Dated Jan 29, 1998
Updated Jan 30, Feb 03, 1998
The following is a contribution sent in from a frequent visitor, Arlin Tawzer. It the result of some research from the contributor and correspondence and conversations between him other collectors. "Since there is no definitive information from the company itself, much of the info comes from collector's memories or hearsay. Sometimes there is so much contradicting information that it's frustrating. As it is, much of the info will have to be vague and general. Other than the number and contents and figure and accys description, much of it might become useless."
Giant figures and accessories are some of the most sought after soft plastic HO scale or 1/72 scale figures in the hobby today. And that is ironic when one considers that they aren't very detailed, at least by today's standards, and are sometimes quite crude and chunky looking. They were sold as toys, in dimestores and mom and pop shops, and usually considered, then and now, as junk. They were molded in primary colored plastic (blue, red, yellow, green, etc.), and usually sold in blister cards of variously priced sizes. There are, however, instances of sets packaged in header carded bags and even in a plastic box, but they appear to be the exceptions. Many HO scale figure collectors just love them. Most of their figures (if not all) were blatant copies of some other manufacturer's figures, or slightly altered copies, but they had the foresight to make them all in this smaller scale.
Not much is known about the Giant Plastics Corporation because it is unknown if there was a catalog of their products or any literature about the company. They were based in New York, NY and the actual figures and accessories were made in Hong Kong. The fact that no Zip Codes appear on any surviving packaging seems to indicate that most of their stuff was probably made before 1963, when Zip Codes were instituted. Later sets did indeed show a Zip Code, it read "Giant Plastics Corp., New York, N.Y. 10457".
It is a common belief that the first Giant sets came out about 1959, and their heyday was the early to late 1960s. The Romans and the Cowboys and Indians were believed to be the first sets out. Early on, the Knights and Romans were in two colors, one for each side. The Romans were silver and gold, the Knights black and silver. (Contributor's note: As for the earliest Roman sets having silver and gold figs, it is also possible that these were actually the last sets to be made. One collecter kept track of all the sets he had as a kid (actually wrote down the contents when he was a kid) and he swears this is the case because he got some of the earliest Roman sets (real low three-digit numbers) and he said they were in primary colors; a reader notes here that he can state with authority that the primary colored Romans are earlier than the metallics.) Eventually, they too were in all the primary colors like most of the other sets. Around the time of the American Civil War Centennial celebration, probably 1963 or so, the Civil War and Napoleonic figures came out. It's hard to say when the rest of the sets came out but most likely all in the 60s.
Right away, Giant figures were being copied. It's not known if Giant was a partner in this or a victim, but as early as the early 60s Toy House was putting out sets of what were obviously Giant figures (also on blister cards). Giant figures and accessories almost always have "Giant Made In Hong Kong' stamped (actually, molded) under the base of the figure or in some hidden space on horses and accessories (with some exceptions early on with their 30mm Bluebox Army copies, which helps confuse the issue). Most of the copies made by Toy House and others just read "Made In Hong Konle'. But there have been instances where mint on card Toy House sets contained figures with Giant stamped on them. So who knows the truth.
By the 1970s there were many people copying Giant figures, most notably MPC but also many other unknowns, but it appears Giant had stopped making them by then. (Contributor's note: NOT that Giant wasn't making anything in the 70s, but rather that it is POSSIBLE they were still making some sets into the early 70s. It is my belief that it couldn't have been too far into the early 70s because that is when I was buying these type of sets, and none of mine were Giant figures. In fact they were totally different figures, Cowboys and Indians with wagons and a Fort Cheyenne, and for the most part they were better poses than Giant's (they were copies of Britains swoppets, but in one-inch one-piece plastic, primary colors.) Many figures made their way as carnival trinkets, party favors, junk toys, ctc. MPC was putting out header bags of some of these figures with forts (along with some notable piracies of their own, like "Guarding the Castle") but the quality was horrible, even compared to Giant. Almost always, the copies all read made in Hong Kong, whoever made them. Some copies ended up in those toy/game sets sold in comic books. Now it should be noted that the Helen of Toy (or whatever the name du jour would be at the time) Revolutionary War figures were not Giant or Giant copies. However, the Civil War set "Cannonball game' and the WWII sets "Woods Edge Game" and "Tank Trap" contained obvious copies of Giant figures. The copies are more crude (if that's possible) and are stamped "Made in Taiwan". No mention of Giant on anything. Ironic that the ultimate pirater was itself pirated many times. .
