Barclay toys introduced a line of cast iron toy soldiers in 1932 and became the largest U.S. producer of toy soldiers up to World War II.
Barclay Manufacturing was formed by Donze and Michael Levy in about 1922. The name of the company came from Barclay Street in Hoboken, New Jersey.
In its heyday Barclay produced 500,000 toys a week, making them the largest toy soldier manufacturer at that time in the United States. In 1939 Barclay acquired another toy soldier company, Tommy Toy and its sculptor Olive Kooken. Prior to the company temporary closing in 1942 the foot soldiers were purchased individually for a nickel/five cents.
Despite the inroads of plastic toy soldiers, Barclay kept manufacturing their soldiers in metal. Following World War II Barclay changed the helmets on their soldiers to the M1 Helmet. In about 1951 Barclay conserved metal by eliminating bases on their soldiers, with collectors nicknaming them podfoot' soldiers. The soldiers were painted similarly to American comic books of the time, olive drab uniforms with green helmets with 'enemy' soldiers in red uniforms with white helmets. With the rising cost of metal, the soldiers had risen in price to 15 cents.
In 1960 the lead soldiers were removed from Woolworths and other dimestores to be sold in hobby shops. From 1964 the soldiers uniforms were painted in green to reflect the modern US Army. The 1960s would prove to be a turbulent time for the 'old line' toy manufacturers. Before the decade was out, the A.C Gilbert company and Lionel, both legends in the toy world, would be gone. Marx, though not gone, would be severely crippled.
The company ceased trading in 1971 due to their inability to compete with plastics and the rapidly changing market, not because of lead issues, which is a popular misconception. The old firm's trademark rights were acquired in the 1990s, and now The Barclay Company manufactures solid metal reproductions of Barclay and Manoil Manufacturing Co. figures.
Official website: Barclaycompany.com
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