Marx Lane

An Inventory of Marx Playset Figures and Accessories
Manufactured from 1951 to 1979

 
Wild West Page 6 - Miniature Playset Figures and Accessories
Contents of this web site may not be reproduced or duplicated for use on the Internet or for commercial purposes without permission by Eric Johns.




Table of Contents

(click on name to move to section)
This Page
Introduction to the Miniature Playsets
The cowboy, Indian, and Cavalry figures
Border Battle Play Set (The Alamo) Animals
Covered Wagon Attack Play Set
Custer's Last Stand Play Set Wagons and cannon
Fort Apache Play Sets Fencing, flag poles, and terrain pieces
Western Town Play Set Small accessories
Other Pages
Page 1 - 45mm Figures
Page 2 - 60mm Figures
Page 3 - 54mm Figures
Page 3A - The Alaska Connection
Page 4 - Large Scale Figures
Page 5 - Figures Manufactured Outside the U.S.
Page 7 - Uncommon and Other Miscellaneous Figures
Page 8 - Horses, Cattle, and Other Animals
Page 9 - Forts, Structures, and Terrain Pieces
Page 10 - Accessories
Page 11 - Wonderland of Marx Playset Boxes
Page 12 - List of Wild West Playsets
Back to Wild West Table of Contents
Back to Main Table of Contents


     Introduction to the Miniature Playsets

Prior to joining the collecting community in 2002, I had neither seen nor heard of a Marx miniature playset.  Since then, I
have heard that they were popular in the 1960s, prominently displayed in major retailer catalogs, produced and sold by the thousands.  I have been told by some collectors that they nearly overtook the standard 54mm playsets in sales.Between college and Vietnam, I guess I was out of the loop for many years!  I now have seen many of the sets displayed in hobby publications and and on Internet sites and have purchased one almost mint set (Western Town) and several other loose wild west playset figures and accessories.

Marx miniature playsets are often stated to be the same scale as HO model trains, but are actually slightly larger.  Collectors sometimes refer to them as 30mm scale, and the figures I have are from 25mm to 30mm tall.  Made in Hong Kong, they included not only wild west themed playsets, but sets covering such topics as knights, the Revolutionary War, World War II, The Ten Commandments, and even a Vietnam version titled Guerilla Warfare.  For the most part, figures were downsized copies (pantographs) of figures used in the company's larger scale playsets.  Most of the miniature Cavalrymen, for example, are in the same poses as the company's 60mm Cavalrymen (see Page 2).  I am totally unaware of how this process works and welcome anyone out there to educate me on it.  As with computers and mobile phones, it sounds totally impossible to me.

The tiny figures were painted and made in hard plastic, though I have heard that some of the later sets had soft plastic figures (which did not hold the paint well).  According to information on the boxes, the figures were "handpainted by artists," but rumor has it that the painting was actually done by poorly-paid Hong Kong children.  From what I understand, the company's Hong Kong office was solely an administrative operation, and production was farmed out to contractors and subcontractors.  Perhaps Louie himself did not know who painted them.  I can vouch for the fact -- based on the one miniature playset I own -- that these set included some of the most God-awful painting jobs I have ever seen.  I have attempted to find "good" examples of figure poses in the photos below, so you can judge for yourself.

In any case, the figure painting for these playset figures was poor, and many figures have big-black-dot eyes.  Note that the same figures were sold individually and in small groups (see Page 5 of this section), and the painting quality for them was noticeably better.  Playsets also had numerous accessories, and these also were made in hard plastic, with the one exception I am aware of being buildings in the Western Town set, which were made of plastic and thick cardstock.

The figures and accessories are a bit difficult to find in today's collecting markets, most likely because they were produced for only a few years and their size made them very easy to lose.  Having had the opportunity to open several untouched bags of these figures myself, I am confident that the small size and fragileness of the playset pieces did not encourage youngsters to add to their collection of these playsets.  Complete or even partial playsets are especially difficult to locate, and collectors pay several hundred dollars for them.  Prices I have paid for individual or small groups of figures have been reasonable.
     
