Sunday 10 February 2013

Quo Vadis Romans

Continuing the occasional series of pictures of Toy Soldiers.

This set of 54mm figures are an early example of miniatures as a movie tie-in. Produced in 1951 by John Hill and Co the 'Quo Vadis' Roman Set was created to coincide with the release of the film the same year. Quo Vadis was an MGM film directed by Mervyn LeRoy and was adapted from Henryk Sienkiewicz's 1896 novel also of the same name. This was an 'epic' as only Hollywood could do it and stared Robert Taylor, Deborah Kerr, Leo Genn and Peter Ustinov.

John Hill and Co was originally started in 1898 by a former employee of Britain's. They were the first British hollowcast figure company to sell their figures individually in shops like Woolworths. These figures however were sold as a boxed set containing a Chariot, charioteer, four (possibly more) Roman soldiers and a smaller size Lion and Tiger. They were cast in lead and sold as a children's toy rather than as a collectible, something that would be unthinkable today. The firm was late converting to plastic figures and although they did release plastics from 1956 onwards they ceased trading in the early 1960's.

These can be viewed at the House on the Hill Toy MuseumStansted Mountfitchet.


  1. Nice bit of history there, they look like they were well used in their day


  2. I've seen individual examples in much better condition but not so many in one place. The Toy Museum in Stanstead Mountfitchet is well worth a visit although their labeling of exhibits could be a little better (and more comprehensive). I defy anyone to go there and not at some point say "I had one of those!". Very much a walk down memory lane for those of us of a certain age.

  3. Anyone actually play with these back in the day?


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