Lone Star Part 1 – Origins & the Wild West
Lone Star is probably best known for its die-cast models and trains but was a key maker of plastic toy soldiers and figures in the 1950’s through to its demise in 1983. The figures were made for it by the Harvey Toy Company Ltd another of the subsidiaries owned by D.C.M.T Ltd – Die Cast Machine Tools Ltd who were the owners of the Lone Star brand.
Harvey Lead Indian 1950’s
From 1945, D.C.M.T. produced steel moulds for various toys on behalf of ‘The Crescent Toy Co. Ltd’ but In 1949, the partnership which D.C.M.T. had with ‘The Crescent Toy Co. Ltd.’ ceased, probably due to the fact that ‘Crescent’ moved from London to a new factory in South Wales. Harry Eagles (known as Harvey) the son of Crescent Founder Henry Eagles decided to stay in London and set up a new firm “The Harvey Toy Company” making lead toys including toy soldiers and figures.
Information on the next stage of development is scarce but at some time D.C.M.T acquired the Harvey Toy Company. Eventually they started to produce plastic figures under the Lone Star Brand marked “Harvey Series” and these are what we will focus on in this 3 part introduction post to Lone Star figures.
D.C.M.T carried on making toys under a nondescript brand-name “Slikka” but in 1951 they changed the brand “Lone Star” to meet the demand for toys becoming popular from the large number of Western films coming out of Hollywood. Lone Star are of course very well know for the huge range of western and space themed die-cast toy cap guns. Over 200 of these toy guns were produced between 1949 and 1988 and they are actively collected. I listed a few on eBay a few years ago and they were withdrawn. As you may know eBay don’t allow the sales of firearms and that extends to replica weapons. Of course the Lone Star toys are mere gap guns but part of the attraction for kids was that they looked like a real gun and the die-cast composition gave it some weight. I remember several from my childhood and the good build quality means that they still turn up all the time.
Lone Star in the 50’s
Lone Star Annual featuring Cowboy Steve Larrabee
Lone Star didn’t just make figures and toy guns related to Cowboys they went much further that any other British toy maker churning a whole range of western themed toys including the aforementioned die-cast guns, cowboy outfits, annuals and comics. In 1952 the hired an ex army actor called Roy Green to become the face of Lone Star called Cowboy “Steve Larrabee” and he stayed with the company until the early sixties. They even had a touring company which included green going around the country promoting “Lone Star” the brand … perhaps you remember it?
The Figures – Part 1
Firstly a reminder that these posts are not a definitive view on any of the makers but simply a personal introduction to some of the figures they produced and a chance for me to post up some photos of the figures I have acquired and sold over the last few years. It’s pretty easy to find Lone Star as they turn up all over the place and can be easily identified. They are generally marked on the base with Lone Star and Harvey series as well as an identification number. The base is also a very specific shape (for the majority of figures) which makes identification easy.
Plastic Warriors excellent Lone Star special covers the identification and marking of the lone star figures in some detail and its worth stating here that a typical lack of consistency exists in how the figures are numbered. I’m not going to cover the reference numbers here.
So where do you begin? Let’s begin this series of posts with a western themed post.
A number of figures some based on the excellent Herald ( which we will cover later on ) cowboys and Indians.
The Bucking Bronco Figure
One of the great english plastic wild west figures from the period . I have only every found a broken one so here’s a photo of a complete figure from a site by plastic collector Brian Carrick.( Courtesy of http://home.freeuk.net/toysoldier/wildwest.htm )
Davy Crockett & the Western Sets
These are scarcer but Davy Crockett turns up a fair bit and here he is below. There were three sets which included western children , animals and a bear. A few lower res pics of the children from Brian Carrick site. ( Courtesy of http://home.freeuk.net/toysoldier/wildwest.htm )
The Lone Ranger and Tonto
These figures turn up a lot but are often found with broken limbs due to the poses. If you are lucky you might find the arm or leg in the bottom of the box and repair the figure. They came with separate Horses which again turn up (often with the figures as you would expect) but seem to suffer from broken or lost tails and broken legs.
A great figure on a separate horse. I was lucky to find a very good condition figure with his horse last year and here he is. This was issued at the time of the films from the late 50’s starring Guy Williams and the 13 episode TV series that ran around the same time. The tail is used to balance the figure in the classic Zorro rearing pose.
So that’s it for the first post on Lone Star . Coming up in part 2. Knights, Medieval, Afghans, Royal Navy and Frogmen.