Issue 18 of the magazine Plastic Figure and Playset Collector (PFPC) includes an exceptional article on Marx' miniature playsets, which lists 45 of them.  
This list includes seven sets with wild west themes:
The article includes information and photos for each of the wild west sets.  

Due to the lack of original documentation of the playsets today, the list is annotated "may or may not be complete."  In fact,
the article notes the possible existence of a fourth version of Fort Apache, and subsequent PFPC issues cited three additional sets, though none with a wild west theme.   The specific contents of the sets are not itemized, and I have obtained no documentation that shows set contents other than the Western Town set explained below.  I believe that examples of most playset items are shown below, and I welcome anyone who can provide additional information or photos.

Although published nearly 20 years ago in 1992, the 18-page article is the best source I have found for information on the company's miniature sets, having been compiled with input and photos from collectors Jim Fries, Glenn Holcomb, Gary Linden, Mark McDermott, Alfred C. Norton, A.J. Ruggiero Jr., and George Zivic.

Playset Magazine (PM), which began publication in 2002, has provided information on about a dozen miniature playsets, including Border Battle (Issue 15), Custer's Last Stand (Issues 2 and 3), and Fort Apache (Issue 16).  Much of this information, however, reiterates the PFPC article.  PM Issue 2 has a lengthy feature article on the miniature Wooden Horse of Troy playset and two pages of general information and small box photos for several other miniature sets.

As stated elsewhere on this web site, I am not the originator of most information here, and it has been largely drawn from publications and other collectors.  For this miniatures page, most is from articles in PFPC and PM, and much of the rest is from other collectors.  Long-time collector Josh Petrie has been an invaluable source of both information and photos. 


Border Battle -- The Alamo      

Border Battle includes figures that are largely miniatures of the 54mm Alamo sets.  They are distinctly different than figures in the other four Wild West playsets shown here.  As in the larger sets, the Alamo includes pioneers and Mexican soldiers, while the other sets have cowboys, Indians, and U.S. Cavalrymen.  

There are 10 defenders for the Marx Alamo, the nine poses from the 54mm Alamo frontiersmen (Page 3) and a Davy Crockett figure that is a down-sized version of the 60mm Crockett from the Famous American Heroes group (Page 2).  As in real life, the Mexican Army greatly outnumbers the defenders, as the set includes poses from the 54mm Alamo playsets, the 54mm Zorro playsets, and even the 60mm Mexican Warriors of the World figures (not shown on this web site).  PFPC Issue 18  reports that there are 28 different poses, and Playset Magazine Issue 15 says there are a total of 40 Mexican figures, including four mounted.

The gate is similar to the plastic gate in the company's "John Wayne" Alamo set (see Page 9), in a similar tan color.  The walls and chapel are made from this same tan plastic.  Note the instruction sheet below, which states "Instructions for Assembling Castle"!?!!?  "Also included are trees, rocks, horses, cannon, barrels, and other accessories," according to PFPC.

The photos below from Jamie Zervos (Ebay ID Themid-nitepickle) were of a set in "very nice used condition" which he sold for $790 on Ebay in July 2010.  Those from Terri Foreman (Ebay ID auntieoz) are from her set in similar condition that she sold on Ebay in early 2011 for $1,280.






Photos above courtesy of Jamie Zervos, Ebay ID Themid-nitepickle
Photos above -- as well as the photo of the box top -- courtesy of Terri Foreman, Ebay ID auntieoz
Recent Price Lines I have noticed
$787 November 2011 Ebay

Covered Wagon Attack      
The most difficult miniature wild west playset to find is Covered Wagon Attack.  According to PFPC, the set contains, "...5 covered wagons, a rock formation, cowboys, and a tribe of 35 Indians (15 of which are mounted and may be unique to this particular playset.)"  The usual smaller accessories are also included.  Wagons are brown soft plastic with yellow tops.

