner, and 1/72 scale, but the men are a bit tall for them in my opinion, in that the men have long legs or it looks that way in the saddle. The Hussars set doesn't have pelisses, and they make fine Chasseurs A Cheval. You can see I did the plasticene base "grass"  coupled with large bases. However, they won't stand up to a good going over with a cat.....
American Civil War has only two infantry sets, MRC1-Unon Troops; and MRC2-Confederates. The Union soldiers have a few zouave figures included.
American Revolution has 2 sets; MRR1-Yankees; and MRR2-English.
The English soldiers make great figures for the Revolution or the Seven Years War. The long leggetty riders can be seen in this picture.
The Americans have a nice mix of uniforms.

These sets have a couple of horses and 2 or more mounted figures as well.
The English Civil War has 2 sets of foot soldiers with a couple of horsemen in each pack; MREC1-Roundheads; MREC2-Royalists.
I really like these sets. Previous viewers of this blog have seen them painted up before:

The First World War has early war soldiers; MRWB1-British (Tommies); and MRWG1-Germans.
 Instead of horses, bicycles are included.
 The Second World War has only two sets, MRWB2-British; and MRWG2-Germans.
Motorbikes take the place of horses.
This company also made several battle sets that had a large box containing a vacu-form base, and around 60 figures or four bags.
Here's a set I have, it's incomplete and is of the Battle of Waterloo (edit-I've got to redo the pictures-please stand by!)

This is the box and half the cover sheet for the front.
Inside the vac form base is pretty impressive, the sunken road at Waterloo:
The box I purchased had some differences from the bagged sets.
1:There are more figures in a bag and more poses:
The accessory bag has more items AND drums:
Unfortunately, the French bags were the same sort of smaller bags I have already shown, so I think they might have been add ins to flesh out the set for sale.
Also included was a double sided hand out:

It came with four sets of figures. English foot Guards, a bag of artillery (RHA) and two French bags, The Old Guard Grenadiers and Cuirassiers. It also included a tree (presumably Wellington's tree). I picked this up on ebay and am not entirely sure of the contents.
However I did find a pictutre on the net of the Gettysburg set:
Of note are the interesting and large number of figures. You don't get that many in a set, or at least I don't think so. Also this box has the "As Seen In The Latest James Bond Film "The Living Daylights""
As for what got me started on this topic, I can say that the figures in the 1965 Time Life book may have been made by the same man who made these figures, but the Little Lead Soldier Company has only been in official business since 1983.


  1. No but they may well have been done by Greewood and Ball who also did various dioramas.

    I saw some of the figures used in the Bond movies at the Toy Soldier museum in the Poconos. Fantastic place. Well worth the effort to arrange a viewing.

  2. Thanks for the link!
    I love the "Empty House" set of Sherlock Holmes figures.
    Amazing the work the diorama people put in, espescialy the Roman ones in the Time Life book. They sculpted the figures, cast them, cleaned them, converted and posed, painted then mounted them. And they didn't turn round and sell the figures from the moulds, which to me, would be a great way to recoup costs.