After the fire that destroyed the Authenticast factory in Ireland in 1953, some of the company’s toy soldier moulds were taken over by Swedish African Engineers (SAE) who manufactured copies of Authenticast soldiers and others of their own design in Cape Town, South Africa in the 1950s and 1960s.
The owner of SAE, Curt Wennburg, and his partner came from Sweden and were engineers before the Second World War, hence the company’s unusual name.
The talented Swedish toy soldier designer Holger Eriksson, who had worked for Authenticast also designed for SAE until he left the company because of his concerns over poor production quality in the late 1950s.
Compare SAE’s bayonet thrusting French tirailleur (above) with the marching figure by Authenticast (left) and the earlier Egyptian infantryman by Authenticast’s parent company Comet (below left) and SAE’s design heritage is obvious: they all have the dynamic quality that is charcateristic of Eriksson’s designs. Other SAE soldiers look more like the original creations of a separate company – and many are very good despite the quality concerns that caused the eventual breach with Eriksson.
The toy soldiers below were probably made by SAE, although they do not have the words “South Africa” cast into their base in the way that many of the company’s products do.
Although at first I thought the figures below were intended to represent Gurkhas, but they look more African than Asian and there is no sign of the Gurkha’s famous khukri knife.
With their pillbox caps, bandolier equipment and puttees they are probably intended to depict KAR Askari of the First World War.