La reconocida revista estadounidense Old Toy Soldier publicó en su edición invernal de 2018 (Winter 2018) una reseña del crítico Russ Bednarek sobre el libro Hiriart Soldados de Colección / Toy Soldiers.
Agradecemos la visión de los editores de la revista, Ray Haradin y Norman Joplin, y del crítico especializado por comenzar a dar un espacio considerable a la producción de soldaditos en América Latina.
Esperamos poder colaborar en un futuro cercano con tan prestigiosa publicación, con el fin de dar a conocer el talento y la creatividad de los artesanos y fabricantes de nuestro continente en el universo del coleccionismo de habla inglesa.
A continuación la transcripición de la crítica en su idioma original:
Hiriart Toy Soldiers
By Diego M. Lascano
Reviewed By Russ Bednarek
The history of South American toy soldier production is a much under researched topic. The limited amount of information available has been gleamed from numerous miscellaneous sources, often lacking names, dates and photographs. In general, toy soldiers first appeared in South America around the 1900’s being imported from several European makers. The 1920’s and 1930’s were dominated by Britains, Elastolin and Lineol. The cost of importing increased the price of European toy soldiers making them affordable to only a small segment of the population. Seeking a more profitable alternative, toy shops began to cast their own figures using European commercial molds and painting the figures and flags in local uniforms. More ambitious individuals began to recast the European figures depicted in national uniforms and their accompanying flags. A small number of makers created their own figures, but the vast majority quickly disappeared. Jaime Hiriart persisted in his passion of creating toy soldiers, resulting in one of the true gems of the toy soldier world; Hiriart toy soldiers.
Diego M. Lascano has authored several books on South American toys. Since the mid 1990’s Lascano has focused on examining the toy soldiers of Latin American makers and posting his findings on his blog; soldaditossudamericanos.blogspot.com.uy. Hiriart Toy Soldiers is Lascano’s most recent effort and he effectively utilizes both text and outstanding photographs to masterfully tell the story of Jaime Hiriart’s toy soldiers. Lascano examines the history of Hiriart beginning with the creation of his own paper soldiers as a child to casting his first figures in 1974. The author examines in chronological order the incremental production improvements implemented by Hiriart from 1974 to the present. Important events that helped shape the company are discussed; for example, an American collector living in Argentina buys Hiriarts figures to send to a US collector that inspired Hiriart to begin to export his work. Later on, there was an order for 7000 figures shipped to France that, upon their arrival and sale, helped establish Hiriart’s credibility as a respected artisan. Perhaps the most important event occurred in 1989 when his son Guillermo, age 17, joins the workshop and flourishes to become an integral part of the company continuing to this day. As Jaime Hiriart realized that there was an export market for his product, a shift towards greater diversification of subject matter occurred to increase sales.
Over 100 pages are dedicated to color photographs of Hiriart figures and sets. The first 16 pages focus on the early figures of Jaime Hiriart, beginning with the 70mm balsa wood pieces followed by figures representing the soldiers of Napoleon, ancient Persians, Uruguayan military academy, World War I Germans and more. The next 88 pages examine a sampling of the current Hiriart catalog. Military, civilian, and personality figures are shown in addition to mechanized vehicles, ships, animals and trees/plants. The color photographs are outstanding. A typical page will have 2 to 5 figures shown that appear larger than their 54mm size. Foot figures are typically 80mm in height while cavalry are 100mm-110mm in size. This allows the reader to closely examine the quality of Hiriarts work. Catalogue numbers appear beneath each figure shown. When compared to the first 16 pages, we can see how Hiriart developed and improved upon his painting and sculpting skills. Following the pictorial portion of the book is a 2 page study of Hiriart figure bases presented in chronological order, a 2 page reference of silhouettes of cavalry and infantry castings and a page of box art and a set of cavalry and infantry. The book concludes with the current 387 set catalogue.
Hiriart Toy Soldiers is a softcover 143 glossy page book with over 100 pages of high quality color photographs depicting Hiriart figures. Both Spanish and English text share the same page with Spanish on the left side and English on the right side of the page. Readers are encouraged to purchase their copy of Hiriart Toy Soldiers from Mike Tarantino. The largest US distributor of Hiriart, Mr. Tarantino has copies available for $35+$5 media mailing rate. Payment may be made with PayPal using only the “Family and Friends” option. Mr.Tarantino does not have a website but interested parties desiring to purchase Hiriart sets should contact Mr.Tarantino. Collectors will find the contact information provided below. Hiriart Toy Soldiers is also available on eBay under “Toy Soldiers”, but postage from Uruguay is $17. A great reference for Hiriart enthusiasts and interested collectors is the Treefrog Treasures website; www.treefrogtreasures.com. On the website is a forum where Hiriart has its own listing. Here collectors can find posts regarding all things Hiriart and more importantly view numerous photographs of Hiriart pieces and sets. Mr. Tarantino is a regular poster who, when he receives his annual shipment of Hiriart sets, posts numerous photographs.
Thank you to Guillermo Hiriart who provided a copy of the book for review, and to Mike Tarantino who made sure that it arrived. Hiriart Toy Soldiers is an excellent study of one of the true gems of our hobby and is highly recommended.