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Vintage Marx Toy Soldiers and Playsets

Marx Playsets remain among the most popular toy soldier sets in the vintage toy soldier market today. These playsets from the Louis Marx Company appeared in the 1950's and were available up until the 1970's when the company fell into disarray after it was sold off upon Marx's retirement. Collecting Marx toy soldiers and playsets has been a popular hobby ever since.

If you're in your 40's like me or if you're older, you probably remember perusing Christmas catalogs for the Marx playsets. One year I got a Civil War Marx Playset that I treasured for years. Marx Playsets had great details, such as wounded soldiers, stretchers, cannons that fired and spring loaded buildings that would blow up.

Marx sets were usually war related from various periods such as the American Civil War, WWII and medieval times. However, there were also Marx western playsets that were quite popular as well. The highly details Marx playsets allowed kids to setup their own miniature battlefields and have fun creating pretended battles. These sets were great fun to play with either by yourself or with friends. When you were a kid did you do your own gruesome sound effects? I did.

Marx playsets during their heyday were mostly plastic with some metal parts. The toy soldiers themselves were a soft plastic while accessories like buildings, cannons, and so forth were either hard plastic or metal. Often a plastic terrain sheet was included with the set for a more realistic look. Marx originally sold toys made of metal before WWII but they switched to plastic after the war as a cost cutting move.

Collecting Marx playsets is a fun hobby for those of us who remember them from their childhood and for younger people with a taste for the nostalgic. There are even reissues being sold today, some that even use the original molds, but vintage Marx toy soldiers and accessories are what are considered valuable to serious collectors.


Common Vintage Toy Soldier Materials

There are several different types of vintage toy soldiers that have been produced over the years. Often the deciding factor in what materials to use to cast the soldier depended upon availability of the materials as well as the available manufacturing technology.

Each material type of toy soldier has its fans and collectors. Let's look at a few of them, shall we?

Plastic Army Men have been around for decades. These inexpensive, unpainted, soft plastic figures were usually sold in Five and Dime stores back in the days before WalMart and dollar stores. Generally they were sold in bags along with vehicles and terrain pieces. The quality of these items was usually rather low although there are some very good examples around.

A cut above these mass produced consumer figures are Plastic Toy Soldiers. Unlike the cheaper variety they're made with better quality plastics, either hard or soft, and generally have more detailed castings. These figures are often painted, either at the factory or by the individual who purchases them.

Before plastic toys soldiers came into vogue in the late 1950's and early 1960's, Dime Store toy soldiers were often made of cast iron. Like their plastic descendants, these were cheaply made although you can find some excellent castings if you look. These toy solders were common in the United States.

In Europe, where cast iron was more costly, the material of choice was aluminum before the advent of plastics. Where metal was too expensive, such as in Germany, toy soldiers were made from a mixture of sawdust and glue.

Another type of tin soldier was made in slate molds. This type was a thin and two dimensional figurine.

Lead was commonly used in manufacturing toy soldiers as well. This inexpensive and soft metal was used for both hollow and solid toy soldier figurines. Unfortunately, lead is toxic, making it a poor choice for a child's toy and not a particularly good thing for adults to handle on a regular basis either.

Paper cut out toy soldiers or cardboard toy soldiers have also been around for a while too. Some of these were simple printings while others have been marvelously detailed. Sometimes these paper toy soldiers have been glued to wooden blocks, sort of like game pieces.

Lastly, there are made for the collector toy soldiers which were made with adult collectors in mind. These may be cast from metal or carved from wood. They feature a high level of detail both from the casting or carving and the professional quality hand painting of the figurine.

There you have it, the Common Vintage Toy Soldier Material Types.

Tips For Buying Vintage Toy Soldiers Online

While collecting Vintage Toy Soldiers is a lot of fun you should know how to buy these figurines with confidence from online outlets like eBay and other auction and merchant sites.

You must first know what you're intending to purchase. You should carefully read all of the details in the item listings and closely examine the pictures. Is it what you're looking for? Does the seller provide enough details for you to make an informed choice about your toy soldier purchase?

Don't be afraid to ask the seller of a Vintage Toy Soldier piece or set a question about what they're selling. A good seller should respond quickly, at least within 24 hours. Those who don't respond to your questions should be avoided. On eBay, you can use the ask the seller a question link to send your query.

Make sure that you completely understand the shipping charges. Always factor this into your final cost of the soldier or set you're buying. If the shipping charges seem out of line, ask about lowering them to a more reasonable price.