One reason to covet this set is the impressive picture on the front of the box, depicting an intense battle with covered wagons circled into a defensive position, one of them set ablaze.  Perhaps in this case, the "Hand Painted by Artists" below the picure indicated the picture on the box instead of the figures inside!


Custer's Last Stand

Released in 1964, this playset representing the Battle of Little Bighorn includes a whopping 181 pieces, according to PFPC.  Unlike the real battle, the white man outnumbers the Indians by a good amount here, with 47 Cavalrymen and 14 cowboys compared to just 37 Indians (none mounted and many in peaceful poses).  Based on a photo from Playset Magazine Issue 3, most of the figures are copies of the company's 60mm figures (see Page 2), though the Indians included poses that were totally different from any other Marx figures.  I'm not sure what the cowboys are doing in there, but perhaps they just stumbled into the battle after delivering a herd of steers to Kansas.

The set's crowning glory may be a terrain piece that PFPC refers to as a "unique, pueblo-style mountain piece" that looks like a John Ford western movie set (see below).  It is prominently displayed on the box top and measures about 10 inches by 5 inches and 4-1/2 inches high.  The Playset Magazine photo also shows a shorter hill piece that I have seen included in several of the miniature military playsets.  The set has two cassions and cannons, two covered wagons, two teepees, horses, rocks, trees, cacti, paper playmat, and a campfire, as well as "other Indian and western accessories."

Photos shown below are courtesy of Ebayer cmarlow57, who sold the set in August 2011 for $435.

Photos below are courtesy of Ebay ID cmarlow57.
Primary contents of the Custer's Last Stand Set
The photo does not include all figures, most notably most of the Indian warriors; you can see photos of additional Indians near the bottom of this page.  Note the down-sized 60mm pose of the woman with shopping basket at bottom center, a case of quite literally shopping until she dropped!

Indians (incomplete) and cannons Horses and wagon

Cavalry, more horses, and accessories

The mountain
Above photos are courtesy of Ebay ID cmarlow57.
Recent Price Lines I have noticed
Miniature Custer's Last Stand Play Set $435 Sept 2011 Ebay

Fort Apache
Based on the number of versions, Fort Apache was the company's most popular miniature playset in the wild west theme, as it was in the larger scaled playsets.  There were at least three, and perhaps four, miniature versions of Fort Apache.  The photo at top left is the box top from the version that included cowboys.  I have seen photos of two basic versions with cavalry, one similar to the cowboy set (but with pictures of cavalry instead of cowboys) and the one pictured in the photo at right.  The Fort Apache versions included:

1.  A basic version with 16 (two each) miniature copies of the 60mm Cavalrymen (see Page 2) and 16 miniature Indians (a mixture of downsized 54mm and 60mm Marx Indians, as well as some copies of Indians made by Britains).  Accessories include the Apache contents -- copies of the usual fort gate, walls, and block houses; cannon and cassion with harness horses; outside accessories; Indian accessories including a teepee and canoe; three styles of trees; and a pair of flags with pose and base.  Based on photos of box covers, it also seems to have included a small plastic version of the Cavalry supply building with a cupola on top (See Page 8).
2.  A set with 16 cowboy and cowgirl figures replacing the cavalry.  Other items are about the same.
3.  A third set titled Attack on Fort Apache that was discovered in England with covered wagons, cowboys, a unique livery stable, and seven Indian poses of unknown origin.
4.  In the early 1990s, an apparent fourth Fort Apache version was found by Glenn Holcomb.  This set has the same contents as the basic set, but also includes cowboys, the livery stable and farm animals.
Fort Apache gate and walls, ladders, flags with poles and bases, and various small accessories
Photo courtesy of Josh Petrie and Bob Adams
The gate is about 4-1/2 inches wide and 4-1/4 inches high; stockade walls are about 3-3/4 inches wide and 2-3/4 inches high.
Fort Apache stockade with various accessories
Photo courtesy of Mark, Ebay ID mark-nfa

Western Town
The miniature playset that I have noticed most often for sale on Ebay is the Western Town.  It's also the only one I own.  The most unusual aspect of this set are the six cardstock and plastic buldings that make up the town.  They have hard plastic roofs and porches to keep their cardstock walls somewhat sturdy.  The buildings include a general store, bank, hotel, blacksmith, jail, and barber shop.

