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"Marx Toy Soldier Sets and Christmas Part two" Topic

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672 hits since 11 Nov 2017
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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nevinsrip Sponsoring Member of TMP11 Nov 2017 2:47 p.m. PST

Old Glory posted about his Christmas mornings finding Marx playsets under his tree. There were plenty of similar stories posted. So, I thought I would show some of my Marx Playset collection to keep in the spirit of things. Here are a couple of pix.

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genew49 Supporting Member of TMP11 Nov 2017 3:29 p.m. PST

So that's where they all went!

Doug MSC Sponsoring Member of TMP11 Nov 2017 5:04 p.m. PST

Why torture us?

WarWizard11 Nov 2017 7:35 p.m. PST


Old Glory Sponsoring Member of TMP11 Nov 2017 9:53 p.m. PST

Very impressive!! As a child I was never aware of the western town sets? As I mentioned in my post, I was surprised at the amount of different western town sets that existed and were on display at the Marx museum.

Russ Dunaway

nevinsrip Sponsoring Member of TMP12 Nov 2017 2:57 a.m. PST

Russ, I also was not aware of the TV themed western sets until I began collecting Fort Apaches and Civil War sets.
I grew up in NYC, so the Sears catalog never came into play.
I discovered that there were dozens and dozens of playsets that I never knew existed, as I got deeper and deeper into collecting plastic soldiers. Once I found out that there were Western Towns, Alamo's, Wagon Trains and Roy Rogers ranches there was no stopping me.

I enjoy the 28 mm stuff and even own Kings Mountain Miniatures. But there is something magical about my Marx Giant Blue and Gray set that places it above all others.

It's Christmas 1961 and I'm 10 years old. I'm out shopping with my Mom, who is buying my 3 sisters Christmas gifts and brought me along to carry the packages. When we hit the toy department at Grants, I'm thunderstruck by the pile of Giant Blue and Gray sets.
I walked over to the demonstrator board and just stared. I couldn't take my eyes off of it. Just hypnotized!

We were a lower middle class family and my parents budgeted 25 dollars each for Christmas presents for us 4 kids. I already knew that there was no Santa and had spent my allowance on some hockey skates and equipment.

When Mom finished shopping for the girls, she came over to see what I was doing. She must have read my mind because she just let me soak it all in without interruption. Finally she said "let's go" and we left. On the ride home, she asked what I was so enthralled by.
Even at 10 years old, I knew that we didn't have the money for extra presents. I just said that I wished that I was rich so that I could buy more toys.

So, on that Christmas morning I awoke and came downstairs expecting to be greeted by some Northland hockey sticks and a pair of CCM skates.

Instead, there it was!! Right in the middle of the gifts was
that beautiful, four color Giant Blue and Gray box, just
siting under the tree. I was overwhelmed with joy.
Till this day, I have never gotten a better Christmas present. My father had taken a piece of plywood and painted some roads, a river and some dirt fields on it for me to set it up on. A dream come true!!

I played with that set every day and took exceptionally good care of it, unlike most of my other toys. Later on, when I grew into a teenager, the set was passed down to a younger cousin. Toys in our family were never thrown away. The were passed on to the younger kids.

Years later, when I got into collecting plastic figures, I called my Aunt and sure enough the set was sitting in her basement in 3 shopping bags. She also had saved several other playsets which she gave to me.

I still have that set and it means the world to me. I have that memory of my mother instinctively knowing how much I wanted that toy. I know how much she sacrificed to buy it for me.
She's long gone now, but every time I take the set off the shelf and set it up, I think of her and the best Christmas present that I ever got.

jambo1 Inactive Member12 Nov 2017 5:30 a.m. PST

Superb collection, nice to see and many thanks for sharing such a great memory.

IronDuke596 Supporting Member of TMP12 Nov 2017 8:15 a.m. PST

Yes, thanks for sharing such a wonderful miniatures memory.

