Of all the poses of soldiers in a bag of Army men, the mine sweeper is considered the most useless. He stands holding a bizarre device that makes him look as if he is mopping the floor. In reality, minesweeping is a job for the engineers. There he stands among the bag of infantry, poised to listen as he sweeps back and forth
Despite his unpopularity, the minesweeper gets around. He is found in sets by Marx, Tim Mee (both WW2 and Vietnam era), Herald Khaki Infantry, Crescent, Charbens, Timpo GIs and a host of others. He is an odd fit. Not quite right as a spare crewman on a howitzer, and definitely not right on the firing line.
For boys who have played with bags of army men, the minesweeper is one of the undesirables.
Minesweepers first emerged in World War II. Using magnetism, they detect metal under the ground. This is translated to a pinging sound which the operator hears through his headphones. The art of minesweeping is in deciphering those pings. As mines used less and less metal, detecting became more difficult. And yes, the minesweeper is the fore-runner of the metal detectors used by doddering old farts to find junk buried on the beach.