Now, buyer beware. in addition to these "copies" there are also some companies in the 1960s and 1970s that put out similar type figures, similar meaning crude, primary colored, figures in the standard themes (usually cowboys and Indians). Now some people view any primary colored figure, made in Hong Kong, as a Giant figure, and thus try to charge "Giant' prices for them. But the general consensus is that if it doesn't say Giant on it it ain't Giant. Now, does that mean these other figures are any less "cool" or collectibles In my opinion, no. In many cases, they are just as old as Giant and in some cases, better looking than Giant figures. So to each his own.
FIGURES AND THEIR COMMON ACCYS
6 foot poses (2 copies of Marx 60mm Romans, 4 copies of Britains Herald Trojans), 3 mounted (2 altered Marx Romans made to be mounted, 1 Herald Trojan), Chariot is copy of Marx Ben Hur chariot, figures have holes in base to plug into chariot, castle is standard castle with slightly "Roman-esque" type front wall, and no pennants on towers, firing catapult, with shells, is copy of Marx, there is rumored to be a siege tower but have never seen it.
6 foot and 6 mounted poses, origins of poses unknown (mounted are the same as foot but have mounted legs to fit on horses), they sometimes have the Marx copy catapult, Viking boat ( copy of Aurora model of Viking ship), there are pegs on each seat for a seated rower, big only a few sets actually had the rowers, there are 4 boat poses (including the seated pose) and they are copies of the same Aurora model.
12 foot poses, at least 5 mounted poses of unknown origin (no archers?!?! Unheard of for Mongols!), the detail on the Mongols is about the worst of all the Giant sets. 'They look like Bugmen or little blobs of plastic with antennae. Some samples are better than others. Standard castle with Oriental front, really nice dragon decorated firing Mongol cannon, with shells, crudely detailed battering ram.
There are 3 distinct styles or versions of the knights:
1. 12 foot, at least 4 mounted, smaller scale (closer to HO), cruder sculpt of unknown origin, mostly in black and silver
2. 10 foot, at least 6 mounted, larger scale (closer to 1/72), nicer detail, many copies of Britains and Preiser, mostly in primary colors, some of the poses are made with different weapons in their hand, thus making more poses, but there are only ten different bodies
3.10 foot, at least 3 mounted, same colors and style and size as group two, but tend to have more ornaments on helmets, many Saracen type symbols, much more rare, hard to findsome sets have the Marx copy catapult, standard castle with "Knight-esque" front wall and pennants on towers, some sets may have had the battering ram.
6 foot and 3 mounted poses of unknown origin (lying firing pose is similar to Marx ACW pose), one side (British) in red, the other side (French) in blue, same poses for both, only accessory seems to be 4-horse silver caisson and cannon.
6 foot and at least 4 mounted poses of unknown origin, in primary colors, all in coonskin caps and buckskins, with western fort (unknown if "Fort Cheyenne" ever came in Giant set, only ones I've seen just had a log over gate, no name), fort sometimes came with attachable building (a General Store) that clipped on to back wall, there were 3 types, this western one, an oriental one, and a medieval stone block one. They didn't come with each and every castle so they are quite rare, sometimes Pioneers sets had wagons.
There were at least 6 types of wagons, a covered wagon, box-top, canvas tarp covered, stacked supplies, stagecoach, and a horse pulled fire engine with detachable figures, I don't know how the last one was sold, most wagons came with 4 horse hitch.
There are at least 3 types of horses, a smaller pony looking horse that looks similar to a Rel horse, I've only seen this attached, rarely, to chariots, or with Indians on them, a Knight horse (copy of Britains Swoppet horse) that came with Knights and Mongol sets, and the standard horse (very similar to Marx cavalry horse) that was in all other sets.
6 foot, at least 3 mounted, primary colors, copies of Britains Herald, some sets came with a teepee that was round at the base and had plug in pole tips at the top.
6 foot, at least 4 mounted poses, primary colors, copies of Britains Herald, some sets came with fort, some with wagons.
AMERICAN CIVIL WAR
9 foot poses, 6 mounted (all but one is a foot pose with mounted legs instead), US blue, CS grey (same poses for both), copies of Marx 54mrn Civil War, some came with the caisson & cannon.
WWII US INFANTRY
12 foot poses (some variations without rifles), olive green color, copies of Monogram G.I.s, some accessories include silver landing craft that includes additional 3 figures in 2 poses, green tank with rotating turret, halftrack with cannon, jeep with trailer, AA run and SP gun, both on same chassis as tank.
WWII GERMAN INFANTRY
10 foot poses, grey, copies of Marx Germans (only poses NOT used are officer, goosestepping, lying dead, and the 2 vehicle poses, the rest of Marx's 54mm poses are in this set), accys include Marx copy Pillbox, barbed wire, and dragon's teeth tank traps, same tank as US but in grey, two size guns for the tanks, one long one short.
