This trade name possibly represents one of the largest Lead Toy manufacturers in New Zealand, but so far we have been totally unable to identify the firm's full name, address, or even in what area or period they operated.
Most figures are three dimensional and solid, and it would appear that the moulds were made here in New Zealand. Some of the more exotic pieces, especially in the larger sets, have several semi-flat models.
Judging by the soldier packs, usually of six pieces per carton, the uniform is clearly 'battledress' of World War II vintage.
The insistent inclusion of a gas-mask chest pack may indicate they were designed pre-war by a year or two at most. What does seem a little strange is the sword hanging on the left of the officers in khaki!
The heavy machine gun on a tripod looks a little pre-war-ish, but by far the most puzzling manifestation is the set of the same men in battledress, painted in red and blue.
This is a colour scheme that could be 19th century. These are obviously playthings for children and not representative of any special regiments!
Maybe it was just a sales ruse to make a bigger variety and a larger catalogue. Assuming the two colours were across the range, there could well be sixteen sets, plus the similar sized box of six motorcyclists. These last were about the same scale of the foot soldiers, about 50 mm, three dimensional, and quite solid. The absence of mudgards and the bright colours used suggest racing bikes rather than military.
The attractive cartons were made by Johnson Packaging Limited, which again suggests the mid 1930s. The Guardsman and Highlander seem to be ill fitted for modern warfare and better suited for ceremonial parades.
If there are boxed sets of these two with others of their type, it would be most interesting. All figures were firmly held to the cardboard backing with stout rubber bands.
Farm Animals Set
It appears that the large boxed series commenced with the Farm Animals. The picture with gently rolling hills, farm house, a cow and a horse make an attractive rural scene even if it is English! The inter-locking cardboard fence is quite innovative, even though totally out of scale with the five-bar gates and the other figures.
While some of the models are clearly of the semi-flat overseas type, the horses and cow, milkmaid and poultry, look suspiciously similar to the Playtime equivalents,. We don't know whether one copied the other, or whether both copied the same original, but the reuslt is a good old-fashioned English farmyard - complete with an 'ex-pat' scarecrow!
Zoo Animals Set
Another set uses the same box and tranquil picture including the inter-locking cardboard fence, but has a piece of red paper pasted across the 'Farm animals,' replacing them with 'Zoo animals.'
Again the semi-flats dominate the set but, like the Playtime hippopotamus and walrus, the seal and the penguin are copies of overseas hollow three dimensioal models.
This is the third option with the same box but no fences. It is the same rural scene, but this time a blue strip covers the 'Farm animals,' and records 'Aircraft set' in suitable blue letters.
Three single engine fighter planes are fairly reminiscent of the Spitfire, and there are five twin engine fighter-bombers of unknown breed, as well as two twin fuselage planes, also of doubtful origin. The colours are variable if not suitable, and the four well clad airmen (either directing a landing or waving 'goodbye') complete the set. All figures are solid and three dimensional.
These boxes of charming lead toys are not unknown on the New Zealand collector scene, but whereabouts in our little country were they made? And by whom?
Someone must surely know something of the origins of this innovative toy manufacturer, and we would love to hear from anyone about them.
- Barry Young, 2002