Well it is almost September and the Chicago Toy Soldier Show. One of the biggest plastic makers will not be there this year. If you have been collecting plastic toy soldiers over the last 20 years you probably heard of Toy Soldiers of San Diego or TSSD. When I first started looking for toy soldiers on the internet Nick was one of the first dealers that I found. I remember chatting with him about some hobby related topics and getting few things. He was very helpful.
Last year TSSD was sold to Dave & Kim Cook of https://micshaunscloset.com. They are now re-stocking older sets if you need something.
I had stopped collecting for a bunch of years and TSSD started producing their own plastic figures. A bunch of years later I started collecting again. This was around the time their Plains Indian Sets were being produced. The have always been a favorite of mine.
Last year I was planning on setting up to do an interview with Nick & DeAnna, but waited when I heard that they were talking about selling their company. Recently after purchasing some items from them we set up an interview.
Hi. Nick & DeAnna. It has been a pleasure to purchase your products over the years. I hope that both of your a doing well.
Warhorse Miniatures: I remember purchasing some things from you before you started producing your own products. Can you tell us how you got started?
TSSD: Hello Mike.
I started collecting again, perhaps 25 plus years ago after seeing an ad in a civil war history magazine from “The Toy Soldier Company”. Then Conte Collectibles arrived on the scene. I had visited with Richard when he was still in Las Vegas. I was very impressed with what he had already done in the hobby and what he had planned to do.
I wished to design & manufacture figures at least as good as Conte Collectibles had already released. The two keys to our manufacturing success was the sculptor David Lea and Bill McMaster of BMC Toys. He introduced us to his Hong Kong connection for the manufacturing.
Warhorse Miniatures: You started producing plastic figures in the 1990’s. Your first sets were American Civil War figures. What was the main reason you started with this theme?
TSSD: DeAnna and I could not afford to “Lay an Egg” on our first attempt. So we went with something safe, the American Civil War. At the time, it seemed that the most popular historical period was the Civil War.
Warhorse Miniatures: You have produced figures from the Alamo, American Civil War, Cowboys & Indians, Romans & Barbarians, Vietnam War and World War II themes. If you were going to start making figures in new theme, what would that be?
TSSD: Perhaps World War One. There are so many different ways to go. WWI had everything from Cavalry to Tanks!
Warhorse Miniatures: It seems that the cost of producing plastic figures these days has really increased since when you first started. Can you give us your insight into this?
TSSD: It has been years since we first started manufacturing. I think it is logical to assume that all costs to produce new figure set would have increased by now. That being said, it still seems very reasonable to me. The key to keeping the costs down is to manufacture enough sets the first time out.
Warhorse Miniatures: My favorite sets that you produced were the American Indian sets. They are really great to paint too. What are some of your most favorite sets and why?
TSSD: I agree, David did a great job with the American Indians. I have always like the long coat winter Union Civil War Infantry. They are different from most other Civil War sets made by anyone. They came out very well and they also look great when painted.
Also our very first set the Civil War Confederates have always been some of my favorite figures. I remember when we first released set # 1 they were very well received. Collectors had really not seen anything like them at the time.
Warhorse Miniatures: Along the way you worked with Barzso Playsets and Paragon Scenics. Was there any other companies that you worked with or wanted to work with?
TSSD: It was really great teaming up with Ron Barzso on “The Road to Stalingrad” playset. It was a big hit!! Today if we were to make something new, I would like to team up with Ken Ciak the owner of LOD Enterprises. I like what he is doing and what he plans to do.
Warhorse Miniatures: What are some of your favorite things in your collection? And are you still collecting?
TSSD: My favorite TSSD set is Set # 1, the Civil War Confederates. The sculptor did an amazing job. I also named each figure pose, which people really enjoyed. To this day they still are a hit with collectors. Over 10,000 sets sold world wide!
I also really like some of our foam pieces. Most made by Gary Fournier in SoCal. The 12 pieces that we added to the “Conte Collectibles” Alamo are some of my favorites too. With the Conte pieces and the TSSD Alamo pieces & TSSD Chapel building. You can easily make a great looking Alamo diorama.
Today I mostly collect “King & Country” metal figures. Years ago we were also a metal dealer. I have some metal figure sets from K & C, Frontline, Conte, W. Britain and other older companies.
Warhorse Miniatures: If there was one more set of toys soldiers or a foam piece that you could make what would it be?
TSSD: I would like to do something different. Like “The Charge of the Light Brigade” or If money was no object a Massive “Picketts Charge” type of playset or similar!
Warhorse Miniatures: One of the reasons you retired was because of your health. How are you feeling these days?
TSSD: I’m doing ok. I had a stroke several years ago. Plus several other heath issues since then. I feel lucky to still be here and still a part of the hobby. My Amazing wife DeAnna has been through all of this with me as well, Unfortunately! DeAnna ran TSSD while I still had my real job and she learned the business. She has done a Great job.
Warhorse Miniatures: Your journey in this business has been an inspiration to me, the Cooks and to others. What advise would you give to any one thinking about trying start there own toy soldier company?
TSSD: I would say “Go For It!!” Make a good business plan and follow it. Find the best sculptor that you can. It all starts there. Visit with other toy soldier companies as well. I wish everyone working in the hobby and anyone wanting to manufacture all the Best & Good Luck.
Warhorse Miniatures: Thanks again for taken your time in answering the questions. Would you like to share anything with the collectors?
TSSD: I would like to Thank Everyone in this Great Hobby that helped us and supported us all these years. And I want to Thank my business partner & Wife who made all this possible! DeAnna has been the perfect “Toy Soldier Wife” and business partner!
Thank you everyone and keep on collecting!!
FORMERLY ‘TOY SOLDIERS OF SAN DIEGO
Well that concludes the interview. Thank you Nick & DeAnna for all everything you have done for the hobby. Now we will start with some news.
Ed Borris has acquired these original Barzso sculpts that were never made. He has plans to have them cast for a limited run mini set. These were supposed to go with the Bushy Run set Ed says.
I read on Stad’s page that X-Force is getting ready to release a medieval set again. Here are what look like some peasant militia. You can read more over here, Stad’s Stuff.
I recently got these Mars World War II Japanese Paratrooper from Kent of Toy Soldier HQ. You can check out his page over here, http://toysoldierhq.com/. He also sells on eBay, Kent on eBay. Mars is getting better with there sets. I would give them a B for this set. The grade of B is mainly for a missed opportunity of this set being so much better.
I like the subject matter and most of the poses they did chose. The main thing that I dislike is the scale of these figures. If they were just a little thicker, it would have been a great set. They do look good when you mix them in with Marx & MPC Japanese figures. MPC is there best match. Some of the Marx figures look ok mixed, some not that good. TSSD are bigger that these figures and Airfix are thicker. Like the Marx figures, the Airfix figures look ok with some poses and not that good with others.
Some of the figures look clean and some less. You can see what I am talking about by looking at the pictures. The weapons look better than the earlier Japanese set. For the price it is worth getting to add these figures to you vintage Banzai!!!
It has been a busy summer with work. I have picked up a few more figure sets and playsets the last couple of months. While writing this article I purchased the TSSD/Barzso “The Road To Stalingrad” playset, lol. In my next post I hope to have some pictures of the things that I have been getting. Plus a few more reviews of new or older products. That is it for now. Thank you for reading.