Monday, 16 April 2012

A Guardsman is a a Guardsman

If you happen to be British then perhaps the most iconic toy soldier is the guardsman, standing to attention in his red tunic and busby.  Everyone who has ever owned a toy soldier will at some time probably have had one but what do you do with them?  The only time the British army ever fought in a uniform vaguely resembling this was during the Crimean War, which the toy soldier industry has chosen to totally ignore! 

The other sin of the industry, looking back from the lofty pinnacle of political correctness, is one of ethnicity.  There are five Regiments of Guards: Grenadier, Coldstream. Scots, Irish and Welsh but the toymakers will invariably only offer you the Grenadiers or Scots.  Does it matter?  Not really (unless you happen to be of Irish extractions, as I am, or perhaps Welsh).  And the point of this post is do you tell them apart anyway?   On this occasion Her Majesty, no less, comes to our assistance with a poster outside Buckingham Palace explaining the uniform variations - it's all about plumes and buttons (note also the buttons on the cuffs).  The photographer captured in the reflection is non other than your humble reporter before being hauled off to the Tower.


  1. The Crimean War's not my favourite period, but ignored? Wm Hocker has over 30 sets of toy soldiers from that conflict. Other TS companies who have or had extensive Crimean lines are: Alma, Alexander's Toy Soldiers, modern Britain's, Imperial, King & Country, And Soldiers of the World.

  2. Thanks Mike, I was realy referring to vintage toy soldiers rather than modern collectables. When you look at the likes of Britains, Johillco, Heyde etc. even the plastic production of the 1950s & 60's Gurdsmen abound but you rarely see them distinguished between the five regiments, hence a guardsman is a guardsman.

    1. That poster is a good concise reference. Here in Canada we increase the Guard confusion by giving ours a red plume on the Left side of the bearskin.
      One of the toy soldier traditions only a few of the modern makers follow is to send the troops into battle in parade dress or at least clean kit . Nowadays they all seem to be as dull and weathered as the plastic tank brigade. Surely there's more elan in scarlet or bright blue and gold!