Plastic Army Men
In 1938, the Bergen Toy and Novelty Co. began selling an inexpensive line of minuscule, monochrome plastic Plastic Army Men soldiers. The 2-in. American figures were produced in U.S. Army green and molded in a variety of action poses a little boy’s war fantasy come true.
Sold in large plastic bags, demand for the little green men rose in the 1950s thanks to a boom in plastics manufacturing and a lead-poisoning scare that made the metal versions less appealing. Soon the company was manufacturing enemy forces too: German troops were molded in grey, Japanese forces in yellow.
Though the little warriors have undergone several changes over the years, their most famous identity is as World War II–era soldiers with “pod feet” attached to keep them standing during battle.