Friday, August 11, 2017
The Best Set of Vikings
The Louis Marx Company had several innovative lines of toys in the early 1960s. Several catered to the junior collector. For example, Marx’s Golden Guns were miniature historical weapons that came in their own unique plastic cases. A footlocker for the M1 rifle, a simulated-wood box for the Derringer, and so on. Television commercial encouraged boys to “...collect them all!”About the same time, Marx offered its “Warriors of the World” figurines. These are hard plastic soldiers in the 54 to 75mm range. Part of the description was ‘hand painted by artisans.”
Many of the Warriors of the World were a recycling of some older sets that had originally been made in soft plastic. The sets had about 8 figures and came in a small, colorful box. Each figure was accompanied by a card with its picture, a name. and a fictitious history for that character. The sets included Cowboys, Indians, Civil War soldiers from both sides, Revolutionary War figures, World War II troops, World War I troops, Pirates, Romans and some others.
I can only remember the ones that our local stores carried, though I know they also made Rough Riders, Navy sailors, War of 1812 troops and Mexican-American War figures.
There were two types I wanted most: Army guys and Vikings. My brother was of a different temperament. He wanted a few Romans and the Cowboys & Indians. One store sold them to us for a dime each. My grandmother bought us a few, too.
The Vikings made a big hit with me. At the time, I had six poses: two standing spearmen, a charging spearman, Viking with war club, Viking with a mace, and a swordsman whose face reminded me of Captain Kangaroo. Somehow I missed the archer and axe-wielding warrior. Nonetheless, those six men were the core of my small Dark Ages army. At that time, one of our Cub Scout projects had been to make a toy Viking ship using a cheese box, a wad of clay, a stick and colored construction paper. The toy boat was the right size for my Vikings.
Let us acknowledge the obvious from the start. Vikings did not look like these fellows. Vikings did not have horns or wings on their helmets. They also did not wear long tunics that looked like a girl’s jumper. The fellow with the club was the most accurate of the bunch. Even then, the shields on the Marx figures were held by straps. Original Viking shields were held by a handle inside the boss.
Accurate or not, for me, this will always be the best set of Vikings.
The size of Warriors of the World Vikings matches well with the Elastolin Normans. Alongside the Knights in plate armor, they come up small. A person concerned with historical accuracy could easily convert them into Gauls. A bit more work would erase enough inaccuracies to make them realistic Vikings. Of course, when I was 8 years old., these were the most realistic Vikings I ever had.
Call it Nostalgia, but I prefer the Warrior of the World Vikings to Marx’s 54mm Vikings. The larger figures are more robust. Granted that the smaller Vikings have better detail and more animated poses. I still favor the 65mm figures.
Currently, the Vikings are made in Russia and cost a pretty penny. The molds ended up in a place called Donetsk. Some American companies carry them thus sparing you postage from the former USSR.
The Warriors of the World set of Vikings would do well in skirmish games such as OMOK (One Man, One Knight), They have a good assortment of weapons and equipment for Ancient and early Dark Ages fights. Fifteen of these fellows would be just right, be it Norsemen battling Saxons or ancient Germans straightening out the Romans.
The Word War II G.I.s were the old 60mm Marx Army Men, with several poses identical to the Lido figures. For the Warriors of the World Series, two poses were omitted (crawling and grenade thrower). Six figures were given bases. There was also a prone sniper and a sitting sniper who needed no base. Of course, I also acquired more than a full set of these troops! But then. they are a story for another day.