Monday, May 08, 2006

toybot studios Spotlight: The East of India Company

As I was doing a bit of research on the legendary toy photographer David Levinthal, it prompted me to check out some of the toy soldiers that he so deftly captured on film and brought to life. Collecting, painting and setting up toy soldiers has been around since forever and waaaaay before any of the Japanese mecha so prominently featured on toybot studios. So, I thought it would be interesting to take a quick departure and take a closer look at this very interesting toy genre. David Levinthal took his photos and was made famous by his "Hitler Moves East" series which depicted Nazi toy soldiers in full battle maneuvers. He also took photos of American Cowboys and Indians toys as well as Baseball figures. All very cool, but not really my cup of tea. I remember seeing the same kind of metal toy soldiers, but of very detailed Samurai! I was now on a mission to find the best manufacturer of these highly detailed and pre-painted Samurai toy soldiers. As I looked on the internet, all roads seemed to point back to a company called The East of India Company
who specializes in asian toy soldiers and in particular, Samurai and Japanese soldiers from the Shogun era. From their website:

The East of India Company was formed in Hong Kong in the summer of 1999 and is dedicated to the production of 54mm connoisseur style metal figures from countries "East of India". Our first range, "The Shogun Collection", was officially launched in February 2000 and comprises of an extensive collection of hand cast miniature figures from the Warring States Period of Japanese history. Our second range, "The Colonial Collection", covering the wars in China, India and Africa in the late 19th century was launched in April 2002.

Initially "The Colonial Collection" will be based around the theme of the Boxer Rebellion in China of 1900 but throughout future years more armies will be added to take the action further afield. The range is designed to be completely interchangeable, allowing the collector to pick and choose who fights who in any display. to be constructed. The Japanese and Russian forces, for example, can be matched against the Chinese to recreated the campaign of 1900 but equally well they can fight each other for the Russo-Japanese war of 1904/1905. In a similar way the American troops can be used for the actions in the Philippines and in Puerto Rico.

The figures in the collections are now designed "in house" and then sculpted by our craftsman in Hong Kong. The masters are then sent to our factory in China for the manufacture of molds and the initial trial castings. These castings are then sent to painters for the creation of the first painted painted figure which is sent back to us for approval. Once approved, the figures are returned to our factory and production of the sets commences. The whole process, from the design being delivered to the sculptor to the finished sets being returned, takes about 6 months. In addition all our painted sets come with an enclosed certificate and are packaged in a specially manufactured Japanese style box designed to compliment these collections.

Next week, I will be visiting a store that features these East of India figures as well as all kinds of other collectible figures called Sierra Toy Soldier Company. Their website is very nicely done and you can see toy soldiers from several historical periods. Check back next week for a detailed photo gallery and review of the store!

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