Geekery: Retro Toy Soldiers 1949-1966

A look back at the industry and the hobby – also Marcus Hinton and Peter Cushing are my heroes and soon to be yours!

OK we all love our beloved plastic hyper detailed miniatures from every company under the sun. But today,  I want to turn back the page and look at some of the more humble roots of our miniatures, along with some fantastic enthusiasts from the middle of the 20th century.

I want you to all watch these 4 videos and make note of the following:

  1. Mr. Marcus Hinton plays wargames in full suit and tie alongside his wife – IN FULL HISTORICAL UNIFORM, and makeup.
  2. Peter Cushing owned a collection of 5000 miniatures he painted himself – in an ASCOT! Also he plays with his minis “solemnly and conscientiously”. The man is posh incarnate.

These men are hobby giants and we stand upon their shoulders!


Hornsey, Greater London.

M/S as a man picks up a block of lead. Various shots of workers using moulds to make the small toy soldiers. M/S as they add more to the pile. Two women sort through the soldiers and trim off superfluous lead. M/S as soldiers are painted in correct regimental colours. M/S as they are wrapped in tissue paper. They take the soldiers and pack them in boxes. M/S boxes of toy soldiers. C/U’s of Native American drummer, piper, Indian soldier and Horse Guard. M/S as they take lid off box to show different regiments.
FILM ID:1271.28


Kensington, London.

M/S of actor Peter Cushing sitting at his desk looking at papers in his hand. He takes a model toy soldier on a horse and compares it with its drawing. He puts it back and takes another toy soldier. C/U of his hand painting a white belt on the little soldier’s uniform. C/U on his eyes as he works – he must have a good eyesight to do this!

Peter Cushing, enthusiastic member of Model Soldier Society, collects, makes and plays with toy soldiers from all periods of military history. He plays with his toys in accordance to the rules laid down by H. G. Wells in his book ‘Little Wars’. M/S of Mr Cushing getting off his chair, approaching a little battlefield laid out on the floor. He organises the battlefield to match a map in his hand.

Voiceover tells the audience that many of historical figures played this game, for example Napoleon. It engages the mind of a person as much as the game of chess, which means it is not as simple as it looks. M/S of Mr Cushing kneeling on the floor, putting a horse drawn carriage next to a little house. Top panning shot reveals his little battlefield: soldiers, huts, horses, trees, farms…

M/S of Mr Cushing taking a cigarette, putting it in his mouth and lighting it while observing the battlefield. C/U shot of H. G. Wells’ book “Little Wars”.


Manufacture of toy soldiers at Hornsey in London.

M/S of toy soldier on horseback, man looks through large magnifying glass and models it. Various shots of the process of manufacture of the lead toys. M/S’s of the molten lead being poured into mould. The mould is opened to reveal the small soldier, it is thrown onto a collection of others.

M/S’s of woman spraying models with an electric air gun. C/U of man fitting lance onto model of a Beefeater.

Numerous shots of the making of plastic soldiers, which the commentator tells are for the kids. The camera pans from left to right some models of the Grenadier Guards.
FILM ID:309.1

Maidenhead, Berkshire.

Marcus Hinton, military historian, carves model soldiers and his wife paints them – historically accurate to the last detail.

C/U of books with old fashioned drawings of soldiers. M/S of Marcus at work in a studio filled with military memorabilia: antique uniforms, guns and hats. C/U of Marcus inspecting a plumed hat. Extreme C/U of Marcus’ hands as he carves a tiny soldier figure. C/U of Marcus swapping a chisel for another tool. Marcus is seen referring to contemporary prints of soldiers as he works. Pan along military artefacts on display. Marcus is seen breaking a figure of a mould. C/U of Marcus laying the figures on the table.

M/S of Mrs Hinton sitting at a table covered in paint pots and lead figures. Various shots of Mrs. H painting the figures. C/U of a drawing of a Scottish soldier. C/U of a figure in a kilt in Mrs. H.’s hands, she paints it to match the drawing. Various extreme C/Us of Scottish soldier figure alongside French, Viking and Norman soldiers. Mrs. H. is seen painting a tiny tableau showing a soldiers returning to his family from war. Top shot of a model of a fort under siege. Various extreme C/Us of soldiers on the siege model – appears to be from the Napoleonic era.

Various shots of Marcus and Mrs. H. (wearing an antique army jacket ) playing a table top battle game with the model soldiers. Various shots of Mrs. H and Marcus shifting their opposing armies of toy soldiers across the table. FILM ID:363.0


~What’s the most amazing thing out of all of these to you?

  • Divergent_Reality

    If only more people dressed in outfits matching their armies while playing tabletop games.

    • Krizzab

      yea i need dust off my Waffen SS officer suit when playing flames of war v4

      • euansmith

        My Slaanesh Cultist costume is getting rather snug. Maybe I need to swap to Nurgle?

        • Spacefrisian

          Or Khorne, axe in one hand throwing dice around like a Berzerker…With bunny ears.

        • Tshiva keln

          Just cut a few holes in it to “spill out”. Adds to the theme and might just distract your opponent too!

        • petrow84

          Playing an Urban War Syntha army that way would be an awesome news for plastic surgeons and dope producers alike!

      • Divergent_Reality

        Yes, yes you do.

    • Moses Jones

      I’m not sure that anyone would like it if I got naked while fighting with my slayer army. 🙂

      • Divergent_Reality

        Just grow the beard and mohawk, your opponents will understand.

  • Garr Davies

    Mrs Hinton yes !

  • Brandon Rutter

    Solemnly and conscienciously is how I play my Skaven. I barely giggle when I throw them into the meatgrinder. And I wear a plagued robe when iI play, so I am basically like the Doctor guy.

    • Frank Krifka

      Your 4 week unwashed sweater that smells of bacon fat and feet does not count as a plagued robe.

  • Sorien

    This was great, thanks.

  • Richard Mitchell

    So cool, thank you for reminding us of our hobby roots with this article.