From toy soldiers to farm animals, Britains became Europe’s most enduring manufacturer of agricultural toys through innovation and imagination.
Founded 1893 by William Britain in London, England as W. Britains.
Initially made 1:32 scale lead toy soldiers using a hollow casting method created and patented by its founder.
Incorporated as Britains Ltd. in 1907.
n response to declining sales of military figures after World War I, the company launched the Britains Model Home Farm series in 1921. The first set included 30 figures including animals, fowl, and workers.
The 4F Tumbrel Cart was released in conjunction with the set.
The Nestlé World Cow was released in 1924. Commissioned by Nestlé as a promotional item for its participation at the Empire Exhibition, the cow’s markings were arranged into a map of the world.
Britains manufactured its first tractor—the 127F/128F Fordson Major—in 1948. The toy came with the choice of metal wheels or rubber tires and remained in production for 10 years.
Britains began producing plastic farm toys in 1955 by establishing a controlling interest in Herald Industries, a manufacturer of plastic figures.
The 171F/172F Fordson New Major was released in 1959. The new tractor was the first toy produced by the company using a die-casting process with zinc alloy. It also featured a rear lifting hitch.
Britains produced its first non-Ford brand toy in 1968 when it added the 9529 Massey Ferguson 135 to its line.
The 9580 JCB Excavator was released in 1970. This was the company’s first toy to combine die-cast and plastic moulding techniques.
In 1978, the 9570 Massey Ferguson 760 Combine received the London Toy Fair’s coveted Toy of the Year award.
Britains continued to release new additions to its farm lines throughout the 1980s.
In 1984, Britains was sold to Dobson Park Industries, which changed the name to Britains Petite Ltd.
The company celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1993 with a limited-edition Ford 5610 Tractor and Rosette range of animal figures. The occasion marked the first update to the company’s animal range since 1955.
The company changed hands again in 1997 when it was purchased by ERTL, an Iowa-based manufacturer of model vehicles and collectibles.
ERTL was purchased by Racing Champions International in 1999 and renamed Racing Champions ERTL. Learning Curve UK then took ownership of the Britains and ERTL agriculture lines before the pair landed with TOMY in 2011.
The Britains brand now includes over 70 lines of farm-related vehicles, structures, and animal sets.