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Saturday, March 3, 2012

A word about shipping Toy Soldiers

I had been looking for Lone Star British Red Berets for a while. Some weeks ago I got a hold of some of them on eBay, but they did not contain all the poses. Then I got lucky and found another 4 figures with 2 more of poses that I was missing. Even though the shipping and handling from the UK to the US was several times the cost of the figures, I thought it was worth it. Can you imagine my disappointment when several days later I received the figures and they were all broken?

These are just the larger pieces. There were several other really small parts.
What bothered me the most was not the money aspect, but that the weeks I had spent hunting them down might have been for nothing and also the fact that a collectible item of which there are only so many left in the world had been permanently damaged. Even if you manage to glue them, they are no longer the same. And I have to admit that I was not very optimistic about being able to put them back together. Recently I had attempted to glue a Crescent guy who had his head break off. I tried several types of glue: Elmer's glue, modeling cement, a glue gun, and nothing worked.

So this is what happened. Instead of shipping the figures in a box as it's usually done, the seller sent them in a paper envelope.

I am not talking about one of those thick envelopes that has some padding inside. This was a home made envelope, made out of thin wrapping paper and brown tape.

The only protection, a thin layer of bubble wrap. No wonder the figures got crushed in transit! So if you ever ship toy soldiers through the mail, this is a cautionary tale about how NOT to pack them. To the seller's credit, he refunded me the cost of the whole purchase including that of another small item I had purchased from him at the same time.

So did gluing them back together work? So far it looks like they are holding up. I used UHU and it seemed to bond well with this type of plastic. You still notice where the seams are, if you know where to look, but I have to admit that they turned out better than I expected. Once they are painted and covered in the protective coats, including the Plasti-dip rubber cover I think they will have a better chance of staying in one piece. So it looks like we dodged that bullet!

Now, here is a good example of how it should be done!
A couple days ago I received this package with 5 toy soldiers. Notice how first of all the package is all wrapped in brown tape.

The next layer is a shipping envelope of the kind that is padded with bubble wrap inside.

Inside the envelope were two cardboard boxes, one inside the other, with tape around the outer box.

The inner box was filled with lots of bits of shredded paper, thickly packed.

Within the shredded paper were the figures, each of them wrapped individually in enough bubble wrap to go around them several times over.

Inside the bubble wrap, 5 Cherilea Sikh Infantry in great condition!

Click here to see a post about Indian Infantry


  1. The soldiers broke because the plastic has become fragile. This is a known danger which can occur in the long term through exposure to oxygen and possibly ultra violet. Google for more info.

  2. Exactly. That's why we need to pack these old guys carefully...

  3. Yes, but they probably had no idea that the plastic was brittle. It wouldn't normally be a problem with soft plastic soldiers as they have give in them. Have a look at

  4. Thanks for sharing that post. I have been aware for a while that old plastic becomes brittle, but that post does a good job explaining why. And now I realize why it was so hard to glue them back together!