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Isabella Bannerman

Maybe the art direction department of Downton Abbey wants to see these.

Alice Henry Whitmore

OMG. These are all too cute to be warriors. I would want to cuddle them, not annihilate them.

Jim Nolan

I hear you, Alice. It's funny that something so frightening in real life ends up as a children's toy.

Mike Niederman

Re Downton Abbey - Google Image "Britains toy hunting series". Some have just been reissued in solid metal.

The figures... The crawling gas masked troops were in a few sets, but set 1611 is their "home" set. There is a heroically posed officer with sword and pistol leading them. First issued 1937, and the paint style on these is an early one.

The machine gun was also used (with a seated gunner) in a few sets. "Home" set is 198, issued 1920-40. The style of gun changed from a Maxim to the pictured Vickers around 1925, and the lighter shade of khaki marks this example as an early one. The guy in the back is a stretcher bearer. from set 1719 - Stretcher Party Unit of the RAMC, in Service Dress with Steel Helmets. This figure is fairly rare, issue only 1939-41. It was replaced by a figure with a battledress uniform in set 1723, also first issued in 1939.

Britains made sets that reflected contemporary events and troops, from the 2nd Boer War to the Italian invasion of Ethiopia, from Coronations to Blitz fire watchers. After the Great War, military toy sales fell off due to the horrors experienced, so Britains launched a very successful farm series, and other non-bellicose subjects like model flower gardens. Rearmament in the late 30s brought back military subjects.

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