Frontline Figures, a Hong Kong based and registered company was founded in 1983 and is run by two English professional architectural model makers, Gerard Prime and Howard Swales.
All Frontline Figures are 54mm high or 1/32rd scale. This is the standard scale for "toy soldiers".
From the early years of plastic kit construction that most enthusiast collectors experience, modification of standard boxed "bits" into one off individual models and scratch built items, the first tentative steps were taken into producing single specialist figures for entry into Society shows and the like.
Considerable success at this level, both in the UK and the Far East in the case of Howard, and for Gerard a change of life style and environment from the workshop of a major architectural practice in London, to the frenetic world of Hong Kong, lead to the possibility of producing, if only in small numbers and at odd free times from the main product of a new architectural model workshop, certain individual figures on a commercial basis. These figures supplied the needs of a small but avid band of collectors that existed in the Colony.
At first, the manufacturing capability was limited by the amount of time that could be spared from running the more important business of survival, and creating a successful and commercial architectural model making workshop and studio, no mean feat in the tough and competitive world of Hong Kong based professionals and traders.
A growing and expanding client base moved the workshop into the arena of design and prototype making resulting in models leaving the shop as diverse as steel ball bearing "Malteasers" for TV promotions to commercial presentations of an eight foot long banana, or a six foot long rugby boot.
Gradually, however, the "Soldiers advanced", and the purchase of a centrifuge casting system replaced hand drop casting, and a series of skilled painters replaced the enthusiastic but amateur painting of "Ex Pat" wives of friends brought the realisation that what had started out as a personal interest and hobby was fast turning into a "Hot Property" on the local scene in Hong Kong. Visiting UK and American friends were spreading the word about this little goldmine of excellence in the field of Toy Soldiers and figures, and it was realised by the two partners that the situation needed to be seriously thought about.
Some ten years ago, therefore, the first American agent was appointed, American toy and trade fairs attended, quantity production, casting, painting and quality control problems were addressed, and links into China with all its traditional craft skills, established.
Production has now been centred in China for some eight years, drawing on the centuries old skills and knowledge of metal casting and creative porcelain and other painting at the smallest scale. Quality control, which is the hallmark of the company is carried out in China, Hong Kong and again in the UK.
To date, Frontline Figures have produced in their 54mm range the following
Official website: Frontline Figures
What's your 'Frontline Figures' worth? Here are some recently sold items (USA):