Keepers of the Flame
The Lord of Cincinatti
Historically most of the best toy knights and medieval miniatures have come out of Great Britian, part of the tradition established by Richard Courtenay and continued by Ping, Selwyn-Smith, Greenhill, and others. But in more recent years some wonderful miniaturists and heraldic painters have emerged on this side of the Atlantic as well.
One of the best and most profilic of them is Bob Hornung of Cincinnati, who designs, sculpts, casts, and paints all his own figures. I got my first Hornung knight back in 1996, when I first started collecting toy soldiers, and I have been adding more ever since.
Here are just a few examples of Bob’s work. Sir John Cheyne crosses swords with Sir Alan Boxhulle in one dramatic pairing. In the other we see Sir Walter Gloucester about to mount up for battle.
Jean, Duke of Brittany
This figure started life as one of the Knights of Agincourt series, designed by Roy-Selwyn Smith and issued by Britains until 1966. Here, however, the generic Britains figure has been converted and repainted by Tye Roberts.
Jean de Brabant
Brabant arrived late at Agincourt, and rushed into the battle without donning his proper heraldic trappings. Big mistake. When he was captured, the English did not realize who he was, and killed him instead of holding him for ransom. This Brabant is respendent in his own arms, however. Jacques Cuypers of Utah named his range of figures after his daughter. His Tiffany Soldiers are a bit larger in scale than Courtenays, and painted flamboyantly in a high gloss.
Mignot Marches On
The oldest toy soldier maker in the world is the French firm C.B.G. Mignot, which has been in continuous operation under a variety of names since it was first founded in Paris in 1785. Mignot is perhaps best known for its Napoleonic figures and its handsome “shadow box” miniature dioramas, but the company has also done some very nice medievals. Their current production includes a small range of tournament knights. This is one: Sir William de Saunford, accompanied by his page and trumpeter.