You can research the seller of Vintage Toy Soldiers by examining their eBay feedback. Some good sellers will have a few negatives due to impossible-to-please customers but you should probably avoid sellers who have consistent customer service problems. Also look for sellers that have over 100 eBay transactions under their belt. While a novice seller may have a neat toy soldier, the transaction may not flow as smoothly due to their inexperience.

Also check for a return policy. Top eBay sellers of toy soldiers and other toy collectibles generally operate like a business and will accept returns. Individuals who're part time sellers may not be as generous so make sure you read their fine print on returns. If there is any doubt, ask about it.

When you are buying from someone on eBay, always conduct your transaction through eBay. Do not accept offers to conduct business outside of eBay since you won't have as much protection if you're dealing with an individual, part time, seller. A legitimate business selling toy soliders outside of eBay would be a different matter though.

You should never, ever, use a money transfer service like Western Union to purchase merchandise over the Internet. Many people have lost their money doing this.

I recommend paying for your purchase using a credit card through PayPal. This gives you the maximum protection since this will not only allow you to dispute a problem with PayPal but through your credit card company as well. Plus, using PayPal means that the seller will not have access to your confidential financial information.

Well, those are my Tips For Buying Vintage Toy Soldiers Online. Happy buying!


Vintage Toy Soldier Condition Gradings

When grading the condition of Vintage Toy Soldiers we can, with some confidence, stick to 5 general levels of quality: Mint, Excellent, Good, Fair and Poor. Unlike some collectibles, such as coins, stamps and comics, these grades of item quality aren't as tightly defined. However, here are some guidelines you can go by.

Mint condition should only refer to a figure that is in perfect condition and that has not been removed from the original factory packaging, if there was any. One cannot say that an item is mint if it has been removed from the package. Also, the toy soldier in question must not have any factory flaws. While it is rare to see vintage toy soldiers in the original package they do pop up on eBay and other auction sites from time to time.

Excellent condition, which might also be referred to as "like new", is used to indicate a figure that has been removed from the package or has other changes. For example, a soldier with a new, high quality, paint job obviously isn't in factory mint condition but would be considered to be in excellent condition. This is the quality level you should target although you will find as you collect vintage toy soldiers that figures of this quality are rather rare.

Good condition generally indicates that the toy soldier in question has been played with by a child (or child at heart) to some degree. These figures could have minor flaws and damage that has been well repaired. The paint job might be chipped and scrapped very slightly. A vintage toy soldier in this condition should still be acceptable for a collection and the flaws should be minor enough so as not to distract from the visual quality and enjoyment of the figure in a collection.

Fair condition means that the toy has been played with considerably but that a substantial portion of the original paint remains on the figure. The toy soldier may have minor, unrepaired, damage. For the most part, these figures aren't of collectible quality but they can serve as place keepers for better toy soldiers at a later date.

Poor condition means a piece that has very substantial damage, such as missing limbs or accessories, and has no collectible value at all. However, don't despair. These vintage toy soldiers can be used to build dioramas or serve as spare parts for other figures.

Let me know if this information on grading the condition of Vintage Toy Soldiers has been helpful to you.

How to Buy Vintage Toy Soldiers

I thought that I would start off by providing these helpful hints and facts about buying Vintage Toy Soldiers. Collecting them can be quite an interesting hobby for the novice and expert alike.

In general, complete toy soldier playsets are a better deal than individual pieces. While some sets can command a high price, often this will be at a discount as compared to obtaining the complete set piece by piece.

Be careful if there are reissues or re-releases for the set or individual figures that you are interested in purchasing. Confirm with the seller that they are certain that the toy soldiers in question are original. While collecting a reissue is a good way to fill in gaps in your collection, you don't want to pay original prices for it!

You should always ask the seller of an older toy solider or set if the items in question are showing signs of being brittle or otherwise being fragile with age. Of course, you should also inquire about any damages or missing pieces. Make sure you check these details before committing to a purchase.

Another thing you should ask about is if the figures in a set of Vintage Toy Soldiers are still attached to the sprue or tree. This can affect the value of certain sets for various reasons.

Another great thing you can do with your excess soldier figures is put them up for sale or trade yourself. If you have acquired several examples of one figure perhaps you can work a deal for parts or figures you don't have.

Lastly, make sure that you ask the online seller of Vintage Toy Soldiers how they secure the figures and/or sets for shipping. You do not want to decrease the value of your purchase due to damage on the external packaging or on the figure itself. I've had figures shipped to me with virtually no padding in thin boxes so always ask about this important detail when it comes to shipping the toy solider to you.

I hope this has provided you with some useful information about How to Buy Vintage Toy Soldiers.

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