Friday, May 15, 2009

Those Little Soldiers From the Backs of Comic Books

Many kids who grew up in the 1960's and 1970's saw ads like this on the backs of comic books:

A lot of us just looked at them and wished we had the scratch to get them. At some point my brother and I were lucky enough to get our parents to order us a couple sets of these guys. I've heard some people complaining about disappointed when they got their soldiers, but we loved our sets and spent many happy hours setting these 1" tall figures and fighting imaginary battles. According to The World of Comic Book Toy Soldiers these figures came from Lucky Products or a "Nameless Mail Drop Company" and not one of the better known companies like Helen of Toy. Actually, the above page seems to cover this subject pretty well.

Even luckier, these little guys survived. Below are a few photos of them:

A couple of patriots pose in front of a pile of dead lobsterbacks.

The Continental Line. As a kid, I spent a lot of time getting these guys lined up just so. The figure are from both mine and brother's sets. That accounts for the different colors.

Here is a shot of all the poses. The British were just the same (except they were red, of course).

My pile o' toy soldiers.

Below is another ad for these soldiers with an actual photograph of them. Some of them look a little different than mine. Some of them, particularly the artillery and cavalry look like the much maligned "flats" that I hear resentful baby-boomer complain about when they talk about sending away for these toys.

Here's a fun page from 2004 that contains a review of a new incarnation of Helen of Toy's Classic Army Men Footlocker. Unfortunately, the 2004 version of Helen of Toy didn't seem to last. Below are some more toy soldier ads from the backs of comic books, click on them for larger images.

Toy Soldiers

Fighting Kings' Knights

Blast Off

Fighting Ships

Task Force


  1. WOW!! I had the Revolutionary soldiers too!!!

    I spent hundreds of hours playing with them. I would give just about anything to get them back. If only I knew what happened to them.

  2. Love the pix.
    I had the Revy War set, too. I scraped pennies forever to buy two sets, then had to buy a money order. Yeah, they were flimsy plastic, but you can't put a price on the fun I had. Tell you how long ago? I kept them in an Eight-track tape case with Grand Funk Railroad written on the side.

  3. I still use the Fighting Ships/Task Force ships as they fit in well with my metal 1/3000 ships from Britain.


  4. I have both complete sets. I do recall the 1st ad above for the red and blue coats. They are in great shape still even though they are as old as they are. I spent many hours playing with them as a kid lining them up on both sides. I still have the original boxes they came in (they were shipped separately in two boxes) with the company's name. I recall also getting a money order after saving my money. I was probably 7-8 years old; this was about 1971-2 or so. Mike, Bermuda Dunes CA

  5. I had Fighting Ships and Task Force. My 1/2400 scale fleets are supplemented by some of them even today, not unlike David.

    Would you like to exchange links?

    Mike "Bunkermeister" Creek

  6. i used to see these in american comics and felt i was missing a lot but obviously i wasn't

  7. I loved these so much, especially the revolutionary war soldiers and the Task Force ships. My cousin and I invented elaborate battles, based on rolling marbles from the cannons at the other side. If they fell on the left side, they were 'dead' and removed. Fall on the right side, you're injured and start over from the back.

    Remember that the Fighting Ships were all numbered and you could play a sort of Stratego with them. We had several sets, made up a huge piece of butcher paper to accommodate them all. Gave them all names according to the rules.

    Wonder if I fan convince my wife our daughters need these ..

  8. dude that is awesome and brings back some sweet memories. :)

    I had the Romans (flat figs) and the 204 revolutionary war figs

    I fought a couple hundred battles with those at least.

  9. I had the toy foot locker set. Somehow I missed reading the actual size of it in the ad; all I could see was "foot locker" so it HAD to be big. I still remember getting it out of the mailbox that day and thinking WTH??!!!!

  10. Thanks for this posting. I was remembering my comic book toy soldiers today for some reason (I was born in 1968) and was looking around the web for these exact images. I loved getting these things in the mail and spent many many hours playing with them.

  11. Dont forget Chickamauga! The civil war set. HO scale(more or less)blue and gray soldiers.

  12. I'm 58 years old I've been waiting 50 years for my Revolutionary War set to show up don't know how much longer I can wait lol

  13. Somehow I never could get me a set, I drooled over that from the back leaf or page if many a comic book. My life now is incomplete without my set. Too bad. Though I bought many a toy soldiers, I missed never getting these.

    1. You, I and Lord knows how many dreamed about getting them, but nothing ever beyond that. 8(

  14. Here is a petition for a company to make the recast toys of our childhood into a reality.

  15. Wow i remember those add's living in Britain the US seemed like another dimension.
    I also drooled over those adds longer than the actual comic!.
    I also drooled over x-ray spexa 6ft ball but felt sorry for that 50s American family stuck in a gold fish bowl you know the sea monkeys.


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