Q: As a child, I was placed in an orphanage in Boston. When I left there and moved to Connecticut, the orphanage gave me some toy soldiers that were given to the orphanage by the U.S. Army. My adoptive family was told that the Army used these soldiers on the plotting board for the battle of Iwo Jima. I've been trying to find out the value and authenticity of these soldiers. I have about 150 pieces. Can you help?
A: That's a great story, but we weren't able to find out if the U.S. Army actually used model soldiers to plan battles. It doesn't seem likely they would need to include a cook, a soldier on crutches, or color guards--all included in your set--in a battle plan. Your set was probably made for children so they could reenact a battle. Sets representing the battle of Iwo Jima have been made in metal, plastic, and other materials. Your soldiers are similar to those made by Barclay Manufacturing Co., a toy company that began making 3 1/2-inch lead soldiers in about 1935. Cast-metal helmets were made beginning in 1940. Barclay, located in West Hoboken, New Jersey, was the largest U.S. manufacturer of toy soldiers in the 1930s and 1940s. Most of the toy soldiers were sold in dime stores. Barclay did not make any toys between April 1942 and the end of World War II. It stopped production in 1971. The trademark was sold in the 1990s and reproductions are being made. Other companies have made toy soldiers similar to Barclay's, so it's not possible to identify the manufacturer of your soldiers. Prices vary according to the maker, number of pieces in the set, types of pieces, and condition. A group of 40 lead soldiers sold for $70 last year. Individual soldiers can sell for about $10. Recent prices include $10 for a flag bearer and $9.95 for a shell loader.