New Battle Squadron packaging for the penny tuppenny dreadfuls 100 toy soldiers

As a pound store trash puppy (not a trash panda – that’s a raccoon), I keep an eye out for the changing packaging of the sort of pocket money cheap toy soldiers I collect and convert on this – the Pound Store Plastic Warriors blog.

With non essential retail closed during Lockdown, I keep an eye out online.

Shelfie screenshot EBay March 2021 – Battle Squadron – 100 PCS for £4.50 to £6.

Battle Squadron were the branding c. 2016-2019 before Poundland stocked the same figures repackaged as ” Cyber Combat Alien Defence Force”.

Late 2019 _ same figures, different packaging. Cyber Combat Alien Defence Force takes over in Poundland from Battle Squadron tubs – less and less figures for a Pound.

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2019/11/16/defence-cuts-affect-poundlands-xta-alien-defence-force-now-50-figures-for-1/

These pouches or bags might be from old boxes of such stock that eBay sellers are selling off, rather than anything brand new.

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2017/10/31/pound-store-plastic-warriors-poundland-artwork/

This battle sandpit illustration seems to have been redone from the Poundland runs or buckets of such troops, ones that I bought in early 2017 before the old pound coins were called in. Poundland cleverly continuing to take the old coins for longer than most.

A useful generic national flag

I like the green flag with white line outline star. Each pack inside through appears to have one or two flags of the WW2 and postwar super powers – usually Germany, America, Britain, sometimes Russia. Oddly not China!

As a child I would have been a bit miffed with the depiction of typical plastic playset helicopters, tanks, walls etc on the packaging but then finding only figures and a flag inside.

Toy Buyer beware – not quite requiring the Trades Descriptions Act but always a little annoying. Was there ever a “Serving Suggestions” type get-out clause – “does not contain sand, walls or helicopter or nuts”?

On a practical play note the figure tub or stiff plastic ziplock pouch is a handy container for a child to keep these figures safe in, not as leaky as the old Airfix cardboard boxes.

A simpler header card version can also be found online (screenshot from EBay March 2021), packaged in the easily tearable plastic bag. Usual “elite forces” type illustration in an otherwise quite plain harder card. 100 such figures now

Available online on eBay but also for £2 plus P&P from Bovington Tank Museum

https://tankmuseumshop.org/products/combat-mission-100-piece-soldier-set

I like the Bovington Tank Museum online shop description of these figures which adds value to what others might see as disposable plastic: ” A classic toy … A timeless collection of figurines perfect for playtime. Each soldier comes equipped with his own battlefield kit and is moulded onto a solid base to stop them falling over in the middle of all the action.”

A reassuringly complete description that is, “classic … timeless … “each with his own battlefield kit”, like buying 100 tiny Action Men for £2, who don’t fall over and lose their “kit”.

Why I like toy soldier packaging

The 1960s and 1970s colourful cardboard header and Hong Kong contents are becoming more collectible and kitsch – eBay and Etsy are good place to go window shopping and take digital “shelfies” screenshots for reference. *

These header illustrations are the poor cousins of the Airfix kit or figure box illustrations but with a certain rough excitement to them, promising to show you the inside contents of your head and your play world to which these clone Hong Kong copies are a cheap portal.

After Blue Planet II on TV, plastic is becomingly increasingly demonised from an environmental point of view as cheap and therefore throwaway disposable. We are rightly told that we now need to reduce, recycle and revalue our use of plastic.

We had no such public awareness about SUP (Single Use Plastic) when I was a child, although it all had to pass the non ‘single use plastic’ throwaway / ignorable, easily breakable, five second wonder toy test. Toys had to have proper “Play Value!”, as my Mum and Dad would say to guide me away from the more transient, flimsy, seasonal topical breakable trash of the toy shop.

These cherished plastics from the 1970s are still on display at home and sometimes appear in battle on my Tabletop, handled carefully now as some of the plastics are getting a little brittle. Indeed this makes them MUP Multiple Use Plastic or LUP Use Plastic.

At least for now, this brittleness is not such a worry with the freshly moulded, rough and tumble ‘play tough’ pound store plastics of today’s sandpit and Floor Games.

Cinematic excitement in colourful cardboard form. Once 15P, now it is vintage, mint and bagged, collectible, worth much more on line. Tempted? Track it down and find it on eBay March 2021.

Maybe this is a side effect of growing up in the late Sixties or Early Seventies without colour TV and few colour picture books in infancy?

I had (and still have) one of these Britain’s copy cannons as a child in our family toy box. (Image: Ebay source March 2021)

* “Shelfies” are reference pictures you take in a store if you are not buying everything you see.

I am amateurishly straying into the more organised serious plastic collecting, packaging and referencing territory of Hugh Walter’s Small Scale World and the Plastic Warrior magazine team. Writ the collection larger, you become Robert Opie of the Packaging Museum and his wonderful Scrapbooks, showcasing by decade and era his fascinating collection of ephemera. Robert Opie is the brother of the toy soldier collector and author James Opie, son of the folklore and playground rhyme collectors Iona and Peter Opie.

Me? I just find the colourful packaging and hyperbolic language and illustrations of passing interest.

blog posted by Mark Man of TIN 24 / 25 March 2021

Author: 26soldiersoftin

Hello I'm Mark Mr MIN, Man of TIN. Based in S.W. Britain, I'm a lifelong collector of "tiny men" and old toy soldiers, whether tin, lead or childhood vintage 1960s and 1970s plastic figures. I randomly collect all scales and periods and "imagi-nations" as well as lead civilians, farm and zoo animals. I enjoy the paint possibilities of cheap poundstore plastic figures as much as the patina of vintage metal figures. Befuddled by the maths of complex boardgames and wargames, I prefer the small scale skirmish simplicity of very early Donald Featherstone rules. To relax, I usually play solo games, often using hex boards. Gaming takes second place to making or convert my own gaming figures from polymer clay (Fimo), home-cast metal figures of many scales or plastic paint conversions. I also collect and game with vintage Peter Laing 15mm metal figures, wishing like many others that I had bought more in the 1980s ...

3 thoughts on “New Battle Squadron packaging for the penny tuppenny dreadfuls 100 toy soldiers”

  1. Mark, Even these cheap plastic toy soldiers could excite our imagination, but I also think it was due to a wonderful array of historical films shown for evening viewing, that could only be replayed with toy soldiers……. 300 Spartans, Cleopatra, Spartacus, El Cid, Cromwell, Waterloo, Zulu, Khartoum, Lawrence, Bulge, etc. I think they taught us an understanding of the flow of history, even if linked only to the appearance of the armies involved. Then we would search out something to better represent these armies, Airfix production was certainly a reaction to this trend.
    Michael

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    1. 1960s / 70s film viewing probably had a big effect on gamers if not the Airfix production team.
      I am surprised that Airfix never did The Zulu Wars, considering they did the ACW close to the Centenary, WW1 50th anniversary, Waterloo figures close to the film / 150th anniversary, obviously the Prussians arrived later as in real historical life, the High Chapparal TV tie in, SAS close to The Iranian embassy siege. Atlantic and Esci (rather than Matchbox) seemed to cover the gaps of different areas that Airfix missed. No ECW. No Star Wars figures. 😦
      I agree with the learning of history aspect – in an era of Fake News, I am increasingly aware how different many TV and films can be from historical truth. This is a worry that people take it as fact what they have seen, which has been dramatised, simplified or misrepresented. Obviously a film or TV drama is not a documentary.
      “History and vintage toys” is my cover all vague response if I ever get asked what my hobbies are and I don’t want to out my gaming life.

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