Marx plastic figures and playsetsBy

Marx plastic figures and playsets

reissues and new look-alikes

From the late 1940s to 1976, Marx Toys produced a series of large elaborate playsets. Each set was designed with a particular historical theme or tied into a popular movie or television series. Some typical examples are the American Civil War, Cape Canaveral, Davy Crockett, Zorro, Ben Hur, The Untouchables, and Wagon Train. Over several hundred different sets and variations were made.

These sets contained highly detailed plastic figures in historically accurate poses and uniforms plus large numbers of accessories and usually one or more metal buildings. Original boxed sets with all the figures now sell on average for $400-$600 with rare sets priced from $1,000 to $4,000.

The original Marx company was sold to Quaker Oats in 1972 which in turn sold it to a European company, Dunbee-Comex, which went bankrupt in 1980. At that time, many molds were bought by American Plastics which has since then sold or leased the original molds to a number of U.S. and foreign manufacturers. In addition to the problem of reissued figures from original molds, there are also plastic figures made in entirely new molds that appear very similar to Marx figures. First, we'll look at the Marx reissues then discuss look-alike pieces.

Reissues from Marx molds

The good news about reissues is that most are a different type of plastic and in different colors than originals. For example, the reissue Davy Crockett statue in Fig. 2 is soft plastic (flexible rifle) but the original is hard plastic. Unfortunately there is no book or list of originals from which to make comparisons. Marx collectors and dealers pick this knowledge up through experience and sharing their information with each other.

For beginners and general line dealers, the book that contains the most information on original Marx figures is Collecting Toy Soldiers by Richard O'Brien, Krause Publishing. O'Brien's book has 20+ pages on Marx figures with over 100 photos including brief descriptions and market prices. You should be at least able to correctly identify a figure and that will make asking about colors that much easier.

Under no circumstances should you rely on marks for estimating the age of Marx figures and accessories. Many figures, old and reissues, are marked with dates from the 1960s in Roman numerals. Companies reusing original molds have the option to use the original mark (if any), alter or modify the original mark or entirely remove the mark.

Although we cannot offer a positive way of identifying all the reissues at this time, we wanted to alert readers to their existence.


Fig. 1 New playsets are available with pieces reissued from original Marx molds. This 240 piece frontier set cost $120 new.


Fig. 2 In addition to common figures which formed the bulk of Marx playsets, the harder to find leading character figures are also being reissued. First three pieces shown here are new reissues. Left to right: playset figure marked Bullet; playset figure marked Dale Evans; statue marked Davy Crockett; original playset figure, marked Friar Tuck. All soft plastic.


Fig. 3 Mark on bottom of base in Marx reissued Dale Evans (shown in Fig. 2)


Fig. 4 Mark on bottom of base of original Friar Tuck (shown in Fig. 2)

Typical marks

You can't judge age from marks. Marks with dates from the 1960s appear on many new reissues. These marks are found on both old and new pieces.


Fig. 5 mark dated 1967, original figure


Fig. 6 mark dated 1965, reissued figure


Fig. 7 typical undated mark on reissued figure


Fig. 8 mark removed from mold on reissued figure


Fig. 9 typical mark on reissued plastic accessories


Fig. 10 In the 1990s, the Marx name and trademark were owned by a Miami, Florida business and were used on their packaging. It's possible the corrugated cardboard box in back (blue ink on white background) could be offered with genuinely old Marx toys other than playset figures like trucks, character windups, etc.


Fig. 11 Reissued accessories are available for many Marx playsets including hard to find sets like Ben Hur. New pieces are on casting channels just like originals. Larger pieces, like buildings, wagons, etc., are also available. Original accessories appeared in both hard and soft plastic; so do the reissues.


Fig. 12 Marx saddle horses showing reissue on the left; original on the right. Like many reissues, this new horse is made from a different kind of plastic than the original. It has a very shiny slick surface. The original has almost a matte surface with virtually no shine. Originals and reissues are both soft plastic.

List of Marx reissues

(Partial list only)

Complete sets

Wagon Train-240 pcs. cowboys-Indians-cavalry

US Civil War (Gettysburg)- 230 pcs. cavalry-Indians

Indian Pass-180 pcs. cavalry-Indians

Revolutionary War- 200 pcs. British troops-colonists

Ben Hur-211 pcs. gladiators-chariots-backgrounds

Groups of figures & accessories

AMERICAN CIVIL WAR: Union infantry, Confederate infantry, cavalry, long coat cavalry, cannon, mortar, hospital wagon, Southern mansion, falling horse and rider.

AMERICAN WEST: 54mm Indians, 50mm cavalry, covered wagons w/horses or oxen, 4 poses of horses, Boonesboro pioneers

ALAMO: Mexican infantry shako hat, Mexican infantry round hat, fort accessories

REVOLUTIONARY WAR: British soldiers, colonists, cannon

WW II: German tanks, troop carrier, motorcycle; 54mm GIs, Russian infantry, French infantry, Japanese infantry, 4 planes

Leading characters/personalities

Pat Bradie, Dale Evans, Bullet, various Davy Crockett figures


Fig. 13 Left, reissued pioneer figure from Daniel Boone playset; right, reissued Davy Crockett statue. Original pioneer figures sell for $25 - $30 each; an original Crockett statue sells for about $15. The pioneer and Crockett reissues shown here were in a bag of 30 figures selling for only $10, an average 33 cents per figure.

New Marx look-alike figures

Several manufacturers now offer new figures designed to be used with Marx playsets such as the Civil War and Alamo figures shown here. Although these figures are now individually marked "China", importers could legally mark only the packaging with the country of origin and stop marking the pieces themselves. Current marks are very small and difficult to see if figures are in bags or boxes. Be alert for these pieces being added to an original playsets to increase the value. Generally, Marx figures, both reissue and old, have more detail. Colors of the look-alikes are also different but color can be confusing because of new Marx reissue colors. Look-alikes average 10 cents to $1.


Fig. 14 New Alamo-theme Mexican soliders by Classic Toy Soldiers of U.S.A.; figures made in China.


Fig. 15 New Civil War Gettysburg figures by BMC Toys, U. S.A.; figures made in China.


Fig. 16 Mark underneath base of new Classic Toy Soldier shown in Fig. 17.


Fig. 17 New Mexican soldier by Classic Toy Soliders (CTS) on left; original Marx Alamo Mexican figure on right. Value of original Marx figure, $6-8.


Fig. 18 Mark underneath base new BMC soldier shown in Fig. 19.


Fig. 19 New Mexican soldier by BMC on left; original Marx Alamo Mexican figure on right. Value of original figure, $6-$8.