10 foot poses, silver plastic, 2 types of Marx copy rocket tanks in blue plastic, rumored to be a spaceship too.
6 foot poses, in brown, green, or purple plastic, rumored to be space cannons and a spaceship.
SET NUMBERS AND CONTENTS
975 - Roman Legions - 2+ mtd, 25+ foot, this is one of the earliest Giant sets.
2901 - Infantry Assault (most likely, WWII)
2904 - Blue and Gray - 4 mtd, 12 foot, all assorted ACW.
2905 - Roman Legion - 2 mtd Romans, 13 foot.
2906 - Wild West - 1 mtd Cowboy, I mtd Indian, 12 or so assorted foot Cowboys & Indians.
2916 - Mongols - 2 mtd, 15 foot.
xxxx - Crusaders - 2 mtd, 15 foot assorted knights.
xxxx - Combat Soldiers - 25 figs.
1431 - Pillbox Attack- WWII Pillbox, halftrack, cannon, 12 US Infantry foot.
3902 - Napoleonic Dragoons - 2 mtd, 12 foot, assorted, caisson & cannon, double hitch.
3903 - Blue Gray Raid - ACW 2 mtd, 12 foot, assorted, cannon, caisson, double hitch.
3904 - Roman Legionaires - 2 mtd, 15 foot, chariot, most sets with silver & gold figures.
3906 - Viking Siege - 3 mtd, 15 to 20 foot, catapult with rocks.
3917 - Crusader Attack - Knights 3 mtd, 12 foot, catapult with rocks.
3918 - Mongol Attack - 2 mtd, 12 foot, firing cannon with shells.
412 - Civil War Artillery Attack.
965 - Wild West Wagon Raid - 20 to 25 foot 1 wagon, 1 double hitch.
980 - Chariot Attack, Roman Legion, 2 chariots with horses, 2 foot, 7 mtd.
1632 - Westward Ho.
1636 - Cavalry Assault, ACW, - 3 mtd, 2 cannons, 2 caissons with 2 hitches each, 20 foot.
5925 - Napoleonic Artillery Attack - 3 mtd, 18 to 20 foot assorted, 2 each cannons, caissons, and double hitches.
5933 - Space (not sure of actual title) - 20-25 foot Astronauts/Spacemen, 2 Marx copy missile tanks in blue plastic.
5942 - Crusader Siege.
9881 - Aircraft Carrier - small carrier with 4+ small planes, in header bag
940 - Army Task Force-6 small vehicles, 20 plus copies of Bluebox Army.
1015 - Battle of Waterloo-Napoleonic assorted, 8 mtd, 20+ foot, 4 cannons, 4 caissons,4 double hitches.
1016 - Battle of Gettysburg-ACW assorted, 8 mtd, 20 to 25 foot, 4 cannons, 4 caissons, 4 double hitches.
1019 - Viking Attack - 4 to 10 mtd, 20 to 30 foot, at least 2 catapults, 1 Viking ship.
1020 - Viking Raiders- 2 complete Viking ships, 12+ Vikings (none seated).
1030 - Baffle of Damascus- 1 castle with windows in front and tower pennants, assorted knights in silver and black, 6 mtd, 10+ foot. This set sometimes came with Romans.
1031 - Mongol Attack on Cathay - 4 mtd, 20+ foot, 1 Mongol castle.
1039 - Frontier Fort-1 fort with general store in header bag, 1 wagon, 10 assorted Cowboys & Indians foot, 7 mtd Frontiersmen (Pioneers).
1104 - Beachhead Assault - Landing Craft swivel turret green tank, halftrack and cannon, tank trap, barbed wire, Marx copy Pillbox, 12 US Infantry, 12 German Infantry, came in a plastic box rather than blister card.
1108 - China Wall - 20+ figures (mostly foot, sometimes mtd included), Mongol cannon, Mongol castle.
1109 - Viking Attack (in plastic box instead of blister card) - 50+ assorted Vikings, 1 ship.
1133 -Battle of Carthage-1 castle with no windows or pennants, 1 4 horse chariot, 1 firing cannon, 4 mtd, 17 ft Romans.
xxxx - Viking Ship
The information contained herein was the result of contributions, mainly through correspondence and conversations, by several collectors, those being Eric Williamson, Glenn Holcomb, Teel Slike, Jerry Irwin, and Jan Boers.I just wanted to give credit as thanks for all the information that has freely been shared over the years. Photo contributions were from Glenn Holcomb and Eric Williamson. - Arlin Tawzer.
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