A 25mm Napoleonic range by Higgins was a 1971 addition. These are "true"
25mm, compatible with early Garrison and Minifigs and just a couple of millimetres
taller than Hinton Hunt. Around the same time Marlow, with some help from Higgins,
produced a 25mm Sudan War range of five British infantry, five highlanders and
a 21st lancer, 2 "fuzzy-wuzzies", 2 dervish infantry and
a dervish cavalryman. The figures are up to the usual high standard though,
"For some reason all my officers are left-handed," he says.
The 25mm figures have rectangular bases (most of the 20mm are on round ones).
The underside of the earlier figures carries the words "Les Higgins. England"
in copperplate script. Later figures have PMD and the serial number stamped
on them. Originally sold individually, the company soon switched to a packs
Les Higgins Miniatures also made the "Jason" range of 30mm English
Civil War and Marlburian figures. "The smaller figures were good, but I
think the 30mm English Civil War figures were really Less finest work,"
Garratt says that Higgins also designed figures for Norman Newton Ltd, including
in 56mm a figure of Henry VIII and Lady Jane Grey. Marlow does not believe that
is the case, however, "Les did some jewellery and some sculptures for other
people but he only did figures for us," he says.
Higgins, who had suffered from long-term health problems, died in 1972, aged
49. "Less death came at a time when the company was really starting
to take off," Richards says, "Theyd struggled with production
problems and all sorts at the start, then just when things were beginning to
In Wargamers Newsletter Don Featherstone wrote, "[Les Higgins] was
a most likeable person of the greatest integrity whose figures were even admired
by his rivals. The wargames world and indeed the world of model soldier collecting
has lost a great artist".
Marlow changed the company name to Phoenix Model Developments and Tim Richards
who had been moonlighting for the company for some while left Mettoy to become
A number of additions, designed by Richards, were made to the 25mm Napoleonic
range during this time including British and French heavy cavalry and horse
artillery. "I was basically finishing off ranges Les had begun," Richards
says, "I think I might have done some of the 20mm English Civil War range
A new Ancient range of Persians and Greeks was also produced, designed by Steve
Farmer another Mettoy denizen ("They didnt pay much at Mettoy,"
Marlow recalls, "and designing the figures to go with the James Bond Aston
Martin wasnt exactly a challenge. I think everyone was desperate to get
out"). This latter range was released in January 1973 and made up of Greeks
and Persians. A range of military vehicles in 4mm scale was also issued under
the name Renown. The latter were designed by John Hanscomb.
In 1977 Phoenix moved to large new premises in a former shoe factory in Earls
Barton. By now the company was becoming well known for its 54mm figures, particularly
those of scantily clad women from the Phantasy and Atlantis ranges which delighted
teenage readers of Military Modelling (well, this one anyway) and along with
dolls house furniture would come to dominate the companys output.
It was shortly after the move that production of wargames figures ceased. "The
problem was that ours were true 25mm and true 20mm. They didnt fit in
with the other ranges that had become popular like Hinchliffe" Marlow says.
The company traded from the same premises in Earls Barton throughout the 1990s.
Tim Richards left by mutual agreement in 1992 and in 2000 Brian Marlow decided
to retire. Phoenixs entire catalogue, including the 25mm ranges, was sold
off to Jim Robinson of Rose Military Miniatures, Littlehampton (see also Rose
Miniatures article). The figures are not currently in production but the company
say they will be available again "at some point".
The 20mm ECW and Marlburian ranges meanwhile had been sold off ten years earlier
to Keith Dennison at Rosedale Figurines (see also the John Niblett feature).
"Though as far as I know they never did anything with them," Marlow
In the spring of 2003 we here at Vintage20Mil along with a trio of like-minded
individuals bought the masters and the rights to produce both ranges. The original
Marlburian figures along with a couple of new additions should be available
sometime in 2004.