Wend-Al of Blandford
The story of Wend-al aluminium figures is a typical British post WW2 entrepreneurial story of how an individual came to recognise a business opportunity that then thrived for some time only to eventually come to demise in a relatively short period. Cheaper and more advanced plastic production techniques made what was effectively a specialist cottage industry redundant but for a time this little company produced some great output that is sought after by collectors
Philip Deans book on Wend-al aluminium toys is an essential read to get a much more in-depth social history of this company, its operations from the English Village of Blandford and great stories of the characters that ran the company and produced these great figures. The small book (packed with info and colour photos of all the figures) is often on sale on eBay at around £15-20 but can also be purchased from Amazon.
Edgar Kehoe had been looking for a business opportunity after the war had ended while in France he came across a company called Quiralu making toys out of Aluminium. Recognising that this material would be stronger and less likely to break than hollowcast lead (plastic was also very much on the horizon) he struck a deal with the French to start using the moulds in England making toys soldiers and animals.
Production commenced in 1946 and soon was a great success. This led to Wend-al creating its own figures. The figures were generally identified by having a paper label on the base. As you can imagine these came off over time but as Wend-al were the only English aluminium figure make of any note during this period identification is fairly easy as of course they are much lighter than hollowcast or other metals.
Broadly Wend-al output can be divided into three areas – Toy town – Very traditional young child’s figures, 54mm painted toy soldiers and animals (zoo and farm). They also made farm vehicles (carts etc.) and in a larger scale a muffin the mule figure.
More pics to follow soon….