The set includes HO scale (approximately) cowboys downsized from the 54mm trappers and miners group (see Page 3) and the 60mm town cowboys (see Page 2), as well as some unique mounted poses and wagon drivers.  In addition, miniature versions of Marx' 54mm Dale Evans, Seth Adams, and Flint McCullough are included.

Beyond the town figures, the set has horses, farm animals, two types of fencing, various town accessories (hitching posts, barrels, cacti, etc.), two buckboards, a hay wagon, and a stagecoach.

Because I have this set, I have included complete details on what it contains on Page 11 of this web site.  I have seen no other listing of the playset contents.  I am confident that my contents listing is accurate -- barring a possible mistake or two in my set, as I have noted on Page 11 -- because although the box of my set had been opened when I received it, all of the bags containing the figures and accessories were still sealed.  

Note that there was a similar miniature playset titled Western Town Miniature Motion Picture Set.  The box for the set looks very Marx-like and shows buildings similar to the Marx buildings.  However, it was produced by a company named C and B, not Marx.  The box top of the Motion Picture Set advertises 93 pieces, including 31 complete "units," which appears to mean buildings, corrals, wagons, and similar accessories.

Blacksmith, Dodge City Bank, and Barber Shop buildings
Photo courtesy of Jose Petrie and Bob Adams






The five smaller buildings from the Western Town Play Set, as shown in the play set instruction sheet.




The Dodge House -- a combined hotel-saloon -- from the Western Town Play Set, as shown in the play set instruction sheet.
Recent Price Lines I have noticed
$394 July 2012 Ebay


Cowboys, Indians, and U.S. Cavalrymen
I have based the following figure photos on my own experience, as I have seen no listing or description of what figures are included in any set.  The only thing that I can say with assurance is that the Western Town set included all the cowboys shown below, except the stretcher team.  Although this page has photos of many cowboys and Indians, I do not know if this is all of them.

These figures are extremely small and fragile.  As with the set I have, I imagine some figures in most every set did not even survive the trip from the factory to the customer.  Perhaps the most surprising thing is that any of these tiny figures and accessories have survived at all!

Note that the dress and hair style of the female stretcher bearers in the Cowboys group seem more appropriate to a wild west Hollywood tale than the real wild west!

     Cowboys

Mounted, firing rifle
(rifle broken)
Mounted, waving Mounted, firing pistol to right Mounted, firing pistol upward
Wagon driver with whip Wagon shotgun rider
Seth Adams pose Flint McCullough pose Dale Evans pose Pointing pistol forward
With branding iron
Two pistols drawn With whip With pistol and bag of gold
Outlaw firing pistol Drawing pistol Fighting, without hat Fighting, with hat
Woman with basket With rope and harness Outlaw with hands up Twirling rope

Stretcher team with wounded cowboy
Photo courtesy of Josh Petrie and Bob Adams
Mounted cowboys, shotgun for wagon, and wagon driver
Photo courtesy of Josh Petrie and Bob Adams

     Indians
Mounted Indians (not based on larger size Marx Indians)
Photo courtesy of Josh Petrie and Bob Adams
Indians on foot (most based on Marx 3-inch Indian poses)
Photo courtesy of Mark, Ebay ID mark-nfa

First three figures are downsized from Marx 60mm Indians, woman holding papoose looks almost Egyptian
All photos courtesy of Ebayer cmarlow57

 

     Cavalry
Six dismounted U.S. cavalrymen downsized from 60mm figures
Photo courtesy of Josh Petrie and Bob Adams
Mounted U.S. cavalrymen downsized from 60mm figures
Photo courtesy of Josh Petrie and Bob Adams
Cavalryman from the Custer set, with what looks like casualties in the background
Photo courtesy of Ebayer cmarlow57

