Fun Ho! History

Other New Zealand Lead Toys

Preface to Lead Toys

Barry Young, 2003


These can be traced back to the 16th to 17th century, and were outlines of various figures, soldiers, tradesmen etc. They were cut out of sheets of tin or silver and bent at the base to 'stand up.'


These are figures of lead alloy which were poured into shallow moulds and painted. They were developed in Germany, adopted extensively and proliferated in the U.S.A.


Lead alloy is poured into a deep, fully three dimensional mould, and poured out again quickly, leaving a thin skin of metal which is then released from the mould. Wheels can be fitted, and the product painted.

Hollow figures

This is a sophisticated method of the slush moulding technique, very quick and economic. Used to great effect by Wm. Brittains of the U.K., the well known toy soldier manufacturer.

Lead die-casting

This is also similar to slush moulding, but the opening and closing of dies is mechanical, therefore it is neater, faster and more economical.

New Zealand solids

There are many indigenous lead figures, which are solid lead alloy, from moulds designed and made here in New Zealand. Fully three dimensional and attractively hand painted, they are very tough and long lasting. Like most lead figures, there are very few that are marked but they are easily recognised by their weight! It is the writer's opinion that N.Z.solid lead figures are among the most neglected and un-collected collectables in the country. Sadly, many have been lost as fishing 'sinkers'.

Lead Toy Manufacturers

Compiled by Barry Young, 2003

Date unknown.
16-17 different boxed sets, military, red and blue, khaki, all in solid NZ designed moulds. Three sets - Farm, Zoo and Aircraft, some semi-flats, some NZ solids.
Hand painted.

Date unknown.
About 100 different figures, in four groups, W - wild west, S - soldiers, J - jungle, F- farmyard, including a set of five pieces from each group. Solids and semi-flats. Mostly 48-55mm, some soldiers are smaller at 35-40mm.
Hand painted.

G.M.I. Ltd
Date unknown.
Sets of five and ten military figures Maori poi group, Maori war-party, and other figures, including boxed sets of Russian Light Infantrymen - called Military Mini range, all NZ solids.
Hand painted.

Date unknown.
Box 1793, Palmerston North.
Five or six military semi-flats, a little tall at 70mm, are known. A well known set of marching military bandsmen also semi-flats may belong. There are a number of 'colonial' figures, most of which were sold in kitset form, along with attractive individual boxes, complete with assembly instructions. These were all NZ solids, and made very attractive models.
All were unpainted.

Over 100 semi-flats, 10 slush-moulded wheeled toys. No 'sets' but some very interesting modifications made to the trousers and helmets of some moulds! It is believed that most, if not all moulds used came from U.S.A.
Officially all lead toys were hand painted.

Box 1793, Palmerston North.
Die-cast in lead alloy, similar to Tink-e-toys only two are known, a light van and a Lincoln Zephyr saloon.

Street Corner, Holborn Street, Auckland.
Slush-moulded in lead, these were distinctive because of their lead hubs, and large softish black rubber removable tyres. Wrapped in newspaper and stored in boxes for many years these often exhibit 'flat' tyres with a little bit of newspaper stuck to the 'flat'. A Fordson-like tractor and two racing cars are known to be made by Tommy Doo, who was an importer, manufacturer, and distributor of many products, including firecrackers!

TINK-E-TOYS, by Bruce Watt Ltd
Epsom, Auckland.
Die-cast lead toys and sundries. Tinplate wheels were extensively used, and the range of wheeled toys were of two or three different scales with wheels in the 19-25mm diameter range. Painted products included a number of camouflaged military vehicles.

Unpainted semi-flats sold "ex-car" by the manufacturer, who peddled his wares around the Toy shops and newsagents, as it suited him. No records of this gentleman, as he only sold for "cash".

These finely designed and presented solid Military pieces are a credit to their creator, Ex Marine Commando Angus Jones. No doubt among his favourites would be the Royal Marine Colour Party and the Royal Marine Military Band, but other figures made are also strictly ceremonial and detailed in every respect. For presentation and accuracy, Minerva products would be among the very best in the world today.

High precision NZ solids, with special attention paid to the correctness of the different regiments, uniform ranks colours, etc. All NZ solids, and hand painting is of the highest possible standard.

51 Main Street Greytown, Wairarapa.
Ian and Allan Farley, brothers from a local family started making sets of solid lead figures in 1992. Beautifully made, their emphasis has always been on New Zealand themes. They make their own moulds, and the products are sold separately or in sets. New Zealand Land war figures, and N.Z.Army personnel are well represented, as well as a wide range of U.S.Civil war figures. For those who like something a little different, there are also a number of civilian folk to choose from.

Visit the National Toy Museum in Taranaki

Opening hours 10.00am-4.00pm Monday-Friday 10.00am-2.00pm Saturday-Sunday-Public Holidays

Click here for more information and how to find us

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with stylesheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so. The latest version of Firefox, Safari, Google Chrome or Internet Explorer will work best if you're after a new browser.