Charles C. Stadden, one of the worlds most famous designers of military
figures, was born in Leytonstone, East London in 1919 and lived in Rustington,
Sussex. The son of a tailor, he served in the army in France, the Middle East
and Italy during World War Two and continued to serve in the Territorials until
the late 1960s.
After the war Stadden worked as a commercial artist, specialising in military
subjects. His first figures were carved in wood, but around 1950 he teamed up
with a friend, former Royal Marine C.B Hingle, and from a rented workshop in
Whitechapel began producing 1 or 1.5 inch figures in white metal. These were
sold with painted the brushwork being done by Hingle.
In 1951 the first 54mm figures were produced. Around 1953 the figures came
to the attention of Roy Belmont-Maitland who was then running a clothing company.
Belmont-Maitland is an intriguing figure. Despite the rather plummy English
connotations of his double-barrelled surname he was in fact a Jewish émigré
from either Eastern Europe or Germany. Belmont-Maitland had arrived in Britain
in the 1930s and is said to have worked for the intelligence services during
WWII. A notoriously heavy drinker, he had apparently foresworn ever driving
a car after killing somebody in a motor accident.
Belmont-Maitland became so enamoured with Staddens models that he eventually
abandoned his clothing business altogether and founded Norman Newton Ltd which
became the main agent for Staddens work. The companys shop, Tradition
was initially located in Piccadilly, London moving first to New Bond Street
and then Shepherds Market in Mayfair. It is now in Curzon Street.
In 1957 Hingle left the Whitechapel workshop to become a chartered accountant
and was replaced by Alex Griffiths. Production continued at a staggeringly rapid
rate with Stadden producing on average six new 54mm figures a month and similar
numbers of smaller 30mm or 25mm figures. The speed of the process was possible
because unlike most designers who built up their figures from a basic nude torso
adding layers in clay or liquid solder, Stadden carved his directly from white
By pioneering new techniques in mould making and production Stadden effectively
kick-started the whole hobby of painting and collecting model soldiers. He went
on to design for a number of other companies including Minimodels, Almark, Hinchliffe,
Old Guard, Marx, Triang, Waddingtons, Meccano (He did figures to accompany the
Dinky range of model AFVs), Subbuteo and, it is said, Airfix.
Stadden worked in many scales from 120mm downwards. His 1/72nd scale
range (slightly larger than "true" 25mm) is small and covers a number
of periods including medieval knights, Napoleonic, Crimean War and British Colonial.
The history of the figures was until recently something of a mystery to us.
Charles Grant in Napoleonic Wargaming (1974) notes that that Stadden once produced
a range of "one inch" figures which had by then been discontinued.
In an article in Military Modelling the same author describes a Stadden Crimean
War range in 25mm scale which was issued in the 1960s, never added to and then
went out of production. John Garratt, meanwhile describes a similar range aimed
at the wargamer and "including casualty figures" which was produced
briefly between 1956 and 1957. He also describes one inch figures in the collection
of US wargamer Charles Sweet that includes "British, Prussian, French,
Dutch and Spanish which were withdrawn from the Stadden range after a short
time and are much prized by collectors" and also "a group of Cromwellian
pikemen which are even more rare".