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Sunday, January 31, 2016

Jean Hoefler - Figures

Jean Hoefler is a German firm started in Furth, Germany in 1923. It was founded by three brothers, George, Leonard, and Johann Höfler - it is not clear to me where the name Jean comes from. The firm had its origins in the manufacturing of sheet metal products, and while the other two brothers broke away to produce other consumer goods and tools, Johann focused on making tin toys. In the 50's, Johann's son Ernst took over and shortly after moved away from tin into plastic. The range of toys that they produced was large, and it's possible that they are better known for their cars, than their toy soldiers, particularly the red, ride-on 'bobby' car. In terms of toy soldiers, they covered a good range of periods, such as medievals -including some nice siege machines-, cowboys and indians, US Cavalry, Napoleonics, Astronauts, and of course, some WWII figures. They seem to have been popular during the 80's when they were one of the few firms making these figures. In terms of WWII figures in particular, I am only aware of their US GIs. Let's take a look at them.

Jean Hoefler US Infantry
These are five out of the eight poses made by Jean Hoefler. I have also seen them in dark green plastic. The missing guys are a bazooka man, a heavy machine gunner, and an officer leading on his men. The sculpting is fairly good, both in terms of the level of detail and the movement in the poses - aside from the guy who is just standing around. I don't know if the figures came factory-painted or if a prior owner painted them. Overall a nice set. It would have been nice if they had made some Germans to go against them. Being a German firm, it's likely that they decided to side-step that land mine. 


  1. Also made AFV's Kuvazsleepybear.

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  3. The company name come from funder name Johann Hoefler, company name was change to "BIG" in 1962.
    The German WW2 pose sets were cast and samples made ,never produced to avoid political issues. It consist of 8 poses in winter uniform.
    few sampletest exist in the world by very hard core collectors.
    However Elastolin Hauser is only German company that did produced all German WW2 sets and soldiers in the 70 and 40 mm scale in plastic from 1960 till 1990 by using a factory in the French colony island of(Mauritania) to avoid violation of German made toy regarding WW2 era Nazi toys being made in German territory.

    Time line of former Jean Hoefler company later BIG.
    •1938: Founding of the Johann Höfler Metallspielwarenfabrik
    •1954: Graduate engineer Ernst A. Bettag takes over Fürth-based metal working factory Johann Höfler. 1.2 million of his first metal car, "Racing Car", are sold within a year.
    •1956: Bettag switches to plastic and invents ride-on vehicles.
    •1962: The company is renamed BIG-Spielwarenfabrik.
    •1966: The buffalo, the heraldic animal of the brand, adorns a product for the first time.
    •1972: The first BIG-BOBBY-CAR is presented at the International Toy Fair in Nuremberg.
    •1984: A phenomenal 281,581 BIG dominos fall down in a row in front of a live camera – a record that sets a sales wave in motion. In the same year, the "Peppermint Hula" rekindles Hula Hoop fever.
    •1985: Children‘s tractor BIG John is the first pedal vehicle in the world with a realistically working front shovel.
    •1998: A fire destroys the BIG factory in Fürth.
    •1999: The new BIG production headquarters are built within just 16 months in Burghaslach.
    •2003: Ernst A. Bettag passes away.
    •2004: The SIMBA DICKIE GROUP takes over BIG-Spielwarenfabrik. CEO Michael Sieber invests around ten million euros in Burghaslach in the years to follow.
    •2009: The range now comprises around 200 BIG toys.
    •2010: BIG launches colorful construction site vehicles and emergency vehicles with the line BIG-POWER-WORKER and extended the line 2014 with the BIG Maxi trucks, large play vehicles in original construction design. Robust quality specially designed for the ergonomics of small children‘s hands.
    Erwin Sell

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