What’s the Deal With Army Men?

These small, plastic pieces of fun, usually sold by the bag or barrel, have been around since the late 1930s. These traditional American toys came in green, tan, or grey representing opposing forces. Equipped with an array of World War II error weapons, Army Men are a true blast to the past.

Bergen Toy & Novelty Company were the original manufacturers in 1938. The standard green color represented the United States Army uniforms at the time. In the early 1950s, Louis Marx and Company began selling boxed set of figurines and accessories called playsets. These sets were labeled “US Army Training Center” and “Battleground.” Later, in the 1960, the Multiple Plastics Corporation began color coordinating figures to reflect enemy and alliance lines during the second world war.

Army Men sales gradually started to decline in the 1970s in conjunction with the unpopularity of the Vietnam War. Additionally, the higher prices of plastic from the 1973 oil crisis made the toys even more expensive to purchase.

Today, most Army Men are manufactured in China. They are roughly one inch high and don fewer accessories than before. Because of their popularity, they were featured in the 1995 film Toy Story and even received a 1998 video game series appropriately titled Army Men.