Elastolin was the name of the material and the O. & M. Hausser company was the manufacturer of Elastolin Toy Soldiers. Elastolin was a composite material consisting of kaolin, glue and sawdust that the German company Hausser developed in 1912. Soon it became synonymous with the toy soldiers created by this multi-part, compression molding process and,after WWII, the plastic toy soldiers that the Hausser company began making at that time. Since Elastolin was used to brand the toys soldiers, people often don't recognize the actual company who made them. This is further confused by licensing arrangements and a buy out.
Pre-war Elastolin toy soldiers mirrored the rise of the Nazi German military in the 1930's with figures representing the SA, SS and other aspects of the WWII German military. Some personality pieces, such as Hitler himself, were produced. However, Hausser didn't limit themselves to just the German military. Figures for other countries were produced as well although often these figures sported German style accessories, like potato masher grenades and German style rifles and coats. The pre-war toy soldiers are rare on the market and often fetch a good price. In addition to modern era soldiers, Hausser also made Roman, Viking and Medieval toy soliders.
The Hausser company officially ended operations in 1983 and sold their molds for their plastic toy soldiers to the Preiser company. Preiser is also known for their model railroad products. Elastolin toy soldiers were also produced under license by the Ougen company in France and Continental Hobbies in the United States
Elastolin toy soldiers are 7cm scale. There are three basic versions of the paint jobs used on the plastic figures with many variations over the years and by licensee. In general, older figures have a greater attention to detail and more complex paint jobs.