Today’s post will cover the period 2003-2007
We are now firmly in the era of King and Country first, Britains a fair way behind and then a large gap to the rest of the manufacturers.
WW2 was the main seller, with the tanks and AFV’s being the most sought after. The introduction of the Berlin 38 series also had an immediate volume impact and notwithstanding the somewhat contentious nature of Nazism, continues, to this day, to be a customer favourite. All the ranges we were able to stock in rather limited space, were enthusiastically received. This has always been assisted by the regular receipt from King and Country of coloured leaflets and literature specifically relating to the products.
Britains no long had a distributor in Australia and our country was being serviced from England, although now owned in the United States. This was providing us with uneven supply and was not helping their sales in Australia. We still had, from our earlier days, a significant number of customers whose collections were based on Britains 54mm. ranges. This could not easily be integrated with the 60mm. action figures that King and Country produces. This meant that Britains, with poor supply to Australia lost a large number of customers. It should be noted that Australia with a population, today, of only 25 million people, are, I believe, the largest per-capita collectors of toy soldiers, or military miniatures in the world.
We have always tried to introduce new manufacturers who met our quality and delivery requirements. At this time, we were exploring the painted miniatures from St. Petersburg in Russia. We commenced with Grenada Studios and before long they became a feature of our ranges. Gary Wells, who owned the Tin Soldier, and myself went on our European odyssey. Firstly to the London Toy and Hobby Show, where Britains were exhibiting, then on to the huge Nuremburg toy and Hobby exhibit – the showground overlooks the old parade ground that the Nazis used for their great rallies and standing there you could almost hear the music. Even then, it made the hair stand up on your neck. Our friend, Andy Neilson, was also exhibiting King and Country.
From there we went on to St. Petersburg. Alex, my contact there, let us have a studio apartment in outer St. Petersburg right near St. Peter’s magnificent summer palace. I have purposely only used first names of people we met as most of their surnames are unspellable.
We visited Grenada, Sineus, Studio Niena, Rogachov, all hidden away in nondescript high rise apartments and then Russian Vityav (Arsenyev) who had a showroom on Nevsky Prospect, the main street. Anastasia, the manager, who spoke perfect English looked after us and we placed a number of orders there – they were recognised as the finest studio in Russia. Anastasia was very important for us, as not only being the manager of the studio, also became the manager for Tatiana, who was then the master painter for Arsenyev and went out on her own (did I hear conflict of interest ?). Through Anastasia, initially for 3 years (until she decided to import fashion from Milan, Italy) then direct with Tatiana we have been buying her beautifully painted models for around 15 years, and, in dollar terms, they are today, our third highest seller.
Also, during this period, East of India came on the scene and particularly with their Samurai series, became popular. Unfortunately, in a relatively short period, Ken Jervoise-Clark tired of toy soldiers and went back to his original occupation of Merchant Banker. He did, however, assist me in getting manufactured, our first and only toy soldier range, The Warrior Irish. I believed that the market was ready for a race of people, rather than particular battles. We sold out of the Irish in The American Civil War, French and Spanish Napoleonic. Today, our website still has the other sets available in small numbers now. We only produced 12 of a projected 50 sets we had researched. Wrong decision!