Animals
Horses - cowboy, Indian, and Cavalry (not based on larger sized playset horses)
The five horses can be categorized (in order above) as left leg up bent, left leg up forward, both front feet up, right leg up, and running (without base)
Photo courtesy of Josh Petrie and Bob Adams




Cowboy mounted on horse
(Riders are very difficult to keep mounted; because the figures are made in hard plastic and the riders do not fit tightly, they tend to slide off the horses.  Use soft wax to keep them on!)
Farm Animals - cattle, sheep, dogs
Photo courtesy of Josh Petrie and Bob Adams

Collie and goat
Photo courtesy of Josh Petrie and Bob Adams


Wagons and cannon
Stagecoach
Photo courtesy of Terry Kern, Ebay terry_kern
Buckboard
Photo courtesy of Josh Petrie and Bob Adams
Hay wagon
Photo courtesy of Josh Petrie and Bob Adams
Cannon pulled by horse-drawn cassion and limber
Photo courtesy of Josh Petrie and Bob Adams
Covered wagon
Photo courtesy of Josh Petrie and Bob Adams
Close-up of cassion and limber
Photo courtesy of  Mark, Ebay ID mark-nfa


Fencing, flag poles, and terrain pieces
Two types of fencing
Photo courtesy of Josh Petrie and Bob Adams
Individual photos of other items not available at this time.


Small accessories

The miniature sets included a wide variety of small accessories.  Those shown below are only the ones that I either have or have been able to obtain a photo of.  Many are scaled-down versions of the accessories that went with the 45mm/54mm/60mm playsets, such as the dip well, the cactus, the flag pole base, the stretched hide, and the ever present axe in tree stump.  However, several others are different, such as the palm tree, campfire, hay, and different style of cactus.

I believe there were variations in the accessories from one set to another.  For example, the dip well shown below is partially painted, but the one in my Western Town Playset has no paint.  The cacti appear to have come in at least two colors and three styles.  I have seen cacti in a dark green and a lighter, shinier green, as shown below.  Also, I have seen two clearly different 2-armed Saguaro cacti similar to the 54mm/60mm playset cacti (see one in the top row below and the other in the photo below of several accessories courtesy of Josh Petrie and Bob Adams), as well as the prickly pear cactus below.
Dip well
About an inch high and 1-3/4 inches wide

Saguaro Cactus
Same as larger scale cactus, but only 1-1/2 inches tall
Prickly pear cactus
About an inch and a half high

There is a third type of larger cacti shown in photos above which I have seen in at least two of these sets.
Flag pole base
About a half inch high and 1-1/8 inches on each side

Palm tree
About 6-1/2 inches high, not sure if proper number of fronds and coconuts are attached

Barrel
1/2 inch high
Anvil on stump
1/2 inch high
Pile of hay bales
An inch and a quarter wide
Hay wagon with hitch attached.
About two inches long without hitch

I am not sure how the hitch is supposed to hook to anything.  Any answers out there?
Butter churn
About 3/4 inches tall
Small piles of rocks
About a half inch high and 1-1/2 inches wide
Hitching post
Two inches wide

Haystack and pumpkin
Pumpkin is 3/8 inch wide, haystack is an inch high

Pumpkin fits onto top of haystack to cover hole in haystack.  I have no idea what that is all about.  Hong Kong's idea of autumn harvest in the USA?  Any ideas?
Green bench?
Just 7/8 inches wide

This item puzzles me.  Three of them are in my Western Town Playset.  They appear to be benches, but are too small for the figures.  I keep thinking they are meant to be wagons seats, but I see no way to attach them.  Any ideas?

Various small accessories
Photo courtesy of Josh Petrie and Bob Adams

 

Contents of this web site may not be reproduced or duplicated for use on the Internet or for commercial purposes without permission by Eric Johns.