Old Glory Sponsoring Member of TMP12 Nov 2017 8:49 a.m. PST

Bill, I have the exact same kind of memories and that's why I say Marx is synonymous with Christmas to me -- the cultural part anyway.
When I went the the Marx museum in Moundsville W.V. a couple years ago the fella that was running it told me that when Marx closed they took loads and loads of the soldiers to the landfill -- when news of this got out the landfill was commonly visited by "toy soldier ghouls" who would actually leave with piles of those things?? It would be almost like finding buried treasure I would think? They finally had to put a security guard out there for a couple years until it stopped? The Marx museum Web site now says "permanently closed."
Marx was actually kind of the beginnings of Old Glory really?
Me, or none of my brothers really had a love for little army men -- we had a few of the generic little green guys laying around, but not much interest? THEN --when we discoverd there were actually beautiful little cast figures as the Marx men -- AND -- the topper was they were actually in proper uniforms!!!
Sealed my love of the Toy Soldier for life.

Russ Dunaway

Garryowen Supporting Member of TMP12 Nov 2017 11:10 a.m. PST

Lovely thread. It brings back memories of my Christmas presents too. I always had a Marx playset at Christmas. I could not wait for the Sears catalog to come to see wht was new.

I have to go find the original thread as I missed it.


Gone Fishing12 Nov 2017 12:57 p.m. PST

What an amazing collection! As a boy that would have been about my picture of Heaven. I'd guess for many, many gamers (at least of a certain age) the Marx/Britains/Timpo figures and sets were their gateway into the hobby. Thank you for sharing!

nevinsrip Sponsoring Member of TMP12 Nov 2017 6:52 p.m. PST

I got some PM asking questions and I figured that it's easier to answer here. That way anyone else thinking along these lines can see the answers.

OG asked if all the ACW sets contained the same poses?

The original Battle of the Blue and Gray sets contained
10 distinct Union and 10 distinct CSA sculpts. These are commonly referred to by collectors as "First Series" figures. These two sets of figures are included in every Marx ACW set ever made. These colors are rarely interchanged.

A "Custer's Last Stand" playset contained both CSA and Union poses in blue plastic. These are very rare and are mucho expensive when put up for sale.

In order to pump up the figure count for the proposed Giant B&G set, Louis Marx contracted another set of sculpts known as the "Centennial" figures. These figures are sometimes know as the "Medical" set, because the majority of the sculpts are in various wounded poses.
Included was a stretcher team, with a stretcher and a wounded body to carry. Thes figure a significantly smaller being 1/35 th scale, while First Series figures are 1/32 nd.
The Centennial figure were first released in the Giant and Centennial playsets and ONLY in gray plastic. This was one of the exclusives to the two playsets.
Christmas television ads were driving toy sales and Louis Marx wanted his Giant set to be spectacular looking on the TV screen. So he loaded it up with new figures and accessories.

Over the years, the Centennial figures were released in certain B&G sets in blue plastic. These sets contain all of the foot poses, as do the later issue Sears Heritage sets.

Now to the mounted figures. Along with the First Series foot poses, the first B&G set contained two mounted poses.
Basically, it's an officer in a broad hat and a cavalryman in a kepi. Both are waving swords overhead.
These came in both blue and gray plastic in almost every set.

Then there is the caisson team which consists of a driver and an outrider. The driver is seated and has his hand raised to his mouth as if calling someone. The outrider wears a kepi and has a whip in his hand.
Originally, these only came in blue.
Later on, the team was released in gray. The gray figures came on a blister card, that contained a caisson, horses, a cannon and the team. This was an "add on" set that could be purchased individually.

And lastly, there is the famous Falling Horse and Rider.
This sculpt depicts a horse falling forwards with his rider being thrown over him. For many plastic figure collectors this is considered the finest sculpt ever produced by any toy soldier company, ever.

This figure was produced in very dark charcoal gray and a light gray and was included in later B&G sets

To get every pose you would have to buy different several sets. Or buy one set and fill in with the missing poses.

The later Sears Heritage sets offer the best value, as all of the First Series and Centennial poses are included in both colors.
Falling Horse and Riders sculpts have been reproduced and can be found for around 5 bucks.
Reproductions exist for ever sculpt and can be found all over Ebay.

I hope that helps.

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