August 05, 2013

FIGURE OF THE WEEK #35: American Civil War Figures by Zang /Herald

There are arguably my favorite plastic figures of all time. These 52mm beauties were made in England by Zang/Herald (and Britains) from the late fifties and early sixties before being replaced by the Eyes Right /Swoppet range. It was amazing how many hours I spent playing just 8 different figures and that earns them a place of honor as our Figures of the Week.

These first appeared in the late 1950s under the Zang brand name and later under the Herald banner who purchased Zang in 1959. Only four poses were produced and they were issued as either Union or Confederates. Sculpted by Roy Selwyn-Smith these figures are masterpieces, grounded in realism but full of poetry. They were moulded in polythene which, because of its flexibility, was ideal for Roy's adventurous sculpting style. Fine detail was achieved by engraving into the brass moulds. The figures were hand painted using exquisite matt finish colour schemes. The Herald range at its zenith included dancers, Antarctic explorers, farm animals and Trojan warriors as well as the obligatory soldiers and cowboys and Indians.

As well as being a great sculptor, Roy was a man of practical ingenuity, as demonstrated in 1958 by his Swoppets. Swoppets had movable and exchangeable torsos and heads. Standing 54mm (2 ins) high, they were crammed with inventive details such as the Swoppet cowboys' perfect Colt pistols which could be removed from their holsters. The Swoppets represent Roy's most dramatic and influential contribution to the toy industry.

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