Britains Deetail toy soldiers were a popular product for retail stores in England in the 1970s and 1980s. Manufactured in England by W. Britain, they were plastic figures on Zamak metal bases; an idea to keep the soldiers from falling down. In the early 1990s production moved to China.
In 1971 Britains began phasing out its plastic Herald Miniatures that had been produced in Hong Kong since 1966 with Hong Kong Herald ceasing operation in 1976. The new Deetail figures were moulded in PVC plastic rather than polythene that enabled separate arms could be glued on giving poses previously unavailable. The rectangular metal base that enabled the figures to stand better than other plastic figures paid homage to Britains' metal figures as well as being thought by consumers to be of "better value" due to the weight of the figures.
The first figures chosen for Deetail were World War II American and German soldiers. Sculptor Rod Cameron rented uniforms from Berman's and Nathan's theatrical costumes with Cameron giving model Les Harden his air rifle to pose with.
In 1976 Britains developed Super Deetail, an overmoulding process where different coloured plastics came together in one figure. The first of these were a set of modern paratroopers in red berets, though the first set of figures that included walking with a rifle and holding a light machine gun were redesigned into different poses.
Britains toy soldiers are still manufactured, but in different poses, colours, and qualities. Most Britains copies made today have plastic bases, and therefore weigh much less than the older ones.
Britains Deetail figures now range in price from about £3.50-£6.50 for figures (twice this amount if mounted), to about £12.50-£25.00 for vehicles. The ones that are more rare, such as the Afrika Korps Kubelwagen or the Napoleonic ones, usually bring even more than that.
- French - 3 French Line Infantry, 3 Imperial Guards, 3 Cavalry (1 Hussar, 1 Cuirassier & 1 Carabinier)
- British - 3 British Infantry, 3 Highland Infantry, 3 Cavalry (1 Hussar, 1 Scots Grey & 1 Heavy Dragoon)
- Knights of the Sword
- Robin Hood
- US GI's (6 Infantry, Willys Jeep w/ 2 man crew, Assault craft w/ 2 man crew)
Series Manufactured 1971-1980
- US GI's (6 Infantry, Recoilless Rifle w/ 2 man crew, Motorcycle w/ dispatch rider, PAK howizter)
Series Manufactured 1980-1989
- German Wehrmacht (12 Infantry, Mortar w/ 2 man crew, Motorcycle w/ dispatch rider, Motorcycle w/ sidecar - armed w/MG, Kettenkrad w/ 2 men, Kubelwagen w/ 2 men - armed w/MG, PAK 40)
German Wehrmacht infantry
The German infantry were produced in 2 series all with the Wehrmacht insignia stickers on their helmets.
1st Series Manufactured 1971-1989
Six figures which initially had yellow/brown bases, 1974 onwards saw them fixed to the more familiar green base. The poses are kneeling with MG34, charging with fixed bayonet, standing throwing grenade, standing firing rifle, advancing firing MP40, carrying a Panzerbüchse anti-tank gun and ammo box.
2nd Series Manufactured 1977-1989
Another six new figures were added in 1977 making the total number of poses 12. The poses are officer, radio operator, kneeling firing rifle, marching with rifle at slope (copyright 1977), flamethrower, carrying Panzerbüchse anti-tank gun across body. Both series remained in production until 1989. Some collections contain an additional 2 figures being those from the mortar team on single bases, these are used with the Pak field gun.
|Pak gun crew||Mortar crew||Pak anti tank gun|
- German Afrika Korps (6 Infantry, Motorcycle w/Dispatch Rider), Motorcycle w/sidecar, 2 crew - armed w/MG, Kubelwagen w/2 crew - armed w/MG
- British ETO (6 Infantry, Mortar w/ 2 man crew, Motorcycle w/ dispatch rider, Daimler Scout car w/ 2 man crew, 17 lb AT gun, 25 lb AT gun, Assault boat w/ 2 man crew)
Series Manufactured 1973-1989
- British Desert Rats 8th Army (6 Infantry, Vickers machine gun w/2 crew, Daimler Scout car w/2 crew)
- Japanese Army (6 Infantry, Recoilless Rifle w/ 2 man crew)
Series Manufactured 1972-1980
Series Manufactured 1972-1980
Cowboys & Indians
- p.121 Cole, Peter Suspended Animation: An Unauthorised History of Herald & Britains Plastic Figures 1997 Plastic Warrior
- p.123 Ibid
- p.124 Ibid
- Pullen, David Britains Toy Model Catalogues 1970 to 1979 Veloce (July 15, 2010)