A weathered wartime relic has been unearthed from beneath an Ipswich home and identified as a toy soldier — an airman to be precise — produced in Brisbane towards the end of World War II.
- An Ipswich family discovered the figurine under their home a decade ago
- The Australian War Memorial says it is a toy soldier from World War II
- The figurines originally came in a set of three: an airman, a soldier and a sailor
The rare diecast aluminium figurine lay buried under Katie Hayward’s Booval home for decades, and then spent another 10 years on her shelf before she decide to look into the airman’s history.
“About 10 years ago my partner was digging under the house … and came across the little soldier,” Ms Hayward said.
Ms Hayward took to Facebook looking for answers and her post attracted a number of comments from people who said they used to play with similar models as children.
“I’ve had a lot of comments from people who had the same ones as children [and] a lot of people saying their brothers had them as children, or their fathers.”
Toys made when ‘victory’ was in the air
According to the Australian War Memorial (AWM), the airman was likely to have been part of a set of servicemen toys made during WWII. The sets would have also included a soldier and a sailor.
Casts of female figurines suggest there was a nurse toy as well.
Brisbane company Die-Cast Products, which at at one point was based at Greenslopes, is believed to have produced the weighty figurines.
Graham Wilson from the Australian Diecasting Association said the Brisbane company also made products for the war effort but went out of business in the decades that followed.
AWM curator and toy soldier collector Chris Goddard said the production of the figurines signified a time towards the end of the war.
“Prior to 1944 rationing was in. You couldn’t use aluminium or paper … because all the material was needed for the war effort.”
He said the toys were probably made with spare aluminium and paint.
“They were available, painted or unpainted,” he said. “I suspect the airman was probably dipped as well.”
Mr Goddard donated the toy digger to the AWM from his personal collection in 2005.
“The more I had it, the more I realised it’s probably better in the War Memorial’s collection,” he said.
He said the toys were unique to Brisbane.
While Ms Hayward was not the original owner of the toy airman, she said the figurine did have some sentimental value to her.
“It might be something worth holding onto.”
While Ms Hayward’s family knew the previous owners of her home, the original owner of the airman remains a mystery.