Miniature soldiers have been made in some form or another for centuries. Whether part of the miniature armies that would accompany Chinese emperors and Egyptian kings to the afterlife, with Napoleon as he planned out his next conquest, or in the display cases of collectors from Winston Churchill to Robin Williams, these scale soldiers and weapons of war have held our imagination. Today, we are lucky enough to be in a period of amazing variety and unrivaled detail when it comes to collecting 1/30th scale figures and vehicles.
The leading manufacturer behind the development and popularity of this category is King & Country. Founded in Hong Kong by two expat Scots, Laura and Any Neilson, they followed their passion of miniature figures and military history and combined it with an eye for marketing and fine craftsmanship. They began by making classic glossy toy soldiers, reminiscent of the figures from the early 1900s, but soon developed a radical new “toy soldier” the matte finish. These highly realistic, military miniatures look more like real people than toys. Naturally, a popular period has been World War II, a fertile topic for this new hyper-realistic style. In addition, it has spurred the development of equally realistic, highly detailed scale vehicles.
Early on, King & Country hand-made each 1/30th scale vehicle out of wood with some polystone parts in the Philippines. These early models, made in the 1990s, were produced in very small batches and now fetch astonishing sums on the secondary market. As the popularity of the company grew, the Neilsons quickly realized that they would not be able to keep up with production by making every vehicle out of wood. They also wanted to make more realistic models that were competitively priced.
POLYSTONE SOLDIERS AND VEHICLES
The introduction of the first polystone (a mix of resin and finely ground stone for weight and durability) vehicles was an instant hit! The new vehicles could be cast in silicone rubber molds with polystone, allowing for unbelievable detail. The treads, drive sprockets, battle damage, and equipment hanging on the vehicle were all rendered with extreme realism never before seen on models of this scale.
Each vehicle was meticulously researched and sketched out by Andy and his team, ensuring historical accuracy and a flair for creating story-telling vignettes. Specific units, commanders and incidents were recreated in 1/30th scale. Ripped from the pages of Yank, Signal, and archival photos, classic scenes of Joachim Peiper in the Ardennes next to a Schwimmwagen or Michael Wittman in Villiers Bocage atop his Tiger could now be recreated in stunning, full color 3-D on anyone’s bookshelf. The possibilities were limitless, and King & Country has worked to fill every conceivable one!
The casting detail and story-telling behind every vehicle serves as the foundation, with the icing on the cake the finish and figures. Each vehicle is hand-painted with air-brushing techniques and colors that were used on the real vehicles. The addition of “wet” finish mud, dry-brushed weathering, and battle damaged areas bring an added layer of realism to every model.
What military vehicle would be complete without all of the equipment and flotsam and jetsam that soldiers the world over carry? Not missing a beat, King & Country clutters up every vehicle with packs, helmets, tarps, spare tracks, logs, sandbags, etc. You name it, they have done it.
To complete the models, they must have the proper unit markings, and here, once again, no detail is over looked. Accurate unit markings down to the smallest detail are added using color transfers. Standard national markings of stars and crosses are reproduced as well as more unit specific divisional, brigade, or regimental designations. Unique vehicle lettering is even placed on some vehicles, such as the names of girlfriends on turrets or “Kilroy was here” on tailgates. Each model is complete—except for one very important element.
The human element is recreated in 1/30th scale with hand-cast and hand-painted metal figures. Every figure tells a story through their uniform, equipment, and right down to the unique expression on each figure’s face. As with the vehicles, the figures are all meticulously researched. The pose and facial expression are sketched out by Andy Neilson so the sculpting team can nail the right look. Often, figures are included with the vehicles to complete the story. In many cases, additional figures can be purchased separately to tell a larger story by creating scale dioramas.
As an innovator, King & Country is always looking for new ways to expand the hobby and create unique models. In addition to the polystone 1/30th scale vehicles, they have also made a series of tinplate models. These are 1/30th scale vehicles made from thin sheets of tin formed in the shape of the bodies of the vehicles, then decorated and completed like the rest of their models. The tinplate idea harkens back to some of the toy models made in the early to mid-1900s and was appealing to collectors for the nostalgia and timeless quality they represent.
An injection-molded plastic 1/30th scale Sherman tank was also released by King & Country as an answer to wargame and youth collectors looking for a great model, but at a more attractive price point. These Sherman models were molded in olive green and were based on the tanks that landed at D-Day. Some had the classic wader kits for coming ashore and others featured the basic Sherman model. The details on this plastic model live up to King & Country standards and for the budget conscious, do it yourself painter are an excellent value.
Not content with World War II vehicles and soldier, King & Country has also created a dizzying array of 1/30th scale vehicles, planes, and figures from World War I. Earlier military “vehicle” models also include artillery, wagons, limbers and even chariots. A range of 1/30th scale World War I and World War II aircraft, and even some submarines and small naval craft is also produced, again with the same attention to detail and historical authenticity that King & Country is famous for.
This hobby now has so many choices a collector can let their imagination run wild and begin creating a scene in the form of a three dimensional diorama using just about any military vehicle or aircraft from the 20th century. King & Country has done an amazing job giving collectors the ability to immerse themselves in their love of history down the very last 1/30th scale detail!
For information on these, other vehicles, or any of the items King & Country produces, contact Treefrog Treasures Military Miniatures. We stock all of the various ranges K&C creates, from WWII & WWI, to the lawless frontier of the American West, to the quaint and charming World of Charles Dickens, and even reaching into the eras of the Ancient Greeks and Egyptians. We’re happy and capable of shipping not only to domestic addresses in the US, but all over the world! Contact us at Treefrog Treasures, 248 Sandstone Dr NW, Eyota, MN 55934 Toll Free at (866)-394-2418, or via email at email@example.com.