The LeMan's Collection was founded in 1987 in Amarillo, Texas. From its inception, the Collection was dedicated to the design and production of a wide range of meticulously crafted miniatures to satisfy the worldwide demand and enthusiasm of toy soldier collectors for high quality 54-millimeter (mm) metal figures. The initial focus resulted in an extensive array of Civil War miniatures encompassing infantry, artillery and cavalry soldiers in a broad range of poses. This endeavor was followed by the introduction of several popular new series depicting military combatants from the French & Indian War, the American Revolution, the Texas War of Independence and the Plains Indian Wars. Civil War accessories (i.e. wagons, tents, dogs, cannons, walls, camp equipment, bridges, fences, etc.) are an integral part of the Collection and often usable with other LeMan's Collection Series or figures from other manufacturers.
Designs for the LeMan's Collection begin with extensive research into the historical background of the figure to be produced. This effort involves the use of accurate information from libraries, the U.S. Patent Office, historians, museums, surviving artifacts and other expert sources. After a thorough investigation, a master mold is sculpted and painted to act as a model for future figures. Several molds may be created before one satisfies LeMan's standards for high quality.
The master mold is used to create manufacturing molds of silicon rubber. Master molds are larger than manufacturing molds to allow for shrinkage when the manufacturing molds are replicated. Manufacturing molds are reused about 100 times to produce multiple components (hats, body parts, weapons, etc.) for each figure. These components are connected by small channels in the mold that allow a molten silver-tin compound to flow from one section of the mold to another as the compound is poured into the central reservoir of the mold and spun in a centrifuge. Spinning helps to eliminate air pockets, solidify the casting and fill small crevices where details are critical,
After spinning, the mold is removed from the centrifuge. When the molten metal has cooled, the casting is removed from the mold in one piece and separated into components. Each component is filed by hand to shape edges and remove burrs. A figure is created by manually connecting several components and a supporting base with epoxy and glue. Head, arm and leg positions are varied and bent to give each figure a unique, customized appearance. To avoid a "cookie cutter" appearance, facial hair styles (i.e. moustache, beard, goatee, etc.) and colors (i.e. red, black, brown, blonde, etc.) are also varied. Additional versatility and authenticity are available with the Civil War Series that provides collectors with a choice of 6 Union hat styles (kepi, Hardee, campaign, slouch, trooper and African-American heads with a kepi) and 8 Confederate options (kepi, floppy, turned-up floppy, plumed, top, trooper, slouch and African-American heads with kepi).
Figures receive up to 10 coats of acrylic paint beginning with 3 coats of primer and ending with 3 coats of sealer. Intervening layers of paint are added to create accurate body and uniform coloring. During painting, facial characteristics (i.e. beards, goatees, moustaches, etc.), hat styles (i.e. kepi, trooper, etc.) and uniform colors are varied to make each figure as unique as possible and to avoid a "cookie cutter" appearance. LeMan's extensive paint process minimizes the danger of damage due to metal oxidation and makes each figure virtually impervious to minor chips and dings. The final step in the paint process is to add the distinctive LeMan's signature and year of manufacture (figures produced before 1991 were signed with the initials LM) to protect against fake duplicates.
Extensive use is made of embossed metal flags (i.e. Flags molded and painted with their unique characteristics and colors) instead of painted paper, tin or copper. Embossing provides such a high degree of detail that raised lettering for battle sites, such as Shiloh, can be read with the naked eye. Additional battle realism can be obtained by adding bullet and cannon holes.
The diameter of most bases is kept small to allow figures to be placed close to each other. Larger bases are used for top heavy pieces such as color-bearers with embossed flags. All bases have a low flat profile to make them inconspicuous and to maintain the 54 mm scale of the figure to which it is attached. The top and bottom of all bases are painted with a mixture of green and brown to represent ground cover and to protect the base from deterioration.
Like any work of art, price is affected by the amount of detail, labor and material required for each figure. For example, the price of American Revolutionary figures is slightly higher than similar Civil War poses because more effort is needed to produce the more elaborate uniforms of the American Revolution.
In addition to selecting the LeMan's Collection for its large assortment of quality figures and accessories, there are other reasons to acquire LeMan's miniatures:
1. Figures are sold individually rather than in sets to allow customers to choose the
poses that they want and to avoid paying for unnecessary pieces. This allows
collectors to add to their collection at a pace commensurate with the amount they
want to spend.
2. Toy soldier tradition is maintained by using all metal components including thin
copper ribbon for fine details such as the reins on horses.
3. Also, new figures and accessories are constantly being introduced so collectors
can continue to expand and enjoy their collection for years.
4. Like Hummels, the policies of dating and signing figures, retiring older poses and
avoiding cookie cutter appearances should protect a collector's investment and may increase the future value of LeMan's fiigures on the secondary market.
5. Since all items are made in the USA, collectors are protected from price swings
due to international currency fluctuations.
Historical accuracy, dedication to quality, service and value are undoubtedly the key factors for customer satisfaction with the LeMan's Collection and the primary reasons that the Collection is sold at well known collectible, gift and toy outlets.