BY HENRY I. KURTZ
IN THE AFTERMATH of World War II, Curt Wennberg, a Swede, and Fred Winkler, a German expatriate—who had previously developed a line of model warships produced in England—teamed up with Holger Eriksson, the Swedish master designer of fine quality miniature soldiers, to create the Authenticast line of toy soldiers for the Comet Metal Products Company in New York.
Out of this collaboration came some of the finest toy soldiers ever made. Known for their realistic appearance, Eriksson’s figures have a natural roughhewn
quality as if they had been sculpted out of wood, and at their best, as Steve Sommers wrote in an early article for Old Toy Soldier Newsletter, are “art to be
I grew up in Brooklyn, and when Authenticasts came my way they did so with a bang, as the following account of their arrival illustrates. It happened one bright autumn day in 1948, when I found myself entering the spanking new Macy’s Department Store on Brooklyn’s Flatbush Avenue with my mother in tow—or was it the other way around.
We had been enticed by a full-page newspaper advertisement announcing a storewide sale to mark the opening of Macy’s Brooklyn branch. The ad made mention of an exciting new line of toy soldiers. So while my mother trooped off to dresses and gowns, I made a beeline for the toy department.
Only a few months earlier, I had started my serious toy soldier collecting when I received as a birthday present a Britains set of the Coldstream Guards. Two
other Britains sets had since been added to my toy army, but now I was anxious to expand my horizons.
The sight that greeted me as I eagerly trotted through the doors leading to the toy department was—if you will pardon the use of a hackneyed contemporary expression—totally awesome!