Monday, July 22, 2013

132 Roman Soldiers!

Inside of a lot of comic books,way  back when, were these enticing ads depicting battlefields full of struggling soldiers, cavalry, tanks, airplanes, battleships, etc. And all for just a few bucks, something a 70's/80's kid on a meager allowance could afford!

I ordered several packs of these over the years. At first, I can remember them being sort of underwhelming; the were sort of thin or flat, nearly two-dimensional, compared to the typical barrel-chested, dimestore, olive-drab army man. But they sort of grew on you - it was easy to line up impressive ranks of them across from you friend's battle lines.

A few years back I traveled back home to FL to visit my aging grandparents. In the spare room I slept in I discovered a single yellow roman legionnaire inside a long-unused ashtray, a strangely poignant memento of long childhood summers lost to time. Last spring I traveled there again, this time, sadly, for a funeral, and discovered another gladius-wielding bravo hidden near the couch I slept on.

I have to wonder how many more of those brave fellows are still hiding in my grandparents' soon-to-be empty house, having waited so patiently in ambush these last thirty-odd years?




14 comments:

  1. I was always intrigued by these ads.

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    1. As a child I remember being burned by the "100pc Toy Soldier" add (I'm sure way back then I never noticed the dimensions for the box clearly listed under the footlocker). What a disappointment went it finally came in the mail. All 100 pieces where flats and fit in that tiny box

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  3. I always wanted these when I was a kid, but never got them. I probably spent more time drooling over comic book ads than reading the comic books.

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  4. I imagine the solder by the ash tray saying, "Do me eyes deceive me? No! They do not! The general has returned! Orders, my lord!"

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  5. Man, I remember these EXACT ads. What memories, really a trip through time.

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  6. Wow, this is a real nostalgia trip. I didn't own the Romans set, but I had the Toy Soldier and Fighting Ships sets. I don't know how many hours I spent playing with these when I was a kid (but it was a lot).

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  7. These ads always made me want to buy them but for some reason I never did. Back then I had a serious G.I. Joe addiction (the big guys, not the tiny ones)and they were $2 each at the local department store. With allowance and doing extra chores I could afford to get one a month but it curtailed my spending on these back of the comic ads in my older brothers comics.

    Good times man, good times.

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  8. I totally got these and spent untold hours on the livingroom floor with the blue legion battling the yellow. They spent a few decades in storage only to return to active duty about 3 years ago -- I mounted them on cardboard bases in units ("sagitarii", "velites", etc) developed a simple table-top wargame (sort of DBA-lite) and taught my middle school students to play!

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    1. Very cool that some of these noble citizen-soldiers are still on active duty!

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  9. The 100 piece "foot locker" soldiers were indeed flats, and not of any consistent scale, which disappointed me enormously when I was a kid. The Roman legionnaires, however, were conventional vinyl-molded toy soldiers, though very small -- maybe 15mm. I had them and a similar set of comic book-advertised revolutionary war solders. Unfortunately, their small size meant that 10 year-old me lost them rapidly. I rather wish I'd kept them together, since they'd have made pretty good budget wargaming miniatures as Sawdust notes, above.

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  10. I think we ordered all of these. I think the only regular ad you're missing is the revolutionary war soldiers. I think those were the ones which convinced us to order the others, because they were three dimensional. Maybe in HO scale?

    I know the hard plastic ones suffered attrition, largely due to my brother and I inventing a crude war game which involved shooting rubber bands and throwing mini-pool balls at the opposing forces.

    They were always mere auxiliaries to regular soldiers, and later for actual Ho scale soldiers.

    I still have a small plastic highlander somewhere, a souvenir of my earliest D&D games, before we even knew they sold figures.

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