An attractive paint scheme (if poor face painting) for a Charbens G I American infantryman figure of hollow-cast lead.
This colour scheme would work well in gloss acrylic on pound store plastic figures.
This figure in my collection is one half of a stretcher party, Charbens figure set No. 210.
They are notedly similar in style and paintscheme to Timpo lead hollow-cast GI figures of the 1950s.
Some of the other Charbens GI figures in my collection appear to have been simply repainted (by their original owners?)
Made of hollow-cast lead, they have an animation to them that you could see followed through into plastic figures like Airfix, Timpo, Crescent and Lone Star / Harvey. The lack of bases to the kneeling figure or minimal bases on the Grenade Thrower are ways of saving expensive metal and similar in this way to the American ‘pod foot’ dime store figures.
Their modern plastic pound store warrior equivalents often have similar minimal plastic saving bases, making them cheap but annoying if they keep falling over!
These repainted figures with few colours are not unlike some of the postwar paint colour reductions by figure manufacturers. To keep production costs down, an increasingly smaller palette of colours was used by many figure manufacturers. Some figure painters were paid according to / by the number of colours per hundred figures completed.
Reference numbers are to the Charbens figure list in Norman Joplin’s The Great Book of Hollow-Cast Figures (New Cavendish, 1993/99) which shows this range on page 77 / plate 143.
All these figures are postwar hollowcast lead figures produced by Charbens (London, 1920-66) from 1945 to 1960s when lead figures were phased out in favour of plastic.
The Charbens name came from brothers Charles and Benjamin Reid who set up their own hollowcast business in the early 1920s, one of them having previously worked for William Britain.
Insert your own reference to Corporal Jones in Dad’s Army here in his old red coat, fixed bayonets and “they do not like it up ’em!” Several companies now make redcoat and khaki figures of Corporal Jones.
Another good example of hobby learning: how technology of cloth, dye and weapon along with politics, geography, climate and (social) history are all to be found in the now deemed slightly odd but still pleasurable hobby of painting toy soldiers!
The two Boer wars were probably the turning point in tactics and uniforms, developing a trend for clothing matching the battlefield and climate that had unifficailly been going on in India and across Empire since the early Nineteenth century.
It was the end of black powder and smoky battlefields, an age of more individual fighting, snipers and improved rifles, not to mention binoculars, balloons and aeroplanes; all these made bright colourful uniforms too conspicuous. The French poilu soldiers in their red and blue, almost Napoleonic French flag uniforms learned this the hard way in the first years of World War One. The age of drab camouflage colours and in the toy world “green army men” had arrived.
Repainting the drab green toy soldiers in bright colours has been my mild reverse protest against the age of drabness ever since: