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The Toy Soldiers of Wm Hocker

January 31, 2012

When it comes to toy soldiers, the list makers is short.  Many are British, nearly a century old (see: Britains or King & Country ), and established the benchmark for what a traditional toy soldier looks like.  Now with most of these originals no longer in existence, they’ve become either extremely rare, extremely expensive or both.  Insert Wm Hocker, an American maker of toy soldiers who is establishing a new benchmark.  Wm Hocker came onto my radar during a late night fact-finding mission.  While looking for some background on the American turtle (a submarine), a Wm Hocker toy model of the first combat sub arrived in the search results.  As a person who enjoys and collects these miniature militiamen, I was nothing short of impressed by the Wm Hocker company and their story. 

Originally an architect from northern California, Bill Hocker became interested in the early Britains toy soldiers while attending college at Berkeley.  After buying a couple sets they ended up sitting on a shelf until he again came across another collection 15 years later.  Resurrecting his interest he quickly began buying up (mostly damaged) soldiers en masse and making his own replacement parts, all while still working as an architect.  Within a couple of years, what initially began as a hobby of repairing old soldiers with handmade parts quickly became a business and The Toy Soldiers of Wm Hocker Proprietor was born.  Now after almost three decades, Wm Hocker remains in California and are one of the main suppliers of toy soldiers.

In an industry that’s dominated by foreign makers with a mountain of history, it’s impressive that after only 29 years Wm Hocker has managed to carve out a place for themselves and keep all their work stateside.  Additionally, I always stand behind anyone that’s willing to take the risk and go out there and do something for themselves at the behest of others.  If you’d like to join the ranks of several other noteworthy gentlemen who also kept a fine stock of soldiers (see: Churchill, Fairbanks Jr. & Malcolm Forbes), pay Wm Hocker a visit.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Don permalink
    February 7, 2012 17:44

    King and Country is out of Hong Kong. If you are ever in San Antonio, Texas, pay a visit to King’s X, in the lobby of the Minger Hotel (Where Teddy stayed with the Rough Riders).

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