Before cracking the hollow-cast toy soldiers process in 1893, Britains manufactured friction tin toys.

Established in 1845 by William Britain, one of William's sons perfected the way to produce their famous lead figures and wide range of military vehicles, lead figures, soldiers and farm animals. Motorised transport was also included in the range, in 1/32 scale and also included a few civilian vehicles.

An OO gauge range was also developed, which for a time appeared under the name of W. Horton Ltd, a subsidiary of Britains. The range was known as Britains Liliput trains, and was intended to complement Trix Twin model railways. People, animals and vehicles were produced, including Bedford and Fordson lorries.

Other notable items include a Coronation Coach and figures produced to mark the American Bicentennial.

In more recent years the company has concentrated on its military and agricultural models. In 1987, as part of the Dobson Industries Group, the name was changed to Britains-Petite, revealing the association with Petite Typewriters.

The company continually produced the miniature metal soldiers, except for time-outs during the two world wars, until 1966 when plastics took over. It wasn't until 1983 that the next all-metal figure made a return back to the Britains line-up. The brand is now owned by Ertl, which uses the Britains' name for its collectables ranges.


Updated: 5 November 2019

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