W. Britain LimitedThe most famous toy soldier company of all time is how the company is touted and with W. Britain still going strong over 100 years later, the description certainly fits.
William Britain produced mechanical toys in the late 19th century, but the turning point was in 1893 when he "cracked the hollowcast toy soldier process".
The company continually produced the miniature metal soldiers, except for time-outs during the two world wars, until 1966 when plastics took over. It wasn't until 1983 that the next all-metal figure made a return back to the Britains line-up.
W.Britain Recent Company Timeline
- 1984: The original Britain family sold the company to The Dobson Park Group.
- 1986: Name was changed in Britain Petite Ltd.
- 1993: The W. Britain Centenary (collector club) was started and is still in existence.
- 1997: The Ertl Company purchased the company from The Dobson Park Group.
- 1999: The entire Ertl company was purchased by the larger US toy company Racing Champions.
- 2005: First Gear, a small family-owned diecast company located in the United States, purchased the W. Britain company.
W.Britain - Today
W. Britain basically makes two different size miniature figures:
- A 54mm glossy finished piece that is considered the classic Britain. It's the same size as it was 100 years ago. The figures made in this size are considered the classic figures.
- There also is a 56mm piece that has a matte finish and is more realistic.
Look for stock pieces as well as occasional limited edition pieces that sell out quickly.