I came across these beautiful figures at the Chicago Toy Soldier show. While I have heard of them and seen some listed in various auctions, I have never actually seen one in person until now. These are 30mm Edward Suren or Willie figures. Willie figures were created by the Suren in the 60’s (Willie was Suren's nickname in the Army). He chose the scale of 30mm as being a perfect compromise between being too big or too small and 30mm was the standard scale for flat figures from Germany. Suren's style was based on movement and a deep respect of anatomy and he worked more as an artist than as a figure sculptor. These Landsknecht figures are from the The Battle of the Three Kings 1578 series and include figures created for a diorama in the famed Forbes collection. While most Willie figures were designed for dioramas they were also used as wargaming pieces in the 60s. and therefore can be considered some of the earliest wargaming figures.
Description from a Bonhams auction circa 1997:
Edward Suren (1919-2001) created a masterful collection of military models in his 30mm scale 'Willie' range". In this he attempted, and often succeeded, in casting and painting as much detail within this relatively small size as one might find in the best 54mm scale figure almost twice as tall. His shop and studio in Lower Sloane Street, London, was much visited by those who valued his work. This scale, of course, lent itself particularly well to large dioramas, and he received numerous commissions, some of which led to major and unusual additions to the range.
His work is on view at the National Army Museum (Rorke's Drift) and the Scottish National Trust (Killiekrankie), and he was commissioned by Malcolm Forbes to create a number of North-west African subjects for the Palais Mendoub collections.
Since Edward Suren concentrated on excellence rather than output and distribution, his prices were relatively expensive for the times, and the availability of his original studio work is limited.
Toys? Yes but to many collectors the toy soldier is a work of art in it's own right. So presented here you will find our ideas on the THE ART OF THE TOY SOLDIER.
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