Caballeros from Spain
Reamsa was a Spanish maker who began producing plastic toy soldiers in the 1950s. Their figures were never very well distributed in the United States, where Marx, Ideal, and TimMee ruled the five-and-dime stores, but plastics collectors have come to appreciate them and seek them out. Reamsa recasts can now be found from a variety of sources.
The extensive Reamsa list included several ranges of interest to medieval enthusiasts, although the King Arthur knights, the Richard the Lionheart knights, and the El Cid knights resembled each other so much they all might have come from the same castle.
There were also Moors to fight El Cid, a line of knights in heavy armor, various crusaders, and an excellent and original William Tell range that included the fat lord shown here.
Reamsa figures are easily confused with those of Jecsan, another Spanish maker. There is a strong similarity in styles, and some of the poses are so close that one suspects both companies were using the same sculptors.
Prince Arne and His Lil’ Twin
The Reamsa figures were not all as original as might be wished, alas. Reamsa’s entire “medieval court” range consisted of copies of figures originated by the French toymaker Starlux, and some of their other knights were “borrowed” from poses created by Hausser Elastolin of Germany. On the left stands Prince Arne of Ord, from Hausser’s well known Prince Valiant range. On the right is Reamsa’s copy. The German version is 70mm in hard plastic, the Spanish 60mm in soft plastic.
El Cid and Friends
Jecsan was another Spanish toymaker, seemingly a competitor of Reamsa, but their figures were so much alike that even experienced collectors often have difficulty telling one from the other at first glance. Like Reamsa, Jecsan produced an El Cid range, complete with Christian knights and Moorish adversaries. They also made crusaders, conquistadors, and soldiers from many other periods, all in 60mm soft plastic.
Jecsan recasts are still widely available today. These Jecsan knights were among the first I bought when I started collecting in 1996. They were also among the first I painted, and it shows.
Valor with a Cup O’ Joe
Cafe Storme was a Belgian coffee company. In the late 1960s, several French companies were promoting their coffee by putting a plastic toy soldier in every can. Cafe Storme did the same. Their range was designed by Eugene Leliepvre, who drew on French and Belgian history for most of his subjects. The medieval figures were especially well done, I think, and rank among the finest plastic toy knights ever produced. Made of a hard gray plastic, Storme’s “coffee can” figures were issued unpainted, but they paint up beautifully, as witness these examples. Starbucks, please take note.