Friday, November 15, 2013

#348 ELASTOLIN – ROMAN SOLDIERS (Around 1960)



Elastolin is the trademark used for figures made of plastic and other materials by the company O & M Haußer.

This company was founded in Ludwigsburg, Germany in 1910, when the brothers Otto and Max Haußer took over an existing warehouse called Müller and Freyer and started with the production of board games and figures. Most figures were initially soldiers and military figures, made of a mixture of sawdust, contact glue, a protein named Casein and a clay mineral named Kaolinite. These figures were similar to those made on lead, that were very popular during the past centuries. Once the figures were ready, they were hand painted.


The name Elastolin would extend to all figures of its kind, even if they were made by other companies.

The name of the company was changed to O & M Haußer in 1912. Since 1910, they kept the name of the old warehouse they had taken over. After the First World War, in 1925, they released one of their first successful products: a card game named “Elfer Raus”, which still nowadays can be found in toy stores. Shortly afterwards, in 1930, started the production of figures, which saw a great increment in sales during the 30s: from half a million units sold in 1930 to more than 3 million in 1939.

 Roman musicians: Trumpet & Horn

During those years the company changed their site/factory from Ludwigsburg to Neustadt bei Coburg, where a much bigger factory was bought from another company, where up to 1000 people worked daily. The production of toys was stopped during World War II.

In 1946 or 1947, the production of toys would start again. Their composite figures were leading the market, since the materials were more stable, resistant as well as easier and cheaper to manufacture. These were hand painted.

 
 4 different Roman spearmen
 
In 1955, hard polystyrene plastic was introduced, although the composite described above was still being used, and both materials were used in parallel. From these years are the popular Vikings, Romans and Normans figures.

In 1969, the production changed to another type of figures, made of different parts of unpainted plastic (no longer composite), which assembled together gave the impression of being (at least partially) painted. This way, the costs of hand painting the figures were spared almost completely. Still some parts of these plastic pieces were painted to give the figures more realism, although this was very rare.

These figures followed the trend established by Timpo Toys. This kind of figures is called in German “Steckfiguren”.

 Roman swordmen

Unfortunately, Hausser went bankruptcy in 1983, and the company was closed after so many years of producing many great figures in different materials and sizes. Some possible explanations for that, is that figures were already a bit old in comparison with new articulated figures like Playmobil, and children were not attracted anymore to them, another reason could be that war, soldiers, weapons and everything related to them were turning more and more unpopular in Germany, so the sales just kept on decreasing. Additionally, the prices of plastic were on a high at the beginning of the 80s.

The trademark was bought by Paul M. Preiser and it is still used for collector’s figures and accessories. “Elastolin/Preiser” is the current brand, and can be found in specialized retailers.

 Roman centurion and swordman

I think this figure belongs to the medieval series, sorry!
These are some pictures I took in a Lego diorama, Maybe it is not the best you can find, but it is cool to take pictures with the macro function of the camera.










See more Elastolin figures HERE.


FACTS and FIGURES:
  • Name: Various Romans soldiers
  • Year: Around 1960
  • Company: Elastolín (a.k.a. Hausser) (Germany)
  • Size of the figures: 4 cm

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